party building

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at
Fri Sep 26 19:36:23 MDT 2003

Some responses to Martin:

>>But it is not just the absence of a mass movement that defines a sect but
its elitist methods: it sees its small size as desirable.<<

All the small Leninist groups I've been involved in were very keen to grow.
In the case of the Australian ISO, it was precisely the frustration at not
being able to grow that drove the foolish get-rich-quick schemes - which
played such an important role in making sure that it didn't grow at all.

>>Its method of working does not allow for a mass membership.<<

That's true, but there is a trap here. Small groups desperate to grow will
often seize on this very point. "We don't grow because we act like a sect.
We have to ditch this baggage, make our group habitable for workers, etc
etc." Precisely this happened in the ISO, and it "opened up". But all that
did was dissipate the organisation, because the absence of mass support was
partly a function of the objective circumstances. They thought "the age of
sects was over"; alas it was not.

>>It is a knowledgeable elite that will bring salvation to the imbecilic
masses, who are at best awaiting enlightenment and at worst sheep deserving
only to be shorn.<<

Sometimes they have this mentality; at other times, they fall into the
opposite trap. The ISO decided to focus on the "90% agreement" it had with
the anti-capitalist movement and not worry about the "10%". Result: there
was no reason for anyone to join a specifically socialist group.

>>they are generally pathetic failures. With the fall of the Soviet Union
and the collapse of the world communist movement an opportunity has existed
now for over 10 years. What group has managed to fill the political gap?<<

Have you filled the gap? :-)

>>And what if when a mass movement does arise that it does not fill the
membership roles of these outfits but pushes them aside?

To a degree it did, after Seattle. For how the ISO responded, and the
unfortunate consequences, see above.

>>You don't get out of a hole by digging it deeper.

So perhaps you can tell us how to get out of the hole. Better still, show
us by example.  Personally I'm finding it kind of difficult

>>You need to start from where people are and work from there rather than
forming a sect and expecting people to support you.

Simple as that? You should be able to demonstrate some successes, then. :-)

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