[Marxism] Galloway faction splits from Respect:
peterb at greenleft.org.au
Sun Nov 4 20:51:41 MST 2007
Louis Proyect wrote:
> I am for organized revolutionaries. I am not, however, for knuckleheaded
Down with knuckleheaded vanguardism! I'm happy to shout that slogan too.
Of course anyone claiming "vanguard" status on the basis of their
asserted programmatic superiority deserves to be dismissed. There is
truth in the old joke that most of the self-described "Leninist
vanguards" on the left are more likely to be found in the "guard van",
i.e. at the back of real struggles. Leadership has to be won in struggle
and is only confirmed when it is demonstrated in the real struggle and
as a result is recognised by real mass forces. We don't need lectures on
We also know that the people that comprise the actual political vanguard
in our time are in significant numbers still outside any of the existing
socialist organisations. We are realistic about the very early stage of
organisation that socialists have got to in Australia. We really don't
need lectures on this either.
In the current situation in - marked as it is by decades of
working-class retreats and defeats - it is simply not enough for
revolutionary socialists to hold up their political program and call for
support. Rather, the challenge is to unite with the actual leaders of
working-class resistance, fighting alongside them in a common effort to
reverse the cycle of defeat and reinvigorate the movements. There is no
escaping this task, hard and patience-testing as it may be.
That's the approach we in the DSP been trying to follow and our tactics
are based on this approach. We never claimed not to have made mistakes
in Socialist Alliance or in any other political intervention. Certainly
in Socialist Alliance we made every tactical choice (right or wrong) on
the basis of our estimate of what would best preserve and/or advance the
linking up of socialists with broader layers in struggle. Far from
milking or manipulating the broader formation to build our own tendency,
we took risks, made serious commitments and significant sacrifices. And
when things got tough in 2004-2005, we did not bail out and abandon the
Since Louis agrees that revolutionaries should get organised the
argument question becomes how. This of course is a very concrete
question and we should not create organisational schemas around a
decontextualised reading of those famous words from the Communist
Manifesto "The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the
other working-class parties" . We have had this discussion before and
comrades have been urged to read on in the manifesto to where the
qualification of this statement is made when the Manifesto describes
what distinguishes the Communists from others in the working class
movement. That's a better clue as to what sectarianism is. Further,
wasn't the Manifesto written for a relatively small, underground and
If there was some obvious big breakthrough tactic that would bring
together real mass forces in an ongoing struggle for radical social
change today then bob's-your-uncle we should all go for it (even knowing
that a whole universe of tactical challenges open up in the process).
But the problem, whether we are talking about the Respect experience,
the SSP experience or the humbler experience in the Socialist Alliance
in Australia, is that a clear and sustained big breakthrough has not
come any of our ways. The going got tough and the politics more
fractious. And, I think, all parties involved now admit, this is
primarily the result of objective conditions.
Should we have never embarked on the Socialist Alliance? Is this the
time to abandon the project altogether and retreat to today's equivalent
of the British Library to await better times? I don't think so. In our
case in the Socialist Alliance in Australia, real if modest ground in
connecting socialists with broader forces in struggle would be lost.
Preserving that gain and not all the abstract preaching from at home and
abroad is the decisive consideration for us in working out how to proceed.
We try our best not to be knuckleheaded or wimps in the face of
knuckleheadedness (plenty of which comes our way!).
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