Saturday, February 11, 2017

Building a party of seasoned fighters, not summer soldiers

Dobbs: ‘Our task is to chart a revolutionary course’

One of Pathfinder’s Books of the Month for February is Teamster Rebellion by Farrell Dobbs. Excerpted below is the concluding portion of a 1966 speech given by Dobbs, which is quoted by Socialist Workers Party National Secretary Jack Barnes in his introduction. Dobbs, a long-time leader of the SWP and central leader of the victorious battles in the 1930s that built the Teamsters union in the Midwest, was speaking to an audience substantially composed of Young Socialists. “Dobbs summed up the world historical view that best describes his lifetime political course; the class characteristics indispensable for any proletarian revolutionist; and what the working class demands of its leaders, above all,” Barnes says. Copyright © 1972 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.  


We must be constantly aware of the key role of the United States in the world. United States imperialism is today the powerhouse of world reaction, as the war in Vietnam is abundantly demonstrating.

It is an iron fact that until capitalism is overturned here in the United States of America, the gang of imperialist mad dogs that rule this country are going to remain a mortal threat to all humanity. We must never forget that.

That means the showdown battle for world socialism is going to be fought right here in the United States of America. And when the revolutionary victory is won, outlived, decadent capitalism is going to disappear literally overnight from the face of our planet. Humanity is going to march forward to the building of an enlightened socialist society where people for the first time can really live together on this planet in peace and in security and with freedom. Humanity will finally realize the type of rewarding life that human intelligence is so abundantly capable of making, even at the present level of technological development. Once humanity learns how to conduct itself politically, organizationally, and socially, it can take advantage of these wonders.

That’s what we dedicate our lives to. We of the party, we revolutionaries in the United States — acting as best we can in solidarity with revolutionary fighters across the world — must always keep in mind that in the last analysis the fate of humanity rests on the socialist revolution in the United States. Our task is to build a party capable of leading that revolution, going up against the most heinous of the reactionary, monstrous ruling class regimes that exist on the face of this planet: the imperialist ruling class of the United States.

The road ahead in that struggle is going to be strewn with obstacles, and there are going to be many pitfalls. There’s no roadmap, no way you can find some kind of a detailed handbook that’s going to tell you what to do at each juncture. Our task is to chart a revolutionary course, based on a fundamental understanding of our program — a basic feel of our revolutionary strategy—and to hammer out the tactics in that direction as we go along.

There’s no timetable. Nobody can say how long it’s going to take or when it’s going to happen. I personally feel that those of you sitting in this room today, who have got all your youth going for you, have got at least Damon Runyon’s six-to-five chance of seeing that explosion.

But in saying so I want to add immediately: don’t make that a condition. Don’t adopt the criterion that the revolutionary change must happen in your time. Don’t take as a guide to your active life that narrow, provincial, self-centered notion that if it doesn’t happen during the time of your own subjective existence on this planet, it’s not important.

Always remember that history is magnificently indifferent to the problems of the individual. History doesn’t care whether you die at six or live to be seven hundred, if that were possible, or what happens during your particular lifetime. As the German poet Goethe once said, “History marches like a drunken beggar on horseback.”

A lot can happen during your limited lifespan, or you can live a dull existence. Some people have had the good fortune to live more in a year than others at a different historical juncture could live in their whole lifetime. Or, as Plekhanov once put it, “If it hadn’t been for the French Revolution, Napoleon would probably have ended up as a corporal in the French artillery.”

Don’t make it a condition that the socialist revolution must come in your lifetime. Be not only a citizen of the planet; be a citizen of time. Recognize that what’s fundamental is to be in rapport with the human race from the dawn of history, on to heights we can only vaguely begin to dream of.

And what’s the alternative? The alternative is to make a compromise with this rotten capitalist system. Do you know what people who do that are like? You remember the movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster? Jabez Stone, you know, sold his soul to Scratch, the devil. He did so on the promise that his personal ambitions would thus be served. Later he regretted the action and asked to have his soul returned. Scratch, who was played by Walter Huston, that magnificent actor, finally said all right, he’d give it back.

So Scratch took a small matchbox from his pocket. He opened the box and began poking around in it with his stubby finger trying, and trying, to find the mean little soul of Jabez Stone so he could give it back.

That’s symbolic of what you do to your own soul if you make a compromise with this rotten system.

Our job is to build a movement of men and women who emulate the seasoned fighters of the Continental line in the first American Revolution. Learn to be professional revolutionary fighters. Don’t be summer soldiers. Don’t dabble; don’t vacillate. Put nothing above the considerations of the movement. Maintain your place in the front ranks of the revolutionary fighters, and stand in that place for the duration.

There is no other way in which you can find so rich, so rewarding, so fruitful, and so purposeful a life.

The Militant: focus on clarity in today's struggles

Calling Trump a ‘fascist’ disorients the working class

Anarchist ‘black bloc’ politics pose threat to working class

Join the protests! Demand amnesty!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Workers World Party attacks free speech and promotes violence against suspected Trump supporters


....“The vibe in the crowd was a unified front against fascism. It was good to see young communists and anarchists working together. For example, we commandeered a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat from a hubristic white male who decided to walk through our crowd. We worked together to take his hat and start that f*cker on fire, using communist flyers and an anarchist’s lighter.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Free speech and censorship

From a friend on Facebook

"I'm for free speech, but that doesn't mean that bigots and fascists are entitled to a platform at our university. The vast majority of the students here reject hate speech and bigotry, and we won't tolerate it in our lecture halls. We have no tolerance for the incendiary rhetoric of racists who incite violence towards the students of marginalized communities. We're under no obligation to give a lectern to hate speech, and they've got plenty of airtime elsewhere to espouse their views."

-Said the censors one and all

Don't let a racist troll with a book deal goad you from your democratic rights. We need that space that he's baiting you to choke and shout away, and we need it more than he does. We need to organize our own meetings, and bigger meetings.

We need those lecterns for prison leaders, revolutionists, traitors, "enemies of the state" etc... If the bigots can't rely on the cops to defend their meetings than it should be clear as all hell that we can't either.

We defend our meetings with disciplined organization, and by appealing to the broad democratic inclinations of the vast majority, who rightly detest anyone who tells them what they can and can't listen to. Don't deride that instinct, it's a good one. It's the instinct that gives those of us who hold a minority viewpoint the hope for a real hearing.

When you tell people that some ideas are too repugnant for them to hear, you're saying that they're:

A. Too stupid not to be hypnotized
B. Dormant bigots who just needs to hear what they believe already said through a microphone

If you believe either A or B there's not much for us to discuss. But I suspect that most of you don't. I suspect that most of you would-be censors are rightfully repulsed by racism, and that you're earnest in your desire to eradicate it from the earth. Good. We agree.

I think you do that the Cuban way, by organizing working people to make a revolution and reorganize society on the basis of human solidarity. Maybe you disagree, no problem. We can debate that. We could even hold a large public meeting debating revolutionary politics, and I bet we'd find a curious audience among the millions of working people searching for a way forward. A lot of people wouldn't like that though, especially as the social crisis in the United States deepens. A lot of them would say that we shouldn't get to organize that meeting, they may even try to shut us down. But fear not, I'm sure the cops would defend our right to speak, just like they defended that bigot troll with the bleached hair.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Marxolalia and Marxophasia

Having finished Volume 1 last week, today i began reading. Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution, Vol. II: The Politics of Social Classes by Hal Draper.  It was initially published in 1978.
In the Foreword, Draper reviews his own strict procedures for the use of quotation in his exegesis.
He also spends some time on the question of unintentionally relaxed standards used in the quotation of Marx and Engels.
I get the feeling that the more Draper worked on this series of books, the more he felt compelled to settle accounts with 150 years of pseudo-scholarship.
Except from pages 14-17:

Saturday, February 4, 2017

No DAPL Cleveland Rally. Feb 4 2017. Market Square.

No DAPL Cleveland Rally. Feb 4 2017.

Market Square.

Video from Facebook Live here and here.

More photos:

Cold day. 60 to 70 showed up. Some old hands, many young men and women.

Vocal anti-Trump element. "No Trump, No Pence, no KKK, no fascist USA."

One young guy pointed out, commenting on such slogans, that since Trump got so many votes, we had to find a way to his voters, too.

Older folks with bull horn had slogans against the U.S. Bank branch across the street. Apparently U.S. Bank is part of the pipeline octopus.

Lots of "Leave it in the ground" and "You can't drink oil" signs and statements.

No signs or demands around Native American rights.

See also:

Draper sums-up Marx's approach to the state

The end of chapter 23 marks the end of Draper's book. (Except that there are still several hundred pages of appendices, notes, and indexes to go.)
The final section of chapter 23 serves as a kind of summation of themes Draper has explicated in rich detail in the preceding 520 pages.
Hal Draper. Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution. Volume 1: State and Bureacracy. 1977.
From Chapter 23, Section
....Engels presented the basic formularization of the socioeconomic foundation of the state structure. It is expressed in terms broad enough to include the normal class interpretation of the normal state; that is, it underlies the class formula. Like the latter, it is put in terms of executors. Writing specifically of the complex role of the Russian state absolutism, Engels stated:
All governments, be they ever so absolute, are en dernier lieu [in the last analysis] but the executors of the economic necessities of the national situation. They may do this in various ways, good, bad and indifferent; they may accelerate or retard the economic development and its political and juridical consequences, but in the long run they must follow it.35 
This, Engels continued, was why the industrial revolution in Russia was unavoidable.
This was no new thought for Engels, even in this aphoristic form. He had met the same problem in a similar way, if from another direction, in 1875. In the essay against Tkachov, as mentioned, Engels showed how the interests of the various classes are the material bases on which the state stands, instead of hanging inthe air. But he does not turn the Tkachov fantasy over on its other side by trying to prove that this Russian state is simply the instrument of a particular class. The conclusion he comes to is put as follows: 
Not only the Russian state in general but even its specific form, the czarist despotism, instead of hanging in the air, is the necessary and logical product of the Russian social conditions with which, according to Mr. Tkachov, it has “nothing in common”!36 
This is a formula for the nature of the state which cuts behind—or deeper than—the normal class formula.* 
The relation between these two formulas can now be understood to state the full content of Marx’s theory of the state:
Under normal conditions—conditions of relative stability in society—the necessary product of the social conditions is the accession of a particular class to the unshared domination of the state power. But this can hardly be the product in a period when a societal transition is still unresolved. It cannot be the product when classes are still struggling for dominion in an undecided contest; in such a flux the state’s class content will reflect the state of the war. Nor can it be the necessary product in a situation such as Russia’s, driven into the maelstrom of social revolution from above, where no class of civil society was capable of acting as “executors of the economic necessities of the national situation.” 
In this Russian case, what was needed was a class whose own interests impelled it to act as the instrument to save the real interests of all the social strata that had a stake in the ongoing society, to save them by saving the society itself from the collapse which was the only alternative to the social transformation . This is what defines “the economic necessities of the national situation,” not in terms of the interests of any single class, but in terms of the class constellation as a whole.
The only social power that could perform this function was the state apparatus. In this way the state acts as the Gesamteinheit—the overall Unity—not simply of “society” in the abstract, but of all class elements whose real interests rest on the maintenance of social exploitation in one form or another. 
And the maintenance of social exploitation in one form or another, in the midst of the Russian transmogrification, had a very concrete meaning, capable of being figured in rubles. In general, we here meet a phenomenon that was also important in Western Europe in the eventual bourgeoisification of the feudalaristocracy itself, insofar as the latter reconciled itself to the inevitability of change instead of inviting a 1789 type of revolutionary convulsion. Both the old and the new ruling class—the landowning nobles and the bourgeois—were equally property-owning, exploitive classes. The revolution from above was a shift from one mode of extracting surplus labor to another. This was also the reason why a revolution from above was possible . The old ruling class in crisis learns that, at any rate, this sort of revolution offers them some very comforting mitigations of the indignity forced upon them: namely, continued economic privileges to one degree or another. (We had occasion to make this point in Chapter 14 regarding the Bismarckian development.)38
But this consolation prize depends on channeling the inescapable revolution into a form that maintains social exploitation in one form or another. It is not usually just one of the contending classes themselves that can undertake the organization of this redistribution of power; as we have pointed out elsewhere, it is difficult for one sector of the capitalist class, for example, to referee the internecine struggles of competing capitalists to make sure that the system is not shaken apart by the melee. In the Russian case, it is the state that acted as the executor for the interests of class society as a whole.
Autonomous from any particular class of civil society, it could embody what the contenders had in common: the need to ensure the conditions under which to continue the extraction of surplus labor from the mass of people.
This spells out the class content of Engels’ formulation of the theory of the state: the state, “necessary and logical product of the [given] social conditions,” is always in the last analysis “the executor of the economic necessities of the national situation.” Thus it is always the organizer of society in the interests of the class (exploitive) structure taken as a whole. This is the general theory of the state in Marx and Engels.
Within its framework lies the special theory of the state which applies to normal times and conditions in roughly the same way as Euclidean geometry applies to normal space. It is the view of the state as the managing committee of a ruling class with which we started in Chapter 11.
Normality here is a function of the process of change. The more rapid the change—the more revolutionary the times, the more history is caught in the flux of becoming—the more does the special theory begin to warp away from a close match with reality, and the more does the general theory of the state become applicable in order to explain the pattern of political power in the process of social transformation.
Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution I, Hal Draper.