Vanguard

Worker’s World says that they have all the answers
And Milosevic is a guy that they admire
The ISO says Trotsky is the man
And they’ll debate it until they all expire
The industrial workers will lead the revolution
So claims the SWP
No, the truth lies among the lumpen
That’s the RCP

The Sparts say the rest can go to hell
And everyone else is a Stalinist
The CP will just do their thing
And pretend the others don’t exist
Well I had a realization this morning
When I looked into the red and dawning sun
I’ve figured out the truth
And I’m forming a party of one

I am the leader of the workers
And I’ll tell you why the Left is suspect
Because there’s something you don’t understand
Only my line is correct
‘Cause I am the vanguard of the masses
And all of you should just follow me
If you doubt my analysis
You must be in the petty bourgeoisie

But I am not sectarian
It’s all the rest who are
I work fine in coalitions
As long as I’m the shining star
So bow down to your master
The lastest V.I. Lenin
And off to the camps to all of you
Who’d say, “not this again”

Chorus

And I’ll have no music at my protests
And none of that goddamn puppetry
I’ll just have some somber slogans
No decadent frivolity
My chants will be the right ones
Just the ones that should be said
And my banners we’ll wave proudly
Just the proper shade of red

Chorus

And I will build the party if it kills me
I am solely dedicated to the cause
If I have to stab you in the back
This won’t give me pause
‘Cause my platform will take us forward
And the ends always justify the means
And you must step aside behind me
Be you Quakers, Jews, anarchists or greens

Chorus

“Vanguard” appears on the 2002 CD, Hang a Flag in the Window.

This is a song about sectarianism among reds.  (For sectarian anarchists, I wrote “I’m A Better Anarchist Than You.”)  The ones who mainly focus on arguing with each other about things that happened a long time ago, somewhere far away, and split into ever smaller and ineffectual organizations as a result of the consequences of such arguments.  For the record, I am not suggesting that socialists or communists are ineffectual — I’m not saying that at all.  While it’s necessary to have opinions and to act on them, sectarianism is a tendency that is very destructive and pervasive, and needs to be understood, dealt with, laughed at, and more.  This song was written in that spirit — the spirit of constructive commentary, engagement in a dialog with the goal of improving attitudes and organizations in some small way.  To the extent that this song has upset some people, and has also been used as a red-bashing tool by certain people who don’t necessarily have constructive intentions, I’m sorry.  Hard to be careful enough in this business…

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