A revolutionary organization must be a body which empowers the oppressed. The body must be a resource at the disposal of the working class. Such an organization would attract the most conscious elements of the working class, because its fundamental orientation is based upon aiding and assisting the proletariat, rather than commanding and leading it.
An organization which insists upon being at the helm of the working class in the struggle against the bourgeoisie immediately adopts a pedagogy which is fundamentally flawed. Its very orientation addresses the working class as an uneducated subordinate population.
Now this attitude is one that is most commonly expressed within the radical left by Leninist Vanguard Parties. Theoretically based upon Democratic Centralism, this structured organization historically has consisted of professional revolutionaries who concern themselves exclusively with the growth and maintenance of the party. Democratic Centralism in practice means that Party members enjoy complete democracy internally, that is to say amongst fellow members in the privacy of party meetings. On the other hand, Party Members in public express one party program which is democratically constructed and voted upon by the Party as a whole. These Parties and others like them exist ultimately for the purpose of leading the working class to revolution.The authenticity of Vangaurd Parties becomes “legitimate” once a particular party has won the universal respect of the working class at large. The classic historical proof of this concept is the Russian Revolution where we saw the Bolsheviks feeding and educating a largely illiterate population of workers and peasants prior to their assent to power.
However, it must be acknowledged that the population which makes up the modern proletariat has under gone a qualitatively giant step in education and intelligence. This leap is an inherent property of the information era. The Vanguard Party pedagogy presents itself as necessary for the revolution. The working class, which discovers the public faces of the party, fears being consumed by the bourgeoisie and in that fear accepts the Vanguard Party as its savior. However, a revolutionary organization which takes this positional orientation in the face of the modern working class at this juncture in the struggle against imperialist oppression is privileged in its social isolation from the working class, authoritatively arrogant, and part of a legacy of hierarchical patriarchal dominance among many class reductionist organizations. A humanizing pedagogy of education is a prerequisite for engaging with the modern working class that has been thoroughly socialized by bourgeois institutions which utilize the banking method of education by establishing a bourgeois teacher-student relationship.
What is the Vanguard Pedagogy?
The Vanguard Pedagogy can be summarized by one instruction: “Defend The Party Line.”
It is in the interest of those under the direction of a Vangaurd Party to defend the Party’s political program because it provides for them a materialization of their life’s passion and dream. In giving themselves to the hierarchy’s ideology a revolutionary individual’s praxis is corrupted. The link between theory, action, and reflection is disturbed because theory is given readily in the form of a Party Program. Instead of humanizing individuals meeting to reflect upon the actions of their revolutionary organization, the organizations’ theory reflects in place of their members. By this I mean that actions are measured against the efficiency with which professional revolutionaries wielded the party’s program. In this false reflection it is assumed that an organizer’s failure to recruit an individual stems from either the backwards consciousness of those who exist outside of the party or from the party members failure to adhere to party discipline. This reflects a backwards pedagogy because it carries no humanizing orientation towards the oppressed. In fact, it adopts a reactionary attitude towards the working class. Within this hierarchical system for revolution, plastic theories which can adapt to the needs of the working class, are discarded in favor of sacred texts, actions become scaffolding activities for the party’s program, and reflection decays into reductionist meditations on imperfect programs for action. Despite the democratic process from which a party’s program is solidified, all members are expected to march lockstep under the leadership of the party, thus invalidating internal party democracy.
It is for this reason that a truly revolutionary organization must safeguard the health of its own praxis. It must make sure that it allows for theories of action which are informed by the entirety of the organization’s knowledge and experiences. Action must be fundamentally oriented towards assisting the oppressed. The organization’s reflection on its own actions must then re-inform its theory, completing a healthy cycle. Such are the base elements of a truly humanizing pedagogy.We must discourage practiced exclusivity with regard to revolutionary education. The oppressed masses must remind professional revolutionaries and organizers that they exist to serve the people, not the other way around.
-M.I. Jazz Freeman