[Marxism] Re: Building the revolutionary party

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Thu Aug 19 19:47:57 MDT 2004

A few comments regarding comments by Lou Paulsen...
This socialism that you talk about is not what WWP much says they are for 
publicly, but rather the WWP represents themselves as builders of 
'coalitions' for much more moderate reform.  They hide their cadre and name 
behind these reform 'coalitions' which often consist principally and almost 
exclusively of WWP members.  The justification for this policy is simply 
that the WWP feels that this era is much more reactionary for their party to 
function otherwise in.

<<Moreover, we stand for socialist revolution.  And the percentage of
people in the anti-war demonstrations in the U.S. who ARE for socialist
revolution (at the present time, at their own present state of
development) is not great.  You go out and ask people at some
demonstration what they are for, and they will tell you they are for
change, a better world, peace, democracy, freedom, saving the planet,
and a host of other things, but very few, proportionally, have come
around to the idea that in order to get those things you need to have a
socialist revolution. In fact, most don't even consider socialist
revolution to be on the menu of things that it is possible to have.>>

But some do and are looking for a leadership party, and the WWP tells them 
that the period is not such for open advocacy of socialism as socailists!  
Mute the rhetoric they are told, and work with us in some other aspect of 
non-socialist advocacy, like talking about full employment, or working 
against the death penalty, etc.

<<A large sector of the anti-war movement in the U.S. is just plain
pacifist.  Another large sector is basically left-Democratic, and if
they are flirting with Nader it is only because the Democrats didn't
nominate Howard Dean.  Another large sector is either explicitly
anarchist or so hostile to all socialist governments, past and present,
that it comes out to be the same thing.>>

True, but the WWP hesitates to actively take these positions on 
ideologically, because recruitment would impinge on the purity of top 
leadership control within the WWP.  This control appears more important than 
anything else, so leadership excuses are simply made about how the period is 
too conservative to actually even try to bring people in.  It is a defeatism 
pushed from the NO., and it limits local construction of the WWP outside the 
East Coast strip and SF.  If cadre gets accidentally recruited in the 
boonies, then these people are encouraged to let themselves be sucked into 
the East Coast and SF offices.

<<They aren't interested in getting back to the true principles of Lenin 
either of 1917 or of 1901
(cf. Joaquin), whatever you think they are.  They are convinced that 
communists in the tradition of Lenin and/or Fidel are all bad enemies of 
democracy who will try to restrict their free speech.>>

And what does the WWP offer such people, Lou?  It's only.. 'join us when you 
100% come around'.  And of course, nobody joins under those conditions, and 
your defeatist view of the current level of consiousness is self-fullfilled. 
   Your leadership has this fortified and embattled view of the US polticial 
landscape that is not justified.

<<I have a bunch of things to reply to in the 'queue' and a shortage of
time, but, briefly, Tony, you have perhaps noticed that we are running
a presidential campaign, in our own name?  The whole point of this is
to be visible as a distinctly, directly anti-capitalist organization.>>

Yes, but this is not what I mean, or how to do it.  Just as the SWP still 
hides a concept of activism that is really inactivism behind its campaigns, 
the WWP does something similar here.

<<If we are going to get criticized for something I am glad we are
getting criticized for doing coalition work at the expense of
"party-building" rather than for doing nothing but toot our own horn.>>

My desire is not to CRITICIZE the WWP, if simply because what the WWP does 
is loads more than the competition, Lou.  So getting defensive and seeing 
criticism in such a dialog is mistaken.  I am not out to hammer the WWP.  I 
want the WWP to grow!

And here, also, that is not what I really said was a weakness in how the WWP 
functions.  I did not say that the WWP was wrong for doing REAL coalition 
work with others, but rather that the WWP was wrong for not building REAL 
coalitions, and hiding its own socialist program and organization behind 
'coalitions' of WWP members only.  I criticized the WWP for not tooting its 
socialist horn, because I think that there is precisely a need for such 
tooting for socialism at this moment.  But the WWP remains fearful of doing 
precisely such.

<<There is always a tension between doing the necessary work of the
coalition and hawking one's own newspaper.  It's not something we
haven't talked about.  You're right that we have to do both.  You're
mistaken if you think we don't want to do both.>>

Well here we come down to talking about what it means to 'hawk one's own 
newspaper'?  The WWP needs to hawk the idea of revolutionary socialism, but 
open its newpaper up to more than party line.  In short, it needs a real 
newspaper, and not just a sheet for hawking 'the leadership' line.  Once 
again, this brings up the issue of too much NO 'leadership' control, 
actually paralyzing the ability to reach out and recruit and make the 
organization broader and more able to do political work in regional areas. 
Too much control stops the publication of a real socialist newspaper, when 
exactly such is needed in the US.  Instead, it is left up to marxmail, WSWS, 
and CounterPunch to fill in the vacuum.  Opportunity lost for the WWP.

  <<As for sending people all over to college towns, I'm not opposed to it, 
but I'm also for
organizing in the oppressed community as Scot says we ought to be
doing.  And if you think we have this great surplus of people and money
(the myth of "WWP's deep pockets" was current on the LBO list a while
back) so that we can easily do whatever comes to mind, alas, that is
also a misconception......>>

I've seen this 'workers first, and maybe then the petty bourgeois student 
mileaus then' attitude in the workerist SWP.  Concretely, it leads to 
retreat from areas where people are more attracted to a socialist program, 
and hidiing the group in more bombed out zones.  It leads to being in 
Houston, and out of Austin.   Being in Milwaukee, and being out of Madison.  
  To being in Seattle, but out of Oregon.  It leads to fleeing from 
friendlier zones, into ditches.  It leads to negative growth.  It leads to 

<<This is the kind of filter that is really keeping people out.  It's not
some laundry list of points.  It's the basic ideas like consistent
anti-imperialism and anti-racism and especially socialist revolution.
It isn't naturally convincing to very many people in this period of
defeat and defensiveness.>>

Oh Balderdash!  We can't recruit because the people  just aren't with us 
crap.  The US has close to 300,000,000 people.  And the WWP is using this 
mentality to say that it can't recruit the tens of thousands of socialists 
that remain unaffiliated!  It doesn't hold water.  If there are not people 
joining socialist groups in any numbers, it is because the groups have 
policies and attitudes that concretely turn indepenmdent socailists away.  
This is very true of the WWP as example, which just like the SWP I knew too 
well, loses interest in recruiting people who have less than the 1,110% 
whole 'leadership' following program.  This is what holds people back, not 
that they are too reaccionary or backward in their current thinking, Lou.  
Because there are plenty of people who are in agreement with the need for 
socialist change.

In short, my criticims are against this ancient style of Communist Party USA 
functioning that the WWP engages in, where membership is semi-concealed 
behind layers of semi-fronts.  The CP did this out of fear of a really 
dangerous situation and public mood that was aggressively hostile against 
them at them time. They had some real government persecution that justified 
some of this approach.

But the WWP does this out of mistaken analysis of this period as being too 
hostile to come forth openly in, when in fact that is not the real 
situation.  To see the period as being similar to the '50s is to deny the 
WWP an opportunity to grow in membership.  A pity, Lou.  But behind this, is 
a national leadership that actually fears more success because recruitment 
weakens central control.  But too much central control weakens the ability 
to build a national organization.


Express yourself instantly with MSN Messenger! Download today - it's FREE! 

More information about the Marxism mailing list