[Marxism] Re: The Militant and Who Cares?

Lueko Willms l.willms at jpberlin.de
Mon Mar 29 09:01:36 MST 2004

     Am  29.03.04
schrieb  elgusanorojo at bellsouth.net (Jose G. Perez)
     in  003c01c4154a$d7172d00$0200a8c0 at athlon
  ueber  RE: [Marxism] RE: The Militant and Who Cares?

JGP> I think Marvin Gandall's explanation that the reason so many radical
JGP> groups exploded, imploded or became hopeless sects is that objective
JGP> conditions were just too unfavorable undoubtedly has a grain of
JGP> truth to it -- but only a grain.
JGP> The fact is that despite the differences between them, all these
JGP> groups suffered from a series of vices that were considered to be
JGP> the essence of "Leninism" at the time (and still are, by some).
JGP> Chief among these is the idea that "the" party is defined by a
JGP> sacred doctrine which it must preserve pure and unadulterated, and
JGP> of course, at the center of the doctrine was the dogma of the all
JGP> knowing party, the cult of the organization.

  I disagree, for one, because I think the fact of being organized and
having established the material foundations of organisation is an
conquest and value in and by itself, and it is vital to keep up this

  It is of course rather difficult to maintain this organized
formation in a situation of retreat of the mass struggle compared to
one of great and rising mass mobilizations. It is easier to storm
forward than to walk backward. The momentum of storming forward helps
to overcome when you stumble. The same stumbling while walking
backwards leads to falling down.

  The quality of the leadership and of the maps and plans of the
terrain is even more crucial in leading a retreat than in marching

  Then we have what we might call the "exile syndrome", because Marx
and Engels described it in full after the 1848/49 revolution: "We have
to do something". Engels also raised that criticism in a letter to, I
think, Sorge (in Hoboken), pointing to the US socialists engaged in
"doing something", while he congratulated Sorge about resigning from
the General Council of the IAA (Letter dated September 12-17, 1874,  
with longer explanations on the IAA and its significance, and  

  Engels maintained that the main task would have been to keep the
people together, i.e. to maintain as much of the organized
collaboration as possible, and not exploding in activity which is not
in tune with the objective situation, as this presents itself to the
organized group.

  Coming back after these general observations to the concrete
situation of the SWP, I think it was inevitable that it would lose
many of the one-and-a-half-thousand members it hat in 1975, when the
Antiwar movement was over because the Vietnamese had won and thus the
objective basis for mobilizing millions against the war had vanished.

  The question was, how to keep as many as possible together, and
without losing political substance (as e.g. many of the European
Sections did).

  Of course, this was not a situation of retreat because of defeat,  
but nevertheless -- there you had (if I may use the military analogy)  
a huge army which could not be employed as productively as before, and  
the question arose, how to keep it intact and in training and  

Lüko Willms                                     http://www.mlwerke.de
/--------- L.WILLMS at jpberlin.de -- Alle Rechte vorbehalten --

"Regierung aus dem Volke, durch das Volk und für das Volk"
   - Abraham Lincoln, Ansprache in Gettysburg, 19.11.1863
"... was in die revolutionäre Sprache von heute übersetzt heißt:
eine Regierung von Arbeitern, durch Arbeiter und für Arbeiter"
                                  - Fidel Castro, November 1994

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