Monday, August 11, 2008

10 Worst and Best Ways to Have a Discussion on the 10 Best and Worst Concepts of Marxism

by Joe Sims


1. Call names and speak disparagingly of the intellectual abilities of one's opponent. V.I. Lenin himself set a very bad example in this regard. Juvenile and silly. After 100 years, please grow up!

2. Hide behind pseudonyms and screen names while accusing others who publically use their real names of and represent of kowtowing to the bourgeoisie. Not very brave folks.

3. Attribute to other individuals or groups the opinions of one individual. For example, to say Joe Sims speaks for the Communist Party when he posts something at the PA editors blog, which clearly states in its masthead that it is a site for: "The personal opinions, views, thoughts, and ramblings of editors of Political Affairs magazine..."

4. Place others who agree or disagree on this or that issue in a group and label them.

5. Attempt to psychoanalyze motives, especially when one's only license to do business comes not from a medical board but from the state liquor bureau.

6. Agree with someone privately while harboring deep misgivings and then in another forum express those disagreements publicly.

7. Cast aspersions on someone's ideological integrity and honesty without arguing seriously about the merits of their opinion.

8. Keep repeating the same thing over and over again.

9. Accuse your opponent of revisionism, liquidationism and other adnauseums, when you yourself, belong to no political party, participate in no communist collective, raise no money, organize no activity or recruit no one to join the revolutionary movement.

10. Brag, boast, put down and exhibit other tendencies of middle-class snobbery.


1. Take your opponent seriously and address their main arguments. Don't diddle daddle. Gramsci stressed this point strongly.

2. Differentiate between primary and secondary questions. In other words, understand the difference between principled, strategic questions, (e.g. centrality of class struggle, role of working class, preserving concept of revolution [leaps], fighting for unity, maintaining struggle for democracy, [race, gender, sex orientation rights], peace, the role of the party, defeating the ultra right) and tactical ones (e.g. how to organize a strike action or when it is best to prioritize one democratic demand over another in a specific situation).

3. Attempt to convince through the strength and logic of one's argument.

4. Be concrete. Lenin always insisted: truth is concrete.

5. Use humor. Humor is a great working-class device.

6. Recognize all criticism contains an element, even if a small one, of truth.

7, Find a point of agreement with one's antagonist.

8. Disagree without being disagreeable. Winpisinger of the Machinists union always stressed this. Good advice from a great working-class leader.

9. Understand the difference between liberalism and balanced consideration.

10. Tell the truth.

Stay Tuned. Coming Attractions: Joe Sims answers his "left" critics and others who presented balanced and constructive views (the big majority by the way).