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Text coloring decodes as follows:
Black: Ken Ellis
Red: Marx, Engels, Lenin, etc.
Green: Press report, etc.
Blue: Recent correspondent
Purple: Unreliable Info
Brown: Inaccurate quote
A note indicates that this first letter was probably not mailed:
To the Discussion Bulletin, April
Thanks for the invitation to write about my experiences with the SLP. Since we last spoke on the phone, I have been writing little by little, and have finally come up with a document that may be a little big for the DB, or else you might want to serialize it therein. Maybe it could be published separately as a pamphlet. I'm not sure what to do with it. Let me know what you think.
I realize that the material is certainly not entirely your cup of tea, especially the parts about basic SLP programs and philosophy. I could understand why you would not want to have anything to do with it. When I joined the Party, I had no axe to grind about what branch of socialist or anarchist philosophy I was going to dedicate my life to. I was just looking for the naked truth and thought I was going to find a totally uncompromised version of it in the SLP. When I found out that there was a bit of tarnish on the old beast, I knew that I either had to change it, or else leave it. Since changing it was beyond my capacity at the time, I elected to leave.
Since my experience was what it was, for better or worse, and since I feel that it was a rather unadulterated experience, I would like to have it published somewhere without it being slashed to bits by an editor's knife.
If you would like to help me publish it, I would be willing to split profits with you if it had some kind of commercial possibilities. I would like to hold the copyright to it to prevent unauthorized profiteering off of it. Since you are so much closer to the publishing industry than I am, perhaps you might be willing to help me/us out in this fashion.
Let me know what you think.
Jan. 11, 1993
Here's a couple of pamphlets that a friend brought back from Santa Barbara over the holidays. I hope that you enjoy them. I heard from Mike that your book on the history of the SLP is out now. I'd like to get a copy, but I don't know how much it is.
I have been writing a book as well, this one about my experiences with the Party. When you didn't call back last year for the interview I thought we might do over the phone, I got busy in April and started writing. In September, I bought my own MacIntosh Classic II, and the bulk of the book is now in a file. I'm waiting for the library to send the microfilm of the Workmen's Advocate so I can include the essence of Sorge's debates with De Leon. The book should be over 300 pages due to the bulk of quotes that are included. I don't have the faintest idea about what to do about a publisher yet. I don't think that any anarchist publishers will be interested.
My local commie library had a copy of the 1983 SLP Convention in which they mentioned your expulsion; Wizek's name was mentioned as having been expelled; and Nate Pressman's case was gone into in good detail. Shame on the party for dumping these dedicated stalwarts. But then, a Party whose mission was to sell anarcho-syndicalism [disguised] as scientific socialism was bound to have a bureaucratic structure that would be immune to any kind of pressure for correction from below. And if you're going to redefine the dictatorship of the proletariat as a dictatorship over the middle classes, you are going to do your best to see to it that no one ever gets a chance to criticize it, or if they did, then they could easily be side-tracked by the endless process of trying to be heard by a bureaucracy that only publishes stuff in accordance with either the bureaucracy or De Leonism.
The theoretical aspects of all this oppression is gone into in some detail in my book. I would be interested in doing a book-for-book trade if you are interested as well. I would also be interested in forwarding my manuscript and getting your comments on my book before I get it published. I might be able to forward a first draft in a month. Let me know what you think.
March 19, 1993
I just finished reading DB 58, and I want to commend you on your courage and willingness to allow open discussion by letting the folks from "Internationalism" and other pubs to contradict you openly in the pages of your own journal. Obviously, the DB is not the SLP and I always make it a point to put the DB at the top of my reading agenda.
My book is in the rewrite stage, with the exception of the De Leon-Sorge debate in the pages of the Workmen's Advocate that the Interlibrary Loan Service is dragging its heels on delivering. I found out this morning that there is a copy in Madison, but it's too far for me to travel to get to. If you have any quick ideas on how to get hold of the essence of that debate, I would be interested.
I would also like to thank you for the book that you and Ben Perry wrote, and I enjoyed it very much. I had no idea that the SLP had moved its NEC closer to Palo Alto, among other things. I would like to encourage you and Ben to someday come out with the long version of the book, and get into some of the meat of the ideological conflicts. You may know that: out of much criticism of the early SLP, Engels had only one or two words of praise, and one of those words included the fact that prior to sometime before this century, the SLP program was considered by Engels to be a revolutionary program, and it would be nice to chronicle when and how the anarchist ideology took over.
I'll be forwarding a copy of the draft of my book as soon as I consider it safe for human consumption. You may find the book to be somewhat of a shock, not because I meant it to be such, but rather because it reflects my own experience of how I woke up one day and discovered how badly I was being misused by the Party, and how I reacted to this realization. The theory presented and my own experiences were inextricably intertwined. I hope that no one blames me for the direction I went in, because the Party writings themselves pointed the way for me to go.
Carry on with the free-speech work.
April 19, 1993
Thanks for your quick reply to my letter. As for the De Leon - Sorge debate, you will notice, if I may now correct myself, the exact nature of the exchange was described as a "controversy". I saw reference to it in a footnote on p. 219 of a book entitled "Letters to Americans" by Marx and Engels, New World Paperbacks (#4), 1953, Third Printing 1969. The footnote was in reference to letter by Engels to Sorge of Oct. 12, 1889. My local library is negotiating the loan to me from Wisconsin right now.
Your comment about "permission to write the book" really piqued my curiosity. It has occurred to me in the past to ask permission of the SLP to write my book, but I'm sure they would not want me to write it due to the damaging information that is included, so I'm going to write it anyway. I can't think of much in the book that isn't damaging, as a matter of fact, not that I was a perfect angel in those years, which I also make perfectly clear.
I'm sure that the NO [National Office] will strongly try to suppress publication of the book, so I am going to seek publication of it as a free speech exercise. In the book, I mention no names, so only those who were intimate enough with our history will be able to figure out who was who. Most of those who figure out who they are not very likely going to enjoy the experience. It is a true story. Non-fiction. It's not so much a history of the SLP as it is some of my own personal history as a would-be revolutionary, and some of the valuable theories I learned the hard way through my experience with the party.
Maybe I'm just dreaming that I can get it published. I'm not afraid to be sued, because I have no property. Not being experienced at all with publishing things, I'm not aware at all as to how much trouble I will get into with all of this stuff.
The book is in the middle of it's second major rewrite. I'll have to rewrite it at least one more time, as well as include the "controversy" before sending anyone a copy. I don't expect it to be a light read for anyone, but I'm hoping that some people will be able to find it useful in explaining why things are the way they are on a microscopic level. It really zooms in for some examinations that might be too close for comfort for some.
Once again, I want to remind you to not stop thinking about doing the long version of your book someday.
May 22, 1993
Well, I finally got the microfilm of the Workmen's Advocate, and it was well worth the wait. I spent about 58 hours with it and I finally found the discussion to which Engels referred. Copy enclosed. I copied about 50 other pages of material out of the microfilm, and I've been digesting it, and underlining what, for the purposes of the book, are the important parts. There were a lot of anti-anarchist monologues in the years before the split in 1889. That train of thought resumed more in the form of dialogues about six months after the split. The Sorge-De Leon controversy appeared right after the split.
The book continues along. I finished my second major rewrite, and now I have to get the WA material into the book, and then rewrite the book one more time, or maybe two more times. It is clear already that De Leon was quite a 'Nationalist' in those days, a movement based on Bellamy's "Looking Backward", and the Nationalists and the post-takeover group were of a roughly similar mind, some of whom seem to have been in favor of the trade unions taking over the governmental functions. This will be documented. It sure has been educational, reading all of this stuff. The amazing thing seems to be how little anything has changed in the past century.
The WA didn't answer all of my questions, of course. It seems to have hinted that there is a wealth of issues to be learned from a reading of Der Sozialist and the Volkszeitung. But that would take me too far afield from my main object, which was derived from a criticism of "Proletarian Democracy vs. Dictatorships and Despotism", from A.P.'s Preface to "Socialism: From Utopia to Science", and from my own experience.
July 26, 1993
I would like to express general agreement with the insights into matters of democracy and their absence in the SLP and its Constitution, as Ed Jahn has expressed in a number of past issues.
While an employee at the National Office of the Party in the mid-70's, I became aware of what turned out to be gross fraud perpetrated by Arnold Petersen on the Party and the working class in a number of his writings, but was prevented from bringing these examples of said fraud to the consciousness of the Party as a whole, precisely because the SLP, as Ed Jahn described, does not recognize inalienable individual rights, but rather recognizes the bourgeois right of the majority to prevent an individual from bringing up important matters to the attention of the Party, just as my analysis of A.P.'s Preface to Engels' "Socialism: From Utopia to Science" was prevented from being presented to my Section. Shortly thereafter, in April of 1977, I left the NO and the Party.
A.P.'s Preface alleged that Engels did not know the difference between socialism and state capitalism(!), in spite of proof within the very text of Engels' pamphlet that he was critical of state capitalism; A.P. substituted the Social-Democratic theory of the state for the Marxist theory, and then proceeded to criticize the Social-Democratic theory, all the while casting aspersion on the 'Marxist' theory; A.P. denied the possibility of working class state power, all the while pretending that Marx and Engels intended that the working class would use the capitalist state for the tasks of socialist reconstruction (due to alleged deficiencies within the Marxist theory of the state); A.P. took quotes from Marx, Engels and Lenin completely out of context, butchered them, and failed to attribute quotes to their real sources; A.P. alleged that the anarchists would abolish the state with nothing to take its place, while it is easily documented that Bakunin would have replaced the state with associations of workers' organizations, the trades unions, or the International; A.P. everywhere denied the two stage theory of communism, opposing the theories laid down by Marx in his "Critique of the Gotha Program"; A.P. claimed instead that society in the advanced capitalist countries could proceed directly to classless, stateless communism, bypassing the dictatorship of the proletariat. A.P. denied everywhere the Marxist theory that it was the existence of democratic republics in the advanced capitalist countries that enabled peaceful evolution, A.P. claiming instead that it was the advances in the means of production that enabled a form to be envisioned in which the working class could organize so as to bring about the classless, stateless SIU.
As for the dictatorship of the proletariat, A.P. denied the worker-peasant alliance by alleging that the DOTP was a dictatorship over the peasantry, and then observing that since the peasantry in the USA was a small and shrinking class, the DOTP (over the peasantry) would not be necessary here. Similarly, A.P. alleged that the purpose of the DOTP transition period was to 'increase the productive forces', and since the productive forces were supposedly super-developed in the USA, as compared to 'conditions' in the last century or in Russia, then no DOTP transition period would be necessary here, in spite of the fact that Marx had written that it was precisely because of the high development of the means of production in the 1800's, crises of over-production were occurring in his own time, and for that reason, socialism, [i.e., proletarian dictatorship,] was possible at that very time.
All of these crimes and many more were committed by A.P., and the way he was able to perpetrate those crimes was by expelling one rebellious Section after another, and then reorganizing those members who wished to remain within the Party. Being insulated in the top position in the bureaucracy, he was able to perpetuate the purity of the SIU program with little fear of being pulled down by the truth. My experience with other 'progressives' since my SLP experience has revealed that the same indispensable elements to perpetrating crimes of fraud against the poor and oppressed are: concealed anarchist ideology, bureaucratic forms of organization, and censorship.
The anarchist take-over of the SLP in 1889, how my ideas on revolution were formed for the first time and how they evolved during my experience with the SLP in the 70's, and lots more have been documented in the 400-page book I have been writing for the past year and a half, hopefully to be available within a year.
December 17, 1993
Thank you for your note. I hope that this answer reaches you in time to meet your deadline. It sounds like your new journal will prove to be an interesting addition to the history of the American Socialist movement, and I wish you luck with it.
Though I had often thought about writing the book for many years, it was really 'fathered' by Frank Girard, whom I met briefly in the summer of 1974, while the NO of the SLP was being moved to Palo Alto. Back then in Brooklyn, the Party was throwing away bales of old publications, as it did whenever it moved (so N.K. told me), and I was hoping to serve the cause of preserving history by taking samples of as much of the literature as I could justify carrying back home; and in turn, I gave many of those samples to Frank. I hadn't heard from him since the '70's, but he reached me in '92 through a mutual ex-SLP member, and asked me to reminisce about my days at the NO from July '74 to April of '77. I suggested that he interview me over the phone, and transcribe the results. After waiting for his call for awhile, I decided to gather my thoughts by writing them down. I knew that I had a lot to say, but didn't expect it would take any more than 25 pages to tell my little story. The more I got into it, the more I added to it and it wasn't too long before I knew that I had the material for a book, and then it was no longer a matter of simply doing a little telephone interview. What follows is the public part:
I started my little book in May of '92, and wanted to use it to explain the circumstances around which I left the Party, but in order to explain it well enough to satisfy myself, I kept on writing and re-writing, doing more research, discovering more and more interesting material, and it developed into a rather consuming adventure that is now approaching 500 pages.
At the time I joined the Party, I had no previous contact with any of the parties of the American Left. After a decade of sporadic research, mostly in the field of psychology, compelled by my desire to escape the ignorance I felt about the meaning of life, I had arrived at the stage where I needed to learn something about socialism, but was not getting what I wanted from non-party writers on that subject, so I felt that the logical thing for me to do was to find out what a party of socialism had to say about it. Having gathered and studied literature from a variety of parties and groups at a demo in front of Boston City Hall, I decided that I wanted to learn more about socialism from the SLP, which I did for the following year or more, after which I became a member. Not long after that, in 1974, the Party headquarters moved from Brooklyn to Palo Alto, and I eagerly answered the call for volunteers to help out. After a few months of moving and settling in, I ended up taking the job of shipping clerk. By the middle of 1976, my studies of old NEC reports and Party literature had brought me to the shocking conclusion that the Party program was based upon the need to solve the theoretical problems brought about by their analysis of the Social-Democratic theory of the state, rather than the Marxist theory, and it was all downhill from there. I left the National Office and the Party in April of 1977.
When I left the Party, it was under the delusion that I was inadequate in some way to accomplish the task I had set for myself after my shocking discoveries, which was the task of reconstituting the Party on true Marxist grounds, so, for many years after, I felt a lot of anger and guilt around the whole experience. As I continued to write, I discovered that the cards had really been stacked against me or against anyone else who would have wanted to do the same thing, to a degree that I had never before thoroughly considered. The old feelings gave way to a sense of heightened interest over what I was finding, and it sparked an interest in doing more research, which took me to a study of the old precursor to the Weekly People - called the Workmen's Advocate - and as the book began to take final form, a feeling of satisfaction finally arrived after having come to terms with that little epoch of my life, and as well with my subsequent work in the non-Party, socially progressive community, for I detected some patterns in both situations that closely matched each other. For that reason, this book may appeal not only to De Leonists, but to many others in the broad progressive left, or even those of a Libertarian persuasion, and may help many to understand some of the disappointments they have found in their own progressive organizations.
What this book comprises, chronologically: setting the stage with a smattering of my pre-Party personal history; early Party involvement; the move of the NO from Brooklyn to Palo Alto; my growing consciousness of problems in the Party; my readings and interpretations of old NEC reports of 1915-35; my discovery of the Party's redefinition of the dictatorship of the proletariat as a dictatorship over the peasantry and middle classes, and the purposes that the redefinition served; my Resolution on the matter; how my Section dealt with it; my Analysis of Arnold Petersen's Preface to Engels' "Socialism: From Utopia to Science", and how my Section refused to discuss it; and my subsequent walk-out.
For the present book, the above events were not sufficient to come to grips with the totality of what the Party meant to me, so a good portion of the book is devoted to an analysis of Arnold Petersen's pamphlet "Proletarian Democracy vs. Dictatorship and Despotism", in which A.P. laid down much of the theoretical basis for the Party's program. By presenting false models of the Marxist theory of the state, the history of the Paris Commune, the Russian revolution, etc., A.P. and the early Party theoreticians were able to build a program that specifically addressed the problems that were created by those false models, models which included enough distortions to lead some readers to conclude that the crimes of Stalin could very easily be blamed on Marx, and that Marxism was a primitive, obsolete, political anachronism, totally inappropriate to countries in which advanced capitalist technology dominated.
In the process of microscopically analyzing that pamphlet, I learned of, and included a lot about what Marx really wrote about the worker-peasant alliance, the First International, anarchism, the Paris Commune, support for national-liberation struggles, republicanism, and many other forgotten words of Marxism, all of which very well negate the Party's negations of Marxism, and which also explain why the Party has been the phenomena it has been - from it's world outlook to its choice of organizational form to its tendency to continually split instead of uniting the poor and oppressed. There is a faulty web of logic that underlies the Party's philosophy and program, and that shaky logic is what I have unraveled for De Leonists and others to examine. Theoretical matters can be fascinating. I hope that the book will be out in a year.
April 22, 1994
Dear Mr. Coughlin,
Thank you for your letter. I have not yet received the inaugural edition of the Bulletin of the SLM, nor do I really expect to receive one, as I can't really afford to sign up as a subscriber. Since it does mention my book, however, perhaps I shall be lucky enough to receive one as a courtesy copy. Or, if someone were to be so kind as to send me a photocopy of what it says about my book, that would be much appreciated.
In my research so far, I have yet to run across the name you have mentioned. 1900 is a little beyond the time period I have concentrated upon, most of which was 1886-95, the last decade of Engels' life, during which he watched the SLP rather closely. One of the big issues was the Aveling affair, in which a son-in-law of Marx was accused of swindling the SLP; Engels made a few comments about the big change in the SLP in 1889; Engels had an impressionless encounter with De Leon and Sanial, Engels had a few disparaging remarks about the People after De Leon started it, etc.
It was the nature of Engels' rather extensive dealings with the SLP that was most interesting for me; Party literature makes it sound as though things were oh, so primitive, back then; even their intellects were a little underdeveloped, and there supposedly was this deficiency in the Marxist theory of the state that no Marxist could solve until De Leon came along. Many fairy tales like that can be found in Arnold Petersen's 1931 "Proletarian Democracy vs. Dictatorships and Despotism", and in his 1947 Preface to "Socialism: From Utopia to Science". The actual historical record demolishes those tales.
My book concentrates on the many revolutionary theories that the SLP merely sampled; it then left the reader with incorrect impressions of those theories. For that reason, it may not appeal to many in 'the most bourgeois country in the world', where immigrants came over and rather easily settled on their own farms, enjoying liberties and opportunities that long before had been lost in Europe. Because of the lack of much oppression to struggle against, Engels often remarked how backward the Americans were in theoretical matters, in comparison with the Europeans. All kinds of idiocies could prevail in America, idiocies that wouldn't have stood a chance in Europe.
Much of the book is about my own experience with the Party, a lot of that time spent as shipping clerk at the National Office from 1974-7, and how my consciousness evolved during that time period.
I also seek biographical material for my book. I am still looking for a possible familial link between Arnold Petersen and Niels Lorenz Petersen, who was expelled from the Danish Workers' Party, along with Gerson Trier; Trier corresponded with Engels.
In closing, I must express my regret that I could not be of assistance with your immediate concern, but I also hope that you have a sufficiently wide range of interest in things socialist that you will be inspired to look up my book when it comes out and get a heavy dose of theory, and some history of theory.
February 25, 1995
Thank you for your letter, and for your kind words about my magnum opus. One publisher so far has been interested enough to request a manuscript, so I wait to hear back from them. I have been working on the indexes to the book, and am almost done with a final slightly revised final version. I had to leave out all of the Neue Zeit stuff, even though I think there is a goldmine of information in there that should someday be tackled. I might have to wait for translation and character recognition programs to get very much better than what they are today, for my German is nowhere near good enough. Maybe in 5 years technology will be able to recognize old German characters easily, and translate fast and well, but I have already spent too much money buying and renting technology that was very slow, stupid, and has so far yielded nothing of value whatsoever.
March 24, 1995
Dear Revisionist Press Editor,
By request, enclosed is a copy of the latest version of my book entitled "'Left'-Wing Lies". The table of contents was redone to reflect the main ideas in each part, there are a number of minor improvements to the text, and the research I left dangling in the second draft is now complete.
In January, a study group that originally started out studying 'social theories' gave me some important feedback about the book, and were impressed enough by it to suggest that I make a doctoral thesis out of it. They also suggested that I expand on some of my ideas and submit them to theoretical journals, which I haven't yet had the time to do, though a letter of mine that very briefly sums up my ideas was recently published in a California newspaper ...
March 27, 1995
Not long after mailing my last letter to you, DB #70 arrived, and thankfully didn't include the letter I had sent in a month ago, for I recently realized that it contained at least one error, and I would rather have the updated version on the next couple of pages printed instead, if possible. I also reduced the type size so that it now only takes up 2/3 the space. It was good to see the questioning attitude of Larry Gambone's letter in DB #70, and I think that the concerns I raise here about the values of anarchist and socialist theories are pertinent to the doubts that Gambone expressed. Keep up the good work. For publication:
Lately I have been thinking about the relative values of various ideologies. With regard to Marxian socialism, concentrating the means of production into the hands of the victorious proletariat after smashing a monarchy would be no problem, for the workers would then possess the force with which to concentrate the means of production into their hands. But, it has long been recognized that the same program would be impossible if attempted in a democracy, for, after winning a mere ballot box victory, the elements of force in the state remain in the hands of the capitalist class; and if the workers' program included concentrating the means of production into the hands of state, they would merely legislate them into the hands of the capitalist state, inaugurating state capitalism, as Arnold Petersen credited De Leon with having thought through.* This contradiction in the Marxist program opened the door for other 'isms to vie for supremacy in the marketplace of ideas, such as Industrial Unionism, in spite of the fact that, as early as the era of the First International, Marx debunked the idea of unions being the basis of organization for future society as an unworkable Bakunist scheme.** No doubt inspired by the vertical ownership model provided by monopoly capitalism, De Leon puffed up Bakunin's idea to accommodate industrial unions. Another major problem with anarchism is that, when pushed to the wall, the lower classes are far more inclined to smash the state that prevents meaningful involvement with the means of production, rather than beginning with a direct take-over of the means of production. The record of the anarchists in Spain in the 1870's is proof of this.
If both the socialist and anarchist solutions are of questionable value, the question then becomes 'what we should work for instead'. One reform for which Marx was unambiguous in his praise was a reduction in the length of the working day. In his lifetime, he saw the workday go from no limits to a 12-hour day in 1832, to a 10-hour day in 1847, and to strong agitation for an 8-hour day that was won in many countries early in this century. A good portion of Capital documented the effects of varying the length of the working day, both in theory and under the Factory Acts. In his Inaugural Address to the First International, Marx came close to declaring that the political economy of the working class consists of controlling their supply in the labor market:***
. . . "This struggle about the legal restriction of the hours of labour raged the more fiercely since, apart from frightened avarice, it told indeed upon the great contest between the blind rule of the supply and demand laws which form the political economy of the middle class, and social production controlled by social foresight, which forms the political economy of the working class. Hence the Ten Hours' Bill was not only a great practical success; it was the victory of a principle; it was the first time that in broad daylight the political economy of the middle class succumbed to the political economy of the working class." . . .
Even one of the SLP's pre-anarchist (before 1889) platform planks included reducing the length of the work-day to match the replacement of labor by technology.**** By nature, reducing the length of the work-week is neither anarchist nor socialist, but, in the near future, it will become mandatory that we implement a reduced work-week. In his new book entitled "The End of Work", Jeremy Rifkin predicted the end of the mass labor market within 40-50 years, human labor to be replaced by technology and automation. A recent article in Electronic Engineering Times predicted the end of all physical labor by 2086. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle claimed that the introduction of nanotechnology into productive processes will make commodities 100 times cheaper but with 10 times the quality, which can only mean another great reduction in the amount of human labor required for production. We are witnessing the beginnings of the 'end of work' in the last part of this century. It wasn't too long ago that a big yuk-yuk joke was: "You can be replaced with a computer", but no one seems to be telling that joke today, probably because not too many others would laugh.
Imagine a scenario in which we kept the 8-hour day over the next few decades, in spite of the continued replacement of millions of workers by machinery that "moves of itself", and it is not too hard to imagine the arrival of a day when relatively few people worked 40 hours a week, while many more people had no way to afford the commodities and services upon which most people depend. You can imagine the chaos. The rich would continue to be rich, and the state would be much more repressive than today, in order to ride herd over the unemployed. Are the jobless to go on the dole, go to jail, take up arms, join the crime wave, the revolution, or what?
In the Documents of the First International, Marx wrote that: ".. in the militant state of the working class, its economical movement and its political action are indissolubly united." What better way is there for workers to unite political and economic action than to redistribute what little work remains for humans to do among the whole class? Some workers might mistakenly think that a thirty-hour week would force them to give away a quarter of their pay to others whom they don't know or care about, but it doesn't quite work that way. If labor could hold back its services in an organized fashion, reduce the length of the work-week and raise overtime rates enough to make it much more expensive to employ people beyond 30 hours a week, we could starve our services from the labor market instead of glutting it, and thereby balance the diminishing demand for labor with a diminished supply. A reduced supply for the same demand would raise the price of labor, and wages would go up, instead of down.
A fully employed class could then scoff at minimum wage laws, welfare for the able, unemployment compensation, and other band-aids over the gaping wound of a labor market working exclusively for the benefit of the bosses. Both sides of the affirmative action debate should find a reduced work-week satisfactory, for everyone who ever wanted a job could then work for a living wage, and they wouldn't need arbitrary laws that take jobs and opportunities away from one segment of the population and give them to another. Everyone would have the money to send themselves to whatever school they wanted to go, or would have more time to study while making a living. With everyone doing meaningful work for a few hours a day, the work of the state riding herd on those with nothing to do could diminish, the jails could slowly empty, crime would drop, etc. If we shortened the work-week even more than what it takes to put everyone to work, the upper classes would have fewer surpluses with which to bribe politicians, pay executives exorbitant salaries, get involved in financial scandals, create mega-monopolies, fuel the propaganda machine with ruling-class propaganda about lazy workers and welfare queens, etc.
What better way as well to begin to work
for what Marx described as the ultimate
end***** of both anarchists and
socialists, i.e., the abolition of class
distinctions? With the work-week decreasing as human labor
gets replaced by machinery, we could eventually get to the point
where no one was forced by economic necessity to go to work, and
with spare time for everyone to get educated so as to better participate
in decisions, the state could die out and eventually be consigned
to the museum of antiquities. For revolutionists who lust for
nothing less than absolute power, this plan may leave a lot to
be desired; but for evolutionists, it's one of the most logical
methods of pursuing class struggle.
* A.P.'s Preface to Engels' "Socialism: From Utopia to Science", NYLN #35, 1968, p. xi.
** Letter from Marx to Paul Lafargue, April 19, 1870, New World #153, p. 46.
*** Marx-Engels Selected Works, Volume 2, p. 16.
**** Social Demands, SLP Platform, from the Workmen's Advocate of October 26, 1889.
***** Article 7a, Resolution on the Rules, Marx, adopted at the 1872 Hague Congress of the First International. Marx-Engels Selected Works, Volume 2, p. 291.
June 14, 1995
Thank you for your note reminding me of the existence of the New Unionist, but after having been a member of the SLP in the '70's, and after having even included a line about NU in my book that has yet to be published, you can rest assured that I've been aware of its existence for a long time. But, even if I hadn't been aware of it, you could have detected from the context of my letter that I am not at all interested in a "Workers Revolution", and you could have saved yourself the trouble of trying to recruit me into an anarcho-syndicalist program that Marx himself debunked at the time of the First International. I hope that after gathering names and addresses you were interested enough about the history of anarchism and socialism to actually read my letter. Much of the history of both 'isms is the history of their proponents lying both about each other and about themselves. Not very many from among the doctrinaire left seem to care about what happened in history, except to carefully excerpt the bits and pieces of it that can be manipulated to support their belief systems, as the SLP is not well enough known for having done. I have just finished writing hundreds of pages explaining the details of this in my new book.
I suspect that you are young and were told by higher-ups that what you did with my name is the correct way to recruit me. Your cheery greeting on the back of the flyer indicates that you gave little thought to anything else. When you gain a little more experience, you may discover the rewards of doing some original research, which is far more interesting than just following the orders of others, or following a party line. In the meantime, you will probably have to pay your dues now, just like I did in the SLP back in the '70's. I hope that you learn the lessons in my book a lot faster than what I was able to. Look for it when it comes out, hopefully in '96. It's called 'Left'-Wing Lies.
June 14, 1995
Re: 'Left'-Wing Lies
Dear Revisionist Press Editor,
... and whenever I talk to strangers about the subjects of my book, i.e., the internal contradictions of socialism and anarchism, and of the unsuitability of those 'isms for America, it seems to generate a lot of interest. The book's unique qualities are sure to earn it a lasting place in the literature of social change. ...
During a recent round of self-introductions by social activists, the announcement of my activity to shorten the work-week drew an unexpected gush of oohs and ahhs of approval, a far greater reaction than to anyone else's activities. This pleasant surprise made me realize that this is a movement whose time is arriving, and my book will help others to seize the day by helping them see the folly of both socialism and anarchism, the exposure of which may very well be a necessary precondition to their adopting any other course of unifying action. You could play a vital part in increasing the momentum of this movement by publishing this book. I can't help but feel that if I don't get a definite answer from you by the end of June, I will have to more actively pursue other publishing possibilities. Neither time nor tide will wait for one publisher. This is my final pitch.
July 25, 1995
Dear Revisionist Press Editor,
Thank you for your encouraging reply of July 6 with regard to "Left-Wing Lies". If you have no objections, I will use your kind remarks as a recommendation when I go looking for literary agents and/or other publishers. If you know of another publisher who might be interested in the book, kindly let me know who they might be.
Also, your comments about my book have been so brief, and I'm a little curious as to why that might have been. The books' rejection of both socialism and anarchism has certainly caused a bit of irritation within leftist circles. The head of an anarchist publishing company recently expressed a complete lack of interest in my discoveries of contradictions within the SLP's version of anarchism, which only confirms once again my suspicions that businesses have been made of anarchism and the other 'isms, businesses that seem to despise fundamental inquiries into the nature of what makes money for them. Maybe I will have to see what luck I can find among libertarian presses, leftist and mainstream presses having expressed no interest at all in what I have uncovered.
October 13, 1995
The main body of my latest letter to readers is a copy of a portion of a letter I've been writing to a mutual reader of DB. Since he answered my letter to readers in DB 71, we've already exchanged a few notes. I thought that the following synopsis of some of my perceptions of SLP theories might clue in more readers to some of its hidden history, so here I offer it, hoping that it will explain quite a bit to our old associates. Maybe before we can build something new, the old will first have to be torn down. Because I charge SLP ideologues with swindling the membership and the world, I will admire your courage if you print it all. By the way, thanks for printing my last letter to readers. If this is too late for the November-December issue, maybe it'll be early enough for January-February.
I still haven't had any luck getting my book published, but I continue to have hope. The Revisionist Press claims to be going out of business due to the high costs of paper; otherwise they said that the book is timely and should be published. I've been experimenting with sending out articles to publications; no luck there yet, except for one claim to having my article in a pile to be published after a certain backlog lets up.
For the past month, I have had an hour per week to rant over the radio, but it's a micro-power radio station with only 25 watts. But, at least, through this medium, I am gaining much needed experience in speaking, and I've gotten a few calls of appreciation, but none yet from cranks. So far, I've used my time to critique the left from a labor perspective.
I have been corresponding with a fellow reader for a while, and offer the following excerpt from my latest missive as a contribution to theories of why the left may never get anywhere:
snip repetition of text
What implications does all of this have for the quality of the socialist education we received? In order to convince us that De Leonism is Marxism for advanced capitalist countries, they really had to have messed with our little minds. Consider as well how small our minds might be by reflecting on the fact that many of us once looked up to bureaucrats who secretly prostituted themselves to the lies, and who know as well as I that what early Party theoreticians said about many things was pure bull. But these modern bureaucrats, who also call themselves revolutionaries, were afraid to rock the boat for fear of losing the financial support of many members who never questioned the basis of SLP theories, and continued to send in the dough.
Our biggest stumbling blocks to being relevant and effective are our out-dated ideologies that were dead even before they were uttered, and our dogged allegiance to them. Instead of fighting over bankrupt ideologies, we should be converting competition between workers for scarce jobs into competition between bosses for scarce labor, by gradually withdrawing our services from the labor market. A good place to start will be to put up a financial brick wall against overwork by demanding overtime premiums much higher than simple time and a half. Hit them where it hurts, in the pocketbook.
October 20, 1995
Dear Vantage Press, Inc.,
Theme of the book:
'Left'-Wing Lies chronicles the author's interest in socialism, and causes thereof; his involvement with a party calling itself socialist; the party's rigid adherence to dogmatic and senseless practices, causing disenchantment; the party's general apathy toward theory is contrasted with the author's fascination with it; the party's refusal to consider the author's refutation of their theories, leading to his departure; and, finally, a grand refutation of the party's semi-Marxist version of socialism, including a refutation of Marx's socialism as well. More controversy around revolutionary theory is documented than what a reader will likely find in any other book.
Book Outline and Statistics 11-95
Per capita production is forty times higher than two centuries ago.
Twenty thousand workers today can produce as much steel as did 6 times as many not long ago.
Introducing nanotechnology in the next century will make commodities an estimated hundred times cheaper with 10 times the quality.
Work year has increased by more than a week since the sixties, instead of following a century long trend to decrease a few percent each decade
358 billionaires in the world have as much income as the lowest 45% of the population, about 2.7 billion people
Upper 1% has as much wealth as the lower 95% - Holly Sklar
98% of what is produced goes to the upper 20% of the population, only 2% goes to the lower 80% of the population - Jerry Brown
1961 CEO's got 41 times factory wage, now get 149 times
One out of 140 adults in prison, one out of 250 Americans
Prison population doubled between 1980 and 1990
Between 1960 and 1995, violent crime has increased 50 to 100 times - William Muir, candidate for office
Upper 1% makes as much as the bottom 40%, top 20% makes as much income as bottom 80%
Arguments against socialism:
Possibility in democracies vs. monarchies:
Socialism possible after smashing monarchies, or after liberation of colonies, as, e.g., in the Soviet Union and in Vietnam, respectively
Unlikely for workers to abolish democracy, when historically they allied with bourgeoisie to create democracies
Defense of democracy was the important thing in the Paris Commune, and in the Spanish Civil War
Relation to elections:
Power of the state that protects private property before elections continues to protect private property after elections
American Civil War:
People were willing to kill and die in support of private ownership of as immoral a form of property ownership as slavery, proving that they would even more vigorously defend private property in general
Free market arguments:
No automatic regulation of free market under socialism
Markets re-established after failure of central planning
Problems of the left wing:
Socialism impossible to implement in democracies; therefore a bankrupt ideology there
Socialist bureaucrats failed:
to educate left about internal contradictions of 'isms
to inform the left of their own bankruptcy
Left heavily influenced by bankrupt ideology
Radical workers and left blinded by ideologies
Ideologies represent middle-class interests
Ideologies converted into small businesses
Bureaucracy, censorship, internal secrecy and sectarianism
Arguments for shorter hours:
Create demand for labor
Decreased competition between workers for scarce jobs
Diminished cause of racial antagonism
Means of shortening hours:
Minimum of a month's paid vacation
Dozen paid holidays for all
All workers under the purview of FLSA
Higher overtime premiums
Shorter work week
February 27, 1996
Dear Mike L.,
I heard from M.B. that you might be interested in my critique of the SLP and Petersen, so, to whet your appetite, I enclose a tape of my last Free Radio Berkeley micro-power radio show, in which I explain why the SLP could not easily have supported demonstrations against the War in Vietnam without sacrificing most of its principles, many of which are lain out for examination.
Available for $20.00, which barely covers printing and mailing, is a draft of my as yet unpublished 600 page book of my experiences with the SLP in the seventies, which includes documentation proving that Petersen did not innocently take quotes out of context, and that he knew exactly how his misuse of Marxism served his anarchist ideological ends very well. My refutation of Petersen also gets to the essence of much of what's wrong with the ideological left. I also suggest a means of effective action, neither anarchist nor socialist. Only a couple of these early versions of the book are left, and I sometimes wonder if any new version will ever be printed. From what I have learned since this early version, it needs another rewrite, though a new version wouldn't be that much different from the original, as most of its refutations are iron-clad.
I will be glad to hear if you have any questions. Don't be afraid to express your skepticism, for this is rather deep stuff that doesn't explain easily, and I haven't been able to convince anyone of anything yet, except for Mike B. admitting that I do have something going with my rediscovery of the importance of the democratic republic in Marxism.
SLP National Executive Committee,
March 28, 1996
As indicated by the front page of the January People, I see that the Party is descending into deeper financial difficulties. Welcome to the club. I am in the same general financial boat, though for different reasons, mostly due to generally low rates of wages offered as a result of competition for scarce jobs.
In order to save workers from being picked off one by one in these extraordinary times, extraordinary action may be required. The upper classes are benefiting from brutal competition for decreasing numbers of opportunities to make the rich richer and their governments more powerful. Those in the know must make an effort to teach people to share what little productive work that has yet to be taken over by computers, machines and technology. No matter what system of production we adopt, and no matter who owns the means of production, the lower classes will have to share what little work that remains for people to do, and the sooner we figure out how to share the work, the more misery the lower classes can be spared.
For years, you have suspected that Party mistakes have been serious enough to send your organization into oblivion while waiting for a restless populace to get onto any kind of revolutionary bandwagon. I wonder if you ever think about turning over a new leaf and truly examining the bases of Party mistakes that prevent you from organizing people to do something real, and instead keep you tied to a program for which little chance of adoption exists. The purpose of revolution in the past was to enable nations to be independent, and to bring democracy to where it didn't exist before, but has yet to end exploitation of the proletariat. Not enough Western workers were willing to support the Bolshevik revolution by overthrowing their democracies and establishing proletarian dictatorships, nor has the West a history of changing ownership of means of production in the same manner as did Bolsheviks and other communist states in less developed countries. Our Civil War showed that Americans were willing to abolish a form of property ownership as immoral as ownership of other people, but were unwilling to expropriate plantations to provide freed slaves with 40 acres and a mule. Private property has been more of a tradition in the West than in a lot of other parts of the world. Domestic socialists have little chance of abolishing it any too soon, and are wasting their time trying to persuade Westerners to get behind that goal.
Along the lines of putting our heads together to solve our mutual social problems, I enclose a work in progress that will hopefully end up having the requisite moral and intellectual force to unify the honest portion of the left who will not simply stop at the point at which they perceive that they have been mistaken, but will instead push ahead to satisfy an irrepressible need to create a better world based upon cooperation instead of competitive conflict. Because we cannot get to where we want to go without cooperation, I extend this olive branch to people whose mission I long ago embraced, but had to leave after further consideration. In order to make progress against our common enemy, which shall come to be known as 'competition among ourselves', we should work to overcome our differences, if any.
Enjoy the unity document. Your input on it will always gladly be received.
May 02, 1996
Dear Mike L.,
Thanks for your letter. I see that you are not easily convinced of infamies perpetrated against members by their own bureaucracy, but maybe we still have some time to hammer out some issues before the race goes extinct. We ordinary citizens are not easily made into rational people; we tend to hold onto our ideas for a long time, even after shown better ideas, if we are not motivated to learn and grow, if our status quo ideas served us well in the past, and are fully expected to serve as well in the future. I wonder if everything about De Leonism is fine for you, or whether you would be open to new ideas taking the place of the old, especially if the old can be shown to be based on quotes out of context and lies cut from whole cloth. Before I could give up my faith in the Party program, I had to prove to myself that it was based on lies.
On a more philosophical note, let me first toss out a couple of things that bear little direct relation to De Leonism: the left generally believes that the problems of the lower classes do not lie within their ranks, that they are mere victims of oppression emanating from outside their own ranks and from above, whether it is the political oppression of the state, or the economic oppression of the bosses. The left, in an effort to gain the support of the masses, will never place the blame for the misery of the masses as arising from within their own ranks, rather they would have the masses believe that the state and the capitalist system are to blame, and that if we remove those barriers to the goodness that could surely flow sans the rich and the state, then all will be well.
I, on the other hand, believe that most of the problems of the lower classes lie not with the system and the government, but rather with competition between ourselves for scarce jobs, and I thus place the cause of the misery of the lower classes squarely within their own ranks. That's a hell of a way to get the votes of the masses, isn't it? But, it worked, for I recently got elected as a delegate to the founding convention of the new labor party, though I was at the bottom of the list of 12, among the mere 16 who ran. At least I didn't lose.
... according to Engels, all we have to do is eliminate competition among ourselves for scarce jobs, and our problems are over, and though it will certainly not take a revolution to eliminate the competition (merely organizing ourselves into unions and a party will suffice), Engels, in the very same work, called for violent revolution! It's no wonder the anarchists were always accusing Marx and Engels of contradicting themselves, and the anarchists were sometimes right. If we were to be so dumb as to organize to try to overthrow our democracies, someone would notice that the small victories we had won in the process of building our all-encompassing organization would dampen most enthusiasm for revolution, and, with any luck, we might discover just exactly what we were doing that was bringing results, and we might be tempted to do it again. It is to the discredit of the ideological left that Engels' passage is not emblazoned on their consciousness.
Another problem with ideological solutions to the problems of the lower classes is that they are mostly based upon collectivism, a rearranging of relations of property, and in order to do that, enormous political influence must be obtained, such as obtaining state power. At least that has been the way it worked in history, though imaginative anarchists will surely object that a form has been discovered to allow us to collectivize peacefully in democratic countries, and without taking state power. The problem with utopians is that they can't live within the constraints of what people normally do, nor can they learn lessons from what people have actually done in history. They have to start from scratch and build fresh, as in 'out with the old, and in with the new. Don't try to reform the old, throw it out.' If they were interested at all in how the SIU evolved into what it is today, that would show some true interest in evolution, as in 'evolution of ideologies', but evolution to them is never as good as revolution, so many of them don't have the faintest interest in learning that the SIU was based upon lies and quotes out of context, having adopted the SLP attitude that 'he who isn't with us is against us', and 'all who disagree are merely enemies of the proletariat.'
What my book has been about is refuting SLP lies line by line, and I found so many in a mere 70 pages of Party literature that it took over 600 pages to refute the 70 pages of lies, and to tell about my experiences within the Party.
That's a quite incomplete overview of the plot against the Party. Now that the preliminaries are over, let me begin to answer some of the more specific points of your letter. Most of your membership in the SLP coincided with mine, as my involvement was from about 72 to 77. As soon as I discovered in 76 the extent to which the Party program was based on deliberate misinterpretations of Marxism, I stopped believing in Party ideology. It was socialism that I had originally been interested in, and when I discovered that what the Party had done was disguise anarchism to look like socialism, I had the funny feeling that I was dealing with a bourgeois group that wouldn't give a tinkers' damn about liberating the lower classes.
Petersen was easiest to refute when he tried to back up his theories with quotes out of context. When I discovered that my personal hero of the time, S.K., had a certain appreciation of Lenin, I also obtained the 45 volumes of Lenin, and later was able, starting in June of 76, to find each and every quote that Petersen had taken from Lenin out of context, from the three volumes of Selected Works of Marx and Engels, their volume of Selected Correspondence, and the 5 volumes of the 'Minutes of the General Council of the First International'. These formed the core of my arsenal against Petersen's lies.
While writing my book, I also found indispensable a reading of the Party's earliest English paper called the Workmen's Advocate, available on microfilm. It well documented the time in 1889 when the anarchists managed to get control of the NO, kick out the social democrats, and replace the program that Engels had praised as being just right for America, which included shorter hours commensurate with replacement of workers by technology. If, as you say, you have 'extreme familiarity with the SLP's views, past and present', then perhaps I am wasting your time repeating what you already know. Are you really familiar with this earliest epoch, and how does what I just wrote about Party history compare with your perceptions?
Old NEC Reports were a real gold mine of info. I looked at a lot of data early in 76, giving me a perspective on what was going on from 1915 to 1935 or so that never could have been gotten from Party pamphlets. I should have studied a lot more of those Reports, but after they had convinced me of what a monster A.P. was, I was then diverted onto the course of figuring out if he had written things that had shaped the Party's theoretical outlook, which he did. As a relative novice, with practically zero appreciation of the history of internal Party affairs, a reading of those Reports convinced me (toward the end of my reading of them) that the very so-called disrupters that Petersen was debating were making better arguments than he was, but, because A.P. was the real power of the Party, and the members had relatively little power, A.P. got his way every time, filling me with disgust, and a desire to see what kind of impact A.P. had on Party theory.
From June of 76 to when I quit in 77, I tried very hard to get my perceptions of A.P.'s legacy to the attention of the rest of the Party, but S.K., who never disagreed with my critiques, saw the bulk of the Party's support coming from old Petersenites, and if that record of betrayal of members were to alienate them, then the Party could potentially collapse, so S.K. and others figured it was better to keep on pushing the old legacy to the group of De Leonists and Petersenites who could be counted on to support the NO; so, in that way, the NO decided to prostitute itself to what I considered to be a pack of lies, but I had no access to the press, or any other way in which to convince others of what I had proven to myself, all due to the bureaucratic, internally secretive, and censorious practices of the Party. In the 80's, I discovered that the same bureaucratic, censorious, internally secretive mechanisms were in place in so many other leftist groups, and a real pattern of bureaucracy, censorship and internal secrecy was detected, like it or not. Those same patterns are presently raging out of control in many other so-called progressive and labor organizations. Our selfishness could be our downfall as a species.
At their very root, the problems that the Party have faced are caused by the inapplicability of any form of Marxism, collectivism or statism to the USA from day one, and I didn't even begin to figure that out until 94, two years after starting my book. The book evolved from a strictly socialist refutation of the Party's anarchism into a refutation of socialism itself, simply due to the logical flaw of trying to impose collectivist programs on advanced capitalist democracies that are more easily implemented in backward countries. Instead of Marx giving us a program that was more fitted to advanced capitalist democracies, collectivization has been far more easily implemented in backward countries after overthrowing monarchies, or after liberating colonies, when socialists had the physical force in their hands with which to rearrange ownership of means of production. The history of collectivization proves in itself how barbaric such programs are, due to the force that has been required to rearrange ownership, in spite of what Industrial Unionists might have to say about the matter. If they ever gave themselves the chance to find out what lies their program was founded on, they might have different thoughts as to its inevitability. But, utopians rarely give a damn about lies that support their programs, and actively prevent others from hearing about those lies. I have already wasted a great deal of time trying to convince people of those lies, for it just goes in one ear and out the other, so maybe you could tell me why De Leonists are not interested in the lies that support De Leonism, and it may save me a lot of time trying to convince people of things they don't have the faintest interest in.
The old code for the SLP enemy list was 22, and it showed up in info blocks on the stencils that were used to stamp addresses on letters to members and Weekly Peoples. The 22 group was handled in special ways, usually only getting WPs, maybe getting one renewal reminder, but never getting fundraising letters. It's possible that I became a 22 right after I left in '77, but I cut myself off from the Party so completely that I never got a paper or heard from them until I recently inquired of Bob B. last year if they wanted to review a draft of my manuscript for accuracy. He wrote back to the effect that if I wanted to send a copy along to them, they would stamp it as 'received' and would 'file' it, whatever that meant. So, I sent them a copy, and haven't been in contact since.
From the description of your recent involvement with the Party, it looks like you have been victimized by what I would call their 'extreme sectarianism'.
With regard to SLP dialogue only with individuals, they knew (before I ever suspected) that what they had to say was worthless, so I think that they don't enter into open dialogue with groups for fear of losing too many arguments, and for fear that the socialism they claim to promote will be revealed for the anarchism that it really is. They can't stand up against those who have a real legacy in socialism, like the social-democrats or communists. Hence, the only people with whom they will dialogue are the most naive people who can easily be fooled, like I once was. Anybody who really knows SLP ideology at its roots, and understands the history of its butchery of Marxism, can only destroy SLP spokespersons in a real debate. They are probably aware that I get on the radio every week and frequently critique their ideology, and the fraternal thing to do would be to debate our differences, but when a Party bureaucracy like theirs is only interested in perpetrating ideological fraud, all debate comes to an end, and members get relegated to merely marketing the shoddy goods. I predict that they will never volunteer to debate me.
The only reason that I spoke of anti-War demos as though they actually hastened the end of the War was because the Vietnamese openly thanked American demonstrators for what they did, and that carries a lot of weight with me. Whether the demos actually shortened the War is impossible to quantify, because it would be too expensive to do the history all over again, and kill so many people to prove or disprove things one way or the other, so I don't think it would be fruitful to argue too much about it, just as fruitless as wondering how history would have been different if Stalin, Hitler, or Roosevelt hadn't been born. I doubt if the Vietnamese would have thanked demonstrators if demos didn't have an effect. They were a little more practical and dignified than to waste words thanking a portion of the nation that had perpetrated so much harm on them. What you say reminds me of the old SLP ideology that, 'As long as the capitalist state exists, we are powerless to do anything to affect what goes on, so why protest? Just build for the day when we can abolish the state at the ballot box and establish the classless, stateless administration of things.' I think that what the Party stood for was a total capitulation to the bourgeoisie in the name of 'thoroughgoing revolution against them'. With so much slaughter going on, there was a moral sleaziness to rationalizing our inability to demonstrate by upholding our program as the only thing that could permanently stop war. Out of a sense of solidarity, we should have been able to openly demo, but our inability to do so was just one more symptom of the terminal sickness that still grips the Party, and will probably send it off to a much-belated death. I wanted to demo at the time, but knew that could have been grounds for charges, so I didn't. When I heard the victory celebrations at the end of the War, I felt as though I had made a mistake, and that one more warm body out on the street with a sign might have prevented a death in a foreign land. I trust my gut feelings much more nowadays.
You mentioned that the SLP repealed its policy on something, and I'm still wondering whether you meant the demos, or the War. Maybe next time you could fill me in on what you thought they changed. In my book, I went over our change in policy toward the War, the WP staff likening the victory more to a bourgeois-democratic revolution than a national liberation. Do you recall the WP article that called the victory progressive, and caused a ruckus among the NEC?
I would ask under what circumstances it would be morally correct to take Marx out of context, and not inform the consumer (of the resultant ideology) how the Party arrived at a new position, and how it compared with the old. How much is it safe to deviate from Marx while still calling the Party a Marxist party? When you wrote that the Party 'picked up on a few of Marx's observations and took off with them', Party revisionists would have applauded such an assessment of Party methods, and would have been very glad to hear you say that the Party 'interpretation' of Marx was essentially true to his theories, but Marx believed in a worker-peasant alliance against the bourgeoisie, while the SLP said that 'proletarian dictatorship is a dictatorship over peasants and middle classes in backward countries'. Marx said that proletarian dictatorship was a dictatorship over the upper classes, while the SLP said that 'the bourgeoisie is composed of cowards who would flee', and concluded that 'the reason we don't need proletarian dictatorship (over the peasantry) in the USA is that there would be no upper classes, and barely a peasantry for the proletariat to have to oppress here'. I've never met any kind of socialist who could repeat that scam in that form, but it's right there in A.P.'s pamphlet called "Proletarian Democracy vs. Dictatorships and Despotism", page 42, if you read between the lines a little, and the quotes that A.P. used to support it are out of context. The only fact that A.P. didn't distort was that the peasants played a big role in agricultural production in the old days, and still do in backward countries. Every lie he told after that fact was based on quotes out of context, all to get us to think that workers' use of the (capitalist) state in advanced capitalist countries was not necessary. So, let's go out and abolish it! But, 'abolish it at the ballot box, for we are peaceful socialists, not bomb-throwing anarchists.'
Marx might have had little enough to say about what would replace capitalism, and what he did say didn't make much sense, either. Marx had two theories of the state, one for democracies, and one for feudal monarchies, which the SLP willfully distorted to read, 'one for advanced capitalist countries, and one for backward countries', for the SLP knew that democracies corresponded to the most advanced capitalist countries, while feudal monarchies corresponded to lesser-developed countries. Where we got our social-democratic ideas was from Marx saying at the Hague Congress of 1872 that workers in democracies can get what they want by peaceful reforms, elections and other democratic processes. The SLP distorted that to appear like 'we can have peaceful change in the USA because of advanced means of production, monopoly capitalism showing us the SIU form into which we can organize to administer production. Here in the USA we can avoid using the capitalist state to administer production, and abolish capitalism and the state at the ballot box.' By grossly distorting what Marx stood for, the SLP was able to suppress the Marxist meaning of the state as an instrument of oppression, whether it's capitalist state oppression over workers, or workers' state oppression over capitalists, as Marx theorized.
One of the great willful SLP denials was of everything that Marx and Engels wrote about democratic republics, Marx claiming that 'the republic is the only form of state in which the final battle between bourgeoisie and proletarian can be fought to a finish' and Engels claiming as late as 1891 that 'the democratic republic is the specific form of the proletarian dictatorship, as the great French revolution has shown.' Compare that to the SLP myth that 'Marx and Engels never specified the future form of society.' According to M+E, proletarian dictatorship was to use the very same forms as bourgeois democratic republics, and Engels went on at length comparing centralized vs. federal republics, preferring centralized forms. References to all the appropriate quotes are in my book, and there are plenty of exact quotes, which offer plenty of context, unlike the little snippets that Petersen offered, so that he could make philosophical anarchists out of Marx, Engels and even Lenin. There was a time I would have felt like a traitor to the Party for reading a book published by commies, but that faded out after I discovered that commie books were the only place to get relatively undistorted versions of Marxism. But the commies weren't perfect, having suppressed Engels' statement about party censorship, "Are we demanding from others free speech for us, only to abolish it again in our own ranks?" Not only did the SLP do exactly that, but so did almost any other stripe of communist, anarchist, socialist, or progressive organization.
The future society for which Marx didn't prescribe a form was classless, stateless society, but he surely prescribed a form for that other future form of society, viz., the world-wide dictatorship of the proletariat, simultaneous firstly in the most advanced capitalist countries, then spreading to the least, and that form was to be a democratic republic. That was his scenario, and though history has shown that it just isn't going to work that way, shame on the SLP for not describing it accurately before they correctly claimed that 'Marx's theory for backward countries was worthless for the USA.' What's more confusing is that, even though the grounds on which the Party claimed it was worthless were total bunk, the march of history in the last few years proved that it was bunk when a billion people refused to defend their collectivist systems. Party ideology is such a mass of confusion of lies and truth, one has to really put it under the microscope in order to understand it, and there just isn't any other way to do it.
Marx didn't just give the SLP raw materials, Marx had a fairly tidy and logical plan for robbing the rich of their wealth, but instead of giving us a plan that was more easily implemented in advanced capitalist countries, like shorter hours, he gave us a plan that was far more easily implemented after overthrowing feudal monarchies in backward countries, or after liberating colonies, when socialists had the physical force in their hands with which they could collectivize, and, on the very first day of the Bolshevik revolution, private ownership of land was abolished in Russia. Marx's problem was that he never detected the wave of bourgeois revolution that was sweeping the globe from West to East for the last two centuries, a sweep that historians like Carroll Quigley have acknowledged in part, that sweep not as detectable in Marx's time as it manifested later. Marx mistook the increasing tendency for workers to come out for themselves in each succeeding struggle as 'a tendency for proletarian revolution to supplant bourgeois revolution', but the bourgeoisie was too smart to arm the proletariat in later European revolutions, knowing, as the grand old International did, that the republics would go socialist, so the bourgeoisie preferred instead to compromise with feudal monarchies and form constitutional monarchies. But, in Eastern Europe, capitalism was weak, proletariat and bourgeoisie poorly developed, but socialist consciousness very well developed, Marx's desired scenario of socialist workers pushing newly created bourgeois republics through to proletarian dictatorship happening just as he predicted when the Kerensky republic fell to the Bolsheviks, but the revolution failed to happen simultaneously in more advanced capitalist countries closer to the heart of Europe. The other problem was that the most advanced capitalist countries of Marx's time just happened to be democracies, another fly in the ointment of Marx's revolutionary scenario, due to people's reluctance to collectivize by means of force and violence. So, the anarchists had enough ammunition to correctly critique Marx's scenario on a variety of grounds, but the anarchists of the SLP could never give you the explanation that I just did, for a correct and complete critique would have undermined their own business of supplying suckers with Bakunin's program of anarcho-syndicalism disguised as socialism. That is their scam in a nutshell, but I couldn't blame you for not believing me unless you had also done the necessary legwork of refuting each and every one of Petersen's lies, as I most carefully did in da book.
Without having had one's dreams shattered as mine were, there is little point in my just giving you the results of my work, for I know from personal experience just how strong the dream of peaceful revolution is, and how sloppy true believers can be in their thinking, as mine most assuredly was in the early seventies.
I just finished my discourse about the meaning of the term socialism with Mike B., so I'll just repeat most of it here, along with the additional information that: It was the unlikelihood of Marx's collectivist scenario coming true in democracies that caused socialism in democracies to be watered down to meaning not much more than reforms, while Lenin always defined socialism as proletarian dictatorship, which slightly more accurately described the Russian situation, but only slightly, because it was that very same set of problems surrounding Marx's scenario that caused the Russian revolution to become but a gross caricature of Marx's dream. I will also say that many of the SLP and anarchist criticisms of Leninism and Stalinism are 'right on', but, because they fail to give the big picture, and fail to show as I did that neither socialist, communist nor anarchist collectivization schemes are likely in advanced capitalist democracies, and because the SLP lied so egregiously about the nature of socialism, communism and anarchism, I cannot so much sympathize with SLP anarchists who lie about anarchism, communism and socialism that I fall head over heels in love with anarchism. Also, it was the very unlikelihood of collectivization in democracies that kept the masses out of such movements in droves, and left the field open for petty-bourgeois interests to make small businesses out of marketing impossible scenarios to suckers like me, who thought in the seventies that a Party that would bother to tell me the truth about class struggle would also give me the truth about everything else. But, that's how we learn we are gullible, the hard way.
I hope that covers that issue in sufficient depth. It certainly is a sticky one for anarchists who think they are socialists, and who believe a good portion of the lies they were told. We are in a far different kettle than we were in the last century, though, when the difference between anarchism and socialism was often debated in the Workmen's Advocate, and people knew the differences a lot better then than they seem to do now, communism out of the question here entirely. I'll stick with the collectivization and statism that the vast bulk of the population likes to think of socialism as, for I see absolutely no need to try to change their minds. I like to work with the human material as it presents itself to me, for my own self-education has proven that socialism isn't going to happen here anyway, no matter what kind of collectivism, statism or the absence of statism someone might mean by that term.
Socialism, communism and anarchism to me are three different theories of the state, with the common goal of changing the state in order to collectivize means of production. Socialists would win elections, nationalize property and tax the upper classes; communists would create a proletarian dictatorship and do a good old fashioned expropriation, while anarchists would abolish the state and administer production through workers' organizations. Abolishing the state would abolish classes, so then we would all be workers. Notice the impossibility of doing all 3 plans at the same time, hence the 3-way split between the three tendencies. Belief in ideologies is a great way for the left to win the hearts and minds of Americans, isn't it? Compare the impossibility of doing all 3 at once to how the right wing unites behind democracy and capitalism, institutions that most Americans will be more than glad to kill for, what a lot of people would kill for to have it in their own countries, and institutions that could be ridden all of the way to classless stateless society if we had the brains to apply continuous pressure to shorten hours of labor until we became an all-volunteer work force to finish what little labor that remains for people to do. It's a good thing for the upper classes that we would be much happier to argue over which of the three 'isms we should adopt, and it is the very same upper classes who promote the three 'isms, for they know that it is more profitable to keep us divided over 'isms than it is for us to unite over the only thing, shorter hours, that makes sense in the most productive country in the world. Isn't that logical?
In the history of what anarchism means, I find the SLP program closer to Bakuninist anarcho-syndicalism than anything else. Even R.K. Nelson, long-time Massachusetts member I was in the same Section with in the early 70's, described our program that way, long before I had the faintest idea what the term meant. I found out, though, for the commies had whole books on it. Even S.K. was somewhat of a Leninist when I knew him, wanting to spring on an unsuspecting membership an overhaul of the SIU, wanting to capitalize on the interest in communism in the USA in the seventies, thanks to the liberation of so many colonies in that decade. He wanted to convert SIUs into organizations of state power, 'those fighting SIUs', as he used to call them. That story is in my book, too.
When I said on the tape that the SLP outlook on the state was that 'all states are capitalist states', that is because the Party denied the existence of any kind of workers' state, even the alleged proletarian dictatorship over the peasantry in backward countries supposedly 'a proletarian use of the capitalist state over the peasantry who would surely rebel against proletarian rule (through the capitalist state)'. Yes, SLP ideology contradicts itself that badly. Consider also the sheer numbers involved: While Marx looked upon the upper classes as being much smaller in number than the proletariat in combination with the peasantry, and that the combined strength of the latter two classes would have a chance of prevailing against the relatively small number of bourgeois, Party bureaucrats would have had us believe instead that the upper classes would just take a hike, leaving the proletariat to oppress a peasant class that was much larger than the tiny proletariat, leaving us to conclude that the proletarians would have had to have been a class of supermen in order to prevail against such a much larger number of peasants.
Also, Party bureaucrats did not want members to ever get the idea that Marx believed that proletarian dictatorship was the workers' use of a workers' state to repress upper classes, not repress the middle classes and peasants, as the Party would have us believe. In that way, and in so many others, the Party serves the upper classes. You may not see the need to repress the upper classes, just like the Party didn't, but Marx, Engels and Lenin did. To become a scholar of this very sad chapter in labor history, you should be able to acknowledge differences in your perceptions from other perceptions, even if you may not agree with the perceptions of others.
A principle so basic in Party ideology as 'the abolition of bourgeois political democracy at the ballot box so that SIU proletarian democracy, a classless, stateless administration of things, can begin', I didn't think would ever be an issue with you. If you think that my interpretation of the Party program is messed up, let me know, and we can go back and forth on that one a few times. A little dialogue should be able to clear up that one in short order, I think.
When I use terms like state, abolish, classless and stateless, etc., these terms were taught to me in SLP literature, especially as in Engels' "Socialism From Utopia to Science", and Petersen in "Proletarian Democracy vs. Dictatorships and Despotism". If you read these a few times, you'll get the idea of what they mean, which is the same thing as what I mean. If they are vague about what they mean, then I cannot help but be vague about what I mean as well, but, in general, the state is the government, in some literature more exactly the armed enforcement of government; stateless means no government, especially the notion of special bodies of armed men, as opposed to militias; and class means economic classes, society being divided up into a class of owners of means of production, and another class of non-owners of everything but our ability to work. As far as I know, these are widely accepted definitions among a grand portion of the left, the SLP remaining a bit confused about some terms, because of all of the lies they unwittingly swallowed for the most part, only a very few people ever being or becoming wise to the scams that were perpetrated. The K.s knew that what we were all about was pure bullshit, and so does Bob B. They just decided to prostitute themselves to the lies, for it was an easy way to make a living. I worked there. I know of what I speak, for the very same sentiment was explained to me in no uncertain terms in a remarkable conversation with M.J., and I was invited to keep my mouth shut and share the good life; but when I insisted that other members know what I was becoming aware of, the NO united against me and prevented me from spreading what I knew, and it was very easy for them to keep dissent safely contained within the Section, for if I wanted to maintain a semblance of adherence to 'correct organizational procedure' to prevent giving them grounds to expel me, then I had to play by the rules. When the censorship became as obvious as the hair on the end of my nose, and I had to quit in order to save my sanity, then it was easy enough for them to inoculate the membership against me by denouncing me, which they did in a letter to the members, and maybe in other places as well. Did I ever get the chance to rebut? That would have been too democratic.
"[I]t's unwise to leave the impression that your paraphrases of the positions of those whom you criticize are the words that they use to describe themselves", and, like you say, they can easily deny that they said any such thing. And, indeed, after quoting all of what Petersen said in full in my book, but in order to make the whole project more easily absorbed, I had to figure out what Petersen was actually saying, which wasn't easy all of the time, and put it in words that I though he intended; but, if I failed, then the whole thing was a waste of time. But, of the many copies of the book I distributed (and a sufficient number were read by some very intelligent people), this is the first time I've been even vaguely accused of putting words in Petersen's, or in the Party's mouth, so it will help to deliver what you consider to be a specific example so that we can dialogue about it. If you approach my critiques of the Party and Petersen from the perspective that they never made a major mistake, then it will be very difficult to communicate with you, and I may have little more luck explaining my discoveries to you than a communist has a chance in walking into a Chamber of Commerce and making communists out of all of those business people. A somewhat open mind is required to follow this stuff, and since you expressed interest in a refutation of Petersen, I assumed that your mind could be open. If not, then this mass of verbiage is probably just another gross waste of time, just like so many other things I've done with my little life. But, if you have valid questions about what I'm saying here, I'll help you along with the material. I won't leave you stranded if you lose the train of logic somewhere along the line; just let me know what troubles you, and we will walk through the hurdles one at a time and we may some day just be able to agree on something. It's not easy for you, coming from where you are, that I know, for, when I was a De Leonist, I was quite defensive about it and defended it as best I could against all foes. I have gone through three major revolutions in thought in my little life, from thinking that psychology would save the minds of individuals, to thinking that socialism would save both their minds and their bodies, to thinking that socialism itself offers nothing in advanced capitalist democracies. Have you gone through any revolutions in thought? If so, then you may appreciate how traumatic they can sometimes be in the process, but very rewarding in the end.
If the Wobblies are neutral about so many things, then I wonder just what they are for. In March, I did a workshop for the Wobblies, and, of the three Wobblies there, not one of them denied their ideology that 'the state would be replaced by one big union.' So, if I got it wrong, then what is the IWW program? It would help if you didn't merely tell me I'm wrong, for I may need some education about what they stand for.
With regard to proletarian dictatorship, neither you nor the SLP seem to see the need for it, and neither do I at this point, but the reasons we would give are totally different, for we are operating out of entirely different frames of reference. Marx said in essence that 'workers in democracies can get what they want without the use of force and violence, for their battle with the bourgeoisie can be fought out within the framework of democracy', though Engels later on differentiated between what could be done after mere elections vs. after winning state power by smashing monarchies and liberating colonies. Engels was always heavy on collectivization, which was impossible after mere elections, though a lot of other things are not impossible, and just might be worth fighting for. The SLP might deny all of that, but the record is in history. SLP denials of the obvious have earned for it a certain reputation among the left for its lack of scholarship in political matters, though we did get high marks for our understanding of economics. There used to be a saying in the left that 'If you want to learn about economics, go to the SLP, but if you want to learn about politics, go anywhere but the SLP', and for good reasons, the fact that so many of our political perspectives were based on quotes out of context, and lies cut from whole cloth, we had little more than lies to offer about politics. If possible, find me a place in SLP literature in which the SLP even acknowledges the concept of workers' state power. I can't find any, for the SLP is neither communist nor socialist, and wouldn't be caught dead acknowledging such a thing.
Back when SLP ideology was being forged, the choices were between which of the two types of Marxism to choose from, or Bakuninism, and so, between the three, there was an abrupt change when one set of fearless leaders deposed our pre-1889 social-democracy, and adopted the essence of Bakunin, with a social-democratic overlay, as befit our residence in a democracy, hence the democratic abolition of the state at the ballot box. And, they had the nerve to call the merger 'Marxian socialism for advanced capitalist democracies', though it is, in essence, Bakuninist anarcho-syndicalism, i.e., the taking over of the affairs of society by unions (a plan which has never been realized in history). Because of all of the lies surrounding SLP ideology, the members, in order to be of the caliber to believe in the lies and market them, never represented the cream of the crop of scholarship. They met challenges to their belief systems with denials, and live in a constant state of ignorance. They deny what books show, namely that Marx believed that the workers were going to create their own state power, that feudal and capitalist states were to be done away with, and the workers' state, known as a dotp, if it happened simultaneously in a sufficient number of European countries, would be the transition to classless, stateless society. That was the scenario for more central European feudal monarchies, but the SLP has been in a constant state of denial about it, accusing it of being a dotp over the peasantry instead. The SLP could have told the truth about history if they had wanted, for they had to have understood the history in order to do such a good job in covering it up.
When you say that the capitalists don't literally possess industries, I doubt if that has been much of an issue for the masses in this country, for most of them wish that they were the owners, but, if a few on the left think it would be easy to take it away, then maybe they should try taking any or all industries away from the rich, and see how long it takes for the government to protect property rights. One of the lessons of the Civil War was that as immoral a form of property ownership as private ownership of slaves was too repugnant to most Americans, but worth a good portion of the South fighting to the death to protect. The real winner of the Civil War was private ownership of everything except other people. Most people in this country have been more than willing to lay down their lives to protect both private property and democracy in our history, so the portion of the left that wants to organize a large enough number to expropriate the upper classes would have to be dreaming. But this whole aim of the left is part of the larger problem of the left wanting to blame anyone but itself for the problems of the lower classes, hence their desire to change property relations, or change the government, but never change the only thing we have a ghost of a chance of changing, namely our selfish willingness within our own ranks to let many go unemployed while many others are overworked. If we can't fix that relatively simple thing first, there is no chance we will be able to get anyone to buy the SIU program, and get them to do something as complex, difficult and contentious as changing property relations. Think about the tremendous number of different ways in which it is possible to change property relations: There must be billions, many of which compete with the other ways, and few of which can be implemented at the same time as others. On the other hand, there are half a dozen ways to shorten labor time that make good sense: making overtime prohibitively expensive, bringing all workers under the purview of the Fair Labor Standards Act, mandating a minimum of a month's paid vacation for all workers, a dozen paid holidays, earlier retirement with full benefits, and shorter work weeks, all of which get labor off the market, and any one of which an activist would be just as glad to see implemented as any other, for they are all different and yet complementary means of replacing competition between workers for scarce jobs with competition between bosses for scarce labor.
We cannot blame anyone but ourselves for our own selfish desires to keep what jobs we have, and let the government take care of the unemployed. Our possibilities for organizing in this country are far different from what were possible in backward countries in the last century, and we need to do something that fits our circumstances, especially if we are 40 times more productive now than we were two centuries ago and theoretically could produce all of our necessities by everyone just working an hour per week. Fewer than ever are working in industries producing commodities, and that percentage is going down as we speak.
In the history of ideology, your scenario of the five-minute revolution and instant collectivization fits a purely anarchist scenario, Marx differing very much with his scenario of slow dissolution of class distinctions and the state; and yet our Party had the nerve to call itself Marxist, with the reservation that it was 'Marxism for countries with advanced means of production'. I don't believe in either scenario, but I studied all of them enough to understand the differences between them. People who are irrevocably attracted to what seems like a good idea and are content to be forever loyal to that idea may never acknowledge this observation, for they prefer living in their little ideological boxes, and trespassers should stay away, lest they face rebuke.
Our job in the SLP was to parrot lies and ideology, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, but such easily manufactured answers as an SIU no longer wash in a world of such great stress that people will not buy programs based on lies much longer. In this country, no matter how bad things get, people will not vote socialist or communist, for they saw what they did in Asia, and in other places. But, in the last century, such scenarios were on the minds of quite a few more people, even in the USA, so here's a likely scenario, as I wrote to M.B.:
The way in which workers can use the existing state is to protect existing reforms like the 8 hour day, and to upgrade it, as in making overtime much more expensive than time and a half, so as to encourage fuller employment. A study showed that going to double time would reduce unemployment by 1-2%, which would be a good way to begin to put an end to the enormous contradiction between the overwork of some of us and the unemployment of many others. Smashing the state and rearranging property relations do nothing in themselves to solve this contradiction, but we do have the freedom right now to do something about unemployment if we want to. Nothing is holding us back from doing that, and everyone knows it, except for the handful of small businesses calling themselves socialist, anarchist and communist who want to rearrange property relations instead of fixing what's really wrong with this country. So, I do not believe in rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic, as radical groups want us to do.
The SLP, as you say, does not openly advocate things getting worse in order to attract people to their movement, but this is an inevitable consequence of us just sitting around doing nothing, while things in this country do, in fact, get worse. I'm going to be 53 in May, and I can definitely report that things have gotten worse for the lower classes. I have a much greater fear than ever of being a victim of crime. The homeless situation is far worse than in the 60's, and one out of six California kids goes hungry, in spite of the fact that only 1-2% of the population now works the land, as compared to 40% a century ago, and 80% two centuries ago. The problems of production have been solved, but we will never be able to distribute the product of labor until we distribute labor itself among everyone who could use a job. We don't need a revolution to do that, for ensuring full employment is a very civilized activity that would as much be a function of the SIU as it should be a function of the present government. There's nothing stopping us from imposing that function on government, and eliminating all of the causes of people getting any crazier than what they already are.
At the end of the last century, Marx's old party in Germany was still quite radical, as well as the French party, but neither of them were able to collectivize means of production after winning elections, as much as communists in their parties would have wanted to. The purpose of revolution is to bring democracy to where it doesn't exist, as has been proven by the era of bourgeois democratic revolution, which is still going on. Socialist revolutions in backward countries brought bureaucracy and dictatorship, but not the freedom and plenty as promised, which is why billions of people recently allowed their collectivist systems to be replaced with fledgling democracies and capitalism. They didn't defend collectivism very hard because it didn't work well for them, so the era of socialist collectivism is over, and anarchist collectivism never had a chance, it being so far out of line with what people do in revolutions. Ideologues never observe what people do, for what people actually do often contradicts party ideologies. In our Party, marketing of the ideology alone is what counted.
All that is possible in democracies is reform, and the SLP went on to discourage support for reforms by calling them 'concealed measures of reaction', which can only inspire contempt for reform, and for political democracy in general. Without reform, things can only get worse, and the upper classes do not have to do a conscious thing to ensure that things will get worse, for the wages system in a world of rapidly evolving technology will ensure that machinery will continue to replace workers faster than what new industries can be created to employ all of the redundant workers, as is predicted by economist Jeremy Rifkin. Rapidly evolving technology ensures that necessities of life take less and less time to create, and if the work-day remains the same length, we find ourselves producing more and more surplus values, which go right to the upper classes and the government. We voluntarily make bosses rich and governments powerful. Nothing but economic necessity ensures that we show up day after day at the same rotten jobs. If we continue to do nothing, and if we do not reform what we have, the next century will see 90 million of the present 124 million jobs replaced by automation, leaving all of the work that needs to be done by 34 million people working at 8 hour jobs. If we made them into 4 hour jobs, that would keep 68 million people working, and if we made them into 2 hour jobs, we could distribute what little work that remains to be done among 136 million people. Continually reducing hours of labor could keep everyone working, and could create a positive demand for labor that could enable us to create a moral nation.
With regard to the SLP
attitude about reform, you have to read between the lines, and
their attitude toward it really came out in a study class back
in '73 when I inquired about just these points. I was told that
reforms contained concealed measures of
reaction, the Party would never advocate
reforms, reforms compromise its revolutionary program, and increasingly
bad times in the future would drive
people into the Party. The
attitude was revealed that all we had to
do was wait, and it would happen, and that our only job was to
make sure that enough people knew about the program so that they
would know what to do when things got really bad. So, we
were turned into mere marketers of the Party
program, and it didn't sound bad enough to me at the time
to prevent me from joining. That may not have gone on in your
study class, but it sure did in mine. I doubt that they shaped
that Party attitude merely to keep
us from hearing and passing on mixed messages, and to keep our
little minds clear. With their knowledge of surplus value arguments,
and of the differences between absolute and relative surplus values,
Party bureaucrats knew that things
were going to get worse, and wanted them to get worse in order
to drive people into the Party, and
wanted no part of advocating reforms that would do something constructive
for people, and would make them less revolutionary. I hope you
are getting the picture as to just how sordid our plans really
were. Middle class revolutionaries can get along without reforms
a lot easier than the lowest of the lowest classes. Revolution
in a democracy will never be a lower class issue.
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