Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Party Building is Bullshit

First Printed: Discussion Bulletin, #7, October 29, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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REM Executive Statement: A formal reply from the Red Eureka Movement Executive was requested to the article “Party Building is Important” in Discussion Bulletin No. 6. Two draft replies were both approved by the Executive: “Playing Tin Soldiers is Not Important” and “Party Building is Bullshit” which appears below.

* * *

According to “Party Building is Important”, the Red ’Eureka Movement cannot become a Communist Party:

“...until we develop a political program on key questions of the day….”

“Before we can draft a program we have to do a proper analysis and we have to get organised”.

Thus we need to get organised so that we can do a proper analysis and draft a program so we can become a Party.

The REM Executive disagrees strongly with this view.

A political party is basically “a group of persons organised for the purposes of directing the policies of a government” (Webster’s 7th New Collegiate Dictionary).

A Leninist Communist Party is the advanced, organised detachment of the working class, the highest form of its class organisation, the instrument of the dictatorship of the proletariat and so on (Stalin, “Foundations of Leninism”).

It is absurd and pathetic that in most Western countries today there are groups, small or “large” (relatively speaking) who have got themselves organised (some quite efficiently organised, judging from their publications), made an analysis, drafted a program, and proclaimed themselves to be the new vanguard revolutionary party of the proletariat in their country.

These groups then spend a substantial amount of their energy proving that the other dozen or so competing vanguard parties are really phony (often very successfully). Any energy left over is spent “immersing oneself among the masses”, leading Economist struggles against the employers and the Government.

These people are quite clearly not organised for the purpose of directing the policies of any kind of Government, let alone being the instrument of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and so directing the policies of a proletarian revolutionary Government. Indeed the proletariat is generally quite unaware of their existence. Some of these “parties” appeared to be organised because of the inner needs for self- expression of their members and leaders – just as other people express their creativity by joining amateur theatrical groups and so forth.

As for the Red Eureka Movement, even fully equipped with an organisation, an analysis and a program, we could not be a political party. If we were invited to direct the policies of a Government and did not have to first lead a proletarian revolution to overthrow the bourgeoisie, we would still be unable to accept the invitation. We don’t even have enough active members to provide one for each Ministry.

Essentially REM is a circle. This does not refer to our tendency to go round and round chasing ourselves, but is based on Lenin’s definition:

“...the circles, i.e. close-knit, exclusive groups uniting a very small number of people and nearly always based on personal friendship, were a necessary stage in the development of the workers movement in Russia. As the movement grew, it was confronted with the necessity of uniting these circles, forming strong links between them, and establishing continuity ... (Collected Works, vol. 1, p. 105)

Other circles will develop and it will become important to build them into a united party. But it is clearly bullshit to imagine that we are the embryo of that party already, when in fact we are a “close knit, exclusive group uniting a very small, number of people… based on personal friendship”

Although we don’t want to remain a propaganda circle and we do want to build a revolutionary party, our task right now is to build our propaganda circle as well as we can.

“As long as the question was (and in so far as it still is) one of winning over the vanguard of the proletariat to Communism, so long, and to that extent, propaganda was in the forefront; even propaganda circles, with all the defects of the circle spirit, are useful under these conditions and produce fruitful results...” (Left Wing Communism..., Peking 1965, p. 98)

Even when we have become larger and better organised than most of the sects that call themselves “parties” these days, we will still be a propaganda circle, although by then party building may be on the agenda.

In the meantime we can certainly agree that we ought to be better organized. One doesn’t need to be a Leninist to believe in getting organised and the Mensheviks, not to mention many amateur theatrical societies, could be a lot better organised than REM. We should indeed get organised, and the comrades responsible for the ’Discussion Bulletin’ have made a most valuable contribution towards doing so.

For the immediate future, getting organised must centre around publishing and distributing this bulletin, at least every 6 weeks, as suggested in the article.

This obviously fits in together with making a proper analysis and developing a draft program, since articles in the bulletin will presumably try to do so. It also includes polemics against the CPA(ML) leadership. More importantly it includes organising: to get our material both to the people who have been influenced by that leadership and may now be starting to wake up, and also getting out to other revolutionaries and receiving material from them.

But it would be pompous to call getting our circle organised and promoting its publications, by the grandiose title of “Party Building”. Also it’s wrong to say that “Study of Party Building” is a major task.

If people want to write articles on their study of party building for the bulletin, that’s fine. Only if the rest of us agree with those articles will you find us joining. We cannot be compelled to do so in advance, and we have been through too many such “studies” and have seen too much bullshit about it in the past to be initially attracted to what looks like more of the same.

If people are going to “Study Party Building” we would recommend Lenin’s book “What Is To Be Done?” as a good beginning, better than the other three listed. This describes the “third period” in the Russian revolutionary movement as one involving “disunity, dissolution and vacillation”, In answer to the question “What is to be done?” Lenin did not say “Study Party Building”, but “Liquidate the third period!”

Lenin’s concrete plan was to liquidate this period by establishing a firm organisation around a revolutionary newspaper. Obviously the focus we have all agreed on around this bulletin is in no way inconsistent with Lenin’s approach to party building, and is a necessary preliminary to it.

Additional calls to “get organised”, let alone calls to “Study Getting Organised” will not help in the slightest. As we do get organised, those who don’t want to be organised will no doubt drop out or be pushed out, but that is not the main problem at present.

While the Executive must accept responsibility for REM being disorganised, it does not follow that this is due to Menshevism or that the answer includes “Study of Party Building”.

We are all agreed on the need to get organised and on the bulletin being the vehicle to do that at present. Everybody will welcome realistic concrete proposals for strengthening this organisation. Our only real disagreement is whether this can be called “party building”.

So let’s continue getting on with it!


(3 October, 1979)