Thu, 14 Oct 1999 16:07:12 +0100
I agree to some extent with your comments about British Trotskyism. There
has been a tendency to teach young recruits to stick to the party line,
which does not provide a good foundation for intellectual free thought. If
this is not the case in your Netherlands group then this is something to be
commended. However, the argument can also be made that in the U.K. the
Trotskyism, as represented by the SWP here, is much better organised on the
continent. Le Pen gained power in French cities but couldn't even speak in
London due to direct opposition from the (SWP run) Anti Nazi League. There
is not even one fascist local councillor in the U.K., which I think is due
largely to the SWP.
Thanks very much for spending time to go through the Shaikh references - I
had not thought to tap into the New School website.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jurriaan Bendien [SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: 11 October 1999 21:36
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: [OPE-L:1460] Re: RE: Re: RE: Re: Re: Mandel, Mattick, etc.
> Hi Andrew
> Your write:
> >This may be a bit unfair (even sectarian on your part) about Callinicos.
> Well to be honest, occasionally Callinicos does write articles for
> publications from other groups, including Against the Current, which are
> genuine contributions to a discussion. And as a matter of fact, in the
> theoretical journal of the organisation I belong to at the moment
> (Socialist Workers Party of the Netherlands) we have published an exchange
> of views between Michael Lowy and Callinicos. But in other instances, such
> as with Mandel, we see the sectarian and dogmatic knee-jerk reaction
> happening very quickly, and it becomes villification. And it's the same
> with Chris Harman and similar people. It is not sectarian to say this,
> simply a fact. Just read their literature if you have a stomach for it.
> polemics that they have got into are sometimes positively nutty. I want to
> stay out of that sort of thing, I have better things to do with my time.
> Speaking in a personal capacity, I don't care much for that whole British
> Trotskyist tradition, although it has produced many outstanding intellects
> and political actors, and some literature which is worth reading. The
> history of British Trotskyism and its offshoots is riddled with sectarian
> in-fighting, so that the debates frequently become arcane bunk which I
> to keep well away from. I mean, some groups will deduce you're a so-and-so
> because of some difference in interpretation of the labour theory of
> I wouldn't claim though that we have never had problems with sectarianism
> here on the continent, but generally speaking the socialist parties there
> are have better traditions so there is more intelligent debate and less
> sectarian bunk.
> >think things are so up in the air in social theory that his 'sect'
> >have trouble even keeping up with it, and establishing a party line may
> When I mentioned his "sect" I was probably not quite correct
> scientifically. It's probably more a "semi-sect", a sort of combination of
> a group of honest working-class socialists capable of objective and
> critical thought, and a bunch of religious nutters. But it will eventually
> become a sect because its theories are dogmatic and don't work. If for
> example on moral grounds you call the former Soviet Union "state
> capitalist" then (1) you haven't understood much about the socio-economic
> structure of that society, (2) you don't have any real insight into the
> real problems of socialist transition, of building socialism. You can
> certainly jump up and down and shout that socialism means workers power,
> but beyond moral fervour you don't have any real idea about the
> organisation of a socialist economy or a socialist society, or how to get
> there. And that's more the problem that interests me.
> >Would be very interested to know more about what you find appealing about
> >Shaikh's position and which references are relevant to this, if you have
> >time for a brief paragraph on this. Look forward also to you writing up
> >your ideas on Mandel.
> The US organisation Solidarity published a pamphlet by Anwar Shaikh called
> I think The Current Crisis: Causes and Implications. It gives a very clear
> simple discussion why profitability matters, using the classical argument
> but using modern terminology, and he shows what's wrong with various
> positions by leftwingers taken on the issue. Furthermore he (like Fred
> Moseley) actually measures the rate of profit in a fairly sophisticated
> for the USA, and various other variables such as real wages and
> productivity. I found that pamphlet (which is only an outline of something
> that requires much more discussion) very appealing, and in particular that
> he places appropriate emphasis on the growth of fixed capital and profit
> margins and what that means for the accumulation process (Ernst might
> disagree with me here). I have another paper of his presenting a model of
> economic crisis from the old days but that was never published. Implicitly
> he gives a very good reply to Okishio and to Dobb in his writings. As
> regards Anwar Shaikh's papers, you can get references easily from the New
> School site. Just look under Anwar Shaikh or Willy Semmler or New School
> Social Research etc. I have regrettably not read all of Shaikh's writings
> either, for lack of time, but I will do so in future because I think he is
> an outstanding Marxian economist.
> In solidarity
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