Class struggle : Partyism
Over at the despairate duo's blog they restate their manifesto - or raison d'etre (or, reason for being, as the French would say).
They raise the ever awkward question of socialism in an age of waiting (as some clever buggers put it):
Revolution isn't on the cardsOuch! Good question.
And if not, what can it really mean to be communist?
Doubtless Dave and Stuart can recite my answer to this by heart - sadly, so can I, thus:
- The revolution must be made by the working class.
- We are members of that working class, so...
- The revolution must be made by us.
- The revolution will not succeed until, though, there is a critical mass of us - of communist workers.
(4) is the killer. The revolution, and revolutionary acts can and do happen now, the revolution on the cards the Des-pair ask about. A case of damned if we do and damned if we don't - it won't happen if we don't muck in and might not happen anyway if we do. We can only try.
This brings us back to our good friend the nature of the revolutionary organisation. For many on the left the function of revolutionary organisations is indistinguishable from the classic version of parties in liberal democratic theory - a device for clarifying positions of candidates and oppoents via a known template (i.e. if you vote indpenedent you could be voting for a fascist or a communist, but once you know their party you know their platform, history and ideology, sort of).
All political (and much personal) enegery is to be diverted via their organisation - it is a filter between the revolutionary worker and the world. They are not just trade unionists but members of a disciplined party working within a trade union.
I would suggest, however, that the party should have a much more subordinate role, as a distinct tool for a specialised purpose. For me, the SPGB exists solely as a means of co-ordinating the revolutionary use of the ballot - it has not role on trade union issues, housing co-op issues or on thousands of otehr struggles that are part and parcel of the class war. That says nothing about these struggles and their worth, only that the Socialist Party is not a fit mechanism for interacting with them.
I choose to use the Socialist Party as a tool for my revolution because I consider that electoral work is something that can reach anyone anywhere, and is something worth promoting as a means of revolution. Otehrs are free to choose different tools.
The point is that organise, agitate, educate remains good for us know as it always has - it's all we've got.
It might be mad for five blokes and a photocopier to draw up a council communist manifesto in a Manchester Bedsit - but it's equally mad for workers in Dorking to draw up positions on the Ethiopia-Eritrea war, or the Irael Palestine Conflict, or the fight between John POrescott and Tony Blair.