Crisis and Party

CEP iwp.ilo at
Wed Feb 28 12:21:28 MST 1996

    Some personal thoughts that came to me while reading the threads
    about "Crisis".

    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

    I see
    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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