by Gerye Proletari
(March 9, 2015)
A political line is what separates organizations (revolutionary and progressive) from a collection of activists. When organizations don’t have a proletarian political line, the dominant tendency is to become swept up in reformism. Pragmatism, populism, economism, activism, nationalism and unionism (at this stage in most countries, unions have become integrated capitalist organizations) are all prevalent in many organizations. Indicators of disconnection from a proletarian political line (which would be informed by and inform theory and political practice), many of these tendencies end up turning organizations reformist and opportunist. They are pushed by NGOs, unions, and other structures of capital which try to co-opt and integrate people and movements.
These organizations, which are the main organs of capital recuperation in the streets, DO have their own political lines. The activists who join and or work with them however usually are not part of the construction of the lines. Even organizations which are themselves autonomous from Capital, without a political line, end up objectively being foot soldiers of these other Capitalist organizations; typically, they end up pragmatists, working on whatever is the current “campaign” or “hot button issue” of the day.
A political line is a planned strategy based on a theory. It develops orientations, informs the practice, and helps steer an organization away from being swept up in the moment. There can be many political lines according to the situation and conditions, the different levels of practice, etc. Inside an organization, there should be democratic ways (Democratic Centralism) for political lines to be struggled for and against by all the militants, so that they can change through the organization’s development as well as make sure the theory is properly applied in practice, and that the political lines are representative of the current level of political unity among them. This keeps the political lines—as well as the practice and theory—alive, dynamic and democratic, and not boiled down to stagnant dogmatism.
The political line is a guide to practice helping to steer the organization towards its goal. It is the strategic element that tactics are based on (which in turn, is based on the theory) and together with Mass Line and Democratic Centralism, it helps maintain the dialectical relation between the militants in the organization, plus the organic relationship between the organization and the masses. It provides the blueprint for political work. It also helps construct the culture we want to be dominant after the revolution, by helping check bourgeois tendencies like bureaucracy and other detrimental social relations (insofar as our political line corresponds to the interests of the working class in current conditions).
A political line is not a dogma. Used together with mass line, it may change over time. It may change as a result of changing circumstances, invalidation through practice, or the development of a higher level of political unity among an organization’s militants.