To preserve the ideological and political independence of the party of the proletariat is the constant, immutable and absolute duty of socialists. Whoever fails to fulfil this duty ceases to be a socialist in fact, however sincere his “socialist” (in words) convictions may be. The Socialist Party and Non-Party Revolutionism: V.I.Lenin, 1905.
Until a revolutionary has adopted the correct attitude to the fundamental task of building the party and to the methods it employs in its work, there can be no question of his correct, stable and consistent participation in the workers’ movement. Without the proper relationship between doctrine, slogans, tactics, and the work of the party organisation, there can be no revolutionary Marxist, Bolshevik politics. Our Differences: L.Trotsky, 1924.
The purpose of our journal is to open a debate on the fundamental question of the current period. How to work towards the reconstruction of the revolutionary party of the proletariat within the renewal of the class movement?
Today we face an atomized working class yet to recover from decades of defeat. Active discussion on how to contribute to a recovery of working class power, and begin a counteroffensive on the economic front is vitally important. However, this question is inextricably linked to another of even greater historical weight. What political line will predominate in this counteroffensive? The line which demands another New Deal, a new phase of corporatist integration of the working class within the imperialist state or the line which builds forces towards proletarian democracy as the precondition of communist transition?
To advocate postponing this question to a later date is to have already decided in favour of the reformist line. It must be posed today not only theoretically but in the construction of cadre organizations that act to guide the renewal of the workers movement along the lines of proletarian revolution not reformist integration.
And a necessary aspect of this process of organizational construction is the opening of a space within which the struggle to formulate the line of proletarian revolution can be waged. This journal intends to be a moment of that opening.
We seek to put an end to the eclecticism, pragmatism and evasion of principled lines of demarcation which is the theoretical reflection of the practical dispersal and stagnation of the contemporary left.
We cannot begin to work in the line of party construction without a comprehensive ideological struggle to delineate the philosophical content of the Marxist outlook and to properly sum up the historical experience of the communist movement. To evade these tasks or to rush them in the name of expediency or the immaturity of the movement is to build a house on sand. It is not possible to begin clarifying the terms of this struggle on the basis of amorphous pluralism.
Therefore, we do not intend to claim a disingenuous “non sectarianism” which gives a “fair hearing” to the whole spectrum of right and left deviations already debunked by history. Our primary historical reference points are the Paris Commune, the October Revolution and the struggle of the Left Opposition against the bureaucratic degeneration of the proletarian dictatorship.
However, this historical experience is merely a point of departure. Within every new situation the concrete form of proletarian politics must be rearticulated. It is this concrete rearticulation which is the real art of politics and which coalesces within the struggle to win the masses. The vanguard is not defined by its defense of the continuity of the revolutionary general program. But only by its capacity to win the advanced strata of the masses to this program and constitute a real political force.
Such a vanguard is absent today. To commit to its construction is to attempt to launch a new sequence of proletarian politics. The historical arc of class formation which began with the foundation of the First International ended definitively with the collapse of the USSR. Today the working class no longer articulates a state project either revolutionary or revisionist and despite all the premature claims of an end to the “end of history” the entire political spectrum is united in considering the “laws of commerce as the laws of God”.
Our situation demands that we begin at the beginning. Carefully evaluating the accumulated experience of the prior sequence as we carry out experimental intervention in the workers movement today while developing cadre formations through systematic ideological struggle as the necessary premise of party construction. Only the living combination of a process of construction of democratic and independent organizations of economic struggle with the concrete assertion of the absolute political autonomy of the working class can constitute the communist project as a real social force.
The particular must be united with the general in a centralization through exchange of experience on the national and international levels. But the struggle for a new international can only start in the molecular reality of individual terrains of intervention. Building towards the party workplace by workplace and district by district. Anything else is empty pretence.
The first wave of proletarian politics was integrated and reduced to a stabilizing factor within the global reproduction of capital. Then decisively destroyed by capital as an obstacle to its own freedom of movement. Today living in the wreckage of that double defeat we must work to prepare the second wave.