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Session 4: Sunday June 30th, 10:00am - 12:00pm
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Rosa Luxemburg argued that a revolutionary party is “not a party that wants to rise to power over the mass of workers or through them.”Rather, such a party “is only the most conscious, purposeful part of the proletariat, which points the entire broad mass of the working class toward its historical tasks at every step.” This was a vision of “a party of autonomy,” conceived as a catalyst of independent grassroots action, a center of coordination across many fronts of struggle, and a means of maintaining continuity through the ebb and flow of the class struggle by cultivating a collective historical memory. From Spain’s Iberian Anarchist Federation to Chile’s Revolutionary Left Movement, this panel shall examine historical examples of “parties of autonomy” that inspire us to think beyond traditional conceptions of the party-form. Can we imagine a party-form that takes us beyond conceptions of a party as an instrument for the top-down seizure of power? Can the multiplicity of working class needs and desires be embodied within a single party, or should we think in terms of creating “two, three, many parties of autonomy”? As affective spaces, how can a party of autonomy foster a culture of love, solidarity, and mutual aid among comrades engaged in the day-to-day grind of building people power? Can a party of autonomy be used to help articulate the communist content implicit in mass upsurges of struggle—from Black Lives Matter to Red for Ed—and assist the formation of a counter-hegemonic bloc by weaving these disparate fronts of struggle together? This workshop shall explore the framework of the forthcoming book from Organization for a Free Society and Common Notions, where a party of autonomy is conceived as one element of a larger revolutionary ecosystem that includes grassroots fighting organizations, alternative institutions, popular defense forces, electoral organizations, and united fronts.


Malav Kanuga is a member of the Bluestockings Workers’ Collective as well as a PhD student and teacher in the CUNY system.