The USA far left

LouPaulsen at LouPaulsen at
Wed Nov 13 11:40:01 MST 2002

Louis's response is not of course going to be entirely to the liking of those
of us in any of the left groups he mentioned, but it's not entirely off the
mark :-)

Louis Pr. says that WWP is "not at all interested in regroupment."
If "regroupment" is interpreted as it often is, that is, the amalgamation of
socialist parties with dissimilar approaches into a single party with more
numbers and less agreement, I suppose it's true to say that we haven't been
pursuing that in the period that we have been in.  "Regroupment" is not some
sort of timeless absolute concept.  In practice it comes down to, who would we
amalgamate with?  On what basis?  Doing what?  And, in what context?

Stepping back a second, amalgamation into a single party is not the only way
to combine different parties' resources.  There are jointly sponsored events
and campaigns, coalitions, even joint electoral slates, all of which we have
participated in or proposed at one time or another.  Isn't that kind of
practical co-ordinated activity the most obvious path toward "regroupment"?
If people can't work together in a coalition with any sense of mutual trust,
then "regroupment" into a single party isn't even on the agenda, is it?

Louis says that we aren't interested in "regroupment", but then he describes
most of our larger potential regroupment partners in ways which would make you
wonder why we would want to amalgamate with them, or they with us.  Who are we
supposed to want to amalgamate with, actually?  Take the ISO for example.  If
you look at their position on the war with Iraq, they are pretty close to us.
They have a lot of dedicated people, a lot of young people, and a lot of
influence.  On the other hand, they believe Fidel should be overthrown.  I
think this would be a problem for both sides.  I personally would not be in
favor of any move that might leave me in the minority of a party whose
majority treats the government of Cuba as the class enemy.  Not just because
they are "wrong on Cuba", but also because I believe there must be something
fundamentally flawed with the political thinking of people that can end up
THAT wrong on Cuba.  If this makes me a left sectarian, so be it!  Furthermore
I am quite confident that the ISO would not be at all interested in any merger
that would leave THEM in the minority on this and other important issues.  So
why even talk about it?  Where there are people and formations with whom our
views on the struggle coincide, with whom there is mutual trust and respect
and experience in practical work, then, yes, of course we should consider
organizational unity.

Furthermore, all of these observations will have to be revisited when the real
situation changes.  For years, our parties of the far left in the US have all
been small agitprop groups.  None of us has had a mass following.  We have
been in the period of reaction, where the most important thing has been to
survive as Marxists and as consistent anti-imperialists, by any means.  In a
situation like this, the leftist who amalgamates with the center is pretty
much inescapably dragged toward the center.

How much would the "very good people" of WWP have been able to accomplish
since last September if we had NOT been organizationally independent, and if
we had at some previous time been "regrouped" into a left minority within a
larger party which mostly did not believe that struggle was possible, or that
imperialism should be appeased on this point or that?  For years, going back
to the Yugoslavia War, people have been saying one way or another that "WWP
has good people and has been doing good anti-imperialist work - it's a shame
they have this awful form of party organization."  The problem is that if we
didn't have the party organization we have, we wouldn't have been able to do
the work that we have been doing in this period of global reaction and
betrayal, and, for that matter, none of us would be as "good" as we are.  I
certainly wouldn't be.

When the period changes, then the analysis changes.  Suppose that the war and
the economy provoke a real mass upsurge, and we find that working-class and
oppressed youth are coming around all our parties in large numbers, and that
socialist politics are very much on the agenda.  In a progressive period,
mergers and amalgamations would have a much different meaning.  The workers
and oppressed would drive the process forward.  You could have a situation
where the drawbacks of amalgamating with "leaders" to the right of us would be
offset by the importance of amalgamating with the sector of the aroused masses
who are coming around them.  Furthermore new leaders and movements of the
workers and the oppressed would sprout up.  In such a period we can turn
around and find that new tendencies or parties have come into existence which
are active and serious and which we would want very much to unite with.

The formation that ultimately leads the revolution in the US will, in my best
estimation, not necessarily be merely the WWP grown older and wiser and with a
fatter contact list and more name recognition.  It may be something newer and
better and different.  My crystal ball is not working well enough to say
exactly what it will be.  However, we do intend to be IN that formation one
way or another.

Just my personal take on things,

Louis Paulsen
member, WWP, Chicago

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