The danger of centralization is that the lack of political competence among the general membership will result in an estrangement of a narrow group of "insiders" from the membership generally. This would result in a tendency for self-aggravating political-theoretical mediocrity among members, as we see in the instances of the CP-YWLL, SWP-YSA and smaller such organizations. Centralization of policy-making, and efficient executive decision-making generally, are absolutely indispensable to active political life by our organization. It must be accompanied by a continual active involvement of the entire membership in the political-theoretical discussion processes underlying policy decisions.
In any case, the alternative, "ultra-democracy," ensures bureaucracy. The sort of loose organization demanded by our Bavarians, for example, means that undemocratic rumps (such as the so-called leadership of the Fraser clique) makes its autonomous policy decisions behind the backs of the general membership, a process in which "leaders" act without established procedures of accountability, in which there is no possible effective control of our organization by the membership as a whole. One is reminded, in the present syle of operations of the so-called Fraser clique, of the way in which Rudd created his "coordinating committees" by appointment. The clique leadership creates and staffs decision-making bodies and executive "posts" -- like J.J.'s takeover of the mimeograph machines during the anarchists' campaign to destroy the voice of the membership of the Columbia strike organization. Efficient centralization, provided it is accompanied by a continual process of serious political discussion throughout the membership, is the only honest form of democracy. An organization can be constituted, however, only on the basis of those members who share a common programmatic and related basis for measuring the merits of alternative-policy-decisions. (A point the Phila. LC did not grasp in the early stages of the U. Penn. sit-in.)
Thus, while the existence of the Bavarian clique does represent vulnerabilities, our organization has manifest during the process of our development, it does not reflect some serious flaw in our established policies and perspectives. It simply represents the inevitable emergence within our midst of social tendencies which are more or less alien to the political perspectives on which the entire organization is essentially -- and successfully -- based.
Special Features of The Fraser Situation
While one must insist that the Bavarian clique is not a product of Eraser's intentions or initiatives, there is a "Fraser situation" involved. That is, the fact that one of our former leading members has become more or less the captive spokesman of a Menshevik social tendency within the organization'. It is of several kinds of importance that we take a compassionate view of the process by which Fraser fell into this trap.