The Red Menace

Letter to The Red Menace #4

Point of order


Dear Comrades:

Just two points now. In your first [actually second -ed.] issue you publish an article on 'dialectical materialism', attempting one of the eternal neo-Marxist tries at redefining it. In the next issue you attempt to counter an attack on it by saying that it is not part of your politics. At least this is I assume the obscure reference to Plekenov meant. Ten to one as soon as the issue is forgotten you will start using the term again.

Second, as a point of order, you nowhere answer the charge that I put forward. I did not state that Bakunin was a saint and Marx was a devil. I did not say that some anarchists do not have some pretty stupid ideas (as do some Marxists). I am not a Bakunist and neither is the anarchist movement. This was most definitely stated as far back as the Congress of St. Imier in the 1800's. I would like to put the charge of ignorance back in your lap. You obviously know little about how widespread the opposition to much of Bakunin's politics was amongst the anarchist movement. You also do now know (or you deliberately disguise). the fact that many non-anarchists walked out on the International because of Marx's conspiracies against the anarchists. One thing I have got to hand to Marx: he was smart enough not to try and make a principle of conspiracy as Bakunin did. If anything, I agree with Malatesta that I am not a Bakuninist because Bakunin was too much of a Marxist.

What I did state was that the adoption of 'dialectical materialism' (or any 'correct interpretation' of Marx's philosophy, whatever you might like to call it) will have a certain effect on the socialist movement. To answer what I said you have to answer this charge, and answer it on some other basis than name-calling (ie., "anti Intellectualism”) .

Anyway, to get off the argument I really enjoyed the article on the use of 'lefty language'. I hereby cross my heart and hope to die if I ever use the word 'concrete' again (as I have in the past). This one especially struck me as I have to work with a trotskyist who is on the executive of the local union of the unemployed (as I am.) This fellow cannot open his mouth without spouting off rhetoric, and 'concrete' is one of his favourite words. Usually he doesn't even use this word right, as trots, in my experience, attempt to reduce the program of every organization they enter down to holding a demonstration and supporting the NDP. Therefore all the analysis of an organization has to be reduced down to "concrete demands”ie slogans for the demonstration. It doesn't matter how abstract these slogans are — as long as they can fit onto a placard. Concrete becomes a synonym for short.

In solidarity
P. Murtagh



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