Socialism and Accountability

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2184 ... September 4, 2020

Socialism and Accountability

Alex Demirović

History teaches us nothing, so said Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Andrea Nahles, to justify discontinuing the SPD’s Historical Commission. Long ago, Rosa Luxemburg took the opposite position: "history is the only true teacher." Perhaps history really doesn’t teach us how we should act immediately in our current situation. This is true in general, and also in very specific circumstances. Were we not convinced that the tradition of critical fascist analysis would give us the concepts to resist developments in capitalist society that tend toward an erosion of democracy, toward authoritarian and exceptional state forms which drastically worsen the prospects of emancipation? Didn’t we believe that, equipped with this knowledge, with all our "historical interrogations," we would be better able to resist and defeat right-wing forces? It appears not to be the case.

But history teaches us something much more fundamental, namely that our present moment is the present of a history. In this present, the struggles and the missed opportunities of the past are condensed in a special... way. It is not a question of "what might have been," but of concrete decisions, of victories and defeats, of real alternatives. It also teaches us that once decisions have been made, they actually result in long-term developments.

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