Party-building, consciousness and email
Louis Proyect's recent comments to Lou Paulsen (Re: Party-Building and Action, May 30, 1999), stirred my own thoughts about consciousness in relation to building a party and the way we think about building a movement. An important and also typically difficult aspect of building the working class movement has to do with the problem of multiple grouplets competing for the existing minds of uncommitted workers. The groups have their perspective, their cohesion as a group. They might feel very chary of either sharing or more probably compromising the ties that bind the group. In addition there is the problem of sectarian clashes between groups. We see these on very large scales in various countries. The smaller the scale of course the less resources that can be managed by the groups to use in a clash. These are not trivial issues. They are complex and difficult to manage. Louis refers to the problem in Nicaragua in combining groups,
Louis: If you want to see how a revolutionary movement is built, it is instructive to read George Black's book on the Nicaraguan revolution titled "Triumph of the People". The FSLN was divided into 3 factions, all of which had a mass following that was proportionately at least a thousand times greater than any "Marxist Leninist" group.
Doyle but that was true in Vietnam where Ho Chi Minh managed multiple groupings (I remember a figure like 8 groups that Ho dealt with) being combined in the Vietnamese experience. South Africa gives another cogent example. And so on and so forth.
I am going to comment on this issue from the point of view of consciousness Not in the sense that Lou Paulsen says "correct line",
Lou Paulsen So, how has it worked out that the June 5 demonstration has a correct 'Stop the War' line,
Doyle but in the sense of what the material nature of the mind might tell us concerning how we could view the process of forming a group or a party. There are traditions of what the operating structure of a party are of course, either social democratic, anarchist, or communist, and there are those who can argue for the forms that emerged from world history better than I can. My view is that workers need revolutionary organization, and that structureless parties canıt do the job, so the anarchist model doesnıt work.
I will begin this study of consciousness by examining a newspaper. LP commented how he would like to have Doug Henwood as a cadre to sell the party paper in some low income housing projects. An amusing dilemma of course for Doug Henwood who doesnıt strike one as in his element dealing with the lower and deeper strata of the working class. But LP also implies with this anecdotal joke that selling the paper has been a traditional method for teaching new members or whatever the ropes of organizing.
These days we see the U. S. national