The REDSTAR2000 Papers

Listen to the worm of doubt, for it speaks truth. - Leftist Discussion

A New Communist Paradigm for the 21st Century May 8, 2003 by RedStar2000

In an earlier post, I outlined my views on the "Social Democratic" and the "Leninist" paradigms for revolutionary communist organizations. While the former appears to inevitably lead to the abandonment of communist revolution, the latter seems at best to result in what Marx called "Prussian socialism" or "barracks socialism"...a militarized equality of misery totally at odds with the goal of communist freedom and abundance.

I would like to suggest here some of the features I think would (must?) be characteristic of a communist movement in the 21st (and subsequent?) centuries. This is not a plan; it is hopefully some observations that would lead towards a plan.

If we are not to be politicians running for office (social democrats) or wannabe military commanders of the proletariat (leninists), then what should our role be? It's not easy to pin down in a single word, but to borrow some concepts from the capitalist class, perhaps we communists should consider ourselves the "think-tank/publicists" of the proletariat.

Education and agitation would be our specialties; we would be constantly attempting to raise the level of class consciousness amongst our own class, urging it to be more rebellious, more determined in its struggle to overthrow the capitalist class...and at the same time we would also be explaining to non-working class elements in society why working class revolution would be in their class interests.

We would take it upon ourselves to outline the shape of communist society in such a fashion that ordinary working people could easily grasp the goal, both its necessity and its practicality. At the same time, proposals and struggles that fall short of the goal of communism would be subject to the most rigorous criticism--the plusses and minuses would be fairly and clearly explained. We would never "command" the working class or parts thereof to participate or refrain from participating in any reformist endeavor...we would simply and calmly point out what was at risk, what would be required, and what the likely consequences would be. We would always agitate that any reformist struggle be carried to the next higher level...until such time as communist revolution itself showed up on history's agenda.

It would not be the goal of communists to become "leaders" of non-communist organizations; we should resist the temptation to "take over" and "guide" non-communist groups "for their own good". We communists furnish the ideas that enable our class to lead itself. We do not put ourselves forward as "great leaders" without whom all is "hopeless."

Individual members of the communist organization would determine with advice from trusted comrades whether or not to participate in any particular struggle...but it would have to be clearly understood that the purpose of participation would be in order to raise communist ideas. A "communist" who only engages in reformist activities has effectively ceased to be a communist--though s/he might still be a progressive element.

The new communist organization would be a membership organization, where practical organized into local collectives. It would meet in a national convention fairly frequently (every two years?) and freely elect a leadership collective by secret ballot.

The leadership collective would consist of the most trusted and admired comrades--trusted and admired not for their "skills" as self-styled "generals" but for their skills at thinking. Their's would be the task of the broad analysis of the present stage of working class struggle, the efforts of the capitalist class to contain/divert it, and what all communists should be telling our class about the next level of struggle. But this leadership collective is just as subject to criticism from any communist as any other communust. Any member of the new communist organization is free to criticize, internally or publicly, any other member.

The initiative for practical activity must come from the local collectives and the individual membership. The leadership collective strives for as much theoretical clarity in the communist movement as a whole that can be attained; it never tells the membership "do this" or "go there." The local collectives determine, in a practical sense, "what is to be done."

We shall strongly discourage the idea that one arena of struggle is "more important" than another. Communist ideas must spread everywhere if revolution is to be successful. There should be no place for "moral superiority" or "status seeking" of one struggle over another; resistance to capitalist hegemony is to be encouraged no matter how unlikely the source. And, we always point out, in a fraternal way, the next step.

We would strongly encourage responsible, class-conscious behavior by all of our comrades in both their political and their personal lives. Political "alliances" and personal ties with pro-capitalist elements will be vigorously criticized and, except under very unusual circumstances, almost certainly condemned. Likewise, stupid and abusive behavior in one's personal life (violence towards women and children, dysfunctional drug abuse, etc.) will not be tolerated.

But we should be careful when we have to separate ourselves from someone and not turn them into "non-persons". They were once comrades; it's always possible that they may someday be comrades again. Just because someone who once agreed with us now no longer agrees with us is no legitimate reason to paint them as "devils" or "always counter-revolutionaries".

The specific tactics and strategies that such an organization might pursue, I will leave to future discussion. But, in a large and fuzzy sense, I know what I want to see: clear commuist ideas should be as wide-spread and well-understood by all of society as capitalist ideas are understood now. Not that a very large number of people won't still disagree with us; but even they will know just what it is they're disagreeing with. We must become an integral part of the "universe of public discourse" that everyone will have to confront.

Nothing less will do.

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As to merely closing religious buildings or converting them into museums or other uses, the Russians tried that and it didn’t work. As soon as the heat was off, the god-suckers came crawling out from under their rocks, and within weeks of the end of the USSR there were parades carrying icons of "St. Nicholas the Martyr"--the last czar of the old Russian Empire.  

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