In this lecture, Bensaïd provides a general survey of the conditions for building a revolutionary proletarian party. He begins with a discussion of Marx's and Engels's points on the party question. He later focuses on Leninist concept of party, and concludes with clarifications of some ambiguities of Leninism valid for today.
Audio's Daniel Bensaïd
Bensaïd focuses on polemical aspects of Leninist theory of organisation, and starts with a discussion of two Leninist positions. Firstly, the Leninist theory of organisation represents a very historic moment in the history of working class, where the political party tends to dissolve itself in the social organisation of the proletariat. The ideas of Lenin entail a distinction between party and class. Dictatorship of the proletariat, trade unions, working class and party do not mean the the same in Lenin's thought.
History of the 4th international (1933-1938) - the aimis to understand what battles we come from and what is the programmatic heritage that we have. Bensaïd provides contextual information regarding the foundation of the FI, and introduces the discussion along the axis of five questions/subheadings: 1- Why a new international is necessary? 2- What basis, what is the programme to build this new international? 3-How to establish a new international?
Bensaïd focuses on the third question in his outline: How to establish a new international? He discusses the first five years of building the FI. For Trotsky, founding of a new international was less a declaration than forming a unity of different forces and trends. Bensaïd depicts the situation of the forces in the 1933 and the situation of the Left Opposition internationally in the 1933. In the second part of the recording, he discusses the fusions. He describes the "modern centrism" concept of Trotsky - between social democracy, Stalinism, and revolutionary Marxism.
In this final part of his lecture, Bensaïd discusses entryism with concrete examples from the SWP, and CP's in different countries such as America, Brazil and France. He draws conclusions and comments on the results as well as their validity today.
Bensaïd provides a chronological account of the period from WWII to the split in 52-53, the reunification process in 63, the 9th world congress, and considerations on the 11th world congress. FI started as a prognosis on the WWII and its results. Trotsky thought that this war would have the same effects as the WWI and trigger a series of revolutions. A strong internationalist revolutionary vanguard was necessary. After WWII, the perspective of Trotsky was to be maintained closely.
In this part of recording, Bensaïd focuses on the reunification process in 63, with concrete points from the reunification congress. He continues to discuss the context of the reunification: In Europe, the strategical framework was linked to what he calls a "strategical hypothesis", with a prospect of revolutionary crisis in the 70s. New conditions of the proletariat in Europe and new organisation building strategies came up. He provides a critical perspective of the FI's lack of analysis and failure of recognition regarding Latin America in the 1970s.
The first part focuses on the founding of the JCR, and the process of fusion from 68 to 69 between the JCR and the PCI. The context of youth organisation and youth radicalisation around Maoist currenst and the Vietnam War are discussed as well as the organisational structures and movements.
The mainly clandestine activities in the early 1970s changed with the 1974 presidential elections. Some democratic demands for the army were raised, including a soldiers union. Collaboration with workers committees, to make room for soldiers committees. In 1975, the Chirac campaign denounces a 'plot' against the army and all soldiers committees were dispersed. In this context, Bensaïd mentions the organisational problems and "two big" mistakes.
Bensaïd discusses "entryism" departing from Trotsky's position in 1934 concerning the CPs until today, posing the question of "what is the place of revolutionaries and what can they do to add revolutionary content in the united front." He concludes the lecture with an overview of the party activities, policies and organisational decisions from 68 to 69-71, which was marked by a hypothesis of acceleration of class struggle, revolutionary perspective on the situation, and rapid breakthrough in the organisation.