Recently, PRAC/RSM participated in an anti-corporatization, anti-imperialism rally organized by a coalition, headed by a student organization at UofT. The rally was by-and-large successful, despite the fact that one of the coalition groups threatened to back out after seeing the previous post.
This experience led RSM to make a post about right-wing sectarianism and opportunism.
The deal-breaker, as it came to light, was the fact that PRAC/RSM supported the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan–the C(M)PA . Confusion and abdication of responsibility momentarily took hold of the coalition, as the coalition organizers tried to decide whether to capitulate to the withdraw-ees by changing the overall tone of the event, or moving forward without the withdraw-ees.
This turn of events makes a good teaching moment about one of the dominant tendencies within the mainstream Left: sectarianism.
Sectarianism is sometimes disguised behind anti-sectarian appearances, as MLM Mayhem recently writes. For instance, the broad “‘anything goes’ ideology” that infects the Left fosters the exclusion of groups and ideas that are deemed too radical.
Moreover, sectarianism is complicated by its indulgence in right-wing opportunism, which is the:
“Adaptation of the policy and ideology of the working-class movement to the interests and needs of nonproletarian (bourgeois and petty– bourgeois) strata”. Opportunism is usually associated with revisionism (q.v.) or dogmatism (q.v.). It can be right-wing or ‘left’-wing.”
“Right-wing opportunism comes into being together with the organised working-class movement (trade-unionism, Lassalleanism, “Economism”, [and in this case petty-bourgeois student activism–ed.] etc. ). It manifests itself in the rejection of revolutionary methods of struggle, conciliation with the bourgeoisie and, in the final analysis, abandonment of the struggle for socialism.”
From our recent experience, for instance, we were able to cooperate with the various coalition groups with whom we attended the rally, but only through reaching a disunited kind of unity, and a lowest-common-denominator kind of cooperation, where the coalition prematurely degenerated into a group of ad hoc parties.
Of course, there are time restraints, as the coalition organizers were all working to put together an action at the top possible speed. However, this does not detract from the fact that we all need to be better organized, and rely less on the spontaneity of the moment to stage a successful rally.
RSM learned from this experience that sectarianism is the opposite of unity.
For coalition-building, MLM-Mayhem suggests a number of principles that provide guidelines for maintaining unity. RSM thought it worthwhile to reiterate these principles.
The coalition organization/organizer:
“a) will work in coalitions without trying to force the entire coalition to liquidate itself into its ranks; b) will maintain its parallel principles in this organization without apology, but with humility; c) will not intentionally engage in asinine and internecine left-wing turf wars and member poaching; d) will maintain that their principles will be proved in the class struggle rather than in name-calling.”
Unity is of vital importance, especially in the face of the enemy. Without criticism and self-criticism, there can be no unity. To quote Mao, “that means starting from the desire for unity, resolving contradictions through criticism or struggle, and arriving at a new unity on a new basis.”In the case discussed in this article, the rally could have been better had there been more unity to start with, and better criticism and self-criticism along the way.
Click here to read the RSM speech from the rally.