Class in Post-Revolutionary Society - Part 2 (Against Trotskyism) August 4, 2004 by RedStar2000
There were more responses to this topic than I anticipated, so I've split them into several sections.
As you will see, the Trotskyist efforts to separate Lenin and Trotsky from the "evil Stalin" are...less than successful.
How you can call the barbaric regimes in Eastern Europe and China "socialist" is anyone's guess.
1. It's what they called themselves.
2. Their "credentials" were universally accepted...or as close to universal as makes no difference.
3. Even Trotskyists of that era accepted the USSR as a "workers' state", albeit "deformed" by a "Stalinist bureaucracy". "Deformed socialism" is still socialism, right?
4. And Trotsky personally defended the USSR's invasion of Finland, did he not?
Comparing Lenin to Stalin is like comparing Thomas Jefferson to George W. Bush, or comparing Jesus Christ to the Roman Pope.
They all did have quite a lot in common.
Between Leninism and Stalinism there is not only an ideological but a physical incompatibility.
Oh? Is it time once more to blow the dust off Lenin's words? Very well.
When we are reproached with having established a dictatorship of one party...we say, "Yes, it is a dictatorship of one party! This is what we stand for and we shall not shift from that position." Our party aims to obtain political power for itself. There is not the least contradiction between soviet (i.e., socialist) democracy and the use of dictatorial power by a few persons.
If you are a Leninist, then this is what socialism means.
Under conditions prevailing in post-October Russia, it was impossible for the proletariat to maintain the Soviet Democracy.
They didn't even try.
But for anyone claiming themselves a leftist, to call such a regime "socialist" is a total scandal.
Some are scandalized easier than others, I suppose.
I'm sorry to say so but you are just parroting common bourgeois slanders.
No, you're not sorry. Your response is as old as Leninism itself; any criticism is always met with that response. Often it is valid; often it is not.
How could the Bolsheviks seize the power, if they didn't have popular support?
As it happens, I agree with you that the Bolsheviks did indeed have the support of a majority of the urban Russian proletariat and of many units in the army...especially those stationed in or near the cities.
But the Bolsheviks did not come to power as a consequence of the active rebellion of the proletariat; they simply staged a coup.
A popular coup is still a coup.
Lenin's slogan was: "Patiently explain!", not "Stage a coup!".
After October the Soviet Union was invaded by 27 foreign armies...
That number goes up every time I hear it! In another decade, it'll be at least a hundred. *laughs*
The significant invasions were those of imperial Germany, Japan, France, Britain, and the United States.
The Bolshevik Revolution was the most popular revolution in history. Whoever does not think so is a bourgeois dupe or a conscious falsifier.
Nonsense. The February Russian Revolution, which was a genuinely massive popular uprising, was enormously more popular than the Bolshevik coup.
First posted at Che-Lives on July 21, 2004
And the question you overlook is: Could the February revolution have solved anything? Wouldn't it have ended up with imperialism getting its way?
Who knows? "What if" is the historian's not-so-secret vice.
Had there been no Bolsheviks, would the soviets and factory committees continued to move in an ever more radical direction? I think there's a good chance they would have...and you probably think that wouldn't have happened.
But there's no way to tell "for sure".
You say you want a socialist revolution but you are not prepared to do what it takes.
Kiss your ass, presumably, or that of some other "great leader" wannabe.
You are correct. I am not prepared to do that.
What we are discussing here is whether or not one should do what it takes...
No, actually what is under discussion is what does it take to achieve a classless society.
My position is that a Leninist despotism is not a step in the right direction.
You consider yourself a socialist, right? Not sure, but anyway if you call yourself a socialist, and call the East Bloc and China socialist, that implies you supported those countries and want that system of government.
No, actually I consider myself a communist (kind of old-fashioned of me, I know).
But as such, I have little interest in "revolutions" that merely substitute a "better" form of class society for the one we have now...especially since experience has shown that these "better" class societies (socialism) more or less quickly devolve back into capitalism.
If that's the best that Leninism can do, who needs it?
So does everything in this world, but the point is that there is much, much, more that they do NOT have in common. This is an imperfect analogy, a tried and trusted method of all kinds of enemies of truth.
An "enemy of truth", am I? What a "Stalinist" accusation! You ought to be ashamed of yourself. *laughs*
Did I ever say that Lenin and Trotsky were some kind of bubbly-sparkly, happy-land democrats?
How about just admitting the truth...that Lenin and Trotsky were despots, just like Stalin and Mao.
Some despotisms are worse than others...and arguments can be made about which was which.
But it would be enormously refreshing if Leninists of all varieties would cease their phrase-mongering about "proletarian democracy"...none of them have any intentions whatsoever of establishing anything more "democratic" than what we have now.
The working class has no power under capitalism and would have no power under Leninist socialism.
The difference between Leninism and Stalinism was that whereas the Leninist terror was directed in defence of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and all of its hangers-on, the Stalinist terror (although disguised precisely as the Leninist terror) was directed against the workers in defence of the privileged bureaucracy.
That's a muddle. Lenin's terror was directed against working class anarchists as early, if I'm not mistaken, as 1918. It was directed against the working class in Petrograd in 1921...prior to Kronstadt.
As to Stalin's terror, it seemed mostly to be directed against (1) dissident members of the Bolshevik party itself; (2) ex-Czarist military officers; and (3) the Kulaks. My impression, and I could be wrong, is that most working class people actually benefited from Stalin's despotism in significant ways. Of course they had no power...but there were many improvements in educational opportunities, medical care, etc. I surmise that very few workers were ever targeted by Stalin's secret police.
That in the history of revolutionary movements the dictatorship of individuals was very often the expression, the vehicle, the channel of the dictatorship of the revolutionary classes has been shown by the irrefutable experience of history. Undoubtedly, the dictatorship of individuals was compatible with bourgeois democracy.
Not exactly; Lenin is playing fast-and-loose with a complex historical process here and hoping no one will notice.
It was quite common for the rising bourgeoisie to choose despotism as a method of class rule...Napoleon III being the classic example. Nevertheless, no one considered that to be "compatible" with bourgeois democracy. The reason that bourgeois democracy exists is that the bourgeoisie learned from experience that despots are unreliable...once in power, they have a marked tendency to start stupid wars and then, even worse, lose them. This causes "unrest" among the proletariat with potentially catastrophic consequences.
Thus, bourgeois democracy...a clever device for giving the appearance of popular sovereignty while keeping real power in the hands of the bourgeoisie (as well as replacing high-level fuckups with a minimum of fuss).
Even the appearance of despotism is indeed incompatible with bourgeois democracy...it "gives away" a secret that must be kept if order is to be maintained.
...[Our critics] demand of us a higher democracy than bourgeois democracy and say: personal dictatorship is absolutely incompatible with your, Bolshevik (i.e., not bourgeois, but socialist), Soviet democracy.
Well, yeah. Only in the magic kingdom of "dialectics" can you claim that personal dictatorship is a "higher form of democracy"...and even then, only in words.
Hegel "proved dialectically" that the Prussian despotism was the "highest form of democracy".
Being no slouch at "dialectics", Lenin at least equaled Hegel's performance.
If we are not anarchists, we must admit that the state, that is, coercion, is necessary for the transition from capitalism to socialism.
More word-play! Revolutionary anarchists are not, as it happens, against "coercion" directed against the old ruling class.
They don't think it's a real good idea to set up a new state to coerce everybody.
They are right about that.
Our aim is to draw the whole of the poor into the practical work of administration...Our aim is to ensure that every toiler, having finished his eight hours "task" in productive labour, shall perform state duties without pay...
Wow, that's really great!
Spend eight hours at hard work and then, oh goody, be an errand-boy for some lard-ass behind a desk...without pay.
Golly, I can hardly wait! *laughs*
As is obvious repression was regarded as temporary (the dictatorship of the proletariat), as is the Marxist tradition.
But it wasn't "temporary", was it?
And, by the way, I'm immune to "the aura effect". Dragging Marx's name into the discussion will no longer serve to "cover" the profoundly anti-communist nature of Leninist socialism.
Being heavily influenced by anarchism you cannot see the need for repression and dictatorship after the revolution; or, you see it, but when it poses itself before you you do not recognize it.
Bad guess. I've read very little of anarchist theory (which has always struck me as too idealist) and have always been biased towards Marx's historical materialist approach.
This means that I tend to concentrate on what actually happened and not the "dialectical" excuses offered in "justification" for the reprehensible.
I think Marx meant what the words literally say when he used the expression "dictatorship of the proletariat"...the rule of the whole class.
There is no "getting around that" with a load of obscurantist crap about some self-appointed elite ruling "in the name of" or "in the interests of" the proletariat.
Marx and Engels both called the Paris Commune the world's first "dictatorship of the proletariat"...and there was no vanguard party at all.
Granted the Stalinist bureaucrats of all kinds used exactly the same arguments in defence of their totalitarian rule.
Yes, they do, don't they? Why should we believe you instead of them?
But one must be completely blind not to see the vast difference between the working-class rule of Lenin and that of Stalin, Mao or some other bureaucratic dictator.
Some people tell me that I must be "completely blind" not to see the differences between Kerry and Bush.
I don't pay a lot of attention to them either.
Lenin and Trotsky were completely ruthless defenders of the power of the working class...
Your claim does not acquire additional credibility simply because you repeat it.
The quotes from Lenin show clearly where he really stood and there are similar quotes from Trotsky extant.
I'm sorry but I can't make heads or tails of what this is supposed to mean. Please elaborate.
It means that at the 10th Party Congress (1921) when the civil war was over, the Workers' Opposition offered a proposal to devolve some power back to the working class (through the trade unions). Mr. Lenin, Mr. Trotsky, and Mr. Stalin all agreed that this was an outrageous idea. Not only did they unite to defeat it but they changed the party rules to keep proposals like that from ever happening again! Not even the party membership was to have any decision-making power; policy differences were to be fought out only among the leadership.
Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin were declared enemies of real working class power.
The claim that the October Revolution was only a coup is often justified by pointing to the relatively small numbers actually involved in the insurrection itself. This apparently profound argument does not resist the slightest scrutiny...The government collapsed like a house of cards, because nobody was prepared to defend it.
What a pathetic response! It begins by asserting that it was "not a coup" and ends up admitting that it was a coup...while avoiding the use of the word.
The Bolsheviks did not respect the bourgeois parliament. Obviously you do.
Would you like to actually quote from any of my nearly 6,000 posts on this board where I have ever suggested any "respect" for bourgeois parliaments?
Good hunting! *laughs*
If the future of the world revolution is left to characters like yourself then we are in dire straits indeed.
Better to be "in dire straits" than to wallow in the swamp of Leninist despotism.
How could the Red Army defeat the imperialists, if it did not have the decisive backing not just of the workers but also the peasants?
The peasantry saw the "Whites" as the greater enemy. The "Whites" made it clear from the beginning that they intended to restore the landed aristocracy and the serf-like conditions of the peasantry...something that even the most ignorant peasant realized had to be defeated, even if it meant supporting the Bolsheviks.
You will answer this question or you will stand exposed as, at best, a misled character; at worst, a conscious falsifier and a counter-revolutionary slanderer.
Well, I answered it. What do I "stand exposed as" now?
As a corollary of the slanders against October, we have the attempt to paint the February Revolution in glowing colours. The "democratic" regime of Kerensky, it is alleged, would have led Russia into a glorious future of prosperity, if only the Bolsheviks had not spoilt it all.
I have no idea who says things like that. I never have.
The February Revolution was a genuine mass uprising. It was not "led" or "organized" or "inspired" by any vanguard party. Millions of workers and tens of millions of peasants took an active part in the events.
It did succeed in the permanent overthrow of the Czar and the landed aristocracy. Following the events in Petrograd and other cities, the peasantry enthusiastically expropriated the land all by themselves. Not since 1789-93 had there been such a great bourgeois revolution.
And it could have gone even further; by the summer of 1917, there was wide-spread support for the idea of a proletarian revolution then and there...even among many rank-and-file Bolsheviks.
Lenin and the Bolshevik leadership managed (barely) to contain the rebelliousness of the proletariat. On their first opportunity to "lead the proletariat to victory", the Bolsheviks actually (and shamefully) capitulated to bourgeois "legality".
When the workers were already thinking "all power to the soviets", Lenin was "cooling them off" with his slogan: "down with the 10 capitalist ministers".
Had the Bolsheviks not taken power, the future that faced Russia was not one of prosperous capitalist democracy, but fascist barbarism under the jackboot of Kornilov or one of the other White generals.
Silly statement. Had the Bolsheviks "not taken power", there would either have been no civil war or it would have been a minor affair...why should the imperialist powers bother to intervene against a new bourgeois republic?
Without the support of the imperialists, the "Whites" could not have lasted even a year in the field...we know that because when that support was withdrawn, the "White" armies melted away.
...that is unless you are the worst kind of "revolutionary" poser.
I am indeed "the worst kind"...the kind that flatly rejects "argumentation" as a "substitute" for history itself.
If you ever develop Marxist aspirations, the first thing you'll have to learn is to begin with what actually happened.
First posted at Che-Lives on July 22, 2004
Regardless of what happened in pre-industrial semi-feudal nations with an uneducated population (where all socialist revolutions took place), nothing proves that it's impossible for the proletariat to be the ruling class (or only class) in a socialist state.
I quite agree. If you strip away all the pseudo-Marxist rhetoric, what happened in Russia and China were new forms of bourgeois revolutions...because the transition to capitalism was "on history's agenda" for those countries.
I am certainly willing to grant the possibility of a "socialist state" that "would" be under the control of the working class itself...the Paris Commune was such a "state".
But I'm reasonably certain that those who remain under the spell of the Leninist mystique will never be able to do it...to them, the one essential characteristic of "socialism" is that their party must be in command.
All Leninists of every variety agree on that; the "vanguard party" must "run the show", period.
Any state apparatus that they would establish anywhere would be a despotism...whether harsh or benevolent is another matter. After all, some folks would actually enjoy a benevolent despotism...especially if they were among the despots.
The argument against establishing a new state apparatus after the revolution is quite straightforward. Establishing a "political center of gravity" attracts precisely the kind of people that you don't want to have "in charge" of anything...people who enjoy giving orders. Such people are simply not to be trusted...they will transform themselves into a new (capitalist) ruling class faster than you can say "revisionist".
The only thing we can learn from the 20th century socialist revolutions is how dangerous it is to skip an important part of social evolution (like trying to skip socialism and going from capitalism to communism).
I have no idea of what you are referring to here. There was a brief period of what was called "war communism" in the USSR during the civil war period...but at best it was what Marx called "barracks communism" or "Prussian communism". The Bolshevik party and its state apparatus simply requisitioned (at gunpoint) whatever resources were available and, after a very generous cut for themselves, distributed whatever was left to the populace. After the civil war was over, Lenin began the open restoration of capitalism with the NEP and positively begged the foreign capitalists to return (they declined).
In China, Mao attempted to establish "super communes" in agriculture in which compensation to the peasantry would be extremely egalitarian...but the peasants were recalcitrant and the consequence was famine.
In neither of those brief experiments was there any intention of granting actual decision-making power to the people themselves, whether workers or peasants.
Assuming the best of intentions, the Leninist "stage-skipping" was not that between capitalism and communism but rather between semi-feudalism and socialism.
I might add that the dispute between Marxists and Leninists is not with regard to a period of transition between capitalism and communism; it is whether or not there should be an institutionalized state apparatus and consequent class society between those two stages of human history.
My position is that the "socialist state", after a while, becomes a new capitalist state...and this appears to be inevitable.
Therefore, we should not do that...if what we want is communism.
You won't take action against counter-revolution.
Once again, you make yet another astonishing assertion...contradicting hundreds of posts that I've made on this subject.
So I will make it clear once again: when it comes to the class enemy, I am in favor of whatever measures are needed to suppress it and ultimately abolish it.
What I am not in favor of is the suppression of the working class...not even "for its own good".
Or maybe [the soviets] would have been impotent and paved the way for capitalist restoration.
Maybe. As things turned out, capitalist restoration happened anyway.
But your view on "Leninist despotism" is quite funny. You fail to see the need for repression against any forms of threat. That will surely never accomplish anything. You seem to be a case of the lamb placing itself in the mouth of the wolf.
If the working class of any country accepts the imposition of a Leninist despotism in order to "save the revolution", the consequence is that the revolution is lost...no matter who is the nominal "winner".
I remind you that Lenin and the Bolsheviks won the civil war...and promptly began restoring capitalism.
Quite a superficial analysis as one could expect from you.
Well, at least I didn't let you down.
Ahh the all seeing Redstar...
Yep, that's me.
Anyway your post is too long for me to bother with after reading the first part of the smokescreen.
I understand...you never anticipated running up against someone who sees through all the Trotskyist crapola, did you?
It must have been a very disturbing experience for you.
First posted at Che-Lives on July 23, 2004
I myself am part of a revolutionary party and if my party stops representing the working class I know I will not be a part of it anymore. For one our party is almost completely made up of working class people.
You may be interested in the fact that historically speaking Leninist vanguards have been revolving doors. That is, the turn-over in membership has been simply enormous.
I saw an estimate once that suggested that the American Communist Party between 1936-1956 had more than one million people enter and leave!
There are probably many reasons for this, of course. Two that come immediately to mind are: (1) The party member is treated like an unpaid employee...expected to work at a furious pace indefinitely -- and people get worn out and leave; (2) The party member quickly learns that serious political decisions are the prerogative of the leadership -- the atmosphere is stifling and people get fed up and leave.
A third reason is more directly political; Leninist parties in the "west" have a long tradition of opportunism and cynical maneuver. When people find this out, they become disgusted and leave -- often going over to the class enemy. If you're expected to behave like a "rat", you may as well get paid for it.
So here's the deal, RS, how do you propose to bring about Communism straight from Capitalism?
Well, you understand that this is not yet a practical question. We are all a long way from proletarian revolution and the transition to communism.
But, drawing on the experience of past revolutions suggests a number of options.
1. That "state power" should be exercised by trade unions and larger federations of trade unions -- this is the syndicalist approach.
2. That authority should only exist in order to perform a useful function; that there is no "general decision-making authority for everybody" at all -- what Marx called "the administration of things".
3. That some form of collective authority will be put in place (workers' councils, workplace committees, etc.) and that these bodies or federations of these bodies will be the loci of decision-making.
And, who knows, by 2050 or 2100 entirely new forms might emerge...the proletariat has been quite innovative in the past.
Of course, none of this may seem "feasible" to you...but you should ask yourself how "feasible" the "Leninist blueprint" still is?
The modern proletariat is far removed from the Russian factory worker of 1917 (not to mention the Chinese peasant of 1949). Can you really expect ideas that appealed to those folks to have much or even any appeal now?
It's really something to think about.
What evidence is there that the peasants were recalcitrant? Did they prefer life under feudal warlords? If you are referring to the GLF, in what way were food shortages during the Great Leap Forward due to peasants rejecting socialist society? I thought it was the result of economic miscalculations.
Yes, the "economic miscalculation" was assuming that peasants could be turned into conscious communists.
The peasantry did not want to return to the rule of feudal warlords; what they wanted was what peasants almost always want -- private property in land and a free market to sell their surplus. When those things are denied them, they respond by working less...a lot less!
The result is famine.
Whereas, for you, the one essential characteristic of socialism is that there is no authority.
Certainly not yours! *laughs*
The way I see it, having people who give orders is not a problem if it's organized in a democratic way, meaning the people who receive the orders have a choice of who gives the orders and are not obligated to obey the orders.
Well, I think you misunderstand the definition of an "order" -- it's a command backed by the threat or use of violence.
In class societies (like the USSR, China, etc.), you were ordered to do or refrain from doing certain things. Disobedience posed a clear-cut threat to your health if not your life.
It's easy enough to chuckle over the despot-wannabe and his "orders"...but when he's got a state apparatus and a whole bunch of uniformed thugs to back up his commands, then it ain't funny no more.
I don't know what you mean by "institutionalized state" as opposed to just "state".
The proletarian "state" as Marx said on many occasions, was a state that was passing out of existence even as it was established...no longer a "true state" in the "full sense of the word". Its only remaining purpose was to suppress the old bourgeoisie and clear away all the rubbish of the old order.
The Leninist "take" on this was entirely different: that the "socialist state" would exist "for a long time", would acquire all the characteristics of a modern centralized state, etc.
In other words, the Leninist state is institutionalized in the same exact sense as a bourgeois republic is institutionalized.
And like all the class-based states of history, it thinks itself immortal.
First posted at Che-Lives on July 23, 2004
I'm not going to apologise for the length of this reply. You brought it on yourself.
On this board, people are as free to write as much or as little as they please.
However, you do seem to be under the impression that sheer word count constitutes refutation.
But based on dialectic analysis of empiric historic data we are able to define certain historical laws, and ascertain the general tendencies at work in society. These laws are in their totality called "Historical Materialism". For instance, in 1916 Lenin and Bukharin inferred WWII and Fascism from monopoly capitalism. In 1936 Trotsky predicted that the Soviet bureaucrats, if left alone by imperialism and the working class, would turn themselves into capitalists to get the right of inheritance.
Leninists are always "making predictions"...now and then, by sheer chance, they get one right.
What about all the ones they got wrong?
"Dialectical" psychics are no different from any other kind...utterly fraudulent.
Let us collect some data from similar situations in history and try to extrapolate what might have happened had there been no Bolsheviks in 1917.
Let's not. You are simply guessing the possible outcome...someone else might guess a completely different outcome.
There's no way to verify any of those guesses.
In fact the decisive part of the 20th century revolutions failed because of the lack of the subjective factor.
You wish! You even hope!
What you can't do is prove!
We don't get to "re-run" history like a laboratory experiment with different variables. Only in your "dialectical" imagination would "things have turned out differently".
There have been hundreds of "Bolshevik" parties...Stalinist, Trotskyist, Maoist, etc.
And the result: one successful coup (Russia); one successful peasant insurrection (China); and two successful wars of national liberation (Yugoslavia and Vietnam).
None of which, I might add, involved any significant contribution by Trotskyists. (There were no "Trotskyists" in 1917...Trotsky's personal following joined the Bolsheviks.)
Reality proves again and again the Leninist theorem: To the organised and centralised power of capital must be counterposed the organised and centralised power of labour.
In three of the four successful Leninist endeavors, "labor" played little or no role at all.
...the obvious truth that the Revolution cannot succeed without a revolutionary Party consisting of steeled, determined and educated cadres, which must be prepared in advance and which cannot be improvised on the spot.
And with all that, you still couldn't win diddly-squat.
The degeneration of the Soviet state is an extremely complicated question.
It sure is...scrambling to find excuses for those "steeled, determined and educated cadre" transforming themselves into a new ruling class would give Einstein a headache.
Try "mass amnesia"...it's as credible as anything you have to offer.
Suffice to say that socialism can never be built in a backward country; no Marxist ever considered this until Stalin's theory was put forward in 1924.
Well, Lenin was a "Marxist"...according to you, anyway. Why did he even bother to build a "vanguard party" in a backward country like Russia? Why didn't he emulate Rosa Luxemburg (who came from a backward and Russian-occupied Poland) and move to Germany and work for proletarian revolution in that country?
The same question could be addressed to Trotsky and all the rest?
After all, Marxists "have no country", right? We should naturally gravitate towards the countries where the proletariat is the most advanced, should we not? Where proletarian revolution is a real possibility, right?
Oh, I know, there was "supposed" to be a revolution in western Europe...to bail out the USSR. "Dialectics" said so.
Whoops! There's one of those "great predictions" that wasn't worth a shit.
If there had been a revolution in an advanced country everything would have been different.
No doubt. And if wishes were horses, intellectual beggars would ride.
The demand for state ownership is raised in the Manifesto of 1848.
So it was. That was before Marx and Engels realized that nationalization was not, in and of itself, socialist.
That the bourgeoisie must be deprived of their property is uncontroversial. That simply centralizing it in the hands of a new state apparatus will result in an end to wage-slavery has been demonstrated to be untrue.
...what do you think will be the new property form?
Probably something akin to the present notion of trusteeship. If we are going to produce for use instead of for profit, then it would logically follow that the means of production would not be "owned" by anyone in particular, but would rather be entrusted to particular collectives of workers on the basis of what use they could put those productive means to. Should they perform poorly, they would be deprived of those means of production...which would then be entrusted to a new and hopefully more serious collective.
One of the foulest slanders which is now aimed at Lenin and Trotsky is that Stalin's Purges were only the continuation of the Red Terror waged by the Bolsheviks after the Revolution, blah, blah, blah.
When I remarked that Lenin's terror was directed against anarchists in 1918, your response is a bunch of abstract babble without specific reference prior to 1922!
Is that what Trotskyists consider a "principled discussion" these days?
I knew you would drag Kronstadt into this.
More of the same. I actually did not discuss Kronstadt at all...I was referring to the actions of Zinoviev suppressing strikes and even meetings of the Petrograd working class immediately prior to Kronstadt.
Your long-winded discourse on Kronstadt is totally irrelevant to the point I was making.
A cursory glance at the surnames of the [Kronstadt] mutineers immediately shows that they were almost all Ukrainians.
Yeah...those fucking Ukrainians! Makhnoist scum, no doubt!
It is true that the negotiations with the garrison were badly handled by the Bolshevik negotiating delegation led by Kalinin, who inflamed an already serious situation.
I guess Kalinin wasn't one of those "steeled, determined, and educated cadres". Just some dummy that Lenin pulled in off the street to handle this ticklish and "dialectical" task.
This would have placed Petrograd at their mercy, since whoever controlled Kronstadt controlled Petrograd.
Yes, and whoever controlled Petrograd controlled...um, Petrograd. It was not a "life and death" matter...especially since the central state apparatus had long since relocated to Moscow.
The only possible outcome was capitalist counter-revolution.
That was Lenin's excuse and you stoutly defend it.
I think it's absurd.
It is interesting to note that members of the Workers' Opposition, a semi-anarcho-syndicalist tendency present at the Congress, also joined the attacking forces.
Yeah, they weren't the brightest bulbs in the marquee either. Kollentai actually thought Lenin would support her resolution on the trade unions. (!)
Victor Serge, who had many sympathies with anarchism, was implacably opposed to the Kronstadt mutineers, as the following passage shows...
That's nice. It reminds me of how Stalinists will quote passages from anti-Stalinist works showing that "nevertheless" Stalin "did something good" on this occasion.
I'm not impressed.
No more stupid idea could be put forward than that the working class BENEFITED from Stalin's despotism.
Why? Do you deny that workers were given specialized training and educational opportunities that they did not have under the Czarist regime? Or access to modern health care? Or modern housing with indoor plumbing?
I think it's pretty well documented that the general standard-of-living of the working class in Stalin's Russia improved quite sharply over the previous era.
As if killing one tenth of the population and bludgeoning all individual initiative has ever helped a country's economy.
One tenth of the population? You keep a copy of The Black Book of Communism next to your toilet perhaps?
Setting aside the utterly fantastic, you again failed to respond to my point: that few workers were ever targeted by Stalin's purges.
There was full democracy in the Party until 1921, when the threat of peasant counter-revolution and the fear that the Party might break on class lines forced Lenin to ban factions as a temporary measure.
"Temporary"? If you read Lenin's speeches at the 10th Party Congress, I don't think you'll find any mention of the word "temporary".
And the defeat of the Workers' Opposition proposal -- to place all economic matters under the direct control of the trade unions -- meant that the workers were to have no power at all in the new "socialist state". (The soviets had ceased to function at all except as rubber-stamp bodies by 1919 or so.)
-- emphasis added.
The personal dictatorship of Lenin was a higher form of democracy because it defended social property, struck blows against the bourgeoisie and defended the workers' cause.
How was the NEP a "defense of social property"?
How was inviting foreign capital to return to Russia a "blow against the bourgeoisie"?
How was the institution of "one-man management" and the emasculation of the workers' factory committees a "defense of the workers' cause"?
An act of violence is permissible and even obligatory when directed against the class enemy in a civil war. Do you deny this?
Nope. But in Lenin's eyes (and Trotsky's and Stalin's), any opposition to their personal power automatically marked one as a "class enemy".
How can you have class coercion without a state?
Seriously, your whole argument is that the working class needs no party, needs no dictatorship to impose its dictatorship. I'm quite interested in learning how you would suppress the bourgeoisie, fight off the Whites and the imperialists, combat famine, organise a revolutionary International to spread the revolution, without a party!
In other words, what would the "Redstar-ists" have done in Russia, 1917-1921?
Beats me! It's yet another one of your "what ifs" intended to "prove" that Lenin's approach was "the only possible approach".
Fortunately, we "Redstar-ists" don't live in Russia, 1917-21. We are not "obligated" to furnish an abstract strategy that would have worked better then.
We are only obligated to furnish a revolutionary strategy for our own time.
Something at which your particular variant of Leninism (Trotskyism) has conspicuously failed.
How do you suggest the workers' state be run if not by the workers?
I don't think there should be a "workers' state"...it is no longer needed.
You pigeonhole the Leninist terror with the Stalinist and thus you aid the bourgeois slanderers in the most contemptible way.
Shame on me! *laughs*
The Commune failed, did it not? Why? Essentially because it was too timid...A bold leadership could have led the Commune to victory.
The Commune and other spontaneous working class rebellions have been militarily defeated on a number of occasions.
The "bold Leninists" rot from within.
I have the truth on my side
Spoken like a "true believer".
It was called for by the exceptionally bad world and national situation and was naturally set to be lifted as soon as some Western European country joined the Soviet family.
That's not what they said at the time.
Do you think they should rather have surrendered to counter-revolution? Because that was the alternative.
Right. The alternatives at the 10th Party Congress were clear and straightforward. Option 1: reduce the party membership to mindless robots; Option 2: surrender to counter-revolution.
"Coup" in normal language (and in the usual language of detractors of Bolshevism) signifies the taking of power by a minority, against the democratic will of the people.
On your planet perhaps. On Earth, it means the seizure of power by an armed minority...period.
You denigrate the taking of power by a minority with the active backing of the majority, as a "coup". It implies that you are against this taking of power. If the working class is not allowed to take power through an insurrection by its Party against the bourgeois parliament, then you are precisely respecting the bourgeois parliament! Without organization, that is, without the trade unions and the Party, the working class is only raw material for exploitation.
"Coup" is a descriptive term, not a "moral" one.
Had the Bolsheviks wanted power for the working class, Lenin could simply have stood up at a meeting of the Petrograd Soviet and said "Moved: that this assembly now assumes full governing power over this city".
And the soviet would have voted yea or nay; if yea, then you may send out your soldiers to occupy the phone company and the train stations, etc., and arrest those eunuchs at the Winter Palace, etc.
After all, it's not as if the Provisional Government had ever been elected by anybody or had any authority that extended past the front door of the Winter Palace.
First of all the landlords were not at all overthrown by the February Revolution. It was confined to the cities and the peasants hardly moved until some time later. You also try to make it out that the new government was in favour of peasant revolt. In fact only the Bolsheviks decisively settled the land question, which they did by decree on the day after taking power.
I suspect that peasants probably began rebelling against their landlords before February 1917; the revolution in the cities speeded up the process of expropriation dramatically. The Bolshevik decree ratified existing fact. (And the opinions of the Provisional Government never had any influence on the matter whatsoever.)
Among other things [the Bolsheviks] learned that one must avoid premature uprisings which lead to defeat.
And with their "dialectical" crystal ball, they just "knew" that an uprising in July would be defeated.
It is necessary to wait until the right movement, when the majority of the workers are in favour of taking the power and the ruling class is at its weakest.
So on the eve of October, Lenin took a real quick public opinion survey?
And, unlike July 1917, this time the verdict was... go for it!
Your arguments are simply bizarre.
Only a total ignoramus could confuse the necessary and correct defensive stance of the summer with "capitulating to bourgeois legality". Did not this same party take the power a few months later?
One thing Leninists have always been really good at is changing their minds.
Had there been no Bolsheviks then Kornilov would probably have entered Petrograd in the autumn and massacred to his heart's content with little resistance. A one-sided civil war is still a civil war.
More silliness. Kornilov's army melted away before it ever reached Petrograd. There was no "battle".
Before 1924 nobody ever even considered the idea that socialism could be built in Russia alone. This idea was alien to Marxism and Leninism and reflected the pressures and aspirations of the privileged bureaucracy that was beginning to raise itself above the masses.
To pose the question in the same terms that you like so much: what should the Bolsheviks have done when it became clear that no western revolutions were going to bail them out? "Surrender to counter-revolution?"
Socialism in a backward country like Russia never made any sense from a Marxist perspective...but if you go ahead and try it anyway, then isn't "socialism in one country" the most plausible option available?
You may not "like" that option, but what else could they do? They did try to extend the revolution into Poland by conquest...and got hammered.
Rhetoric about "permanent revolution" is no substitute for practical alternatives, is it?
It follows that under communism there remains for a time not only bourgeois law, but even the bourgeois state, without the bourgeoisie!
Exactly the point I began this thread with: "socialism is capitalism (temporarily) without capitalists".
You guys assert that your state will "wither away"...but it didn't.
I assert that the way to solve that problem is to refuse to establish a centralized state at all.
It may be plausibly argued that such was not possible in the days of Marx or even the days of Lenin; the productive resources to insure abundance for all were lacking.
That's no longer the case in the advanced capitalist countries.
Was it just a "power struggle" between different layers of the "dictatorial Leninist Vanguard?"
In a word, yes.
With respect to Communists, even those who held the highest posts, Lenin demanded moderation. He showed concern for their health and food and living accommodations, but insisted that their salaries, his own included, be kept within certain limits. No luxuries were allowed.
That's the point I was making. The benefit of party membership was not in terms of wages...but in terms of regular access to ample food supplies, decent housing, good medical care, etc.
These were things that were unavailable to most Russians in that period.
He was not trying to "reintroduce capitalism" as you think in your blind, stupid, reactionary fervor.
Abuse is the last resort of the Leninists...until they have state power. Then, they set aside the "arms of criticism" for the criticism of arms.
First posted at Che-Lives on July 26, 2004
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· Conversations with Capitalists May 21, 2006
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· The Curse of Lenin's Mummy April 3, 2006
What Did Marx "Get Wrong"? September 13, 2004
Class in Post-Revolutionary Society - Part 1 July 9, 2004
Demarchy and a New Revolutionary Communist Movement November 13, 2003
A New Type of Communist Organization October 5, 2003
The "Tools" of Marxism July 19, 2003
Marxism Without the Crap July 3, 2003
What is Socialism? An Attempt at a Brief Definition June 19, 2003
What is Communism? A Brief Definition June 19, 2003
A New Communist Paradigm for the 21st Century May 8, 2003
On "Dialectics" -- The Heresy Posts May 8, 2003
|And whenever someone waves "dialectics" in your face while making statements about reality that appear to be obviously false...you guessed it: someone is blowing smoke out their ass.
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