On Vanguard Parties

Posted on January 6, 2012 by


by ~The-Liberator (Alex Garrett)

However necessary a vanguard party is, the Left as a whole is currently confused and disoriented because not only is there no vanguard, but the whole idea of a vanguard has become muddled and distorted by the degeneration of the workers’ state in the USSR and the flat-out non-existence of the workers’ state in other “communist” nations.

The massive amount of misconceptions that came out of the October Revolution of 1917 will be difficult to clear up, but it is possible.

Unfortunately, the main reason those misconceptions have NOT been cleared up at this point is because of the countless cult-like organization where Marxism and Leninism have been converted into a sort of religion. These groups denounce the failures of the USSR and other regimes on the surface, yet they turn around and throw phrases at us like “democratic centralism” and “dictatorship of the proletariat” without understanding what those phrases actually mean.

These organizations claim to support democracy and genuine workers’ rule, but when asked the tough questions like “will one party hold a monopoly over political power?” they cannot answer! When asked about the need for the entire working class to have CONCRETE democratic rights of free speech and organization, they cannot answer! When asked about whether the workers will have direct control over their vanguard organization, they will not answer!

This is extremely confusing for people on the Left and it has led to the complete theoretical bankruptcy of nearly all 21st century “Marxist” thought.

We have to be clear that classes are led by parties. I believe that history has demonstrated that a vanguard party in some form will be a necessary tool in mobilizing the masses.

However, if we want to create a successful vanguard capable of mobilizing the masses and ending bourgeois rule, I believe there are several things that have to be done:

  1. This organization must implement the principle of COMPLETE TRANSPARENCY. Workers need to be able to see what goes on behind the curtain and provide input, or else it’s not really their organization is it?
  2. We must dare to talk about our goal. We must make clear that workers’ rule WILL NOT look like the degenerated police state of the USSR. Further, we must also drive home that even workers’ rule is not our ultimate goal. Stateless, classless society with peace and abundance is our long-term goal, with the necessary precursor of workers’ rule as a short-term goal.
  3. We must make clear that in a post-revolutionary situation, the vanguard party CANNOT be the ruling party. If there is one party that maintains a monopoly over political power, it must suppress all that oppose it to maintain this position. This includes the suppression of those who expose the possible corruption, hypocrisy, and degeneration that may exist within the party. Thus, a monolithic party-state will lead to degeneration (this is what has happened every time to date) and is contradictory to the concept of workers’ rule.
  4. Above all, we have to be clear that workers will have concrete democratic rights of free speech under workers’ rule.

We have to be sure not to separate democratic rights from popular support, however. Revolutions like the Hungarian revolution ultimately failed because the revolution did not have popular support.

If the vanguard party does not have the popular support of the masses before and after the revolution, it cannot allow democratic rights of free speech and organization because the unhappy population will go along with anyone who opposes the vanguard, and thus the bourgeoisie will be able to manipulate the masses and retake power.

However, workers’ rule will be suffocated and in its place will arise a corrupt bureaucracy if such democratic rights of free speech do not exist.

So, we had damn well better make sure that the vanguard party has the support of the masses.

Many Leftist organizations insist that one party (the “real” Marxist party) will have to maintain a monopoly over political power because they are the only “real” representatives of the class, and that socialism cannot afford “breaks in the ranks.”

But if the “real” Marxist party has the popular support of the masses, it will not need to suppress democratic rights, and thus, workers will be able to expose any potential corruption from within the party and deal with it. In short, workers’ rule will be successful.

Further, the key to gaining the popular support of the masses is to assure them that true workers’ rule will not have to suppress democratic rights. So it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: if we gain popular support, workers will have democratic rights of free speech and workers’ rule will be successful; if we assure the masses that they will have democratic rights and workers’ rule will be successful, we will have popular support.

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