David Lazarus, reply to George Kane's book review

David Lazarus, reply to George Kane's book review:
We Can Change the World, by Dave Stratman
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from the New Unionist, May 1996, page 2

I was disappointed with George Kane's review, which I see as an example of why the movement tends to remain fragmented.

First, my general objection is that I think we need to connect with any decent, humane people who want to see the end of capitalism and the creation of a new society that meets people's needs. How they arrive at their conclusions, what their theoretical base is, has to be less important.

Viable political movements always contain disparate elements, which may at times bicker fiercely, but there has to be the discovery of some common ground. This is what we need to look for rather than dismissing people who basically agree with us. While we don't want to imitate the Republicrats in general, their ability to bring together coalitions of diverse forces is what has made them politically significant. In the U.S., the drive for theoretical purity on the left has tended to result in parties each of which can fit comfortably in a broom closet.

My own problem with the book is primarily that Stratman paints the defeats of workers by the capitalists, and betrayal by their own "leaders," in such unremitting quantity and detail that it's difficult to be optimistic about people's ability to overcome all this. It required more space devoted to successes, even if small-scale ones, in order to really confirm the hope suggested by the title.

Another limitation of the book, I think, is that like most leftists he has no use for religion. But some 75% of the population considers itself religious, and I believe that bringing people's spiritual values into the revolution-whether or not these are expressed through institutionalized religion-is a must here.

Finally, the ad hominem attack on the author in the second to last paragraph of the review is both unjust and inaccurate. Stratman makes it clear throughout the book that capitalism is a lot worse than just "inconvenient, unfulfilling and unaesthetic." I believe we need to eliminate personal attacks and name-calling, whether of foes or friends, whether in words or pictures. If we want a humane and compassionate society, we need to live that ideal now.

-- David Lazarus

Willimantic, CT