The REDSTAR2000 Papers

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

Renovating Leninism May 20, 2004 by RedStar2000

The Leninist paradigm is in such bad shape these days that its otherwise intelligent proponents go to some lengths to renovate its crumbling foundations.

Here's an effort that I thought was least for its fresh approach.



Marx was wrong and society needs a socialist revolution and only after that a communist revolution to overthrow the socialist state that was established by the socialist revolution (meaning a socialist revolution and a communist revolution is not the same revolution but need to be separate events at separate times).

An interesting "innovation" in Leninist theory. But there are problems...


In my opinion, no nation can go directly from a capitalist state to a stateless society in one generation simply because its masses have a capitalist mentality and this would contradict the basic values that anarchy depends on.

This assumes that the masses who would make a revolution have the same outlook on things generally that the masses do today.

Clearly, that cannot be any kind of revolution would then be impossible.

What's key here is the "mentality" of the masses at the time of the revolution itself.

Why did they do it and what do they really want?

If they simply want a fresh set of more "benevolent" bosses, then they would acquiesce to some variant of Leninist despotism -- "socialism".

But if the masses were actually convinced of their own "fitness to rule", why then not proceed directly to communism?

For most people, the "capitalist mentality" would have already become an anachronism...and a disgusting one at that.


Also I'm sure that the imperialists would not just stand by and watch this happen.

The imperialist "bogey-man" is a stock villain in Leninist scenarios...until we have a modern proletarian revolution in one or more advanced capitalist countries, we have no idea what the imperialists will do to try and stop it...or even if they will be in any position to do more than wring their hands and gnash their teeth in frustration.


A socialist revolution would not be as vulnerable to capitalist mentality and imperialism as anarchy or communism would be because it would be able to use the state to resist them.

Unlikely, since it's precisely state-power that leads to the revival of capitalist mentality.

When your job is that of "boss", it doesn't take long for you to start thinking like a boss...and then "advancing" to the level of being a boss...and an owner.

At least, that's what's happened so far.


To me it seems that a leap from capitalism to socialism is not as difficult or as dangerous as a leap from capitalism to communism.

It might or might not be as "difficult"...there are a lot of variables to be considered. But remember that "socialism" is also a class society and generates most of the same "mentalities" as capitalism does.

The main one being: it is in your direct material interest to work as little as possible while obtaining as much money as possible. The more money you have, the better you will live.

All talk of "the new socialist man" to the contrary notwithstanding, people will mostly go back to behaving pretty much like they do now.

The "transition" from socialism back to capitalism is "easy" a rocket that fails to reach escape or even orbital velocity naturally falls back to the planetary surface of origin.

Trying for communism is trying to reach escape velocity from class society altogether.


A socialist society without the bourgeoisie and with workers' democracy would be able to further develop the means of production and therefor make society more adaptable to communism.

The workers' "democracy" of socialism, even at its best, would be a mirror of what we have now...creating a "class" of professional politicians who would rule for their own personal advantage.

Eventually, they'd become openly a new ruling class.


A socialist society would also be able to eliminate the capitalist mentality and imperialism [and] create a class conscious and educated population.

No. Capitalist mentality would quickly re-emerge in socialist society because (as noted above) material conditions would promote its growth.

Even imperialism is not out of the question. There are those who make a pretty convincing case that the USSR treated Cuba like a neo-colony...deliberately withholding the technology that Cuba needed (and still needs) to escape dependence on cash crops and tourism.

Socialist societies have done a better job at educating their citizens than their capitalist rivals...but it didn't help much in the end. As to "class consciousness", their record has been poor.


Although the state would still exist, it would be a lot easier to overthrow than the capitalist state.

Yes, that seems to be true. But what replaces those overthrown socialist states?

Capitalist states.


Socialism is basically communism with a state.

Quite the contrary, socialism is capitalism without individual capitalists...state-monopoly capitalism, to be precise.


We all know that the state won't go away without a fight so a communist revolution, to destroy the state and all of what remains of capitalism, would be needed.

It might be needed, but would it be possible?

Could communists organize people under socialism to struggle for communism?

I don't know the answer to that one.


We need to support any action that plays a progressive role in history.

A truism; the difficulty is always figuring out what's really progressive and what isn't.


I see socialism not as the solution to all our problems but a "necessary evil" on the road to communism.

As I've said before, suppose it's not necessary?

Then it's just evil.
First posted at Che-Lives on May 14, 2004


From what I understand of Marxism, Marx also understood the need for a state in a post-capitalist world. Don't try to put a Leninist mask on a Marxist idea.

Was the Paris Commune a "state" in the Leninist sense? Engels specifically cited the Paris Commune as "the dictatorship of the proletariat".

Had the Paris Commune survived and spread throughout France and even Europe, would you posit the need for a "second communist revolution" against such a formation?


The masses will always have a capitalist outlook on things in a capitalist society.

That's what Lenin and his heirs have always asserted as "an article of faith".

Is it true?


We can spend the next hundred years trying to develop a working class with a communist outlook and I can assure you that we will experience very limited success.

Unfortunately, your "assurance" is simply no more than a guess. You may be right; you may be wrong.

My guess is that you will turn out to be wrong.


The only time class consciousness increases is during a revolution and a short period after that.

But how is it then that revolution is possible at all? Surely you don't think that people just wake up one morning and say to themselves, "Fuck going to work; today I'll make revolution."?

The "revolutionary process" in Russia ran from 1896 to 1917; in Spain it lasted more than 30 years; in China from the mid-1920s to 1949; and so on.

Granted that the 1968 French General Strike was an exception to this -- it came as a lightning bolt from a clear sky and has never been explained in a satisfactory way.

If future proletarian revolutions take the form of May 1968, then your hypothesis about class consciousness (rising quickly but briefly) might turn out to be true.

We'll see.


Class consciousness can't increase without a major event.

Yes, I agree with you fact, I think it takes a series of dramatic shocks to "wake people up" to the fact that the old order is no longer viable and must be replaced.


The only reason one is able to develop into the other is because they are not directly opposite to the one that came before it (as communism is directly opposite to capitalism but socialism is not opposite of capitalism). A thesis can't become the synthesis without the antithesis.

This is far too mystical for my taste; social change cannot be fitted into a vague formula like thesis-antithesis-synthesis except in hindsight.

The changes from slavery to feudalism to capitalism originated in changes in the means of production (technology)...not from Hegelian abstractions.

"Dialectics" is something Marx really was wrong about.


There is a reason why the parties/organizations who advocate socialism are always larger than the parties/organizations who want to go directly into anarchy/communism. Socialism doesn't seem as much of a pipe dream as communism/anarchy does.

But that was not the historical case in Spain. The anarchists were very large. Millions of workers didn't seem bothered by the "pipe dream" at all.

Today, in the "west", it's quite possible that "anarchists" and "ultra-left communists" of various kinds actually outnumber all the Leninist groups put together.


It's a mistake however to think that socialism would be a exactly like capitalism.

I didn't say it would be "exactly" like capitalism. What's crucial here is that it would be a class society...with wage-labor, money, commodity circulation, inequality of wealth, etc.

The chances are that it would also drag along with it much of the cultural trappings of class society; patriarchy and parental authority, traditional education, superstition, nationalism, militarism, perhaps even racism, etc.

It's no surprise in these circumstances that the class consciousness and militancy of the working class sharply declines after the revolution; all their efforts went for naught.

When you "risk everything" for "a new world" and end up with mostly the same old shit...well, it's discouraging, to say the least.


The masses have reached the point where they understand that the more they control the government and economy, the less oppressed they are and the better their standard of living is. Therefore, the new ruling class would be very weak in socialism.

Well, you're guessing again...and you might be right.

But if you're wrong, the consequences are catastrophic!

We get capitalism again.


It would take an extremely oppressive regime to be able to stop the masses.

The Leninists have been pretty good at that.
First posted at Che-Lives on May 14, 2004


It is true that we can't completely rule out the possibility a successful transition from capitalism directly to communism.

If that's the case, then why not try for what we really want?

Why deliberately try to set up a "new and improved" version of class society?

We'll know, after all, within days or at the most weeks after a proletarian revolution whether or not the working class is "ready" to rule on its own behalf.

If they're not, then they'll turn their power over to some vanguard party...or sit by quietly and acquiesce to a vanguard party's coup.

But I see no reason at all why any communist should seek to assist that process.

On the other hand, if we've spent decades in propagandizing for communist ideas, then why shouldn't the masses adopt those ideas for their own and seek explicitly to retain power in their own hands?

You can't say it's because they're "too backward" right now...we don't know what their level of consciousness will be when they make revolution, except that it will be very high.

My view is that we should let those who want a "new and improved" version of class society go their separate way...let them attempt to convince the masses that they will be "kind, compassionate" bosses.

We communists should be saying, over and over again, ALL BOSSES ARE BAD! DOWN WITH ALL BOSSES!

And people will either listen and respond or they won't.

Here's my case against "dialectics", by the way...

On "Dialectics" -- The Heresy Posts (May 8, 2003)
First posted at Che-Lives on May 15, 2004


Because Pol Pot did that. Didn’t work so well.

Why would you expect communism to "work" in a peasant economy?

Particularly Pol Pot's version...which postulated that all city-dwellers were "the class enemy".

Pol Pot was a nutball...and obviously has no relevance to the transition from modern capitalism to communism.


Are you with the PLP now?

Nope. The Progressive Labor Party's version of "communism" is to substitute the party apparatus for the state apparatus.

Everyone would be a member of the party and under party discipline; the leaders of the party would be appointed for life; etc.

They are also rather notoriously sexist and homophobic; women would be "sent back to the kitchen and the nursery" and homosexuality would probably be criminalized.

Their rhetoric -- "Fight for Communism" -- is unfortunate; they only serve to further give communism "a bad name".


Does ANYONE in the Marxist realm reject dialectics besides yourself?

Beats me. But they will.

Reason always defeats nonsense in the end.


Do you think it would be easier to overthrow the state and capitalism (or what remains of capitalism) in a socialist society or [a] capitalist society?

I have no idea...there are simply too many variables and we are talking about a period still far in the future.

Experience suggests that the "socialist" society will rather easily devolve back into capitalism (over a couple of generations at most).

"Socialist" states do not like "ultra-leftists"...they see real communists as "intolerable competitors". (See Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin vs. the Workers' Opposition, 10th Party Congress, March 1921.)

Thus while they tolerate the re-emergence of capitalist ideology, they turn their wrath towards real communists and anarchists. They don't want to hear any criticisms "from the left"'s too embarrassing for them. The gap between their "revolutionary" rhetoric and the actual nature of the society they've created is not anything they want any public attention directed towards.

My guess is that either form of class society would be equally difficult to overthrow...from the communist standpoint.
First posted at Che-Lives on May 15, 2004


The socialist revolution taking place there (although it's not yet complete) has made the masses more class conscious and the Marxists have a louder voice than they did before April 2002.

I'm not at all convinced that Venezuela is undergoing a "socialist revolution" or anything even close to that. Chavez appears to me to be a populist reformer and has not, to my knowledge, even suggested any fundamental change in the class nature of Venezuela.

The hysterical opposition to Chavez by the traditional Venezuelan elite suggests to me that they fear being supplanted by a new elite...something that does take place from time to time in class societies.

If you are going to speak of "socialist revolution" in some particular place, the first thing you have to look for is the existence of "soviets"...of organs of power created by the working class.


What this suggests is that no society with a state and a division of classes can be any more free, more capable of developing class consciousness, more able to give the communists/anarchists a louder voice, or have a weaker ruling class, than the capitalist society we currently live in.

Yes...always keeping in mind that times change. The seemingly "all-powerful" ruling class of today will not be that way on the eve of proletarian revolution.

Quite the contrary, they will be weak, demoralized, bitterly divided among themselves, ineffective, etc. They will likely offer "sweeping concessions" to the masses while committing grotesque repressive their last desperate attempts to retain power.

The really smart ones will already have moved their families and liquid assets out of the country.
First posted at Che-Lives on May 17, 2004
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