[Marxism] Pablo, Mandel and Duncan Hallas!

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Fri Aug 13 04:18:40 MDT 2004

The concept of "Pabloism" really came to denote a kind of "historical
fatalism" and loss of belief in the ability to organise independently on the
basis of your own (Trotskyist, in this case) political idea. Obviously if
you don't believe your own idea can succeed, then you are unlikely to have
political success.

But this is really part of a larger problem, i.e. how to avoid opportunism
and sectarianism in a situation where you had a small number of very
idealistic people, adhering to a very large, developed intellectual heritage
(a grand theory) claiming to have all the answers already, but possessing
limited political skills, in the face of a political situation on which they
could have only limited influence. This creates plenty potential for a bad
relationship between theory and practice.

One temptation would be to "objectivise" and theorise about how the
"objective situation" is likely to evolve ("objective dynamics"), while
losing an active relationship between object and subject, or between ideas
and real experience, in the sense of downplaying the capacity or belief that
you could really influence events yourself, in which case the outcome might
be a tail-endism and opportunism, i.e. either running after mass movements
or events based on some other ideology, or dissolving your own political
identity in coalitions to a great extent.

That would mean losing a sense of political initiative, of actively
validating your own idea, and consequently adapting to a given situation in
a way which renders your own idea irrelevant or impotent, instead of
actively creating the conditions in which your own idea might "live".

The point is that, insofar as "Pabloism" really existed at all, rather than
being just an interpretation of the motives of other people, it was only one
variant among other variants, which all expressed politically the inability
to realise a healthy relationship between theory and practice, which
resulted in deviations from political opportunism to political sectarianism.

Often the attempt is made to reduce these political deviations to the class
position or personality of individuals, but such reductionism is usually not
very credible, since the class position or personality of those individuals
was often not any different from the class position and personality of those
people claiming to have the "correct line".

Personally I think the problem is not in "Pabloism" as a deviation from
"true Trotskyism", but rather in Trotskyism itself, as an oppositionist
ideology which emerged from heavy defeats of the revolutionary workingclass
movement. And, if the truth be told, the heirs of Michel Raptis number far
more people than the heirs of Jim Cannon or Gerry Healy, suggesting that
Raptis, whatever his mistakes, was nevertheless closer to political


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