- Category: Revolutionary Strategy
- Created on Thursday, 02 September 2010 13:55
- Written by Mike Ely
This is an excerpt from a longer comment.
"A three tier model: Iskra project, Pravda project, Faultlines projects."
by Mike Ely
My own view is (to put it very very crudely) that we need a three tier model -- that distinguishes three very different levels of projects — in order to accomplish the work we face:
1) We need an Iskra project — i.e. a process by which communists and revolutionaries engage and clarify their levels of unity and their forms of organization. It would both be a space where this work gets done — and a pole within a much larger terrain serving as an attractive force for those most radical. It is dangerous to make the sausage right in the middle of the restaurant, but i think that’s the kind of public transparency and access that is needed (especially given the particular contradictions of our regroupment process).
This creates a space within which we attract, create, unite, organize and train communists (even as political practice impacts each of these things it its own way). The Iskra audience is conscious or aspiring revolutionaries. It provides a scaffolding alongside which organization can be developed. It starts as a process of discussions among revolutionaries -- within which a communist pole can be seen and out of which distinct trends can develop -- where radical views can be seen in engaged contradiction to each other, and where such clarifications can (hopefully) help a whole new generation of radicals develop their views and build organized formations to implement and test those views.
Iskra (Spark) was a newspaper written by exiles and smuggled into Russia that helped define and organize a skeletal communist organization that prepared for more revolutionary times. This involves engagement of theory, revolutionary strategy, questions of organization and approaching macro-events with the intent of clarifying line controversies among communists. Since we live in such a post-newspaper world, the early 1900's Iskra newspaper is not an example about form, but about function.
2) We need a Pravda project — we need to develop a popular way of delivering news and analysis to large numbers of people in a way that connects with them and helps bring them to an increasingly revolutionary understanding of the world and their own role.
How to do that, whether it is possible to do right now, what it would look like, how it would be different from the media of other political trends (Democracy Now, the Nation, etc.) — these are issues we have not even scratched yet.
This is a quite difficult project to conceive and initiate -- and one that has not been seriously attempted in a country like ours in a long time.
The revolutionary writer Lu Hsun once argued that to produce truly great work you needed a truly great audience.
The discovery of a really-existing potential audience is one of the preconditions for a successful Pravda project - in ways that will shape its media form, its vernacular style, its focus, its levels of unity, its graphic vibe and so on. In other words, you can't start to apply the mass line on a broad scale without the accretion of a revolutionary people out of real cracks, pockets and radical divergences within the political landscape.
Pravda (Truth) was a daily communist newspaper in St. Petersburg's 1912 working class upsurge that helped forge a revolutionary core for the events that followed World War 1 -- it played this role of connecting people very broadly with a communist view of events and politics. In our conditions this has to be many-to-many, not the traditional one-to-many of newspapers — which means we have a heap of creative thinking to do about forms and methods.
3) We need a series of Faultline projects — in which communists and revolutionaries organize (and reorganize) themselves to deeply engage the struggles of oppressed people along key (objectively existing) faultlines of the society. And this is obviously not just/mainly a matter of commenting on those struggles, or announcing “If we were running this show, this is what we would be having people do.” It is a matter of actually engaging, participating in, building, where necessary initiating and helping to transform the struggles against key crimes of this system — especially those that have the potential for actually drawing significant sections of the people into political life (in ways that collide with this system and its status quo). Revolution requires material force overthrowing material force — and revolutionaries need to actually organize material forces (prepare minds and organize forces) even in a non-revolutionary situation. Preparation for future crisis is not solely (or even mainly) a mental/theoretical preparation among revolutionaries — but also involves preparing networks, connections, alliances, core forces, as well as ideas that can bind millions under unforeseen new situations.
A key issue for an Iskra project is discussing “how to do revolutionary work in our time and place.” And that revolutionary work involves (imho) precisely involves Pravda project and faultline projects.
We have previously talked about "reconceive as we regroup" -- where reconception involves a critical reworking and creative development of communist theory, and regrouping involves the emergence of a new revolutionary movement in preparation for future conjunctural events. A great deal of this reconception is focused within the "Iskra" side of this schema -- though clearly once we succeed in developing faultline projects (out of the current local work that most communists are engaged in) there will be a great deal of testing and struggle over how to apply and revise what we have theoretically developed. As soon as possible, the Iskra side needs to start to discuss and sum up communist work (both the rich work of the past, and the beginnings in our present).