[Marxism] Quiting Marxism, embracing what?
cepetroni at yahoo.com
Sat Dec 2 17:09:55 MST 2006
Hopefully, this will appear right in the list. If not, I will re-format it and re-send:
I simpatize with Carrol Coxs points on this issue. I also agreed with Louis in his first,
Quasi sarcastic, mostly ironic response to Stans letter. I also agreed with some of the
points raised by Mark Lause and others in response to posts by Joaquin Bustelo.
Let me emphazise that my personal position that I rather have comrades joining any
Left wing Marxist group or organization than none, even bad ones.
Thats why I dont welcome, as Louis does, Stans break with an organization. As long
one remains committeed to organized revolutionary action, the possibilities of
reform or creation or a revolutionary party is there. Once you quit disappears.
Why? Because even if the organization you joined is not the right one, it is an
approximation to what a Marxist should do.
We dont learn theory in any other ways than through approximations, we cant
learn and evolve organizationally in any other way than by approximations and
That will necessarily include a number of missteps, mistakes, errors
Marxism is not just an ideology, it is a movement. It is not designed nor exist for
any other purpose than to help guide the actions of the working class to overthrow
Capitalism and build socialism. The dialectical other side of Marxism as
ideology/program/strategy is organization. The last without the first is
voluntarism and cannot further in the intervention in the class struggle beyond
certain limits, the first without the latter is empty academicism at best.
Thats why I dont agree with some comrades here that limit Marxism to thought or
theory without praxis.
Now, some small points on what Stan Goff so pointedly titled Doctrine:
I am herein announcing and explaining my definitive rejection of Marxism in its current
organizational forms, be they called Marxist-Leninist or Trotskyist or Maoist.
Here he seemed to reject just organizational forms of Marxism
My personal life, as a spouse, father, grandfather, friend, and member of local and
political communities, is my most direct window on the world, and the experience against
which I have to measure any political belief or organizational theory. Even more so, as I
now find myself indefinitely caring again for an infant; and thereby bound to the house
in the same way as many women, constantly being confronted with the most immediate
and practical necessities. The kind of politics that does not take these constraints as the
starting point of all politics is what I am now taking under long review.
Marxism as method and as an organization tries precisely to depart from this subjective,
immediate reality. As the purpose of Marxism is to organize a revolution, breaks with
this individual, isolated, alienation. Those of us and this is valid for men and women
strive through Marxism and the class struggle to break with the limitation in
understanding and practice imposed by what Stan so well list as the task of bourgeois
family. That is not the starting point of politics of Marxism, that is the immediate reality
imposed upon us. In order for humanity to progress, it needs to obtain the withering away
of those constraints. Marxism organizes the fight against them, but is NOT a cure.
One of my primary disappointments has been what I consider the failure to take seriously the struggle against patriarchy, and to give it the same weight in our organizing
as we do class and national oppression. There have been only token efforts in this regard,
and no serious initiative that I have seen to go outside the canon to understand this
This may be true and he seemed to be talking about specific examples he has in mid
about Solidarity (is that the organization he was in?). It is difficult to assess its validity
for those of us not familiar with the internal life of Solidarity. I meant the first sentence.
But cmon, give the struggle against patriarchy inherited and preserved by the
bourgeoisie the same weight in organizing as we do class and national oppression is a
disparate. Organizing against patriarchy and national oppression by the way are and
should not be separated from the class issue, as they are entirely linked.
Worse, there has been a reactive embrace of liberal-libertarian feminism by many
which I consider to be a sly academic reassertion of male power in the
consumer-choice package of freedom, undermining the whole analysis of gender as a
I cannot judge the reactive embrace of liberal-libertarian feminism by many
comrades as he seems to be talking, once again, about the internal life and behavior of
certain people in an organization. But certainly gender is not a system, separated and kept
in a compartment of its own, but a part of a more general system of oppression. But then
Stan walked away the issue he decided to put first in his resignation letter and said:
But this is not the crux of the issue for me. Feminism was the gateway to a number of
other interrogations of the assumptions of organized Marxism.
My own last association with organized Marxism was with members whose work I
greatly admire. In particular, I was attracted to their analysis of national oppression,
which remains in advance of most of the US left, and their stated committment to
refoundation of a politically efficacious left in the US.
Here he talks about organized Marxism, twice. And he talks well of the same comrades
he called liberal-libertarian feminists before (or adopting those positions). He seemed
to be targeting specific segments of Marxism, what he calls organized. But, Marxism
is organization. Without the organization of the movement the intervention, the actual
struggle to change the world, Marxism is no more than a subject for a university course.
Marxism cannot exist outside an organized framework (using organization in the broadest
sense) and even those who are hostile to the idea of the party area appealing to some
forms of organization, without which their Marxism ceases to exist.
It is this project, refoundation, which carries with it wherever it goes another question,
that has preoccupied me for my entire tenure in and out of Marxist formations. The
associated question, of course, has been What happened? Why is there no organized left
with the attention and support of broad masses of peope in the US? What is the nature of
this Crisis of Socialism?
In politics, failure to win is no proof of inadecquacy in the same way than success is no
proof of theoretical accuracy. Winning and losing are relative terms which are only made
rigid formulae for correctness by the bourgeoisie, or if you wish, by any ruling class since
the beginning of history. There is no more crisis of socialism because it failed to
attract the attention and support of broad masses than unstopabble capitalist rule
because they managed to maintain the allegiance of those said broad masses.
The rest of Stan long piece is as boring and useless to his readers as its beginning. I only
read demoralization and frustration into it, not a well thought out critique that we may
benefit from. He may serve better his cause of explaining why he quit if at least explains
what and who he meant when writing.
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