party-building (Questions for Melvin)/Revolutionary process

Waistline2 at Waistline2 at
Sun Sep 28 22:28:27 MDT 2003

In a message dated 9/28/03 6:06:43 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
edgeorge at writes:

>No. That 'society was in revolutionary motion' is unarguable, but is a
truism, for, understood like this, all societies are in revolutionary motion. The
trick is to see the specificities: what this motion is composed of, what are
its tendential movements, what are its contradictions. What Lenin grasped very
early was that in Russia the specific nature of the transition to capitalism
meant that the bourgeoisie would not - would not be capable of - drawing the
masses into the social struggle. <


What revolutionary motion was American society undergoing between 1939 and
1980?  This is the point. A revolutionary motion is generated on the basis of
qualitative changed in the means of production and not simply quantitative
expansions of the same thing. As an abstraction society is in revolutionary motion,
but we look at ebb and flow, qualitative junctures and leaps. Russia society
was undergoing the evolutionary leap - transition. What Lenin faced was a
transition from one mode of production to another - not socialism or capitalism.
The transition was to industrial society and his party beat out the
bourgeoisie. Actually the bourgeoisie won and could not hold power.

In America the movement from 1939 -1980, was not a revolutionary movement, in
the meaning of classes moving in antagonism. Nor can America be classified as
undergoing an evolutionary leap. Here is the material difference between
reform and revolution. What Lenin faced was a movement of classes in antagonism -
the feudal authority and the forces and classes of industrialization -
bourgeoisie and proletariat backed up by a massive peasantry in revolt. The social
movement was not to reform feudalism. In America the movement in the period in
question was to reform capitalism - mechanization of agriculture on the basis
of the bourgeois property relations. This is not the meaning of revolutionary
movement although revolutionaries were generated from this reform movement.

It was not the specific nature of the transition to industrial society Russia
was undergoing, but the actual transition and the subjective expression
personified in Lenin that understood the bourgeoisie could not take Russia out of
the war. In fact the bourgeoisie did draw the workers into the struggle on its
behalf against feudal absolutism and then seized power. The bourgeoisie was
overthrown by the Soviets under the leadership of the Bolsheviks.

The point is what is possible in a given juncture of history. Was it possible
to form a party of Lenin between 1939 and 1980? Sure, but it would come to
regret, because its activity was bounded by the material logic that is a
specific phase in the expansion of the industrial infrastructure. Reformism does not
arise because comrades think bad thoughts. Here is what happens. All the best
comrades sent into industry emerge as leaders of the trade unions and in small
plants with the bulk losing their orientation 30 years later. The comrades
pressuring the Civil authority become Council members and drawn into government
and lose their orientation 30 years later.

We have had to grapple with material relations and not simply the ideology of
individuals. The first wave of comrades positioned in the fight on behalf of
the homeless in the late 1970s and early eighties became leaders in that
segment of the social struggle and wage earners in the different infrastructures
and twenty years later forget their Marxism.

No one can realistically expect the comrade who went to work in industry in
1975 to emerge in 2005 as the revolutionary they were when they entered. One
must recruit new members who master the tactics of organizing the lowest strata
of the workers. The is easier to do when a group of professional
revolutionaries ensure the line of march and literature production.

Can a party of Lenin be built today? More power to anyone that chooses to do
so. A new era has opened in an epoch of social revolution. This was not the
case in 1978. How ever in on the cutting edge of breaking the wall of silence is
going to experience the organizational growth, no matter what the ideology.
Some things come down to old fashion political work.


Melvin P.

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