A "sectarian" approach to dealing with left reformists? (Needed?)

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Jacob Richter
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Joined: 13-07-08
Jul 21 2014 04:15
A "sectarian" approach to dealing with left reformists? (Needed?)

I'm the most consistent opponent of sectarianism, so quotation marks were in order for the subject line.

Over the years, whenever I've written about whether a left reform is something worth supporting, I've always asked:

1) Does this reform facilitate the issuance of either intermediate demands or demands on the threshold? Does it diminish the chances of further gains and/or limit progressive overhaul in other areas, or does it make further progress more likely and facilitate progressive overhaul in other areas also?

2) Does it keep class struggle, "socialist production [...] beyond the framework of existing production" and cross-border politics (inter-nationalism at minimum, transnationalism preferrably) "consciously in view," to quote Kautsky, so that politics do not seem "to move forever in a circle"?

Because of the recent chatter about "basic income" (two more arguments against it being that it may not eliminate "precarity" and does not address the employability prospects of the long-term unemployed), I fear that this humble and supposedly very simple framework might not be enough to put forward a hard-nosed left opposition.

Earlier, I suggested that such left reforms "should, at a very dynamic 'minimum,' coincide with the 'maximum demands' of modern 'left social-democrats.'" However, what exactly were those demands historically?

Is the state of political education on the broad left deficient enough to validate the anti-Blairite statement of one Sunder Katwala about being "willing to offer a free internet-based phD certificate in comparative social democracy to anybody who can do that"? This would basically mean hard-nosed research on identifying the main areas of left-social-democratic policy (i.e., fiscal, monetary, labour, agriculture, etc.) in each western European and Scandinavian country during the immediate post-WWII era, and identifying the "best" ones implemented on a country-vs-country basis that can also be applicable to "post-industrial" economies. Hopefully, there would be enough of them to make a political laundry list.

Naturally, this laundry list, having arisen from left-social-democratic policy development, would combine those that satisfy both of the two main questions above with those that satisfy only the first one. This is left-social-democratic policy development we're talking about here, not non-participatory "democratic-socialist" policy development.

The "sectarian" approach involves presenting this laundry list as a total ultimatum or "red line" for any sort of front-based work with left-reformists, safeguarding against opportunistic tendencies towards reform coalitionism. Basically, "We don't want to even talk politics with you, let alone work with you, unless you support every bullet point on the list!"

Is this needed?

akai
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Joined: 29-09-06
Jul 21 2014 06:55

This is just theoretical mumbo jumbo. The real questions are different and need to be based on what actually happens when supporting left reformist methods using concrete situations as the basis for judgment. In my local situation, where the left spends all its time trying to get elected to try to push their proposed reforms, we see the following: constant alligment of the left in coalitions with the right or making "compromises" in the attempt to get into power, constant co-optation and destruction of social movements, which are seen by them as electorate building machines, failure to actually make any positive reforms except for the most banal (let's think bike paths).

Now the situation may be different in different places, but what is needed is some judgment of what this shit actually does in concrete situations, not some theory made in an armchair.

akai
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Joined: 29-09-06
Jul 21 2014 07:02

By the way, of all the leftists and pseudo-leftists (populists) running for election this year, NOT ONE has anything in their program about working conditions !!!!! I mean, there are even syndicalists running for elections on programs of increasing public housing or keeping parks from being privatized (which I support by the way) .... but not one work about working conditions.

For example, my organization is demanding that the city of Warsaw not award public tenders to companies that have illegal working conditions and pay less than the minimum wage. You would think that all these "leftists" would at least make a statement of support for such postulates. Instead it looks like we have to show up at their election events and criticize them for not saying a word about workers paid by the municipal budget. NOT A WORD.

Fuckers.

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ocelot
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Joined: 15-11-09
Jul 21 2014 10:53
akai wrote:
In my local situation, where the left spends all its time trying to get elected to try to push their proposed reforms, we see the following: constant alligment of the left in coalitions with the right or making "compromises" in the attempt to get into power, constant co-optation and destruction of social movements, which are seen by them as electorate building machines, failure to actually make any positive reforms except for the most banal (let's think bike paths).

Now the situation may be different in different places,

Your description would apply to Ireland, pretty much word for word. (Despite the obvious economic and social differences between Ireland and Poland)