Why do Social Democrats do what they do?

March 15, 2010

H I S T O R Y O F T H E P A R T Y O F "N E W T I M E S " (Bowlderdised) Short Course, by Andrew Taylor, re-posted from April 22, 2009


























The party-group which contributed to the British Communist Party journal _Marxism Today_ in the 1980's concluded we were living in "post-Fordist" ‘New Times’, and that this astonishing kairos moment required a total rethinking of left politics and a scrapping of Marxism-Leninism. I subscribed to MT through the heady Gorbachev “Glasnost” and “Perestroika” 1980s and as Socialism was dissolved/ destroyed in the USSR the MT editors/contributors became an openly non-communist broad-leftish think tank.(And subsequent to that they simply tanked.) There was a good deal of the conceits of the "times" between the covers, but sadly, the resemblance its futuristic and glossy contents bore to Communist theory was obscure and contradictory a la Alice in Wonderland,("The Queen: Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast").

In very recent years some have announced or more often implied that yet another qualitative shift in capitalism is upon us, another "New Times" that may require a new and improved version of socialism (or socialized capitalism) one without a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party leading a working-class to a socialist revolution. It does seem puzzling why sections of the party of the working-class are virtually giving up on working-class power in "socialist" theories just at a historical moment when bourgeois rule is so utterly discredited by the most severe systemic capitalist crisis since 1928?

By all means, let us acknowledge what communists have discovered anew again and again in their several generations, -- that history is on the move and making sharp turns. And let's be guided by struggle and theory as we attempt to formulate the Communist perspective on the new things that we see arising out of the contradictions of the latest developments of the all-round capitalist crisis.

But let us also reason together, take open counsel in international discussion, meetings, and congresses - not stumble into a ditch as though blind. For Marxist-Leninists all "times” are singular and “new” – and yet, at one and the same time, are a part of the historical trajectory sketched out in the social analysis and of Marx, Lenin and their tradition.

And it would seem strictly rational and non-controversial to point out that those who do not follow or have left Marxism-Leninism as their political theory and guide to action are no longer Marxist-Leninists? This does not negate their contributions to the democratic struggles, but it may well cause their political analysis to begin and end apart from a Communist viewpoint.

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