January 31, 2020

Organisation, politics and theory

By Adrien Welsh 

Can one be a good organiser without understanding theoretical elements of Marxism-Leninism, and vice-versa? This is an interesting question that touches different topics. In other words, the question refers to consider what is a political cadre or, to use more contemporary words, a political organiser in the way we, communists, understand it and this, no matter what their responsibility is.

Can we organise a club without knowing the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism? Can we be a good unionist, a good student leader without having read What is to be done or any other classic? Or, to the opposite, can we have read all classics without having recruited one person to the organisation and identify as a « cadre »? Can we identify as a « communist theorist » without having distributed one leaflet only once? Or can we be a revolutionary simply because of vibrant speeches without being so vibrant when it comes to send an e-mail or to achieve administrative tasks?

To all these questions, the answer is no.

Lenin didn’t only write books, the same applies to Marx. One organised the Bolsheviks and led them to the victory in 1917. To do this, it is not enough to be a good theorist, you need to be a tremendous strategist and tactician. Marx, on his side, also organised the 1st International, which he led with all his strength. It should be noted also that the Manifesto is not the product of the ‘Phenomenology of Spirit’ but of a collective mandate meant to provide the Party with political programme, which means an ideological, political and organisational guidelines. And we could go further and outline that Fidel didn’t only write « History will absolve me » but he also led the guerrilleros in the Sierra Maestra.

To the opposite, many communist figures never wrote any book, and in some cases, any statement while having a fairly extensive knowledge of marxist-leninist theory. We can all recall some of these comrades.

The fact is that for us, communists, there is no strict division between theory and practice. Our theory nourishes itself from our practice, and vice-versa. To the opposite of a military organisation, in our ranks, there are no people who decide versus people who execute. Most important decisions are taken by the Convention (ideological ones) and every Convention is preceded by at least 3 months of discussion throughout all clubs. All members are not only welcome, but asked to participate in this decision-making process. Strategic decisions are being taken by the Central Committee, which is accountable to the Convention. Tactical decisions are taken by intermediate and basic bodies (clubs, CoCo’s) when it relates to local issues, and by the Central Executive Committee when it relates to central issues. These decisions have to be followed by everyone, including the leadership. This means that even if our organisational scheme is overall vertical, there is no room both in the Party and the YCL-LJC for a « general » who would take decisions to which all « subordinates » should submit.

Submission to the majority doesn’t mean subordination. It means that once everyone has taken part in the discussion, everyone fights for the decision we collectively agreed on. We all have a responsibility in elaborating the political line of our organisation, and at the same time, we all have a responsibility to carry it out.

We are materialists, not idealists. So yes, in a certain way, organisation comes before ideology. It is more important to rally the masses - they are the ones who will make the Revolution after all - than being alone studying theory. At the same time, we are not mechanists. This means that a communist organiser no matter what their mandate is and at which level they are asked to intervene, whether it be as a club organiser, in a mass organisation, at the Central Committee or even at the CEC level, cannot consider them as « a theorist but not organiser » nor as an « organiser but not theorist ». Both go together and can’t be dissociated.

Of course, a perfect communist cadre doesn’t exist, far from that! And it is not a problem: our objective is not to negate people's preferences nor to make the apology of a « perfect » revolutionary.

There will always be comrades that are more interested with theory, and others more so with action just like in our society we have professors, entrepreneurs, athletes and public servants.

This is normal. We are not a bunch of Missionaries sent by God to preach the Evangil. We are motivated revolutionaries who are building an organisation that reflects the society we live in, with its qualities and defaults, one that strives to build a society without crises, exploitation and wars. We are not there to create a new Human being.

It is not the ‘New Human Being’ that will do the Revolution, but the Revolution that has the potential to create a new human being.

But between the ‘New Human Being’ and the ‘wannabe Revolutionary’ there is a huge gap and this is where we must be. There is no problem in preferring to study Marx rather than organise a rally, and there is no problem in preferring to organise a concert for peace than selling newspapers.

However, the important point here is that all of us understand that being a communist cadre - or organiser - means to, as much as we can, take interest in every task, which, by the way, is not in contradiction with a sound repartition of tasks.

There are no too big nor too small challenges for us!

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