One thing I learned in politics – and it took a while – is the importance of taking a sober and objective look at what people are thinking and what they are ready to do. I would sometimes say in meetings of the Communist Party that it didn’t really matter what we think or are ready to do. What matters, I would argue, is what others are thinking and prepared to do. There was some overstatement and one sideness on my part here.
But I thought it was necessary at the time in order to counter the ingrained habit in our ranks of constructing demands and slogans out of wishful thinking and ideological zeal. Or to frame it a little differently, it was a response to the idea embedded in our political culture that the level of radicalization of the working class and the trend line of the class struggle, no matter the political and economic conjuncture, are uninterruptedly upward and only await a leadership and a political appeal that correspond with this rising radicalization.
This shouldn’t be understood as an argument for passivity or retreat necessarily. Only an insistence that political realism should be coupled with radicalism at every stage of struggle. And in today’s circumstances in which the dangers are existential and the opportunities for advance palpable, such a political methodology is all the more imperative.