Review of John Molyneux’s “Understanding Left Reofrmism”

In the course of a discussion on the cedarlounge web forum (https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/and-speaking-of-the-middle-left-surely-theres-a-better-term/) I was asked by a Workers Party member who goes by the pen name LeftAtTheCross (LATC) to give a critique of John Molyneux’s “Understanding Left Reformism” piece from the latest issue of Irish Marxist Review – Vol 2, No 6 (2013).

Here is that review:

LATC – a fasinating piece. I would have no substantive disagreement with anything in it, indeed I could imagine writing something almost exactly the same myself.

One small comment would be on the section regarding “Left Governments” where he makes no, or at least very little, the distinction between Popular Front governments and other forms of “Left Geovernment” when in fact the open cross-class coalition involved in a PF is important to understand in terms of the mechanisms of how it betrays the interests of the working class. But as he was focusing on the outcomes this is not a major criticism.

What strikes me most about the piece is how it is completely at odds with the practice of the SWP. This is after all the organisation that initiated the disastrous RESPECT project in Britain not so long ago and now is seeking to initiate exactly this kind of left-reformist formation (and perhaps not even a particularly left variant if RBB’s latest comments are anything to go by).

I guess Molyneux’s get-out clause might be his comment near the end about “welcoming and encouraging” any such moves to the left of the working class but that is quite a different thing from positively prosletysing for and actively initiating the creation of such projects.

If Molyneux was any kind of principled communist it would have to be imagined that he was currently engaged in the midst of a massive faction fight.

Of course it is much more likely that he is not involved in any such struggle and this piece is merely an abstract theoretical piece which has no relationship to the actual political practice of either himself or the wider SWP.

This is a classic example of the reason for when I talk about the programme of organisations I pose it in terms of what they do as well as what they say.


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