Which Party?

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at mailbox.swipnet.se
Sat Feb 17 08:25:28 MST 1996

Jon Flanders wrote good sense about a feeling of upsurge among the working
class that opens the way to revolutionary views getting a hearing. I think
it indicates we won't  have to wait too long before labour action starts
taking off again in the States:

He also wrote:

> I wanted to respond to Hugh R.'s point about the rewards of party work. I
>know what he is talking about, it can be true. I would say to him that to get
>others, like myself, back in the game and to attract the new generation, some
>work has to be done to unify, fuse, unsplit, whatever all these seemingly
>fragmentary groups into a revolutionary party capable of attracting workers.
> Its fine to talk a good game, but the workers I have met aren't in love with
>going to meetings to talk. When they do want something done they will be
>attracted to an organization that looks like it can deliver. We are a ways
>from that point, I would say.

I think the process is something like this:

        Think about it.

        Talk about it.

        Do it.

        Think about what you've done, and what can be done next.

        Talk about what you've done, and what can be done next.

        Do that,

And so on.

You can kick in at any point. Like starting with 'do it'. Only it usually
gets done better if you think about it and talk it over first. Meetings
that don't clarify things or work out satisfying action to respond to a
problem are sterile and unattractive. If the leadership of a group or party
constantly subjects its membership to this kind of thing then this
leadership has got to be changed or abandoned.

In Britain this process of testing leaderships is well under way. Different
responses to Thatcherism, especially in the miners' strike of 1984-85 and
the Poll Tax rebellion, and to the intensified attacks on the welfare
state, have revealed the methods and goals of the groups involved to the
growing numbers of fighters becoming involved in the class struggle. The
groups that put themselves at the disposal of the struggle, that give a
clear explanation of what's happening, that are open in a real sense to
participation in their party discussions by these fighters - these are the
ones that attract people and grow. The ones that try to corner the
'struggle market' and impose sectarian and bureaucratic limits on a
movement are the ones that lose out. Names and pack drill some other time.
I'm not out to score party points, just lay down a few principles about
method that anyone can use to assess their own position and their own
group's effectiveness in relation to the really big issues confronting the
working class.

And I can't round off better than by quoting Marcus Strom on factions once more:

>This debate [on Brest-Litovsk] shows the strength of factions in a
>party.When the debate started, Lenin's faction for peace with Germany was a
>*minority* initially. The Zinoviev faction for pursuing revolutionary
>war against Germany was in the majority on this issue. Trotsky's mob
>sat on the fence; 'neither peace nor war'. It was the full blooded
>*factional* debate within the party which won Trotsky and his faction
>over to the position of negotiated peace ....


>For those troglodytes who oppose factions because they are
>'disruptive', you are just plain wrong. For anyone who knows anyting
>about politics, factions develop whether they are legal or not. Look
>at the CofC faction in your own party (CPUSA). Factions actually
>strengthen unity of a party, they allow differences the full light of
>day so they can be debated out fully, throughout the whole party and
>in front of the class. [snip]  Any truly mass revolutionary party of the
>working class will throw up all manner of angles.
>Unity of the party through full factional rights! It is *unity in
>action* that counts, not being able to repeat absentmindedly the
>latest dictat of the central committee. [Trotskyists are not free of
>this sin by any means]. As it has been said: democratic centralism is
>the best form of organisation; centrally organised so that the class
>can 'strike as a fist' and democratic so that it strikes in the
>correct directions.
>If you condemn the workers most lethal weapon, it's party, to
>homogeneity, you kill it.



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