[Marxism] Interesting comment from an ISO'er

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Nov 27 09:06:08 MST 2007

(posted as a comment on my blog)

The SWP doesn't practice democratic centralism Louis. It's bureaucratic 
centralism. I've posted my take on the RESPECT split on my blog if you 
care to read it. It seems we're pretty much in agreement:


One thing I didn't take up though was the role of Leninists in 
movements. I do agree that a disciplined Leninist group can have a 
disproportionate amount of influence in shaping and directing a united 
front because our opponents/allies are usually not as organized. 
Therefore, we should be careful not to misuse our weight as it seems the 

There are more than a few occasions in which the U.S. ISO did not caucus 
as a group at conferences of united front groups in order to allow the 
debate to "breathe" and evolve organically. Sometimes this can be a much 
more fruitful method, especially when there aren't any organized 
competitors (reformists, anarchists, Stalinists, etc) within the ranks.

For example, I casted a deciding vote against including a Point of Unity 
at the Campus Anti War network conference back in Nov. 2003 about 
opposing a U.N. occupation force. I didn't think that the bulk of the 
student movement opposed a U.N. occupation force and therefore it 
couldn't be a Point of Unity - clearly there was a lot of confusion 
about the issue and there needed to be education, discussion, and debate 
about it so that in the future it could be a Point of Unity. I voted 
against it despite the fact that every other ISO member voted for it. 
One comrade was on the verge of tears because she believed so strongly 
that CAN should stand against a U.N. occupation of Iraq and it lost by 
one vote (mine). But I still think it was the right thing to do.

Democratic centralism is not a magic bullet that will help 
revolutionaries overcome all obstacles, but it does help if it's used 
correctly and sensibly. Ditching it would be a big mistake in my 
opinion. The same is true of a "vanguard" organization. Leaders have to 
learn from the movement (and from their adversaries/opponents) - it's 
not a one-way street where "we know the best way to do X and the rest of 
you are clueless reformist numbskulls." If it becomes a one-way street, 
you end up like the British SWP.

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