[Marxism] Joaquin sets new high water mark re "what kind of party":

Dan Elliott cuibono at rcip.com
Thu Aug 19 18:32:19 MDT 2004

I would appreciate it very much if Joaquin, Scot, Marv, both Lou's and anybody else would share their reactions to the following:

"Democratic Decentralism: The membership decides the policy in our organization.  The majority has the right to determine organizational policies. Minorities on any question have the right to abstain from implementing policies with which they disagree and to express their dissent publicly.  Only members in leadership roles as officers, staff, candidates or delegates to larger associations are obligated to implement and articulate organizational policies so that majority decisions have organizational effect." 

( -- From the Vallejo CA Community-Labor Alliance Ten Pts of Unity, proposed for adoption by the Sac Area C-L Outreach (SACLO).)


Joaquin B. wrote: 

>>>Lou Paulsen writes: >>First: is your new party going to be centralist,
or will individuals and subunits be free to have political fights with
other individuals and subunits in public?  If they are, then how will
the situation differ from what we have today?  All the existing
groupings would just be independent factions of the new party.<<

This is the sort of undialectical, all-or-nothing, Zinovievist school of
"democratic centralism" that has contributed to creating the mess on the
left that we have. <<<


After reading this and the rest of Joaquin's post, I started to wonder if he'd been hacking into my brainwaves:) 

To be honest, even if a lot of similar stuff HAS been occurring non-linear-style in The Kid's lil ol' cerebrum, it hasn't been happening in anything like as organized and articulate form. So I've printed it out to study and to fwd around to some other old lefties. 

& in the process --  just to avoid giving the impression I ever buy ideas right off the shelf -- have come up with a few quibbles: re the Green Party, my take is that a lot of the Green activists I've encountered are not "part of the working class movement", and would object to being described in such terms.

I'm not sure I'd let Baron Ulanov as completely off the hook as Joaquin does, for what we've known as "democratic centralism". But IMHO this is a dispute about ancient history -- what matters is what we decide to do now, "in the current conjuncture".

He says little about those who were originally inspired not so much, or not directly, by the Bolshevik example, but came in during the ascendency of "Mao-Tse-Tung Thought" and the example of the Long March -- during the days of Bob Scheer for Mayor, the BPP, PLP, National Guardian, etc etc. (The RCP & LRS to me were anachronisms from birth).  

More recently many been influenced by the brand of Marxism they found current among activists in the organization currently known as the FPA -- which, as I remember, was downright hostile to all forms of Trotskyism.   Some mention of these "trends", and of writers like Max Elbaum, the Althusserians, Marta Harnecker -- might  provide a more inclusive & balanced view of today's "left."

But these are minor points. I think Joaquin's critique could very well turn out to be a major turning point in the quest to dispel all the confusion that's plagued us for so long. Thanks, JB -- I'm encouraged by your essay. 

PS: Dan's Thought of the Day:

"less blah-blah, more attention to the Mass Movement" -- since without a mass movement, Marxism -- no matter how brilliant & profound -- is just hot air.

So time to get back to building the MWM:)

PPS: Question of the day: are Commissioned Officers part of the working class? Lawyers? TV journalists? Tenured college professors? (watch 'em squirm & wriggle:)


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