[Marxism] Re: parties and united fronts (was Fallujah and marxmail)

acpollack2 at juno.com acpollack2 at juno.com
Thu Dec 23 15:45:44 MST 2004

In the 60s and 70s the reason the SWP argued for large, open, delegated decision-making conferences of the antiwar movement was to allow a united front process (even if one not based in the workers' movement) to exist: that is, where contending political parties could both argue out positions, and have them democratically voted on, AND so that those same parties could work together on tactics they had agreement on.

That was always the SWP method (until the mid-70s); thus in the Cannon articles which yesterday I informed the list had gone up at the MIA, you see him arguing for a TUEL which is open to various political trends in the workers' movement, not as a sham for them to just show up, but for a real discussion about where labor's left wing should go, so the CP could CONVINCE the ranks of the left wing of its position, even if it meant sometimes losing votes.

So yes, today a revolutionary party needn't agree on when the Soviet Union degenerated (although that question may help clarify differences over revolutions today); but it must also not be a centrist swamp where agreeing to disagree means NOT trying to create united fronts, and NOT trying to fight for leadership within them.

-- ilyenkova at netzero.com wrote:
Louis writes:

 >In other words, the kind of party we favor will look a lot more like the
 original Bolshevik party than anything that exists today. We favor such a
 party because it is necessary for a socialist victory.<

 Louis and others have been clear in the past re the structure of the 
_original_ Bolshevik Party (i.e) The right to form factions and to 
publish newspapers and documents and to contest for a multiplicity of 
viewpoints within the Party free from fear of expulsion and intimidation.
What I'd like to hear more discussion of is how such a party would 
orient to the mass movement. The deformed Zinoviest Leninism that Louis 
rejects, led directly to a reified concept of the United Front. In this 
tactical concept the united front was a means for the Party to discredit 
its opponents in action, recruite the best militants (since they would 
have been exposed to the correctness of the party's line and the 
opportunism of its opponents in the united front) and ultimately become 
hegemonic and realize its deserved vanguard status in the workers 
movement and lead the workers to victory.
Wasn't there an incipient alternative notion of the united front in Rosa 
Luxemburg's political pamphlets (like the Mass Strike)  as a strategic 
rather than tactical orientation where the united class front was a mass 
struggle organ that had as its goal the unification of fractions of the 
working class in action that were fragmented and aliented from each 
other in daily life under capitalism. The program of the united front 
would bring the employed and the unemployed; the organized and the 
unorganized; skilled and unskilled workers together in common struggle. 
It wasn't simply a call for political action around a specific defensive 
demand nor simply a tactic to be trotted out at specific times to suit 
Party-building needs. It would be rather a means for increasing 
theconcentration of socialist oppositional consciousness among the 
working class and its social allies.

It seems that this concept of the united class front as strategy would 
require a party quite different from the model we're familiar with by 
default after the destruction of the Luxemburgist strain in the German 
movement. In his best writings in the 1930s Trotsky seemed to be hitting 
on the same concept. But his foundational commitments to the party as a 
priestly vanguard blocked, in my own view, his own ability to  realize 
that the united front tactics proposed in his writings on Germany and 
France weren't compatible with his concept of the party.
 These remarks are best construed as musings and for that I apologize. 
But I want to throw this raw idea out before re-reading Luxemburg and 
Trotsky's material in the '30s.




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