[Marxism] What kind of party do we need?
Waistline2 at aol.com
Waistline2 at aol.com
Mon Mar 23 01:15:06 MDT 2009
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. 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.”
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
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
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
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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