Revolutionaries

Nigel Irritable nigel_irritable at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 4 16:56:27 MDT 2002


Yves-Marie wrote:
> Nigel Irritable wrote:
> > I do dispute, though, your characterisation of the
> > kind of parties Bensaid and now possibly the DSP
> > are trying to build as "new". In fact these ideas
> > are very old indeed. I strongly doubt if anyone in
> > this forum is unaware that time and again
> > socialists have raised the idea that a
> > revolutionary party in unneccessary,
> > or has been superceded by events.

> You should be aware that people in LCR are as much
> avowed revolutionaries as you are. They want to see
> a proletarian revolution, to participate in it, to
> see it succeed,

I don't doubt it. I am not calling them liars or
fake-lefts or whatever Spartism you want to pick. I am
arguing that their strategy is bad.

> and they are also persuaded that a revolutionary
> party is necessary for making it succeed.

I will leave this bit until the end, if you don't
mind.

> BUT, they also recognize that they don't know what a
> revolution would look like, that they don't have a
> blueprint for making it arrive, that the working
> class in developed countries have not been close of
> making a revolution since at least 30 years,
> and that there are no significant sections of the
> working class ready to build a revolutionary party,
> unlike for example in the 20s or the 40s where the
> example of actual revolutions was fresh in the head
> of workers,

I agree with all of the above. It is the next step
where we begin to part.

> HENCE, their idea (and strategy) is to build the
> largest regroupment of anti-capitalist people, not
> forcing them to have the same exact idea about how
> to take power,

In other words you are talking about a "regroupment"
consisting of forces which are not revolutionary, not
necessarily socialist and not necessarily working
class.

And to achieve this amorphous "regroupment" you are
willing to dissolve revolutionary organisations which
you have spent decades building.

> The real test is agreement on the concrete
> struggles of the working class.

What would a group have to do to fail this test? Vote
for Chirac?

> Your strategy, on the contrary, seems to be to have
> a complete agreement on the past and future
> revolutions in your organization, to recruit people
> on this agreement, and to grow from this nucleus, or
> embryo of the party into a full-size revolutionary
> party.
> If I have misrepresented the strategy of your
> organization,
> please correct me.

Consider yourself corrected, although you are right
that people who are opposed to a future revolution are
not welcome in the CWI (are the LCR planning to drop
that requirement?).

The CWI has never argued that we were going to build a
nucleus and then recruit our way to a full-size
revolutionary party. While there were mass parties of
the working class in most Western countries we joined
those parties. Now we argue that, given the abdication
or destruction of the Stalinist and Social Democratic
parties and the huge set-backs in class consciousness
which went along with it, the working class needs to
create its own parties again.

We are under no illusion that workers are just going
to move en masse towards a revolutionary group no
matter how perfect the programme. We are in a much
more basic period.

At the same time, we don't think that small bands of
revolutionaries can pass themselves off as a mass
workers party or will one into existence just because
we see that one is needed. The working class will
create its parties in struggle. Part of our role is to
assist workers in their struggles and to help them
draw the conclusion that they need a party of their
own.

So we build our own forces - a disciplined
revolutionary organisation, and we argue for a new
mass party. Where possible we join any formations
which we think could be a step towards a new mass
organisation and if we think we are in a position to
do so we establish such broader formations. Examples
of that last part include the alliance we set up in
Ireland in 1997 and the Socialist Alliances in England
and Wales. We are not interested in being involved in
supposedly broad organisations which seem more likely
to prove to be a sectarian barrier to the eventual
creation of a new mass party.

Unfortunately the Socialist Alliance in England was
the subject of a hostile takeover and is now a wholly
owned subsidiary of the SWP. We left it as have all of
the other groups which initially helped establish it
but not simply because the SWP took control of it. A
much bigger problem is what they do with that control.


The SWP is completely against the idea of a new
workers party or a new broad party of any kind. New
Labour is seen as the mass "workers" party, while the
SWP itself is the revolutionary party. The Socialist
Alliance is to function as a funnel from one to the
other. Anyone who thinks I am being unfair here is
invited to read their magazine and journal. This isn't
some kind of secret.

So where do we differ with the LCR? Let me produce my
own caricature of our strategy.

1) We want a new mass workers party and will help to
create one.
2) While we will form a part of such a party we will
not dissolve ourselves in it. A revolutionary
organisation is still necessary and you can't just
drop one for a while and hope to put the pieces back
together later.
3) As always we remain open to fusions with any group
with which we can reach a principled programatic
agreement. Over the last decade we have initiated
discussions with everyone from the USFI to the UIT,
LIT and even the DSP to see if a principled fusion is
possible.

Is mise le meas
Brian Cahill

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