Marx, Engels and Lenin and the party question (was Re: To Juan (PS))

Jose G. Perez jgperez at
Sun Aug 1 20:15:41 MDT 1999

Louis wrote:
>The sectarian and rigidity of the Comintern party-building model are still
>upheld by the Trotskyists and other "Marxist-Leninists" of today. If these
>groups were as critical of their own history and ideas as they were of the
>ruling class, much improvement could obtain. This is not something to be
>for. Those of us who prefer to think for ourselves must create our own
>organizational and political solutions, just as Lenin did in
>turn-of-the-century Russian. Any effort which falls short of this will not
>produce the outcome we so desperately need: the abolition of the capitalist
>system and the development of socialism.

Louis, are your articles on the Comintern on your web page, or are they to
be found elsewhere? I'd like to read them whole.

I think what you recount, the history of factional strife, leaders chosen
PRI-style (el dedazo de Moscú), are all part of the "punishment"  for having
committed the original sin:  splitting the American working class movement
for absolutely no good reason.

This would have been the real test for the Comintern: if they had been able
to hold back the American hotheads and super-revolutionary foreign language
federations from cutting themselves off from the mass of native-born and
west-European origin workers, and from the radicalized small farmers who
were being driven to the wall in successive layers during this whole
historic period, then  it might have been said that the general staff in the
Kremlin was worth something. But the truth is the Comintern encouraged the
U.S. split.

The split in the U.S. wasn't just a strategic blunder, it wasn't just
"un"principled, it was fundamentally anti-Marxist, what Fidel would call a
violation of principle. On what basis did our "communists" justify turning
their back on Debs? A figure like Debs and all he represents is a link in
the chain of historical development. You break the link and you break the
chain. That's what the Comintern did to the American working class, and I
don't mean the Comintern of the 30s with its conscious anti-Marxist policy
of subordinating the interests of the world working class to the USSR's
diplomatic maneuvers. I mean the Comintern of the early 20s, with the
chauvinist view that they were the representatives communism  on a world
scale. They were not even able to save themselves or communism in Russia;
and if they had left the world movement alone, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER. To
a very large degree, they ruined the communist movement on a world scale for
the rest of the century.

I note some here are inclined to criticize Fidel and the Cuban leadership
for having muted their criticisms of Moscow after the late 1960s. First, I
think people need to develop a more flexible tacticaI sense than is
evidenced by this criticism. Should revolutionary workers in all places and
at all times directly confront and challenge conservative union officials?
Comrades who went through a lot of trade union struggles as conscious
communists tend to agree this would be a mistake. They say the fire should
be centered on the main enemy, and the union leadership should be challenged
directly only when the mass of the workers, through their own experiences,
have become ready for it.

I also wonder if people appreciated just what a complete catastrophe the
Comintern turned out to be, if they might not be more appreciative of the
Cuban's moderation in putting forth their own viewpoint.

People need to think this through: And NOW that Moscow's gone, WHY DOESN'T
Fidel seek to build a new international modeled on the Comintern?  Why does
he insist on maintaining loose, multi tendency international bodies focused
on solidarity, and more akin in this way to the first and second
internationals, rather than trying to develop something like the third

I think if comrades sat down to think through these questions, why one of
the outstanding revolutionary Marxists of our time, a revolutionary that has
made practical, proletarian internationalism a hallmark of his leadership,
has refused and refuses even now to help rebuild a Comintern. And he refuses
even now to act and speak as an authoritative organized center for those who
look to Cuba for leadership.

Fidel is not an unconscious or unreflective person. He has also shown
himself to have no lack or revolutionary audacity or initiative. If he's not
built himself a Comintern, that's for a reason. He doesn't think the world
working class needs one.

Like Marx and Engels, Fidel views communism not as a theory but a movement,
a social product. His comments and all his other interventions are weighed
for their effect on the development of that movement. He does not seek to
develop a pure "fidelista" faction and organization throughout Latin America
and the world on the basis of solidarity with his views on proletarian
internationalism, the role of consciousness in the building of socialism,
and many other subjects where, I believe, the positions staked out by Cuba
represent an advance by the world Marxist movement as a whole.


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