Trotskyism and the vanguard party
Publisher: Ulli Diemer
Year Published: 1974
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX7166
One of the most consistent achievements of the Trotskyists over the years has been to drive people away from radical politics. The number of burned-out and alienated ex-Trotskyists greatly exceeds the number of active Trotskyists. Their transparently manipulative tactics in the organizations they infiltrate tend to drive ordinary members away, forever wary of anyone identified as a Trotskyist.
With its arbitrary and formal divisions between leaders and led, the 'democratic centralist' vanguard party often becomes a divisive influence in the working class movement, and frequently ends up acting as a brake on spontaneous upsurges that originate outside the party. The organizational model is closed and rigid, so the party tends to become increasingly inbred and separate from the people it is supposedly trying to reach and represent.
Perhaps the major irony of the Trotskyists' insistence on a united disciplined party under centralized leadership is that what this model actually produces is factionalism, disunity, and split after split. Every Leninist with leadership pretensions secretly imagines himself to be the new Lenin, the infallible leader prepared to split any organization that deviates from what he sees as the correct line. The hothouse world of the Trotskyist vanguard party concentrates tensions and egos that sooner or later explode.
Whatever else he or she may be involved in, the primary point of reference for a Trotskyist is always the Trotskyist organization - or perhaps the faction within the organization he or she belongs to. Trotskyists are almost invariably considered outsiders in struggles, manipulative hustlers who are trying to push their predetermined 'correct line' on others.