Please read the short essay, or just click the answers to these simple questions. You may need to *enable popups.
Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is unity within the working class and its progressive allies, and work through these easy questions:
1. Which sounds like the best way to arrive at a decision?
Work together to scientifically analyze the options and likely outcomes
Study Marxism, because that's where the answers are
Wait for an executive decision from the top leader(s)
Consult your own conscience, and do the right thing
2. Which of these sounds like a good tactic?
It works every time
It fits the situation
It may not work every time, but it always feels good
It is the right thing to do, no matter how it turns out
3. How should an individual Marxist participate in a decision?
Listen to others, but argue for the best possible answer
Wait for a chance to prove everybody else wrong
Demonstrate Marxist study through using a lot of quotes
Recognize that the majority is probably right, and go along with them
*If popups don't work when you click on the answers, you will probably get a yellow line across the top of your screen. Click on it and choose "temporarily enable popups."
How Do Marxists Decide What To Do?
CPUSA education expert Daniel Rubin wrote an excellent 2007 essay on strategies and tactics.
CPUSA Chairman Sam Webb delivered an exposition on strategies and tactics at a 2001 meeting. He presented a modern analysis in June, 2009:" Change is Here, Change is Coming."
Here's a much shorter piece on tactics:
If someone were to say to you, "I have studied Marxism, therefore I know what to do in all situations," Turn around and run the other way! Marxism helps us find our answers, but it is no blueprint.
Nearly all tactics may be good -- if they fit the situation, but that's a monumental "IF". The only good strategies and tactics are those that flow from the best possible analysis of how things are, how they are changing, and the likely outcomes of the actions being considered. In general, activities that unify and empower the working class and its allies are needed. Some tactics might be counter-productive, some might be productive, and some might be better or worse than others.
In his presentation, Sam Webb quotes Lenin's "Left Wing Communism: "Tactics must be based on a sober and strictly scientific objective estimation of all the class forces in a given state as well as the experience of revolutionary movements." One might add that tactics also flow from a sober analysis of the resources and opportunities available.
We are dialectical materialists. We take a scientific, rational, approach to decisions. We analyze the ways that things are moving in addition to how they seem to be at any given time. We are collective in our approach. We do not take "orders from on high," but discuss issues and proposals among ourselves before committing to a course of action. Even the Communist Party's Chairman, in the discourse listed above, does not determine policy without collective participation. His essay consists, rather, of opening remarks before a general discussion of Party members. Webb's thoughts were subjected to thorough criticisms, good and bad, before they were put into action.
In general, "strategy" is broader and more long-term than "tactic." A tactic under consideration needs to help fulfill the larger strategy. Every suggestion needs to be evaluated in light of long-term and short-term effects. In one situation, an activity might be perfect. In another, it might be "sectarian." "Sectarian" errors are very aptly named, because they can cause unnecessary divisions and splits such as those caused by religious sects.
In one situation, an activity might be perfect. In another, it might be "ultra-left." "Ultra-left" errors, blasted by Lenin as "infantile disorders", probably should have been named something else. People might think that "ultra-left" means, "more to the left," when in fact they aren't "left" at all, but represent a childish aberration.
Proposed actions might also be criticized as "reformist," which means that they do not challenge the capitalist structure as much as they might have.
Remember that a Marxist party is a party of action. Good strategies and tactics are those that result in the most effective actions. There's another section on strategies and tactics in this set.
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