Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Party For Workers Power

Special Bulletin

Steering Committee Report

In recent steering committee discussions, there has been some attempt to evaluate the party’s development since the split with PL, and what our strengths and weaknesses are now. We wanted to figure out what steps needed to be taken in order to overcome our present weaknesses, and for the party to grow significantly. This report, and the questions and outline which follow, are intended to start an extensive discussion throughout the party on these topics. We think that this discussion is vital to the future of the PWP, and should be taken on very seriously in all party clubs and discussion groups.

The steering committee felt that there was a major strength and a major weakness in the party’s present position.

1. Major strength. We have very extensive relations with people and are involved in many significant reform efforts. We are widely respected by those who know us through these organizing efforts. In addition, many people who don’t have contact with our organizing work are familiar with and very favorably impressed with Spark. Thus, we seem to have made very significant progress in overcoming the isolation which was characteristic of us in PL. We have also learned a lot about how to operate sensibly in reform efforts, how not to be sectarian, etc. We are now in a position to influence a lot of people very seriously.

2. Major weakness. We have a complete lack of clarity on our basic political position and basic goals of the party. We have thrown a lot of old baggage out the window: communism, the quasi-religious approach of PL, various gimmicks like 30 for 40, etc. What are we left with? Some vague, though useful, ideas about how to do things better. A very pragmatic, common-sense approach to problems. Now common sense of course, is better than lunacy. But it isn’t a sufficient basis for building a party.

If we are to win a large number of the people whom we now have good relations with, we need something more.

Let’s look at some of the problems created by the lack of a clear position, clear goals. First, within the party. It makes it difficult to evaluate our work and resolve differences of opinion. It encourages an individualist approach–each person can work for what he or she feels is important, since there is no unified goal. This leads to people working at cross purposes, personal friction, competitiveness, etc. And this can go on indefinitely because there is no adequate framework for discussing and resolving issues. Questions which arise from political differences come out as endless tactical debates. Collectivity is broken down, and people develop cynical attitudes to the collective process. This, if carried far enough, can destroy everything we are fighting for.

Second, in the world. The problem of lack of goals really affects the whole working class, not just us. Oppressed by both communism and capitalism, people don’t know which way to turn. Thus they fight half-heartedly. They do fight, because you have to fight to survive. But they don’t see all this effort really leading anywhere. So people turn aside from the apparently endless struggle for reforms. They seek individual ways out. This is really quite rational. It takes an enormous amount of effort to organize and win on something. The victory is often quite small. Without some very inspiring [text missing in original – EROL]

For many years, the goal which inspired people was communism. (If that seems ridiculous now, remember that it inspired us.) This is why the communists were able to lead significant movements for social change, despite the growing evidence of their corruption. Now that communism has been very widely seen to be a distaste no better than capitalism, the inspiration is lacking. The movement is directionless.

It’s time somebody supplied a new inspiration, a new goal that was worth devoting your life to. This, we think, is the most important job of our party now–since nobody else seems to be doing it, that we know of.

(1). A study group should be set up immediately to work on developing a Where We Stand pamphlet. The role of this group would not be to work out the position themselves. That has to be the job of the whole party. What the group would do is the necessary research on the history of communism, existing theoretical works, analysis of present trends in the US, Russia, China, etc.–whatever areas were most needed. The group would also, of course, discuss our position and help work it out-but it would not be a group of “experts” deciding on the party line.

(2). Nobody should be intimidated from the discussion because they aren’t very familiar with history or Marxist theory. Everyone should do some readings, and reading lists Should be put together. But being an “expert” on this stuff is not necessary – and may be a disadvantage. After all, the experts seem to have been wrong for about a hundred years.

(3). We should involve friends of the party in the discussion. But until we have a well-worked-out position–and right now the thing is completely open–no set of ideas should be presented as “the party’s new position on x.” It is all tentative at this stage.

(4). Anyone who would like to join the study group, or has any ideas about how to organize the discussion, should get in touch immediately with someone on the steering committee (Jared, Ellen, Steve R., Jon Harris, Mary Sommers). The study group will include friends of the party as well as party members.