[Marxism] parties and united fronts

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Thu Dec 23 19:07:50 MST 2004

One of the places where the 1919 Communist break with the Socialists was
thoroughly unjustified was in the U.S.  The Socialist Party, as an
organization, had taken a firm position against the World War before it
broke out in 1914, while it raged in Europe 1914-17, and as the American
ruling class was dragooning this country into the bloodbath in 1917.  

The split never made sense to most members of the Socialist Party, and
its best leaders, notably Gene Debs.  The impact was a deformed and
illegitimate Communist Party, born not of material conditions but of
Russian directives and destined for further isolation through the
repression of the 1920s.  Conversely, the departure of the Communists
(in three distinct parties, each clamoring for the Russian mandate) left
the numerically dominant Socialist Party Left-wing to demoralization and

What's worse, of course, the Communist Party's origins in the U.S. was
simply following the pattern of the First International, which
ultimately chose to define itself in terms of German ideology rather
than material conditions on this side of the Atlantic.

...but, to return to the question of a united front, the very idea of a
strike represents a united front at the most basic level.  Regardless of
all their many differences, workers combine their efforts to promote
what they see as their common interest in winning the goals of a strike.
The idea of a united front is implicit in the concept of a revolutionary
general strike, which is discussed in the Chartist and National Reform
movements of the nineteenth century. 

The break between the anarchists and socialists later in that century
also inspired some serious discussions about what might and might not be
used as a basis for revolutionary unity.  

So, it's not as though Lenin was coming up with something new, really.

Mark L.

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