Unity as organizational fetishism
Louis N Proyect
lnp3 at columbia.edu
Sun Feb 25 06:08:32 MST 1996
On Sun, 25 Feb 1996, Hugh Rodwell wrote:
> Your admiration for Pablo and your jumping to the defence of the USec party
> project here seem to indicate a streak of objectivism in relation to the
> development of society towards socialism. It'll happen anyway.
Louis: This is addressed to Hugh Rodwell, Jorn Anderson and Jim Miller.
You each believe that the nucleus of a Bolshevik party exists. Hugh and
Jorn's nucleus is a particular brand of Trotskyism while Jim Miller's is
based on the concept that the American SWP has some kind of "revolutionary
continuity" with Lenin.
In each case we are talking about eensy-weensy, itsy-bitsy groups. In
other words, these eensy-weensy, itsy-bitsy groups have the inside road
to leadership of the revolution because you have put together an
organization with all the "correct" ideas.
Only people who belong to such groups, or, as in Jim Miller's case, who
worship them from a careful distance, fail to see how ludicrous the whole
notion is. Your "correct" ideas are so narrowly constituted that they by
their very definition exclude the possibility that you can ever become a
In the case of the English SWP, we get an analysis of "what went wrong"
in the former Soviet Union that, while intellectually worthy of some
consideration, is just one possible analysis *within Marxism*. The same
goes for Miller and Rodwell. All of your ideas, good comrades one and
all, is *within Marxism*.
Most of the ideas presented to this list are *within Marxism*. That
should come as no surprise since this is a Marxism list. The ideas about
socialism that existed within the Bolshevik party on the eve of the
Russian revolution were also highly variegated. The simple reason for
this is that since the working-class is highly variegated, it is natural
for various shades of theory and opinion to exist *within Marxism*.
By creating boundaries around your own eensy-weensy, itsy-bitsy
organizations based on an encyclopediac version of a "program" (ie., all
the writings of Tony Cliff, Jack Barnes/James P. Cannon), you exclude
people who are Marxists but who will never accept your 9000-point program.
This is the basic problem for Trotskyism. (It is also a problem for
Maoism. It is not enough to be for Mao, you have to be for the particular
brand of Maoism that Gonzalo represents. A few years ago the RCP in the
USA had the PCP franchise. Now they are running-dogs of imperialism
because they took the wrong position on some internal policy of the PCP.)
The Bolshevik party had 28 newspapers, each with its own particular
version of what Russian socialism was about, but each within the context
of being for *Marxism*. Nobody was ever expelled from the Bolshevik
party. Even when Kamenev, Stalin and Zinoviev broke discipline and fought
publicly against the seizure of power, they were not expelled.
The iron discipline of today's Marxism-Leninism is based on a distortion
of Lenin's views and have more to do with a Stalinist version of
party-building that began to creep into the Comintern very early in its
existence. Trotsky, for all of his acute understanding of the failure of
Stalinist policies here and there, never really grasped what the
Bolshevik model really meant. Proof of this is his statement to a tiny
group of his followers in NY in the late 1920's that they were "the
vanguard of the vanguard".
Yes, we need a revolutionary party. No, it will not be built by adding
raw material to the "nuclei" represented by Rodwell, Anderson, Miller
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