Jacobin as theoretical organ of reform

By Jesús Valdez. La Marx Mexico 5/1/21

Jacobin Magazine is a magazine that functions as the theoretical organ of Democracy Socialist of America (DSA), a party that claims to be socialist and assumes itself as a left-wing current within the Democratic Party of the United States.

The Democratic Party is nothing less than the darling of Wall Street and the Pentagon, the body charged with deciding in which countries the United States starts a war.

Jacobin's function on the world left is to wash the face of the so-called "progressive" parties and governments around the world, as well as to play the role of intellectual unifier of both international social democracy and its left-wing advisers. In Mexico we know this sector as "the good wave left", a decaffeinated edition incapable of representing a danger to the regime.

As an illustrative example of the above, we can find some texts where the signatories call to vote for the PT of Brazil [1] or more blatantly for Joe Biden in the United States. Its policy can be summarized as follows:

"Our option now is to vote for Biden, take a hot bath, buy medicine for nausea and vomiting, and then start organizing." [two]

Right and left, or capitalist governments?

The favorite categories used by Jacobin to define the types of regime, after thoughtful analysis and a long tour of the platitudes, are typical of world reformism: right and left.

These categories are typical of Stalinism throughout history, in post-revolutionary Mexico they sentenced: Echeverría or fascism.

Luis Echeverría Álvarez, was nothing less than the person in charge of two massacres against the student movement in 1968 and 1971.

These authors can say the same about Vezuela or Mexico: Either you are with Maduro or you are with Uncle Sam, "or you are with López Obrador or you are with imperialism."

Among the feathered repertoire of Jacobin is John Ackerman, also known as "the Enrique Krauze of the 4th Transformation" (BRUNETTE) [4]. As well as the vice president of Bolivia presented with great fanfare, misusing Lenin's policy in times of war to justify the capitalist policy of Evo Morales.

The ancestors of Jacobin

The theoretical foundation of what we know as "reformism" in Marxist theory can be found in the old leaders of the German Social Democratic Party and the Second International with which Lenin and the Bolsheviks broke. We refer to August Bebel, Eduard Berntein and Carlos Kautsky.

Against Bernstein, Rosa Luxemburg opened a very sobering polemic in a very famous pamphlet called "Reform or Revolution", which made an epoch both in Marxist literature and in the theoretical arsenal of the labor movement. In this he explained that socialism cannot be achieved through reforms, parliament, cooperatives, or union perks.

The German labor movement that preceded the First World War, was the most powerful of the time, in turn had the best prepared intellectuals and the largest party of the socialist international.

Tactic and strategy: Or on how to intentionally confuse the end with the means

What Rosa explained in brief words is that the means cannot be confused with the end, nor can tactics be converted into strategy. "Sometimes for being very tactical, the strategy is lost," a comrade explained to me a long time ago in Oaxaca when most of the activists carried out maneuvers and capitulated to the government after the 2006 insurrection.

What happens to the reformists is that they renounce the revolutionary strategy, that the parliament cannot supplant the street fight, that the cooperatives cannot fundamentally solve the problem of wage labor and the big monopolies if they renounce to fight for its disappearance through a direct confrontation with capital, that is, a revolution.

Which, according to Federico Engels, is "the most authoritarian act in history, since it involves the imposition of the will of one class on another".

Revolutions, more current than ever

In a remarkable text on the above, Eric Blanc [5] wastes no space to launch a couple of slanders about the validity of the Bolshevik tactic about the overthrow of a government through mobilizations, strikes and insurrections. In a text where he vindicates Caros Kautsky [5] he states that:

1. Support for replacing the universal vote and parliamentary democracy with workers' councils, or other organs of dual power, was always marginal.

2. Leninist currents have assumed, but not demonstrated, that the insurrectional and dual-power model of Russia in 1917 - a revolution that overthrew an autocratic and non-capitalist state, not a parliamentary regime - is relevant to democracies. capitalists.

That is to say, the forms of popular organization have gone down in history after the overthrow of fascism in Italy and the Nazi regime after the end of the Second World War.

The same occurs with the defeat of US imperialism in Vietnam, the Cuban revolution or the fall of the Bonapartist regimes and military dictatorships in the late 70's and 80's. All these events from wars, general strikes, armed insurrections, revolutions and revolutionary situations have happened overnight for Eric Blanc.

Suppose this is true for semi or dictatorial regimes superior to the tsarist autocracy. From this simplistic perspective, we could extend the phenomenon until the Arab Spring.

This sentence could be true if it were not for the fact that the revolutions and insurrections from the first half of the 21st century have been against bourgeois-democratic regimes that obey the dictates of the International Monetary Fund, regardless of whether their governments proclaim themselves to the right or to the left. . It happened in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Guatemala, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and so on.

The forms of popular power, dual power and self-organization have been more than abundant. If revolutionary governments led by bodies of power have not been installed, it is because these, as well as the revolutionary leadership of the exploited, have not developed sufficiently.

The foregoing does not deny the fact that it has been the revolutions that have produced great advances in historical terms, not the parliaments or reforms, if these have been possible, it is due to the street mobilization that puts the regimes against the wall or destroys them.

Revolutions in the world have existed despite not having a party or a vanguard capable of deepening them along socialist lines. We know these phenomena as "February revolutions".

Reform and revolution: Two antagonistic strategies

The German Social Democracy betrayed the world labor movement by voting to finance what would become World War I, as well as by opposing parliament to street fighting and a general strike after the war broke out.

The reformists spoke of a calm transition towards socialism, however, the First World War exploded in their faces destroying the idyllic "gradual and peaceful change", instead, they ended up shamefully capitulating to German imperialism.

The ultimate goal of the Marxist revolutionaries is the disappearance of social classes, the socialization of the means of production and the expropriation of the big monopolies. For this, the organization of the working class is necessary, which can use all the tactics at its disposal to achieve its objectives.

For this, it is necessary to call for the overthrow of capitalist governments such as Evo Morales in Bolivia, López Obrador in Mexico, Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, Lula or Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, or Joe Biden in the United States.

A simple call for a general strike, mass mobilizations, or something similar, is something that you will not read by mistake on the pages of Jacobin.

For us, from the International Coordination of La Marx the debate is very simple and can be defined in classic terms: Reform or Revolution.

A good part of the Jacobin editors are active in the DSA, there are some critical voices within or within the magazine that appear as a "counterweight" to "balance" things, or rather, to legitimize the editorial line in order to give an image of plurality.

Figures such as Alejandra Ocasio Cortés and Bernie Sanders are active in the DSA as left-wing satellites within the Democratic Party.

A current debate in the North American left is about whether or not to enter the Democratic Party, very similar to the one that occurs throughout the world on whether to enter or not in Morena (Mexico), the PSUV in Venezuela, the PT in Brazil, or the Bolivian MAS, all of them capitalist parties that basically obey all the policies drawn up from Wall Street or the IMF. Entering into those parties does not mean anything other than confusing the vanguard that seeks an alternative to the parties of the regime, it delays the task of building a class alternative in a historical moment where the masses are leaving the polls to take to the streets in everyone vindicating their most heartfelt demands, especially against Wall Street and the IMF, positioned as the enemy to defeat.

From the International Coordination of La Marx we call on you to break with these parties at the service of capital and build a true class alternative from below.


[1] Ten notes on the PSOL and the struggle for a left-wing government


[2] USA: "Socialism grows in the municipalities"


[3] I am a Leninist from the NEP, interview with Álvaro García Linera


[4] John Ackerman. Mexican pinochetistas are scared


[5] Eric Blanc. Why Kautsky was right (and why you should care) https://jacobinlat.com/2021/01/10/por-que-kautsky-tenia-razon-y-por-que-deberia-importarte/

Leave your comment! Send us your adhesion, signature, note, or join as an activist!