Tuesday, 8 October 2013
The revolutionary organisation
I'm like so many others out there becoming less and less convinced by political parties and their self appointed leaders. Democracy means a lot to me and runs deep in my political ideas. Without democracy we don’t have a movement in my view. Even so called socialist party's I’m loosing belief that they can n ever really break out of their sect like behavior being so fragmented and divided. They are no threat to the ruling class as we speak so what needs to change or be different? 'The emancipation of the workers must be brought about by the workers themselves.' Declaration of the First International. I too believe that the power is in workers hands. Encouraging workers to think for themselves not to blindly follow a self appointed leader of a movement is key. All workers can think for themselves and we must not patronize them by thinking they can only ever develop "trade union consciousness" as Lenin once said. Workers can go further and will go further if allowed to think and act for themselves. Many revolutionaries do not believe in the working class being able to bring about change for them so need a party to do it for them to lead them by the nose. I am not convinced by this approach it sounds like we are saying the workers have no brains and am simply drones who can be influenced and lead along to support us while we go off and carry out the revolution. The work of revolutionaries over many years to clarify and co-ordinate struggles in the working class greatly helps the revolutionary process. Working class spontaneity is the ability of that class to take direct action on its own behalf and to develop new forms of struggle and organisation. This happens in every great revolutionary upsurge where working people have formed committees and councils independent of "vanguards". In this country the flying picket and mass picketing were developed as weapons of struggle. ‘Pit commandos’ emerged during the 1984-85 Miners Strike. Road blockades and reclaiming the streets are all forms of struggle developed independently from the Revolutionary Party (whichever one that happens to be). The activities of the working class have taken place regardless of and sometimes against the urgings of the revolutionary elite due to circumstances that require it. I do think organisation is still important though but a different organisation and way of organising is needed though a break from the way revolutionaries have organised before perhaps as the left today is struggling to break out and become a mass force. Each kind of organisation has its own purpose enabling people to accomplish what they cannot individually, harnessing energy and resources in productive ways. However organisations are not pure rational constructs. They have their own culture, often obscured by formal structures. Strip away the theoretical organisation of states, corporations and political parties and you reveal the hierarchy, authority, fear and greed that are true organisation in a capitalist society. To create effective organisations we must know our own and other’s minds, therefore there must be a high degree of communication, of sharing. We must set about creating aspiration, setting achievable targets, celebrating success, rededicating ourselves again and again to the reasons why we have formed or participate in the organisation. And because organisation is a mutual, sharing activity these things cannot be contained within one mind or merely thought but acted out and given a tangible existence through words and actions. At the same time, we must remain individuals, capable of independent and objective appraisal not cogs in some vast machine. What then is the purpose of ‘revolutionary organisation’? Can it be described? Given that the need for revolution already exists, revolutionary organisation must increase the demand for revolution. It must increase the measurable ‘weight’ or ‘force’ of the resources joined to demand revolution. The structure must increase the ability of the organization to perpetuate itself while its ends remain unrealised. It must increase the ability of the organisation to resist attack, by increasing the determination and solidarity of members and by so arranging itself that damage caused to it (from external attacks, defections, internal conflicts and so on) are minimised. It must be flexible, be able to absorb or deflect change or challenges to it, have the ability to change or cease as circumstances dictate and the self-knowledge to initiate change when change is required. High levels of positive communication, mutual respect and celebration, shared aspirations and solidarity all describe the revolutionary organisation. A powerful revolutionary organisation will not come about by people simply agreeing with each other. Only through the dynamics of working together can we achieve the unity of activity and theory necessary to bring about a free and equal society. Let us put it quite bluntly: the errors committed by a truly revolutionary workers movement are historically far more fruitful and valuable than the infallibility of even the best central committees. Rosa Luxembourg, Organisational Questions of Russian Social Democracy. The experiences of working class life constantly lead to ideas and actions that question the established order. This leads to "working class consciousness" but different sections of the working class may reach different degrees of consciousness. At the same time, the ruling class seeks to keep the working class divided, undermining solidarity based on culture and common experience through its control of the media and education and by perpetuating racism and sexism. The working class is never wholly atomised nor, at the moment, solid and united, conscious of itself and its power. The organisation must always be part of the working class. This creates a tension. While on the one hand it’s consciousness is more developed ("in advance"), it’s ability to develop and extend its influence in the class depends on not being too far in advance. If it is, it will fall into the trap of ignoring or rejecting the new forms of struggle and organisation which, as we have said, can benefit other workers and which workers everywhere must learn. There are dangers in this contradiction and the revolutionary organisation needs to develop ways of acting based on an awareness of the contradiction. We must always be ready to learn from the class and constantly revise our tactics with the unfolding situation. The revolutionary organisation is transformed as the working class is transformed in the revolutionary process. Theory and practice must be rooted in concrete conditions. Accepting that the revolution can only be made by the self-activity of the working class, the revolutionary organisation still has a number of tasks to perform. It must act as a propaganda grouping, untiringly putting over the message that the working class must destroy capitalism and establish a democratic socialist society. It must also show how this can be done by giving examples of self-activity. It must search out the history of past struggles and share the lessons to be learned with the rest of the class as part of the development of class-consciousness. When important developments occur, the revolutionary organisation must spread the news through its links with organisations in other countries. But the organisation is not just a propaganda group: above all it must actively work in all grassroots organisations of the working class such as rank and file groups, tenants associations, squatters and unemployed groups as well as women’s, black and gay groups. It must try to link unionised and non-unionised workers, building a movement at the base.