[Marxism] Ultraleftism and Revolutionary Strategy today
donaloc at hotmail.com
Tue Dec 21 08:33:40 MST 2004
I have been too busy working on stuff to really contribute much to
marxmail this year. However, my political horizons have expanded. I
began to get more interested in Marxism-Leninism as per Stalin, Mao and
Hoxha thanks to reading pieces by their followers. I have spent quite
some time studying their works (in my spare time) and I have to say that
I was impressed by the quality of their analysis despite not always
agreeing with what they were saying (or did).
Having said that, I have discovered that there is the same tendencies
present in these trends as those from the Trotskyist milieu. I think
that this reflects an underlying sociological factor. It is noteworthy
that the most sectarian groups from both the marxist-leninist and
trotskyist camps are composed almost exclusively of people focussed on
an almost entirely academic, quote mongering approach to struggle. There
are immense parallels between the positions of some marxist-leninist
groupings and trotskyist cults on the Cuban revolution for example. They
both talk about defending the sovereignty of colonial or post-colonial
struggles or nations but share a common rejection of the
(petit-bourgeois') leadership's revisionist or comprador tendencies. Of
course, this is not to give a blank page to any movement - just that we
need to understand the very real and serious pressures facing any
national liberation movement (and I recognise that the role of the
Bolivarian revolution itself is national liberational in essence).
This becomes crystallised in the treatment of Cuba. Nowhere is there a
more clear example of a beseiged revolution. A revolution which has
strived to export revolution in a wholly unselfish manner. A leadership
which faces the constant difficulty of combating the psychological war
of the aggressor on domestic opinions. It is truly difficult to see what
other course could be taken in Cuba which would offer an alternative to
a capitalist counter-revolution bar the current one.
I feel strongly that in other revolutionary struggles e.g. in Vietnam,
People's Korea, China and even Palestine that similar tasks face those
who now hold power in their hands. I honestly don't know enough to know
just how well these countries are coping with this onslaught. Just what
limitations it imposes on their ability to offer people a more
meaningful democracy and the implications for policy-making decisions of
living with the realities of today's economic climate.
I think we must approach these struggles with a positive frame-of-mind.
These are peoples who have sacrificed much to get to where they are at.
Of course, they can make mistakes but if they do, those who are critical
need to come to the stump and offer alternatives which are practicable.
It is not enough to take quotes from the past leaders and apply them as
a template appropriate to all climes and all times.
My own work in the last year has developed my own thinking a great deal.
I think that the central task of revolutionaries in the West is to build
movements of a huge scale. It is not necessary or desirable for these
movements to be established on the basis of a given programme. What is
necessary is for the revolutionary core to find simple issues which
motivate people and are coherent with a wider strategic approach to
changing society and to focus attention on these. For rabid sectarians,
the point will be reinforced only by looking at what Lenin did - 'Land,
Peace, Bread' in no way represented an advanced marxist programme but
instead represented a three word slogan carrying all the people's hopes
in tow. We need to find what those issues are which drive people.
I don't expect us to identify issues which will lead the people onto the
streets in protest. They are quite difficult to find and don't always
exist. Often, they are not coherent with the wider political project
e.g. immigration or fox-hunting seem to motivate large sections in
What is important is to take issues which will get people involved in
the existing political structures. This is not to somehow feed into them
apolitically, leaving to institutionalisation and demoralisation.
Rather, we need to take people into structures in the confident
knowledge that their ever increasing demands will never be satisfied. It
is then up to an intellectual section of revolutionaries to constantly
make the concrete case for the possibility of a different world - not a
utopian dream of perfection but a better situation in clear
understandable and workable terms.
At the same time there is a pressing need for revolutionary movements in
imperialist centres to work together to build anti-imperialist
struggles. In Europe, groups should look towards building links with
regional and national liberation struggles where possible through the
European Parliament as well as to other broad left movements in the
continent. I understand that there are 17,500 people working in Brussels
all of whom represent a reality which will require a revolutionary
change. That is a problem for the near future for all of us working in
Europe. This monolith will take some shaking and will take the combined
efforts of a much stronger, pan European, left wing movement. There can
be no compromise on the policy of recognising the rights of nations to
self-determination. The state centrism of many mainstream communist
parties needs immediate redressing. Those of us coming from a national
liberation perspective need to ensure our actions don't feed into the
social-patriotic tendencies of opponents in the imperialist centres.
Everyone must be aware of the dangers of feeding into the widening
inter-imperialist rivalries through a focus on US imperialism to the
detriment of considering the domestic one. All the same, what's
happening in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine needs constant attention on
a world-wide scale.
What I think is central, however, is a strategy for political growth
which involves people in politics. It will, of a necessity, I believe,
mean promoting social partnership type structures and working to ensure
that they are worked to beyond the limits imposed by the ruling class.
Where these do not exist, it is important to obtain them by reference to
those already existing in other countries. Where they do exist, we need
to avoid the knee-jerk reaction to exclude ourselves from these
structures as they are often viewed by the left as mechanisms to ensure
To be sure, Social Partnership could become such a mechanism - and often
have thanks to the existing qualities of labour bureaucracies. We need
to ensure that the radical potential is fully utilised through expanding
these partnerships from ratifying wage agreements to getting involved in
the policy making process itself e.g. through participatory budgeting.
It is only through such mechanisms that we will begin to build the
revolutionary and class consciousness of ordinary people once again. It
will never arise spontaneously. We need to take demands for inalienable
rights into those structures and tackle the ruling class's inability to
deliver equality: jobs, pay, services, or whatever.
In short, we have to work to ensure that participatory democratic
structures become empowered as alternatives to the representative
democratic ones which we live with today and which underpins our current
capitalist system. Where we go from there is really a question for the
people themselves. I believe that we need to learn the lessons of the
past. If we succeed in letting the people seize power then it is
important that we do not restrain their power. Exactly, how this can be
harmonised with the need to prevent counter-revolutionary activity is a
good question but in the end we must remain tied to the people's power.
It also puts in clear terms the need for a raising of class
consciousness to take forward the struggle at that stage.
Is all this a reality? I believe that it may be. The main question then
becomes out of this strategy for power - what sort of party is required.
This strategy requires a leadership fully aware of openings and which
can bring its focus on exploiting them where possible. I believe that
the party pushing this forward will require the open natured democratic
centralism which Lenin's party originally had. Numbers are not so
important and the ability to form alliances for the objective conceived.
The party needs to be dedicated to the task and to engage with every
possible layer of civil society starting with trade unions and community
groups to make this strategy relevant to them. What's needed is the
ability to listen and then act in a scientific manner. The party needs
significant coordination to ensure that all activities are strategically
orientated and that no activist is left alone to take forward struggle
in their arena alone.
I'm putting this out to you all. I feel that my contributions to this
list have been negligible for the last year but this is my view of a
realisable strategy. I am not saying that it will be everywhere
applicable. Yet I believe it has a core overlap with the strategy of the
Chavistas in Venezuela which empowered the people through the
Constitution which guaranteed certain inalienable rights to all
citizens. They then organised a civil society hegemony through
organising the Bolivarian circles. It proved impossible to work through
the trade union bureaucracy so they waited for that element to come into
place first. The central task is building an alternative to the
representative democratic collossus while also building a realistic
electoral base to take the struggle through the front door as well as
the back one.
Le meas mor,
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