In July 16, 1984, Comrade Nahuel Moreno, invited by the Socialist Youth, talked about the organization of the revolutionary party. This article is the written version of his lecture corrected by the author himself. It was originally published in Buenos Aires in Solidarity Notebooks, Political Education Reader No. 1, 1984.
By Nahuel Moreno (July 16, 1984)
The New Revolutionary Situation and the Organization of the Party
In the last meeting of the National Committee (NC) we addressed the new revolutionary political situation that started in our country after the great wave of strikes held last June and we voted for a set of resolutions to match the activity and the organization of the party to this new stage of class struggle.
The danger rests on these resolutions adopted being taken as a formal change of the organizational structure of the party and not as what it truly is: setting the organizational structure of the party to this new stage: a revolutionary one requiring intense agitation on the labor movement and the masses in general that allow us to move qualitatively in our organic structuring into the workplaces, education centers and working class neighborhoods. Put in another way, a new stage whose goals are to take advantage of favorable objective conditions and the progresses we have achieved in recent times to build thousands of cells, circles or party groups inside workplaces, education centers and working class and poor neighborhoods.
In order to avoid as much as possible that this revolution of party activity might be taken as an administrative or bureaucratic “revolution” of our current organizational structure, we believe that it is necessary to place the resolutions of our last NC into a theoretical and political framework. Such is the purpose of this article.
I – Theory and History of Revolutionary Worker’s Organization
The Centrality of the Organization
In general the questions on organization seem not to be a priority, something we tend to overlook, which are minor in comparison to other issues, be them “philosophy” – the dialectics or the theory of alienation – or even the passionate discussions about the economic or political situation – how is the imperialist economy? Is there a revolutionary situation in Argentina or Brazil? Full-fledged antiburocratic slates or united front to defeat the union bureaucrats? etc. However, the organizational question is the core, to some extent, for Marxist revolutionary activity. The programme and the policies must answer the question: which are the tasks, goals or slogans that today mobilize the masses towards the socialist revolution? The organization must answer to the question: which organization is required for the mass movement to carry out their struggle now? How do we organize the party that intends to lead the struggles, the revolution and workers’ power in each stage of the class struggle?
The question on organization is so crucial that, contrary to the beliefs of many activists, there were not only two but three great leaders of the Russian Revolution and the Bolshevik Party. Besides Lenin and Trotsky there was Sverdlov, the general secretary, the organizer of the Bolshevik Party. Yakob Mikhailovitch Sverdlov is not remembered for any treatise on economics, philosophy or Marxist politics. Nobody cares for a collection of his complete works – if they even exist. However, he was the more respected and dearest man of the Bolshevik Party. He was so important that when he died, he was replaced by four of the top Bolshevik leaders and the four failed as they were not able to carry out Sverdlov’s tasks.
Lenin, who was neither a demagogue nor prone to cheap praise, described Sverdlov, in his eulogy at Sverdlov’s funeral as the “proletarian leader who did more than anybody to organize the working class and to ensure victory” (At The Funeral Of Yakov Sverdlov, March 18, 1919, V.I. Lenin Collected Works, Volume 29, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, pg. 95).
In his eulogy for Sverdlov, pronounced March 18, 1919, he clarified his understanding:
“People who judge by what they see on the surface, the numerous enemies of our revolution, and those who to this day vacillate between the revolution and its opponents, consider the most striking feature of our revolution to be the determined and relentlessly firm way it has dealt with the exploiters and the enemies of the working people. There is no doubt that without this, without revolutionary violence, the proletariat could not have triumphed. Nor can there be any doubt that revolutionary violence was a necessary and legitimate weapon of the revolution only at definite stages of its development, only under definite and special conditions, and that a far more profound and permanent feature of this revolution and condition of its victory was, and remains, the organization of the proletarian masses, the organization of the working people. And it is this organization of millions of working people that constitutes the best stimulant for the revolution, its deepest source of victory….” (Speech in Memory of Y. M. Sverdlov at A Special Session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, March 18, 1919, V.I. Lenin Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 89-94).
For Lenin, this organization is a “far more profound and permanent feature” of the revolution than revolutionary violence itself. I mean, on one pole there is the action, the movement, the struggle, the spontaneity of the masses. On the other pole there is the organization that provides structure, continuity and permanence to all those actions and mobilizations. Without huge struggles and mobilizations the revolution is not possible. Nevertheless without the organization, there is no revolution either. The struggles wither away, the heroic actions of the masses vanish…
That is why the party not only set slogans calling for action and demands but it also set slogans calling for the organization of the masses. For instance, we decide upon the struggle goals: pay rise. Then we call for a concrete way to develop the struggle: general strike. Nevertheless, we also agitate the means to organize this struggle: mass meetings in each plant, delegates election, picket-lines, etc.
The question on organization is very difficult, very complex, because it contains itself a contradiction that sometimes becomes acute. Every organization or structure is conservative, already because it is prone to prevent what exists from disappearance, from destruction. At the same time the working class build and need revolutionary organizations to fight back the bourgeoisie and defeat them, that is, to destroy the capitalist system.
The Argentinean workers, for example, built big and powerful trade unions. For many years labor have achieved the goal of defending workers’ living standards until the economic crisis made it impossible during this last decade. However, these organizations played and still play a tremendous conservative role on the Argentinean proletariat, which enables right wingers – the Peronist bureaucracy – to lead them in such a way to prevent the emergence of neither a revolutionary leadership for labor nor room for a revolutionary workers party.
Precisely due to this contradiction the question of the organization is so difficult. If a revolutionary party is on the verge of becoming the leadership of the mass movement thus the key question is brought to the fore: Which is the organic relationship that will be established between the party and the masses?
The Soviets are the mass movement organization. They rule carrying out policies that might be good or bad. Policies are very important. Nevertheless without Soviets there would not have been possible to seize power, irrespective of how proper the policies of the Bolsheviks had been. The army mobilizes the masses to seize power and rule. On the other hand, there is the party which is the general staff of this army, which brings together the most militant and class-conscious vanguard. That poses a second question: on which organizational structure the party should work to be able to lead and to have an increasingly close relationship with the Soviets and the masses who take part in them?
The first issue, on the organization of the masses, is simpler than the second. The party cannot create or impose organizational frameworks to the masses. On the opposite, the masses themselves create them. The party must be ready to identify the emergence of the first symptoms and agitate about them in order to generalize them. Just in case they do not emerge, the party should, patiently, advise the masses on eventual organizational frameworks in accordance with the current situation and historical experience. Thus we launched slogans proposing workers’ coordination bodies in 1975 based on the historical experience of “interfábricas” (workers’ net) held 20 years before. Another example is our stand for the formation of workers’ militias led by the Bolivian Workers’ Center together with the Peasants’ Center in order to seize power basing ourselves on the lessons of the 1952 revolution.
The question of party organization, by contrast, rests on our hands. The masses can do wonders and show magnificent heroism and forge revolutionary organizations to seize power. If we do not set out our own organizational framework properly in such a way to allow us to build the general staff for these struggles and organizations, unless we can organize steadily and structure in ironclad the support for our policies and programme among the masses, the revolution and us will lose. Let’s see Bolivia’s example: revolutionary struggle abounds; mass organizations to seize power abounds, programme abounds… however there is no party as an organic structure firmly enrooted within the revolutionary masses. This is the critical question, a matter of life or death that must be addressed in Bolivia. The same happens in Argentina even starting from the premise that we have a party in better shape and a slower revolutionary pace.
The Changes in Mass Organizations
The workers’ and mass movements permanently change their organizational framework. Some changes have to do with the broad historical stages and are an expression of structural transformations of the working class. For instance, the craft unions reflected a skilled sector of the working class who was closer to craftwork than to the highly concentrated modern industrial working class, due to their social and productive life. Yet industrial unions are an expression of the latter.
On the other hand there are changes that address the concrete situation of class struggle. If the working class suffers a setback then they might take refuge in defensive organizations: trade unions. In the case of extreme defeat they might even push ahead mutual aid associations or cooperatives. However if we live a revolutionary upsurge, sooner or later, new organizations to exert power will emerge like the Russian soviets, the Chilean “industrial strings” (“cordones industriales”) and even the unions themselves change their character turning themselves into bodies of power as the Bolivian COB. In parallel, the working class form militias.
We have also seen revolutions carried out by the peasantry as in China, Vietnam and Cuba along which different mass organizations emerged: the guerrilla armies.
The same happens inside a plant. Typically the working class organize themselves through Workers’ Committees and elected delegates’ bodies (“comisiones internas y cuerpo de delegados”). However whenever repression is too strong, coming from either the bosses or the bureaucracy, the workers might organize themselves through football fans’ groups. When there are no struggles, mass meetings might not even be held. However when struggles are there or on their way, mass meetings become the main organizational tool for all workers. If the workers go on strike, there emerges a strike committee whose elected delegates, very often, are not the same ones who compose the legal and permanent leadership. Picketers might emerge as well, or “people’s waves” (“ollas populares”) which combine a picket line with a mass meeting, as it happens in our country.
It’s not possible to list the diverse types of organization the working class and the mass movement have built along history. Therefore we can conclude that, contrary to the claims of the bureaucracies of all kinds – from the Peronist union leadership to the Communist Party – the working class is definitely not settled into a fixed organizational structure (neither the bureaucratic unions according to Miguel nor the bureaucratic soviets according to Andropov). On the contrary the working class change their organization models at the pace of the stages of class struggle and the new necessities that come along.
Changing the Organization of the Revolutionary Socialist Party
The Stalinists manufactured a fetishism on the revolutionary socialist organization as being one fixed and immutable: working through small cells. We, poor Trotskyists, who survived isolated for decades, noticing that our organization was still small along the years, fell victims of this fetishism. Still we have not broken up with it. We continue to believe that it is the only model for a revolutionary socialist organization, as if they are the same.
In reality it is the opposite. The revolutionary socialist party is inflexible programmatically and on principles. However for Marxism there is nothing rigid or eternal. Even less should be the case of the party that strives for the permanent revolution. The party is extremely flexible when converting the program and the principles into strategies, tactics, slogans and concrete policies to address class struggle current situation. Each time there is a change in the objective reality, the party change their slogans, their policies, their tactics and strategies … and also their organizational model. This is the true essence of the revolutionary socialist model of organization: to change, to adapt to the reality of class struggle stages and their respective tasks and goals in accordance to party programme.
The party organization changes are determined by the combination of two key factors: class struggle situation and degree of development of the party itself.
It is clear that the organizational structure of the party cannot remain the same during a counter-revolutionary stage – under a fascist or semi-fascist regime – in comparison to a revolutionary stage. The first one should be ultra-clandestine, ultra-vanguard members meeting in small cells joined exclusively by militants proved in advance and steadily linked to the party. The latter should be open, legal, with large meetings whenever necessary gathering newcomers who would complete their enrollment process within the organizational structure of the party.
On top of these broad examples, within the same stage, the structure of the party is bound to adapt to objective social processes. The organizational structure will not be the same if sectors of the mass movement quickly move leftwards, or if, as often happens, in the first stage of the revolution, the masses in large numbers get drunk of “democracy” and flock towards reformist parties. In the first case, the party should adopt an appropriate framework to fit these mass sectors. In the second, despite of the revolutionary situation, you should keep the structure of the “vanguard party”, i.e., composed by a membership that, to a greater or lesser extent, have already decided to devote an important part of their lives to revolutionary militancy.
In order to not go so far, the party structure should be adapted to national characteristics and, more specifically, to the exploited classes. Of course, the party structure cannot be the same to intervene in the revolutionary process in Nicaragua and Argentina today. In Nicaragua there were virtually no unions under Somoza. The unions appeared massively after his fall. The revolutionary struggle was developed through a combination of war between armies and urban insurrections organized geographically by neighborhood. Evidently, revolutionary socialism had to adapt their organization to these national characteristics. Hence, the revolutionary party in Nicaragua, the Simon Bolivar Brigade, should have been organized around the people’s neighborhoods.
Argentina is totally different. The classical mass organization has been the unions for nearly a century. Within them, the key body for the past 40 years is the shop stewards themselves and their committee (“comisiones internas”). The party organizes itself on these bases: party groups on the shop floor of each company to fight for the leadership of these mass organizations.
Finally, under certain exceptional circumstances as the participation in bourgeois elections, the party sometimes must adopt a geographical-type neighborhood-centered organization leaving aside occasionally its classic structure around workplaces and educational centers.
However, the question on organization becomes qualitatively more complex because it also addresses a second factor: the party itself. Whenever we set a task or goal for a period we have to address two questions: whither class struggle? And: which is the stage of development of the party, which human material it has – leadership, cadre and membership – to intervene in this stage of class struggle?
Schematically there are three stages in the development of a revolutionary party:
- the founding core group, often a few individuals;
- the propaganda party which has already accumulated a few hundred cadre;
- the party with mass influence.
A developed revolutionary situation, along which sectors moving leftwards break with reformist and bureaucratic apparatuses, make it possible, objectively, to gather mass influence, i.e., to bring politically around the party programme rank and file sectors of the mass movement.
Obviously our organizational structure will not be the same if the party gather few individuals or if it has already a certain mass influence. In the latter, it is an obligation of the party to intervene and structure their groups in all sectors of the mass movement (albeit prioritizing the vanguard of the revolution, for example, the industrial working class in Argentina, mining and manufacturing workers in Bolivia, etc.).
On the other hand, if the party gather a small membership, any try to intervene in all sectors is fatal, it destroys the party. Rather, we have to turn all membership around one sector in order to not disperse forces, and place all party efforts, their organizations to gather mass influence in this sector.
In this case being a small party – a “propaganda group” – does not mean not intervening in full capacity in the revolutionary struggle. It is, rather, to carry out the same task that a larger party would make over the whole mass movement but only on one sector, the most favorable for rapid organic development and political influence of the party. Although the task is the same, the party structure is totally different. Adopting the wrong party structure, even carrying out correct politics, might lead to disappearance.
At another level, the organizational structure of the party depends on something as simple as capable cadre for building and leading party groups. This was a major problem for us. We took years and years to cope with it. We tried all kinds of organizational structures – by union, by factory, neighborhood … – nevertheless they all collapsed every six months or in a year’ time. A French comrade, without much theoretical knowledge, possibly reflecting Trotsky’s heritage while he lived in France, brought us the solution. This comrade asked us: how many cadres capable of leading party bodies we had. He advised not to set any body – such as a cell, a union faction, a neighborhood or theater group, or whatever – if we do not have any cadre able to lead it. Without leadership a party group fails, irrespective of how perfect are our plans. The question of having cadres is a key issue – whatever the stage of the class struggle we are going through – to define the organizational structure of the party.
For example, we decided to organize the party for the electoral campaign around 600 branches to be open in the peripheral working class neighborhoods. We were able to plan it because we had a similar or greater number of cadres able to open and lead the branches. If the party had only 50 cadres, we would have to figure out another organizational structure. Possibly we would concentrate on a few municipalities with large headquarters, or some other way.
Examining in depth class struggle at his time, mainly the Paris Commune, Marx defined the revolutionary tasks which were politically correspondent to the introduction of the “dictatorship of the proletariat”, i.e., destroying the bourgeois state and the establishment of a workers’ government:
“… the next attempt of the French Revolution will be no longer, as before, to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one hand to another, but to smash it, and this is the precondition for every real people’s revolution on the Continent. And this is what our heroic Party comrades in Paris are attempting.” (Neue Zeit, Vol.XX, 1, 1901-02, p. 709.)
(Letter of Marx to Kugelmann, April 12th 1871, cited by Lenin in The State and Revolution chapter 3.1)
“… The multiplicity of interpretations to which the Commune has been subjected, and the multiplicity of interests which expressed themselves in it show that it was a thoroughly flexible political form, while all previous forms of government had been essentially repressive. Its true secret was this: it was essentially a working-class government, the result of the struggle of the producing against the appropriating class, the political form at last discovered under which the economic emancipation of labor could be accomplished….” (Karl Marx, The Civil War in France, 1871, cited by Lenin in The State and Revolution chapter 3.5)
In order to achieve a working class government, a political party of the working class was necessary. In those days, the European working class did not have the right to vote or, if she had, she voted for the parties of the liberal bourgeoisie (a similar phenomenon to the Argentinean working class in relation to Peronism). In order to accomplish the fundamental political task of making the proletariat independent from the bourgeoisie, Marx, along with Engels, stood for one single party of the working class (something also similar to the slogan that we have often raised in our country “For a Workers or Labor Party”). Their stand was correct as neither the labor aristocracy nor the strong bureaucracies ahead of solid labor apparatuses had emerged yet.
However, as the nineteenth century went by and humanity got into the twentieth century, that stand became something dangerous, wrong, and ended up bringing negative consequences. We learned two fundamental lessons after that. The first, a general one, is that reality is superior than any theoretical conception. The reality of class struggle left behind that conception of Marx (along with few others, such as free trade, or the inevitable beginning of the world socialist revolution in the so-called advanced countries). The second lesson is that a rigid and static conception of organizational question is very unscientific and can be as reactionary as a rigid and static conception of any human and social phenomenon, from the sciences to the tactics of a revolutionary party.
The Social Democracy
Following the conception of Marx, the major European socialist parties were founded. They played a very progressive role for a whole period as they achieved political independence of the proletariat, finishing the tail-ending of liberal bourgeois politics. Still today the consequences of this progressive step represented by the great socialist parties are seen. The economic offensive of world imperialism achieved sizeable setbacks regarding workers wages in the semi-colonial world as well as in the United States and Japan. In Europe, by contrast, the setbacks are much smaller due to fierce resistance of the working class whose best examples have been the tremendous strikes of the British miners and German auto and steelworkers. This can only be explained by the fact that the European proletariat kept a level of working class consciousness and organization qualitatively superior to other proletariats even the more powerful ones as the American and the Japanese.
However these large socialist parties were influenced by these new social processes, as always occur. The emergence of imperialism brought the labor aristocracy into existence in European countries. This labor aristocracy was a privileged sector of the working class, better off than other workers in their own country and across the world. This labor aristocracy benefitted from the crumbs tossed to them by imperialist bourgeoisie through the exploitation of other workers particularly the ones from the colonies. In addition to this labor aristocracy, there were the upper layers of the socialist parties which had acquired legalization and continuously and systematically intervened in the parliamentary elections. These parties began to be assimilated by the bourgeois state apparatus. The world capitalist system was still developing the productive forces and, even during the first period of its decay as an imperialist system already, it could provide major political and economic reforms for the metropolitan working class. The proletariat from imperialist countries – and to some extent – across the world – were living a reformist era, not a revolutionary one.
Thus social democracy was organized primarily to achieve reforms and run candidates for elections, not to carry out a revolution against the bourgeoisie. The workers gathered in their branches to hear the speakers, but no one had the obligation of selling newspapers or carrying out any other task. The party just wanted electoral support. There was no discipline. The Social Democrats were not interested in daily intervention in the social structures, in the depths of the working class, in the shop floor, to organize the workers and the party itself in the daily struggles. It was usual for the social democrats to divide themselves before a strike action, a sector in favor and another against. Nevertheless both kept themselves in the party.
Thus the major socialist parties were huge electoral apparatuses, oblivious to the concrete and daily struggles of the working class and their organization although there were two exceptions: the British Labour and, to some extent, Belgian and German social democracy. The mass of socialist workers had a passive role. The only ones active were the ones permanently integrated to the party apparatus, which was controlled by lawyers, parliamentarians or candidates, full-timers, journalists, all those who were not subject to any control by the party as a whole.
The Bolshevik Party
Against Marx’s predictions, the first socialist revolution did not triumph in the most developed imperialist countries but in the least developed of them, the tsarist Russia. The then Russia had an overwhelmingly peasant population who never experienced bourgeois democracy, but it also had the most concentrated proletariat across the world. The need to build the party for the revolution under these objective conditions which required absolute secrecy as there was neither legal unions nor regular elections explains the emergence of a new type of party: the Bolshevik one. It will represent an innovative revolutionary organization whose key features were:
- a structure that Lenin called “conspirative”, i.e., centralized and disciplined, able for action in every situation of class struggle, flicking from the legality into clandestinity and vice versa, appropriate to centralize organically all the forces of mass movement to seize power by insurrectionary means;
- a clear-cut edge between revolutionaries and reformists. The latter were not accepted irrespectively of eventual socialist claims. The party was made of the revolutionaries. Reformists should build theirs;
- its core activity was not parliamentary elections but class struggle. It is the party for intervention in everyday struggles of the working class and the exploited masses. The party is built inside the working class and their struggles. It follows workers’ struggles which it seeks to organize each and everyone. It is present in all conflicts be them large or small. It works to lead them, to organize them, or at least to intervene in the spontaneous disputes of the working class.
As we can see it is a diametrically opposed organizational structure compared to the social democrat one.
The End of the Single Party of the Working Class
The organizational structure supported by Marx and Engels – the single party of the working class – was overcome by the experience of the Russian Revolution and the Bolshevik Party. The historical processes of the twentieth century demonstrated that the division between revolutionary socialists and reformists, i.e., in Russia between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks into two parties that were not only different but enemies, was fully correct. After 1917 this split happened in all countries. Social democrats and communist parties challenged each other, affiliated themselves to different internationals, the 2nd and 3rd. Reality demonstrated to be superior than Marx’s original party conceptions.
However, it is critical to expose the terrible mistake which is to stick to rigid conceptions on any terrain. The great German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg did not accept either the division of the socialist parties or the perspective for the revolutionaries to have their own organization. This cost her dearly, for her and her tendency, which had to face a revolutionary situation without a proper party leading to their annihilation by the repression of the bourgeoisie carried out by the government of reformist socialism. This defeat had tremendous effect for the international working class. The defeat of the German revolution due to the absence of such revolutionary party delayed the development and triumph of world revolution for decades marked by wars with millions of dead and awful situations of exploitation and poverty.
Based on the Bolshevik experience, revolutionary Marxists have been able to develop a theory that explains why there cannot be, at this stage, the one single party of the working class. Every class has several parties. Traditionally the bourgeoisie had theirs, representing different sectors: industrial, agricultural or financial, non-monopolistic or monopolistic, etc. Currently, as the big imperialist monopolies are holding control of all the global economic structure, there is a tendency to unity which is expressed in bipartisanship. Only two major parties tend to occupy the political scenario in the imperialist – capitalist system: a social-democratic type, to drag the workers’ vote; and a center-right one, to do the same with the middle classes’ voting. In Europe and a few countries of the semi-colonial world, such as Chile, reformist parties get workers’ votes. In many other countries, bourgeois parties directly get workers’ votes, as Peronism in Argentina, Acción Democrática in Venezuela, or the Democratic Party in the United States.
The working class is more homogeneous than the bourgeoisie. It is the most homogeneous class. However there is not enough political homogeneity in order to have a single party. Like every class, it has different sectors. There are aristocracies, medium and super- exploited workers on the verge of marginality. There are casual workers and others who work permanently; those who work for the heavy industry, light industry, services and also the agricultural proletariat. That is the reason for the emergence of different political parties.
Reflecting this structural heterogeneity, though not mechanically, there are different degrees of development of workers’ consciousness. As Trotsky said, in one of his brilliant analyzes, some sectors of the working class look backwards and others look forward (we should add that others do not look in any direction).
Obviously workers who have petty-bourgeois expectations, who still believe that progress can be made individually within the limits of the capitalist system will look for any bourgeois party or some kind of reformist party. Yet workers who want socialism, but do not realize that to achieve that it is necessary to carry out a revolution, will end up in some social democratic type party. Workers who are already revolutionaries will join the revolutionary Marxist party.
For any angle you take, there is no scientific reason to explain or justify that there should be only one single party for the working class.
As a product of the civil war – in which many thousands died – and hunger – that caused their return to the countryside – the old Russian working class, who built the Soviets and stood under the leadership of the Bolshevik party to carry out the revolution, disappeared. This physical disappearance of around 90 per cent of this class is the reason for the triumph of Stalinism in Russia. Stalin ruled over a new working class, recently coming from the countryside, without experience or tradition.
The Bolsheviks sought different ways for organizing this newly formed working class in a revolutionary fashion. For example, they pushed ahead non-Partisan workers’ caucuses, anti-hunger committees, etc. However, in general, they did not achieve good results. The consequence of this organizational weakness – which was a social weakness given that the working class vanished from Russian historical process – was Stalinism.
The consequences were that in Russia a new kind of organizing and connecting with the workers’ movement emerged. It was inorganic and strongly bureaucratized. Its main goal was exactly the opposite of the organization of revolutionary soviets and the old Bolshevik Party.
The revolutionary Soviets and the old Bolsheviks stood for developing, extending, generalizing and concentrating the spontaneous struggles of workers into one great revolution. Yet the Stalinist “Soviets” and the Stalinist “Bolshevik party” were to stop all struggles, to destroy the spontaneity of the masses, to avoid every organization the working class.
However, outside Russia, Stalinism kept only one element from the Leninist heritage: to be where the workers are, to have their cells and militants on the shop floor, to organize the working class, to work around their everyday problems and not around the bourgeois elections, to lead their small struggles.
Nevertheless these bureaucratic bastards use all this organizational capacity to carry out treacherous and counter-revolutionary class collaboration policies. They lead small struggles in order to better prevent the big struggles, I mean revolutions. Just in case they happen, they work to lead them to defeat. Alternatively if they triumph, they work to convert the new workers’ states into a counter-revolutionary tool.
Thus, Stalinism covered the open flank of social democracy. That is why in countries where social democracy exceptionally performs that role, as in England and Germany, Stalinism is very weak. However where there is a “classical” electorally strong social democracy, as in France, Spain, Portugal, Stalinism is powerful in the labor movement. Social Democrats betray the workers in electoral politics while Stalinists do the same on the grounds of daily struggles. It’s a real division of labor. And there is one Communist – Stalinist party, the Italian one, who performs both functions at the same time.
These organizational skills are the critical reason for the survival of Stalinism despite its tremendous global crisis. That is one of the reasons that prevent its full collapse. On many occasions the Communist party carried out extraordinary betrayals. However, the working class did not break with them. The Spanish workers, for example, witnessed the Communists fighting on their side and building a national labor tool: the Workers’ Commissions (“comisiones obreras”). At the same time the Communists called the workers to endorse the permanence of monarchy, and to support La Moncloa Pact. Despite of all republican tradition of Spanish workers and the disastrous consequences for their standard of living due to the implementation of La Moncloa Pact, the Spanish CP, although divided, fragmented and weakened electorally, remains the leadership of Workers’ Commissions. The Workers’ commissions are still very strong compared to the languid UGT led by the Social Democrats. Of course Social Democracy fulfill their counter-revolutionary role, dragging the working class electorally.
II – To Revolutionize Party Organization
The matter of organizational forms becomes a priority issue in those moments because there is a change in the objective situation. We’ve passed from a stage to another: a situation of transition that was produced after the triumph of Alfonsin to a new revolutionary situation.
After the triumph of Alfonsin, what generated great enthusiasm, there was a retrocession in sectors of the vanguard which perceived this success as a double coup: the masses to some extend had turned to radicalims; working class was still overwhelmingly peronista; no left political party, not even the weakest, saved themselves of the polarization gale. Based on electoral results, a new stage had opened, a stage we defined as “transitional”, undefined, between a deepening of the revolutionary process or, on the contrary, towards stabilization of the regime and the government.
This stage is over. The game is now played as before October 10th. The symptoms of crises in the regime aggravate. The working class ascent puts on strike and on the streets millions of workers. Even though the majority of working class movement is still peronista, this process express itself in those sector of the vanguard that retakes the course that they had before election: left parties, including ours, strengths; thousands of sympathizers that went away with the electoral defeat of the left come back. Alfonsin was a dam that refrain for a time this seminatural dynamics. However it was not enough to stop it. A florescent situation is being repeated as before elections, but in a higher level. In the last year the process passed through bourgeois elections. Presently it is deeper; it passes through daily struggle of the working class which objectively questions capitalist system. Within the struggle, preparing accompanying or flourishing on them, a new leadership of the working class movement is up surging.
Differently from the previous stage, in which we struggle on the enemy field, the bourgeois elections, now we combat in our own field, the class struggle.
In this new revolutionary situation the party must revolutionize its organization under the general lines enunciated by Lenin in 1905 Russian revolution:
“A revolutionary epoch is to the Social-Democrats what war-time is to an army. We must broaden the cadres of our army, we must advance them from peace strength to war strength, we must mobilise the reservists, recall the furloughed, and form new auxiliary corps, units, and services. We must not forget that in war we necessarily and inevitably have to put up with less trained replacements, very often to replace officers with rank-and-file soldiers, and to speed up and simplify the promotion of soldiers to officers’ rank.”
“To drop metaphor, we must considerably increase the membership of all Party and Party-connected organisations in order to be able to keep up to some extent with the stream of popular revolutionary energy which has been a hundred fold strengthened.”
“In war-time, recruits should get their training lessons directly from military operations. So tackle the new methods of training more boldly, comrades! Forward, and organise more and more squads, send them into battle, recruit more young workers, extend the normal framework of all Party organisations, from committees to factory groups, craft unions, and student circles!”
“Give more scope to all the diverse kinds of enterprise on the part of the most varied groups and circles, bearing in mind that, apart from our counsel and regardless of it, the relentless exigencies of the march of revolutionary events will keep them upon the correct course.”
“Young fighters should be recruited more boldly, widely, and rapidly into the ranks of all and every kind of our organisations. Hundreds of new organisations should be set up for the purpose without a moment’s delay.”
“If we fail to show bold initiative in setting up new organisations, we shall have to give up as groundless all pretensions to the role of vanguard. If we stop helplessly at the achieved boundaries, forms, and confines of the committees, groups, meetings, and circles, we shall merely prove our own incapacity.”
(V.I. Lenin in New Tasks and New Forces, Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 209-220)
A New Leadership Surges in the Working Class Movement
We don’t want to detain ourselves in the analysis of the new situation for the party has done it in several other opportunities. We just want to point out that within the new situation there are three phenomenon of critical importance:
- There is a strong wave of strikes in factories and lead by unions demanding increase in wages. Those strikes set the possibility of a general strike, so far frustrated only by the betrayal of burocracies and its agreements with government;
- Everywhere surges Internal Commissions and Delegate Bodies with new leaders of the working class not controlled by the bureaucracy. A new leadership of the working class movement is surging. It will relentlessly substitute the old bureaucracy already decaying. That is not to say that this new leadership will be revolutionary socialist.
- We are in the amid union elections, what sets a great opportunity to gather this new union vanguard to struggle for the leadership of unions.
Out of those three processes, the last important is union elections, with fix dates set by government, which is contrary to the natural development of the new leadership. The lack of experience of the new vanguard will impede for the moment the bureaucracy to be defeated in the elections, mainly after the pact it made with Alfonsin. We must use the elections as a tool to gather and unify this new vanguard. Above all we must politically monitor this experience gaining groups to the party.
On the other hand, the most important process is the development of working class grass-root organisms: the Internal Commissions and the Delegate Bodies. On those, leadership renewal is complete. Traditionally those are par excellence the organisms of our class, the truly daily leadership of the struggles. Every Internal Commission, every delegate we politically gain or that is influenced by the party is a leap forward towards our strategic goal: to provide working class movement with a revolutionary leadership.
This revolution from within the working class movement is one we’ve been waiting for decades. We may say that, though not in the union superstructure and in CGT, but on the deep structure of union movement, the democratic revolution that the country went through in the period of Malvinas is almost triumphant. Working class movement has gained its internal legality. Even though there is still some quarrel, the time of the bureaucracy and its partners with their gangs, single lists and dictatorial methods in the working class organization is over. To intervene with all our forces in this grass-root leadership renewal is the party’s main task.
To Retake Our Political Space
The reviving of revolutionary situation offers us great advantages. First of all, the masses can rapidly make the experience with its traditional parties. Those parties show up daily as working class enemies. This process can be somehow slow for there is an immense political backwardness in our working class. It is symptomatically occurring though and sooner or later it will be massive.
Another additional advantage that contributes to the decay of Argentinian bourgeoisie and its representatives is the colossal stupidity of those. We could rarely profit from a government that every minute digs its own grave or spread farces that don’t convince not even a baby like the one made by Grinspun about the external debt when he accomplished to be no more than ridiculous.
Our party is well localized in this framework. We had a hit in the election campaign when we target the external debt as a central issue. Nowadays, when reality puts it back again as critical, we are provided a great leap. The same sympathizers that refrained suspecting Alfosin had took us all future perspective now come back again and say: “You were right”. The ones who didn’t previously agree with us now do agree. At least if they don’t agree with the nonpayment of the external debt they recognize that we were right when we pointed out it was a critical issue.
Presently we are armed with this political capital and new slogans to this stage such as: better wages, general strike, new leadership to the working class movement, permanent denounce of Alfonsin as workers enemy and IMF agent. We are in condition to carry a very powerful political offensive. We can rapidly retake the political space we had before and occupy even more space. We must take over streets again with a systematic agitation of those slogans taking deeply advantage of every new fact – like now the plebiscite over Beagle channel – with a concrete policy and a very important task.
This does not deny the fact that the masses do not turn to the left towards us. The fundamental process the party cannot lose under penalty of retroceding and making retrocede the revolutionary process itself is the building of the new political and union leadership of the working class movement. This building means the new delegates in the companies on a union level and means to strengthen the party on a political level.
The Rest of the “Left” Runs in Disadvantage
The process of the political vanguard is expressing itself in the growth of all left. The Communist Party has demonstrated it as well as the IP and to a certain extend the old peronista left as seen in its columns in the last demonstration against IMF. Old classism in its turn do not present at the moment the same dynamic since it was harshly defeated with the failure of ENTRA and other groups. However classism can incorporate to this dynamic as a political tendency if it can sustain it.
One thing is that those organizations strength as political parties. Another very different thing is to say that they strengthens as part of the new leadership of the working class movement where, we insist, is by far where the most important struggle is being fought.
There are two reasons why this battle is hard to be fought by those organizations. In the unions, none of those tendencies are deeply rooted on the working class following the struggles its makes against patrons and the bureaucracy, as CP does among metal workers, followed by Miguel.
The second reason, this one decisive, is from a political nature. Those tendencies do not confront alfonsismo or the social-economical capitalist system. On the contrary, all of them go along with government. This fact places those tendencies against the objective process of the mass movement and its vanguard, which are increasingly opposing the government, the regime and semi colonial capitalist system. For many a comrade the nature of wage dements of the present struggle hidden its deep content which is anticapitalist because it strikes the system in its critical point: surplus value, the profit of bourgeoisie and imperialism that has no other way out in this system. We claim that this is precisely the essence of the present struggle of the working class. That’s why “left” political tendencies are day-to-day getting apart from this struggle and from the new leadership that is surging.
Even if those tendencies grow as political parties they do not express the day-to-day growth in the dispute for the political leadership of the new working class vanguard. They may have delegates in the factories and even get more delegates. However they are not obsessed like we are to gain those delegates. This is not the axes of their political activity.
Within this frame, CP is by far our most dangerous enemy. They have methods that resembles ours: they go to the factories, they build groups there and they gain new activists. However, as we said before, their political positions set them apart and put them against the objective process of the new leadership. It’s necessary to add that such a political leadership as Nadra and Fava, who betrayed to the point of directly supporting Videla and voted for Iglesias, surely is preparing another similar political catastrophe in a short term.
The old peronista left is part of the overall crisis of peronismo. Fell or nothing can they do if we compare it to the extraordinary insertion that reached Los Montoneros14 and JTP in the previous stage, from 1969 to 1975. Sectors of Intransigência and Movilización Peronista go to the elections completely degenerated along with the worst bureaucrats. There are those on the other hand that became government agents making agreements and being the last one of the radicals. Finally, some others open to us the opportunity to develop a work as they do – and we are developing this work in many places. However this is a stage on the process of rupture with peronismo towards leftwing and not a strengthening of what once was the “glorious JP”.
The old classism of Piccinini also ends up working as a government agent daily coming apart from working class expectations. They will probably reach some influence among privileged, white-collar workers. However is very unlikely that they deeply penetrate in the majority of the working class subjected to fierce exploitation and increasing poverty.
To conclude, we have competitors in the struggle to gain politically the new working class vanguard. Nevertheless none of them is a competitor that can defeat us, even if we don’t diminish the terrible enemy that is Stalinism. It depend on us to impede that those parties or tendencies rise up again a dam between the working class vanguard and socialist revolution.
The Party Facing a Historical Opportunity
Our party faces one of those historical opportunities that only present itself from time to time. We can win part of the new leadership of the working class movement struggle in the factories and unions. Through this way we are building the new political leadership on which depends the triumph of the socialist revolution in Argentina.
This is the fourth time a process like this occurs in our country since our tendency exists. We can locate the first one around 1944 with the liquidation of the old Stalinist and socialist reformist leadership and the upsurge of a new working class leadership that founded the new peronistas unions. This new leadership crystalized itself in the Labour Party, a working class party that would vote for Peron but would keep independent from him. It uprooted Stalinism from working class leadership by using systematic betrayals that CP leadership committed against working class because of its attachment to Kremilin diplomacy and, through this way, attached to American imperialism, English imperialism and to all allied block.
Labour Party, who gave Peron his victory on elections capitalizing working class votes, was soon annihilated by Peron himself who forced the dissolution of LP within his own bourgeois party and jailed LP’s supreme leader, Cipriano Reyes, for years. At the same time Peron bureaucratized unions leadership making out of them Work Ministry employees.
We were then a small group and we couldn’t prevent the peronista process to develop. It was based on exceptional economic conjuncture that allowed proletariat to conquer huge concession from bourgeoisie through reformist ways without ruptures with capitalist system. However we intervened with all audacity. We ended up as leadership of the largest refrigerator of the country, Anglo-Ciabasa – which was the largest company – and we had great influence over all the union. Peronista wave passed over us but it was demonstrated what a Trotskyist policy and organization can do when it knows how to take advantage of the favorable social processes.
The second process was the liquidation of the old peronista bureaucracy of Espejo and allies. It developed between 1952 and 1959 based on the growing discontentment with Peron anti-working class policies in the last years of his government and, after that, the heroic resistance to the gorilla coup. This new leadership also crystalized in a political expression, almost a political party: the 62 organizations.
It was the time of our entrism in peronismo, a policy that was never understood in the international Trotskyist movement. We always distinguished two tendencies within peronismo. One that we always identified as rotten and hateful since its birth that is the Peronista Party –not even to speak of the “feminist branch”! We’ve always considered them as reactionary sub products, sleazy phenomenon. The other tendency, the one that has always caught our attention, is the union movement. We made entrism there and we are proud of it.
Presently the 62 are nothing. Nevertheless in that period all peronista groups, thousands of extraordinarily combative activists, the best of working class movement, the ones who struggle since 1956 against the gorillas and recover the unions, all would flood there. Palabra Obrera, together with grass-root peronistas of the Workers Grouping Movement (Movimento de Agrupaciones Obreras) founded many of those groupings and recover many of the most important unions from the military interveners. This movement was latter organized by the 62 and, within it, we were a power.
We kept being a group of a bit more than 100 comrades immersed on the workers mass that was overwhelmingly peronista. However we’ve accomplished wonders. We were the strongest in UOM  in Avellaneda, Matanza and Bahia Blanca and we were the second in Federal Capital and other branches. We were the leadership of the great Metal workers strike of 1956. The defeat of this strike impeded us to become a massive working class party though we kept mass influence in unions. So big was our influence that our little group would sell 10.000 newspapers weekly.
Peronismo again through the new bureaucracy of Vandor, Framini and allies would blocked our way.
There is a third process of leadership renew, from 1969 to 1975 starting with the Cordobazo, that was aborted. Its first push started with Sitrac-Sitram25 and goes on with Tosco, Piccinini and the coordinators of Rodrigazo in 1975. By the time we calculated that nearly 25% of working class already had a new leadership opposed to the bureaucracy.
This new leadership also had a clear political sign; it was pro-guerrilla. We also played a major role in its building in the coordinators of Grande Buenos Aires north zone, for instance. However we didn’t fully take advantage of this opportunity, as we shall see.
The new leadership aborted in the most wretched way. Its guerrilla and elitist character ended up isolating this leadership from rank and file. The coup of 1976 physically exterminated them or obliged them to exile. Even though the genocide couldn’t stop the process on the other way; peronista union bureaucracy keep putrefying and hate among rank and file wouldn’t stop growing.
Over this fertile field was set up the revolutionary stage we are living in fully opening this forth change in working class leadership. Nevertheless, this time the opportunity is qualitatively superior, one of those that happen every 30, 40 or 50 years by a combination of circumstances:
-it happens in a revolutionary stage, not in a reformist like the previous. The country decay is such one that converts economical struggles of the working class into anticapitalist struggles. The revolutionary emergence opened with Malvinas retook and deepened its flow after the short time of half a year following Alfonsin victory;
-old bureaucracy is a stinky corpse with no capacity to rebuild itself again like in other periods;
-Peronismo lives an apparent dead end crisis
-our comrades to the “left”, as seen before, are tied by its own policy of supporting government and the regime and/or a shameful branch of a reactionary peronismo in decay;
-for the first time we face such a situation with a strong party, a far-reaching one in a national level with hundreds if not thousands of new and old cadres. We also have a long and wide experience guided by glorious names such as Grupo Obrero Marxista, Palabra Obrera and Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores.
We Are in the Crossroads
Class struggle situation and the party situation itself put us in a crossroad. There is an inevitable law to socialist revolutionaries: if we are not a sect, all big opportunities we waste means retrocession and crisis. All evolutionary, gradual development is false. If we keep in the rhythm and organizational form we presently have we won’t go “slow but surely” forward; we will go fast and all the way backwards. What is worse, we won’t answer to a matter of life or death to the Argentinian revolution: our party will rather become a party of the masses or it will once again let pass this great revolutionary historical opportunity, the biggest our country ever had gone through. If we don’t answer building here and now the great party of revolution, deeply rooted, attached to the mass movement and to the working class vanguard, the alternative is a new coup and a new genocide even worse than the dictatorship we’ve just defeated.
We need than an urgent party revolution. Not in our policy, that proved to be right, but in our activity and organization. Since the revolutionary stage had opened we’ve been through stages in the party activity and organization: legality, with the elections, and “transitional” stage. Now we must take the third stage, the revolutionary situation, with all our will.
We faced the electoral stage with a party that, in clandestinely, by any reason – justifiable or not – was essentially organized in big city centers. And within big cities like Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Rosario, we were harshly persecuted. We were almost a Buenos Aires party and centered on unions like bank workers, once it was a period of easy money and because it was easier to find jobs there once it was the economical branch that most developed.
When we realized the dictatorship had gone than comes a stage of wide democratic liberties and elections are inevitable. We adopted an audacious transcendent organizational resolution to adapt the party to the new situation. Without this resolution, analyses would be useless. Resolution consisted on getting out of the three super clandestine little headquarters that party had and open from 200 to 300 headquarters on the most peripheral neighborhoods concentrating working class. Those headquarters came to be the central organizational form of the party and gave us extraordinary results.
When we properly got to electoral campaign, we set ourselves the task of opening 200 or 300 new headquarters at any cost. We had an immense leap. So much we grew, so strong became the party that we would open headquarters without paying rents for the workers would pay for it collecting money on the neighborhoods. The highest point of this leap was the demonstration of Luna Park. We came to sell 60.000 party papers. We don’t know exactly if we reached 10, 15, 20 or 22 thousand militants.
To shape this organizational form we reflected on the reality of the country and of the working class movement and on the situation of the party as well. We could open the headquarters because there was a fringe of rupture with peronismo that gave us material to do so. And also because the party had the necessary cadres. We must remember that at the end of the campaign to open the headquarters each one of them were practically under the leadership of a single comrade. The cadre or, to get used to Leninist terms, the “boss” of the headquarter.
Thus we enter the second stage, the “transitional”, precipitated by elections. It seemed that one or two months before began our retrocession. As peronismo and Alfonsin strengthened there were signs that no portion of the masses would come toward us at the same time that the ones who had come towards us were then departing. There were great doubts in the party. Almost all the cadres had the opinion we were not losing. Some few militants observed that meetings in the headquarters were less and less attended by comrades. However those hypothesis – and that is what they were – were not sufficient to decide for a new organizational change. It was necessary to ponder that is very dangerous to change organizational forms from one day to the other, without sufficient accuracy in characterizations, in an irresponsible way, when we were in the middle of the electoral campaign. Imagine what would have happened to the party if we had closed the headquarters before the elections.
The electoral defeat made clearly evident two phenomenon we hadn’t detected two weeks before: we didn’t keep around us any sector of the masses and as a consequence we lost hundreds and thousands of militants. We can discuss whether we lost some few thousands or ten thousand. Even though the truth is that headquarters got empty in a supersonic speed.
Because of this double phenomenon, both objective and subjective, we changed our organizational form since October 30. In the mass movement as a hole the democratic inebriation reigned along with the expectative over the new regime and government. We were reduced to a quantity of thousands of organized militants that at best reached some thousands militants. We analyzed we had fallen (or stepped back) into the category of “vanguard party”. We gave ourselves the organizational form of retrocession. We went to big headquarters. We gathered comrades to better stand the storm. We gave ourselves as the main task to strengths the party through politization.
Now we are in the third stage. We believe that the storm has gone. There is discontentment with the government that proved to be fragile and with serious crises symptoms; a new working class leadership upsurges in several levels. It seems that the sectors we’ve influenced during electoral campaign are now coming back to us. It’s possible that new sectors of the working class and mass movement are arising, even though as minority, that is breaking with peronismo, what deepens its crisis; or those sectors are rather coming back from its short spring with alfonsismo. What is new: we start to gain for the party the best of the working class. We came out of our retrocession with nearly 1500 cadres.
We can’t go on closing the headquarters. We must go out again to repeat in a higher level the formidable experience that was to open the headquarters, to make the Luna Park demonstration and to sell 60.000 party papers. We must repeat, corrected and amplified, this stage that we claim as the most brilliant and colossal of our party history, with mass influence.
It’s an opportunity like no other. We are in a stage where we can and must multiply the selling of party papers in new companies, neighborhoods, schools and colleges. As the shadow of the body, behind the party papers must follow party organisms in all those places where we put ourselves. Before we had the party papers and neighborhood headquarters. Now we have as a task: to sell the newspaper and build party groups and youth groups in thousands of factories, mills, schools, universities and working class and popular neighborhoods.
To a certain extend we face then a similar task to the opening of headquarters. When we opened it we parted from a deep socio- cultural analysis of the working class. Presently, among overtime, traveling, etc., almost all workers are out of their homes for at least 12 hours. Long trips, extended working days, brutal work wreck us. We would not be Marxists if we ignored this reality, opening headquarters in major centers and calling workers to come to them. We did the opposite: we went where workers were, where they lived, where on Saturday or Sundays afternoons they could talk to us without that meaning a further sacrifice. The fact that the central activity was election was the second compelling reason for us to adopt the organizational form of the headquarters.
Now we have to do the same. We must go where workers are. Now this is not about opening headquarters in the neighborhoods, though surely we also will. It is about organizing the workers mainly where they struggle and where the new leadership arises: in companies. Our major axis is organizing a party in companies. We have to adapt our organization to our class: where they work, where they live, where it is most convenient for them. This should also result in more convenience for us. Thus, it becomes much easier to discipline comrades for the activity in favor of the party.
Before we decided in favor of this orientation in the leadership, there were some comrades who had begun to discuss and approve it. In Somisa San Nicolás, for example, the party had 80 to 100 very firm workers who would pay high membership dues, accomplished the tasks we proposed them and some were elected delegates. But increasingly less would come to meetings at headquarters. The secret was that they were working up to 16 hours a day and felt exhausted by work.
How many militants did we have in Somiza? There were two criteria: if it were the ones we organized in the factory there were several dozen.
If it were the ones attending to the meetings in headquarters there were six or seven. Just about the time that militants discussed the issue, we were reading about the situation of the American proletariat. We found a statement of a trade union delegate of General Motors plant in Lordstown, which seemed to us interesting and enlightening :
“There isn’t, in fact, the 8-hour workday. There are 16, 12 hours working day, six days a week. It’s impossible to have a social life. The only social life we can have is within the factory” (N. York , TIME , September 19, 1983).
It was a worldwide phenomenon: the brutal increase of capitalist exploitation. We understood what was happening with our 80 to 100 comrades in Somisa: they did not come to the headquarters because they were wrecked and brutalized by work and had no time or desire to come to headquarters. Then, we had an agreement: meetings would be held at the factory, not even in the exit, but inside the factory.
This is the criterion we have to take to build the party groups: we must build it wherever our comrades want it to, in the factory at the time of rest or bathing, in coffee time when leaving work, in the neighborhood … If in a factory fellow workers meet every day for 15 or 20 minutes, within a week we have a very good two and a half or even three hours meeting.
There will be discussed the problems of the factory or of the union, as well as all issues of class struggle and national or international politics.
And what an extraordinary unity this party group will have since its members work together every day! Where is the greatest opportunity to fight against the bourgeoisie but there, in a concrete way, in this section or in the plant? Only then the party begins to really be the collective, political and trade union organizer of the proletarian vanguard.
If we build these groups, we are making a real human organization. This means that not all will be equal, but rather, very diverse. No group will resemble other one, as in a school, where no grade is equal to another or any student is equal to another. There are bad and good students. There are also mediocre. There are good and bad divisions. Some are very productive and make little noise. Other produces little and make a lot of noise. There are others that produce a lot and make a lot of noise. We have good, mediocre and bad groups. Some will be good right from the beginning and then will decline. Others go to the last bottom of the barrel and then will provide us surprises. If all groups do the same average selling of party papers, pay membership dues the same amount of money, have the same insertion or union influence, etc., there is something very rare going on. All are equal. If, on the contrary, there are profound differences, we have a living party, which begins to be a mass party and reflects the changing and diverse process of our class.
The only thing we have to ask for new groups is to work for the party, even if it is a little bit every day. There is our definition of what is, at this stage, the party militant, much like what did the Third International:
“For the purpose of carrying out day-to-day work each Party member should belong to a smaller working group: a committee, commission, board, group, fraction or cell (…)” “Close links between the various Party bodies and the individual members will be forged through day-to-day work in the Party organizations.” “ Besides commitment to Communist ideas, membership of the Communist Party obviously entails formal admission, preceded in some instances by a period of candidacy, regular payment of membership dues, subscription to the Party paper, etc. But the most important condition of membership is that members participate on a day-to-day basis in the work of the Party.” (Third Congress of the Communist International / The Organisational Structure of the Communist Parties, the Methods and Content of Their Work: Theses / 12 July 1921 / III. On the Communists’ Obligation to Work / 8-11 )
The great tool for building the party and new groups is Party paper. Hence, we have already started our “exit out” proposing ourselves a leap on the setting of Party paper.
There is no possibility of building Party bodies based on anything other than the political unity of what integrates us: partisan politics. We cannot gather just for the sake of it. We gather aiming to act. No group survives if it doesn’t have a concrete, practical activity, over the sector it develops its activities. A group in a factory or neighborhood meets to discuss and arm all comrades in party politics and to know what every member has to do the next day in this factory or neighborhood. How many contacts for the party? How many union activists who respect us and are willing to discuss with us about how to organize the factory or what to do in the union? Who is in charge of talking to those contacts and activists? What we propose to do in the Internal Committee and in the Body of Delegates? What activities do the group to develop national and international campaigns of the party? What can you do in the company or in the neighborhood for Nicaragua, human rights or against IMF, for instance?
Meetings must answer all those questions and distribute among comrades all activity. One talks to and sells Party paper to such and such workers regarding us with political sympathy. Other one, which is very much alive to union issues, talks to the best activists and also sells them Party paper. Other one, who do not get excited to speak at the factory, but is very organized, manages our finances and Party paper, seeking to sell Party paper in his neighborhood and to his family. And all discuss Party paper and its political campaigns with all readers seeking to a way to win them for participation or for the propagation of party positions. If in the factory there is not a conversation about Nicaragua, it will be carried out in the neighborhood. But there came a lovely chat with fellow workers in the factory to explain why not paying external debt if we want increase in wages. The possibilities for activities are endless, but all have one thing in common: Party paper. Precisely because Party paper is the mouthpiece of the party’s policy and, thereby, organizes all our activities.
For this reason, the construction of new party groups is mediated by the setting of Party paper. In general, it will be much easier to make a meeting if the ones we want to participate know our policy and trajectory through Party paper.
Nobody is truly gained or in process of joining if do not want the party to grow, extend itself, become stronger, starting with the first step: that more people read our Party paper.
We’ve just started and we are almost making a mistake – in some places, already committing it: regarding meetings as prior to the increase in sales of Party paper. We seize the soul to gather new comrades or rejoining old ones before we have made all the efforts to multiply selling numbers of Party papers. Thus it becomes difficult to gather the old and almost impossible to gain new comrades.
We have to do the opposite. We make all the efforts to set Party paper. We sell like crazy concerning the rhythm of activity, however, always thinking, analyzing and planning our work. Thus we will find comrades, sometimes by themselves and sometimes because we urge them to, volunteering to take an extra Party paper to sell to a known fellow with which he starts to build the group. As long as we have two, three or four fellows from the same factory, neighborhood, school or college, then meeting becomes a real need, not something imposed by us.
Therefore we give extreme importance to two key tasks: the pickets and the list of readers of Party paper.
Pickets should be systematic, week after week, whenever possible with the same fellows. Factory workers have to get used to that, at least once a week, socialists are selling their Party paper at the factory exit. In this political situation, our Party paper becomes a point of reference to sectors of the working class though, however, they do not agree with us yet. There is already numerous information that sessions in factories are commenting on our Party paper over coffee time. There are already workers who wait for us to buy Party paper. They are not many thousands, but it can come to thousands though. We have to be there. If there is no possibility to picket all plants, we select those where we can, but we shall carry pickets in a systematic way. To picket every week a different factory is of little use to us.
As Party paper setting advances, it has to advance the census or enrollment of our buyers. Pickets at stations and shopping centers are very good for the party to win the street, to make feel party political presence. However, the most important is the structural, where we end up knowing the name and surname and even the address of buyers. In neighborhoods it is easier. In factories it is more difficult, but not impossible. So it is very important that are always the same comrades who go to the factories. Maybe it does not suit the first time to ask for the name of the buyer. But it would be a fatal mistake to underestimate one who purchased a second time. This fellow almost certainly is already a party sympathizer; it may be a potential militant.
Party paper is then the tool, the means to build the party, their groups in the factories and neighborhoods. The activity so begins. Then, logically, there is dialectic relation. We gain new members who in turn sells more Party papers. We will build party groups that will sell far more. However, as Chinese people say, every path a thousand kilometers begins with the first step. And the first step is to sell Party paper.
The Cadres or “Chiefs”
As we’ve pointed out there is no party body or group that may exist if this group lacks a comrade who is able to arm it and lead it. This comrade is what we call “cadre” or “chief”. Concretely, we will achieve to organize as many party groups as leaders able to accomplish this task the party has or win.
Party cadres not always take the same place. Many who was vanguard for the central task of a stage goes to the rear when changing the stage of the party and, with it, the central task. Others will keep as vanguard. And new ones will appear that weren’t linked to the previous central task, but that are real lions to the new task.
Each stage change requires a new trial and selection of party cadres. In the present moment this proof begins with the sale of Party paper and culminates with the construction of new party groups. We have to prove it to all comrades who are disposed to be cadres and many who are not disposed- by shyness or because we’ve poorly explained the task – but who can also be productive.
This does not mean that one who does not sell 20 Party papers from the beginning is not a cadre. One can start selling a little and then increase. One can be particularly bad at selling many Party papers but might be very skilled to get new comrades to sell it. Any combination is possible. The only thing in common must be the enthusiasm, the passion to improve weekly the selling of Party paper. Political understanding of the need to do so is not enough; without that passion there is no possible advance.
As a minimum we will require as a start to gather a new party group. We only require more readers and those to be identified. From then on, as some are gained and committed so that they want to become party member, they begin to promote Party paper or doing any activity for the party. However, if they do not dare to sell, let them start paying membership dues. Finally, how to gather a team of four or five members who come together coherently. Not even here we should be schematic: first selling and then gathering. It is possible that going to a factory every week we begin to gather at the exit time with three or four workers who want to talk to us because they buy Party paper, but they don’t sell it. In this case, very patiently, we have to accomplish that this meeting becomes a new party group where everyone leaves with some activity and selling the Party paper. Variations are endless; being schematic is where danger lies.
Those will be the cadres of the party vanguard at this stage. Those who go out forward the class and the masses; those who go to headquarters to arm themselves politically to the activity and go buzzing to the factories, neighborhoods, colleges and universities; those who feel that their place, their natural environment is not the headquarter, the inner life, but the working class or students, which is outside the party.
This does not mean that only they are cadres. They are the vanguard, the best of the party at this stage. But cadre is all comrades who dedicate his or her efforts to the party, which sacrifices every day giving hours and hours of his or her life for the activity, to the party. Cadre is the fellow who sells very few Party papers but delights in making banners and don’t sleep to make them; which everyday adorns the headquarter, bring chairs, cleans and paints the headquarter; which is a great administrator, which nicely leads accounts and have them well controlled and reminds all comrades to be punctual on membership dues and Party paper payment; one who organizes parties, raffles, football matches, or whatever and get money for the party; one who is a great picketer at stations and shopping centers, does not list anyone but sells dozens of Party papers and makes feel the presence of the party; one which guarantees the mimeograph and is available at any time to print something; or thousand other activities.
Finally, there are comrades who are cadres for his or her own weight, because they are very good at some skill, although they are a little slow and sacrifice less than the rest. Cadre is the great commander of a union or district, perhaps undisciplined but recognized as the leader in the factory or neighborhood. It is also a great propagandist outside, which greatly helps the party giving lectures because enchants to all who listens. Or inside, which ministers very good courses and thus helps to form militants; or even other variants, as good writers etc.
Hierarchize Party Structure
What clearly comes from what was said so far is the difference between a cadre and a grass-roots militant. Some organize a lot, burst up to the party in any task and / or fulfill a leading role in the class struggle or in any specific partisan task. Other comrades are doing their daily activities in their place of work, study or neighborhood, sell some Party papers and pay membership due to the party, but do not devote their free time to party, or stand out in some activity. Many of the grass-roots militant, in time end up being cadres. We will also have to join the party already made cadres because they made their formation in other organizations or because the class struggle itself formed them. Anyway, as the party grows and becomes massive, we will have more and more grass-roots militants, far more than cadres.
Cadres and grass-roots activists have, in a sense, the same rights. All have organisms in the party in which they can discuss and vote, everyone has the same vote to elect delegates to Party congresses, etc. However, this does not mean that the party does not prioritize among militants. For us it is not the same the comrade who totally sacrifices to the party and one who does not.
The cadre has different needs from those of a grass-root militant. The cadre does not seek in the party only political responses to the class struggle, but also seeks internal responses of all kinds: organizational issues, theoretical courses etc. If, for example, in the output process we gain a comrade in a neighborhood that sells three to four Party papers weekly and are willing to contribute financially, he is a grass-root militant. However, if this fellow begins to gather two or three of Party paper readers and each one can sell 15 or 20 Party papers, he is becoming a cadre. This comrade will immediately ask for guidance of all sorts: how to organize the meetings? Which topics to discuss? How to prepare an international, national or activity report? What activity should be assigned to gathering comrades? This comrade had already started politically leading.
From these two elements, the degree of dedication to the party and the needs set by the comrade, arises party hierarchy. A cadre is prior to a grass-root militant. Likewise, a regional leader has more rank than a grass-root cadre, since it operates and comes to guide the assembly of cadres and members of a region and it presents more complex problems: designing a policy for the entire regional in their union, neighborhood and student fronts; follow relations with the political parties in the area; ensure party courses and lectures; ensure having an overall plan of finance, having an apparatus, etc. And that which is their most important task: to form cadres.
Likewise, higher up, where are the most ranked comrades, we have the national leaders. And still more prior: international leaders.
This hierarchy is similar, in a sense, but opposite in another, to that of the army. In the bourgeois army one raises in the hierarchy bureaucratically, by means of ultimate hierarchy decision: the commander-in-chief. Nobody falls in the hierarchy, except for some dishonorable action or something similar. In the party there are no permanent hierarchies. Anyone falls if is not productive and any can rise when is being productive. A militant is more or less prior according to their performance for the party and the class struggle at each specific moment. However, in addition, this hierarchy is made democratic. It is the party’s grass-root, not the leadership, which elects delegates to the congress. And those delegates in Congress elect the leadership.
Hierarchy of militants is gained by effort and individual capacity but is achieved through the bodies of the party. The bodies of the party is what is ranked in the party: the Central Committee is the body of national leaders, the regional leadership is the body of the regions, etc.
In retreatment stages, one in which the party is on the defensive, like the one we’ve just came from, our grass-root bodies, headquarters, gathered in its assemblages grass-root and cadre militants making no differences of any kind. This was natural once they were all closed within the headquarters and there were no major verifiable differences among them. However, in this new stage it is necessary to categorically prioritize cadres. We have to go to two different meetings: one of the cadres and other from grass-root teams. Meetings at the headquarters must be of the cadres and for the cadres. They must have, aside this meeting, a privileged treatment: internal bulletin for them and not for all militants, courses and schools for them, etc. The grass-root will have their own meetings in their neighborhoods, factories and schools (and, if they want to, also on the headquarters), with the leadership of one or two cadres.
Once any categorical policy, especially regarding organizational matters, can lead us to serious mistakes, we alert what these mistakes would be. It is a very grave mistake to separate comrades from traditional meetings at the headquarters because we do not consider them cadres, for different reasons:
- Despite our coming out to build new party grass-root groups, we are the first steps. It’s too bad to take a comrade out of a body if there is no other body to be incorporated. If we do so we will lose many valuable comrades.
- Once our coming out is still weak, we won’t have any criteria, no objective evidence as to know who answers as a cadre and who doesn’t. Let’s make a division between cadres and members in the laboratory of our minds, instead of doing it in the laboratory of partisan activity and in class struggle. If we do so we will lose many potential cadres that may effectively become one if we guide them and help them in their activity. They want to be cadres, but they still are not.
- In all processes there is a transition. Revolution means to make our meetings become cadre meetings for its content: we discuss, plan, vote and check the activity as if all were cadres. But nobody is to be separated from cadres meetings for now. The ones who can’t folllow the meeting will notice it and will naturally change to other meetings, grass-roots meetings, where he or she can feel more comfortable.
- We are very poor at correctly situating comrades, as we shall see. And we should not discharge anyone as a cadre before we made every effort and have offered all variants, fronts to intervene and motivation possible so that comrades are excited about and assume some cadre activity.
Therefore, in this transition, hierarchy of the cadres should be done according to a key criterion: enthusiasm, passion for the activity. First, the passion for selling Party paper. And also passion for any activity in class struggle and party building.
The Great Task of Leadership: Situate, Provide Initiative and Motivate Cadres and Militants
It happens most frequently that we discharge as cadres comrades that militate all day and every day or are brilliant in some aspect of party work because they do not do well the central activity of the stage: now, for example, to sell Party paper and build party groups . We are against it. If a cadre does not produce for the party it is not his responsibility, it is the regional leadership responsibility, which didn’t know how to situate the cadre in a task where he can be productive, or excite him, motivate him for the activity.
It is very common that we are unilateral, formal, schematic, and administrative. We aim that all cadres and members do the same task the same. This way we let alienate or lack production to the party comrades who do not serve, do not know or do not feel comfortable doing such tasks. If, in a team of cadres, for example, we have that all of them do union work, all sell the same amount of Party papers, etc., something is very wrong. We rather had already reject other cadres that had different characteristics instead of locating them where they can produce, or else we are forcing everyone to do the same and most comrades feels bad, pressured, bothered and continue militating only by discipline and morale, many of them approaching a crisis.
The same thing can be said of new party groups that are forming. If a grass-root cadre did not see regional leadership organize him with a correct method, he will transfer that same bureaucratic or administrative method for new partners in new groups. There the adverse results will appear even more quickly, precisely because they are new and haven’t yet reached the level of discipline of a cadre. Comrades will simply think: “I’m not good for what the party asks me” and steps aside.
The great task of leadership in any party level, be it on regional or group level, is to organize the activity of cadres and militants. This means: situate them, provide them initiative and motivate them.
To situate means to detect the strengths and weaknesses of each comrade and offer him a task in accordance with him. Do not require from a shy person to make agitation at stations. Do not require a ripper, which is a disordered vortex, to do the same systematic work a party builder comrade does, who works in depth and bite like a bulldog. Do not make a comrade who sells 20 Party papers in the neighborhood, who is happy talking to Dona Maria, the greengrocer, to drop everything and go picketing in factory where he sells nothing.
To provide initiative means that, once we know what a comrade is up to and, talking to him, we put ourselves in agreement about what will be the task, induce him to think, propose, and make plans by himself. We want him to have ideas for himself. Surely it will be much better than ours. And, if not, let the experience be made. We must beware of the pestilence of regulation of the activity of the comrades, forcing them to do things that come to us in mind and the way in which it occur to us.
To motivate has a double meaning. First, that the comrade does the task with gusto, feeling happy and fulfilled. The comrade sees himself progressing as he progresses in the activity. And that he is doing to the party what he wants to do. Second, the comrade sees that his activity is useful for the party, that his opinions are heard and useful for the party. We are specialists in insensitivity, in throwing buckets of cold water on arriving happy comrades because they did something and we do not pay attention to them, do not emphasize the initiative of the comrade leading the team, do not congratulate him for his activity, not help him draw conclusions and see how to best keep forward. Why? Because this task is away from the “scripture” of the moment.
For example , if a fellow wants to organize a soccer tournament between headquarters or regional factories, rather than motivate him and cheer him to do that and put ourselves wondering how the party can take advantage of it to enter into the bonds of fellowship, informally discuss the progress of the activity, attracting supporters to integrate them more to the party , talk about the situation in factories, etc., we certainly think the opposite: we try to lose heart because it does not serve the immediate proposes to increase the number of Party papers sells or to build new groups. That comrade will never again have an idea and if he has one, he will not propose it to us.
As we see, this task of organizing as we situate, providing initiative and motivating comrades, is the opposite to the administrative methods that we often use. For an administrator each comrade is a number and the same applies to every sold Party paper. Results in a report: we have that many cadres, that many militants, that many groups and we sell that many Party papers … We’re done. For the true organizer, each cadre, group, militant and Party paper reader is a human being or a human body and, therefore, different from each other, and unlike numbers, they are not all equal.
Only forming ourselves and helping to form all cadres with this criterion we can move forward to build a mass party.
A Big Obstacle: Our Sectarianism
To path the way that we propose, we have a big obstacle: our sectarianism. Our party has not always been sectarian. We were in the beginning, when we were a tiny group; however, having gone to the working class we’ve learnt and overcame our sectarianism. From then, until the construction of the PRT (La Verdad), we had other deviations. For example, we were workerist and did not give importance to work on students, greatly limiting our chances of winning revolutionary intellectuals to multiply the formation of cadres.
Sectarianism starts when the party becomes large, as the PST, which feeds primarily on the forefront of the student who fought against Ongania and then numbering hundreds and even thousands, after the Cordobazo and 1973 elections. In 1973 or 1974 we discovered a hellish law: the more we grew the more sectarian we became.
We had read prudent Marxists who spoke of all that was the German Social Democracy to explain why one should not break up with it or there were many militants who did not want to break with it. German Social Democracy was a microworld that got millions of votes; it had theaters, clubs, unions, dances, libraries, sexual liberation clubs. Within it there were answers to nearly all the concerns and needs that a person could have. Also Socialism, Anarchism and Stalinism were microworlds in their times of splendor. It had orpharion (ie, bands and choirs), plus clubs and libraries.
Those microworlds are immersed in the real world, ugly and hostile capitalist society. Life inside them is much more beautiful than outside: it seems that we’ve achieved socialism at present. It forms a centripetal trend: one wants to live within the party.
It is an unfortunate trend: believing everything is already solved when anything has been solved yet, since capitalist society is still there, living and snaking, prepared to destroy the microworld. This was what happened to the German Social Democracy: Hitler destroyed it, and its clubs, libraries and unions.
This trend has emerged between us when we reached a party of several thousands. Within the party companions found a microworld, a socialist islet in the capitalist ocean. This is partly right: we have a different moral and free human relations, solidary and fraternal, diametrically opposed to those that occur outside the party. If a boy and a girl are found of each other, they can relate open and directly, without going through all these hypocrites procedures requiring bourgeois pseudo – moral. If there are comrades on strike or unemployed, the party and its militants are in solidarity with them…
This pushes to live within the party and not leave to the “hostile”, not fraternal world. We begin to like more the meetings than class struggle. We use a unique language that nobody understands unless one had at least several months in the party. It is very common, for example, that in meetings where there’s brand new comrades, we say “structure” instead of work, study or housing. We prefer a party feast to a beauty working class neighborhood Prom party. We prefer to talk with party comrades than workers from outside. And there are thousand other examples.
Worse, we are not the German Social Democracy. Being a sectarian party with million votes and tens of thousands of militants is serious, but much more understandable. However, being a sectarian party with a few thousand and that, even though, does not influence the masses, is a tragedy. And every time we gained 500 new members, there was a new sectarian push. Instead of keep growing, we push ourselves to live within the party and make out of the 500 new comrades 500 new sectarians.
Sectarianism is expressed, as we have seen before, in the administrative way to situate and assign tasks to cadres and members. We do not situate considering members relations with society and class struggle, ie. Answering to the question: What can this fellow do at his factory, neighborhood or school? We situate in terms of what we assume to be the goals voted by the leadership: all to picket factories, for example.
However, it is also expressed in our relationships with phenomena and political tendencies that occur in society. Because of this sectarian trend we couldn’t make a strong and intense work over the thousands of new workers and students, honest and extraordinarily combative leaders who gathered in JTP, Los Montoneros, and classism in the previous stage. For us, all that was not in the party or didn’t agree with us right away was petty-bourgeois, counter-revolutionary, our enemy and enemy of the working class. Very few comrades out of those vanguard thousands of fighters can we win for our party. Moreover, this balance should not hide the decisive reason of our failure: the overwhelming force of Peronism.
This sectarian trend comes back a while now, as we grow. It has been very difficult to make comrades enthusiastically take the trouble to go to IP, CP, Franja Morada. It does not occur to us that the revolutionary socialist party which already has some force, like us, should have militants in all other organizations. And if we open dialogue with someone from another organization, we get desperate to win him quickly and individually, qualifying him harshly if we fail instead of letting it ripen, treat him with respect and respect his own pace of development. We have to fight this sectarian trend. If we don’t win, the party halts and ends up backwards.
The struggle against sectarianism is impossible if we have no absolute certainty and confidence in our positions and our class. If our positions are correct and if is correct this Marx’s sentence: “The liberation of the workers will be task of the workers themselves”, we have to know that most of the comrades of other parties with which we deal with in our daily activity, sooner or later will be of our party. Every worker, every employee, every commoner student or with progressive concerns will come or at least can come to our party. If they don’t come in a month, it will be within a year, two, three… At the end of the road we will meet, because the way is our party. Deep down, more or less consciously, this is what they all are seeking and wants to.
We’re not talking the old sclerotic cadres in Stalinist or trade union apparatuses, or the filth Peronist or Radical apparatus. They already have their own interests, which are measured in most cases, in pesos or dollars. But yes, we speak of those who sympathize with them and are militants or medium cadres of them, because honestly believe that this way they struggle against imperialism and oligarchy or for democratic freedoms and against the genocidal, or by improving the standard of living of workers, or even for socialism. Some might even be in our party, but they do not see in us a perspective because we are small, we got few votes, we are not supported by any Workers’ State…
Our party has everything in common with these comrades . We want the same thing they do. We do not consider them our enemies because they are with another organization (or because they are anti-party). Our enemies, enemies of the working class and the revolution are their parties and leaders, not them. They are our comrades in struggle.
Imagine a Stalinist petty bourgeois, full of worries. He is in CP because he believes it is the best party of the left, the one that is more on the left. He might now considers that it is not so in the left, but he believes it is the only one who can achieve positive results. He might be there because CP is the only that can achieve positive results. If we have confidence in our class, in our comrades in struggle, for us this Stalinist petty bourgeois is formidable. It is a strong candidate to militate with us in our party, once he had made the experience with his party. Given that we are not sectarian with him.
What would discuss a sectarian? That Stalinism had betrayed Spanish revolution, that Argentine CP was Videla partner, that Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy, awarded the Order of the Annunziata to Stalin, that Stalin had betrayed Chinese revolution. This petty-bourgeois does not even know who was Victor Manuel or Chiang Kai Shek. From Spanish Civil War he only knows the songs. And on the policy of the CP towards Videla he is not convinced that things were so because otherwise he would have already broken up with them.
A nonsectarian would begin to have clear political relations, though fraternal and would propose a unit in action. Clarity: we totally disagree on the policy of his leadership. Fraternity: we’re fighters of the working class and to me you are a comrade in struggle. Unit in action: what can we work together? Let’s do something together for Nicaragua? Let’s we support a strike together? Let’s fight together against expulsion of that sophomore comrade of yours expelled from school because he sold “Qué Pasa?”
If we are sectarians, this “kid” will judge us as a pedantic wretch that doesn’t win him for anything, we’re “discussants”, and we want to win arguments (which would be true in this case). It is a serious defect. Never a revolutionary socialist gives the impression that wants to win arguments. He always seeks to demonstrate that wants practical arrangements to do something to advance workers’ and mass movement.
But to do this you need to have confidence in that Stalinist “kid”. We must say to ourselves, “What a beauty kid. Stalinists won him, but I’ll be more skilled than them”. We don’t get sick; we don’t crunch him in the controversy. We do discuss, permanently, but on proposals for common action. Sooner or later the historical process will favor us and will bring the Stalinist “kid” to our ranks.
Let alone how terrible it can be sectarianism if rather than with a militant we go around arguing to win the argument with the hundreds of thousands of workers of Peronist base, hundreds of thousands of alfonsinistas workers with whom we dialogue in our daily activity, sympathizers of CP or IMP.
Bringing New Members and the Opportunist Danger
Only by overcoming sectarianism we shall triumph in what, in general terms, is the great task we have set to ourselves: to bring new members to the party. The other face of sectarianism is opportunism: we do not present ourselves in front of everyone as MAS (Movement towards Socialism). We only do it when the comrade is already close to the party. If he belongs to another party or tell us he has nothing to do with political parties, we don’t discuss politics and end up in unclear, confusing relationships or directly diverter. For example, if we deal with trade union activist we only talk about trade union issues with him. We can’t bring new members to the party this way.
How to bring new members? Simply: to every person who we want to bring to the party we say: “Listen, I want you to join the party”. Anywhere we go, we haven’t even well greeted yet and we are saying “I’m from MAS.” We shouldn’t be ashamed to say that we are from MAS, or offering Party paper, or to ask for money to the party. Many, to our surprise, will answer: “That’s what I was expecting, that you offer me your Party paper or invite me to your party.” We shouldn’t be sectarian if one answers “no”. Keep as fraternal as ever and, once a month, simple insist: “Are you sure you don’t want to join that party?”
It is essential to create in the party these anti-opportunistic and anti-sectarian reflexes, to present ourselves as MAS, and offering Party paper to anyone who we speak to.
Everyone must know that we are from MAS and we want to make them join MAS.
Recently there was a big strike where the party got involved with all its energies and led it. Throughout the strike we did not take advantage of the permanent ongoing workers meeting in the “popular wave” and did not advertise, held courses and lectures on the party. There was no one who said: “Comrades, who is supporting you with all its energies is my party, I am speaking on behalf of my party, proposing that you join my party.” Our comrade from the leadership who was there started ministering courses and lectures. However it would show up as something very mysterious: everyone knew he was from MAS, but the only one who wouldn’t say he was from MAS was himself.
We discussed and told him: “We bring new members by… bringing them.” The next day on the course, he said: “Well, comrades, I ‘m ministering those courses because I am from MAS and the plan I have, frankly, is that you all join my party when we finish the course.” The answer was: “How long have we waited this …” This was the first large-scale joining people we had done in recent times.
We have to get this reflex, as the CP or the IP, which first ask, “Are you affiliated? Then do it.” Stalinism adds: “Come to our headquarters, join us.” We must have that same obsession: to bring new people to the party.
To accomplish this we need to be skilled getting people to trust us, to feel comfortable with us. Avoid being annoying. Avoid giving orders. Because it is very frequent that we are shy to start conversations about joining the party and, once we’ve done it, we begin to pursue. We don’t try to see if one wants or not to join the party for real, whether or not are willing to do something for the party. Often comrades do not join or step back from the party because we bother them more than evangelists. We don’t realize that we work according to what he wants to do and thinks.
We discuss a great deal with one who is not convinced that we do not have to pay for the foreign debt. We should, instead, pursue another topic, such as human rights or how to overthrow the bureaucracy, or why we struggle against Alfonsin –and he hates Alfonsin because he is a “gorilla”. And he can become a great party comrade, although for some time he will get us fed up every meeting about the need to pay the debt because debt is a matter of honor.
There are many comrades who will not join the party or its meetings. Once they respect us or are our friend, they will go round and round to tell us “no”. In the end, they hope that we will say that’s ok if they don’t want to join and we will keep being friends and comrades as always. Not even that we know how to do. We always end up in one of the poles: either we have a barbarian afraid to tell them to join the party or we unbearably bother them to join.
We also don’t know how to make a group join. When we contact a group we also end up going to extremes: either we want to make them join one by one, individually, or we never offer the group all together to join the party, or commit the two errors at the same time.
If we want to individually make a group join, for example, five or six workers who meet us at the exit of a factory and buy our Party paper because they see that we support them against the employer and the bureaucracy, we destroy the group this way. We make one join, but the group split up. Sooner or later, the others get to know that one meets separately with the party. They do not understand why. Distrust begins. “Why not invite us all? Why do they gather behind us? Didn’t they want to use us without us realizing?” With this atmosphere we can no longer make anyone join.
But too often we go to the other extreme: for fear of losing we don’t put effort to make the entire group join. We think, “If I offer now, from five or six comrades I will only make join two or three. Best wait longer, until all are prepared.” Often we lose all.
We learned from Americans comrades from Socialist Workers Party that we never win without losing (see the importance of an international: among other things, you learn a lot). There is an opportunity to make join, as for anything else. Every person and every human group has a process: if they come to us and we don’t cling in time, off they go. Exceptionally, they spin in the void. However, within the group not all have the same dynamics, they are not prepared to join at the same time. We must have the courage, the serenity of knowing that when we offer the group to join, something we will miss.
If you have a group of five comrades, we chose the time to offer to join the party and we say to ourselves: “There are five. We offer to join our party. If I lose one, it is excellent. If I lose two, it’s good. If I lose three, it’s bad, but better than nothing; winning just two is not a disaster. End of the problem: I will define the situation”. Then with ease, we must do a balance to learn. We wanted to win four and won only two. Why? Were we rushed? Did we miss the best time and invited too late? Had we a mischaracterization of the comrades? Didn’t we do well the political work? Were they just friendly relations or union relations? Etc. So we learn, and next time will be better.
 One of the main leaders of UCR (Civil Radical Union). President of Argentina Republic from 1983 to 1989.
 The term “radicalism”, in this case, refers to the UCR (Civil Radical Union, traditional bourgeois Argentinian party
 Working class and peasant revolution against the Tsar that ended up defeated. It was considered by Russian Marxist as the dress rehearsal of revolution. Lately it would triumph in 1917. In this revolution, for the first time, appears the soviets.
 CGT (National Confederation of Workers) was always lead by peronista union bureaucracy. At the period this text was written it was the only union confederation that existed in Argentina.
 Minister for Economy in Raul Alfonsin administration
 Leader of an ultra-right wing of peronismo coming from union bureaucracy. He was the Mayor of the important city of Avellaneda (Gran Buenos Aires)
 Judicialist Party, also known as Peronista Party
 There was an old dispute over territories between Argentina and Chile concerning Beagle channel, located on the extreme south of the continent. In several opportunities this dispel opened the possibility of a war between the two countries. In 1985 Alfonsin government came to an agreement to celebrate a treatise with Chile government and called a plebiscite so that Argentinians pronounced themselves for or against this treatise.
 Argentinian Communist Party
 Intransigent Party. A reformist left grouping headed by Oscar Alende, former governor of Buenos Aires Province by UCRI (Civil Radical Intransigent Union)
 National Meeting of Workers from Argentinian Republic. It was a failed intempt to build a new union trend that grouped the sector headed by Alberto Piccinini, former leader of metal workers in the city of Vella Constituición and sectors of radicalism.
 Supreme leaders of Communist Party.
 Jorge Rafael Videla, President of the Military Junta that made the coup d’état in 1976.
 Peronista guerrilla organization.
 Peronista Workers Youth, union tendency of Montoneros.
 Internal tendencies of peronismo.
 Anti bureaucratic union tendency that before the 1976 coup lead the metal workers union of Villa Constituición.
 Labour Party, formed by workers of the big refrigerator houses and lead by Cipriano Reyes.
 Espejo is the main union leader name of the first stage of peronismo.
 Peronista movement had a leadership that was formed by its political, union and feminist branches (the former one had a formal participation in the leadership of the movement).
 Tendency lead by Nahuel Moreno that gave rise to PRT, PST and MAS.
 Metal Workers Union
 Vandor, from UOM (Metal Workers Union), was the greatest leader of peronista union bureaucracy. He was murdered by a Montonero command. Andres Framini was the supreme leader of AOT (Textile Workers Association).
 Popular and proletariat semi-insurrection taking place in the city of Córdoba in 1969.
 Union of FIAT factory in Córdoba. It was a bastion of left tendencies against peronista bureaucracy.
 Important leader of Light and Power Union of Córdoba (electricity workers), opposition to the peronista bureaucracy.
 Great working class mobilization headed by peronista bureaucracy against Economy Minister, Rodrigo, from Isabel Perón government.
 The first large MAS demonstration in which Nahuel Moreno was the main leader and when more than 15.000 took part.