[Marxism] Re: What is the function of a revolutionary party?

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Tue Aug 24 00:14:47 MDT 2004

from Lou Paulsen..
<<Before discussing what kind of party we want to build,
shouldn't we first address what the party is expected to DO?  I mean, you
build a party in order that the party will play a certain role and
accomplish certain ends, not just for its own sake.*  If people have
different visions about this then they are going to have different visions
of how a party should be built.>>

Good point, and true.

<<Moreover, the role of a party (I think this is a very important point) may
well differ in different periods and at different points in the
revolutionary cycle.>>

Most certainly true. This is where the socialist Left has failed so often. 
The 'democratic centralism' of the czarist Russian Empire cannot possibly be 
the model for 'democratic centralism' inside the US today.  Or in any of the 
First World countries.  And more to the point, the 'democratic centralism' 
of the '30s and '40s cannot be our model, neither.  Simply put, the times 
have changed.

<<I think a lot of people have ideas about how the revolutionary party 
be built which come from the experiences of pre-revolutionary and
revolutionary situations.  However, we are not -at present- in that kind of
situation -in the US-, which may suggest that people should focus, not on
what kind of party was best in Russia in 1905 or 1917, or in Nicaragua in
1978, etc., but what tasks you expect a revolutionary party to accomplish
But for a change let me pose the question and then step back for a second.
What do other people here think a revolutionary party is for, in this
period? Lou Paulsen Member, WWP>>

A good question, and a fair one, too.  Unlike those majority of US comrades 
that want to focus on building an revolutionary party organization to 
further the interests of the national working class, I think that the 
revolutionary party needs to represent the international working class more, 
instead.  Our principle issue is not racism inside the US, sexism inside the 
US, or labor issues inside the US. It is not the discrimination against the 
US gay community, or the destruction of US ecology.

The prinicpal political issue, and principle reason to build a revolutionary 
party, is to completely and permanently destroy the ability of the US ruling 
class to wage war on the international working class.  Seen in this manner, 
it is somewhat of a false debate on whether the looseness of the Solidarity 
people is better than the old style '30s-'40s style 'democratic centralism', 
or the contrary.

The real problem is that both sides of this coin in the US, still feel that 
the battle for socialism is a battle over how to relate to issues nationally 
confined.  Hence, the fury of much debate is over how to intervene in the 
election; how to build the trade unions; how to build a movement to end 
discrimination against Blacks and women; etc.   All, rather than in 
concentrating on how to build a solid and effective anti-war movement.

In other words, US socialists see their constituency as being that of 
different sectors of the national population, more than in that socialist 
constiutency being the international working class. US socialists are more 
concerned about being the best builders of any movement for the interests of 
sectors within the US nation state, than of being the best builders of a 
movement that restrains the US war machine from being used throughout the 
world against the international working class.

I differ strongly with this. The goal of building our revolutionary party 
must be foremost in that its Number One duty is to engage in a constant 
campaign against imperialist militarism.  When the US SWP under Barnes 
turned away from this, that's when they ceased to be a revolutionary party.  
And in the sense that both Solidarity and WWP both have had problems in 
concentrating their fire in the right direction, they both have failed to be 
the best examples of how a truly effective revolutionary party should 
function.  Both have potential largely unmet up to now.

One can say that there is a current leadership vaccuum within the US 
anticapitalist Left. This has been the case for over 3 decades now.  I think 
that the WWP has played some very positive role in trying to pull us out of 
this muck of immobilization.  Unfortunately, an overly centralized view of 
'democratic centralism' has been the WWP nemesis.

Whereas Solidarity has played a positive role in opening itself up to 
'discussion' about the new conditions of struggle we face.  But its overy 
de-centralized functioning, along with excessively nationalistic 
politcking,, has led to a very real inaction around building any kind of 
ongoing antiwar movement.

Tony Abdo

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