[Marxism] What kind of party do we need?

Waistline2 at aol.com Waistline2 at aol.com
Mon Mar 23 01:15:06 MDT 2009

Comment/Notes 2
What kind of party do we need?
A fighting organization or conscious federation of organizations with a  
general line and program that say victory to the workers in their current  
struggle. a political organization - federation, with common literature that is  
99.9% devoid of political Trotskyism, Stalinism, Maoism or any other ism,  
including ideological Leninism. Groups within such a federation would be free to  
school their members as they see fit, but this should be outside the framework  
of a common literature. 
Egoism and treachery, masking itself as political ideology stands in  the 

That a comrade would ask, in an honest and sincere manner; “If the  party 
doesn't take positions on historical questions what does it fill its press  with?”
 And “What does it do when confronted with the issues of Stalin, Mao,  etc.?”
 is absolutely heartbreaking and a failure of American communism to  achieve 
a coherent vision of the society we are fighting for. It is also a  failure to 
articulate American history and describe our history in its general  

"(C)onfronted with the issues of Stalin, Mao, etc.?”  

Confront by whom? Some old fart from my generation with nothing  better to do 
than spend a lifetime seeking ideological squabbles? Ask this old  fart if 
they are willing to help you publish your press; write articles,  distribute 
literature and create small pamphlets on the issues of the day. We  should never 
surrender the paper newspaper as an instrument of organization and  personal 

The challenge as a communist and Marxist is to  think things out and try to 
the best of ones ability to master their own damn  history. Not addressing 
elementary question of organization and history helps no  one and most certainly 
not the upcoming generation of combatants. What the new  generation of 
communists need to know is how to carry out practical work amongst  our working class; 
how to utilize the press and why every single struggle within  the working 
class has to be highlighted in the press. To hell with writing about  Stalin and 
Mao. Write about the everyday things and issues facing the working  class; 
our youth, women and all aspects of the general political struggles.  Write 
about legalizing marijuana if it please you and helps your work. Not just  
mortgage struggle and ranting at the banks, but the fight to pay water bills,  keep 
public schools open; to keep or have a public library to have pencil and  paper 
in school and to live in a society that values its young people.  

The young people know they are being lied to and something is  profoundly 
wrong in our country. When I was young - a long time ago, no one  could really 
lie to me about how society was and the grave injustices I  witnessed as a way 
of life. The young people today are no different.  What  is different is that 
things are a hell of a lot worse. Growing up, I knew I  could get a job in a 
factory and raise a family. I was oriented to the factory  system from the first 
day of school, because schools were set up to orient you  for factory time 
and factory like work. Today, society has broken down and does  not know how to 
orient the youth because the bourgeoisie sees no future for  itself. 

The tendency to blame others for our generations’ errors  and mistakes in 
political assessments is unhealthy. One cannot forever blame  Stalinism for the 
existing state of the American communist movement. Every  individual has for 
the past twenty years been able to make a difference and do  as they please 
unfettered by the material impact of the Third International. The  working class 
in America knows exactly zero about a Stalin, Trotsky or Mao. How  has a 
Stalinism or a Stalinists bureaucracy affected the social movement in the  United 
States of North America between say, 1975 and 2009?  

"(C)onfronted with the issues of Stalin, Mao, etc.?”  

Some history does not need to be repeated. 

Between  1960 and 1989, a huge shift in the social struggle took place and 
all the groups  that came into existence and renewed strength, did so on the 
basis of the  struggle of the blacks, primarily and the anti-war movement as a 
secondary  factor. Does it require some special body of knowledge to connect the 
achieving  of the goals, and most certainly the fundamental goal, of the 
Civil Rights  Movement with the ebbing of the social movement and the consequent 
decline  and/or collapse of all the groupings of the left? Some of the decline 
of the  movement can be placed at the feet of the bourgeoisie and their bag of 
dirty  tricks and suppression of various leading figures to frighten the 
movement.  However, as young folks the bourgeoisie did not scare us because our 
cause was  righteous. All the bourgeoisie did was made us angrier and more 
determined, for  a lifetime. 

The Second International 

The  First International did what it was set up to do. Wikipedia gives a very 
brief  and minimally acceptable outline of the Second International. 

“  The Second International (1889–1916) was an organization of socialist and 
labour  parties formed in Paris on July 14, 1889. At the Paris meeting 
delegations from  20 countries participated.[1] It continued the work of the 
dissolved First  International, though excluding the still-powerful 
anarcho-syndicalist movement  and unions, and was in existence until 1916. 

Among the Second  International's most famous actions were its (1889) 
declaration of May 1 as  International Workers' Day and its (1910) declaration of 
March 8 as  International Women's Day. It initiated the international campaign 
for the  8-hour working day.[2]”  
_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_International_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_International) 

In place of the First International arose a new movement, a movement for  
socialism, that history has revealed to have been essentially a patriotic, petty  
bourgeois movement for reform. As this movement swept across Europe and 
America,  a new International, the 2nd International was formed. Socialist Parties 
were  formed in the United States on the basis of the populist movement and 
the  sharpening struggle between the new industrial working class and the 
monopolies.  To this very day the CPUSA still raises the banner of the old populist 
movement  in the anti-monopoly struggle or as it was called during the era of 
Gus Hall,  the anti-monopoly struggle. This anti-monopoly struggle is today 
conceived as  basically the same struggle against the banks that was waged in 
the 1890's, only  today at a higher level. 

Everything has changed. 

In  my estimate the era of the fight for socialism is over and long gone. The 
fight  today is about economic communism, whose first stage is economic 

When Engels put forth the political doctrine of the Second  International and 
formulated the concept of socialism as the first stage of  communism, wherein 
the law of value still operated and where the advanced  capitalist countries 
still had to build the economic foundation for economic  communism, he was 
observing the actual configuration of society as it existed in  1890. Today the 
fight is for economic communism and not socialism with a law of  value still 
operating. The reason is  because of this stage of development  of the 
productive forces which was impossible for Engels or Marx to predict. One  can always 
try and explain why today we would leave the law of value intact, in  relations 
to anything in society having to do with socially necessary means of  life 
and culture. 

At any rate, in Western Europe, during this  formative period of the fight 
for socialism, socialist parties gained  premierships as well as large 
representations in parliaments. In Eastern Europe  and Russia the more overtly 
political struggle broke out into revolutionary  upsurges. By 1912, the economically 
undeveloped world was conquered and any  further market expansion would have to 
be done by one imperialist power at the  expense of another. World War I 
became the inevitable consequence of capital  accumulation and the striving of 
various imperialist country for colonies - a  re-division of the world. 

Is the Second International to be  condemned or is the challenge to place it 
in its historical context and  political environment of the time. The Second 
International played its role in  history and helped spread the modern 
communist movement. 

Although,  it is outdated today, one of the lasting contributions of the 
early struggle  against the petty bourgeois tendency that was the Second 
International after  Engels death,  was Rosa Luxemburg’s “Reform or Revolution.” 
Without  question the most accurate and profound critique of the Second 
International in  its political ideology, as a real time event in communists politics was 
done by  Lenin. 

Rosa’s pamphlet “Reform or Revolution,” was fundamentally  correct when it 
was written but stand in historical error more than 100 years  later. On the 
scale of history, the question posed is not reform or revolution  as a polarity. 
 She could not know this in 1890. One hundred years later,  we have come to 
understand that under conditions were insurrection is impossible  the question 
is posed as the revolutionary struggle for reform, and we carry out  such 
struggles for reform, fighting at each stage for the maintenance of  organized 
Marxism. What difference does it make if at the end of the day, week,  year or 
decade of sweat, blood and tears, no one within the working class is any  
smarter and our common legacy is not preserved? 

Much of this fight  to preserve organized Marxism as an insurgent force 
reinforced a certain  tendency towards sectarianism but it is unavoidable, until 
another change in the  productive forces take place unleashing and setting new 
social forces in motion.  Much of the gross sectarian errors are not errors but 
the activity of the  political police fighting to gain control of an 
organization and divert it from  its practical work. 

Grappling with this history of reform, and  trying to fight for a 
revolutionary point of view on every question, some folks  coined the definitive meaning 
of reform a quarter of a century ago. "A reform  movement is a movement that 
changes the social relations within and between  classes, without changing the 
property relations." One can take this definition  of reform, that sums up a 
century of experience to the bank.   

Each crossing of a quantitative boundary, development of the  productive 
forces, produces a spontaneous reform movement as the bourgeoisie  struggle to 
preserve the unity between the productive forces and the relations  of production 
on a new basis.  More often than not we have mistaken  powerful reform 
movements for revolutionary crisis. Every time the bourgeoisie  could not rule "in 
the same old way" it appeared as the emergence of a genuine  revolutionary 

For instance, WWII saw the defeat of German  led European fascism and the 
emergence of America as the premier imperial power,  but much more was involved 
in this political process. WWII completed the  destruction of political 
feudalism as a force of history, destroyed the closed  colonial system or the system 
of direct colonialism and by doing such unleashed  a profound wave of 
anti-colonial revolutions. These were reform movements, given  new impetus with the 
destruction of the direct colonial system by finance  capital. Those who 
understood these reforms movements as revolutionary movement  simply lacking a 
communist orientation came to grief. Within these reform  movements was a communists 
section betrayed in varying degrees by the Soviet  power. However, it should 
be clear that no set of policies on the part of the  Soviets, or the 
international communist movement could make Egypt’s Gamal Abdel  Nasser, a communist or 
socialist in Engels meaning.  

Revolutionary History in America

Unlike Europe, America was  capitalist from its inception; the total 
destruction of the Native American  communal life left no feudal or communal 
hangovers. There was a large and  widespread class of small producers. Most 
importantly, from time to time, as  much as one-quarter of the toilers were slaves. 
During this period, until the  end of the Civil War in 1865, the communist 
groupings were primarily immigrants  who struggled very hard to impose their sectarian 
ideals on the actual American  social struggle, while struggling to broaden 
political liberties and socialism  as a movement. However, the roots of the 
American communist movement lie in the  broad populist struggle between the small 
producers and the emerging monopolies  led by the robber barons of post-Civil 
War America. 

As the  industrial working class expanded and the contradictions of monopoly 
capitalism  intensified, a number of working-class organizations throughout 
Europe and  America came into being and the two dialectically opposed trends 
became clear.  On the one hand, there was the spontaneously developed trend 
called syndicalism,  or the idea that the mass organizations, especially the 
unions, can reconstruct  society by simply intensifying the economic struggle and 
toppling the  government. On the other hand, groupings of Marxists, who based 
their activity  along the lines of a political struggle, evolved alongside of 
and within the  syndicalists. The conscious, intellectual movement of communism 
cannot unite  with its antithesis, the spontaneous syndicalist movement of the 
working class,  until capitalism has completed its development. This 
completion is marked by the  wiping out of the small producers — the economic middle —
 and the two poles  stand face to face. Since the system had not completed 
its development there  could be no synthesis, one side remained syndicalist and 
the other sectarian,  with everyone professing some form of communism and 

Here  in my opinion is what we specifically faced. In real life the 
syndicalists  became the most loyal members of the various communist groupings, without 
 abandoning their political syndicalism. Although Marxism as an intellectual  
current cannot be reconciled with political syndicalism, both can exist in 
the  same organization, with the syndicalists recruiting members constituting 
the  cutting edge of the industrial union movement.  

World War I  and the Russian revolution had a profound impact on the 
revolutionary movements.  Groups that had been fighting one another for hegemony of 
the American movement  suddenly wanted to unite with the Russian revolution. The 
Soviet  revolutionaries, hoping to expand the revolution, or at least protect 
it, formed  the 3rd Communist International and demanded conformity. 

This  required that the American revolutionaries come together as one 
organization. In  1921, the various factions of the movement were cobbled together to 
form the  Communist Party USA. It is important to remember that these 
factions in the  CPUSA never gave up their programs and in times of internal crisis 
constantly  reverted back to them. From 1921 through 1946 the CPUSA played a 
very important  role; the most important of all groups on the left.  The 
syndicalists found  full expression in building the CIO. The Populists carried on 
their historic  anti- monopoly struggle as part of the Roosevelt coalition. 
Ultimately, however,  both sides found themselves tied to consolidating the 
financial,  internationalist wing of American imperialism.

However, because our  working class was constituted on the basis of waves of 
European immigration, the  communist movement has had its hands full with 
overcoming enormous distinctions.  For instance the language communist press, in a 
country that speaks English as a  primary language and Spanish as a secondary 
language. Under pressure from the  3rd International the American communist 
dismantled the language press. Was this  a good thing? It damn sure was not a 
bad thing, since the country speaks  English. There was no such thing as the 
Negro Question in the experience of the  European immigrants. The Comintern 
would force a Leninist conception of the  national-colonial question on American 
communism. Was this a good thing. It damn  sure was not a bad thing, since 
there were a bunch of Negroes in America.  

Lessons from History

In Europe and America the  communist and socialist movement was the 
subjective expression of the struggle  of the industrial working class during the 
quantitative stages of industrial  capitalism’s development. It is important to 
note that once bourgeois industrial  hegemony was established, the working class 
could only fight for a bigger slice  of the economic pie. They were part of 
the system and could only carry out  struggles for social reform to reflect the 
quantitative development of the  productive process. This reality shaped the 
communist parties of that period.  They defended and expanded the science of 
society and propagandized their goals.  They led the workers in militant 
economic and social struggles. Their fatal  weakness was that they had to constantly 
strive to win the workers over to their  program. This means the workers had 
their own program that arose out of their  concrete economic needs within the 
context of the existing economic system.  Therefore the communist parties were 
revolutionary in program and propaganda,  but reformist in its practical work. 
This contradiction handicapped the movement  in America and Europe.

In Czarist Russia, a different kind of  revolutionary movement got underway. 
An economic revolution from agriculture to  industry, a social revolution from 
the countryside to the cities and a political  revolution against the 
absolutism of the Czar tore the country apart. This great  revolutionary upsurge, 
within the context of the slaughter of WWI, was crowned  by a class struggle to 
determine which class would reconstruct an industrial  Russia in its own image. 
At a particularly intense moment of the revolution the  communists of Russia 
seized state power.
One lesson that we can learn from this period of history is that during the  
periods of class peace between social revolutions, the communist parties must  
NOT attempt to persuade the workers to drop their concrete demands in favor 
of  the abstract demand of political revolution. The inevitable result is 
isolation  as a sect, instead of a party or broad political organization. 

The  essential lesson, however, is that a political revolution can only take 
place  within a social revolution. A political revolution takes place when the 
 development of the means of production creates economic classes outside the  
existing political structure. The class or classes external to the system 
cannot  implement their economic program without state power. It is such a 
situation we  see developing today. 

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