As left ideas go mainstream, how do we advance political independence?

BY:Andrew Stewart| April 30, 2019


This project requires three different things that are interrelated but worthy of individual and distinct understanding:

A) The critical articulation of working-class history and the development of working-class politics in a fashion that acknowledges the failures and shortcomings of the CPUSA. This is extremely important and useful. While I am not a socialist, the fact is that the Socialist Party of America under Norman Thomas opposed Japanese internment during World War II while the CPUSA did not in order to preserve the Popular Front, as just one example.
B) An understanding of how Leninism can and should guide our efforts. The historian Lars Lih has demonstrated with his scholarship that Lenin’s intent and purposes regarding the Bolshevik and then Communist Party was different than what was implemented by Zinoviev and Stalin as part of the homogenization of the worldwide Communist Parties. Lenin’s project was one that included things like a joint Bolshevik/Menshevik newspaper where debates were openly engaged in. That sort of thing became unimaginable after Zinoviev and Stalin were in control of the Comintern and that stifling has been to the detriment of the working class.
C) Using these two things, a political bravery is necessary. Slavoj Zizek makes clear in his recent Lenin anthology that we have to move outside the realm of acceptable and safe politics and embrace the action of politics that are willing to risk failure. We need to experiment with efforts that can fail multiple times before they succeed. Is there a different style of organizing and mobilizing workers to try? Does political education have a different form to experiment with? Is there a new framework for the site of struggle?
As a side note I would include mention of the vital role that WEB Du Bois and his magisterial Black Reconstruction in America have to play in this discussion and that we have much to learn still from that book.


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