[lbo-talk] Mitchel's interview with two Platypus organizers

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Tue Apr 6 12:28:56 PDT 2010

Doug Henwood wrote:
> On Apr 6, 2010, at 2:42 PM, SA wrote:
> > To echo someone else's question, what exactly is this Platypus/
> > Postone political analysis? I don't quite understand what they're
> > driving at, when they talk about the Left, its past and future, etc.
> Do you say that after having read their stuff? Because I have, though
> not with obsessive care, and all I get is that they think everyone
> else is fucked but I don't understand what they're putting in its
> place. I'm ok with that position if you're honest about it - it's one
> I'm no stranger to myself. But I'm the first to admit that I often
> don't know WITBD. Not sure they do.

This seems fair. I think my posts of the last year have made it clear enugh that I do not take bmy political thought from the 2d or 3d Internatioals. But this does not constitute a criticism or rejection of "the left" as a failure. On the contrary, I think both of those Internationals and political activity associated with them had a glorious histsory, every bit as ssuccessful as it was reasonable to expect under the conditions in which they worked. I do not even condemn Kautsky or Martov or Stalin -- nor do I condemn those who at the time condemned them.

What I reject is that there is such a thing as Revolutionary Theory -- using "Theory" in a fairly narrow sense as generating principles that apply equally across temporal and spatial borders. (The Chinese language apparently makes possible a useful distinction between "Thought" and "Theory." In this sense one would parphrase Lenin's "Revolutionary Party" and "REvolutionary Theory" as "Thought relevant and response to the condtions of Czarist Russia in 1904." So by 'rejecting' WWITBD I'm simply saying that no useful concrete theory can apply in Russia in 1904 and the U.S. in 2010. (Such 'theories' as seem to be equally applicable under diifferent historical conditions usually reveal themselves to be, on close examination, merely tautologiess: true but not constituting a rigojrous theory.,

Platypus wants not just to work out "new" theory but to ground it on a rejection of the historical validity of pass struggles as "failures." Eric's "immaterialist huckstering" would seem to be applicable.


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