Archive

Archive for the ‘Juan McIver’ Category

McIver – Revolution Re-Affirmed: Mysteries of Cardanism Part 2

December 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Showing his profound ignorance of Marxism, Cardan asks the following theoretical questions in Revolution Re-Affirmed (RR):
“Where, since 1923 (date at which Lakacs’ “History and Class Consciousness’ was published) has anything been produced which has advanced Marxism? Where, since 1940 (date of Trotsky’s death), has a single text been written defending traditional Marxist ideas at a level which allows one to discuss them without blushing? Where, since the Spanish Civil War has a self-styled Marxist group participated in any meaningful way – and according to its own principles -in a genuine activity of the masses? Quite simply: nowhere’.” (p6)

The ultimatistic, categorical flavour of these statements shouldn’t terrorise the reader of Cardan. We are used to his grandiose oversimplifications paraded as “new” theories. The best way to begin to bring together the loose ends in the above quoted paragraph is to subject Cardan’s assertions to a rigorous historical analysis.

Firstly, we are puzzled at the assertion that Lukacs’ 1923 book “advanced” Marxism. In what sense are his forumulations about reification superior to Marx’s? It indeed was revolutionary for Lukacs to bring back – philosophically at least – some of the cornerstone of Marx’s methodology. This was especially so when the doctrinaire and positivistic practice of Social Democracy had buried that revolutionary kernel, and the Leninism of the Comintern had proven to be merely voluntaristic Kautskyism. So, Lukacs was in a way being “traditional”, – in what way does that amount to an “advancement”? Lukacs also posed the question of reification in an entirely a-historical way, which allowed him to become a rabid ultra-Leninist when the pressing issues of the day confronted revolutionaries. On the question of the party vanguard, on the question of the trade unions, his views were not an “advancement” but rather a retrogression – a retrogression towards Leninism, the ideology of state capitalism today. It is no accident that the latter-day “Lukscsians” are in agreement with Leninists on the fundamental issues of the class struggle. Philosophically, people like Leszek Kolalowski and Lucien Goldman are cases in point. If Cardan wants to mention “advancements” of their sort, we recommend Antonio Gramsci’s The Modern Prince. A more down to earth apology for centralised state bureaucracy.

Unfortunately for Cardan, after 1940 many texts were written that allowed one to discuss without “blushing”. As a matter of fact. Trotsky’s writings do produce blushings, and did produce blushings in many revolutionaries at the tine of their publication. Trotsky’s discussions on bureaucracy, for example, are sophomoric and actually were retrogressions theoretically and practically. His refusal to accept that a private-propertyless bureaucracy could be a class ignored the historical precedents of Asiatic formations, or Engels’ statements about the capitalist nature of the bourgeoisie’s “official representative”: the state. Many revolutionaries were able to see the Russian bureaucracy as a capitalist class, or as a stratus dedicated to capital accumulation. Socialists didn’t have to wait to read Chalieu’s 1949 writings on the Russian relations of production o become aware of these problems.

The term “Spanish Civil War” in itself is a mystification. When we talk about the 1917 Russia Revolution we don’t allude to it as the “Russian Civil War – it was a working class revolution. The same goes for Spain, it was a proletarian revolution. For Cardan, the use of Republican verbiage in this case is a natural mistake, a corollary to his assumption that the POUM participated “according to its principles” in the Spanish Revolution. Was joining the Catalonian Generalidad part of its “principles”? Was such a reactionary section (plus many others) a “meaningful” participation with the masses? The POUM may have been “self-styled” Marxist, but was that Bukharinist bloc really Marxist?

The examples that Cardan cites to prove “the end of classical Marxism” are all suspect, partly due to omission of relevant historical data and mainly due to Cardan’s own political views. What he understands as “classical Marxism” is perhaps his own past “Marxism”, a misunderstanding one can put up with but not excuse.

The Marxism Cardan should have been attempting to criticise is the one expressed by diverse oppositional currents in the 3rd International which held revolutionary positions on the question of the workers councils. On the nature of reformism; some were against the Russian ruling class explicitly before and after Kronstadt. But Cardan never wastes time with such currents. Like Deutscher. He probably thinks that those “sects” were not influential enough or were perhaps utopian. Ultra-left marxism wasn’t historically “successful’. But then neither has a world proletarian revolution. [???] political practice, however, means nothing if we don’t assume [???] such development, such ‘success’. Is possible and necessary to [???]

Cardan’s arrogant disregard for the ultra-left could be understood as rejection of even the heritage of Socialisme ou Barbarie when it still thought itself as Marxist. After all, the review appeared after 1923, not to mention 1940! The many excellent essays by Cardan himself, by Mothe, Lefort, Bricianer and others, were advancements in Marxism in the early 50’, in spite of their implicit acceptance of Leninism. The Cardan of the 60’s is no longer the same thing.

The treatment of ‘modern capitalism’ in RR is inferior in quality to Cardan’s previous text, Modern Capitalism and Revolution. A Critique of the latter is included in this collection of documents, so we won’t dwell on Cardanite ‘economics’ here. What is important in RR is its treatment of classes. On p9 we read: ‘For classical Marxism the division of society was between capitalists, who owned the means of production, and property-less proletarians. Today the division must be seen as between order-givers (dirigeants_ and order-takers (executants).’

And ‘Society was seen as dominated by the abstract power of impersonal capital. Today we see it dominated by a hierarchical and bureaucratic structure, affecting all aspects of social life.’ (ibid, p9)

Thus for Cardan the dominant contradiction ‘…within capitalism is exemplified in the type of cleavage between management and execution which modern capitalism brings about.’ (p10)

Cardan’s views of bureaucracy remain hopelessly trapped within a Trotskyist framework. In the 50’s, Cardan began to talk of bureaucracy as something which Marxism hadn’t predicted, a category which couldn’t be dealt with ‘traditional’ methods of thinking. In this he was simply following a long tradition in the Trotskyist movement. When Trotsky was defending his views of Russia as a ‘degenerated workers state’, he inevitably showed an incapacity to understand an alternative critique: that one provided by the theory of state capitalism. Instead, he gave signs that he would have accepted a view of Russia as a sort of ‘bureaucratic-collectivist’ society, a ‘new’ type of exploitative society. In Trotsky’s views, capitalism can only be the impersonal power of capital expressed through private property. Cardan’s views of the 50’s don’t challenge this methodology. According to him, the bourgeoisie was abandoning the historical arena to the ‘bureaucracy’. Empirically, such a view contains a lot of truth, but it fails to understand why this is so.

Cardan’s early views were challenged by many revolutionaries: by Munis, by Bordiga (the latter wrote a very biting polemical attack against Cardan’s ‘new’ ideas in an essay called ‘La Batrachomyomachie’) and others. Cardan’s views on bureaucracy failed to stress that bureaucracy has always existed in capitalism (the enlightened monarchs. The Prussian bureaucracy, the Meiji technocracy, etc.) The need to accumulate and concentrate capital in a period of capitalist decadence brings also the emergence of totalitarian political forms. The frenzied need to accumulate or facilitate accumulation. Required a centralised state machine which can (not without creating serious social upheaval) attempt to accumulate capital on its own, liquidating the old bourgeois class. The crux of the question here is not the ‘bureaucratisation of the world’ but rather the mechanisms of capital formation which facilitate or require a historical tendency towards bureaucracy.

The question of classes and Cardanism’s rejection of the relationships created by ownership/control of the means of production is crucial to Solidarity’s practice.

At times Cardan in RR engages in this type of sophistry: ‘…to speak today of the proletariat as a class is to indulge in purely descriptive sociology: what united workers as identical members of a group is imply the sum total of the common passive features imposed on them by capitalism [and by Cardan, We should add], and not their own attempt to define themselves as a class, united and opposed to the rest of society, either through their activity-even peiecemeal-or through their orgaisation-even that of a minority.’ (RR,p17)

What the hell is this supposed to mean? That we can’t refer to the working class? Should we instead relate to the ‘piecemeal’ efforts of each Cardanite to bore us to death?

Some London Cardanites believe that the working class are ‘order-takers’ and that the capitalists are the ‘order-givers! This permits them to continue to believe that the notion and reality of the working class as the only revolutionary class has some place in Solidarity’s theory and practice. This allows them to present their faces with some air of credibility to workers, particularly in factories. At this point the right-wing Cardanites (ie, the real, consistent ones keep their heads down.

The middle-of-the-road Cardanites recognise that he situation is not too clear-cut. They try to unite that which can’t be united. A populist approach (the ‘authority’ question) and a revolutionary materialist one. Thus these Cardanites have many revolutionary agencies: students, teachers, Cardanites, priests, schoolchildren, ‘youth’, some workers (those who aren’t ‘sociological’) and who knows what else.

But the real Cardanites. Those who accept Cardan’s latest viewpoint, still haven’t taken over the group completely, though this is just a matter of time. With Cardan, they hold that the important division now (the most ‘modern’ one that is ) is between ‘those who accept the system and those who reject it! This is a vulgar psychological banality and we shouldn’t waste too much time with it. It means that Cardanites have theoretically prepared themselves to enter into all kinds of populist experiments, reactionary alliances and organisational demise. There is no need to have a group if the ‘acceptance or refusal’ view point is held. Each Cardanite can say that he or she ‘refuses’ the system and leave it at that. Many of Dostoevsky’s heroes, Genet’s Queens, lumpenproletarians. Manson’s friends could apply for membership in Solidarity. Why not? A lunatic or an assassin certainly ‘refuse’ the system more than any loud-mouthed Cardanite! Moral stances would now be the criteria for being a revolutionary.

As a final point we should say that the marxist concept of the division of society into materially determined class does include authority relations. It also provides a framework to analise and relate to other social groups which Cardan stupidly assumes were ‘marginal’ to Marxism. The ‘order-giver order-taker’ equation doesn’t give us a clue as to why orders have to be given or what kinds of orders are we referring to . As in all categories of Cardanism, we begin from subjective and arbitrary definition, devoid of material foundations.

JM

Advertisements

McIver – Revolution Re-Affirmed : Problems of Method (Part 1)

December 30, 2011 4 comments

This newly translated essay by Cardan has been presented to the London group. Actually, the essay says nothing that Cardan hasn’t said before. To answer all the questions posed by the essay is not possible here, though such a critique is indeed necessary. However, it is possible to answer some points, especially on the method used by Cardan, which determines the way he presents facts.

MARXISM
Cardan’s approach to Marxism is highly contradictory. On p2 he remarks that “What was best in Marx’s writing may…serve as an inspiration…” for analyses of phenomena previously considered “marginal.” On p6 we read:”…one of the most indestructible principles taught by Marx himself [was that’ an ideology was not to be judged by the words it uses but what it became in social reality.| Lukacs HISTORY AND CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS is considered by cardan as an advancement of Marxism (p6). There is, apparently, a dimension in Marxism which should be followed (maybe) or developed. What exactly it is is not made clear.

But the dimension which shouldn’t be accepted is the “economic system” developed by Marx in Capital (Modern Capitalism and Revolution, p33) Marx’s economic conception “…are equivalent to treating the workers in theory as capitalism would like to treat them in practice …but cannot: that is, as mere objects.” (MCAR, p23) Cardan also holds that bureaucratic politics “objectively flow” from Marx’s economic ideas: “These are the ideas that have finally culminated in Stalinism and which-shared by Trotskyism-have made it impossible for Trotskyism to clearly differentiate itself as a political tendency. For objectivist views of economics and history can only be a source of bureaucratic politics,…” MCAR, p35) This is so even if Marx himself didn’t draw such political conclusions from his economic theories. Cardan here doesn’t go far enough as some anarchists who claim that those views explain Marx’s dictatorial machinations in the First International, or that those views are some how connected to anal-eroticism.

We hold that there’s a revolutionary continuity in Marx’s writings,from the 1840’s to his death. Volumes have been written on this, and we believe that analyses such as provided by Dunayevskaya or David McLellan, Korsch, Goldman and others, are more historically accurate than Cardan’s mechanical construction of “two” Marxes. This doesn’t mean that the whole, or any. Of Marx’s works shouldn’t be continuously re-examined. We simply disagree with Cardan’s methodology. All of Marx’s writings are historical evidences. Some of his programmatic ideas can only be reactionary today – such as those expressed in The Communist Manifesto. Many of his personal scheming in the First International was unprincipled (though there’s much historical debate here, not only among “defenders of the faith”). But we refuse to allow a simplistic and reductionist theory a la Cardan, which neatly attempts to tidy up revolutionary theory by constructing a direct bridge from Marxism to state capitalism, or bureaucratic capitalism as Cardan would prefer.

Cardan’s description of Marx’ theory of wages is a more adequate description of Lasalle’s doctrinaire nonsense about “The Iron Law of Wages”. Of course, depending upon one’s personal predilections on method, it is possible to create a view of Marxism which corresponds closely to Lassalleism or Stalinism, using the appropriate dose of quotations. This approach is applicable to any social theory, including Cardan’s ideas. Humanist liberalism, grass-roots reformism and all sorts of populist experiments can easily be construed from Cardan’s views, and he will need to say ”I’m not a Cardanist”. It would be unfair. However, to draw a parallel between Marx and Cardan here. Marx was always able to quote his sources in a rigorous and scholarly manner. Cardan, who undoubtedly has learned a lot from Weber, Rizzi, Marcuse, Aron and others, usually never quotes any philosophical source. One gets the impression that his theoretical development has occurred in a vacuum or perhaps through intuition (for an incomplete through quite perceptive analysis of Cardan’s views, it is useful to read George Litchteim’s Marxism in Modern France, pp 184-192).

Having said this, nobody can deny that Marxism indeed has become a theology and a “system” of fanatical faith. However, it will take a lot more work to understand why this is so than Cardan’s unilinear explanations. Marxism is the dogma of many state capitalist societies, but it is not simply “Marxism” or “Marxism in general” (as Korsch aptly put it). “…duly edited and purged of their real theoretical content [Marx’s observations of historical development] have become the foundation of an ideology which has replaced other modes of thought over a third of the globe.” Observes George Lichteim in Marxism (pp 146-147). Similarly, Panekoek was able to analyse Lenin’s version of Marxism as a philosophical response springing from Russia’ bourgeois backwardness. Interestingly enough, in Revolution Re-Affirmed Cardan spares no detachment and even contempt for hat he calls “the ultra-left” sects without specifying who these people were or are. Is the ultra-left of the 20s meant here? Various council communists such as Pannekoek and Mattick The fact that the continuity of Marxism as a living revolutionary theory was maintained (however distortedly) by the ultra-left from the 20’s, is of no importance to Cardan.

The term “classical Marxism” used by Cardan (as a system of ideas and action which presumably was destroyed in 1939) only mystifies the historical problem. A lineal continuity is swiftly established between Marxism-Leninism-Trotskyism (pp 1-2). A scientific approach would requite an establishing not so much of common denominators between these components of “classical Marxism” but of actual differences. Even what is common to these components has varying historical nuances.

This methodology is correctly grasped by Lucien Goldman when he writes: “At any given historical moment every writer, thinker and likewise, every social group, is surrounded by a large number of ideas and positions that are religious, moral, political, etc.. and these constitute so many possibly influence. From among them the writer, thinker, or social group selects only one system, or a small number of them, and this selection will really be influential. The problem posed to this historian and socialistic then is not that of knowing whether Kant was influenced by Hume, Pascal by Montaigne, Descartes, the Third Estate of France before the Revolution by political thinkers, but why they sustained precisely this influence in this particular period of this history or their life.” (The Human Sciences and Philosophy, p92)

Lichteim observes that “Social Democracy was older than Marxism,…” (Marxism, p90) The inter-relationships, influences, and tensions which existed between Marx and Engels and the existing European labour movement have been extensively documented and that history continues to be enriched by today’s experiences and research. How and when did Marxism begin to develop as a church within Germany, or as a conspiracy in Tsarist Russia, has to be grasped in its contemporary development. To be sure, for Stalinism, that history is an inevitable progression towards the Moscow autocracy. From a different angle, Cardan arrives at a similar conclusion What we could say is that the canonisation of Marxism is a partial reflection of terrible working class defeats throughout 3 generations. To infer that Marxism is actively responsible for these defeats (because of Marxism’s economic theories) is to give too much weight to Marxism. First, it has to be proven that an “un-alloyed” Marxism was the practice of the 2nd and 3rd (or 4th) Internationals and secondly it has to be proven that millions of people actually read, discussed, adsorbed, developed, digested and criticised the texts of “classical Marxism” The idea that claims that “the working class movement, seen as an organised class movement explicitly and permanently contesting capitalist exploitation has disappeared.” (Revolution Re-Affirmed), p1) is a myth. Such a working class didn’t exist in the first place, except at the realm of production, where the nature of contestation is quite different. In an article on the working class, Paul Mattick Jr. (an unknown ultra-left sectarian) presents a different view to Cardan’s:
“What gave the appearance of a non-intergration of the working class in the past was the existence of ideologically revolutionary organisations ‘of the working class’ – the social democratic trade unions and parties the Communist parties and the unions of the Third International (and Soviet Russia itself in the age in which it was easier to believe in it as bastion of world revolution). In fact these very organisations were, at their moments of strength, also instruments for the integration of the working class. “(New Politics, Vol VIII, N3, p32) Cardan’s assumption that such an organised movement was contesting capitalist exploitation is objectively untrue, and it amounts to an implied apology for Leninism and Trotskyism,. To be sure, there were politically motivated contestations against capitalism, but these occurred mainly in revolutionary periods and in spite of Leninist of Anarchist reformism. All this is clouded by the simplistic terms “classical Marxism”.

Part 2 of this critique will bring out some of the impliations of Cardan’s ideas about “modern capitalism” and his concept of “order giver-order taker”.

McIver – Report on Oxford Middle-East Seminar

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment

The Israel-Palestine Socialist Action Group (IPSAG) invited speakers from different socialist organisations to a seminar held in Oxford on the 24th of February. Among them was a Trotskyist belonging to the United Secretariat, A Orr from ISRACA and other assorted individuals. J McIver was invited to contribute to the final symposium on ‘National Self-Determination and Class Struggle in Israel-Palestine.’

In general, the whole mood of the seminar was ‘third worldist’ in the classical sense of the word. That is, it was assumed that there was a sort of ongoing ‘MiddleEast revolution’ initiated by the Palestinian masses against Zionism or/and imperialism. One speaker, the editor of the magazine Israel & Palestine, suggested, in revolting Parvus-like manner, that European imperialism could be used by Middle-East revolutionaries to further their own aims. He even mentioned Lenin’s use of German imperialism (the ‘sealed train’ incident) as historical backing for his opportunism. The audience was confused by all this and the scoundrel wasn’t sent packing. But this was a natural reaction of the audience. When the issue of Russian imperialism’s intervention was mentioned by McIver and Cohen. The issue was informally ruled out of order, and nobody protested. Of course, the majority of the speakers assumed that the ‘main imperialist’ in the world was the US. At no moment was there a clear and explicit rejection of the politics ad activities of Fatah, the PFLP, PDFLP, Black September, etc. Presumably, such criticism would have been considered ‘divisive’ or perhaps ‘Zionist’!

The intervention of A Orr reveals the general impotence of groups like ISRACA. The emphasis of this group seems to be ‘anti-Zionist’. ‘Everything else is subordinated to the struggle against racialism’ said comrade Orr, meaning by that, of course, Israel, the struggle against Zionism. Apparently, Israeli workers who struggle for better conditions and higher wages don’t add up to much as long as they remain Zionists. It could be said that Israeli workers ‘benefit’ from Zionism. Insofar as Israeli society is partly subsidised by the US, could also be said that they benefit from US imperialism.

ISRACA’s inability to see the potential connections of the class struggle and a [] weakening of Zionist state ideology leader it to a policy of passive ‘ethical’ opposition to the Israeli state. We thus read: ‘Whoever adheres to Zionism sentences himself to perpetual war against the Arab world and the perpetual dependence on the suppliers of Phantom jets. This is absolutely inescapable.’ (A Orr/M Machover, in The Other Israel, NY 1972, p189) The fact that Russian imperialism is a supplier of Migs, tanks and other goodies used by the Egyptian and Syrian armies is of no importance. The fact that the ‘Palestinian resistance’ is ideologically and materially supported by those reactionary regimes is also ignored: ‘We recognise the right and the duty of every conquered and oppressed people to resist occupation and to struggle for freedom.’ (ibid, p186)

ISRACA members may or may not recognise the ‘right’ to self-determination of nations. But they do recognise the ‘right’ to resist oppression of oppressed ‘nationalities’. This distinction begs the question. If the ‘national’ struggle of the Palestinian population is politically and organisationally taken over by reactionary groups (and this has been the case since 1948) then the only ‘right’ ISRACA is defending is the right of all the Fatah PDFLP, etc., to impose their reactionary solution on the Palestinian and Israeli working masses. On the inter-imperialist level, ISRACA becomes a mere fellow-traveller of ‘ethical’ Stalinism, Not accidentally did M Machover, a member of ISRACA, become infuriated when he read the Vietnam leaflet issued by the minority at the last Vietnam demo.

The IPSAG group, on the other hand, doesn’t consider Zionism as a main enemy in the ideological sense that ISRACA does. Insofar as IPSAG wants to relate to the Israeli working class from a Marxist standpoint, , there is still some hope in it. But at the moment it seems to be at the mercy of an increasing Trotskyist influence, which is as reactionary as the ethical liberalism of ISRACA. Perhaps it should be mentioned that IPSAG doesn’t write laudatory letter to the Times, commenting on its ‘frank editorial’ as people in ISRACA have.

J McIver

28/2/73

Against both blocs! For the working class!

December 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Unsigned leaflet, written by Juan McIver and distributed by Solidarity members at a Vietnam War demonstration in 1973.

What makes the Vietnam war the endless nightmare that it is? Nixon, the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG), the leaders of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), the Pope, any amount of ‘peace talks’ of ‘Indochina Solidarity’ demos such as this can’t end it: Why not? The reason is that all these forces can only prolong the war and inflict further suffering on the Indochinese and American working populations.

The Vietnam war is not a struggle for ‘self-determination’ or socialism. It is an inter-imperialist wart from which working people can only expect further massacres; it has been like this ever since the war began 40 years ago.

US imperialism has a log history of intervention in Indochina, filling the gap left by a collapsing French colonialism. This came as a result of the redivision of the world caused by Wolrd War II, as war which created all the national liberation struggles of today.

Russian and Chinese imperialism have also developed interest in Indochina. Insofar as the major imperialist powers compete for world markets and spheres of influence their competition can only be an international jostling for power. In this sense, with the world divided into major imperialist camps, any talk of ‘national liberation’ is so much rubbish. Those who present the Vietnam war as an unilateral imperialist effort (the Us’s) are perpetrating a criminal mystification which can only confuse and demoralise working people.

The way the Vietnam ceasefire negotiations have dragged on since October, the ruthless bombing of the last few weeks, the secret Paris ‘peace talks’ between Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, the repositioning of DRV/PRG troops in the demilitarised zone and in the south, the massive US military aid to Saigon’s ‘Vietnamisation’ program Thieu’s mass imprisonment of opponents – all these factors indicate that no real pace is at hand. Despite any ceasefire in Vietnam the fighting will continue in Laos, Cambodia, ad Thailand. Whatever ‘peace’ is achieved now, it will be the peace of the grave. The peace most atuned to the ghoulish nature of capitalism. West and East. It is a peace that will inevitably be followed by wars, peace and more wars.

The stage is set for a renewed continuation of barbarism. The Seventh Fleet remains in Indochinese waters, the USAF bases are there to be used when necessary. Through frenzied aid the South Vietnamese air fore is the third largest in the world.

Similarly, the other side has not stood idle. The DRV/PRG gained many positions since the 1972 sprig offensive. Their forces control large areas in the countryside. Even if Russia and China reduce their military and economic aid (amounting to a billion dollars a year) to the DRV to appease Nixon and Thieu, this measure can only be temporary propaganda. Too much is at stake for any bloc to abandon the carve-up at this point. The military and industrial dependence of the DRV on Russia and China is total now, the US have insured this partly by shattering the DRV’s small industrial base. The SAMs which downed 32 American B-52s over the DRV show not the ‘self-determination’ of the Vietnamese people but the fierce determination of Russian capital pitted against American capital.

Revoltionaries in Britain must advocate the defeat of British participation ion the US war effort – British involvement in SEATO, USAF bases in Britain, etc. But revolutionary deafeatism doesn’t mean siding with the ‘humanists’ of the TUC and Labour Party (like Jenkins) who bewail the war from capitalism’s standpoint. Neither should this approach mean identification with the Trotskyists of the IS, IMG. SLL not with the pro-Peking or pro-Moscow Stalinists, not with any of the organisations which have sponsored the ‘Indochina Solidarity Confernce’ actions. All these tendencies advocate critical or uncritical support (spot the differnce_ for the state capitalist imperialisms. Working people must oppose both.

The war in Vietnam can only be ended by the revolutionary efforts of the international working class to overthrow both imperialist bloces and to establish socaislm the world over.

Exit of the ‘marxist faction’ from Solidarity

December 12, 2010 4 comments

Taken from A.O, ‘Political Consequences of A Philosophical Illusion’, Solidarity: For Workers’ Power, Vol. 7, No. 6 (April 22 1973), pp. 19-20
Around 1973 ‘Solidarity’ seemed to suddenly develop the habit of publishing reports of their meetings, one of the first in this series contained the following account of the ‘marxist faction’ of the group jettisoning themselves. If my dissertation research is correct this group left ‘Solidarity’ calling themselves ‘Council Communism’ before meeting the group in France mentioned below and becoming what we now know as the British section of the International Communist Current.
The extract mentions that this group has existed for some months, although there was no mention of this fact in any previous editions of the journal. Further, the group is only mentioned again once in passing in the January 1974 issue of the journal.

… The meeting started with a discussion on classes and class struggle in modern society, and went on the discuss, in this light, the difference between meaningful and sterile activity. In the middle of this discussion three members of London SOLIDARITY and one member of the Oxford Group jointly left the meeting in a demonstrative manner, having made statements and distributed a pile of voluminous documents dealing with their political disagreements. These members had constituted themselves as a marxist faction and had acted as a group within the group for some months. Their main differences concerned our critique of Marx’s views on history, economics and social struggles, and our attitude to such matters as the ‘objective’ basis for and meaning of revolution and socialism.

Those who left expressed strong disagreement with two pamphlets yet to be published (Cardan’s ‘Revolution Re-affirmed‘ and our new pamphlet on Vietnam) and with two older texts (namely ‘History and Revolution‘ and ‘Modern capitalism and Revolution‘.
As the latter had been published and widely distributed long before they had joined the group, one might conclude that they had perhaps discovered these critiques after joining the group, they had gone to the wrong shop, and bought the wrong goods – although the goods had been clearly labelled. Alternatively, they had entered a group with whose politics they disagreed, hoping to win over some of its members.
The contribution of these comrades proved very different from what they had intended. The whole period of discussing marxism with them in fact deepened and strengthened our critique of marxism. One could almost say that the chapter of struggling to liberate oneself from the grip of Marx’s views on philosophy, history, society, economics and politics is, for the time being, over for SOLIDARITY (london). The marxist faction, while rejecting our critique of Marx and our positive ideas which flowed from it, had never clarified its own politics in positive terms (for instance in relation to ‘war’ or to ‘the slump). It seems as if this brand of marxism is still (desperately?) holding on to the idea of an ‘objective basis’ for revolution, but that it has partly replaced the idea of the inevitability of a Third World War* – if capitalism is not overthrown by a social revolution before hand.
Both these views are alien to us and we are glad that those who uphold them will no longer disseminate them in the name of SOLIDARITY, but under a name of their own. In its hectoring style, nit-picking content and systematic misrepresentation, their document epitomises everything in the trad left that SOLIDARITY was formed to transcend…

…* One of our marxists (J.M) recently advocated the publication in Solidarity of a leaflet (with which he said he agreed) produced by the French Group Revolution Internationale. This stated that the ‘India-Pakistan war demonstrated the gravity of the crisis of the capitalist world – a crisis which tends to push it towards a new generalised war. As the Spanish war in 1936 in relation to the Second World War, the India-Pakistan war can be today a rehearsal of a new world-wide massacre’.