Swarme of sectaries


My old mailing-list sparring partner Louis Proyect has written a mighty 3,300-word essay, on Counterpunch, about the history and politics of International Socialist Organization, a boutique Trotskyite sect. I suppose that works out to some dozen words per member.

Have to admit I couldn’t read the whole thing, since the topic is utterly stupefying to me, but in skimming it I did find a number of amusing turns of phrase and characterizations. I certainly recommend it to anybody who is able to take more of an interest than I can do in these battles of the frogs and mice.

Louis certainly has a vast capacity for this kind of thing; he must have written tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of words about the SWP and his experiences in it. I don’t quite know whether to find this admirable or appalling.

Whence this zeal for the finer points? Am I mistaken in believing that Trotskyites generally exhibit more of it than other elements of the Left? If so, why?

7 thoughts on “Swarme of sectaries

  1. have no notion what tickles father S

    but i liked these fragments:

    Marx…ist not ism ?
    plain jane typo or hyper corrective
    deep meme code redaction ?
    as in
    the shaggy trio :
    ist, ian , ite


    this made me giddy :
    te one two of
    “..bureaucrats …exploiting the workers( cue the asymtotically off trailing echo chamber ..”.workers workers workers” ..)
    “…. in the name of socialism ” (think of U2 “”in the name of love” )

    lu lu on his exoteric idol :

    “Leon Trotsky was a very astute critic of Stalin”

    ” his party-building methodology yielded nothing but sects and cults”

    lu lu
    on a …what ?….”peer”:?

    “the gifted Verso author Richard Seymour …”

    on ” vulgar workerism”:

    “go from one crappy factory job to another
    in search of a revolutionary proletariat,
    like Captain Ahab looking for Moby Dick”

    on the old pre browderian CP :
    “once groups in the USA began imitating Lenin’s party in a mechanical fashion, the road to ruin was guaranteed.”

    on the baby comintern:
    “(mostly cooked up by Gregory Zinoviev, who was played to perfection by Jerzy Kosinski in Warren Beatty’s “Reds”).”

    and unintendly on reification :
    “At a conference sponsored by Historical Materialism”

    but from this back office pinko prig
    we do get this sublime turn:
    “….crude nature of their party organs “

    • I had overlooked ‘crude nature of the party organs’. Thanks for that.

      Paine will recall the days when we were expected to sell a paper which proclaimed itself — in 24-point type — ‘The Organ Of The Communist Party – XYZ’. Marx and Lenin, I believe, made an appearance in the XYZ. Mao may or may not have been mentioned — can’t recall — but he was certainly lurking in the wings. And old Joe was looking on from Marxist Heaven — or Hell, depending on your sectarian faith commitments.

    • BTW I liked Seymour’s book ‘The Liberal Defence of Murder’. But I find his blog unreadable, and doubly so since he began devoting it entirely to sex scandals in the English SWP. There if you like is a cubic term of inconsequence — England * sex * Trotskyites.

  2. The IS/ISO/SWP also turned out to be a hatchery of contrarian right wing enthusiasts such as Hitchens who got his start in this “the most pernicious, the most arrogant, and the most blindly sectarian” of left outfits. Its graduates used to be “plentiful in the higher reaches of the media”–emblematic of “a cynical, sardonic, amoral generation, without faith or optimism.” Alex Cockburn also wrote well on “fat, hairy Trots”.

  3. ISO — ho ho

    I may have belonged, was never clear whereas SWP bluntly so, no matter how right or wrong.

    far down the drain
    hopefully constipating ongoing
    acquisition mass-data analysis
    and cyberized humiliating state love

    we are a World Social Formation of
    chamelionic parrots, fruit cocktails, raw fish
    dying ocean and cute cute slow loris biting deeply
    into my right arm the one which had held nubia so tightly

    when ldeath was Always at hand
    on all lists everywhere but ortiz was best
    and worst as he squashed between building
    wall and front of truck – no pink fog but def nuerons


  4. So from Lev to y’all – Sorry he was a bit early, 1914–

    The forces of production which capitalism has evolved have outgrown the limits of nation and state. The national state, the present political form, is too narrow for the exploitation of these productive forces. The natural tendency of our economic system, therefore, is to seek to break through the state boundaries. The whole globe, the land and the sea, the surface as well as the interior has become one economic workshop, the different parts of which are inseparably connected with each other. This work was accomplished by capitalism. But in accomplishing it the capitalist states were led to struggle for the subjection of the world-embracing economic system to the profit interests of the bourgeoisie of each country. What the politics of imperialism has demonstrated more than anything else is that the old national state that was created in the revolutions and the wars [5] of 1789-1815, 1848-1859, 1864-1866, and 1870 has outlived itself, and is now an intolerable hindrance to economic development.

    The present war is at bottom a revolt of the forces of production against the political form of nation and state. It means the collapse of the national state as an independent economic unit.

    The nation must continue to exist as a cultural, ideologic and psychological fact, but its economic foundation has been pulled from under its feet. All talk of the present bloody clash being a work of national defense is either hypocrisy or blindness. On the contrary, the real, objective significance of the War is the breakdown of the present national economic centers, …”

    Not perfect eh………………….but written by a Trot how could it be.

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