Continuing on the Lenin and organization tip, we are linking to an essay by Don Hamerquist that jumps into this much needed reassessment of Lenin and the question of revolutionary organization for our times. This is followed by several responses that take up different aspects of the essay.
I’ll be posting up some thoughts on Hamerquist’s essay later this week.
Don Hamerquist: Lenin, Leninism and some leftovers
Tom Wetzl: Reply to Hamerquist
What in the Hell blog: Responding to Hamerquist on Leninism
Noel Ignatiev: CLR James on the Marxist organization
Dave Renney: Scattered thoughts on the Leninist party and Don’s paper
Vladimir Lenin. This name for most radicals, militants, and progressives has largely become irrelevant. The problems, issues, and experiences of Lenin are considered to be part of another historical era in another country. Sometimes the differences are even expressed in racial terms in that white folks did that worker’s revolution stuff while people of color can’t because they do not have the privilege or do not struggle that way.
I believe that the dilemma of Lenin still remains with oppressed people and pocs today not only in Russia, but across the world. It does not matter if you are a woman, Latin@, Muslim, or Queer; the themes which occur in Lenin’s life have to be taken up. Just like every oppressed group can learn from the life of Malcolm on the importance of standing up for yourself and your people, for being strong, unapologetic, etc., so can every oppressed group learn certain things from Lenin. I know this is not popular to say considering the dominance of identity politics and privilege in the American Left. But the path to liberation is not a straight and linear line.
While I am not a Leninist, there are a lot of things I have learned from him. This post tries to summarize some of the basics of what can be taken away from Lenin’s experiences building revolutionary organization—a project I am committed to.
Continue reading Lenin and Revolutionary Organization
One of the purposes of this blog is to discuss revolutionary organization. This phrase, conception, and type of organization have become very unpopular amongst American radicals and progressives today. What was once seen as a viable alternative for hundreds of thousands of people has now become a flickering candle in the wind. Why is this the case? While this post will not go into the history of how this has happened, this post hopes to engage this question on the terms of how the Johnson-Forest Tendency rethought this question in light of the new political realities of the post-WWII era. They advanced new ways of thinking about organization, politics, and revolution, that can contribute much to new discussions today that are going on and need to continue. At the same time, their advance had some profound weaknesses as well which Goldner discusses. While these weaknesses are very real, it still leaves the question of what alternatives there are if the vanguard party is dead and at the same time Facing Reality’s proposition of organization has failed as well.
I am posting two pieces by Loren Goldner. The first is a basic overview of the tendency. It will help contextualize the period they were in, provide a little autobiographical information on the authors, and in more broader terms explain what they were trying to do.
The second piece is Loren Goldner’s re-reading of Facing Reality. Goldner is attempting to look at this work, which was a product of a unique moment in capitalism. I have broken down Loren Goldner’s essay into key points with occasional commentary. Each of these points can be further explored in our discussion in the upcoming days.
Here are some introductory thoughts:
1. Facing Reality has workerist excesses at times. LG defines it as “The book focuses almost exclusively (with the exception of Hungary) on workers’ struggles and power on the shop floor, and is therefore (rightly) open to the charge of workerism, an excessive point-of-production focus, with elements that seem at times almost syndicalist.” This is one of the reasons why James could not explain why such powerful shop floor self-activity did not result in revolution and how the neo-liberal offensive broke its back.
Continue reading Loren Goldner on CLR James and Revolutionary Organization