The REDSTAR2000 Papers

Listen to the worm of doubt, for it speaks truth. - Leftist Discussion

Modern Echoes of 1789 July 29, 2005 by RedStar2000

The story is told of a Maoist politician who, when asked what he thought of the impact of the French Revolution of 1789, replied, "It's too soon to say."

There's more truth to that than even he was probably conscious of. Every country in the world that remains under the yoke of the modern imperial powers must struggle desperately for "its own 1789"...for its own place as a modern capitalist country.

The Leninist thesis that these countries can, with "correct leadership", "leap over capitalism" and proceed directly to "socialism" has been the source of endless disillusionment and despair in the "western left".

Because, at best, these countries create state-capitalist despotisms that develop them economically, preparing the way for modern capitalism.

The despotic elite of the "revolutionary party" transforms itself (in a generation or three) into a vigorous native capitalist class...ready to enter the world market as "players" in their own right (not servile imperial quislings).

Too many "western lefties" see the red flags and listen to the "Marxist"-sounding rhetoric...and fail to notice that what's really happening is 1789.

And then they lose themselves in ferocious "discussions" of "what went wrong"...when nothing "went wrong" at all.

1789 was not a proletarian revolution.



There was zero progressive result from the Khmer Rouge or from the Shining Path.

Well, the Shining Path was largely defeated (at least for the time being).

So the Khmer Rouge is your only real example of a quasi-Maoist rebellion that was victorious and yet also reactionary.

Shit happens!

You cannot deny that Maoism led to the development of modern capitalism in China and Vietnam (probably Laos as well...though very limited thus far).

I don't think you would argue against the idea that such an outcome would be the most probable one in the case of the Philippines or Colombia or Nepal.

I think Cuba also fits into the Maoist paradigm...but the outcome remains disputable.

It would take many more such examples to seriously weaken U.S. imperialism...that much I will grant you. But I think the weight of the examples thus far indicates that Maoism is very good at progressive peasant uprisings that will ultimately modernize those countries (probably at less human cost than imperialism would generate) and also weaken the American Empire.

As long as one does not fall victim to any foolish illusions about "peasant socialism", I see nothing to lose and everything to gain by supporting their struggles against the American Empire.

Further, what are the consequences of the opposite course? If you take the position that all the existing resistance to U.S. imperialism is "reactionary", then what conclusion do you invite people to draw other than U.S. imperialism is "better" than its opposition?

You can try to evade that by pointing to your support of the tiny urban working class movements in the "third world" -- which may indeed be much more progressive by our standards than Maoist guerrillas.

But such working class movements that may exist are not "players"...they are too small and too weak to have much of a significant role to play -- except in the final moments when the guerrillas are ready to assault the capital.

Thus while you claim to be "supporting the progressive option", the actual impact of your policy is, at best, one of indifference between U.S. imperialism and its real enemies of the moment.

At worst, people will just conclude that you're "pro-imperialist" by default.
First posted at RevLeft on June 8, 2005


I don't expect to see more victorious examples [of Maoism]

Your faith in American military might is considerably greater than mine...but you certainly have a right to your pessimism in this regard.

But then who will fight imperialist domination in the "third world"?

You've said elsewhere that you reject the idea of a "progressive bourgeoisie" in those they can't do it.

The urban working class in those countries is in the some of them, a tiny minority. The seizure of power by a Leninist party rooted in the working class is obviously not happened in Russia, after all.

But unless it can muster wide-spread support among the peasantry, I don't think it could withstand American pressure for very long.

(The Maoists start out by gaining the support of the peasantry first.)

You cite the example of Bolivia. But nothing has really happened yet. If civil war breaks out and the usual radicalization follows, then you may have a "model" to work with...something you can realistically argue is a genuine and superior alternative to Maoism in the "third world".

And that's fine with me. If a more effective form of resistance to U.S. imperialism is emerging in Bolivia and spreads to other parts of the Empire, I will be delighted to support it.

Without illusions! Modern capitalism is the "next stage" for Bolivia and the rest of the Andean countries...and that's what will ultimately happen no matter what path is followed.

Which is all that I have maintained in these various controversies, after all. If you and others want to piss and moan that the Maoists are "not nice", fine. What I see is that they are in the field of armed struggle against U.S. imperialism...and that makes them objectively progressive at this time.

(Just as the Iraqi resistance is objectively progressive at this time.)

Later on, who knows? A Maoist group that goes off in the direction that the Khmer Rouge did would certainly be considered reactionary. You would presumably argue that Shining Path "would have done that"...and likewise the Nepalese Maoists "will do that" if they come to power.

I disagree...I think they would modernize their respective countries just as the Chinese, the Vietnamese, and the Cubans have done -- preparing them for their role as modern capitalist countries.

Just as Chavez is doing in a very different way.

I am not "picky" like you and others here; I don't care how the "third world" countries break the stranglehold of the American Empire.

I just care that they do it.
First posted at RevLeft on June 9, 2005


As I mentioned in my earlier statement, the ruthlessness of such guerrilla movements - despite the fact that they are indeed opposing the imperialists - does not take in account that bourgeois imperialists will use their human-rights violations against their cause and deteriorate international support and sympathy; the actions of the guerrillas themselves are usually enough to scare aware the actual masses.

Perhaps this is what happened with the Shining Path...I do not know.

I am pretty certain that guerrillas don't care that much one way or the other about "international support and sympathy" -- they are fighting an armed enemy after all.

They must defeat that enemy militarily. Presumably they choose methods which in their own best judgment are most suitable for accomplishing the defeat of their enemies.

You may, if you wish, remonstrate with them about their tactical choices and point out that you "would do it differently". There's nothing wrong with that.

But when you take the side of the imperialists -- or word your criticisms in such a way as to give that impression -- then you've crossed the line into the ranks of the enemy.

"Leftists" who support imperialism are not leftists.

They are scabs.
First posted at RevLeft on June 9, 2005


I will point out that you're constantly assuming the thing you have to prove: the correctness of your starting point that anything against Washington is good. As opposed to the Marxist view, that anything that aids the increasing consciousness and self-organization of working people is good.

What single change would do more to "increase the consciousness and self-organization of working people" around the world as well as at home other than the massive defeat of U.S. imperialism everywhere?

What single concentration of economic and military power does far more to intransigently oppose the "increase of counsciousness and self-organization of working people" all over the world than all others put together?

Sure, Chinese imperialism is reactionary. Sure, French and German imperialism are both reactionary. Sure, the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran and elsewhere are are the Zionist expansionists, the Mugabe regime in Africa, and so on, and so on, and so on.

The planet is full of reactionaries...big and small.

Who is "the big dog"? Who stands up for reaction everywhere? Who is, in a phrase similar to that used by Marx himself, the fortress of world reaction?

And who, if not American Marxists, should be most opposed to both the dream and the practice of "our own" Empire?

You want to "cherry pick" from the global struggle against U.S. tyranny -- pick out the groups that you find abstractly "progressive" from some Olympian height.

That's your the oppressed and exploited countries of the world, people don't get many choices like that.

In the "inexplicable absence" of benevolent Trotskyist guidance, they must often choose between an unsavory local resistance and submitting to continuing imperialist despotism.

And you imply strongly that they "should" and even "will" submit.

Because, after all, those Maoists are just "murderous thugs" and those Iraqis are "Sunni supremacists" and...

And it logically follows that U.S. imperialism is "not as bad".

Face it: your real advice to the rest of the planet is "Wait for Leon; he will return to set things on the right course again."


Your conclusions are logical enough, from your starting point. But that just helps emphasize the complete rottenness of that starting point.

I don't think you're in any position to draw attention to the "rottenness" of others at this point.

You're only a few verbal steps -- and small ones at that -- from supporting U.S. imperialism.
First posted at RevLeft on June 10, 2005


What is critically missing in Bolivia in this very important hour is a leadership like the Bolsheviks of 1917 Russia that could put forth a clear program for socialist revolution and do battle with MAS leadership to win over the rank and file to the side of the working class.

Come now. I'll bet, sight unseen, that there are at least a dozen Leninist parties in Bolivia scrambling around to get "out in front" of the struggle.

They're just no damn good at it, that's all...just wannabe despots that the masses quite properly ignore.


Would this not be a contradiction, redstar? Just "wannabe despots?" Is that not what these guerrilla groups you so wholeheartedly support are? Would not these Leninists do the same things that the Maoist guerrillas would do? Help industrialize their nations and bring us closer to real Communist revolution? And yet, you say that the masses ignore these Leninist groups "quite properly." Well, perhaps the masses "quite properly" ignore brutal guerrilla forces because these groups kill and repress the very people they claim to be fighting for. How are these groups not just a bunch of "wannabe despots?" They will both accomplish the same things, will they not? How can you support one and not support the other? They're both fake Communist groups, but they'll both "bring us closer" to a real Communist movement. So what's the difference... other than that the Leninist groups in Bolivia are probably not killing off civilians like the Shining Path?

Good question!

I suppose I am being "unfair" to the assorted Leninist parties in Bolivia...but none of them have actually launched an armed struggle against the puppet regime.

In other words, none of them have done more than clamor for recognition of their "correct leadership".

If one of them "picks up the gun" and begins an actual insurrection, that changes the picture entirely.

True, they'd still be wanna-be despots -- but now their despotism would potentially overturn the despotism of imperialism.

That would be something that the Bolivarian masses would not ignore...or would be mistaken if they did ignore.

After all, Bolivia (like any other neo-colony) has a large supply of potential quislings...politicians that can be slotted into office, removed when totally discredited, and replaced with "new faces" that are just as bad.

None of the political forces thus far revealed in Bolivia offers the "revolutionary option" -- an end to Bolivia's status as a neo-colony.

If some Maoist-inspired (or Guevara-inspired) group emerges to offer that option, I will support them.

And I will continue to do so even though the quisling regime in La Paz and the American bourgeois media, etc., accuse them of "horrible atrocities".

I already know that U.S. imperialism in its daily "peaceful" functioning is far more atrocious.

You should know that too.
First posted at RevLeft on June 10, 2005


I have no problem with violence against the oppressors - I'm just stating as a trend such guerrilla movements betray their social base and "defeat" the masses "militarily."

Oh they "do", do they?

Where'd that idea come from?

Well, the Nation (bourgeois liberal magazine in the U.S.) said so.

And The New York Times agreed.

A whole host of NGO's jumped in on the same side. must be true!

The guerrillas are "fucking assholes".

So our position is...fuck those bastards!

And, um, er, two-and-a-half cheers for U.S. imperialism and their quisling regimes???

As the Trotskyist so glibly put it -- "it's what you're for" that counts.

So if you want those guerrillas ("fucking bastards") defeated, you know who you have to turn to, right?

Your choice.


Would the defeat of U.S. imperialism by German and Japanese imperialism have been a victory of working people everywhere?

It was widely understood (on the left) from the early 1930s that German and Japanese imperialism were, by far, the most reactionary enemies of the international working class at that time.

After 1945, things changed. It was American imperialism that assumed the role of the most reactionary enemy of the international working class and, indeed, of ordinary people in every country.

Even just to list the predatory moves of U.S. imperialism would make a very long post...and their atrocities an even longer one.

The French are probably in a distant 2nd place and the British and the Russians are fighting it out for 3rd place...but all three put together are hardly even in the same league with the United States.

The American and British critics of guerrilla movements constantly avoid this truth...they prefer to measure the guerrillas by some abstract moral standard that is completely disconnected from the daily reality of American imperialist domination.

If Shining Path shoots a priest, that's "terrible". If the priest tells his congregation that birth control is immoral and many babies are born whose only fate is starvation...that's "peaceful" and just "freedom of religion".

If the Nepalese Maoists publicly execute a village chief that supports the monarchy, that's "terrible". If the village chief cheerfully presides over the worst caste system in the world, that's "peaceful" and just "freedom of religion".

If an Iraqi suicide-bomber blows up a bunch of civilians standing in line to join the quisling police force, that's "terrible".

If the U.S. Air Force bombs the crap out of a rural wedding, that's...well, a regrettable error???

What are you going to label the atrocities of the side that you support?

Collateral damage???
First posted at RevLeft on June 12, 2005


RedStar: You don't get it.

I sure don't! I'm continually astonished at the people who piss and moan endlessly about guerrilla "atrocities" while refusing to acknowledge the far greater atrocities of U.S. imperialism and its quislings.

Would you like "perfect guerrillas" who are "without sin"? Gee, me too.

Do you know of any?

I don't.

Now what?


In other words, almost everyone on earth says the Nepalese Maoists are carrying out terrorism against working people.

At least "everyone on earth" with access to the bourgeois media.

Most of them also add (in a footnote at the bottom of page 57) that the monarchy is far worse.

Now what?
First posted at RevLeft on June 14, 2005


I think he's mistaken in saying that most people think the monarchy is worse. It may in fact be worse, but that doesn't seem to be a widespread conclusion, in particular not by any of the workers' parties in Nepal.

We close in, slowly but surely, on the heart of the matter.

Now be honest here and please answer the questions.

Is it your wish that the Nepalese monarchy successfully defeat the Nepalese Maoists?

Is it your wish that the American occupation forces and their quisling regime successfully defeat the Iraqi resistance?

Are you satisfied that the American-backed Fujimori regime in Peru defeated the Shining Path?

If you genuinely think that the guerrilla movements in those particular countries are hopelessly reactionary enemies of the workers and peasants, then you should have no problem with those questions.

You should be able to say "with a clear conscience" that "the American alternative is better".

But will you come right out and say it?
First posted at RevLeft on June 14, 2005


It's not a matter of metric, but a matter of ETHICS.

Well! Three cheers for "ETHICS" then. *laughs*

Perhaps you will start a group called the Ethical Revolutionary Movement which will overthrow the monarchy in Nepal, smash the American-British occupation of Iraq, and disperse the various quisling regimes in the Andean region of South America.

I await the outcome of your initiatives with great interest.

Meanwhile, I will support the people who are actually fighting imperialist tyranny...until your "ethics" demonstrate real-world usefulness in the armed struggle. (Surely, you will not lecture us on "peaceful methods"...right?)
First posted at RevLeft on July 16, 2005

Unfortunately, Mao and Che are dead...we don't have them around any more to run "ethical" movements against imperialism.

All we have are the movements that actually exist...that are actually shooting at imperialists and/or their lackeys right now at this moment.

There is no point in dragging Marx into all this; these anti-imperialist revolutions are not communist in any sense...they are peasant revolutions (with the exception of the Iraqi resistance) and will lead eventually to those places becoming modern capitalist countries.

This will probably be the long-range outcome of the Iraqi resistance as well -- it may be technically "working class" but present-day Iraqi workers are probably as backward as Russian workers in 1900, if not more so.

You imagine that they should "act like communists"...but why should they?

Why should they act according to our ethical standards?

And why should we "hold them" to our standards? On what grounds?

If you want to argue that communists should not support any resistance to imperialism that isn't communist -- well, ok. But that strikes me as extremely sectarian...even by my standards.

You cannot argue on any reasonable grounds that I can see that any of these existing movements will be worse than ongoing imperialist domination...can you??? In fact, for most people, those movements represent an improvement in the situation that presently exists -- otherwise they'd simply have no support at all, right?

So are you going to just shrug your shoulders and say "fuck 'em all! I don't care which side wins."??? Or worse...are you going to say that U.S. imperialism should win "because" the guerrillas would be even worse???

This isn't a matter of labels -- like "bourgeois pseudo" -- it's a matter of which side you are on. Do you think the colonies/neo-colonies should be free to find their own paths to capitalism and communism OR is the "guidance" (imperial domination) of the U.S. ruling class and its lackeys "required"?
First posted at RevLeft on July 16, 2005

Ok, I see your point.

You think those guerrilla groups really "are communists" because they say so.

So therefore, when they behave badly, you think they have "betrayed communism".

I don't think that any of those groups would know communism from rheumatism myself...and why should they?

Their subjective desires and the labels they pick for themselves have nothing to do with objective reality.

What they are really doing is making peasant anti-imperialist revolutions. Inspite of all the rhetoric, red flags, etc., the eventual outcome of their success will be modern capitalist societies.

That's what happened in Russia, China, etc. It's happening right now in Vietnam and Cuba. It's what will happen in Colombia, Peru, Nepal, etc.

The objective material conditions for communism do not exist in those countries and won't exist for (probably) another couple of centuries.

Trotsky's idea -- that backward countries could "leap over capitalism" provided they had the right kind of leadership -- is un-Marxist and worse, just completely wrong.

A backward country that really tried to introduce communism following a victorious peasant revolution would end up like...Cambodia!

What the Maoists in Nepal, Colombia, Peru, etc. will actually do is install a despotism...that will economically develop the country, teach the peasantry how to be workers, introduce them to things like literacy, clean drinking water, modern medicine, and regular meals.

They will do exactly what bourgeois revolutions in the "west" did...and they will probably do it somewhat more humanely.

But they will not "do communism" ever...nor do they really intend that except in a metaphysical way -- "someday we'll have communism". Someday, those countries will have communism...but there will be no remaining Maoists around when that happens.

Meanwhile, you wish to be "stiff-necked" on the matter and refuse to support those perfectly legitimate struggles to free those countries from the yoke of imperialism.

And that's what I can't understand about your position.
First posted at RevLeft on July 17, 2005


...a committed local insurgency with popular support in their local area can create communism, if the land on which they have their revolution is able to give them essential self-sufficiency.

Well, it would be "self-sufficiency" on the level of peasant subsistence utterly wretched existence with no future but more of the same.

Unless you're imagining a handful of "humanitarian westerners" visiting from time to time...bringing in a few bits and pieces of modern civilization as their hearts move them.

Something like this might work, after a fashion, provided it was an area that the imperialists were uninterested in.

There's not many places like that.


Until the backward country becomes industrialized thanks to imperialist exploitation, there is no hope for even a socialist society to be formed.

But that's my very point! The imperialists don't industrialize these backward countries in a broad way. They "hyper-develop" a small part of the economy and leave the rest to rot.

When the Maoist or Maoist-inspired guerrillas take over, they are the ones who will really develop the economy in the way that capitalists developed their own economies in the 19th and 20th centuries. When the Maoists become capitalists themselves (as they have and will) and welcome foreign direct investment once more, it is on their terms and not the imperialists.

China doesn't need, for example, to buy airplanes from Boeing or Airbus -- it can make its own airplanes now. But it's willing to buy from Boeing or Airbus provided that the corporations transfer modern technology to Chinese firms.

Otherwise, it's no deal!

"Old China" could never have done either of those things -- build its own planes or negotiate from a position of strength with the imperialist corporations.

When the guerrillas win and eventually become a modern capitalist class, they can and do insist on a far better deal with the imperialists than the old quisling regimes.

And they get it! Because if the imperialists get too greedy, they can now make it themselves.
First posted at RevLeft on July 18, 2005


Reality is, of course, more complex than any schema (even better schemas than Redstar's). I might point out, for example, that South Korea very rapidly and "broadly" industrialized under a pro-imperialist regime and even a large U.S. troop presence.

Yes, what you say is true...and also applies in varying degrees to Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong...and even Thailand.

In those places, the national bourgeoisie turned out to be made of rather sterner stuff than has been the norm over the last century.

As to my "schema" being oversimplified, that's indisputable. All representations of objective reality are less complicated than reality itself...otherwise they wouldn't be representations.

What is crucial is: is my "schema" of the present situation fundamentally correct or is it fundamentally incorrect?

You seem to think that the Maoist guerrillas are either "doomed to fail" or, if they succeed, will be "like Pol Pot".

And I think otherwise -- that they will do what the national bourgeoisie did in 19th and early 20th century Europe.

And there are practical conclusions that follow from these respective views. In your case, you oppose the Maoists and support groups that engage in "peaceful struggle" against imperialism.

In my case, I reject "peaceful struggle" against imperialism and support those who take up armed struggle against it. I assume that in most places at most times, imperialism cannot be "peacefully expelled" -- only revolutionary violence will "get the job done".

While there have certainly been occasional exceptions, I think the overwhelming weight of the historical evidence is clearly in my favor.

But the reader must make his/her own evaluation.
First posted at RevLeft on July 18, 2005


And if there had been revolution in the West - which did not come about not because of objective reasons but, decisively, subjective ones...

Whoa! Let's stop right there.

You are proposing that objective conditions favored proletarian revolution (in western Europe) in the aftermath of World War I and, further, that the "decisive reason" that they didn't happen was "subjective" -- by which I presume you mean that there was no "Lenin" or "Trotsky" in Germany, France or England.

Completely ignoring something else that failed to appear in those three countries at that time -- a massive uprising of the working class.

There was no "February 1917" in any of those countries or anything even remotely like it. Germany did manage a sailors' rebellion and, in Berlin and Hamburg, there were substantial numbers of workers who participated in abortive risings -- but there was no "biggie".

Some front-line units in France did mutiny -- but there was no massive uprising in Paris to support them.

And in England? Nothing at all until the General Strike of 1926!

So what difference would it have made even if there had been a German, or French, or English equivalent of "Lenin" or "Trotsky"? Do you imagine that those guys possessed the talent of conjuring revolution out of thin air?

That is simply mind-boggling.


I think these [Maoist] movements are not much more than relics of the past.

Rather livelier "relics" than anything I've noticed about Trotskyism in the "west" these days.

But we'll see.

Meanwhile, perhaps you should give some thought to who in the colonies/neo-colonies will take the field against U.S. imperialism in our era.

Or is resisting imperialism no longer "on your agenda"?
First posted at RevLeft on July 19, 2005


So how is to be explained? By objective conditions alone?

What else?

Surely you can't be suggesting that the Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, anarchists, Kadets,, were "responsible" for February 1917 in Petrograd? Or that anyone "organized" it???

In fact, the contemporary evidence suggests that the great uprising came as a complete shock to all the organized revolutionary groups in Russia...and around the world as well.

Everyone expected a bourgeois revolution in Russia (beginning with Marx and Engels themselves in the late 1870s) one anticipated anything remotely like Petrograd.

And, most importantly, nothing "like Petrograd" happened in Germany, France or England.

Objective material conditions did not permit it.


Should the leaders of the working class not take any responsibility for the defeat of the working class? Of course they should.

Well, I don't much care if they "beat their breasts" or not. I think objective conditions are decisive...and the role of "leadership" in revolution is of marginal significance.


Political forces are capable of advancing economic conditions. In Russia, the Bolshevik tradition was an immensely advanced one when compared to that in other countries at the time. And yet, economically, the working class was in its infancy.

Quite so...and yet still objective material conditions prevailed. By 1922, Lenin was re-introducing capitalism and positively begging for direct foreign investment again. He and his Bolsheviks were doing exactly what a vigorous native bourgeoisie would have done...had one existed.

And, of course, by 1922 the Russian working class had no power at all.


A question: if leading Bolsheviks were imprisoned or murdered by Tsarist forces pre-1917, and if the Mensheviks found themselves in a more dominant position withing the movement, would there have been an October Revolution?

Probably not...but it would not have been missed. The Mensheviks would have had their own version of the NEP and it would have been introduced right away...instead of after the civil war. They too would have done what material reality demanded.
First posted at RevLeft on July 19, 2005


Marxists study phenomena in its totality: we see dialectical interconnections in our study of society. We see the subject of history in the capitalist epoch as the working class. If capitalist society is the 'object', and the working class is the subject, then the overthrow of capitalist society (i.e. the objective conditions) depends on subjectivity (i.e. the movement of the working class). So to see the defeat of the German working class purely as a result of objective conditions is to diminish the history-making role of the working class.

The working class does not become a "subject" of history until it acts as "a class for itself" -- and that can't happen until objective conditions for that to happen have emerged.

A small minority of workers -- no matter how class conscious they may be -- cannot substitute their subjectivity for objective reality. The Spartakist Bund called on the workers to rise...and the workers declined to do so.

I am not "diminishing" the "history-making role" of the working class...they "diminished it" themselves.

No one called for the workers to rise in February 1917 Petrograd...they did it spontaneously -- they were (albeit briefly) a "class for themselves" and, properly speaking, subjects in history.

Why then and not some other time? And why there and not some other place?

We do not know -- but we assume that objective material conditions made something possible in that place and that time that was not possible anyplace else.

Petrograd was at the end of a very long delivery chain and Russian railroads were breaking down under the strain of the war. Food shortages there became intolerable.

The Czarist government was widely believed to be both corrupt and incompetent -- both of which were true.

Deserters from the front lines told people that the war was lost...also true.

The Czar was thought to be a cuckold and the Czarina was thought to be a German agent -- both probably not true but nonetheless widely believed to be true.

Even the supporters of the old regime despaired -- things "could not go on like this".

Thus Russia stood on the eve of its "1789".

Conditions were similar in Germany in 1919...Germany had never really had a "1789" either. So some of the same phenomena emerged there also.

But not enough! There was no "Petrograd" in Berlin.

To imagine that there "could have been" a "Petrograd" in Berlin "if only" Germany had had a "Lenin" or a "Trotsky" is simply an exercise in fantasy -- a thinly-disguised "great man theory of history".

That's not how things work.

(Note that "1789" was long in the past in France and England -- no "Petrograd" was even remotely possible in those countries.)


In the preface to the Russian edition of the Communist Manifesto, Marx prophetically argued that a Russian revolution could be successful only if it sparked-off revolution in Europe.

Well, he was wrong about that, wasn't he? Petrograd was successful, the Czarist system was overthrown and stayed overthrown, and all without any help at all from "revolution in Europe".


Perhaps subjective shortcomings did not permit it?



[The NEP] was intended as a short-term measure that would inevitably have to be employed for as long as the Russian socialist state remained isolated internationally (which Lenin, pre-1923, did not think would be for very long).

How is it that you think "intentions" are an acceptable substitute for what actually happened? By 1925-26, the NEP-men and the kulaks were "running wild".

Lenin and the Bolsheviks were responding to objective material conditions -- socialism (even their stunted version) was impossible in Russian the restoration of capitalism was begun.


To call one of the greatest worker uprisings of history a 'coup' is insulting.

"Insulting" it may be...but it's also the plain and simple truth.


A more conscious and sensible guerrilla movement, such as that carried out by Che, would easily be called and self-proclaimed communist.

It might have been called "communist" or called itself "communist"...but the outcome of victory would not have been communism.

It would have been modern capitalism -- that's what's "on history's agenda" for Bolivia,


Because they are advocating communism and clearly have studied the topic in order to advocate it.

Quite...they may have indeed read Marx, but do you argue that they understood what he was saying?

You know, stuff like communism is not possible until all the productive capabilities of capitalism have been exhausted.

Do you imagine that Nepal, Peru, Colombia,, are fully-developed capitalist societies ready for communist revolution?

Indeed, those guerrillas call themselves "communists" and, no doubt, sincerely believe in their own "red rhetoric".

So what?

They probably share the idealist conceit first formulated by Trotsky all the way back in 1914 (I think)...that by "revolutionary will-power" you can take a backward country and "shove it" into socialism without passing through capitalism at all.

That's not only's been repeatedly demonstrated to be wrong.


I see this is quickly becoming a question of dialectics.

Oh no!

The "Curse of Hegel"!

Don't like material reality? Wave the "dialectical wand" and you can (verbally) change it into anything.

Harry Potter doesn't have one...but he should!


The process by which dialectics works does foretell that such hindered movements will produce modern capitalism (let us note Cambodia, Vietnam, somewhat India).

You left out Russia and China. *laughs*


And as Marx states concerning dialectics, when the objective is rightly understood, "the material conditions [means] for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation".

That also applies even if the objective is wrongly understood -- objective material conditions may still permit a particular problem to be solved.

The problem that all these countries face is becoming modern capitalist societies in a world dominated by imperialism.

The solution is to break the imperialist yoke and make a bourgeois revolution...or its equivalent.

Leninism-Maoism is a perfectly suitable does exactly what a vigorous native bourgeoisie would do if one existed.

You proceed as if you accepted the idea that these backward countries could break free from imperialism and develop communism.

That is materially IMPOSSIBLE! was repeatedly demonstrated in the last century.

The imperialist yoke can be broken...but what emerges is always modern capitalism, not communism.


Russia and Cuba, before they were tainted by centralization as means of dictatorship and the end of worker's rights, confirm that a movement that abides by communist principles can achieve communism without capitalist modernization.

Unreal! Even the most ardent upholders of those respective countries have never claimed they "achieved communism".


This is a false statement considering the fact that: a.) a movement for communism already exists; b.) capitalism has oppressed the people to the extent that they know of a solution to such oppression; c.) that we can apply the before used Marx quote.

No, they are not "movements for communism". No, most of the people in those countries have never heard of communism, have no idea of its meaning, and would enthusiastically welcome a modern, developed capitalism.

And no, a quotation from Marx does not effectively substitute for a realistic class analysis of a peasant society.


[Trotsky's idea is] not un-Marxist at all because that it coincides with Marx's principles.

Even if it did "coincide with Marx's principles" (it doesn't), it would still be wrong.


Wrong - the backward country aspect is irrelevant concerning this topic.

The "backward country aspect" is crucial to an even minimal understanding of this topic.

Do the words objective material reality mean anything at all to you?

There are things that can be done and things that cannot be done in each epoch of production...completely without regard to "what you want to do".


This sounds like you're all in favor of capitalism.

It does not matter what I am "in favor of"...or what anyone else is "in favor of", unless objective material conditions permit it.

We know, and Marx knew, what modern capitalism is capable of achieving in the way of economic development. The Russians and the Chinese both showed what a determined despotism can achieve as well -- "clearing the way" for modern capitalism.


Do you honestly think capitalism will lift up the entire world from wages of $1 a day, make available to all regular meals, make available modern medicine without taking away from some other portion of society?

It can do so provided it's not "held back" by an alliance of imperialists and domestic reactionaries. To get "a good start" on the capitalist road, the imperialists must be expelled and the domestic reactionaries liquidated.

Then, real development can begin...the same way capitalism developed in the "west" in the 19th century. In addition, I think a good argument can be made that the Leninist-Maoists will be more "humane" in their policies than 19th century "western" capitalists were -- workers and peasants will materially benefit from development sooner and more generously...until modern capitalism finally emerges and "the iron rice bowl" is melted down for scrap.


Again, leadership and the direction of the movement.

Again, idealism posing as "Marxism".
First posted at RevLeft on July 21, 2005


Redstar, what you suggest is that we simply wait patiently for communism to come, and it inevitably will (someday).

Or, you can wait impatiently.

Or, you can try to do things that you think might "advance the struggle" -- and maybe they will (to a small extent) and maybe they won't (to a small extent).

What neither you nor any small minority will do is make a communist revolution when objective conditions are unsuitable -- if, by chance or circumstance, you find yourself with state power, you will just piss it away and the old capitalists will climb back in the saddle.

That's not a result of either your incompetence or your individual perfidy. First and foremost, communism depends on objectively favorable conditions...and so does revolution (of any kind).

It is, as I have noted elsewhere, a crucial theoretical weakness in the left that we are still unable to define those "objectively favorable conditions" with any precision.

However, there are hints. Revolution "might be on the agenda", for example, when ruling class bigmouths speak in tones of despair. "Things cannot go on like this" is a common (though not universal) symptom of an approaching revolutionary period.


This is seemingly contradictory to the attitude of the majority of those you claim will be 'ready' for communism by 2050, I believe you've said.

Well, I suggested 2050 for western Europe and 2100 for North America.

Those dates mean nothing of course...but people seem especially concerned about "when" stuff will "happen".

Much earlier dates don't seem plausible to me and even my own guesses could be wildly over-optimistic.

An excess of optimism is an "occupational hazard" for revolutionaries.


It is this majority, those not living in the imperialist nations, that have the most reason to revolutionize, they have the most to gain.

In a literal sense, that's not true. When a backward country introduces some form of egalitarian distribution, the consequence is "the equalization of misery"...what Marx called "Prussian socialism" or "barracks communism".

People in semi-capitalist countries live in wretched conditions; a Leninist revolution there simply re-distributes that misery in such a way as to raise living standards for the majority slightly while getting rid of the imperialists and their parasitic domestic lackeys.

Those are necessary steps to begin real development...of modern capitalism.


I do not think that Marx's predictions will be true (that the most developed nations will be the first to advance to socialism and then communism).

You (and anyone) always have the option to reject Marx.

But then you must come up with alternative explanations of social reality -- how we got where we are and where it is possible to go next.

If you think that the struggle is between those with "good intentions" and those with "bad intentions"...I think that you are going to have a difficult task to explain anything.


50 years will only concentrate material wealth more, leaving the imperialist countries of today better off, the 'developing' nations worse.

If Marx was right, exactly the opposite will be the case.

We'll see.
First posted at RevLeft on July 22, 2005

quote: argument is simply that as capitalism advances, not only will wealth become concentrated (as it has), but also the objectively favorable conditions you are looking for disappear.

Yes, the on-going concentration of capital is one of Marx's predictions that has "come true" and is truer with every passing year.

Marx argued that it was this very concentration of capital that created one of the favorable pre-conditions for proletarian revolution -- the capitalist class (especially its wealthiest sector at the very top) -- would get smaller and smaller while more and more people would be "pushed to the bottom" or at least near the bottom...would become proletarianized or join an ever growing "reserve army of the unemployed".

In modern terms, the bottom is in the service/temp industry at wages that cannot support anything even remotely approaching the "American way of life" as seen on the dummyvision. Or...the wretchedness of welfare.

And these are the "growing" sectors of the American economy...along with outright beggary, of course. I saw something new (to me) in that regard not long ago...entire families standing alongside the exit ramps of freeways with cans asking for money.

I therefore think that conditions favorable to proletarian revolution in the advanced capitalist countries are continuing to develop.


These simple facts are why I think revolution will very soon explode in the poor global south (at least parts of it) and why it will not explode for a very, very long time in the rich global north (yes, I think your predictions for Europe and America are wildly optimistic).

I agree with you that the "global south" is "ripe for revolution"...but in most countries, these will be peasant revolutions that will create modern capitalist societies -- not communism.

I don't think a primitive "peasant-based" communism is a viable option any longer...if it ever was.
First posted at RevLeft on July 23, 2005


I don't know much about Shining Path, but I can tell you that FARC is not Maoist.

A fair point...people in FARC don't spend time studying Mao's Little Red Book.

Nevertheless, I would expect a victorious FARC to do what the Maoists did.

The objective material conditions in Colombia are "similar enough" to pre-revolutionary China, Vietnam, Cuba...that the outcome should also be similar.

It's the same things that all of these kinds of countries must do if they are to develop modern economies.

Land to the peasants; expropriate the old ruling class; kick the imperialists out; nationalize industry and natural resources; send people to school; create a public health system; build a modern infrastructure; etc.

When I call these movements "Maoist", I'm speaking in general terms of what must be done -- not necessarily in a literal sense that they all "read Mao" and "follow him".
First posted at RevLeft on July 23, 2005


Capitalism was a progressive system at that time. Not anymore. The era of bourgeois-democratic revolutions is over. This is a fairly fundamental political point.

Trotskyist dogma!

And worse, just plain wrong.

Any country in the world today that is not already a modern capitalist country -- which is to say, most of the countries in the world today -- must have, in one form or another, a bourgeois revolution and develop such a modern capitalist economy.

The stupid idea that backward countries can "skip over" the capitalist epoch of production deserves summary rejection for the idealist crap that it is.

It has never happened, and I see no material reason why it ever should.

The only way you (and Trotsky) can "justify" this fiction is by conflating a state capitalist path of economic development with the chimera of a "workers' state" in which the working class has no power.

Evidently finding no way to fit the Iraqi resistance into this bizarre "world-view", you simply denounce it as "reactionary"...even at the very moment that the quisling regime is revealing its genuinely reactionary character -- see its "rules for women" (or Taliban Lite) in its "draft constitution", for example.

Bizarre hardly even begins to describe your position.
First posted at RevLeft on July 24, 2005


The Iraqi resistance doesn't fit into your view of the Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cuban, etc., revolutions as "state capitalist" bourgeois revolutions either...since it bears no resemblance to the forces that made those revolutions, nor does it advocate any such policy...

Doesn't matter...material conditions demand that after they win, the Iraqi resistance will do what the Maoists have done -- or be, in turn, overthrown by real Maoists who will do those things.

Before anything progressive can happen in Iraq, the imperialists must be expelled and their clerical quislings overthrown.


In today's day and age, bourgeois revolutions that take place in the third-world only allow for more penetration of the first-world into the third-world.

But "penetration" is not the same as "control".

It is imperialist control of third-world countries that does the real damage; that hyper-develops a small part of the economy while leaving the rest to rot.

When, following the expulsion of the imperialists, a vigorous native bourgeoisie emerges, they are free to develop the whole economy towards modern capitalism. When they re-enter the world market, they can negotiate a better deal with the imperialists...up to and including "making it themselves" if the imperialists get too greedy.

They cannot stand as equals to the imperialists...unless they are large enough and rich enough to become imperialists themselves (like China).

But they will have escaped absolute bondage to the imperialists. What most "third-world" countries are today is the equivalent of slaves...and that is what must be overcome first.

Slaves cannot make a proletarian revolution...that's asking "too much". But they can throw off the chains of slavery...and they do.


Waiting for bourgeois revolution? That is not realistic, capitalist systems have been demonized by colonial and economic oppression, more likely we can expect reactionary movements (Islamic fundamentalism, nationalistic movements, etc.) more than bourgeois democracy because your theory discounts the ability of the third-world to learn and adapt.

I'm not arguing that bourgeois revolutions in the "third world" will be "like" the ones that happened in 19th century Europe. They will likely be, as you suggested, ideologically anti-capitalist and may be mixed with nationalism (progressive under the circumstances) and religious fundamentalism (reactionary).

What matters is not what "they think they are doing" but rather what objective conditions demand that they do.

The objective conditions in those countries demand modern capitalism (and all that goes with that)...and that is what is going to happen, without regard for how the people who do that conceptualize themselves or their goals.

Material reality prevails.


Historically all signs of revolution and struggle have only taken place the third-world.

Yes...and the outcome of successful struggle and revolution? Modern capitalism.


Any serious revolutionary movement in the first-world I have yet to see.

But if Marx was right, that's where real proletarian revolution must and will take place first.

My guess is the events of May 1968 will be regarded by future historians as the first modern "proto-revolution"...and that when the real thing emerges, it will be "like France" only much more so.

It certainly won't be anything like Russia or China at all.
First posted at RevLeft on July 25, 2005


Something progressive is happening: workers are beginning to organize and recover from decades of Ba'athist police-state rule.

And if the resistance did not exist, how long do you think the occupation authorities and their quislings would permit that?

The usual penalty for simply trying to organize a trade union in an imperial quisling regime is summary execution.


However, the workers can lead the peasants, take power, and carry out the unfinished business of the bourgeois revolution more thoroughly than the bourgeoisie ever did....and necessarily, in order to do so, they'll have to tackle some socialist tasks as well.

1. Third world revolutions are not "led by workers" but by middle class (and even upper class) dissidents...often of a distinctly nationalist character.

There are occasions when organized workers play an important role in events...but rarely a "leading role" and, even then, not for very long.

2. The revolutionary dissidents do not "lead the peasants"...they simply remove the traditional obstacles to the peasantry's own agenda ("land to he who works it") agenda that is not socialist in any respect.

3. The "socialist" measures taken as a consequence of third world revolutions are either not socialist at all (really bourgeois) or they fail -- they are "out of sync" with material conditions.

The "colonial bourgeoisie" generated by imperialism is indeed normally incapable of making a real bourgeois revolution (though it was evidently accomplished in South Korea and Taiwan...and you could probably add Malaysia to the list). Normally, it is happily subservient to its colonial masters and deeply corrupted as well.

But what happens as a consequence of third world revolutions is not "socialism", it is the emergence of a vigorous new native bourgeoisie...that is capable of a real bourgeoisie revolution even though it flies the red flag...or even the green flag of Islam.

Iran is developing into a modern capitalist the dismay of the mullahs, I suspect. They must be aware, however dimly, that their efforts to preserve the "cultural and religious purity" of Iran are doomed.

Capitalism, by its necessary fixation on profit, undermines all pre-capitalist traditions. All that was solid melts into air.

You know who said that.


Lemme just suggest that schematic sectarian fantasizing about repeating the patterns of past revolutions is harmful regardless of what past revolution is involved.

As you wish. Proletarian revolution may well take completely innovative and unexpected fact, we should expect some "new features and characteristics".

But anyone counting on a "real" Leninist party to emerge and "lead" us to "victory" is engaging in fantasy on a scale far beyond my own modest efforts.
First posted at RevLeft on July 26, 2005
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