I received the following responses to The Nation "Tackles" Socialism. My comments follow:
Carl Davidson said...
I assure you, Zoltan, that both Ehrenreich and Fletcher are socialists. Unless you just want to use the term to mean what you pick for it.
Ehrenreich is a traditional Social-Democrat, rooted in DSA, with all its upsides and downsides.
Fletcher is part of the ML movement, although not of your trend. His groups views are readily available.
If you want to do polemics with them over socialism these days, it's quite relevant to do so. But instead of flippant dismissals, it would be better to examine the actual view they hold, and their organizations represent.
Otherwise, we just get more of the curious sectarianism your trend is often noted for.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
The French Revolution wasn't so bad.
Carl Davidson may well be correct that Barbara Ehrenreich and Bill Fletcher, Jr. are, in their hearts, socialists. All the more reason to be critical of their The Nation contributions. The same could be said for Tariq Ali. He has certainly written frequently and militantly about imperialism and the evils of capitalism. But maybe my point was not as clear as I would like. Surely the opportunity afforded by the largest circulation liberal/left publication in the US conjoined with an economic catastrophe the likes of which none of us have seen in our lifetimes provides a unique opportunity to put forward a vision of socialism - not necessarily mine or Carl's - but some vision that might actually provoke some reader to consider or even advocate socialism.
Carl, do you think that anyone - say a young activist - would actually seek out socialists or socialist organizations after reading these articles? Do you think the commentaries inspired anyone to go to the library or the internet to find out more about socialism?
For generations, the non-Communist left has constructed models of socialism based primarily upon what they viewed as flawed with the Soviet Union or the Communist Party. The Soviet Union is gone and the Communist Party USA is little more than a liberal think tank. Today, A Communist or Socialist must tell people what they believe in and, hopefully, do it with some conviction. You're welcome to show my where you find this in The Nation pieces.
What is relevant here is not whether we engage in polemics on our various takes on socialism, but that, when given an opportunity, we make some kind of impassioned advocacy for some kind of socialism. We don't have to agree with other visions of socialism, Carl, but at least put 'em on the table!
Carl, you refer to their "actual views". Why should I have to research them? Why weren't they in the article?
As for the Anonymous Dr Scotch: Yes, the French Revolution wasn't bad. In fact, it was great, except for one small omission: It left out the sans coulottes - the property-less and those without influence or power. They did the fighting and dying, but with little material change in their miserable lives. That's why they rose again in 1848 and 1871. They are still trying to find a little justice after two centuries.