File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-03-16.132, message 91

Date: Sun, 16 Mar 1997 05:25:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject: M-I: Re: The Real Problem?

Zeynep wrote:
> I don't agree that the real problem is the views of some list members
> regarding Stalin or Trotsky. It is their own ego that's the damn problem,
> not Stalin, not Trotsky.

Although it's true that egos can get intwined in political struggles, the
current debates are not primarily about egos. Rather, they reflect deep
political differences among listmembers. 
> I see a left that can't properly analyse and respond to globalisation, the
> changing role of the nation-state, flexibilisation of employment, the growth
> of nationalism and religious fundamentalism, the dynamics inside the
> ex-Soviet bloc countries, the growth of the informal sector and the new
> divisions within the working class, new forms of organisation needed to
> fight against the "dirty war" and "illegalised warfare" techniques and low
> intensity conflict methods.

I agree that these topics should be discussed. 

However, a discussion around nationalism will inevitably discuss the
perspective of the I-IV Internationals on that subject, and that includes
an evaluation of Stalin and Trotsky on nationalism.

The dynamics inside the ex-Soviet bloc countries can only be understood
within the context of a historical understanding of the downfall of the
USSR and that subject leads to a discussion of Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky,
state-capitalism, degenerated workers' states, etc.

A discussion of divisions in the working-class requires that we confront
those Marxists who claim that the working-class in the advanced capitalist
nations are a "reactionary tool of the imperialist bourgeoisie" and others
whose hatred of "academics" means that they can't see that most academics
are part of the working-class.

If we discuss the informal sector we will need to discuss the
international squatters movement. Yet, at least one subscriber called
squatters "morons."

In short, the dynamic of a discussion of the topics you propose will lead
us back into a discussion of the political divisions already present on
the list. 

Now what can be done?

(1) Let's have an agreement by all that any issue related to the theory
and practice of Marxism is appropriate for discussion here -- and that
means no more whining about how Stalin and Stalinism, Mao and Maoism,
Trotsky and Trotskyism, USSR, China, Peru, state-capitalism, etc. should
not be discussed. One of the things that LNP didn't mention about the
decline of the old marxism list was that it began when: (a) a certain
person ridiculed the discussion of certain threads; and (b) when some,
including some co-moderators, went out of their way into hounding new
subscribers into unsubbing. We can do better.

(2) If we want to have a *serious* discussion, then the accusations about
listmembers being "agent provocateurs", "social fascists",
"counter-revolutionaries", tools of the "imperialist bourgeoisie", etc.
must cease. Such rhetoric only inhibits discussion and leads to  flame
wars. The problem isn't that the debates center around egos. The problem,
rather, is that reasoned discussion of political perspectives are poisoned
by this type of behavior and by others who believe that the best role
model for Marxists is the most sexist talk show host on the airwaves in
the US (Howard Stern). In other words, we need to create a culture where
the principled and honest exchange of perspectives is encouraged and


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