[Marxism] What is a Marxist organization?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 4 01:12:04 MST 2014


On 12/3/14 10:14 PM, Scott J. via Marxism wrote:
> A fundamental weakness of the organizations of the socialist Left is that
> their members do not have a material stake in their organizations.

An interesting article that has already generated a lot of crossposting 
and discussion on Facebook.

I tend to look at it from a somewhat different perspective. I think that 
a large part of the problem is a replication of the distinction between 
intellectual and manual labor that exists in capitalist firms. Keep in 
mind that Lenin saw the need for a revolutionary party to adapt itself 
to the new forms of labor organization that existed in bourgeois 
society. This was Neil Harding's insight that I repeated in my analysis 
of Leninism:

"Economism belonged to Russia's past; orthodox Marxism was the way 
forward. He saw modern social democracy as corresponding to the highly 
complex and specialized nature of modern mass production. He saw 
socialist parties as the working-class equivalent of large-scale 
industrial plants. A centrally-managed, large-scale division of labor 
was needed to move the struggle forward, just as it was necessary to 
construct steam locomotives. Lenin was no enemy of capitalist technology 
and mechanization. Rather he sought to appropriate its positive features 
whenever necessary."

full: http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/organization/lenin_in_context.htm

Part of the equation was creating a caste of membership called "the 
professional revolutionary". In Czarist Russia this was simply a means 
of keeping an organization going when leaders were being routinely 
arrested. But in groups like those in the Fourth International 
tradition, it meant basically created what amounted to management. The 
intellectual laborers wrote the Militant; the production line workers 
went out and sold it.

The answer to this is the dreaded broad-based anti-capitalist party that 
people like Callinicos regard as anathema. I think that if Czarism did 
not exist, Lenin would have adopted an organizational form much more 
like the German social democracy that is geared to parliamentary 
democracies such as those that exist in the USA today.

I have an article pending in North Star on Podemos that will touch on 
some of this.



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