Monday, June 13, 2011

The Socialist Parties: A Collective Problem (part 2 expansion and corrections on the original)

If you have not read my first entry on this subject you can find part one here where I try to explain the reason why democratic centralism naturally degenerates in bureaucracy. I wrote part one when the topic was very personal to me and I made some simple minded errors that make me disgraced to admit I had ever written it. Instead of deleting it and pretending I never wrote it I would like to make corrections and expand on why democratic centralism often becomes corrupt. A comrade that has been around for a while showed me one of the major errors of that article and I will address all the problems with my first article first.

In the first entry I wrote: "Even Trotskyist use the democratic centralism model in most of their parties but when a party or country degenerates to bureaucratic centralism the trots call that party/country Stalinist. Of course a Trotskyist is never going to pass up a chance to jab at Stalin but in reality it was Lenin's model of democratic centralism that is/was incorrect."- I would like to be clear that I was wrong in this statement because the fact is that parties who have degenerated from DCism into dictatorship of the leadership are not following real Leninism. Lenin called for open detailed debate and that the party would then chose the best course of action. What happens in most parties in the US is that their leader or leaders make all the choices and the rank and file are expected to follow suit or else they are party traitors. And do not be fooled I have heard this story multiple time from members of Trotskyist, Hoxhaist, Maoist, ML and any other party. But I wanted to clear myself for my mistaken ideas of attacking Lenin's style dcism when it is not a historical figures fault but it differs on a party to party basis. I would like to reiterate that this is not a form of "Stalinism" but is a dialectal problem and should not be so simply brushed off.

I also said: "When a party starts there are usually a few members who are more dedicated than others or do more work than other members. This rightfully earns this said person a certain amount of respect among the founding members and new members. So they are elected to a seat of power. The problem is that as time goes on the people who started the group want to make sure things are run the way they want and that they stay in charge. So what ends up happening is that the original members end up with multiple seats or too much power."- I was mainly wrong in writing this in that corruption doesn't have to start at the beginning. It can also happen after a certain wing takes over main seats in the party. The person who is the leader will assign people that follow his line or people that will parrot everything they say to the point that democracy is not even needed in the party because everyone 'already agrees' but in reality this is corruption. What will then happen is that any one in the party who challenges the leadership on party lines or tactics, the leadership will say that you are disrespecting the choice of the party when in reality you may just disagree with the leaders who have no desire for real line struggle.

"we may need to do away with democratic centralism all together."- I think this statement was a result of my emotions I fear because we do need democratic centralism. But there needs to be more emphasis put on the democracy of the many. A small central committee made up of all like minded people shouldn't control a whole party. I think this is the reason that the corruption problem lies within most parties CC's.

A suggested solution: Central Committee's should be made up of people of different ideas and backgrounds. If you have healthy debate and different representatives in the CC I believe this could help eliminate the corruption problem most parties face. There is no reason why then people who are all friends and who all believe in the same exact line should all be on the CC. There should be a wide variety of ages on a CC also. Young people are more militant and adventurous when it comes to politics and older comrades seem to be more reserved and calculating (in a good way). We need a healthy mix of the two, not one or the other extreme.

I wrote at the end: "Obviously this writer knows he doesn't have all the answers but I am sick of seeing hundreds of intelligent individuals walking around parroting what their leaders, elders and party tell them to."- this I still believe and yes it still makes me sick.

I still have a deep mistrust of democratic centralism but this does not mean that I do not think it can not be properly implemented. I still think that communal democracy could be a good substitute or should be intertwined with democratic centralism. I am still a strong supporter of local chapters, cells or whatever they are called in a party having more power over their locals than the national party. As I said in my last post: "Communal socialism would be better because how is some one in LA or DC or NYC suppose to know what we need in Mississippi or Illinois or Colorado etc? Only the people from those areas know exactly what they are producing and what they need. Each area would be more personally in charge of themselves and thus wouldn't feel the constant oppression of the centralized state." I still uphold this view.

Another problem I see is that the rank and file members of a group or party dogmatically defend their own submission to these kind of fake democratic centralism's. I think this half stems from a kind of sub-understanding of what real democratic centralism is and the other half can be contributed two ways. One; the dogmatic nature of communist who think just because Lenin said or wrote something and their party quotes him out of context that the must be right. And two; the party or group itself twist the ideas of democratic centralism to mean that rank and file members listen and are subordinate to their leaders and to self criticize or try to create a line struggle is against what Lenin taught and thus you are a naughty commie and need to be punished.

I think it may be time to start having Marxist Leninist debate nights between groups so as to force people to be theoretically involved and to force people to think outside of their parties little box. I for one can not stand when you are having a debate with someone from a party/ORG about their political line and all they do is shove their fingers in their ears and repetitively say the same thing their parties site says over and over again.

There is no reason why a group with less than 300 members should all be subordinate to 7-15 people. That is ridiculous and no one can make a strong enough claim to me that this is in any way democratic. Which brings me to my next point which is when the dogmatics after being out debated say 'well you have a liberal/bourgeois idea of democracy'. Democracy is a word that cannot mean but one thing. If we use word parts here it means "rule of the people" (google it if you don't believe me) so how can you call your group "democratic" centralist if you don't use democracy? In fact you are using a bourgeois definition of the word if you are defending a few people ruling over the greater number of people in your group. As this is how the bourgeoisie use the word democracy is to say that a few rule over the masses.

In short I think we need a open national debate on democratic centralism and what it means and how to use it properly. I think the true idea of democratic centralism has become lost and distorted to benefit a few leaders when it is meant to benefit the greater populace in a group.

I would really love to see some comments and peoples ideas at the bottom of this page. It is time to start discussing things of this nature.

Written by; Dustin Slagle

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