Crisis and Party
iwp.ilo at ix.netcom.com
Wed Feb 28 12:21:28 MST 1996
Some personal thoughts that came to me while reading the threads
1. Capitalism/imperialism had been in a crisis for a long time.
It has not allowed a even development of the world economy and in
terms of differences between countries and between classes in each
country, those differences has widened (even bourgeois staticians
will confirm that).
2. The capitalist restoration in the FSU and eastern Europe will
give you an idea of how capitalism is in crisis. An annalysis of
all economic parameters will certainly show that the transfer from
a "centralized" economy (if you can call the bureaucratic anarchy
as such) to the capital's rule *did not benefit neither the economy
of the countries affected* nor the particular *needs of their
citizens, particularly the working classes*.
3. In several *periods* of history since the Russian revolution of
1917, that, let's say chronic crisis, has showed its weaknesses in
confronting upturns of the mass movement. Capitalism/Imperialism,
however, was able to overcome those upturns by a combination of
counter-revolutionary measures and, in a few cases, temporary
concessions on one hand and the collaboration they obtained from
the existent mass movement's leadership (Stalinism,
Socialdemocracy, bourgeois nationalism, etc)
4. The combination of these factors made possible the "extension of
the political domination of the bourgeoisie beyond its usefulness
as an economic system" (Marx. We are certainly still in the epoch
of "chronic crisis", but one characterized still by the political
domination of the bourgeoisie.
5. During the postwar period (1945/1949); in the 1960s
(particularly in the periods of 1960/1963 and 1968-1970) and in the
period of 1980/1985 pre- revolutionary situations developed in
different regions of the world. But those regions did not
experience revolutionary leaderships because two elements: a) lack
of revolutionary leaderships with some weight in the working class
and b)the diminishing capacity of the subject of revolution, the
working class, to be at the center and dominate those situations
with its presence.
I some cases, like in France 1968,the working class was too
controlled by the straight-jacket of Stalinism/Socialdemocracy;
in others, the working class was weak in comparison with other
layers of the mass movement (Nicaragua, El Salvador,etc) as to
play any decisive role in those situations (of course, China
in 1949 was a clear example).
6. Those organizations with an alternative program (revolutionary
Marxists) either "adapted" to the conditions imposed by the
"objective" conditions and/or to the reformists or middle class
leadership of those movements. Those who did not adapt, did however
devlop an extremely sectarian and propagandist wiew of the world,
the political situation and their own organizations.
In that sense, they failed to be an alternative of leadership and
the momentum was lost in those countries in which that struggle was
possible (I'm including in this paragraph my own organization at
the time and, of course, I accept my small and individual
contribution to that defeat).
7. A similar process happened in the so called workers states. If
you look at Berlin and Poland in 1953;Hungary and Poland in 1956;
Chekoslovakia in 1968 and you contrast them with Poland, 1980 and
the FSU and Eastern Europe in the 1990s you'll be stricken by the
*political* differences of those movements. The first and second
"wave" of those movements were working class attempts to *reform*
the workers states and defeat the Stalinist bureaucracy and, in one
form or another, were attempts to continue in a Marxist road
through democratic institutions of the working class (councils,
workers committees,etc). In the last *wave*, the anti-bureaucratic
movements soon were transformed in massive capitalist
restorationist mobs and the working class did not play a *central*
role of leadership (in most cases).
8. So, the *epoch* described as one of *war and revolutions* should
be, in retrospective, be characterized as one of *war, revolution
and counter-revolution*. But what does do for the forging of a
revolutionary leadership other than described *what happened*?
Nothing if we do not learn how to proceed in the next stage.
It is obvious that the different tendencies, for example in the
Trotskyist movement (but the lessons can be extrapolated to other
revolutionary currents) were more preocuppied in characterizing the
situation as revolutionary and trying to build, against the clock,
an alternative leadership (by the wrong methodology) rather than
think in the *general movement of the working class and the
oppressed* and how to advance it.
9. Healy characterized the situation as one of *war and revolution*
and proclaimed himself and his organization as the center of the
process to build a revolutionary leadership. He ended up expelled
from his own party and the organization transformed in one of the
most irrelevant sects on earth. The whole thing started with the
expulsion of all those who failed to see what Healy said it was
reality. The MAS/IWL-FI (LIT-CI)characterized a "worldwide
revolutionary situation" and proclaimed Argentina the epicenter of
"worl revolution" and the MAS as the "beacon of world revolution"
and they went full steem ahead and expelled all those who disagreed
with it, transforming an organization of 10,000 into a rump group
of less than 300. Lambert's OCI characterized at one point the
situation as one of "Imminence of Revolution" (1980s) -- they
failed to understand that what was coming was counter-revolution
in the East. They also acted upon dissidents, by expelling them,
when they disagreed.
The SWP in the US did a similar thing, only
by transferring the main task in supporting Castro and the FSLN and
started to expell those who disagreed with it or the new discovery
that the Permanent Revolution Theory was "ultra-leftists"; The USec
of Mandel started to discover "objective" revolutionaries
everywhere, from Castro to the FSLN, and pushed that line of
alliances with them *instead* of with those other existent
revolutionary forces. Of course, they expelled, pushed aside and
cut relationships based on that assumption. They even copycat
the guerrilla "strategy" of some of their admired new heroes and
ended up creating disaster, with many activists killed in Latin
America. They, too, ended up with little organizations in few
the SWP(UK) going the same way -- we are in a period of
revolutionary upturn and people who do not agree and refuse to
understand that, In Canada for example, they can build a mass party
out of a tiny propaganda sect, should be expelled. Etcetera.
10. So is OK to blame the "objective conditions" and the
domination of Stalinism/Socialdemocracy for our failures, but we
should, as revolutionaries, accept our share of responsability. We
failed, fundamentally, not because we miss-characterized this or
that period of our epoch, but because we did not have the slightest
idea of how to, as revolutionaries, provide a tool for the general
movement of the working class and the oppressed.
We were more *involved* in the struggle to *demonstrate* the
correctness of our peculiar political lines than to provide a
framework to build an alternative leadership at the world scale.
11. We are now in a transitional stage. Socialdemocracy and
Stalinism are, no doubt, at the peak of their crisis. We have few
years to re-organize the Marxist movement to build an altenative
leadership of the working class and the oppressed. The main
responsability for that rest upon the shoulder of those
organizations that can make a call to re-organize the revolutionary
Marxist movement. The SWP/ISO/IS; the CWI (Militant) and other
forces should take the initiative. None of them, by themselves
will solve the question of leadership. They need to understand
the urgency of building a world federation/confederation/alliance
of revolutionary forces. Differences in characterizations, sure
we can have all of them. Differences on the question of the nature
of the FSU? Sure, we can discuss them. But are those the
*central* issues? Arent' other number of agreements upon which we
can agree that will allow at least to co-ordinate our worldwide
Isn't one of the tasks to re-build the Marxist movement *as a
whole* by demolishing the fake building of theoretical garbage
that Stalinism and Socialdemocracy built over the Marxist theory?
(Socialism in one country, Revolution by stages, etc)?
Isn't this a time to call for a world meeting and agree to agree
in some areas and agree to disagree (and debate) on other issues?
An International Revolutionary United front, maybe?
Just some thoughts,
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