By Isaiah Halley-Segal
It was just last year. I was fourteen and having become interested in socialism, walked into Revolution Books. For those readers who are not familiar with Revolution Books, a small sectarian Maoist group called the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), runs it. At any rate, I walked in and began a conversation with the store clerk. At one point in our conversation I mentioned that revolutionary armed struggle wasn’t feasible and she responded by declaring that my views have bourgeoisie tendencies. That was my introduction to the socialist world.
I define sectarianism strictly as anti-cooperation dogmatism with a tendency for viciousness. This is what these socialist sects tend to do. Even when engaging in coalition efforts, they will try to steal members from other groups to theirs. This is the exact opposite of what is needed for a coalition of the Left.
Specific types of sectarian politics I find especially frustrating. The intense arguments over the Soviet Union — The Soviet Union is DEAD. Gone. Irrelevant. I have no problem with examining the past but when it can consume an ideology with a fight over whether or not a country was a degenerative workers’ state or a capitalist state is when I have a problem.
One of the main problems to solving sectarianism is in the very attempt to solve it, even when trying to just define it. For example an article in the Socialist Worker defines sectarianism as referring “exclusively to erroneous attitudes to the class struggle.” That definition is already sectarian, as then anyone who disagrees with you is sectarian or bad because they do not have the perfect ideology in relation to the class war. The whole socialist atmosphere can be very sectarian at times.
We cannot afford, as members of a tiny political movement, to be this divided and to have this much infighting. We need to be the opposite of sectarianism, we need to be cooperative, understand that our views are never perfect and not be dogmatic purists. We are not going to attract much sympathy by being dogmatic purists. What is needed is a coalition among the leftist radicals AND progressives.
At any protest you go to there are guaranteed to be 5 different communists groups claiming to be the vanguard of the working class. You will also have 15 different pamphlets pushed at you to take. The funny thing is all these groups have very similar names. You have your Freedom Road Socialist Party and your Freedom Socialist Party. You have your Workers Party USA and you have your Workers World Party. You have your Communist Party and your Communist Party USA. At least the working class has a lot of options for their vanguard party.
Isaiah Halley-Segal is a first year at LaGuardia High School in New York City.
The bumper sticker on my car says “Don’t believe everything you think.”