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Are we Practicing Scientific Socialism, or Utopian Theology?

Posted 6th June 2011 at 13:53 by redarmyleader

I have discovered a real and interesting phenomenon on revleft that has honestly left me perplexed, and I just wanted to write about it in an effort to get some clarity on the issue. I would appreciate people's responses and comments to my observations. Those observations are that most people, whether they call themselves anarchists, communists. Maoists, Trotskyists, etc seem to practice methods more akin to religion than it does scientific socialism, a term I have seen used very little. I shall make my point below using a recent post on revleft and the response it garnished, which I found to be very perplexing and troubling.

In a recent post in the Practice and Propaganda section entitled "Someone please give me hope..." a comrade was expressing some frustration about convincing people around understanding and supporting socialism and people's reluctance to fight, and asked what gave people hope. The responses given consisted of either open demoralization or moral abstractions and platitudes. The open demoralizations are not worth discussing, since those are to be clearly found everywhere. I would like to talk about the moral abstractions and platitudes.

The answer of the inevitability of the victory of the proletariat was one common response. One comes across this response often on revleft, yet it is always the case that no one ever tries to show in a scientific way how this is suppose to be the case, with the exception that every once in a while someone attempts to make a summation of human history that is often very incomplete, full of misunderstanding, and often times not even factually correct (it mainly shows how little the people know or understand history). At least one person was honest in characterizing their believe in the inevitable victory of the proletariat as being of a more religious slant akin to the day of reckoning (one has to say thank you for such honesty). Of course the people who believe in the inevitability of the victory of the proletariat never recognizes openly the conclusion of such a theory, although I am quite sure they know and take relief in its implicit implications, which is namely that there is no need for revolutionary organization or activity. For the expounders of the inevitability of the victory of the proletariat they take joy in their ability to "recognize" the righteousness of socialism yet not having to give up any privileges they now enjoy and having to not oppose in practice the power of the state. They can wait like the faithful Christians do for the "inevitable" return of the Messiah, knowing that they will be saved simply because they believed that Jesus is Lord!

It is very true that social upheaval and revolution is inevitable because of the fact that the antagonisms that exists in class society cannot produce anything else but an explosion. Yet these revolutions, which happen from time to time, do not and cannot lead to victory of the proletariat unless their is a revolutionary party fighting for the destruction of the capitalists state and in its replacement the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e. a workers state that begins to wither away on its own accord owing to its successes in extinguishing the existence of classes. This is why Utopian Socialism, which existed before Marx and Engels, had to be rejected and a scientific method applied to the noble and righteous theory of socialism that could make it possible for it to actually come about. This is why Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto, why Lenin fought to developing the revolutionary combat organization of the proletarian vanguard.

Another response were examples of actions of moral appeasement as opposed to concrete examples of the possibility of building mass social struggle and how our intervention could radicalize these mass struggles. One person said whenever they put up posters about socialism or where a shirt with socialism on it, it makes them feel good, as if socialism was a religious relic with mystical powers that, like the cross, one could take comfort in by wrapping oneself with it.

There were a few responses that focused on concrete things to do to fight the helpless feeling. A couple spoke of doing organizing that makes a difference around an issue that was interesting to a person. However, it is never discussed exactly what struggles will make a difference, or what strategies and tactics to use for such issues. Because of this the advise differed very little from advise that a good Christian would receive from their pastor - "find work that makes a difference and soothes your heart" says the pastor! But this has nothing in common is scientific socialism and the Marxist method of struggle. The reason for this is that in order to recognize, develop, and practice such a method one has to be actually fighting for POWER and the victory of the proletariat revolution. Contrary to the popular belief among the left, it is NOT ENOUGH to just know why side of history is the right side to stand on; you must constantly look for ways to express the power of the proletariat and oppressed masses over and against that of the capitalists until the rule of the capitalists can be smashed with the power of the proletariat and massed oppressed.

Reading the posts made me think about my times as a Christian and how confused, demoralizing, and powerless I felt as a Christian and the reason why I rejected it for Marxism. I was shocked to see that no one attempted to engage the creator of the post with the concrete situation in his country; he is from Canada, where the NDP (social-democratic party) the second largest number of seats in Parliament, and the largest number of seats in the history of the NDP. While the Conservatives won the majority of seats, and the NDP is barely even center-left, there are certainly limitations to the election results. But one thing is clear is that Canadian society is polarized, and polarization is a good thing for the class struggle because people are choosing which side they are standing on.

And not a single person mentioned Egypt, or any of the Middle Eastern and European countries that has experienced massive social explosions.

My first two posts on my blog are examples of enacting a scientific method of engaging and intervening in struggle.

Let me know what people's thoughts are to this. I am just looking to speak to other serious people.

In struggle
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    MarxSchmarx's Avatar
    Yeah I share your misgivings and see where you are coming from.

    I guess you should look into and study what's going on in Greece. for now there's not a lot more we can do apart from learning.

    Also for what it's worth, a few members here have tried to be a bit more constructive and recognize the vaccuum you've described. Die Nueue Ziet for example has a whole bunch of stuff that he's attempted to put together over the years. Uncle Sam has a few ongoing projects as well. There are also a lot of anti-fa/anti-racist stuff worth looking into, that's where a lot of the day-to-day activism is at.
    Posted 6th June 2011 at 19:26 by MarxSchmarx MarxSchmarx is offline
  2. Old Comment
    I think there is a lot more we can do than learn from stuff. I myself am part of anti-racist struggle and struggle to defend public education. We have led walkouts and occupations of high schools in Detroit, and mass opposition to a racist, specifically anti-Muslim pastor in Dearborn. check out www.bamn.com and you will see there is a lot going on for us to engage in.

    But was there something specifically around Greece you think is worth studying or thinking about? And what kind of projects have Die Nueue Ziet and Uncle Sam been trying to organize?

    And thanks MarxSchmarx on the comment. The topic being discussed in my blog obviously deserves further elaboration and discussion, but wanted to say something about it.
    Posted 7th June 2011 at 04:29 by redarmyleader redarmyleader is offline
    Updated 7th June 2011 at 10:40 by redarmyleader
  3. Old Comment
    Ben Seattle's Avatar

    Inevitability is based on "Productivity of Labor" and "Information War"

    Hi there Red Army Leader,

    (I do hope you will eventually change your pseudonym--because I do feel just a little bit silly using that name in public. As it is, the revolutionary movement, at present, unfortunately, has much of the character of a "children's crusade". Changing your name, of course, will not change that, but we can have the determination and humility to build a movement that is deserving of the respect of adults: and that determination and humility can change things.)



    Also, before beginning, I should note that I just realized, from looking at your blog, that you were the person who asked me, in December 2009:

    Quote:
    [FONT=verdana][FONT=verdana]When you say put the movement on a healthy foundation, [/FONT][/FONT]
    [FONT=verdana][FONT=verdana]what do you mean?[/FONT][/FONT]
    [FONT=verdana]I replied, on your blog, at the time (ie: The seven principles of a healthy and powerful revolutionary movement). But I also continued to give thought to the matter, and eventually recognized that I should put together a more formal list of fundamental principles. The list does not include things like "study Marx or Lenin or Trotsky or Stalin or Mao or any of the anarchist thinkers" -- because things like this (when useful) are secondary to being part of this world: they will find their place in our consciousness as we find our place in struggle. This article remains incomplete (ie: I now list 12 principles--but only the first 6 are explained) and is posted here: [/FONT]
    The 12 Decisive Principles of Victory
    Transforming Our Existing Dysfunctional Mess into A
    [FONT=Verdana]Healthy and Powerful Revolutionary Mass Movement[/FONT]
    This will be an important article for me, Red Army Leader, so I realize I should thank you (but somehow the idea of sending you a battalion of tanks seems odd).

    [FONT=verdana]But returning to our topic:[/FONT]

    Red Army Leader:
    [FONT=verdana]
    Quote:
    [FONT=verdana]The answer of the inevitability of the victory of the proletariat was one common response. One comes across this response often on revleft, yet it is always the case that no one ever tries to show in a scientific way how this is suppose to be the case, with the exception that every once in a while someone attempts to make a summation of human history that is often very incomplete, full of misunderstanding, and often times not even factually correct[/FONT]
    [/FONT]
    I do not participate in the forums here because I do not have time to deal with the kind of energy and cluelessness often found there. But this issue also came up in the informal group of independent revolutionary activists that meets once a month in Seattle. I replied to it here on my blog
    Why the Victory of the Working Class Is Inevitable
    We can break free of the pessimism of the bourgeois world-view
    by understanding the concepts of "Relations of Production",
    "Productivity of Labor" and "Information War"
    I wrote this to reply to Anton Black. The discussion on the topic is "on pause" for the moment so that I can write about two new organizations in the Seattle area, the Red Spark and Black Orchid Collectives. But the discussion there will resume (hopefully soon). I hope you will consider becoming part of that discussion. I check my own blog far more often than I check yours.

    Red Army Leader:

    Quote:
    [FONT=verdana][FONT=verdana]It is very true that social upheaval and revolution is inevitable because of the fact that the antagonisms that exists in class society cannot produce anything else but an explosion. Yet these revolutions, which happen from time to time, do not and cannot lead to victory of the proletariat unless their is a revolutionary party fighting for the destruction of the capitalists state and in its replacement the dictatorship of the proletariat[/FONT]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=verdana]So how is this revolutionary party going to come into existence? Will it fall from the sky? Will a small group of pure, dedicated comrades build their tiny cell into a mighty fortress of class struggle with the ability to lead the working class? I don't think so. I have written about how I believe this party will come into existence here:[/FONT]
    [FONT=verdana]How to Build the Party of the Working Class[/FONT]
    [FONT=verdana]The most important task for revolutionaries in the present period [/FONT]
    [FONT=verdana]is the creation of a genuinely revolutionary organization [/FONT]
    [FONT=verdana](or system of organizations) capable of uniting everything [/FONT]
    [FONT=verdana]healthy in the progressive and workers' movements [/FONT]
    [FONT=verdana]and laying the foundations for a mass workers' party that [/FONT]
    [FONT=verdana]can overcome both the reformist and sectarian diseases [/FONT]
    [FONT=verdana]and unite the majority of the working class around [/FONT]
    [FONT=verdana]a program centered on the overthrow of bourgeois rule[/FONT]
    [FONT=verdana]I look forward, Red Army Leader, to engaging with you on topics like this.[/FONT]

    [FONT=verdana]All the best,[/FONT]
    [FONT=verdana]Ben Seattle[/FONT]
    Posted 8th June 2011 at 15:49 by Ben Seattle Ben Seattle is offline
    Updated 9th June 2011 at 03:11 by Ben Seattle
  4. Old Comment
    Well Ben Seattle, I am glad to see my post garner such thought from you. I do not have the time now to fully respond to you but will say that 1) the picture was a bit much, and 2) I very much disagree with your theory of how to build a party, because not only will that result in a never-ending cycle to nowhere except the same lame forces of the left and the people who they are able to demoralize like themselves, but such an organization could never achieve power for the proletariat. Why I believe this to be the case will be the bulk of my response to you.
    Posted 9th June 2011 at 05:25 by redarmyleader redarmyleader is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Ben Seattle's Avatar

    I don't think so

    Hi Red,

    Quote:
    1) the picture was a bit much
    I completely understand.

    It stings.

    Life is like that.

    If it makes you feel any better, I did not select that drawing with you in mind. I plan to use it in something I am working on.

    Quote:
    2) I very much disagree with your theory of how to build a party,
    because not only will that result in a never-ending cycle
    to nowhere except the same lame forces of the left and
    the people who they are able to demoralize like themselves,
    but such an organization could never achieve power for
    the proletariat. Why I believe this to be the case will be
    the bulk of my response to you.
    You will reply to me?

    I don't believe it.

    Look Red, you're a nice guy and all.

    But I've seen your type.

    You're a dreamer.

    In your mind, you believe you will reply.

    But you won't.

    There will always be something more important, or more interesting, than how we will build the party of the working class.

    And what is the party of the working class? Certainly it is not anything worth living, or dying, for.

    At least that's how most people feel.

    If you are really going to reply, make a public commitment now, with a date -- while you still believe you have it in you to do so. Post that you will reply by the end of June, or something like that. Set a date that is realistic, maybe giving yourself time to do a little reading (or thinking). Then follow through.

    Look, it takes determination to reply to me on a topic like this. You would need to carefully read, think about and deal with what I wrote. You would need the humility to draw from your own life experience and maybe a little from the history of the class struggle.

    I don't think you have that kind of determination or humility in you.

    I know what you're thinking: "Ben Seattle is wrong!"

    Prove it.

    All the best,
    Ben
    Posted 10th June 2011 at 04:36 by Ben Seattle Ben Seattle is offline
  6. Old Comment
    What a precocious individual you are, Ben Seattle. I will reply to your post. When I do not exactly know. I most certainly agree with you that the issue is an important one to deal with and worth being discussed. But the thing I find most important and interesting than immediately responding to you is building a party that is engaged in actual struggle. Google search BAMN, Catherine Ferguson Academy, or Terry Jones and that will be made clear. Or go to www.bamn.com for yourself.

    And I did not say the picture was too much because it stung, but because I found it to be too cheesy; some people are more visual learners I guess, but I certainly am not and for the future would appreciate no graphics in our exchanges.

    I am glad that you take this question seriously, or at least discussing it. I will say I agree with the method of party building expressed in Lenin's "What is to Be Done?" and will make that clear, as I previously stated, when it is possible for me to do so.

    Til then
    redarmyleader
    Posted 10th June 2011 at 17:55 by redarmyleader redarmyleader is offline
  7. Old Comment
    Ben Seattle's Avatar

    the party of the working class

    Hi again Red,

    Quote:
    What a precocious individual you are, Ben Seattle.
    I am, often, in the somewhat uneviable position of delivering news that people do not want to hear. It is not uncommon that people get angry at me. I do not know if you are angry at me. You have a right to be angry and sometimes it is a good thing to be angry. It is our anger that keeps us fighting.

    What is important to me is that, for at least one moment, I have your attention.

    I believe in you. More than this, I believe that ignorant dumbfucks like us (and we _are_ ignorant in relation to the immensity of our responsibilities) will find ways to link up with others and build a revolutionary movement, and a system of revolutionary mass organizations, that will, once again, be deserving of the attention and respect of the working class.

    Quote:
    I will reply to your post. When I do not exactly know.
    Would you like to know?

    I can tell you.

    With the course you are on, you will answer when hell freezes over.

    It is more comfortable for you to chase illusions than attempt to confront the decades of failure by so many activists similar to yourself, and so many small organizations similar to your small organization.

    Quote:
    the thing I find most important and interesting than immediately responding to you is building a party that is engaged in actual struggle. Google search BAMN, Catherine Ferguson Academy, or Terry Jones and that will be made clear.
    I took a quick look, of course.

    The organization you are working with may be doing a lot of useful and progressive work. And you are likely gaining a lot of valuable experience. But that is not the same thing as building the party of the working class.

    I know that, in your mind, you are building the party of the working class. But you also appear, in your mind, to be the leader of a red army. But the army does not exist. And neither does the party.

    Nor are the things you are now doing going to go very far to bring these things into existence.

    There are many activists like you, and many small groups engaged in struggle. These struggles often do a lot of good. But they usually, eventually, run out of steam. None of these groups, or struggles, has led to the party of the working class.

    Yeah, I know, your little group is different. It is pure. It will not make the terrible mistakes that all the other little groups made or still make. It will be different from them--just like they are different from you.

    And, after some more years, or decades, it may dawn on you that you are sacrificing your life energy for the accomplishment of a lot less than you hoped to accomplish, and you will find it difficult to continue. And, most likely, you will simply give up your "silly, youthful dreams". Maybe you will blame the "backward" or "petty bourgeois" or "middle class" people who refused to become soldiers in your army. Maybe you will decide that Marx was the problem. Or maybe you will blame yourself. I have seen this many times.

    I am not trying to be smart with you. I am just trying to talk to you about things as they are here, on the planet earth.

    Quote:
    I agree with the method of party building expressed in Lenin's "What is to Be Done?"
    Again, you agree with Lenin in your mind. Your actions tell another story.

    Our dialog appears to be coming to a close for now, Red. Maybe it may continue at some other time. You can always find me on my blog. I am sometimes offline for a few weeks at a time, sometimes longer. But I return. Maybe, at some point, you will want to continue this conversation. If or when that happens, you will know where to find me.

    All the best,
    Ben
    Posted 11th June 2011 at 06:20 by Ben Seattle Ben Seattle is offline
 
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