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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  May 2011

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE May 2011

Subject:

Re: socialism in other countries

From:

Stuart Newman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 15 May 2011 20:05:21 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (118 lines)

In the 1960s, when many of us came of age as leftists, there was a 
movement in the U.S. against the Vietnam war that had interenational 
notability, and perhaps some role in ending the war (though I think that 
the magnitude of that role is often inflated). Then, the opinions and 
policies of U.S. oppositional groups carried some interest. 

Even then, much of the left's activities was consumed by factional 
debates about who was Stalinist (e.g., the National Liberation Front), who 
was revisionist (e.g., the Soviet Union) (as if the Vietnamese opposition 
to U.S. imperialism would have gotten very far without both of these), 
and how no one was socialist except for (take your pick) the CP, IS, SWP, 
PL, SDS, RYM-I, RYM-II, the Sparticists, etc., etc.

Now we learn that Michael Balter rejects Chavez and the Castros, but likes 
Evo Morales, and that David Westman thinks they are all running dogs. 
That Morales admires and allies himself with Chavez and the Castros, and 
the fact that this is not worth commenting on by M. Balter when pointed 
out, indicates how solipsistic this whole purity-certifying enterprise is. 

Those on this list may eventually learn, whether they want to or not, 
what role Marc Cooper assigns to Evo Morales in the progress of 
humankind toward, or away, from socialism, or whether he and Michael 
Balter will judge that Hugo Chavez is the next worthy target for NATO's 
civilian-protecting bombs when they are finished with Qaddafi. But I doubt 
that the workers and peasants of the world are paying much attention.


On Sun, 15 May 2011 16:19:15 +0200, Michael Balter 
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>I will leave it to other list members to enter this discussion if they like,
>but want to follow up on just one point David raises: Whether non-
socialist
>parties should be allowed. The problem here is that someone has to 
decide
>whether such parties are indeed non-socialist or not. Did not Stalin 
brand
>all Trotskyist parties and individuals as counter-revolutionary, and have
>not most Communist parties in the world followed suit even after Stalin's
>death?
>
>This is what bothers me and many other people. Even if one could justify
>suppressing a party that is openly capitalist, can one ever justify banning
>a party that claims to be socialist, whether or not the majority agree that
>it is? It's just so easy for Communists to call people they don't agree 
with
>counter-revolutionary, to put them in jail, and to kill them. I doubt that
>many people in the world will ever again be persuaded to give them that
>power.
>
>MB
>
>On Sun, May 15, 2011 at 4:12 PM, David Westman 
<[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>
>>  Mr. Balter asks me whether multiple socialist parties should be 
allowed in
>> true anti-revisionist socialist societies, but he does not ask whether
>> non-socialist parties should be allowed.    I detect in this the 
realization
>> that he understands the possibility of counter-revolution and 
recognizes the
>> need to guard against it.     I think that this issue has not yet been
>> worked out and I cannot give a definite answer.    I think that the 
working
>> class would be stronger if the vast majority is united behind one single
>> party, but if it becomes fragmented into several parties, that would be 
a
>> weakness that must be overcome by non-coercive, democratic means.
>> Democracy is a way of reaching a decision, and a decision means that
>> consensus is recognized at some point and a collective path forward is
>> agreed on.   If a society remains stuck at a crisis point, where a 
decision
>> cannot be reached and unity is impossible, then this could prevent 
some
>> necessary actions and the conditions which brought about the crisis 
would
>> only get worse.    So whether formal parties or factions of a single 
party
>> or other means to recognize these disagreements are provided for, is 
not the
>> real issue.   Coercion, administrative measures, or bureacratic 
restrictions
>> should not be allowed unless the society is faced with a grave threat of
>> destruction.   If this is the case, then we should answer the question -
>> which is more important, the survival of the collective or the principle 
of
>> multiple parties?   I don't know the answer to this question, and it
>> troubles me as well.
>>
>> When it comes to oppositional parties, one can classify them in three
>> categories:  loyal, subversive, and ineffectual.   Loyal oppositions really
>> present little danger, because there is an agreement that the same 
societal
>> framework should be maintained and it is merely details of policy and
>> implementation that are at issue.    Subversive oppositional parties are
>> organizations of the class enemy, and every sort of society has 
means to
>> prevent those from forming and becoming organized; this is true of 
the USA
>> and any other country that has existed or will exist.   An ineffectual
>> oppositional party can be tolerated even if it is potentially subversive,
>> only so long as it is ineffectual or marginal.   Here in the US there are
>> many ineffectual parties of this sort, and as long as they do not have 
a
>> mass following, the government is content to spy on them and 
harass them,
>> but it does not seek to wipe them out completely (maybe at some 
point they
>> will, that is conceivable).    But if one of these parties begins to grow
>> and develop a mass base, then I would expect things to change, even 
in the
>> most "democratic" of societies.   So I am really throwing this open for 
more
>> discussion, because I do not have complete answers here.
>>
>> David Westman

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