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Theses for partyism

Posted 9th December 2011 at 18:13 by Q

By now I've written extensively on the question of democracy, partyism, vanguards and more on this blog. Comrade RedBrother however had a few questions that made me realise that I've taken for granted some underlying principles.

I'll post the comrade's questions and my reply to him (that I sent through pm as visitor messages have a limit of 1000 characters) here for reference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedBrother
Hey so I read your blog post, but I still can't wrap my head around what we are actually united for. We don't uphold the party line, we post dissenting newsletters, and we take different actions? What exactly is the purpose of this vanguard party without splits if we will all be acting as if it were a split organization. Unless we are united in action all the time and I misread what you wrote. One last thing, how would this work if say we disagreed over Libya at the beginning say I thought that the Libyan revolutionaries were imperialist agents, and someone else thought that they were genuine democratic revolutionaries. How would we take action there?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Q
Given that the number of characters in the visitor messages is limited to 1000, I'll reply here:

Hi there and thanks for reading my blog.

As for your question, there are several underlying theses in my position:
1. The working class has to liberate itself if it wants to transcend capital. This is done through the fight to reach communism.
2. This implies majoritarian politics, or, in other words, organising the working class as a class for its own. This as opposed to minoritarian politics of tiny grouplets trying to radicalise the working class and "con it into power" via the general strike. I've written here on that subject.
3. Since organising the working class as a class for its own isn't going to happen "spontaniously" or in a short amount of time, this implies long term political education and organising work. Therefore we need a partyist project of trying to unite the class movement on a communist programme.
4. This inevitably means uniting diverse traditions in which the Marxist tradition may be a minority if we (the left) aren't the initiators of such party-movement. The underlying point here is that unity can only happen if it is voluntary, which implies freedom of expression be it that there is a democratic vote on concrete decisions. Likewise, the Marxist left can use this political freedom to campaign for a communist programme.
4a. If the rightwing is powerful enough to use bureaucratic measures against the left, this means that the communists have to explicitly organise in a communist party. It however does not mean that we should stop to engage with the existing workers movement and fight for political freedoms within that movement.
4b. On the other hand, the Marxist left can be an initiator of a unity project around a communist program. It can do this by overcoming its own sectarian shadow and unite itself, thereby gaining a serious social weight and becoming a serious option for workers to organise around.
5. The point of radical democracy within our movement runs deeper however. In the first place is it the only way to politicise workers and get them to think and engage about politics themselves, as opposed to leaving politics to "the professionals". This is a necessary step if the working class is to ever seize political power and become a ruling class.
6. Furthermore still, given that all states, in the last analysis, are party states, the democratic republican nature of our party will also be a reflection of our future state. That is, a radical democratic regime in which the people are genuinely sovereign and where there is therefore a genuine democracy given the vast majority of the working class within society. Therefore the dictatorship of the proletariat can only be a democratic republic, as Engels already pointed out in 1891.

I think Mark Fischer of the Weekly Worker put it quite well in a recent article about their 30 years of existence:

Quote:
The second aspect of the method of TL which still holds today is that we are about uniting the revolutionary left under a genuine regime of democratic centralism - not as a set of organisational norms, but as an open process of winning and continually consolidating communist unity around a revolutionary programme.
(emphasis added)

In other words, proletarian unity can only be seen as a dynamic process, via democracy and therefore a "unity in disagreement". The alternative, unity enforced through bureaucracy, is always in the interests of the capitalist regime (or, as history turned out, of the Stalinist regimes) never in the interests of workers self-emancipation, and for that reason reactionary and a prime target of communists.

I hope this explains
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    Die Neue Zeit's Avatar
    If I posted this in the Brezhnev doctrine, I'd be accused of trying to veer the discussion off-topic.

    Anyway, I caught manic's post and yours. FYI, Romania had the highest membership-to-population ratio, at about a third.

    To the heart of this: I think there needs to be some clarification re. your statement "because it was attractive to become a member, because that meant a secure and steady career." If you recall a few months back, Blake 3:17 and I complained about grunt activists receiving minimum wages and paltry benefits. I then asserted the position of revolutionary careerism regarding

    1) The median skilled worker's compensation
    2) Somewhat shorter hours beyond mandatory workday commitment on weekends

    Relative to this measure, membership should be attractive.
    Posted 8th January 2012 at 18:46 by Die Neue Zeit Die Neue Zeit is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Brosa Luxemburg's Avatar
    Quote:
    2. This implies majoritarian politics, or, in other words, organising the working class as a class for its own. This as opposed to minoritarian politics of tiny grouplets trying to radicalise the working class and "con it into power" via the general strike.
    Well, I have to disagree with you here. Having a majority of the class in the party shouldn't be held up as a principle, but I would argue that having a majority in the party is something that should happen, and almost naturally, when the majority of the class is class conscious.

    Quote:
    4b. On the other hand, the Marxist left can be an initiator of a unity project around a communist program. It can do this by overcoming its own sectarian shadow and unite itself, thereby gaining a serious social weight and becoming a serious option for workers to organise around.
    I am not a fan of this whole "left unity" thing. I mean, I would have no problem working with internationalist, class struggle anarchists, certain Trotskyists, Orthodox Marxists, etc. but I would be opposed to working with Stalinists, social-democrats, and other bourgeois types.
    Posted 26th July 2012 at 01:15 by Brosa Luxemburg Brosa Luxemburg is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Q's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Brosa Luxemburg View Comment
    Well, I have to disagree with you here. Having a majority of the class in the party shouldn't be held up as a principle, but I would argue that having a majority in the party is something that should happen, and almost naturally, when the majority of the class is class conscious.
    My view is that the "party" is really not a goal in itself, but a vehicle to organise the working class as a class-collective (that is, a political force in its own right) around the project of its revolutionary emancipation in the struggle for communism.

    Also, the point of majoritarian politics is not that we should aim to just get a "majority of the class in our party", but rather to convince a majority of our class to the political project of its own revolutionary emancipation. This as opposed to minoritarian politics where political cliques seek to thrust themselves into power. This is a rather big difference I think.

    Quote:
    I am not a fan of this whole "left unity" thing. I mean, I would have no problem working with internationalist, class struggle anarchists, certain Trotskyists, Orthodox Marxists, etc. but I would be opposed to working with Stalinists, social-democrats, and other bourgeois types.
    All communists should be welcome if they comply to:
    1. The independence of our class, as opposed to others classes and the state, this also means that they should be workers themselves in order to join the party;
    2. Internationalism as all national roads to liberation are dead ends;
    3. Democracy as the method of organising our class, as a projection towards our common future and as a means of developing our class into a thinking entity.

    On the subject of program, there should be no unity in agreement, but unity on discipline that accepts it as a common base of action, but whereby a minority can still organise and propagate to change it.
    Posted 27th July 2012 at 05:45 by Q Q is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Die Neue Zeit's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Q View Comment
    Also, the point of majoritarian politics is not that we should aim to just get a "majority of the class in our party", but rather to convince a majority of our class to the political project of its own revolutionary emancipation. This as opposed to minoritarian politics where political cliques seek to thrust themselves into power. This is a rather big difference I think.
    Comrade, I don't know what to make of this statement elevating conviction over membership. The electoralists were all for their crude method of trying to convince a majority of the class, but didn't pay much heed to "get a majority of the class in our party" before a revolutionary period.
    Posted 27th July 2012 at 06:22 by Die Neue Zeit Die Neue Zeit is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Q's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Die Neue Zeit View Comment
    Comrade, I don't know what to make of this statement elevating conviction over membership. The electoralists were all for their crude method of trying to convince a majority of the class, but didn't pay much heed to "get a majority of the class in our party" before a revolutionary period.
    I'm not sure I get your question/point of concern?

    Surely you yourself made the distinction between "membership" and "party citizens" at an earlier point. My point is that line of thought: Convincing a majority of our class of the communist program is one of the pillars of what defines a revolutionary period. Aiming to get a majority of the class in the party outside a revolutionary period inevitably includes watering down the program for realpolitik.

    I see nothing controversial there?
    Posted 27th July 2012 at 07:18 by Q Q is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Die Neue Zeit's Avatar
    Yes, there is that distinction, comrade. However, allow me to play hard ball and bad cop by saying that you just elevated conviction over party citizenship.

    Majority political support is one of the pillars, but I wrote that the most reliable measurement by far is party citizenship, not votes (per the electoralists) or mere sympathies (which is what you're implying). That implies aiming to get as many workers to become party citizens as possible before the revolutionary period. At a crude economic level, political support is worth squat without reliable financial support (read: dues).

    I wrote of this particular type of recruitment drive (not just any membership recruitment) even in my earlier, completed pamphlet (which you have).
    Posted 27th July 2012 at 15:08 by Die Neue Zeit Die Neue Zeit is offline
 
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