Understanding Left Reformism


  • John Molyneux


There is something of a vogue for left reformism on the left at the moment. I stress `on the left' because it couldn't yet be described as a societal phenomenon, except with Syriza in Greece. It doesn't generally proclaim itself as left reformism preferring to sail under such flags as `fresh thinking', `rethinking the left' and `left unity'.  Nevertheless the trend is real and perceptible both in Ireland and internationally.

In Ireland the TDs, Clare Daly and Joan Collins, are trying to create a new political formation called United Left and there have just recently been two forums of the left in Dublin devoted to this sort of project: the first, organised by Daly and Collins, featured former Socialist Party member Roger Silverman who argued (a familiar theme this) against the way `Leninist/Trotskyist vanguards' work in favour of a broad anti- capitalist coalition on the model of Marx's First International; the second, organised by Look Left, was addressed by the American sociologist, Erik Olin Wright, who analysed the left historically, in terms of three tendencies - `ruptural'  revolutionary), `intersticial' (anarchist/utopian) and `symbiotic' (reformist) - and called for them all to work together, although he was fairly dismissive of the revolutionary tendency.