In her book Marxism and Freedom, Raya has a chapter on “Forms of Organization: The Relationship of the Spontaneous Organization of the Proletariat to the ‘Vanguard Party’”.
I read this to help think through some ongoing conversations with the ‘rades about Hal Draper’s center concept, Scott Nappalos’ intermediate level concept, and our own developing organizing work in Houston. Overall I cannot say Raya’s piece was super helpful but the following points and passages seem useful.
- taking the highest point of struggle as our starting point in any given moment (p 184, there is related material on this somewhere…)
- going deeper and lower into the working class as the quintessence of Marxism
His mind working dialectically, Lenin now approaches the problem from two levels: (1) the real, and (2) the ideal springing from the real. The betrayal of the proletariat by the Second [International] left no doubt that, far from being an ideal organization, it had become the enemy of the purpose for which it was formed – to organize the revolutionary activity of the masses. No doubt the corruption of the Second was unavoidable under the growth of monopoly capitalism and imperialism. But having traced it’s objective basis, that is to say, the economic roots, his mind found it all the more necessary to see it philosophically, and go forward from the recognition of the contradiction in every single thing, to its resolution: If the unity of opposites is not limited to the two fundamental classes in society, if the duality extends to labor itself, then one must speak out the truth – the labor party itself is bourgeois. It is thus necessary to drive a wedge between the opposites in labor itself. It was the deeper and lower layers, in and outside the party, that would have to restore labor to its revolutionary being. The masses would do more than regain their self-activity when they finally destroyed the bourgeois labor party. In overcoming that barrier, the working class will finally find itself undivided against itself. Its ‘knowing,’ its consciousness, will be reunited with its ‘being,’ it’s creative activity. The type of party it creates would not shirk taking power. [p 187-188]
- the relationship of theory and activity
‘Actuality and thought (or the Idea) are often absurdly opposed…Thought in such a case is, on the other hand, the synonym for a subjective conception, plan, intention or the like, just as actuality, on the other, is made synonymous with external and sensible existence…For on the one hand ideas are not confined to our heads merely, nor is the Idea, upon the whole, so feeble as to leave the question of its actual inaction or non-actual inaction dependent on our will. The Idea is rather absolutely active as well as actual. And, on the other hand, actuality is not so bad and irrational as it is supposed to be by the practical men, who are either without thought altogether or have quarreled with thought and have been worsted in the contest.’ Hegel [p 186]
Not only were economics, politics and philosophy not three separate constituent parts. The point was that unless all, as a totality, are taken in strict relationship to the actual class struggle, the activity of the masses themselves, it would be nothing but ‘project-hatching.’ [p 190]