Twenty Years Later
Democracy, Revolution and Parties
Pierre Rousset, 16 June 2005
*Objectives of this third report:
- Conclusion of yesterday's report: one major responsibility of my generation of activists is to collectively assess a critical evaluation of the past forty years.
- To present elements of such an evaluation around the general issue of democracy and revolutionaries.
- ATTENTION: This is NOT a matter of affirming a new orthodoxy. Just of opening up a field of reflection.
- The red thread: a re-lecture of the 1985 FI resolution on "Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Socialist Democracy => continuity and changes; confrontation with realities.
- A very strong programmatic dimension. Our choice of Marxism.
- One of our main specific qualities (with internationalism).
- A legacy of our history:
* Roots in the Russian revolution and the Third International.
* Marxism before Stalinism and revolutionary (against Social Democrats).
* The experience from within the process of Stalinization.
- Some first attempt to update our tradition (a less "defensive" approach of democracy).
- A very valuable contribution to present reevaluations: the existence of "Marxisms".
- The end of classical bourgeois democracy and the new dynamics of the democratic issue.
- The "transitory" character of the fight for a deepened and extended democracy.
- See Joao Machado. But two questions. Too kind with Social Democracy (colonial wars and crimes). A black hole: violence of the dominant classes.
- Progress and limits in programmatic and strategic reevaluations (how to disarm them?).
à Re-reading 20 years later.
àBehind the lines: one participant's memory of unaddressed issues (just memory, no historical work).
- The perspectives: Political revolution in the Soviet bloc?
- The terms "Dictatorship of the Proletariat" (in the title!): conservatism.
- A "programmatic" approach ("State and Revolution’s quotes…).
- "This does not mean that these norms can be fully implemented irrespective of concrete circumstances". It would have been good to integrate really existing concrete circumstances.
à One (unique) model of reference (councils, soviets).
à The non-existing Russian revolution model for the capitalist developed countries.
à Why are the peasants' councils not mentioned (the state in a transitional society).
à Here too: the centrality of "concrete analysis of concrete situations" (Lenin, of course) = political traditions + pattern of the revolution + relationships of forces, etc.
- Political pluralism and democracy: one of the strongest points in the resolution.
- But: several workers' parties or, also, several revolutionary parties? Here: "the" or "a" revolutionary party; never "revolutionary parties".
- A later radical change in our inherited vision: the "three (programmatic) poles" and the "centrists". El Salvador + the complexity of revolutionary experience. Pluralism of the revolutionary Left: a "second best" choice… or a fact of life?
- "Structural unity". Strike committees. Participatory budget.
- Absence of "structural unity". The Social Forum process and the "open assemblies".
- Already in the 1985 resolution!
- Centralization of struggles yesterday (labor movement, protracted warfare) and today (without "the" backbone).
- Welgang Bayan and the Western TU traditions.
- Learning from today's experience: Joao, Social Forums…
= Our "Leninism" of the 1970s. The vanguard party: A party intervening in ALL ASPECTS of society. Revolutionary crisis and ability to take action. Activist phalange. Continuity.
- 1985 resolution: a very careful definition of "the" vanguard party.
- The opposite definition: One class, one party, one State. When the party replaces the State, the Church and the Extended Family. The party as ruling faction of society.
- Nowadays: more "horizontal", more "equal" relationships between radical parties and movements. The specific function of political parties. Where is the program coming from? (Gender, ecological , peasant issues, changes in labor structures…).
- Who takes power? (Marcos). The specificity of Marxist revolutionary parties.
à Universal human and class rights.
à Degeneration from within: Social Democracy, Stalinism, "Khmers rouges".
à Revolution as a process of self-emancipation (individual and collective).
à Back to the centrality of democracy.