[lbo-talk] Louis Proyect on Party Building

Angelus Novus fuerdenkommunismus at yahoo.com
Sun Dec 25 13:50:11 PST 2011


> As I said before, the key to success is having a material base

Wojtek, I think you need to make a distinction between the role of mass movements and the role of a political party with institutional weight.

I think I know what you're getting at, and I think the sort of Gramscian, "war of position" monolith that you're looking for is perfectly embodied in a party like DIE LINKE (I bet you'd be a member if you lived here).

It provides the huge infrastructural framework that leftists need to get a lot of stuff done, both as a parliamentary tribune, as a party outside of parliament throwing its weight and money behind protests, through the educational work and grant money provided by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, and newspapers like Neues Deutschland. Does your local Antifa group need some money to print out glossy, stylish posters and flyers advertising the next street blockade of Nazis? BAM!, here's some money, go get it done. Have some friends who want to read Marx's Capital? Go sign up for the reading group at the RLS, which can draw on the intellectual support of the most top-notch Marx scholars in Germany. Need somebody to function for legal reasons as the official person registering your demonstration and mediate with the cops? Your friendly state parliamentarian from DIE LINKE is happy to do the job.

So a party like that can function in all the nice Gramscian ways that you describe.

What it can't do, however, -- and this is really crucial -- is kickstart mass social movements with a real resonance in the population. That's something only movements like OWS can do. A good, mass socialist party can contribute money and some institutional room to play in, but it can't conjure up a movement out of thin air.

So I think your dichotomy is a false one, counterpoising what should be complementary entities.

However, I also realize that there are no mass socialist parties in the US, and that you lament this. However, such an institution, should it arise, can only arise as the result of a successful social movement.

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