Some notes on a conversation that Todd and I had recently. I think I’ve blogged on this before… in political work I think it’s important to take what I would call a subjectivist line. The goal is to develop more people. This is different from the goals of a mass organization narrowly conceived, which aims to win gains understood along the lines of proverbial bread and butter. I think these are independent of each other, but not fully independent. Some of the time winning a gain contributes to development. Some of the time it doesn’t. I’m convinced that losing doesn’t contribute to develop on a large scale (that is, I’m convinced that the “if things get worse people will finally act” idea is wrong) but it can on a smaller scale. I think there’s sometimes a tension here, in terms of what to prioritize. Our motivations for doing stuff are humanist – we care about people. Gains are a humanist victory. Like I said, a humanist victory isn’t always a development victory. And some of the time in development (in communist activity) some corner cutting on humanist impulses can be important. At a very simple level, some of the time we shortchange important relationships as part of political pratice. That is I think an ineliminable sort of tension.


So, humanist and/or mass organizational work and development and/or communist work. Two different perspectives and types of practices, overlapping, sometimes reinforcing, sometimes differening or conflicting.

This suggest to my mind that communists doing mass and humanist work have a balancing act. Mass work as I think of it starts from people’s interests in the way they understand them as they current are, as we find them, so to speak. Communist work involves trying to change people’s interests. (Actually, I think mass involve changing people’s interests too but not as strongly or as far.) There’s also a difference between the ends. Mass work aims to move people toward humanist/bread and butter gains; communist work to change people’s interests and develop them.