I would like to make a few comments on the arguments out forward by Chris Gaffney on the Vanguard Party in the June 1996 RW.
It seems to me that he only puts forward one argument for the necessity of a vanguard party, namely "the party is necessary so that any valuable experience that a section of the class goes through can be extended to broad layers of workers." I am unable to see anything else in his letter. Now for this one argument.
In general terms Britain led in the development of the capitalist world. The term "general strike" appears as such in a trade union paper in the early 1830's. Long before Lenin had even been wrapped in nappies, the industrial working class of Britain had posed, both in theory and practice, concepts such as political programmes, the importance of cross trade and community organisation, cross class alliances and many other issues. Socialist and anarchist discussion clearly took place at a sophisticated level long before the existence of the "vanguard". Political discussion and analysis does not require a vanguardist outfit.
Likewise the questions of race and sex have in times of rapid technological change, to be answered by the practice within the working class. Internationalism predates the vanguard party.
With Best Wishes
I have just been reading the review of "After the Revolution" in your June number, in which you criticise the possibility put forward by Santillan of having "complete political autonomy to all the regions of Spain" while at the same time at the federa; level there should be a "national economic council".
Of course this is impossible from an anarchist point of view. I was a student of Prof. A.R.Radcliffe Brown, who in his youth was familiar with Prince Kropotkin. Radcliffe-Brown and Bronislaw Malinowski were in a sense, competitors in 1945 as the most distinguished anthropological professors in England. Although somewhat opposed to each other in terms of anthropological theory, in terms of politics there was not so much dis-similarity. Malinowski believed that if Europe were divided up into small self-governing independent units something like an English county, this would be the best form of government. Persons would not be able to cross over "county" boundaries unless they could produce a "passport" issued by a university that they had received their B.A./B.Sc. degree. The university degree would be heavily biased towards theoretical subjects, and practical subjects like engineering and business studies would be mostly exlcuded from universities.
I am not sure whether Malinowski had his tongue in his cheek when he put forward this suggestion but I think his main point supporting "small scale" society is not totally unrealistic provided that one is consistent in your principles of organisation.
I remain ,
William H. Newell