13 February 2008

Lesson #4 from Chanology

The relationship between the old-school anti-Scientology battlers and the massed ranks of anonymous shows us precisely what the relationship between a vanguard party and the revolutionary masses should be.

Yes, I know, it doesn't look much like the model we're always being fed by the Leninist sects. Which is of course a problem with those sects and their warped parroting of phrases from Lenin and/or Trotsky that they don't actually understand. Let's examine the model closer:

A long-term, close knit group of activists grow up around a common struggle. They built a tight network, supporting one another, swapping information and intelligence, but lack of mresources and mmanpower prevent them from making any breakthroughs. Suddenly, a "spontaneous" movement from the classes - actually stemming in origin from the vanguard group's propaganda over the years - breaks out. What do the vanguard do?

Some write off the new masses, declare that they're "just kids" or "lumpen elements" or "internet nerds", critique their methods in a negative rather than a comradely way. Some insist on their own right to lead the movement, or point to reasons why it's not the right sort of movement, that some of the memes it regulates by are wrong or even offensive, and how it will have to change before they'll be involved. Some even fret that the new movement is some kind of diabolical enemy plot, or a potentially reactionary force, and find in those a reason to stay away from or even condemn the movement. These people have proved themselves worse than useless.

However, others engage with the new mass forces properly. They give constructive, comradely criticism, giving helpful and practical suggestions, based on long experience rather than book-leraning, how their struggle can be more successful. They seek to give helpful advice to the leadership of the new mass forces, rather than insist on becoming the leadership of the new mass forces.

Why, then, do the mass forces listen to these vanguard activists? Because their advice now makes sense in the context of their own experience in the struggle. Because they don't insist that they have the right to lead just because they've been doing it longer. Because they know things about the enemy that the newly mobilised forces don't know. Certainly not because "we are in the possession of the one true theory and we are going to fight tooth and nail to make sure that we and our comrades are in control of this". That would of course kill any movement stone dead.

All you commies, anarchos, radicals and trots out there, learn from Mark Bunker and Tory Christman how to show actual leadership in a mass struggle. They wouldn't thank me for saying so, but they're acting in the best traditions of people like Lenin or Che Guevara or Malcolm X. Make yourself relevant. Don't lecture, but learn as well as teach. You are only worth anything in your self-proclaimed leadership if you can actually win the trust and confidence of the masses - you don't earn it by being "orthodox", by spouting the right memes. Memes are in fact irrelevant except insofar as they directly influence action.