First Published: In Struggle! No. 268, October 20, 1981
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Some people are questioning the application that the organization and the communist movement have made of Marxism-Leninism. Others question Marxist-Leninist theory, or at least some aspects of it, asking among other questions if the theory really can lead the people to revolution and change the life of the people to give thew the power.
In recent years revolutions have been waged by those who are not authentic Marxist-Leninists (ex: Nicaragua, Zimbabwe).
We’ve looked rather askance at these revolutions and haven’t done an objective analysis. We’ve been too involved in defending Albania, Stalin and “the” Marxist-Leninist line. For others it’s been China and Mao. We’ve been more involved in trying to bring together little groups with the correct line in other countries rather than with revolutionary organizations who actually have an influence in the masses, have advanced the mass struggle and who lead it.
Too concerned with principles we have lost sight of reality. Reality is complex, ever-changing.
One of the qualities Marx, Engels and Lenin had was the ability to look reality square in the face. They figured out how to be objective and understand the world around them. That quality was of great benefit to their contemporaries. Without a doubt a part, but not all, of their work is still useful and necessary to us. Reality is not now exactly as it was then.
We ask those who wish to be members of the organization that they agree not only with what the organization does. They also are asked to have faith in everything in the organization’s Programme, part of which is not applicable right now (the building of socialism for example) and in Marxism-Leninism in its entirety.
When you boil it down what the C.C. decisions of April ’81 say is: “Our boat is taking in water, we’ve lost the true North. We don’t know much where were going and we’ve lost our old self-assurance but, have confidence in us. We’re good people, come in large numbers and join us. Together we’ll find a solution”. When a boat is shipping water you have to be a bit masochistic to get on board.
I think it’s asking too much. Maybe that’s where the present heightening contradiction between the increasing influence of the organization and relatively low level of recruitment is to be found.
We could potentially have more and more people who in agreement with what the organization does in the short term but not with its whole programme nor with Marxism-Leninism. This is especially true given the failure of socialism in the USSR and China, a socialism which was built on the basis of Marxism-Leninism. These people are pluralist in their thinking, i.e. they could agree to work with our organization in specific areas, respect the line and defend it even, all the while still looking elsewhere. The least you can say about these people is that they are open-minded.
In the face of the present uncertainty about socialism, Marxism-Leninism and to how I.S. has applied it, there are many points or view and solutions to choose from one is to resign an option chosen by a not insignificant number of members. Another is to continue to search for the answers to their questions and doubts inside the organization.
What attitude should we take to those members who while being in agreement with the work of the organization do question certain parts of the programme, or aspects of Marxism-Leninism and its application by IS.? I’m talking about people who are just not sure about a lot of things. If they weren’t already members, they probably wouldn’t join under present conditions. I think that the demands made on members should be less rigid and uniform. And if the demands made on members are less rigid and uniform in practice shouldn’t the constitution be the same way!
A member of I.S.!