[Marxism] Party democracy in Lenin’s Comintern – and small Marxist groups today: John Riddell gets it in one

Ratbag Media ratbagradio at gmail.com
Fri Feb 22 01:38:14 MST 2013

Despite all the angst and polemics about organisational 'form' John
Riddell gets to the core problem by locating  the issue in the living
experience of the history of communism.


John Riddell WRITES: "Some Marxist groups show promise and have played
decisive roles in building mass movements and in innovative
party-building experiments. Yet there is a model around which the
majority of these groups cluster, a pattern that we will call
“small-group Marxism”. It contrasts sharply with that of the Lenin-era

"Typically, the membership of each group is limited to a single strand
of Marxist political continuity. Groups tend to splinter over time.
The competing groups increase in number, while engaging in a war of
each against all. The links of such groups with the working class are
not strong. Divisions in these groups often flow from their inner
dynamic rather than from class-struggle challenges. Internal democracy
is often less developed than in the early Comintern.

"Programmatic differences between the groups are not great. Each rival
current is defined chiefly by its political culture and traditions.
This allegiance gives such groups a conservative cast, making it hard
for them to learn from the changing struggle, correct their course and
unite with other currents.

"Groups show little capacity to resolve differences harmoniously
through experience. Leaderships are often isolated from effective
control and tend to be self-perpetuating, unless the key players have
a falling out. Discipline aims less at unity against the class enemy
and more at keeping members in line and regulating what they say and
do. Success is defined not so much by victories of the class as by the
group’s ability to grow, accumulate resources and get the better of
its Marxist competitors."

dave riley

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