3 posts / 0 new
Last post
Printer-friendly version

Does anyone think it would be of interest, or have a practical purpose, to write a critique on the origins, development and current activity of Marcyism and Marcy-derived groups? They seem to be largely activist organizations rather than theoretically driven (theory seems to begin and end with Marcy's work), with a membership equal to the other large leftist groups in the US. Yet they don't receive the kind of attention for observation or scrutiny that is characteristic of the other large Marxist-Leninist/various leftist groups. I ask because of the lack of coherent critique available and because, due to their very activist nature, they seem to recruit heavily (i.e. searching elements who live in geographic areas where such groups are present and active- leading skeptics of capitalism or sympathetic to socialist views into their orbit). Also because they can't be simply labeled as part of a specific counter-revolutionary tradition (its origins in Trotskyism is not particularly descriptive of Marcy's theories and organizations- it is certainly distinct), possibly giving it the appearance of being 'different' from the rest of the left.

Plus I'm particularly interested in the deviations from M-L due to changes in the USSR, changes in the foreign policy of one of the superpowers (or of regional imperialist states), etc. The reaction of M-L's to change (such as Marcy's; after supporting the violent suppression of Hungary in 1956, a new ideology of power structures and their 'proletarian anti imperialist' character evolves from the wreckage of Trotskyism's degenerated/deformed worker's states). The more extreme the deviation from traditional Stalinism or Trotskyism or Maoism, the easier it seems to trace back to the counter-revolutionary, ebbing tide of leftist ideology (since the working-class is in retreat, we must support colonial struggles of oppressed people, totalitarian regimes take power in former colonial countries, US imperialism gets involved, we support the totalitarian regimes = now the world is divided between proletarian people's states and US imperialism = theory of 'global class struggle').

Does anyone have experience encountering the WWP or PSL?

American Stalinism

Hi mhou and welcome to the forum. I think that the question you raise is interesting but maybe we need to think about the characteristics of American Stalinism (sounds like there could be a movie in there). I know the Maoists can appear radical. This is a post I did on libcom (June 2007) about an encounter I had with the Progressive Labour Party, who have perhaps been the most radical of all:

  "I encountered the PLP in the 70s. I was in the US (Boston?) and I passed by a couple of them running a stall in the street. I had a short discussion with them and bought their paper. Being young and naive, I gave them my address thinking there was no danger of them bothering me in the UK, but a few weeks later a young guy with a sports jacket, tie and brief case turned up on my front door announcing that he was from the PLP. I can't remember what I said to him but I terminated the interview as quickly as I could.

The one spark of interest I had found in them was that they had started calling the Chinese Stalinists a red bourgeoisie. I had encountered groups in Europe (such as the short lived Manifesto group in Sweden) who had split from Maoism towards communist positions, partly influenced by the Shen wu-Lien tendency in China, whom the PLP also talked about, I think. But on reading the PLP paper it seemed clear to me that they were still Stalinists through and through, openly defending Stalin and the 'socialist USSR' before 1956. No less Stalinist was their outward appearance and manner - 'we're going to the workers so we have to have short hair and wear conservative clothes'. A bit of a cult in fact. Doesn't Bookchin mention them in his 'Listen Marxist' pamphlet?

From all accounts the PLP has changed its positions quite a bit but has it really changed its nature? It is very rare for entire political groups to move from the counter-revolution to the proletariat".


The last time I looked PLP had adopted a kind of councilist ideology, but I still think they were Stalinist in their true hearts...

Don't know if any of that helps.....

Thanks Alf; actually I've

Thanks Alf; actually I've lost my password information from this forum as well as libcom (eventually found the one for libcom; terrible habit writing passwords down)- had to resort to making a new name to contribute.

You're right about PLP, they currently seem to have a position that borders the Bordigist 'the class is the party' mysticism (in the PLP view it's physical rather than ideological; the entire working-class joins the party according to their site).

I am interested in reading core Marcyist texts (from the organizations Worker's World Party & Party for Socialism and Liberation) as well Sam Marcy's writings themselves to more or less make the argument that

1)class positions matter; the mutations of Marxism-Leninism over the years and its offspring are physical, organizational, testament to the importance of clear class positions among the international party and the militants who belong to it. Something like a position on the right of nations to self-determination, one of many positions (some may say of secondary importance compared to the direct debates about the immediate revolutionary concerns) under debate during the founding and development of the Third International, ended with Lenin and the Bolsheviks supporting this 'right'- the end result can be measured a century later with multiple M-L parties and groups which have engaged in further opportunism and permeation with bourgeois ideology (the extreme example being the positions of Sam Marcy and the WWP/PSL which supports nation-states that are 'anti-imperialist', even when they are killing militant and/or revolutionary workers-1956 Hungary, 1989 China). The counter-revolution doesn't forgive the errors of revolutionaries.

2) Any deviation resulting in identifying revolutionary gains with state organs, or the party with the state, results in a confused project where revolutionaries identify with the "worker's state"- this opens the floodgates to naked nationalism, support for imperialism, collapse of revolutionary creativity and the victory of counter-revolution.

3) The legacy of Trotskyism (everything from heavily premature organizational splits over minor, secondary issues to engaging in blatant and known opportunism for 'revolutionary ends') is still a threat to the working-class today.

It just struck me as odd that so little has been written about it; from any and all political viewpoints (revolutionary or leftist), given their relative size and influence- if not for that I'd feel content to simply let them share the irrelevance of small, heavily isolated and inward looking counter-revolutionary groups like PLP and SWP. It's a shame that so many workers and students who have been politicized in recent years, particularly since the latest crisis, are first introduced to the leftism of groups like the Marcyists and CPUSA when searching for an alternative to capitalism and bourgeois electoral politics (I read they were visible and active during the recent black Friday protests/strikes at Walmart for example).