Stoker wants to shed the red? RIP Left Unity till we’re dead?

  • Tom
  • May 22, 2013 at 6:58 am
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  • David Stoker wants to shed the red? He wants Left Unity to be an amalgamation of the green and the blue? That is interesting.
  • Call me old fashioned, but I don’t think there is anything left about dumping socialism and lowering the scarlet standard in order to adopt the non-socialist world of the greens and the explicitly anti-socialist colour of right-wing conservatives.
  • As for David’s call for a mass movement that opposes socialism…. Hitler and Mussolini said the exact same thing. Left Unity is by definition a socialist organisation. That is what Ken Loach called for and if that cornerstone of Left Unity is to be dropped, then the 8,000 signatories to Ken’s statement have been conned, and they will have to look elsewhere. Maybe TUSC could be refounded to give them a home.
  • Within the left there is room for considerable disagreement as to what we mean by socialism. I don’t have a problem with that. FYI, David Stoker, your contrasting of socialism and communism is wrong, or misleading. In his ‘Critique of the Gotha Programme’ (upon which Lenin leant heavily in State and Revolution and elsewhere), Marx referred to socialism as the lower stage of communism. The Stalinist states that went by the name of communism were monstrosities. Left Unity needs to embrace those who adopt a variety of positions on what was and was not positive in the states, because while they are not what socialists want, liberal democracies are far from being the wonderful alternative that the right-wing of Left Unity and Tony Blair think they are.
  • I do not believe there is a substantial difference between the positions of the Socialist Party and the SWP on the question of the Stalinist states, although most if not all members of both organisations would probably take issue with me on that. The SWP and SP employ the different terms when referring to these states: state capitalism and degenerated/deformed workers states. The best of both positions can be found in Trotsky. If many Left Unity comrades are deaf to the ideas of Trotsky, or other Marxists, that is fine. Good luck to them. But that won’t stop others defending his ideas along with the ideas of Marx, Engels, Luxemburg, Lenin, Gramsci and a long list of others.
  • Those who share the politics of the centrists (Karl Kautsky, for example), the centrists who were polemically savaged by Luxemburg, Gramsci et al should be free to make their case inside Left Unity. Marxists could not stop them doing that even if we wanted to. What these centrists cannot be allowed to do is to gag Marxists, or to expel us. Unfortunately, many of them insist on their right to do precisely that.
  • In addition to the Kautsky type centrists, we also have those who are far to the right of the centrists: Left Unity’s Bernstein wing. These comrades post here all the time demanding that Left Unity rejects unity. They also say it should not be anti-capitalist. A few of them want to abandon the idea that Left Unity is even part of the left. And some of those want to attack the very word ‘socialist’, enthusiastically embracing the deep blue colours of conservatives and even the far right. Any ‘mass movement’ based on what these people want will be a thoroughly negative force in politics.
  • Left Unity does have to be debate how to meet our potential voters half way. Doing that requires moving beyond principles (anti-capitalism, genuine unity of our class, champion of the democratic rights of all the oppressed) to the terrain of strategy and tactics. The latter is essential to transform a small core of ‘scientific socialists’ into a material force. That means engaging in a constructive dialogue with the class of wage slaves, helping them appreciate the necessity of their self emancipation. The alternative to this is the noisy monologue of ultra-left sectarians, those who are relaxed from cradle to grave about the purity of their isolation. Amadeo Bordiga is probably the best representative of that tendency, and Gramsci’s political writings of 1924-26 the best critique of that bankrupt politics. Well, that and Trotsky’s critique of the Stalinists’ third period nonsense too, of course.
  • It goes without saying that socialism cannot be imposed on the majority. So, do most workers want the lower or possibly even the higher stage of communism? Even if they wanted full communism, that is not on offer for several generations after we reach the lower, so that is a meaningless question.
  • Do the majority of workers want the lower stage of communism: socialism? Absolutely not. Must Left Unity bar everyone who opposes socialism even as a long term goal? It is too late to keep them out. The best of such people want left unity with those who do fight for socialism. Camaraderie between us all enables us to debate these questions fraternally. I am up for that if they are.
  • But many of the non-socialists are not up for any kind of rational debate. They want to purge all of us committed to socialism. Such a policy would would keep Ken Loach out. Good luck with that plan, ‘comrades’.
  • However, Left Unity can unite those who remain agnostic towards the possibility of socialism (that subsection of non-socialists who adopt a non-sectarian attitude towards socialists) with the rest of us. Together we must all draw up a platform that will pile on votes. We can do this by relating to what a significant section of our class thinks is both possible, desirable and entirely justified in the short to medium term. Such a set of policies will set us apart from Ed Miliband and Alex Salmond, not to mention the Tories, Lib Dems and UKIP.
  • The demands I believe Left Unity must present to the voters are those modeled on what Trotsky called the transitional method. Such demands provide socialists with a bridge between the consciousnesses of the majority of the exploited and oppressed today and the socialist consciousness of tomorrow.
  • We can all debate what exactly those demands should be. We will not all agree. We will all lose votes on this. However, Left Unity can only go forward by means of majority votes that impose limits on what the minority can do. Those who reject this democratic approach are by definition opposed to genuine Left Unity.

[comment left on Left Unity’s website: Nick Wrack’s Socialism – or something less]

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