Glasgow COP26

June 2023 Forums General discussion Glasgow COP26

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    Green fraud.

    Brazil’s indigenous peoples supposedly given land that they already owned


    New article on the CWO (ICT) site:

    See footnote (2) and the ICT-endorsed quote from Mattick snr (1934). For the SPGB does this also constitute ‘vanguardism’?

    (The above is re discussion on November 1 2021 on this thread about the CWO and vanguardism.)

    • This reply was modified 4 days, 3 hours ago by ZJW.

    It probably does but engagement in campaigns for “immediate demands” is dubious too:

    “The party engages in the struggles for immediate demands as long as the workers themselves are directly and actually engaged in the struggle.”

    Didn’t Mattick later change his mind and come to a position closer to Pannekoek’s discussed here:

    Political Parties and the Workers


    ‘[1] It probably does but [2] engagement in campaigns for “immediate demands” is dubious too:’

    As to ‘1’, how so?

    As to ‘2’, but what are ‘immediate demands’? Do you take this to specifically mean political demands (ie reformism)? Because, unless there is some conventional usage to the contrary, to me, this could just as well refer to ‘economic demands’ (over wages, work conditions etc).

    (Anyway, even if ‘immediate demands’ are political(-reformist) ones, this has no necessary bearing on vanguardism or not … or has it? )

    … and most importantly, what is the difference between what Mattick wrote and what Pannekoek is quoted as saying? I don’t see it.


    What we are discussing (though perhaps there should be a separate thread on this) is what a minority of workers who have come to want and understand socialism should be doing.

    The SPGB has developed the position that at present this should be propagandistic. Socialists should organise themselves — in a ‘party’, if you like — to propagate socialism. That is all the party should do at the moment. It should not itself get involved in the ‘immediate demands’, not even over wages and working conditions. Of course it expresses general support for struggles against employers and its members can and should take part in them but as workers involved in the struggle not as a party. Such struggles should be run by the workers involved.

    Mattick’s position in that extract was written on behalf of an organisation which actually called itself a ‘party’ (the United Workers Party of America). One passage starts well enough

    “It does not seek to lead the workers, but tells the workers to use their own initiative. It is a propaganda organization for Communism,”

    But then adds

    “and shows by example how to fight in action.” (His emphasis).

    The passage about the party engaging in the struggle for immediate demands is in the following paragraph.

    The difference, then, with the SPGB position is that Mattick is saying that the party itself should get involved in such struggles.

    Pannekoek’s position seems to have been nearer to ours. He was certainly opposed to “Council Communists” organising in such a party as Mattick envisaged and did. In the article discussed in the Socialist Standard, Pannekoek wrote (part of which the article quoted):

    “If, in this situation, persons with the same fundamental conceptions unite for the discussion of practical steps and seek clarification through discussions and propagandize their conclusions, such groups might be called parties, but they would be parties in an entirely different sense from those of today . . . In this lies the great importance of such parties or groups based on opinions: that they bring clarity in their conflicts, discussions and propaganda. They are the organs of the self-enlightenment of the working class by means of which the workers find their way to freedom.“

    In fact that would be a good description of what we we are — “an organ of self-enlightenment of the working class.”

    The difference between Pannekoek and Mattick (in 1934) would seem to be that Pannekoek thought that a ‘party’ should be a group “based on opinion” and propagating those opinions, while Mattick thought more in terms of a group getting involved as well in day-to-day struggles (which has enabled the vanguardist CWO to claim him as one of theirs).

    Of course, the conclusion we draw and propagate differs from both of theirs. For instance, we are not opposed to workers organising in the existing trade unions nor do we dismiss the vote as useless or worse. In fact, we say that at some future point workers will need to organise themselves into a mass socialist political party with a view to wresting political control from the capitalist class as a prelude to establishing socialism. That’s the opinion we propagandise.

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