Defining terms in Marxist Center
On the first weekend of March, Marxist Center, a network of socialist and anarchist organizations mostly based in the US, held its second Convention. The annual Convention was cancelled in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, so this Convention was tasked with covering a lot of ground, dealing with two years of organizational and political problems that have come up since the first, founding Convention at the end of 2018.
Red Braid Alliance for Decolonial Socialism has been interested in Marxist Center since two of our members first met delegates from Marxist Center at the Socialism 2019 conference in Chicago. At our organizational assembly in the summer of 2020, we decided to invest time and energy connecting with comrades elsewhere, who we believe we share fundamental principles with, to work to form a coherent and relevant revolutionary socialist tendency. We thought that Marxist Center was the closest network to us in strategic and political orientation, and we were excited to affiliate in order to open more possibilities for collaboration, critique, and learning together.
In our application for membership in Marxist Center, Red Braid said:
Political isolation is a problem for us. We are in western Canada and far from other urban centres in this country where there are active socialist revolutionary groups. Although we’re not that far from Seattle, the border is a serious barrier to collaboration and interaction.
And, although Vancouver has a radical past, its political landscape is currently dominated by petit bourgeois political forces, in the form of NGOs and front groups for the NDP, which is Canada’s labour party. Consequently, we are anxious for more regular connections with revolutionary groups elsewhere who share our commitment to building autonomous revolutionary institutions of the working class and Indigenous people.
Despite being more than two years old, Marxist Center remains a young organization and this youthfulness showed in the character of discussion that predominated at Convention. Although there were presentations and discussions on the Indigenous land struggles and the militant mass movements against white supremacist police murders of Black people in the US that frame the political horizons of the radical left today, the most excited and involved discussions had a more organizational and internal character.
Red Braid members made presentations on two panels at the Convention: the panel on “basebuilding,” a unifying concept for Marxist Center, and the closing panel on the future of Marxist Center. The Volcano is publishing these two presentations in order to share our perspectives on basic problems of terminology that, we believe, underlie many of the discussions about administration and organization in the network.
Before it is possible to discuss analysis, strategies, and tactics that groups embedded in different fractions of the working class may make use of to contribute to class struggles and multiclass mass movements, Marxist Center needs to agree to some basic definitions, or at least understand the different definitions that are held by different groups in the network.
Listen Chen’s “basebuilding…” presents a term definition to guide the interaction of organizations with and for spontaneous community struggles.
And Ivan Drury’s “future of Marxist Center” argues for an organization that is multiple, numerous, dedicated to lifting up the autonomous groups in disparate locations that constitute it; to carefully avoid the totalizing drift towards a unitary Party.