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January 20, 2007


a comment

wow, Miss Brussels as a spokesperson for a left parliamentary party. Now there is a gimmick we can copy in the U.S.: How about Jessica Simpson fronting for some tired program of more garbage cans, real social networks under capitalism....

Any summation of what Ludo martens is doing still in the Congo, and where he stands on the infighting there?


Talking about the PTB is important, but it's influence is more much important internationally than in Belgium. It's not as miniscule as the RCP-USA, but it is miniscule, nonetheless - it's not really possible to describe it as one of the big parties, at least not in terms of electoral support. Still, they do good mass work. But Ludo Martens' book in Stalin is just awful.

a comment

well you will be relieved to know that they are putting their support of Stalin behind them.

I imagine that means you will like their rightward slide into the electoral mainstream even more.


Am I right in noticing a hint of making fun of having a Miss Brussele's "interfering" in politics? This will shed more light on your politics on women than on PTB's or Miss Brussele's.

I hope I'm wrong and hopefully its my lack of understanding English properly, in which case my humble appology for rushing into judgement.

In any case, it would be much more constructive to pay attention to their line than to who carries or upholds it.
By the way, one of the most respected, well known, and principled activists in the NDF is an ex-miss Phillipine who spent a long time in Marcos' jail.
Well, is it her fault she dosn't fit our stereotypical pigeonholes?

the burningman

There is no "mainstream." The word seems like it's saying something, but it is not.

What is the program of the Belgian Workers Party?

What mass work do they do? Of what character?

How does their (apparently) economist program domestically intertwine with their international forums?

What is the current status of Ludo Martens, who has long served as their chief ideologue?


Reports of who is or isn't "miniscule" are kind of funny, Mark. The term you are looking for is "small." Miniscule implies lack of capacity – and that applies to neither of the groups you are discussing.

In terms of "boots on the ground," well – I'll just note that the RCP's political impact is way beyond what some simple math would imply, or what you can glean from the grumbling in the cyberswamp...

In any case, I'm a little more interested in the politics of the Belgian Workers Party, their methods, aims, social base and direction.

the burningman

Take it as you will, Hassoun.

I will say that my "line" on women doesn't start with the "swimsuit competition." I think beauty pagents are gross, stupid, and demeaning.

Doesn't mean I have a problem with the contestants, even if I'd urge my own friends to get a more interesting hobby. What it does say something about is the depth of the PTB's base of support. Even people who are not "culturally" left are picking up their program, and not knowing a whole hell of a lot about the role of the PTB in Belgium, I'm intersted to put this out there and see who bites.


BM, I have no problem with your assesment of beauty contests; My comment was in responce to "a comment".
In any case , I may have reacted too fast. Such is the power of internet.


A Comments' comment is actually in my opinion very chauvinistic. Firstly, no one here knows the political line of Miss Brussels or what she is about. I have actually read suprising things about her commitment to the Arab community in Belgium, dismissing merely because she was miss Brussels is just ridiculous. If Jessica Simpson was a revolutionary communist, would anyone object to her being featured publically supporting RCP? Male artists and celebrities are always invoked if they support a party. Jane Fonda made her way in the anti-war movement, and she did movies which exploited her as a what is exactly the objection with Miss Brussels running for office for PTB? Shouldn't the discussion be about PTB's push toward the electoral mainstream?

Burningman, isn't your post with the picture of Halima Chehaima misleading?

a comment

If someone who was a beauty contest winner wants to join a revolutionary movement.... well, fine. Great! We need people who come from all corners of society, and who bring their experiences and understanding with them.

BUT.... if a political party puts forward a "MissXXX" as its face BECAUSE IT WANTS TO PORTRAY ITSELF A NON-RADICAL, because it doesn't really have any critique of beauty contests any longer, because it is a way of saying (wink, wink) we are really not that uptight about chauvinism, and we are "not above" using someone like that.... IF that is what's going on, then it is wrong and reactionary.

Is burningman's use of the picture misleading, or does it capture what their campaign has been like?



Well if it were to do that, it should have gotten someone who is ardently anti-Zionist. Or someone who has been outspoken for Arab rights in Belgium.

Is this exactly what PTB is doing? I am no supporter of the revisionist aspects of PTB, being uncritical apologists, and etc; however it seems a little immature to critique them on this aspect when there is little evidence to support that this was their intention.

a comment

The PTB has been in full flight toward the right.

I may be wrong, but it is widely argued that they have toned down their earlier pro-immigrant politics.

Their literature is full of explanations that "we have to pay attention to the pettiest of issues -- getting good garbage can lids in working class neighborhoods and so on."

And they have openly disavoiwed Maoism, Stalinism, and Leninism.

What I think they are doiong has been mentioned here before:

They look at the role that the PCF played in France (and that similar party played in Belgium) -- i.e. came to represent a chunck of the working class through both trade unions and electoral representatives, reaching about 25% of the population.

They see that this earlier revisionist party collapsed with the fall of the Soviet Union -- and they want to sliiiiiiiide into that political niche, by more or less copying the old PCF politics and rhetoric pretty closely. And they are dumping as baggage anything that gets in the way of that.

There is a pull toward chauvnism in that -- and though I don't know enough to honestly and fairly explain where the PBT stands on that, I has been argued elsewhere that they are sacrificing major principles in their efforts to garner a mass base now among native born workers.

Look: we all want to step out of the margins. We all want our politics to storm the mainstream and become the mainstream. We want a radical repolarization -- around revolutionary transformation.

But there are other ways of "getting big" -- and that is to throw overboard revolutonary politics, and measure everything against whether it can be understood and embraced by the broadmasses right now.

I think there intention is CLEARLY to throw the appearance of radicalism overboard.

Read their press, the interviews with their leaders, their electoral platform, their repeated announcements of major new changes and facelifts for their movement and so on....

I'm not making this up... just go read their shit.

aS for their international ties, I can only suspect that this is of less and less interest to them.


I have a lot of respect for Ludo Martens and his book on Stalin is not awful,just a bit dated as more research is now available which confirms the basic direction of book.

The Marxism Leninism Maoism of Prachanda and the national and international activities of the WPB are all contributing to a revival of the international communist movement and any new synthesis will come from this direction of real and rational marxism.

Of course I can hear the cries of leftist dillantanes neo Stalinism meets Neo Maoism their worst nightmare !


should be dilettante's better known a the dabblers that plague the communist movement

the burningman

Here's my soft underbelly showing again: the communist movement needs a LOT more "dabblers."

What we don't need is exactly what "A Comment" calls out: the revisionist parties of Europe (by way of the French CP) "capturing" a sizable chunk of parliament under an economist banner. Been there, done that – and when these parties faced revolutionary turmoil, remember that everywhere and always they did not side with revolution.

This has been true since communists had to break away from bourgeois social-democracy, and in the tremendous pull to accept the the limits of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie – including as its defender of last resort.

See the German "socialists" like Ebert after WWI. See the Popular Frontists in Italy and France after WW2. See the CPUSA today, which can't even get its own reps in, but supports the RIGHTWING of the Democratic Party!

This is the history of revisionism and how it brokers the struggle of the people for a piece of the pie.

I have never been partial to the PTB, and distrusted their international push to subordinate revolutionary communism to outright revisionism: and in Ludo Martens apologia for Stalin (and promotion of a neo-Stalinism).

It is socialism without proletarian agency. It is economism, in power or out. It confuses "representation" with leadership, and the bourgois state with a neutral body.


(And if you wonder why I take this position here, yet basic uphold developments in Venezuela, maybe that is food for thought.)


'A comment' alleges that the Workers Party of Belgium "have openly disavowed Maoism, Stalinism, and Leninism." From what I've seen this is patently false (if what you mean is that they have disavowed Marxism-Leninism, since that is their ideology).

If you can point out any official WPB document where they now disavow or even qualify their commitment to Marxism-Leninism, then I will stand corrected. But I haven't seen any such official declaration from the WPB and I doubt you have either.

provocation accepted, returned!

LS - so I take you don't see BM's comments as patently false?

IMHO, having Marx on the shelf just makes you well read. It says little about your program, method or anything else.


Disclaimer: I live in the U.S., a long way away from Belgium. I have never been to Belgium or directly observed the WPB's work, and I don't speak their language(s).

That said, I have tried to at least keep up with the broad outlines of their politics and their work. From everything I have read and heard from others who have seen their work, they are clearly and obviously a Marxist-Leninist party. They don't hide that fact at all, and in fact have promoted Marxism-Leninism regularly and boldly both in Belgium and internationally.

Their international work has been outstanding, in striving to build the broadest possible unity among communists on the basis of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism during a period that saw a rightward slide, fracturing and disorientation among much of the communist movement in the world. They have brought together as many forces as possible each year at their International Communist Seminars on the basis of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism to exchange practical experiences and theoretical views and to learn from each other. Maybe some have an alergic reaction to the thought of being in the same room with a party they consider revisionist. I see a value in actually finding out what different parties (including many that actually lead thousands and in some cases millions of people) are doing on the ground and trying to learn lessons (yes maybe some negative but mostly positive lessons) from them. Especially considering that parties in almost every other country of the world have more advanced experience than pretty much all the ML organizations in the U.S.

The WPB's work in Belgium seems excellent too. They lead large and imporatant sections of the organized working class; they lead important anti-imperialist work; they participate in bourgeois electoral work and make gains there too. They run 'serve the people' type programs in working class neighborhoods. Their organization is relatively large and influential, especially compared to anything in the U.S.

Some people see an ML party leading union work, and seem to think that must mean they're selling out immigrant workers. Some people see an ML party make electoral gains, and figure they must be aiming for a slice of the bourgeois pie and becoming reformists. Some people see an ML organization that is dedicating itself to grow beyond the confines of the petty bourgeois left milieu, and they immediately think 'sell out'.

Well, the future is unwritten and all of those things could turn out to be true about the WPB. But I don't think any of those fears/criticisms currently apply to the WPB, and I think denigrating them in this way is most unhelpful. I would say the US communist movement could use some humility in the face of more advanced practice and could learn some things from the WPB.


Well said Left Spot sometimes people hide behind sectarianism on the left as a point of principle and even the modest success of the WPB brings out their instinctive vindictiveness.

The real world will leave these people behind as the real and rational communism which has emerged from the ashes of the 20th Century communism becomes a material force in the 21st Century.

Jimmy Higgins

Clap, clap, clap.

Which is not to say that there aren't criticisms to be made of the theory, line and practice of the PTB, just that it should be smart and Marxist and based on some real investigation.

More on this topic in the thread burningman's original post is linked to over at Fire on the Mountain. Comments most welcome.

one into two

You think "modest success" is the issue?

What success?

On what terms?

To what end?

My familiarity with the PTB is pretty much around the International Seminars and browsing the work of Ludo Martens.

It doesn't surprise this observer in the least that they take an economist position in local elections.

By that measure, the Communist Party of France is a great success! And what a shithole of sell-outs it is.

On that vein, could those familiar with the PTB go into their position on the French riots last year? If I'm not mistaken, they spread a bit into Belgium. The PCF took an anti-riot, law-and-order position as they do before any "out of control" disturbance.

The PTB's international position has been to pretend that there is no such thing as modern revisionism, to equate state capitalism with socialism, to reduce anti-revisionism to sectarianism, and in general to learn literally NOTHING from the failures of the 20th Century.

This is not about "success" and "failure." It's about what we are about in the most basic sense.

If the PTB is about forming an economist voting bloc in the Belgian parliament around defense of the imperial welfare state.

Is this the basis that the PTB's defenders think the communist movement should pursue in Europe?

What about the German Left Party?

Same thing?

In that case, I'm curious if these same people are nostalgic for the Stasi. I suspect they are. Tell me if I'm wrong about that, I'd love to be.


Come on give us details of your accusations against the WPB one into two.

1. Its economist line - facts please ?

2. Its position on riots in France - explain need facts not innuendo ?

3. When did WPB say their was no such thing as modern revisionism ?

Has for the Stasi smearing was their tactic and now yours


Ludo Martens on Revisionism

The ascending trend of socialist and anti-imperialist, national and democratic revolutions was disrupted as of 1956-1960, when the opportunist tendencies took power in the Bolshevik party.

Indeed, the capitalist counter-revolution of 1989-1990 was prepared politically and ideologically by the coming into power of the Khrushchev group in 1956. This initiated a radical rupture with the political policies applied under Lenin and Stalin. All the Marxist-Leninist principles were liquidated one after another. The revisionists declared that socialism had definitively triumphed, that the class struggle had ceased in the Soviet Union, and that, therefore, the proletarian dictatorship against the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois elements was no longer necessary.

The struggle against imperialism was abandoned, Khrushchev declared: «We want to be friends with the United States and cooperate with them in the struggle for peace and prosperity for the peoples.» Revolutionary theory was distorted and finally liquidated. Bourgeois ideas and acts set in amongst the cadres of the Party and the State.

Principles of capitalist economy were progressively reintroduced with the re-establishment of the principle of capitalist profit in 1965. Personal enrichment was developed as well as a «black» sector of capitalist economy. The counter-revolution in the Soviet Union was essentially the work of «soviet» reactionary and anti-communist forces infiltrated in the Party and the State. Stalin had always stressed that fortresses can be the most easily taken from the inside…

This revisionist current at the head of the Party was also encouraged and helped by the imperialist powers that simultaneously sustained overtly reactionary, even fascist movements.

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