The REDSTAR2000 Papers

Listen to the worm of doubt, for it speaks truth. - Leftist Discussion

Attacking Reformism September 14, 2004 by RedStar2000

This is an exchange with someone who admits that reformism is obsolete...but somehow feels "guilty" about attacking it and even thinks we should "support" it.

That's the wrong thing to do.



I'm sorry, but a revolution is not coming; unless a serious economic crisis occurs, it never will; revolution is a result of extreme negativity which can only be caused in times of extreme strife; it is a bread and butter issue. Unless humanity suffers an extreme drop in standard of living, revolution will not occur. All revolutions are characterised by some form of negativity.



Whenever you have a revolution based on the negative, it turns sour; this is because people look to a figure head to lead them out of their misery.

Ah, "human nature" (as taught by the capitalists) crawls out from under its rock again.

We "must" have a "great leader" to "save us from our misery".

And of course, people are "inherently incapable" of learning from history...we had a wide choice of "great leaders" in the last century and all of them were fuckups or worse. But "forget that"...we'll just do it all over again, right?

Sure we will. He said so, didn't he?

And his crystal ball "actually works". *laughs*


Exactly the same could be said about revolutionism...On a personal note, it really gets my goat that reformists are attacked...

I quite agree that the Leninist version of "revolutionism" suffered internal collapse. The anarchists in Spain were militarily defeated. By all accounts, in those parts of Spain where they were free to arrange things as they saw fit, their system "worked".

The reason reformists are attacked (and that those attacks will become more vigorous in the coming decades) is that reformism is just as obsolete as Leninism.

Meaning, just as hopeless!

It doesn't matter what he "wants" or what other reformists "want" or what Leninists "want". Their demonstrated inability to "deliver the goods" (communism) renders their promises "moot".

On the other hand, the Spanish anarcho-syndicalists did "deliver the goods" (at least partially) until they were overwhelmed militarily by fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

Indeed, the limited successes in the struggle for a post-capitalist world in the 20th century (and, to be sure, very limited they were) came from movements that lacked "great leaders".

The lesson of history is quite clear: a movement that wishes to overthrow capitalism must be both revolutionary and egalitarian from the beginning.

And even that might not work either...but we already know that reformism and Leninism won't work at all.

So what's the obvious choice?
First posted at Che-Lives on September 11, 2004


The dividing line is quite clear: The difference however, is more blurred - those branded as reformists are simply those who do not see the 'bigger picture' - those who try to lessen the burden here and now on the working class, rather than merely working toward the inevitable - if distant - revolution.

With that in mind, the 'attacks' inflicted upon such 'reformists' are wholly unjustified - they are as necessary as revolutionaries are here and now.

I disagree.

As I indicated (and you agreed), what reformists propose is futile...they simply cannot "deliver on their promises".

Whatever their past performances, they can no longer "alleviate the ills inflicted upon the working class".

The only thing they can do is mislead people into thinking otherwise. Intentionally or unintentionally, reformists are liars.

But their lies are "appealing"...who wouldn't want a "nice", "easy" way out of capitalist barbarism?

Revolutions are "difficult", "bloody" and even "frightening"...not something anyone would choose "if" there was an "easier way".

Thus, their lies are also the extent they are believed, people will put time, energy, and hope into activities and projects that we both know are futile.

And therefore, I think reformism must be well as the people who knowingly advocate it for obvious careerist purposes.

Of course, that doesn't mean personally attacking some kid who advocates reformism at Che-Lives -- the chances are that s/he doesn't know any better and will learn better as time passes.

But the professional reformists are simply "up to no good"...they know that nothing of substance will come of their "efforts" but they make a damn good living by lying to people and they don't want their scam upset by a bunch of "ultra-leftists".

I intend to upset them at every opportunity.


I don't think it's human nature, rather the obvious course, as history has displayed on every occasion which springs to mind.

If it's not "human nature" then what is it? Phases of the moon? *laughs*
First posted at Che-Lives on September 12, 2004


Reformism has brought many short term benefits to the least fortunate members of society...

"Has" but can no longer do so!

And do not think they don't know that either!

As you very well know, the professional reformists of today at best are reduced to slowing the pace of repeal. They collaborate in the dismantling of the reforms their grandfathers won...but try to "slow it down".

All the while sending me (and probably you) fund-raising letters.

And pleading with us to "vote for them" lest we "sink into barbarism".



...and you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs, right?

Sneaking in a little quote that was once used to justify Stalin is hardly relevant to this controversy.

I didn't suggest that we line up all the reformists against the wall and summarily shoot them. *laughs*

But I do think it is necessary for communists to relentlessly attack the futility and dishonesty of reformism.
First posted at Che-Lives on September 12, 2004


I would appreciate if you could ponder on this, and come back to me.

It does not matter what reformists try to do...they can't do it.


Yes, much as Neville Chamberlain 'bought time' for the UK prior to the full outbreak of World War 2 - admittedly at the expense of other nations. It's not something to be proud of - you and I both know this well, but it is not grounds to attack him

In my mind, the same applies to reformism.

What a bizarre analogy.

I'm sorry, but in my opinion an important part of the British ruling class of that era wanted very much for Hitler to go to war...against the USSR. That's what Munich was supposed to accomplish.

Perhaps you think this is "no reason" to attack Chamberlain. I think he was a total shit!


It often comes back to this one: Whilst we agree that modern popularity contests are a total sham, when two candidates can be compared and one is worse than the other, surely it's a no-brainer?

It is indeed a "no-brainer". Communists do not waste their time or energy on bourgeois shams.

We attack them!


What you have done is essentially intimate that it's "our way or the highway"...or the end of a rifle.

In other words, if we relentlessly criticize reformists, it "must be assumed" that "we intend to shoot them".

Great logic there. *laughs*

But suppose you're right? Suppose after the revolution that workers are so angry with the professional reformists (con-men) who tried to mislead them that they do decide to shoot some of them.

Well, so what?

Who cares what happens to a bunch of bastards?


Yet reformism doesn't try to change the world, merely make it more palatable...

I repeat: "trying" is not achieving.


It's more important for us as people to simply attack dishonesty wherever we see it! Its goals should not be of relevance: Deceit in a 'good cause' is surely still unacceptable!

That's an evasion. We're talking about reformism here, not "things in general".

I'm not "a people", I'm a communist.

As to "deceit in a good cause", I think we should always be honest with the working class -- and should always lie to the ruling class whenever it will benefit us.


Is communism not in a sense based on selflessness?

No. That's charity you're thinking of. Communism is very's about liberation from wage-slavery.


Surely we should be thinking of all those who suffer rather than doing all to benefit our own causes?

Our cause is to the "benefit" of "all those who suffer".

Far more so than anything the reformists have ever come up with...or ever will.
First posted at Che-Lives on September 12, 2004


Following this logic, all the reforms made during the 19th and 20th centuries throughout Europe (and the US, to a degree) never happened.

Evasion. I was not speaking of what they did in the past but what they can reasonably be expected to accomplish now and in the future.

The days of "great reforms" under capitalism are clearly over.

The "promises" of contemporary reformists are lies.

Which need to be attacked!

Along with the professional liars who do that shit for a living.


From a communist perspective, it's utterly irrelevant: It was surely clear by then that the USSR was on a one way trip to failure.

Well, I agree the example of Chamberlain is irrelevant to this discussion; you brought it up, not me.

In 1938, the overwhelming majority of communists thought the USSR was an astounding success. That was a mistake on their part...but it was their view.


What else can be assumed?

If you gave some thought to the matter, you'd realize that in a post-capitalist society, reformism would be irrelevant. No one would bother advocating reform of capitalism because capitalism would no longer exist.

So who would we "shoot"...and why?

Not even Leninists would bother to shoot such pathetic losers, much less communists or anarchists.

Unless they made a nuisance of themselves, of course...trying to stir up counter-revolution and the restoration of capitalism.

Perhaps a possibility...but I think a very small one.


Indeed - but do you honestly think that it would stop there? No, the tar brush is long and wide. I dread to think of all those who would be smeared 'innocently'.

Troubled by Stalinist nightmares? Try drinking a glass of warm milk before going to bed.


Seriously though, your political standpoint does not change the fact of your existence.

My experience has been that whenever someone starts talking about "people" as an abstraction -- without regard to class -- that's generally a prelude to some really rotten politics.

One reformist on this board actually wrote: "capitalists are people too".

Overlooking the nasty detail that we are not "people" in their eyes. We are vermin to be exterminated.

I think we should return the compliment.


Trust, as you are no doubt aware, is a fickle thing...

Which is why I'm not overly concerned with it. I don't think that communists should ask the working class to "trust us" and "let us handle things" because we can be "counted on" to "look out for their interests".

I think we should tell the truth to our class as best we can...but the most important part of the truth is that the class must learn to trust itself.

It most certainly must never trust reformists to do anything but advance their own careers at the expense of the working class.

As to lying to the capitalists, would you care to furnish them with your real name, home address, telephone number, etc.? Do you tell the truth on job applications? When there's a political discussion where you work, do you make sure that the boss knows your real views?

How noble of you. I'm sure they appreciate your candor.



Then get away from your keyboard and marry a rich girl!

She turned me down!

You understand what I'm saying? Sure, there is a tiny but measurable chance of individual escape from wage-slavery. Why do you think most lottery tickets are purchased by the "working poor"?

But the odds are overwhelmingly negative!

The only real chance of permanent escape from wage-slavery is to abolish it. If no one is a wage-slave, then the chances of you ever being forced into wage-slavery fall to zero.


When altruism isn't woven into the very fabric, it falls apart. We've seen authoritarianism tried time and time again. Its rate of success is poor, to understate it.

On the contrary, all the 20th century authoritarian versions of "communism" rested on altruism -- the "vanguard party" would "act in the interests of the proletariat" because..."they cared."

Altruism is also a "high card" in the hands of reformists..."we really care about the most unfortunate and you should too". Show you "really care" by "sending us some serious money".

Cynic that I am, I remain deeply suspicious of anyone who claims "altruism" as the "source" of their political activity or views. Not the young, who really do often feel genuinely altruistic, but the "professional altruist" (reformist) who makes a living dispensing that crap.

They're up to no good.


The point at hand is a matter of timescales. Revolution is not on the horizon; yet people continue to suffer. Should we not be trying to amend our current society so as few people as possible directly suffer from the ills of capitalism?

It's not a matter of "should" -- it's a matter of can it be done any longer?

The answer is no.

Whatever "successes" that reformism may have achieved in the past, their "strategy" is no longer useful.

Worse, it actually interferes with the development of a revolutionary strategy that may be very useful indeed.

The volunteers who are busting their asses to "defeat Bush" (elect Kerry) are wasting their time and energy...time and energy that could be spent doing something useful.

That's wrong...and only prolongs the suffering.


Perhaps realist is a better word than reformist, because it's quite clear that revolutionaries such as yourself are living on a completely different planet.

Agreed. Mine is called Earth; what's the name of yours? *laughs*
First posted at Che-Lives on September 13, 2004


Why is reformism completely irrelevant now, when it wasn't before?



It appears as if the capitalist class is "feeling the pinch" of falling profits...and the only solution they see is the reduction of labor costs. Thus they will simply not permit any more pro-working class reforms and apply themselves with real enthusiasm to dismantling the ones that already exist.

See any issue of The Economist for the details.


The firing squad is the choice of many communists as a solution to deal with 'the enemy'. Have reformists suddenly stopped being the enemy now? Simply because they have been 'beaten' you will drop the whole matter, shake hands and go for a beer?

I didn't say I would drink with the assholes -- after all, even I have standards.

But I see nothing to be gained by shooting them.

It strikes me, in fact, that you keep raising this because revolution would involve shooting some people...perhaps quite a few.

And that "bothers" you.


Don't you think there are people who deserve shooting?


You offer no advice to lessen my fears of the innocent being smeared...

We are humans, not "gods". Mistakes are inevitable. Keep in mind the fact that capitalism kills many innocent people every day.


This is simply false in the case of the majority of capitalists: They accept the system for what it is and rather than trying to change it they just get on with life, and make the most of it. Again, we get onto the generalisation: All capitalists are pig-dogs [sic]; all capitalists must die.

Ever hear of a place called Peterloo?

Mind you, those were reformists that were massacred. Still haunted by "Uncle Joe"? Or me?

When capitalists "just get on with their lives", that has a real world meaning: exploitation, oppression, terrorism, and massacre.

Here's a prediction from "my crystal ball". Before the year 2020, at least one "western democracy" will open fire on its own citizenry for the "crime" of massively protesting some capitalist outrage. That's a "conservative" prediction -- I actually expect it to happen sooner.

So yeah, they really are all "pig-dogs" and they really do deserve execution.

That doesn't mean that we are "required" to do that...but if the working class decides to do that, it is justified!


Neither they nor I have anything to fear.

Here, I think, you demonstrate the magnitude of your delusions.

You "toss and turn" over visions of Stalinist terror but sleep comfortably in the confidence that present-day capitalists would "never" do "bad things" to you.

That's a perfect mirror image of reality.


Whilst this may be true for us, there are plenty of places where reforms would do an awful lot to ease the suffering. You may be able to 'wave away' this, but I cannot be so heartless.

If you're speaking of the "third world", then your position is even more irrelevant. Those places already have revolutionary movements...but you wouldn't like them at all. They are usually Maoist...and probably would be happy to shoot reformists or anyone else that collaborates with the old order.

The only places where reformism is still a "viable" option are "mid-level" capitalist countries -- places like Venezuela, for example. And, naturally, they have plenty of reformists, including their current president.

But that has nothing to do with you or me. With regard to the "third world", our task is to oppose our own ruling class's imperial adventures, period. Those folks "over there" will work out their own destinies without advice from us.


I think it far more likely that they, like you, simply wished an end to their own suffering. The 'class' borders that existed between party members and regular citizens would seem to indicate this.

If you wish to argue that 20th century communists all acted "in bad faith" from the very beginning, I won't trouble to dispute the point. I don't think that's "true"...but it has no bearing on my argument either way.


Voting in Nader, however, would be a very different state of affairs.

People "like Nader" are no longer permitted to win capitalist elections (in the late capitalist "democracies"). If one did win, he would not be permitted to govern.
First posted at Che-Lives on September 13, 2004


It's the idea that any mind can justify the ending of another life to better their own goals. The concept is so alien to me that I'm lost for words.

Welcome to Earth...where the practice is so common as to be entirely unremarkable.

Corporations today even plan for a certain number of employee deaths as a consequence of their working conditions...carefully balancing the costs of safety measures against the costs of "too many deaths".

There's even an entire industry -- "product liability" insurance -- based on the premise that certain kinds of products will cause a certain number of deaths...and the premiums are set accordingly.

All of this is done "without malice" in the usual meaning of the word -- just the understanding that all other considerations must give way to the over-riding purpose of capitalism...maximizing profit.

This is somehow "different" and "not as bad" as what communists "would do"...that seems to be the burden of your argument.

I fail to see the difference. If you are wrongly killed on the job as a consequence of some cost-benefit analyst's decision that the safety measure that would have saved your life was "too expensive" -- how is that "better" than being wrongly executed because a "people's court" made a mistake?

You're just as dead.

Moreover, as a deliberating body, the "people's court" is conscious of what it is doing. It doesn't just pick people off the street at random and accuse them of "counter-revolutionary activity". It doesn't exist for the purpose of randomly killing the innocent.

Capitalism, however, does kill the innocent at random...murder is a "by-product" of its normal operation. So are things like crippling disabilities, pollution-caused chronic diseases, etc.

Your logic suggests that randomly killing the innocent is "morally superior" to killing your perceived enemies.

I simply don't understand that.


When people get on with their lives (which in this world means 'buying into' the capitalist system) their actions affect others. What may ensue is exploitation, oppression, terrorism and massacre - you say it like that's the intent. There's a world of difference between the two.

Are we now reduced to "moral intentions"?

Is it "ok" to behave monstrously as long as you didn't "intend" the monstrous outcome?

Is "collateral damage" (murder of innocents) less "morally repugnant" than deliberate execution of those presumed to deserve it?


Whilst I do not consider unintentional 'crimes' any less acceptable, again surely death isn't the solution?

Why not? If an airplane crashes, just why don't the executives of that airline (or some of them) deserve death?

Even if it's "pilot error" (and they love that excuse), who hired the pilot? Who certified him as competent to fly passengers?

Aren't they guilty of murder?


...throughout them all I see people who reforms - simple, small reforms - could do a world of good for.

But that's not going to happen, right?

So it's "moot" whether they would benefit or not, right?


Take the UK as an example: We have our two horse race, but if you look more closely at the system, it's not such a straight competition after all: For the last 3 elections, the Liberal Democrats have clawed away votes from both major parties, leaving them with a not-unhealthy share of the seats in certainly disproves your claim above.

I think you missed my point. It does not matter "how many" bourgeois political parties may exist or be serious contenders in bourgeois elections.

What I assert is that the ruling class will no longer permit a "sincere" reformist party to win...period.

If necessary, they will cheat to stop that from happening.

And if for any reason that didn't work, then they would openly rebel in the name of capital...that is, they would shut down everything they could, promote a military coup, plan and carry out assassinations, etc.

And all this not to "stop communism" (though that might be their rhetorical justification) but to stop left-bourgeois reformism.

I really think you have a very deficient view of the nature of the capitalist class in the present period.

They understand class war very well...and are playing to win.

Your opinions suggest that you don't really grasp that at all.
First posted at Che-Lives on September 22, 2004


No, but this is the crux of my argument: Revolution (of the bloody sort) intends to emancipate the working class, and results in the death of the innocent.

Driving a car can result in the death of the innocent. Drive enough cars over enough time, and it will.

Should we all just stop driving?

I don't think there is "any such world" where the innocent "never get wrongfully killed".

You take what measures you can to minimize it...but it's going to happen no matter what you do or don't do.

In this context, will "bloody revolution" kill fewer innocents in the long run than the indefinite continuation of normal capitalist "business as usual"?

The answer seems pretty obvious to me, but perhaps you think otherwise.


My best guess however would be that the task [of gaining reforms] is by no means impossible. Certainly, we lose nothing by trying!

I thought that earlier in this thread you agreed with me that reformism was futile.

In any event, we lose quite a bit by "trying". We lose all the time and energy that we might allocate to the "fight" for those reforms...without gaining anything at all.

Even more important, in the course of those "struggles", we "send a message"...that the system "can" be reformed.

Instead of "preparing" people for revolution, all we prepare them for is disappointment and cynicism...or worse.

I don't think such a course helps anyone...except the ruling class.
First posted at Che-Lives on September 23, 2004
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