Thread: Am I right in saying that leftist infighting is a result of irrelevancy?

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  1. #1
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    Default Am I right in saying that leftist infighting is a result of irrelevancy?

    Just wondering. Anyway, I guess I made this thread to express my broad pessimism when it comes to the different revolutionary leftist groups that I've come into contact with. For one thing, ISO has the most members of any U.S. leftist group at barely over 1,000 members? Jesus.

    Also, about the topic title, it seems as though so long as no major struggles are taking place, the left is pretty much doomed to irrelevancy until shit happens. But even when shit happens, I feel like the Red Scare will present a major barrier to us.

    ...as I was saying I'm pretty pessimistic.

    BTW, does EVERY leftist group say that "WE'RE NOT SIMPLY ARMCHAIR REVOLUTIONARIES?" It almost seems like a subtle self-serving jab against every other leftist group that isn't the group in question.
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  3. #2
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    Well, there's the connection between theory and practice, so if the theory is faulty than the practice is doomed to failure. I suppose that's a major bone of contention between parties and small (or large) nuance in theory. On the other hand, until shit happens we have a lot of time to study, read, and endlessly debate minutiae until the smallest things are blown up into huge monsters in everyone's head and result in splits.

    I wouldn't worry too much about red-baiting. I'd say it's more of a danger now (look at Freedom Road Socialist Organization) than it will be when major struggles are erupting and there is mass support.
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    I don't think so. The bourgeois political factions fight amongst themselves like cats and dogs.
    "Getting a job, finding a mate, having a place to live, finding a creative outlet. Life is a war of attrition. You have to stay active on all fronts. It's one thing after another. I've tried to control a chaotic universe. And it's a losing battle. But I can't let go. I've tried, but I can't." - Harvey Pekar


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  6. #4
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    Disagreement is a pretty human thing. It is up to our forms of organisation in how we deal with that. In that sense there is some argument that we stay irrelevant due to our institutionalised infighting (so, infighting for the sake of staying disunited) and more commonly straight out ignoring of eachother.
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    No its genuine political differences.
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    No its genuine political differences.
    Which should be fought out within one class organisation. The failure to recognise this basic point is what keeps us divided and thus irrelevant. And with our irrelevancy, we will never be able to organise the foremost fighters and advanced political layers of our class.

    "But", the retort often is made, "our group is indeed small, but given our pure political line on x, y and z, our ranks will swell as soon as a revolutionary situation happens and the masses get radicalised". Sorry, but:
    a) It never works like that and
    b) You'll always be too late, tailing behind the movement as you are.

    We need to overcome this dead-end road strategy. The different unity projects have, despite their deficiencies, showed one important thing: Being united causes you to have social weight. So, even imperfect unity is actually progress. From there on we need to fight out our differences openly, which implies opposition to (proto-)bureaucratic leaderships and for rigorous democracy within our movement.
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  11. #7
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    The fractionalism is more often than not something which has little priority over the common goal. This is not to say the issues lack importance but they are less important than the overthrow of capitalism and classsociety/patriarchy and the need to unite in order to reach that goal.

    Not to mention that they are more often than not exploited by provocateurs and the burgeoisie to further deepen the conflicts with the revolutionary left.

    As has been said before...that does not mean the debates are unimportant or without merit and should be avoided or taboo. But they should be discussed within one boader movement, as Q said. And they should be prioritised.
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    Not to mention that they are more often than not exploited by provocateurs and the burgeoisie to further deepen the conflicts with the revolutionary left.
    I say, let them! I'm fully confident that we win the political debate. They'll merely expose themselves as provocateurs if they are and continue to be dysfunctional. Disagreements should happen in a comradely and constructive fashion, this is not the method of provocateurs.
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  14. #9
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    Certainly not. Look at those periods of workers uprising in which the radical left was most relevant in the past century (Spain in '36, Russia in 1917..). Was the left remotely homogeneous? Definitely not. Was there (often brutal) infighting? Most definitely.
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    "Idle hands are the devil's workshop." Certainly in America, where a center-right President is commonly excepted as "far-left," the left-wing has faded into irrelevancy. In 2008, three left-wing parties (excluding the Greens) ran candidates; "Socialist Workers," "Socialism and Liberation," and "Socialism." Combined, those three candidate received just over 20,000 votes.

    (I cannot post links because of my post count. To verify the above, visit uselectionatlas dot org, press "Election Results" and then "2008.")
  16. #11
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    Just wondering. Anyway, I guess I made this thread to express my broad pessimism when it comes to the different revolutionary leftist groups that I've come into contact with. For one thing, ISO has the most members of any U.S. leftist group at barely over 1,000 members? Jesus.
    It's closer to 1,300 but since the organization doesn't disclose membership figures even internally no one can say with any certainty (except the FBI and the organization's leadership).

    A lot of the infighting is useless; it is both a product of and contributor to irrelevancy to American politics and working-class life.
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    Which should be fought out within one class organisation. The failure to recognise this basic point is what keeps us divided and thus irrelevant. And with our irrelevancy, we will never be able to organise the foremost fighters and advanced political layers of our class.

    "But", the retort often is made, "our group is indeed small, but given our pure political line on x, y and z, our ranks will swell as soon as a revolutionary situation happens and the masses get radicalised". Sorry, but:
    a) It never works like that and
    b) You'll always be too late, tailing behind the movement as you are.

    We need to overcome this dead-end road strategy. The different unity projects have, despite their deficiencies, showed one important thing: Being united causes you to have social weight. So, even imperfect unity is actually progress. From there on we need to fight out our differences openly, which implies opposition to (proto-)bureaucratic leaderships and for rigorous democracy within our movement.
    This demonstrates another point on the relationship between theory and practice, it also doesn't matter how pristine perfect your theory is (such a thing never exists imo, but that's besides the point) if you are doing fuck all and the party has no connections to the real world.

    I think modern leftists have the tendency to fetishise their organisations from the social contexts in which they exist, and don't develop theory that is suitable for their own socio-political situations. Instead we hark back to some incredibly dry and stripped-down version of Leninism due to idealist notions of the relationship between ideas and reality, i.e. 'the last time a successful revolution happened, we were all Leninists. Therefore if we become Leninists today then another one will happen...'.

    Their abstract theories thus become falsely reified into actual things that will somehow lead to a 'swelling in numbers' when the 'revolution comes', neglecting to realise that you actually have to have a social base among the people for revolutionary theory to mean anything other than armchair wank.

    I really only think leftist sectarianism can exist in a non-dysfunctional way when there is actually a revolutionary situation, i.e. the Russian Social Democrats splitting between Mensheviks and Bolsheviks. That's because their differences actually became important. The differences between two Leninist groups who worsh--I mean follow different historical figures is completely asinine in comparison.
    Last edited by RHIZOMES; 18th September 2011 at 02:28.
    And when Marx says, 'Hitherto the philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways', what that 'hitherto' means is not a renunciation of theory and that all we need to do is wade in with our fists and there will be no more need for thought. This idea is in fact fascist, and it would be grossly unjust to Marx to impute such views on him.
    --Theodor Adorno, 'On Theory and Practice'
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  19. #13
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    So far as I've been able to tell, there's also been rabid infighting among leftist factions during the process of actual revolution.
    He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.
    -Nietzsche
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  21. #14
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    Infighting, assuming that there is a real thing such as "the left", which has a broad range of views "in" it, has certainly always been around. Fighting, or arguments on line and theory between those who consider themselves "left" has been around as long as anything that could be called the left has. Gerard Winstanley wrote a pamphlet calling his group the True Levellers (in 1649 no less) to distinguish them from the Levellers from crying out loud. However, fighting or disagreements within "the left" is not the same thing as sectarianism. Arguably, "infighting" among the left has only become MORE intense at times of real relevancy.

    So no, that's not right. The left today, at least where I am, is irrelevant, and in practice is pretty united. Everyone disagrees with each other (the MLs, revisionists, trots, radical liberals, and anarchists) but everyone is also at the same rally and friendly, chanting the same crap, because there ain't that much going on.
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  23. #15
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    Take a look at the Spanish Civil War - the leftist groups were major players, and still there were heavy infighting.
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    @ OP:The fact that there's practically no revolutionary movement in the US doesn't mean it's like that in the whole world.

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