Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Oct 2 07:51:56 PDT 1998

>It is at least arguable that the first impact of a serious global
>deflation will be the utter collapse of any left forces around. The left
>(scattered marxist, marxist influenced, and non-electoral progressive
>groups) has made some gains during the present boom, but those gains have
>not even begun to make up for the destruction of any organized left in the
>U.S. following the 1974-75 slump. The left flourishes most during the
>period of recovery from a deep slump -- but even then it cannot gain
>unless during the slump whatever scattered left there is around has
>grouped itself around a non-electoral program (program, not merely verbal
>posturing) and sharply differentiated itself from such enemies as the
>Democratic Party.

I disagree completely. The most prominent feature of left/Marxist politics throughout the 90s has been demoralization and self-recrimination over the collapse of "existing socialism." This has led to ideological defections, such as market socialism, to organizational stagnation in groups like the CofC and Solidarity. The "vanguard" formations operate on a different sort of logic, so are relatively shielded from these problems. As an extreme example, the American SWP announced immediately after the fall of the Berlin wall that the imperialists had lost the Cold War.

The mood that I think will capture the left is one of sharks circling in the water. Capitalism is wounded. There is growing militancy everywhere. The South Korean workers are on the front lines, but the German elections are also a sign of growing disenchantment with the capitalist status quo.

The problem for the left is how to organize itself in face of this growing crisis. My hope is that gatherings such as the Black Radical Congress can inspire the Marxist left as well. Why rely on the tired and timid Socialist Scholars Conference to gather our troops? Who needs to hear Barbara Ehrenreich or Bogdan Denitch promote "pwogessive" politics at a plenary conference?

What I'd like to see is a conference that is geared more to activists, such as the rank-and-file of the Labor Party, green radicals, black militants, etc. Part of the problem is that the "official" leadership of the left has lost a lot of the militancy that it once knew. Perhaps fresh forces will come along. If they don't, we will be stuck in the same old groove and allow the bourgeoisie to retake the initiative.

Louis Proyect


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