Understanding Sectarianism

Categories, Revolutionary Perspectives

Today as I was helping my sister paint our house, it became clear that I am obsessed with Socialist ‘sectarianism.’ It is just fascinating to me to understand why certain people identify with certain aspects of the Left (calling it “socialist sectarianism” is wrong but easier for this post). I focus a lot of energy on perception and how I, and others I cherish deeply, are perceived, so I think about out ideologies quite a bit. It is very exciting for me to think about the differences between, for example, Workers World Party (WWP) and the International Socialist Organization (ISO). Past that I think the reason I am so fascinated with these ideas is because I love labels, I give them to everyone but in terms of leftists I need to know who is what and why they chose that path to travel. Yet the reason I even am writing about this is because I understand that this developed characteristic is inherently flawed and sectarian, like previously mentioned.

Most of us make initial judgements based on many factors and there is nothing wrong with that, but a problem arises when you act on these judgements. Which I seem to do a lot. To go back to our previous example, WWP is a Marxist-Leninist off-shoot of the original Socialist Workers Party (SWP) formed in 1959 by Sam Marcy and the ISO formed from a group in the 1970’s called the International Socialists (IS) but they grew weary of the leadership and eventually were kicked out over some ideological differences then formed the ISO which relied heavily on the SWP for political guidance. Both of these groups have something to do with the SWP but if you look at their politics they are seemingly polar opposites.

That is so intriguing to me. But without getting to deep into this, the differences lie on a few key areas of ideology, the ISO advocates for “socialism-from-below” which means that workers will be the revolutionists not a a small group of folks ruling from the top down. Whereas WWP, does not outright say they support “top down bureaucrats” but they have (controversially) been known to support countries like Russia, Cuba and North Korea; exalting them as “workers states.” Furthermore, WWP are ardent Anti-US Imperialist, being some of the strongest advocates for ending all US wars, whereas the ISO is also very Anti-Imperialist they choose not support any form of imperialism, i.e. the ISO opposed the US invading Iraq but that did not support the Iraqi ruling class as they were pawns of  Saddam Hussein. Just these little tidbits of why these groups are so different make me jump with joy but it comes at a price though.

Even discussion these discrepancies in ideology become harmful because it is endangering the health of the movement. If we, in the US, were at the stage where Russia was in 1917 than these beliefs may matter but at this point we are losing, badly. So right now anything we do needs to be focused on making our communities lives better, fighting capitalism and saving our earth, we can focus on what countries to support later because with the left being so small and capitalism growing even more everyday we got other issues to worry about. Simply put our material conditions are not where arguments of ‘how to do revolution’  matter because we may be in the belly of the beast but that beast is only 2 months pregnant and we all know the next 7 will be the hardest. 

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