The Founding of the Democratic Workers Party

Janja A. Lalich

in Bounded Choice

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780520231948
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937512 | DOI:
The Founding of the Democratic Workers Party

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This chapter describes the founding and development of the DWP, using interview data, documents, and personal experiences. The DWP was formed in 1974 by Marlene Dixon and defined itself as a Marxist-Leninist, democratic-centralist, and proletarian-feminist organization. The concept of proletarian feminism became less prominent in Party literature and approaches through the years, and, over time, concepts and issues tied specifically to the working class and then to world socialism were increasingly stressed. From the start, Dixon insisted on setting up various units, instilling discipline and an ambience of secrecy. Before long, the group's founders realized that they were part of an underground organization. Having experienced frustration with the New Left—its looseness, macho attitudes, and lack of seriousness—and feeling a compulsion to do something with their political convictions, the women were eager for organizational stability. They prided themselves on being the founders and leaders of a new kind of Marxist group, one that would help bring about revolution in America, in the tradition of other great revolutionary movements. The model of bounded choice and parameters of charismatic authority are evaluated in this context. Even at this early stage of the group's development, the self-sealing system of cultic organization was beginning to form, and the process that ultimately led to bounded choice was initiated.

Keywords: underground organization; New Left; organizational stability; bounded choice; self-sealing system

Chapter.  9555 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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