party-building (Questions for Melvin)/Revolutionary process

Waistline2 at Waistline2 at
Fri Sep 26 15:56:24 MDT 2003

Melvin P wrote:

>What Lenin fought to form and was successful at is creating an
>insurrectionary force.

You mean a vanguard party - the force would be the working
class wouldn't it? which is not created by the party.

The insurrectionary force is not the working class by definition. An
insurrectionary force is a grouping or organization or party if you will, able to
seize governmental authority.  A party of the class - working class, is one that
has the capacity and ability to win over the various leaders and organizations
within the working class, that constitute its forward motion. Its forward
motion is the striving to secure form the government and social institutions all
the things it needs for continued survival and betterment - reforms. The
vanguard of the working class is those leaders and organizations that give the
working class its voice at the various stages and phases of the social struggle.
To win the vanguard of the working class to the cause of communism is to won
over the various leaders and organizations to a vision of a new society. A
vision based on the inalienable right of the individual to secure means of survival
and betterment no longer based on ones ability to sell their labor power.

>Lenin grasped that a new era was opening and
>the party structures of the Second International were inadequate.

I thought you mean in 'What is to be done?' which was 1903
so when did he realise the new era and new party was in order?

Russia had been under going social revolution - the transition from
agriculture to industrial relations, which is spoken of in various prefaces to the
Communist Manifesto. In this sense the bourgeoisie itself was drawing the masses
into the social struggle against feudal absolutism. Society was in
revolutionary motion.

I cannot say when Lenin became aware that groups like the "Emancipation of
Labor Group" were inadequate to the task of creating an organization of
professional revolutionaries. By organization of professional revolutionaries is meant
people who primary life activity is preparation for and aiding the outbreak
of mass social struggle as a basis for insurrection. Here apparently had worked
out his ideas in general with "Where to Begin" and of course "What Is To Be
Done."  His efforts at fighting to preserve this party as an insurrectionary
force would pay off with the collapse of the government and social institutions
as the result of Russia catastrophic defeat in the First World Imperial War.
What collapsed the political and social institutions of the feudal authority
and the attempts of the bourgeoisie to lead the transition to industrial
society was not simply the internal movement of Russian society but a horrific
defeat in World War 1.

I am inclined to agree with the conclusion but the premises
seems wrong. Didn't Lenin call for party building in the ebbs
and flows? Why would party-building necessarily lead to being
sidelined by history?

The ebbs and flow in the Russia social movement took place in the context of
a revolutionary transition - abolition of serfdom and the outbreak of the
First Imperial World War: roughly 1890-1914. In America we face just entered a
period of transition in which to gage the ebbs and flow in the working class
movement. The party building movements of the late 1960s until perhaps the mid
1980s came to naught because an organization of revolutionaries cannot function
as such outside a general revolutionary transition underway in society. The
social revolution is the revolution in the means of production or the
revolutionizing of the material power of the productive forces. This disorganizes the
basis of the old society and society is restructured to accommodate the new
features of production and produces social upheaval.

The last period of social upheaval in our country was of course the Civil
Rights Movement, which was not what is meant by the words class struggle. The
period prior to the Civil Rights Movement was marked with social upheaval to
reform the system on the basis of advance industrial relations, which appeared to
the eye as a sharp battle of transition from craft unionism to industrial
unionism. This is not the meaning of class struggle. The various groups that arose
at the mouth of these two distinct phases and won over segments of the
forward moving section of the class - the vanguard, became obsolete when one period
of development shifted into another.  The revolutionaries in the vanguard of
the movement for industrial unionism simply could not win over, the vanguard
that would emerge in the Civil Rights Movement. The vanguard in the Civil Rights
Movement could not - in the main, win over the vanguard that would emerge
during the period of the identity movements - gay rights, etc.

In this sense sectarianism is inevitable, not because comrade are inherently
sectarian but rather because of the limitations placed on one by history
itself and transitions in the form of the social struggle. In this sense the
parties of the Third International and those seeking to reproduce them seem to me to
be historically obsolete. They are predicated upon a conception of the
industrial proletariat and industrial society at a certain juncture in the
industrial curve of development. All of us can be historically wrong.

I believe we need to call in a good Minister to pray over us as we give all
the doctrines of the past a good burial, so that we may leave the funeral and
regroup on an entirely new basis. The Ghost of the past always weigh like a
nightmare on the brain of the living. He need to bury our ghost.

The group I was associated with dissolved itself and began regrouping on
another basis. I believe the social movement in America began to ebb in 1978 -
which is not a date carved in stone, but correspond to the last "Vote Communist
Campaign" of any significance.

More power to anyone who desires to build the party of the working class,
able to engage the bourgeoisie in the contest for political authority. I would
love to read the strategic political projections of such a group, as it exists
in September 2003. We have are hands full in America, but one can abstract from
Lenin the logic of a revolutionary period and revolutionary crisis. In our
specific context it seems to me that we face a movement that must past from a).
Social awareness of something being wrong in society to b). A mass social
consciousness of what is wrong, to c). Class-consciousness. Class-consciousness
means a political sense of what must happen to solve the problems facing a

These are not fixed stages but phases all of us experienced in the past to
make us who we are today. The specific problem is that one cannot pass from
social awareness to class consciousness by simply reading a book because one must
be inspired to read the book that imparts class logic to the individual. That
is to say, when people possess a social awareness of something being wrong
appeals to morality become powerful weapons of agitation. Propaganda means
actually leading struggles around social issues and not issuing proclamations.

To make a mass more appeal required organization and developing the capacity
to break the wall of silence imposed on our working class. A cadre of 500
people or a couple thousand is not enough to effectively impact the unfolding
class struggle in America. In a country such as ours, which is actually a
continent-country, we are talking about needing at least 60-70 million people in
motion. The social revolution is going to do this for us. Once we understand that
we do not create the revolution but impart something to it, one can see the
social process.

To get from where we are today to where we need to be, or at a phase where a
real party of revolutionaries can impact the struggle, we have to start at the
beginning. A league form of organization is needed. A league form means that
the only basis for membership is "victory to the workers in their current
struggle" and theory debates within the group is prohibited or rather,
externalized. That is to say one argues on-line and not in the collective. This is so
because your basis of unity is not they but teaching each other how to impact and
lead social struggles and winning over other people fighting for life, love
and the pursuit of happiness.
These are not "Marxists" idea but practical politics born of experience. We
have no "people" yet there are 300 million in the country. You only can lead
people where they are already going. Fighting for abstract communism gets us
nowhere in the practical struggle of the working class. My current slogan for the
social movement is "Break the Wall of Silence."

Melvin P.

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