Sunday 19 May 2013

A reply to Mike Gonzalez

This is a guest post by Comrade Layla

[This is a reply to 'Who Will Teach The Teachers?' by Mike Gonzalez.  We did approach the author to reproduce the piece on this blog but we did not receive final confirmation.  It has been shared in the public domain and can be found HERE - The Fault Lines editors]

The piece should be welcomed by comrades inside and outside of the party.

My thoughts are the following:

The issue of unevenness in class consciousness is an important issue. We have to come to terms with it. If you re-read Molyneux’s book he actually holds a very conservative line which amounts to the following: The unevenness inside of the class is replicated inside of the revolutionary party at a higher level. John’s recent piece on party and class illuminates that he reduces everything to the question of the party. No mention of class whatsoever.

Gonzales points toward something quite unique. So-called unevenness in class consciousness is solely based on informational discrepancies. In other words, CC member X knows a left bureaucrat, CC member Y knew Cliff personally, MG knows about Latin America. Several hundred members do not have access to this information. This is a bureaucratic way of seeing ‘class consciousness’. Instead it should be based on the concrete experiences of struggle. The lack thereof creates a situation in which information substitutes for real revolutionary experiences.

In my opinion, this added to such a rapid breakdown of trust inside of the organisation. If you build a leadership on providing activists with superior information (but no strategy) and suddenly don’t feed these activists with the information about what’s happening inside of their own party you will pay a price for it. Political weakness will never be forgiven!

The issue of class consciousness is also important in regard to the question of students and youth. Of course, students will carry all kinds of ideas into the party. Of course, they will be a far more volatile group given their relationship to the labour process and their dependency on the institutions of social reproduction. However, they are also the only group of people in British society today who have engaged in a month-long battle involving street battles, occupations, smashing up the leading party’s headquarters. This is the exception to a norm of one-day bureaucratically staged strikes. What does this mean for class consciousness in Britain?

Another interesting aspect that MG illuminates is the fact that the party has replaced ‘class’ with ‘party’, and ‘party’ with ‘leadership’. This is not the result of some reading of Lukacs or Lenin as some comrades outside/inside the party have started to argue. Its material roots can be traced back to the low level of class struggle, a neoliberal offensive and a party cadre which sees the party as ‘theirs’ and ‘their’ party as a revolving door rather than a home for the revolutionary left.

I have come to the conclusions that a revolutionary party such as the SWP can no longer base itself on the mantra of state capitalism (as important as it is to me). Even when we have people who agree with us on state capitalism (Rees, German etc) we split with them. So it burns down to a question of perspectives, revolutionary trust and the tenet of socialism from below. That said, we will have some fluxions ahead with splits, re-alignments and mergers.  

As MG rightly points out the CC’s insists on defining itself by difference. In doing so, it has made the fatal mistake already Marx warned about in the Manifesto. “They [The Communists] have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement.”

Comrade Layla

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