International or Internet

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at
Fri May 10 14:34:35 MDT 1996

Chris wonders:

>So how can all this debate lead to a unified Maoist international, when
>internet alone, allows endlessly more detailed discussion of detailed
>If Trotskyists were to resume the attempt to polemicise into being a
>single International, I suspect they would run into similar difficulties
>soon enough again. The harder the polemic, the faster the fragmentation.
>So what we are observing is the dynamics of networks, not of
>democratic centralist hierarchies.
>It is a medium that is arguably inherently Menshevik, that does not
>easily permit the thrashing out of Lenin's desired "granite" like
>theoretical unity.

Which of course is grand if you don't think that people, especially people
dedicated to the revolutionary overturn of capitalism, can become aware
that they have a couple of really important points in common that are in
fact shared principles and as such could well provide the basis for common
organizational activity - at arms' length today, closer tomorrow as trust
and joint conviction grow that we are working for the same goals.

What we are observing as the Maoists self-destruct are the effects of
bureaucratic centralism in organization (only Mr Big is right, and his line
must be learnt by heart - anyone read Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward and notice
the bureaucrat anxiously scanning Pravda every day for the slightest hint
of a change in the general line?) and of counter-revolutionary, Menshevik
slop in theory. Not one of them has the slightest understanding of the
political and historical power of the working class, and they have even
less conviction of its ability to emancipate itself in a successful
socialist revolution consolidated with a regime of workers' democracy.

I'm beginning to get a pretty clear idea of who I can rely on to
subordinate polemical disagreements, at times even on major questions, to
the greater good of working for that revolutionary overturn.

I also have a feeling that the coming period will witness a growth of
working agreements (such as the Liaison Committee between the LIT and the
Workers International) between revolutionary groups, and a new and
infinitely encouraging tendency towards fusion instead of the factionalism
and splits of the postwar boom period.

I also know who I would trust to hide me from the cops if such a thing
should be necessary. It's an encouragingly large number -- though I'm sure
one or two of you would not be all that pleased if I turned up on your

Chris, it's a process of thrashing things out in an atmosphere of openness,
critical solidarity and mutual respect. In a party it works when tendencies
formed in the run-up to a congress can battle it out during the congress,
reach majority decisions on the big questions and then dissolve the
tendencies and work together to test the policies hammered out by the
congress. It works when people are serious about their principles.

It fails if there are things which must not be said.

The Maoists, and more generally the Stalinists, including supporters of the
Castro regime, head onto the rocks here, because they confuse a
non-workers-democratic regime with the workers' state established after the
overthrow of capitalist production relations. These regimes kill the
development of unity through intensive discussion, because they are
intolerant of openness and critical solidarity. There are too many very
important things that must not be said. Mutual respect is a non-starter in
this atmosphere. If you've hitched your waggon to Mr Big, you'll find
yourself drifting into more and more dangerous waters with no way of
changing course. Either you claim everything's dandy - no storm, no
currents, no rocks - till you crack up, or you shut your eyes tighter and
tighter to what's going on around you, and it's touch and go whether you'll
be able to jump overboard in time or go down with the rest of the crew.



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