A leader works the hardest to build the Party

By Richard Becker

What made Sam Marcy the leader of Workers World Party? It was not only because he was the most farsighted. Or that he had the greatest grasp of revolutionary Marxism and its application to innumerable political, economic and social developments. Or his tactical ingenuity.

It was all these qualities, of course. But there was also, above all else, Sam’s single-minded devotion to building the Party.

He worked the hardest to implement the Party’s perspective, to find opportunities to engage and struggle with the ruling class, and to build and expand the Party.

Like Marx, Lenin and other revolutionary leaders, Sam had nothing in common with what is sometimes called "armchair Marxism." In fact, there is no such thing.

Sam Marcy was the very embodiment of Leninism. Lenin had split with the Menshevik wing of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party over requirements for party membership. The Mensheviks wanted to allow in everyone who, in general, supported the goal of socialism. Lenin and the Bolsheviks insisted that to be a party member meant being actively involved in the party’s work.

Lenin called for building a new type of party: one based on democratic centralism, disciplined, preparing for revolution, and made up of professional revolutionaries. That didn’t mean that all party members spent full time as party activists; most party members have to work, both for financial reasons and to be among the workers. But it does mean that for all party members, the struggle, the revolution and the party are the highest priority.

In the other socialist parties of that time, the leaders were typically professors, lawyers, ministers—more privileged elements, almost always white men—who might only be seen at the weekly meeting, where they would make their speeches and be on their way.

Leadership in a Leninist party, however, was measured by dedication, hard work and self-sacrifice. This was true in Lenin’s time in Russia and later in China and Cuba, for example. It was the basis of the bond between the party and the masses that made the victory of the revolution possible.

Whenever the leadership of a revolutionary party passes from the scene, the question inevitably arises: Will the party survive? Not just in the sense of continuing to exist, but survive as a revolutionary party.

We will answer that question in the affirmative. But it will require all of us to rethink and raise our level of study, work and sacrifice. The monument we can build to Comrade Sam Marcy is the Party.

Main menu Memorial menu