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50057Re: DSP Congress reaffirms commitment to broad left regroupment

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  • Ratbag Radio
    Jan 7, 2008
      -By the way, and in regard as an addendum -- the question of public
      debate in the Bolshevik party was addressed by Murray Smith in Links
      Some remarks on democracy and debate in the Bolshevik Party
      http://www.dsp.org.au/links/node/31
      and this was the taken up by Doug Lorimer in a response:
      The Bolshevik Party and democratic centralism: A response to Murray Smith
      http://www.dsp.org.au/links/node/217

      This is an excellent exploration of the issues in regard to 'public
      debate'.

      As Doug writes:"However, since the early 1920s, it has generally been
      accepted that the public expression of differences is not the normal
      procedure for Bolshevik-type parties, for parties that operate
      according to the Leninist principle of democratic centralism. To the
      contrary, it has generally been accepted that the Leninist system of
      party organisation involves the right of a minority to present its
      case within the party for consideration and decision of the party
      membership but that at all times all party members publicly abide by
      and promote the policy adopted by the majority of the party. Thus, for
      example, the Workers Party of the United States (the successor
      organisation of the Communist League of America formed by the
      supporters of Trotsky's revolutionary revolutionary opposition to
      Stalinism expelled from the US Communist Party in 1928) affirmed in
      1935 that:

      'Democratic centralism means the right of discussion inside the
      party, at times and in ways laid down by the party. Democratic
      centralism also means discipline; it means the subordination of the
      minority to the majority; it means the centralisation of authority,
      between conventions [i.e., party congresses - DL], in one leading
      committee selected by the convention; it means that the party always
      confronts the outside world with a single policy, the policy of the
      majority of its authoritative bodies. Democratic centralism means that
      the individual party member always and under all circumstances must
      subordinate himself in his public action and expression to the policy
      and decisions of the party.'

      Doug then goes on to cite ``The Organisational Structure of the
      Communist Parties, the Methods and Content of Their Work'' adopted by
      the third congress of the Communist International in July 1921.

      And Theses 50 of this resolution states:

      "In their public appearances members of the party are obliged to
      act at all times as disciplined members of a militant organisation. If
      there are disagreements on the correct method of action on this or
      that question, these should, as far as possible, be settled in the
      party organisation before any public activity is embarked upon and the
      members should then act in accordance with the decision made. In order
      that every party decision is carried out fully by all party
      organisations and party members, the largest possible number of party
      members should be involved in discussing and deciding every issue. The
      different levels of the party apparatus must decide whether any given
      question should be publicly discussed by individual comrades
      (in the press, in pamphlets), in what form and to what extent. If the
      decision of the organisation or leading party body is in the view of
      certain other members incorrect, these comrades must not forget, when
      they speak or act in public, that to weaken or break the unity of the
      common front is the worst breach of discipline and the worst mistake
      that can be made in the revolutionary struggle."

      Doug later explores the context of this when he writes in the same
      article:
      "The Leninist conception of the revolutionary workers' party is that
      it should be a ``militant organisation'' – a fighting organisation of
      class-conscious workers that strives to organise the class struggle of
      the proletariat against the capitalist class in all its forms
      (economic, political and ideological) , the ultimate aim of which is
      the seizure of state power by the working class and the building of a
      classless society of freely associated producers
      socialism/communism). It functions best when its members are able to
      freely discuss party policy among themselves. Hence the importance of
      the fullest inner-party democracy. But a fundamental part of that
      democracy is the acceptance of majority rule in the conduct of all
      party activities, including in the conduct of the discussion of
      differences among party members. Furthermore, democracy is meaningless
      [unless- DR]minorities accept the right of the majority to have its
      decisions implemented by the party as a whole, including its leaders."

      Now that doesn't mean that the DSP has to adhere to all this because
      the Bolsheviks did. That would be rigid and archaic to do it on that
      basis alone. But Doug's review gives us a historical context and
      argument why these practices have existed and what function they serve.

      I also point out that the DSP congress has voted on the issue of
      'public debate' and whatever practices flow from that will become
      evident in the time ahead.

      dave riley
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