Tuesday, April 09, 2019


Mansoor Hekmet was one of the founders of the Worker Communist Party of Iran. (The WCPI is a contemporary form of worker-council-based communism, but without the dogmatism and sectarianism of the older varieties. The best known member of WCPI is the feminist Maryam Namzie)

Hekmet saw socialism as primarily divided into two forms – BOURGEOIS SOCIALISM and WORKER SOCIALISM. These grew along side each other. The former incorporates bourgeois ideology into socialism – thus you have Second International's positivism and evolutionism, as well as forms like Kantian socialism. Marx's theory was adopted by different class interests who "tried to turn it into a tool to serve purposes with which this theory is incompatible." p. 17. (Marxism is not economics or sociology, but a critique of capital and an analysis of revolutionary change.) But more than just an incorporation of bourgeois ideas, it is the view that "socialism is a derivative of socialist ideology. Marxism is for them the source of socialism. Thus "the relationship between movement and ideas is totally reversed." p. 14 Socialism for bourgeois socialists is only a theory to be applied, or an ideology to be brought to the ignorant masses. (One can quickly see where this attitude leads...)

For Marx, socialism was the abolition of the wage system and common ownership. Bourgeois socialists saw socialism as planning and state ownership. Their state socialism was rooted not in a critique of the labour-capital relationship, but the inefficiency of uncontrolled capitalism.

Worker-socialism is rooted in the actual on-going struggle of workers against capitalism. Workers striving to improve their situation is "a fundamental premise of this struggle." p. 35 Theory, thus grows out of understanding this really existing struggle and is not something brought from without. Hekmet does not state this, but it is implicit that workers in their struggle are combating the logic of capital, even if their overt ideology may not be socialistic. Furthermore, at various times they directly challenge the domination of capital with actions that are implicitly socialistic or leading in that direction, such as general strikes, factory occupations, work-ins etc. These same type of struggles against the logic of capital occur in the neigborhoods and in the environmental movement where people combat capitalist plundering. For capital, humanity and the natural environment are simply resources to be used to accumulate ever more capital. (1)

A very interesting point by Hekmet is that we should not bother to engage in polemics with the bourgeois socialists. He saw doctrinal struggle as "a trap", forget what Marx said and go right to the fundamental roots of the differences with worker-socialism. Why bother with polemics against the Maoists, for example, when "every minute the basic concepts of bourgeois socialism from the sanctity of property, nationalism, reformism [bourgeois] democracy, liberalism... are shaping the minds of millions of people." p. 26 In other words using the example of Maoists, don't bother hassling them over their wrong interpretation of Marx, but attack their foundations which are nationalism and statism.

Bourgeois socialism cannot adequately deal with reforms. One group (reformists) capitulates to reforms alone and removes workers revolution from the agenda. The other, rejects reform completely, reducing revolution to "a wish" . They end up turning into "an isolated melancholic current on the margins of society, without any influence on the objective situation." p.36

However, reforms are the result of the workers actual struggle and these struggles are important in their lives. They are in fact, too important to leave up to the refomists. Worker-socialists must fight "for every degree of improvement in the workers situation which enhances their political and economic power." p. 35 The point to press is, that such reforms need no mediating force, reforms can be fought for without being controlled by a reformist party.

Opposition to reformists and bourgeois socialists does not, however mean hostility toward the pro-reform forces. "one cannot be ... for change and at the same time bare the fangs at those who want... the same or part of the same changes." p. 43 Rather than attacking the reformists, seek to limit their control over the situation, prevent their domination and allow the struggle its autonomy.

To summarize, what we learn from Mansoor Hekmet is the following:

1. don't bother with polemics – go for the root of the differences instead.

2. socialism is not to be brought from outside, but is implicit with struggles, make the implicit explicit.

3. look at the actual existing struggles and develop theory from those.

4. reject reformism without rejecting empowering, strengthening reforms.

5. reject sectarianism – find a common ground with other tendencies over crucial issues.

Source – OUR DIFFERENCES by Mansoor Hekmet, WCPI ND

1. The logic of capital is that the capitalists set the wages and working conditions and that humans and the natural environment are simply resources to be used. Attempts to impose a different situation – higher wages, better working conditions, stopping gentrification or clear-cut logging, thus runs counter to the logic of capital. In this sense, all struggles with the system are implicitly anti-capitalist.


Blogger EUGENE PLAWIUK said...

Well done

7:48 PM  

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