[Marxism] Two contrasting views of the role of a revolutionary party

Lou Paulsen loupaulsen at sbcglobal.net
Tue Aug 24 09:45:48 MDT 2004

I still think my earlier question, "What is the role of a revolutionary
party?"  and its subpoint, "What is the role of a revolutionary party
today?" are important and have elements that haven't been addressed. 
The issues that Mark and Tony are fighting over are NOT, in my opinion,
the most interesting ones.  Tony said that the job of the revolutionary
party in the U.S. period in this period was to - I don't have the exact
quote available to me, but I think this is a paraphrase - "permanently
destroy the power of the US to make imperialist war."  This would
obviously be a good thing to do, but I have no idea how this could be
accomplished short of the socialist revolution itself.  

Of course there are intermediate steps.  We could for example set a
goal that in the year 2005 we want to see voluntary enlistments drop by
20%.  Or, if you don't believe in Management-by-Objectives and are more
of a Deming partisan, we could say that we will improve our processes
for putting anti-war literature in the hands of 17-year-olds.  

But all this doesn't address the role of the -revolutionary party-. 
You don't have to be in a revolutionary party to be anti-war, or try to
stop the war machine.  Here in Chicago there are a great many anti-war
activists of all varieties who are doing anti-war leafleting and
"counter-recruitment" at places like the annual Air and Water Show this
last weekend, for example.  Most of them are not in revolutionary
parties.  For that matter most of the people who are -organizing- this
activity are not in revolutionary parties.  Or even Marxists.  

Here are two views that people could have about the role of a
revolutionary party with regard to this kind of "counter-recruitment"

(a) The revolutionary party should try to take over the campaign and
drive its competitors out of business.  The guiding principle is that
all of these other tendencies are enemies of the "One True
Revolutionary Party", and so it is a bad thing, not a good thing, if
people get brought into anti-war activity by these enemy tendencies. 
The goal is to defeat the competition and get 100% market share, the
way Microsoft tries to deal with other operating systems.

(b) All of these people who are involved in the counter-recruitment
campaign are valuable parts of the anti-war movement.  Therefore, it is
sectarian nonsense for the revolutionary party to reject any of them. 
The revolutionary party should make itself into a "big tent" capable of
bringing into itself all of the diverse currents of people who are out
there in the progressive movement, conglomerating them together in a
big merger operation the way ClearChannel does with radio stations.  

Which of these is right?  Is that a trick question?  Note that these
two views have something in common: they both want the revolutionary
party to be CO-EXTENSIVE with the counter-recruitment campaign.  The
(a) people want to achieve this by defeating all their competitors and
stealing their market share, while the (b) people want to achieve this
by broadening and diversifying the party and bringing all the market
share together under a single management structure.  Well, is this a
desirable goal at all, particularly in this period?   I will write more
on this later, but for now, I will just say that I vote for (c).

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