cj#994> re: radical mass movement

1999-10-11

Richard Moore

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From: "Chris" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Cc: Margaret Wyles <•••@••.•••>
Sent: October 7, 1999 6:05 PM


Mr. Moore,

I have been following the exchanges on this discussion site and felt
compelled to put in my two cents worth.

You have mentioned several times that it's unfortunate that the left and
right don't talk.  What is there to talk about?  To think that any common
ground could ever be reached bewtween the two is to ignore the class
content of the politics reflected in the terms left and right.  The
capitalist class will never see eye to eye with the working class.  Their
interests are directly opposed.   The capitalist class needs workers to
exploit in order to create profit.  As we all know, from Adam Smith down to
Marx, value and profit comes from the fact that wokers are paid a small
fraction of the value they create for their employer.  Why would the right,
which supports this exploitation, want to talk with the left which wants to
end it? History shows what the right does with leftists who oppose them.
They suppress them and marginalise them in the so-called "democracies" and
in places like Indonesia, Columbia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico,
Philipinnes, El Salvador, they murder them, sometimes as in Indonesia in
1965, by the million. You keep talking about some sort of mass democratic
movement which will unite the various protest groups against the corporate
elite.  Well, just how is this going to be done outside a political party?
It isn't.  In Europe and Canada the socialist and communist parties have
been the only effective means of making life better for the mass of the
people.  It takes organization, shared principles, a clear analysis of what
capitalism is and where its going, and a clear understanding that nothing
will stop the environmental degradation of the planet or the increase of
global poverty under a capitalist system whose sole purpose is to
continuosly generate more and more profit.

You have put forward old ideas of redistribution of wealth, citizen control
of corporations, legal restraints on corporations, presenting solutions
which apeal to all sides.  Marx, Engels, Luxembourg, Plekhanov, Gramsci,
and many other writers over the past century have convicingly demonstrated
the dead end that these solutions represent.   If none of the readers or
yourself have read these people I suggest you and they do because all you
are doing is trying to reinvent the wheel.

Marx stated in his book the Grundrisse and the Communist Manifesto (as far
back as 1848) that capitalism will proceed to turn all of nature into a
commodity in order to make profit, right down to the last fish in the sea,
the last tree, the last wild tiger, the last fresh water. Nothing will left
isn't turned into a commodity.  The only way this can be stopped is to
abolish the system which has this purpose. This requires the abolition of
private property in the systems of mass production.

It's true that there is great abundance of wealth (goods and services).  So
what?  The whole point is that under the capitalist system those goods go
to waste if people can't pay for them.  It's insane.  Why should cars rust
on docks in korea, food be dumped  etc when people need these things?  Why
do people live on the streets when everyone could be housed for very little
investment and for free?  Why should students have to pay for education?
Why should people have to pay for food, for health care?

Why in your discussions is there a complete avoidance of Marx, of the
benefits of socialist systems which have existed and still exist, of the
concrete realities of class power and class struggle?  You talk about
socialism, but from my perspective, (a Canadian living in a capitalist
state which already provides free health care) most of the ideas presented
are small L liberal ideas.  There is very little content which could be
classified as socialist.

Let me repeat, there never will be and cannot be a convergence of the left
and the right on some common ground.  To think that is to ignore class
realities, class interests, to ignore the idea of class completely.  It is
nothing more than idealism.  We have to look at the material world not the
ideal abstract world which exists only in our heads.

In Cuba education through university level is free.  Housing is free.
Health care is free.  Artists, musicians, film makers, are supported and
produce great work.  Thousand of Cuban doctors volunteer their services
around the world - for free.  This despite a brutal embargo by the US which
is designed to squeeze the socialists there until they bleed to death.  Why
has there not been one discussion of how the Cubans do this on a small
island, with only 11 million people under economic siege?  Why is there no
discussion of what life was like in the USSR before the disastrous
counter-revolution allowed the capitalists back into power? Why is there no
discussion of the fac that in the recent elections in Germany the
communists came back to be the second most popular party just a few short
years after they stepped down from power?  Why is there no discussion of
the miracle that brought China in just 50 years from a war devastated,
poverty stricken, illiterate nation with no industry to the world's most
dynamic society with free health care, social support for those that cannot
support themselves, electrification, modern technology, cultural richness
all under the guidance of socialist principes? Why is there no discussion
of the fact that in Ukraine, Russia, Belorusse, etc the people are agian
turning to the socialists and communists after having experienced the
realities of the capitalist system instead of the fantasies generated in
their minds by Radio "Free Europe".

Why is there no discussion of the goals of the FARC in Colombia and how
they have transformed the areas they control into places where peasants now
have their own land, again free health care, free schools and other
services? Why is there no discussion of the achievments of the Sandanistas
before the US mercenaries brought them to knees?  Why is there no
discussion of the Zapatistas, their objectives and tactics?  Is all this
ignored because it was accomplished by communists and liberals still don't
want to acknowledge the facts?

How can you even consider this site to be a discussion about the  ability
and power of the majority of working people to change their lives if their
attempts to do so in places all over the world are ignored, if their
experience, their successes, their failures are not even talked about?

All you will do if you continue to ignore the realities of the world
including the knowldege gained by those who went before is to doom yourself
to irrelevance.

Christopher Black Toronto, Canada

=================================

Dear Christopher,

Many thanks for your empassioned and, to my mind, insightful essay.

There are some substantive points I disagree with, and I'll say something
about those, but the main thing is that you don't have a good understanding
of this list or the range or topics covered.  You say you've been
"following the exchanges on this discussion site", but you're not a
subscriber, and what you've seen are a very small number of recent items
which someone forwarded to you.  I suggest that you've fallen into a number
of wrong assumptions.

For example, I've posted a number of things about Cuba, all favorable.  In
fact, I've argued on the list that Cuba, besides having an admirable record
re/social beneficence, is also the closest thing to a working democracy
that I've come across.  Until I learn more, I refer to the Cuban system as
a model for how a vibrant bottom-up democratic process can function.

You wrote:
    You have put forward old ideas of redistribution of wealth,
    citizen control of corporations, legal restraints on
    corporations, presenting solutions which apeal to all sides.
     Marx, Engels, Luxembourg, Plekhanov, Gramsci, and many
    other writers over the past century have convicingly
    demonstrated the dead end that these solutions represent.

I have no way of knowing what specific postings you are referring to, but
in fact I've argued precisely your point.  People sent in reformist
suggestions, and I posted them in order to argue against them.


You wrote:
    You have mentioned several times that it's unfortunate that
    the left and right don't talk.  What is there to talk about?
     To think that any common ground could ever be reached
    bewtween the two is to ignore the class content of the
    politics reflected in the terms left and right.  The
    capitalist class will never see eye to eye with the working
    class.  Their interests are directly opposed.

I do not consider the capitalist class to be 'the right'.  The capitalist
class is a very tiny minority, whereas 'the right' is a large number of
deluded people, though not any more deluded than 'liberals' are.  Naturally
one must over-simplify a bit in using these kind of labels, but allow me to
express myself in the following way...   the 'right' opposes abortion,
while the 'left' supports abortion-rights.  The capitalist class cares
nothing about abortion, but is happy to exploit the social divisiveness
that the abortion issue leads to.  The same applies to gun-control.   Do
you get the distinction I'm trying to make?  Much of the 'working class' is
today part of 'the right'.

What I mean by dialog between left and right is _not dialog between the
'working class' and the 'capitalist class', but rather dialog among
population groups which are now divided by their beliefs about various
issues, and by their suspicion of one another.


You wrote:
    Marx stated in his book the Grundrisse and the Communist
    Manifesto (as far back as 1848) that capitalism will proceed
    to turn all of nature into a commodity in order to make
    profit, right down to the last fish in the sea, the last
    tree, the last wild tiger, the last fresh water. Nothing
    will left isn't turned into a commodity.  The only way this
    can be stopped is to abolish the system which has this
    purpose. This requires the abolition of private property in
    the systems of mass production.

It is certainly true that capitalism has followed the path that Marx &
Lenin outlined, as for example in Lenin's "Imperialism, the Highest Stage
of Capitalism".  We can acknowledge their brilliance in anticipating
globalization, but today we can see the results for ourselves all around
us, we don't really need to refer to Marx to validate current observed
reality.

As for
    This requires the abolition of private property in
    the systems of mass production.

There is some truth in this.  But as a be-all end-all center-point of
political analysis I find it dated, rigid, doctrinaire, and
counter-productive to an analysis suitable for our times.  We need, for
example, to be questioning our dependence on mass-production in a finite
world, not simply turning the factories over to the workers.

To the extent that left intellectuals talk like religious fundamentalists,
quoting Marx instead of the Bible, they separate themselves from the
sensibilities of today's 'working class', they discount all that's been
learned since Marx, and become part of the problem rather than part of the
solution.

yours,
rkm


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