Comments on a recent interview with one of the leaders of the American Socialist Party
1) In a recent OpEDNews article, at:
Michael Bonanno (MB) shared with us an interesting interview with Mimi Soltysik (MS), an American Socialist Party leader from Los Angeles. What follows is a set of comments on statements made by MS.
2) MB asked: "Do you think an unwarranted fear of "communism" is the biggest hurdle you have to overcome? Or just the word Socialism?"
MS answered: "Maybe the perceived correlation between Socialism and Stalinism. However, the further removed the general public is from the Cold War, it would make sense that Socialism would be discussed in a context that has less and less to do with Stalinism." I think that this is a mistake. Marx would not miss an opportunity to analyze the Soviet Union, to identify mistakes and to suggest what American socialists must do to avoid making similar mistakes. Ignoring available experimental results would not be acceptable him.
3) Responding to another question, MS said: "I do believe that people are fed up with corporate politics. They're fed up, they're tired and they're angry. We need to unify and fight. The time for concession is over. Fat cats have had fun at the expense of the working class for way too long and I think people will gradually become more amenable to what Socialism has to offer." Why is the party program not even mentioned, aside from calling for the removal of "fat cats." Yes, it is easier to be critical than to be constructive.
Later on MS. added "I think we know why many connect Socialism to Stalinism and it's time to let that connection die. It's an absurd connection." I disagree; such connections are natural. We know that the word "socialist" was part of the name of a large country--the USSR. Saying that there is no connection is not enough. What is needed is a program based on serious analysis of Soviet mistakes and Soviet crimes.
4) A little later in the interview MS said: "I think that Marx, Engels, and Trotsky can't be ignored. But many in the United States have a very limited knowledge of who these people are and what they stand for. We have a responsibility to present those historical examples in a way that's palatable and practical for the daily life of the working class. With an educated and empowered working class, I think we'll see something a bit different from the sorts of Socialism practiced in the rest of the world. We can maintain an identity, while still adhering to Socialist principles. I think the goal is to experience what a Socialist United States might look and feel like."
I disagree again; most educated Americans, especially social scientists, do know who these three leaders were. They also know about Lenin, Stalin, Mao, etc. They probably want to know what leaders of the SPUSA think about the writings and activities of these leaders. Which of their recommendations should be rejected and which are still valid? I am not a social scientist but I would like to know what the SPUSA leaders think about the idea of proletarian dictatorship. The above mentioned social engineers--who also called themselves socialists--believed that proletarian dictatorship was the only path toward social equality and justice. Do the SPUSA leaders share this belief?
5) Referring to Socialist United States, MS.said: "Now, we can and should look to other Socialist countries in Europe with an open mind. Evidence shows that they enjoy a quality of life that we don't experience here." Which European Socialist countires did he have in mind? Which parts of their programs should be implemented in the US, and how can this be accomplished? Hints are not substitutes for an outline of the proposed American economic system. What should be done with fat cats? Are they all parasitic, as we were told in Socialist Poland? Was Henry Ford parasitic? Is Bill Gates parasitic? Why was the Soviet agricultural sysytem, based on collective farms, much less productive than our own system? What should be done with American agricultural capitalists? Should they be treated as kulaks were in the Soviet Union? Who will run our airline companies? Who will own our TV stations, restaurants and barber shops? That is what most of us want to hear from the SPUSA leadrs. The Soviet experience should not be ignored in answering such questions. The blueprints of new structures should be made public.
Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia)
Montclair State University