Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Letter: Venceremos Democracy

First Published: The Stanford Daily, Volume 160, Issue 50, 5 January 1972.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Editor, THE DAILY:

While better than past Daily attempts to characterize Venceremos. Kevin Smith’s article presented a superficial–and misleading–view of the organization. I would like to point out what I consider its two major defects.

1.) By devoting the largest part of his article to the two splits that have occurred in our ranks in the last four years, while not saying anything at all about Venceremos’ contribution to leadership in the Stanford movement, he showed that he was ignorant of howVenceremos has grown larger and stronger through the very struggles which led to those splits. Our strength on campus has increased dramatically since the departure of the people now in the “Intercommunal Survival Committee”; and the anti-imperialist movement is off to a running start this year with a well organized coalition of the left including just about everbody except the “ISC.”

2.) The most misleading part of Kevin Smith’s article was the title: “Venceremos Stresses Centralism.” Here also Mr. Smith presented only one half of the dialectic. We know from our practice in Venceremos that the organization has a far greater chance of making correct decisions than any of its individual members . . . but only when everyone’s experience is taken into consideration and when the organization functions as a whole.

Consequently, the Central Committee (made up of the most experienced and politically advanced members of Venceremos) never makes a political or tactical decision without making an investigation throughout the organization to sum up relevant practice first.

The only way to tell if their decision is correct is to put it into practice. The quickest and most efficient way is for a lot of people working in different areas and under different conditions to implement it at the same time and then to sum up the results; and that’s the way Venceremos does it. If the practice of the organization suggests that a decision is wrong, the Central Committee reconsiders it in the light of this practice.

Basic decisions concerning the political line of the organization are never just handed down from the top, not even after investigating the relevant practise of the organization. Instead, all collectives discuss it until they reach unity. The results are conveyed to the Central Committee, which struggles with the various positions which have come up until they reach unity. The Central Committee decision is then taken back to the collectives, and only then do “the Committee’s followers [sic.] implement its decision immediately and manditorily.”

To focus almost exclusively on the last step of this process makes Venceremos look like some Hoover Institute nightmare of a mindless bunch of True Believers mechanically spouting the party line.

Peter Ober (Assistant Professor of German and member of Venceremos)