I wrote on Friday, March 21, 2008 “Analysis within the WPB: No historical materialism , but revisionism”, on my blog in those days, called wetenschappelijksocialisme.blogspot.com. I am here retaking it, but now in English (as it was here in Dutch) It was an analysis of some of the documents of the 8th congress of the WPB in February, 2008. among other themes there was the “New” Party-concept. In fact there is nothing “new” about it. So we can read in the congress documents ( 8th congress documents from the WPB/PVDA/PTB , 2008):
"The WPB today: firm on principles and flexible
|"8th Congress: The WPB, firm on principles, flexible..."|
Social developments bring us to a dual mission . The renewed WPB wants to be both firm on principles as flexible in the coming period . ...
1. We are able to distinguish a link between the major issues of our time, a band - poverty, unemployment, stress, hunger , lack of potable water , war , the depletion of the earth ... - from a cohesive , versatile Marxist analysis.
2. But making that link, is not enough. It all depends on offering a global answer and solution. A socialist society guarantees sustainable social progress, participation of the people, peace and protection of nature. It is the goal we pursue.
3. To achieve that goal , the party relies on a number of specific ideological and organisational principles .
These three points define our identity as a party . They distinguish us from the traditional parties . They make the party strong and dynamic. Parties which “forgot” their principles, watered down. You can not be" a bit more" firm on principles , or " a little less". You're as a party firm on principles , or you 're not.
Some party members believe that it is the most important task for the party, to be more open, to be more flexible and to act more tactically. That is wrong. The main task for the Party : to be firm on principles and to be flexible . Both, at the same time. Who is disconnecting being flexible , open and tactical from the principles , will soon give in to the pressure of capital .
That danger is not new . History shows that the abandonment of the principles in the name of tactics and flexibility, can proceed very quickly. In 1885 the Belgian Labour Party1 was founded . The BLP had some socialist principles , but they were - especially since the first election victory in 1894 - abandoned fairly quickly2 It is worth to watch that process today . A great aversion to the substantive debate and socialist theory developed very quickly . "Only the direct interests me ," said foreman Anseele . He tucked himself into the events of the day , wanted a case by case approach to determine. The characteristic features of the capitalist system , the goal of socialism , the long-term interests of the working class ... it was all "forgotten " and sacrificed to the ( real or ) purported benefits of the moment .
The power in the party shifted , despite the statutes , to the parliamentarians of the party at the expense of the elected party leadership , the General Council. The elected members in parliament set themselves above the party leadership . They began to work in function of the parliamentary environment or in function of themselves . And not in the service of the whole. The party became a party of parliamentary legality rather than a party of the class struggle . The party got scared of the labour movement . She exhorted to remain calm . She make the great strikes of 1902 and 1913, "land", without anything achieved . The labour movement was increasingly seen as the great "reservoir of vote" and no longer as the force that was able to achieve socialist revolution The vision of the future of society and socialism evaporated . The party logic was "not rowing against the flow of the day, because that will cost us votes" Women's suffrage was rejected because it was " unpopular " . And when the socialist textile worker Emilie Claeys ensure continued work towards it, she was put out of the party. The BLP developed the theory that they would bring the country to socialism with a parliamentary majority She would take gradually the control over the society through parliament. In fact the BLP limited with that theory, the aims and activities of the party to reforms. They prevented that the workers' movement could unfold herself deeper, could dig deeper, proposed her goals more broadly. She fell into reformist narrowness . They turned away from what Marx had written a revolution is needed to end the domination of capital.
As the BLP unleashed socialist principles , they also let slip away the support for the anti-colonial struggle. And ... let fall... the self-determination of the Congolese people.
When World War threatened , the party leadership chose against peace and for war . She chose against internationalism and for an alliance with the own bourgeoisie . The war , with battlefields including those in Flanders , was a war for the redistribution of colonies and spheres of influence . The party agreed without hesitation in favour of war credits . The party-president Vandervelde called the war "a holy war for justice, freedom and civilization ." The war would cost more than ten million lives.
These few lessons from the history of the BLP are instructive . They expose the dangers that still exist today . A member which for years was active in the Communist Party, confirms : " I participated in a identical discussion in the CPB, as editor of the Red Flag , the tendency to present the party endlessly as a “flexible party" to establish, to finally end as ' club without any principle " this has ruined the party ruined." ....
A contemporary Communist Party
The WPB is not a classic or traditional party. We adhere at a party concept of " the new type" . Characteristic for this is our goal , our analysis , our tasks and our operating principles .
The goal . The party gathers everyone who strives for a socialist society . A society without exploitation of man by man . We organize ourselves to achieve that. historic goal
The analysis . The party allows us to make those strategic analyses, based on a Marxist world-view , and creatively apply it to the situation in our country. Study, debate , discussing about and generalizing experiences, transcending biases and errors , assistance and training : all these things are necessary . That is only possible within a collective whole , the party. And a collective allows turn new insights efficiently into a political and tactical guidance for a joint practice .
The tasks . We strive to transform the aspirations of the working population effectively into battle , organisation and consciousness and to collect the best experiences and generalize them.
Raising awareness ( making conscious) : people learn in different ways . Most people learn mainly by their own experiences Experiences in collective social action are the most instructive.. Yet that is not enough. Understanding how society works , its history and its future, it does not arise spontaneously . The party is constantly fusing the labour movement and the Marxist insights. For this the party must be firmly anchored in the working people . And she needs to look beyond the immediate interests .
Organize . Collective social action is an important moment in which people are acting jointly, organize themselves , and often surpass themselves. To give this experience a permanent nature , it is necessary to lasting organisational work , such as mass organizations. To increase the rentability of the experience of the most active people and pulling them further ahead , it is necessary to continually strengthen the party. The Party herself is the highest form of organisation.
Mobilize (leading the class struggle) . The struggle is the motor of change . Our party is an act-party . We work on social action . Social action is broad : it includes both petitions , meetings , assemblies and strikes, occupations and demonstrations , etc. In the struggle both large groups of people, as the most active organizers are learning most fast and most profoundly . We strive to explore all forms of struggle to develop them and give direction to them.
The principles of operation. The strength of the party is not only formed by an ideological unity , but also by the collective strength of all its members . A finger can break , not a fist . Hence, we apply principles like unity of will and action , majority and minority , and practical decisions that bind everyone . The operating principles of the party are set out in the party statutes . Each group receives the statutes and agrees that the party is working according to the statutes . The basic organisational principle of the Party is democratic centralism . It consists of at following basic organisational principles .
- The election of all leading bodies , from the base to the top. The right of each party unity , within which is provided in the party statutes , to recall the mandate of its elected leadership.
- There must be space to release all kind of ideas. For as many members as possible to participate in the collective work, in the analysis , and in the decisions and activities of the party units .
- We take decisions within a framework of democratic debate and discussion , based on the collected proposals , the best experiences , the political program and the Marxist analysis. Disagreements we settle in a proper manner . We take decisions by consensus or by vote, by a majority . The minority shall abide by the majority.
-The decisions of the leading bodies and leaders are binding for the entire organisation . Once something is decided , we all go together . That discipline is needed to bring complex tasks as sensitize , organize and mobilize as politics and tactics, to a successful conclusion. Factions or groups that organize themselves on other decisions or on other political platforms are not allowed .
- The leading bodies have a duty to submit to regularly accountability . She answers opinions and criticisms that the party units are formulating in order to improve . party-work Decisions are evaluated in time . A balance sheet is drawn up. Practice - what has it achieved? - Is the most important criterion in the balance .
- Each party-organisation has the right of decision and right of initiative on its premises . Initiative and decisions are encouraged within the framework of the statutory principles of the political line of the party and the decisions of the leading bodies. "Is BLP “the historical example”? Why not AMADA (1970) or/and WPB (since 1979)?
Why does one make a comparison between the WPB and the BLP? Why is not made ANY comparison with the WPB "since its founding in 1979" or with the operation and principles of its predecessor AMADA (“”since her founding in 1970”). Was there MORE wrong with the "old" WPB or/and AMADA .... then with the BLP (The BLP which NEVER has been a communist or “Marxist/Leninist” organisation, as the WPB is still considering herself – as here or here on solidnet)?
What is concerning “firm to principles” , it could be better take the ( historically OWN ) “principles” of AMADA or WPB as an example. Or were the "socialist principles of the beginning of the BLP " BETTER than those of AMADA or the WB “in their beginning”? Is there something wrong with the original "socialist principles" of AMADA and the WPB? In which were the “original socialist principles” of the BLP better to focus on, than those “original socialist principles” of AMADA or the WPB herself?
Is the NEW WPB or “renewed” WPB not just DISPOSING herself of certain original “socialist principles” of AMADA or the “old” WPB?
In other words , is there more to it than that AMADA and the "old " WPB were " not flexible enough ", as was the BLP in the years in which “they had still some socialist principles”?
Which program has the WPB as “contemporary communist” and “Marxist-Leninist” party?
What is the current program of the WPB in which its revolutionary objectives and strategy CONCRETELY (the principles “to which the WPB stays firmly attached”) are formulated?
Is that the program (here to read on their website pvda.be or ptb.be) titled “Man first, not the profit”? In this you will not find any “socialist principle to which the WPB could stay attached firmly”....It is just a program of demands of reforms.
The BLP herself has NEVER had a revolutionary program . She had, as the " new " WPB HAS TODAY, a general (formulated in general, Marxist-SOUNDING, phrases) analysis with general statements about “socialism” , with general statements against the private ownership of the means of production and just general statements about the class character of the state ( the state in general, and so not specifically or concretely about Belgium , or Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands together, or Flanders next to Wallonia, or Europe, .... ) ... and certainly is nowhere formulated that the state (whatever which CONCRETE capitalist/imperialist state) has to be demolished by revolution.
For the rest the BLP had (just) a concrete reform program.
The organisation was just conceived to participate in elections , in order to obtain .... like the WPB now.....an attached reservoir of potential voters
If the WPB , as the BLP, with a program of radical reform demands just would indicate the level to which the class struggle should or just was allowed to develop (the WPB as well as the BLP made a case, that they have the farthest most radical reform-demands – so, should the working class in a conflict situation not demand more then is formulated in the WPB- or BLP-program? ) ... it could only serve in making “for a potential electorate the best possible choice for the workers” ....in elections.
It is just, that the WPB has not yet had (as the BLP had in several historical moments) such a big national election-victory. So it is at the moment easy for the WPB to say that she “will not renounce to her principles”.
The WPB forgot the Communist Party of Belgium (CPB) ,founded in 1922?
And the CPB? Well, neither the Communist Party of Belgium had never an own revolutionary program or strategy and so never had any to a revolutionary program corresponding organisation-principles. The most radical position was the recognition that the CPB considered herself as a department of the Third International and so taking (or just choosing some of) the general strategical guidelines of the Third International as her own program.
As the result of “experience in practice” by taking the initiative of the resistance, the CPB acquired the principles of and conspiration and the principles of working clandestine (temporarily)during the time of the armed resistance for the (indeed heroic) military operations. Those operations served exclusively for the program “Nazis Out” but surely not for a program of revolution. (the history of the communist parties arising from the Third International I analysed here)
But now what is most important: Suppose if the BWP had retained its "original socialist principles" simultaneously with the introduction of the necessary "flexibility" .... then the WPB would, according to her 8th congress-documents of 2008 (accepted by a majority of members – of which the “old” members and cadres made a 'renegade' part of), would be the same as the BLP.
And somehow, they are right! It was in 1894 that the Charter of Quaregnon was adopted as the basic analysis for the BLP . It is a text, an "analysis" similar to the formal, and general analysis (in similar pseudo-Marxist phraseology) one can find in the first three chapters of the congress-texts of the 8th Congress of the Belgian Workers' Party in 2008 .
The resulting program (the 2004 program that is basically resumed in 2007-2008, I will explain later) is a SIMILAR program of reforms and even WITHOUT reference to socialism ... just as in the foundation program of the BLP (so in the period that the BLP had according to the 8th congress-WPB-documents still “some socialist principles”)
I will also analyse later (although I analysed here already partially) how Boudewijn Deckers and Peter Mertens who lead (since 2004) the “renewal of the WPB), BEFORE they were ELECTED by a congress as president and national cadre off International Relations - in fact Boudewijn Deckers was temporarily appointed as general secretary in 2004...) has introduced (already long before the 8th congress in 2008, a party-concept which was once CONTESTED at the Second Congress of the Workers' Party of Belgium in 1983. Typical for the level (or lack of) real proletarian class-position at the majority of the members and cadres is, that they just accepted this revisionist turn.....
1The Belgian Labour Party (BLP) is the “Belgische Werklieden Partij” (BWP) founded in 1885, as a Social-Democratic Party of the Second International.
2I This and further stements in bold-italic (while underlining the historical lie about the so-called difference between “in the beginning” and “change later on”) because clearly taken here is a mockery of historical materialism ... and so revisionism is developed (see comments below quotes from the conference documents, Nico)