The Strategic Question Revisited: Ten Theses

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1832 ... May 23, 2019

The Strategic Question Revisited: Ten Theses

Panagiotis Sotiris

In 2006 Daniel Bensaïd made a very important call to reopen the debate on the ‘politico-strategic’ question. This call was made amidst a series of discussions within the European anticapitalist Left at a moment when signs of hope, such as the new wave of militancy associated with the anti-globalization movement, were combined with strategic contradictions, such as the ones that were already evident in the turn of the Lula government in Brazil toward classical social-democratic policies or in the limits of the ‘broad parties’ approach. What Bensaïd tried to do in that intervention was to remind the richness of the strategic revolutionary traditions that had dominated or even haunted the thinking of militants in the 20th century,... the general strike, the armed insurrection and the prolonged people’s war, counter-posing them to either doing away with any revolutionary strategy, exemplified for him in interventions by theorists such as John Holloway or Toni Negri, or remaining within the frame of simply electoral politics. Above all, the importance of this intervention was exactly to reopen the debate and to rethink in strategic terms despite the weight of the defeat that the revolutionary left had suffered in the previous decades.

Thirteen years later, it is obvious that this plea had not been heard. The capitalist crisis of 2007-2008, was combined in many instances with a deeper political, economic crisis. Τhis also took the form of an impressive return of mass politics, in some cases of almost insurrectionary dimensions. It even created in cases such as Greece the kind of crisis of hegemony that had the potential of turning into a ‘weak link of the chain’ situation. Questions of power and hegemony returned to the fore. However, at the same time you could see the poverty of the answers offered and the total unpreparedness of the left for such challenges. The result was a series of defeats, the Greek case being an example, the attempts of the far right to recuperate this sentiment of discontent and the fact that one can see popular uprisings such as Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests in France), being at a certain distance of the left and the left being unable to actually have an ‘organic relation’ with them. Consequently, despite the extent of the crisis, we see the absence of what Gramsci would have called a ‘historical initiative’ of the subaltern.

However, strategic debate is not a luxury and I would like to suggest some points on it, in the form of ten rather dogmatic theses.

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