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Issue #1904      February 24, 2020


“Freedom of discussion, unity of action”

Two weeks ago, Channel Ten broke an exclusive story regarding the Otis Group – a “group of rebel” MPs who, according to ALP senator Don Farrell, are “interested in supporting coal-workers.” This story was so exclusive that even Anthony Albanese didn’t know about it until Ten political editor Peter van Onselen broke it to him.

After Kevin Rudd’s leadership challenge rules were implemented in 2013 there seemed to bring over peace within the ALP in the last five years, which constituted part of a decade that saw a revolving door of prime ministers from both sides of the political aisle.

The Coalition has also had its fair share of political leadership turmoil. We have seen three prime ministers and two deputy prime ministers during their time in government. The tally of deputy prime ministers might have been higher had Barnaby Joyce been successful in his attempt to return as Nationals leader earlier this month.

On this point, what is it that all bourgeois parties have in common? The answer is this: factionalism. The open display of “Left” and “Right” wings within these parties allows schisms to emerge and even dominate their parties.

Lenin saw the damage factionalism caused and started work to implement its prohibition. This started with the 6th Congress in 1917, where Lenin’s organisational principle of democratic centralism would be the guiding tactic which the Bolsheviks (and subsequent communist parties) would implement to avoid public demonstrations of internal battles. These rules were: “That all directing bodies of the Party, from top to bottom, shall be elected; that Party bodies shall give periodical accounts of their activities to their respective Party organisations; that there shall be strict Party discipline and the subordination of the minority to the majority; that all decisions of higher bodies shall be absolutely binding on lower bodies and on all Party members.”

By the 10th Congress factionalism was banned. Lenin’s report from that congress, On Party Unity, stated: “It is essential that all class-conscious workers clearly realise the harmfulness and inadmissibility of any factionalism whatsoever which inevitably leads, in practice, to less friendly work and to repeated and intensified attempts by enemies of the ruling party who have attached themselves to it under false pretences, to deepen the divisions and use them for purposes of counter-revolution.”

However, Lenin didn’t devise democratic centralism as a means to stamp out any and all dissent. In his Report on the Unity Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., (A Letter to the St. Petersburg Workers), Lenin summed up democratic centralism as “freedom of discussion, unity of action.” That is to say, within the party, discussion and debate are encouraged.

It is important that comrades practice this principle; that we are open in our discussions with comrades, we put our best arguments forward in order for comrades to make the most informed decisions possible so that the best positions can be won and that ultimately they are abided by. Without this discipline of unity the bourgeoisie will inevitably find our political cracks and break us.

However, it is because we are a party of a new type, and not of the bourgeois type, that we can exploit this weakness in the bourgeoise. It is clear that in their public show of infighting that bourgeois politicians do not care about the working-class, that their focus (outside of securing the interests of capitalists) is political power that merely furnishes the ego of this or that factional leader. Lenin saw that it was necessary for a communist party to destroy factionalism if it were to achieve its goal of being a vanguard party; that egos of a group of individuals not dominate party life if it is to secure better conditions for the working class. This more evident today in Australia’s political climate than perhaps ever before.

Next article – Trade Union Strike Updates

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