File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9710, message 24


Date: Fri, 03 Oct 1997 08:24:38 +0100
Subject: Re: M-I: Fascism and social fascism


The theoretically challenging nature of the comments by Louis P and Gary,
on my original post, are exactly the sort of response I was hoping for. I
cannot speak with the experience of being a subscriber to the LeninList but
my impression from the outside is that there is a lot of merit in the
moderation policy of marxism-international. 



I do not know exactly what Gary refers to as the Trotskyist criticism of
the concept of social fascism  (reference?) but I accept that the points
Louis P makes are a serious challenge. I assume in the context of Cuba,
that some repressive and arbitrary actions have taken place. It would be
hard in the best of societies to ensure they never occurred. I assume that
in practice, whatever the law says, it is not possible to walk up and down
the main street of Havana with a placard saying that Castro is a revisionist. 

I myself have a sneaking interest in the term social fascism, and most
topically, the term comes to my mind as arguably applicable to some of the
tendencies that grew out of Yugoslav socialism. The main purpose of my post
however was to say that somewhere in cyberspace rather than ruling out in
principle the proposition that Cuba is fascist, it would be better to put
the proponents of such an argument under pressure to say what that actually
concretely means. I agree very much with Louis P's point that if that means
something at all, it does not mean an identical phenomenon to fascism.

I would like to know whether anti-revisionists accept a concept of
socialist legality and that it may get neglected or distorted in the
earlier years of a revolution, sometimes for good motives as well as bad. 

Above all in Louis P's remarks I agree with his challenges to dogmatism. I
think the weight of debate over the years in marxism space puts pressure on
those who want to argue simply that country A is socialist while country B
is now capitalist. 

It is not clear to me whether the anti-revisionists accept that dogmatism
can itself be a form of revisionism.

----

Regarding Gary's comments on the debate on LeninList about Ireland, I
accept that Gary is honestly trying to give his impression of the opinions
of an opponent and I can see if someone appears to say that there is no
oppression by British imperialism in northern Ireland from 1920 that is
pretty repulsive. Of course I do not know whether Paul Cockshott would
accept that charge. But it does seem that the contradiction was much larger
than just whether he called the Republicans fascist. 

Perhaps I am generalising from only two examples of moderating problems but
I thought it was legitimate to ask whether they were linked. Perhaps
moderators have a problem that when they are really going to put their foot
down they have to pick up a specific point and decide whether they are
going to stand their ground on it against the inevitable wave of criticism.
I think that adds to the argument about the merits of moderating against
personal attacks but not against theoretical ideas, but allowing these to
be seriously challenged in a theoretically open forum. While in abstract
this may look liberal, it fosters a process that I think we have seen over
the months puts great pressure on theoretical rigour and integrity. And not
just in an abstract way. Part of the pressure is whether the ideas really
relate to reality and practice. 


Chris Burford











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