Such language is completely unnecessary to maintain our principles. It is revealing when people believe that they have to use language easily misunderstood in order to maintain their principles. It shows a great fear of selling out.
It is true the DSP lives today in a world that has seen so much betrayal of our ideals for a democratic and just world that it fears the same shift away from socialist ideals could affect it. While this is definitely part of our reality, the use of such terms and acting tough and passing tough-sounding phrases is no real protection.
On the contrary it reveals a developing leftist error. The preamble also makes a prediction of total demise unless the kind of structure referred to as Leninist (incorrectly) is adopted and followed. The preamble says the DSP would degenerate and no longer be a coherent organization.
We should give this some careful thought. Causa R in Venezuela does not follow any of this. They act precisely in the manner criticized by the DSP. Yet Causa R has not degenerated or collapsed. Instead they have gone from 20 members to tens of thousands directly in the leadership of major industrial unions, have the support of millions, precisely among the poorest Venezuelans and its industrial working class.
Does that mean Causa R, and what it advocates is right for Australia, or even Venezuela? That is not necessarily the case. Will they be able to go beyond their present gains with the organizational methods they have used up to now? That's a difficult questions to answer, but my point is we should drop this arrogance about the "proven Leninist principles of organization", meaning the structure that Cannon developed in the United States.
We need to maintain an open mind, to learn from not only the Russian experience but from that of others who have succeeded in winning the masses to break with bourgeois politics and for the independence of the class.
The Causa R example is an extreme one, but nevertheless useful. The original group of 20 members led by Alfredo Maniero decided on this course some 23 years ago. Maniero was driven by the need to root the organisaiton once again among the masses. To now look at Causa R and not recognize its success and potential would be blindness.
Never say never
It is wrong to make statements like: "Any attempt to start with a politically heterogeneous, loosely organized group, to try and win a mass base, and then try to turn it into a tight Bolshevik-type party, would end in disaster. It wouldn't have revolutionary politics." Or, "But there's never been a case of a loose organization without trained cadres ever being able to lead a socialist revolution."
First of all, Lenin's party did begin with a politically heterogeneous, loosely organized group, which did win the masses, the Second International. And then Lenin did succeed in building within such an organization a more cohesive formation.
Yet John Percy's report, quoted above, refers to exactly what Lenin did as something that would end "in disaster", something that's impossible. The point John Percy is defending is the concept that one starts with a small but hardened cadre formation with a fully developed "revolutionary socialist" program and then you win the masses and become a big cadre formation.
Any other vision is dead wrong. History says John is wrong. What we have never seen yet, but we probably will see some day is what John advocates. Everything is possible over time and in rapidly changing circumstances.
Secondly, the FSLN is a perfect example of an organization that was completely heterogeneous politically, and deliberately so. Yet it did succeed in winning the masses and carrying out armed struggle to bring down the Somoza dictatorship.
So was the July 26 Movement in Cuba. Statements about the "only" way that things will happen or could "never" happen are generally wrong. Causa R continuing to evolve in its class struggle orientation cannot be ruled out in the manner that John Percy does in his report to the DSP. In the recent military uprisings against the government in Venezuela the masses poured into the streets to support the soldiers trying to end the Mafia-like, corrupt rule of the bourgeois political parties.
The media immediately started a campaign against Causa R, accusing it of intrigue with the rebel military officers and of hiding arms, etc. In the recent elections the military threatened a coup if Causa R won. What will happen in the next period is unclear. This is a living struggle.
There is no question Causa R is standing up for the working class and promoting its interests. It does not fit the schema of the DSP, so undoubtedly the DSP will expect it to "end in disaster", focusing its attention on the limitations of Causa R's stated platform.
If the DSP leadership believes views like those put forward by Steve Robson at the 19?? DSP national conference will mean disaster, one can only imagine what they think of Causa R. After all, what Causa R advocates and practices would make Steve Robson look like a raving centralist.
Causa R, like the Greens, tries not to vote at meetings. Anyone can join or leave, they are publicly against democratic centralism and so on. They didn't fall apart, they did not lose their effectiveness, if by that we mean leading the class struggle, fighting for the rights of workers, winning masses to a class break with the parties of the bourgeoisie, etc.
In criticizing Robson the DSP leadership used a method that has been characteristic of all sectarian Trotskyist groups. Once anyone challenges the leadership you make a class characterization of that person. Barnes did that to Jim Percy. Jim was great as long as he agreed. Once he differed it was discovered he had been a "petty bourgeois" type all along. He was a student hippy type with a beard who owned a house. Ipso facto petty bourgeois, wrong politically.
Percy would inevitably lead to the liquidation of the party, since he was adapting to the petty bourgeoisie milieu. The method goes like this: someone raises a criticism but insists they agree with socialism, and the overall program, Leninism, Marxism, etc, the leadership then claims there is a "logic of the line". The logic of the line is always to capitulate to pressures. Pressures from whom? Why, naturally, the petty bourgeoisie, usually the radical petty bourgeoisie. In DSP language the "left-liberal" milieu. What this method does is end the discussion.
It is a way of refusing to consider criticisms. It is a culture that crushes democracy and debate. The message that such a method sends out to the rank and file is "differ, and you will be driven out".
Here is an exact quote used by a DSP leader against Robson: "While Comrade Robson has not consistently thought through where the line and orientation he has begun to develop will lead (hence his denials that he is not for building a Leninist cadre party), nevertheless, it represents an adaptation to the pressures of this left-liberal milieu. The logic of the line he has begun to develop is to dissolve the party into this milieu ... It is a liquidationist line ..."
In one form or another I have read that quote 100 times. Its role is to end debate and to silence others.
The New Zealand Alliance
In general, in recent DSP documents there is a tendency to rigidity. And in the analysis of other currents the main focus is on program. When looking at the marvelous mass break in New Zealand from the two parties of the rich, the DSP documents refers to the Alliance as left-liberal.
This is utterly wrong. It misses the entire point of the process that is occurring and the potential made possible by the appearance of the Alliance. The Alliance is a definitive break by working people from the two parties of the bourgeoisie. It is the starting point in the framework of New Zealand to develop a mass movement for social change and democracy.
It can lead to a struggle in the unions for democracy and a class-struggle orientation, and may lead to the development of massively increased class consciousness and a culture of struggle. To look at the Alliance from a programmatic framework, and not see that the mass break is its most important underlying programmatic statement, is an idealist approach to politics.
The DSP reports see the Alliance as "a break with Laborism" or as a break to the "left". But stating it this way can miss the whole point. It is a break with class-collaborationist politics, it is a class break, and like all mass developments it has only a partial platform with a lot of areas left unstated.
To say that in Australia this is not a "model that we'd want to copy politically" because, "They will have activists but not revolutionary cadres, with revolutionary socialist politics" is utter leftist confusion.
What has happened in New Zealand, politically speaking, is the number-one goal that we need in every industrialized nation. It is the beginning of a mass, conscious break with class-collaborationist politics. The key to politics in New Zealand today is to have this break survive, grow and expand. The key to the evolution of the Alliance in New Zealand is rooted in international events.
The main victory of the New Zealand development for the working class is its example internationally, and likewise the present international r