Committee for a Workers' International
Mark Forums Read
12th March 2010
Die Neue Zeit
I write this letter as a simultaneous critique of the Committee for a Workers’ International and CPGB on the question of left unity.
Last week, the CWI published an open letter addressing the recent split in the opaque and sectarian International Marxist Tendency.
At the same time, Mike Macnair wrote another article on left unity, but one that is too steeped in idealism and not materialism. He critiques the concept of broad unity and contrasts it with Marxist unity: “Because it insists on broad unity as a panacea for Marxist disunity and the bureaucratic rule in the groups, it refuses to confront the actual strategic political differences in the broad, mass workers’ movement about the state, nationalism and political democracy” (
‘Bureaucratic centralism and ineffectiveness’ Weekly Worker February 25
As a bonus, Macnair even quotes the
to critique its commentary on sectarianism. However, he ignores the crucial part: “The immediate aim of the communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.”
The first part refers to the ‘class for itself’ concept, something which bourgeois workers’ parties for obvious reasons don’t do. The second part refers to the concept of hegemony, both in the Gramscian sense and the pre-Gramsci sense of ‘leadership of the people’ above other classes - as noted in Lars Lih’s commentary on German Social Democracy’s influence on
What Is To Be Done?
The third part serves as an unintentional critique of the CWI’s broad economism, since:
1. The struggle for socialism is economic and not political.
2. Not every party striving for this “conquest of political power” is necessarily a communist party. Hence the proletarian-not-necessarily-communist parties, flanked by bourgeois workers’ parties on the right and communist sects on the left. Broad unity defined under these parameters is crucial, since exclusively Marxist unity is sectarian.
3. “Conquest of political power” is total, ranging from policy-making participation to legislative power, to executive-administrative power. Here, the specific achievements of the not-so-Marxist Paris Commune and past democratic experiments come to mind.
Which brings me to the topic unifying both the CWI’s open letter and Macnair’s article, but addressed by neither: Chávez’s call for a new international. The CWI says that the PSUV has no “real active workers’ base”, yet this same party is taking actual steps towards forming what the entire ‘Marxist’ left has failed to do over the past decade with regards to unity.
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