Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 6, 2017

“Trotskyists” put down red carpet for obscure Stalinist blogger

Filed under: Stalinism,Syria — louisproyect @ 11:53 pm

Jeff Mackler

On Friday, July 14th at the Solidarity Center in NYC, Stephen Gowans will be speaking on “Washington’s Long War in Syria“, his new pro-Assad book. Solidarity Center is the HQ of the International Action Center, the antiwar front of the Workers World Party, a group that emerged out of the Trotskyist movement after the founder decided to back the Soviet tanks rather than the Hungarian workers in 1956. They are essentially Stalinists–much more so than the Communist Party.

Among the sponsors of the meeting is something called UNAC, the United Antiwar Coalition, that has a steering committee that is a mixture of WWP’er Sarah Flounders and independent Stalinists like Phil Wilayto.

But the largest party representation is from Socialist Action, a tiny sect led by Jeff Mackler. After splitting from the SWP, Mackler and other party veterans formed SA in the early 80s to rebuild a purified Trotskyist group. It has failed abjectly but like the group it split from, it soldiers on in the foolish notion that it is to the USA that Lenin’s party was to Russia. Mackler is on the steering committee as is Marilyn Levin and Christine Gavreau, who like Mackler are in their seventies. I can’t say for sure if they are still in SA but I strongly suspect that they are. This is definitely not a formation that is going to compete with the DSA for fresh young blood.

Gowans is a piece of work. With a straight face, he writes things like this:

The US Library of Congress country study on Syria refers to “the  socialist structure of the government and economy,” points out that  “the government continues to control strategic industries,” mentions that “many citizens have access to subsidized public housing and many basic commodities are heavily subsidized,” and that “senior regime members” have “hampered” the liberalization of the economy.


Meanwhile, Bassam Haddad, no friend of the Syrian rebels, wrote this:

By the late 1990s, the business community that the Asads had created in their own image had transformed Syria from a semi-socialist state into a crony capitalist state par excellence. The economic liberalization that started in 1991 had redounded heavily to the benefit of tycoons who had ties to the state or those who partnered with state officials. The private sector outgrew the public sector, but the most affluent members of the private sector were state officials, politicians and their relatives. The economic growth registered in the mid-1990s was mostly a short-lived bump in consumption, as evidenced by the slump at the end of the century. Growth rates that had been 5-7 percent fell to 1-2 percent from 1997 to 2000 and beyond.

After Bashar al-Asad succeeded his father in 2000, the architects of Syria’s economic policy sought to reverse the downturn by liberalizing the economy further, for instance by reducing state subsidies. Private banks were permitted for the first time in nearly 40 years and a stock market was on the drawing board. After 2005, the state-business bonds were strengthened by the announcement of the Social Market Economy, a mixture of state and market approaches that ultimately privileged the market, but a market without robust institutions or accountability. Again, the regime had consolidated its alliance with big business at the expense of smaller businesses as well as the Syrian majority who depended on the state for services, subsidies and welfare. It had perpetuated cronyism, but dressed it in new garb. Families associated with the regime in one way or another came to dominate the private sector, in addition to exercising considerable control over public economic assets. These clans include the Asads and Makhloufs, but also the Shalish, al-Hassan, Najib, Hamsho, Hambouba, Shawkat and al-As‘ad families, to name a few. The reconstituted business community, which now included regime officials, close supporters and a thick sliver of the traditional bourgeoisie, effected a deeper (and, for the regime, more dangerous) polarization of Syrian society along lines of income and region.


None of this ever entered the ideological cocoon of the Marcyite wing of the American left that now includes Socialist Action. Indeed, nothing that took place within Syria held even the slightest interest for them. These are people who get their ideas from ZeroHedge, Moon of Alabama, Global Research, Information Clearing House and other bottom-feeding click-bait outlets of the lunatic left.

Sad, really.


  1. OMG, Jeff Mackler . I remember him from the Sixties. I think it was in the YSA. Remember the sarcastic ditty: “Kruschev’s in the Kremlin, the Pope he is in Rome. The YSA’s on the barricades and the YPSL sits at home Join the YSA , Join the YSA.

    Comment by Peter Myers — July 7, 2017 @ 12:39 am

  2. Louis, they seem to be sniping at you in the comment section of this WSWS article.


    Comment by Dr. Pagoda (@OLDDEADWHITEMEN) — July 7, 2017 @ 11:58 am

  3. Don’t know what edition of the Library of Congress Syria Country Study they are using but this is what my (1988) one says:
    “After coming to power in 1970, President Hafiz al Assad reversed or relaxed the more strident socialist economic measures instituted in 1963. His expansion of the role of the private sector led to the emergence of a relatively small, but highly visible, new class of entrepreneurs and businessmen who made fortunes in real estate, importing, and construction. This class, nicknamed in Syria “the velvet generation,” includes higher ranking government bureaucrats and their relatives who have capitalized on their official positions to monopolize lucrative government contracts … To some extent, the old and new ruling classes have merged through business partnerships and marriages that combine the money and prestige of the old elite member and the power and prestige of the new elite member.”

    Comment by Tettodoro — July 7, 2017 @ 3:47 pm

  4. Any one who supports Assad cannot claim to be a leftist, it’s just as simple as that. If they want to line up with Golden Dawn and the Traditionalist Workers Party and the rest of the neo-nazis who support Assad’s genocidal authoritarian regime, it’s their funeral — and I look forward to the day very soon when they will be removed from this plane of existence. But in the mean time they can’t say they have any thing to do with the left, these nazi scum.

    Comment by Milkweed Dirge — July 9, 2017 @ 3:06 am

  5. […] “Trotskyists” put down red carpet for obscure Stalinist blogger […]

    Pingback by Trotksyism and Political Confusionism: The Case of Sam Marcy and the “Macryites”. | Tendance Coatesy — July 10, 2017 @ 4:51 pm

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