The REDSTAR2000 Papers

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

Visiting LeninLand December 6, 2003 by RedStar2000

If you have been a regular visitor to this site, you've probably noticed how, for the most part, the same questions arise over and over again.

I hope you're not getting bored.

I confess that sometimes I find it a bit tiresome...the same dreary formulas and clichιs, the same patient corrections, etc.

Will all this crap ever be cleared away? Or will people in 2103, 2203, etc. still be picking over these old bones?

I have no idea if my efforts are really making that much difference, and I won't live long enough to know, one way or the other.

It's only when someone raises some fresh questions that I can become enthusiastic...and this is not one of those occasions.

So...another visit to LeninLand. You know what to expect.



If there is no state, who is going to pay child allowances, maternity benefits and other benefits?

I'll start with this one because I think it really underlies all the more "articulate" objections.

It's the state as "daddy" if not "god from whom all blessings flow".

It is utterly childish...the idea that we can do nothing for ourselves as a class and therefore we need "someone" to "do nice things for us".

Years ago, I heard a poor woman say "If there were no rich people, who would poor people work for?"

It's the same sentiment...and represents a degree of class consciousness so feeble as to hardly be worth the name.


If the state does not exist, we would live in a society of utter chaos, with no organisation, no order and no production... in short, the society would collapse within weeks, if not sooner.

Typical petty-bourgeois sniveling...what is really being expressed is the fear that without a strong state (with plenty of cops and prisons), he will lose his class privileges--either the ones he has now or (more likely) the ones he hopes to acquire when he grows up.

His fears are probably justified, even if his rhetoric isn't.


They could not have attained communism without vanquishing imperialism and capitalism from the face of the globe, that never happened, therefore they never had the right conditions to achieve communism. It is thought that with the world wide victory of socialism they would have.

Gee, who "thinks" that, besides you guys?

The record shows that they couldn't even get along with each other as Leninist-socialists. The USSR fucked over China...which turned around and fucked over Vietnam, etc. What "should" have been an enormous socialist commonwealth--according to Leninism--was, in fact, a bunch of squabbling incompetents motivated by bourgeois nationalism, racism, and, I suspect, outright greed.

Exactly what you'd expect from a collection of "new bosses".


We are fighting for the interests of the working class...

So you say...endlessly! How was it in "the interests of the working class" to restore capitalism in the USSR, China, etc.?

What did you do to stop that from happening?

What good was your centralized "workers' state"?

Or your "vanguard party"?


It is essential for the working class party to remain [in] power; history has demonstrated that a revolutionary working class party is threatened by those with bourgeois interests.

Those parties did stay in power...and the "bourgeois interests" emerged victorious within those parties.

quote: are not looking at it in the context of class struggle, that these are leaders of a party amongst the masses with working class interests...

But their behavior proved otherwise.


As Lenin said, intellectuals are more likely to gain a class consciousness and thus bring about a revolution.

I actually don't know if this is really true or not--how many "intellectuals" were involved in the February 1917 massive uprising that smashed the old Russian autocracy?

But, much more important, is what kind of revolution do "intellectuals" make?


You have missed the important fact that we want to make the working class the ruling class.

That's nice. But however "good" your intentions might be, I remain skeptical...old cynic that I am.

I have much greater faith in the working class doing that for itself rather than waiting for "deliverance".


The state will be a democratic organization of the people.

Run by a self-selected minority?

As Lenin himself said, who benefits?


So when will this journey towards anarchism finally achieve freedom? When you call it freedom? What is your goal? Something unattainable? How is it determined when the farthest attainable point has been achieved? Because then that is your actual goal! And you don't have one. Our goal is freedom and we know how to get there and we will!

This, of course, is just incoherent rhetoric...the sort of thing you'd hear in an election campaign.

Suggesting that "freedom" has anything in common with obedience to a self-selected elite is about on the same intellectual level as the speeches of George Bush or Tony Blair.

I can't imagine why anyone takes it seriously.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 4, 2003


It's not obedience to a self-selected elite, it's democracy.

The party selects its own members and leaders. That's self-selection.

The party allows no one to run against it...not even from the working class. That makes the party a permanent elite.

Even within the party itself, the membership has no control over the leadership but, in fact, is compelled to obey the leadership or face expulsion.

It's all about as "democratic" as the Roman Empire.


And until the whole world embraces some form of socialism, class society will never disappear. And as long as classes exist, a government is necessary to assist the dominant class. The working class cannot achieve ruling class status without the aid of a vanguard party. It can't be done.

This is just assertion along with some extremely slippery logic.

For example, if 3/4ths of the world were "socialist" and only 1/4th of the world was still capitalist, would "class society" still exist within that 3/4ths of the world?

What if there was only one small weak capitalist country left on the whole planet...would "class society" still exist everywhere else?

I think it's obvious that the rationale "the whole world must be socialist before we can start having communism" is simply a pathetic excuse for the "vanguard" to stay in power indefinitely.


Yes, perhaps there is some evidence against me, but there is none in favor of you, either.

Yours is so feeble that it hasn't even yet been attempted.

There are actually tons of evidence against you...but, as you admit, you are not really familiar with the history of 20th century Leninism.

My situation is a bit different. I am advocating working class revolution without a party and the establishment of communism as quickly as possible without any protracted "transition period" or "workers' state".

20th century evidence in support of my position is brief and fragmentary...a few months of genuine soviet power in 1917 in Russia, a year or two in the more radicalized parts of Spain in the 1930s, the French General Strike of 1968 and the abbreviated and limited successes of the "new left" in the 1960s, etc.

Not much to go on, I freely admit.

But, trying to look at this whole matter scientifically, what should we do when a promising theory turns out to fail the test of practice over and over again?

Think of Leninism as a hypothesis to solve a specific problem--how to raise the working class to the position of ruling class.

It is tested, repeatedly, by hundreds of parties all over the world under every existing circumstance.

Most of the time, it totally fails! On a few occasions, it looked like it was going to work...but then it failed. After a century of struggle, great heroism and sacrifice and dedication, etc., etc., etc. the result is complete failure.

Now someone like me comes along and says: maybe we should try something different.

(Not just me, of course. There's actually been a small undercurrent of Marxist opposition to the Leninist hypothesis going all the way back to the 1920s.)

Of course, I could be just as wrong as Lenin. My ideas could be total bullshit...that will never even be good enough to fail.

The test lies in a future that I will not live to see.

But I think what I propose is worth a is better to test a new and somewhat promising idea than it is to keep testing an old and failed idea over and over again.

If you are rational, then at some point you have to admit failure and the need for a new beginning. Otherwise, you just end up with a cult.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 5, 2003

It's the Leninist heritage...even people who know next to nothing about what actually happened in the USSR, China, etc. are aware that the leaders lived in relative luxury regardless of the poverty of the country as a whole.

Of course, that's the case here too. How many ordinary people have any idea what it really costs to live like Bill Gates or Ken Lay or George Bush?

But, of course, it's the hypocrisy that really grates on people. Here's a bunch of guys promising "equality" while grabbing all the goodies themselves. At least under capitalism, the greedy bastards are honest about their intentions.

It won't be easy, but we will have to slowly convince people that communism in the 21st century is going to be a very different phenomenon.

I know...tough job!
First posted at Che-Lives on November 10, 2003


He was incredibly modest, lived poorly, worked tremendously hard; it would not be an overstatement to say that he gave his life to the revolution.

All Hail, Lenin!

An appropriately religious response from a believer.

It's difficult to see how a Lenin-cult, or any other kind, has anything to do with proletarian revolution.

Difficult for me, anyway.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 13, 2003


I don't belong to a Lenin cult.

However, he is (or rather, was) the greatest man to walk the Earth since Jesus.

Lenin is the inspiration! The ultimate revolutionary! How can you say he has nothing to do with the impending Revolution? (Well, "impending" cosmically speaking)

All Hail, Jesus and Lenin!

Utterly ludicrous!

This is a marvelous example of what you get when you try to mix communism and religion...instead of an understanding of Lenin's actual ideas, you have him "elevated" to "super-saint" and, no doubt, sitting at the right-hand of "Christ" in "Heaven".

Lenin himself utterly despised religion, of course, and would be outraged to have his name linked with a first-century country preacher.

But he's dead (if not buried) and unable to voice his objections.


China and the Soviet Union were corrupted by antagonistic foreign superpowers.

And why did that happen? Bad luck?

If you want to claim that they "built socialism", how is it that their "socialism" utterly collapsed following their deaths?


If you expect all world leaders to live exactly like the poorest of their country, then you are ridiculous.

Why was there a "poorest" in the first place? Why was there not at least a reasonable amount of equality?

Lenin and Stalin may have lived modestly, but their colleagues "at the top" lived very luxurously...even in their own lifetimes.

And I like that bit about "all world leaders". What you're really implying is that since capitalist leaders live luxuriously then it's "ok" for "socialist" leaders to do the same.

Doing a little advance "career planning"?


These three geniuses all built socialism...and had free, democratic, and egalitarian societies.

You know better than that!

Their version of "socialism" was not free, not democratic, and not egalitarian.


The good they did far far outweighs the bad. No human is perfect, to think so is idealist and ignorant...

Let's assume that your evaluation is correct. The question is not what they did that was "right" but what they did that was clearly wrong.

To have "leaders" living in luxury while most people are poor is clearly wrong and makes a total hash of communist principles.

To say that "no human is perfect" is not a defense; Hitler could have said the same.


Huh? When did Lenin, Stalin or Mao drive fancy cars? When did they wear fancy clothing? When did they have billions of dollars in their banks? When did they live in mansions?

We are speaking of relative differences here...although, as it happens, Mao did have his own private train that was decorated quite luxuriously and crewed with a substantial number of servants. (So did Trotsky, by the way.)

What is quite indisputable is that even those who, like Lenin and Stalin, lived quite simply by western standards nevertheless lived better than all but a tiny minority of their countrymen. And that tiny minority that did live better than Lenin and Stalin were all "big dogs" in their respective Parties.


And you are not a communist. I have read many of your essays and they are anarchist and idealist, against what Engels wrote. Marx and Engels were not federalists, they were centralists.

Evidently your knowledge of communism is co-equal with your knowledge of rheumatism.

The "best" argument that you can make along those lines is that Marx and Engels thought that the early "transitional" stage would be centralized. They clearly regarded communist society as lacking a state altogether...hence the concept of centralization would be irrelevant.

To suggest that my posts have not been based on a materialist analysis simply reveals that you are unable to read with comprehension.


Also, what would you have done in the situations Lenin, Stalin, and Mao were met with (underdeveloped feudalist superstitious nations with illiterate peasantry and oppressed masses of people)?

How the hell would I know? I wasn't there and my advice was not requested.

From a materialist standpoint, those countries were due for bourgeois revolutions...and, in the end, that's exactly what happened.

Is there anything that anyone could have done that would have changed that outcome? I don't think so.

In fact, that's why I assert that Leninism and its derivatives are idealist perversions of Marxism. You can't make a proletarian revolution and a communist society in a pre-capitalist country by act of will.

Lenin's NEP essentially admitted this...and probably the most humane approach would have been to keep the NEP in force indefinitely...until conditions permitted the gradual introduction of communist economic practices. I'm not asserting that such a strategy would have worked...but it probably would have had a slightly better chance of success than Stalin's policies.

In any event, we don't live in 1917 or 1921 or 1949...and talk about what we "would have done" is useless.

What will we do?

Some very different things.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 16, 2003


In the end: How many Anarchist revolutionary groups have been sucessful in comparison to Workers Marxist-Leninist vanguardist revolutionary groups?

I believe the latest "score" is 0 - 0.


I ask this again, what kind of Marxist are you Redstar with your federalist Anarchist rhetoric ? Do you actually think that when Marx called for the abolishment of the old state machinary and replacing with NEW state machinary he meant completely abolish the whole government system?

That was the idea, in the long run.

Marx and Engels were operating from observed material conditions in the 19th century.

The lengthy transitional stage proposed and implemented by Leninist parties is no longer necessary.


Due to the fact that all forms of profit would be eliminated, there would be little corruption in the state. Marx did not call for complete equality in the sense of rankings (Leader, follower, captain, soldier, general, etc), he called for equal distribution of labour and economic egalitarianism and everything else that comes with socialism.

Yes, that would not be an unfair summary. However, the actual Leninist states were not genuinely egalitarian, were corrupt, and ended up restoring capitalism in all its "glory".

This suggests that Marx and Engels were probably mistaken about the whole project of a "transitional state".

It was an understandable mistake, perhaps, but a mistake nevertheless. It probably stemmed from the "occupational hazard" of serious revolutionaries...the desire to see history as more advanced than it really is.

That could apply to me, of course, or to you. I try to be cautious is suggesting proletarian revolution in western Europe in the second half of this century. I could easily be "off" by a century or more.

Recall that in 1879 Engels predicted the bourgeois revolution in Russia as coming "soon"...he only "missed" by around 40 years.


All Marxists believe (to quote Marx) "The history of the world hitherto is one of class struggle". Lenin, Mao and Stalin all acknowledged this.

It's not a matter of "belief"; it is a product of observation.

The fact that your three "all-stars" acknowledged this is rather irrelevant in light of their practice.

If the idea of a "transitional state" had any validity, you would reasonably expect to see conscious and deliberate efforts to actually engage in transition...the gradual introduction of communist principles.

In fact, the trajectory of "transition" went in the opposite direction. Your Leninist states "peaked" in their earliest years and then devolved, more or less rapidly, back into capitalism.

If you actually read Stalin, for example, it's quite clear that he thought "socialism" would endure indefinitely...and never did he even suggest measures that might have actually involved a "transition" to communism.

Mao's "peasant communism" (the big communes, the backyard steelmills, etc.) completely much for his understanding of Marxism.

Even Lenin himself said flatly that "state capitalism" would be an "advance" for the USSR...and that's really what the NEP was.

You sound to me like someone who is really unfamiliar with the history of all this stuff...who has adopted Leninism as a kind of secular religion.

I've found that to be fairly common; Leninist formulas can appear plausible as long as you don't look at the actual history of 20th century Leninist parties and states.

You need to look!
First posted at Che-Lives on November 17, 2003

If one were to go back and dig up some of my old posts on this board, they would find that a year ago I was still grudgingly accepting the idea of a "transitional" state called "socialism".

Of course, I haven't accepted the idea of a vanguard party for more than 30 years...but I still thought that a kind of central quasi-state apparatus was necessary (though hardly the bloated oligarchy that's sacred to the hearts of Leninists).

In the course of argument, I have changed my mind...and now reject the "transitional" state altogether.

The more I thought about it--in Marxist terms--the more it became obvious that wielding centralized power would change the consciousness of those who were doing it.

It doesn't matter "what" your "good intentions" might be...material reality prevails.

In the final analysis (and no matter how many "verses" of Marxist "scripture" are quoted), Leninism is is based on "good intentions", not on material reality.

History has demonstrated that "good intentions" are...not good enough.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 17, 2003


This is what Lenin and Stalin did, they made the Proletariat the ruling class over the bourgeoisie due to the fact that only toilers were allowed to elect and join the communist party.

It's true that workers were the great majority of the rank-and-file of the CPSU(B). But that was a meaningless "honor", because the higher ranks of the party "ran the show" and operated by "giving orders" to the rank-and-file members.

You're not "part of the ruling class" if your opinion is meaningless.


...the proletarian vanguard is simply something Lenin used to adopt to Russian material conditions, although the proletariat still had power concentrated into their hands.

That's a Leninist fiction. The proletariat did not have any power "in its own hands". All decisions of any consequence were made at the highest levels of the party.

Furthermore, Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky agreed that things ought to work like that.

What does it mean to be "part" of the "ruling class" if your views are irrelevant and your actual power amounts to zero?


How can you say we should simply skip the socialist step (I believe that is what you are saying?)

Yes, that is what I am proposing.

I do so because I think that the failure to abolish the state, wage-slavery, the market, etc. simply results in the re-establishment of a new capitalist society.

The reason that this happens is that the ruling elite, whatever its "benign" intentions, finds itself functioning as if it were a ruling class.

As you know, being determines consciousness. When your job is to be a boss, you start, after a while, thinking like a boss.

After a while, you don't really see any reason why you shouldn't be a boss...and an owner.

The USSR, China, etc. were not "overthrown" by imperialists; it was the vanguard party itself, especially its highest personnel, who corrupted themselves.

Many Leninists spend a lot of time speaking of "treachery"...but that is "unMarxist" in my opinion. The material conditions of those societies demanded a new bourgeoisie...and the party elite were in exactly the right material position to become that new bourgeoisie.

The working class, being powerless, had no voice in the matter.


Do I need to remind you that the "slow restoring of capitalism" is revisionism on the part of the infiltrators? Do you know why this happens? Because of lack of criticism and self-criticism. If there is criticism and self criticism, revisionism can be combated.

Are you suggesting that a ritual can overcome material conditions?

I understand that you view my criticisms as "insults", but don't you ask to be "insulted" when you say things like that?


In a Leninist communist party, criticism and self criticism, suppression of counter revolutionary and outdated thought, are used as tools to combat imperialist aggression in the third world.

Maybe that is what is "supposed" to happen, but it didn't.

quote: order to break down the resistance of the bourgeoisie, they [the working class] give the state a revolutionary and transitional form, instead of laying down arms and abolishing state.

Yes, that's what Marx said. But in spite of total victory in the Russian Empire and in China, there was no transition.


So do you agree Lenin followed Marxist theory here?...Do you not agree that is the closest to Marxist theory Russia could've had at the moment?

I do not agree. The one thing that Lenin and the Bolsheviks "could have done" was to respect the autonomy of the soviets and the factory committees as the real organs of a proletarian "state".

They did not do so; they imposed a political monopoly of their own cadres on all working class organizations.

That was the first and crucial step towards restoring capitalism.


...and both took many steps towards communism.

Which have been cleverly hidden from every historian of every political persuasion.

Neat trick.


...and Marx and Engels both say that Capitalism is what makes socialism work.

A bizarre assertion. Where'd you get that one?


I disagree with Marx to some degree on the withering away of the state.

Yes, you certainly do.


The dictatorship of the proletariat must exist in the form of a republic to provide an efficient way of defending one's nation.

Well, that's the old story, isn't it? Relying on patriotism rather than international proletarian solidarity.

The interesting thing about the Leninists is that they always think that they can play bourgeois power politics better than the bourgeoisie.

No wonder they lose.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 18, 2003


Only when all forms of struggle, including democratic ones, have been exhausted, would a revolution happen and I don't think those options have been exhausted just yet and neither does Chomsky.

The "theory" behind this is seldom stated openly, but it goes something like this...

1. Workers are not very bright.

2. They can only learn one "lesson of history" at a time...they progress by "stages".

3. Right now they are "in the stage" where they still believe that bourgeois democracy is legitimate and it is really "possible" to "win reforms" by electing "progressive candidates".

4. Therefore, those who want revolution must first be vigorous reformists, running and electing "progressive" candidates and "using" bourgeois elections "for all they are worth".

5. This means, of course, winning those who have "dropped out" of bourgeois electoral politics (50% of the electorate...mostly workers) to return to the "struggle". It means at least implying strongly if not actually saying that reforms can be won in bourgeois electoral politics.

6. At some indefinite point in the future, workers will "realize" that this is not possible and will then be open to the revolutionary alternative.

7. And because we have been such "good reformists", the workers will now listen to "us" when we speak of the need for revolution.

This has been, roughly speaking, the Leninist "strategy" in the advanced capitalist countries for three-quarters of a century.

Since it meshes rather neatly with the "left" reformism of the capitalist class (except for that revolution stuff...which is soft-pedaled anyway), such a strategy has occasionally achieved "mass" appeal--the winning of a lot of votes, the election of a lot of "progressives", and a large membership in the Leninist party. The Communist Parties of France and Italy did quite well in this regard.

Trotskyists also like this strategy, even though they've never had as much success with it as Stalinists.

The consequence is, as you might expect, that the Leninist "revolutionaries" in the advanced capitalist countries are now almost entirely reformist in their practice.

And the fallacy is, of course, in the first two points above, both of which are unsupported by real evidence. They were always assumptions...and someone even more cynical than me might go so far as to say that they were and are very convenient assumptions.

If you have a career in electoral politics in mind.

Chomsky for Congress?
First posted at Che-Lives on November 19, 2003

I know I've made this point more than once, but it obviously needs to be hammered home again and again.

In the end, it does not matter if Marx and Engels were "centralists" in the controversies of their era.

We don't live in 1847 or 1891!

The Leninist habit of waving these scraps of quotations as if they were scripture is as far removed from the approach of Marx and Engels as it is possible to get.

I have no doubt of the sincerity of the major figures of 20th century Leninism...they thought they were doing "the right thing".

They were wrong! History has demonstrated that however good they were at selectively quoting Marx and Engels (among other things), their path did not lead to communism.

What could be more obvious?

Now the question really is: do Leninists want communism at all, in any kind of serious way?

Or do you just want a new form of class society "with a human face"?

And if the latter is the case, then your claim to be the "legitimate heirs of Marx and Engels" is utterly preposterous.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 19, 2003


The dictatorship of the capital doesn't allow the working class to emancipate itself mentally.

The Leninist hypothesis always returns to this unsubstantiated assertion.

There are all kinds of obvious objections to it, both historical and theoretical.

But evidence is irrelevant where dogma is concerned.

If the Leninists were to ever question that assumption, it would remove the whole reason for their existence.

It would be as if the Pope developed doubts about whether he was really the "Vicar of Christ".
First posted at Che-Lives on November 20, 2003


The dictatorship of the capital does allow the working class to emancipate itself mentally.


The Utopian hypothesis always returns to this unsubstantiated assertion.

There are all kinds of obvious objections to it, both historical and theoretical.

But evidence is irrelevant where dogma is concerned.

If the Utopians were to ever question that assumption, it would remove the whole reason for their existence.

It would be as if the Pope developed doubts about whether he was really the "Vicar of Christ".

Cute parody.

But that's all it is, you know...a clever play on my words.

The Marxist hypothesis asserts that the very fact of proletarian existence generates revolutionary class consciousness.

The Leninist hypothesis asserts the opposite--that revolutionary class consciousness originates among dissident elements of the bourgeoisie and is "injected" into the working class. Without those "injections", the working class can attain only a crude trade-union consciousness.

Come to think of it, even the word "injection" is somewhat the Leninists boldly assert that the working class must be led to its emancipation by the Leninists themselves.

A Marxist would suggest that it's rather unlikely, in the light of historical materialism, to expect bourgeois dissidents to do anything but establish themselves as a new ruling class on the backs of the workers.

S/he'd be right about that...that's exactly what happened.

It would have been better for everyone if Lenin had remained in St. Petersburg and practiced law...he was a bureaucrat at heart,

There would still have been a working class uprising in 1905 and a successful revolution in 1917...just no Bolsheviks.

They wouldn't have been missed.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 20, 2003


Are you going to deny that the Bolshevik party consisted mainly of members with working class background?

No, but that is irrelevant. According to Lenin, revolutionary consciousness is developed by dissident members of the bourgeoisie (or petty-bourgeoisie) and "injected" into the working class.

The average member of the Bolshevik party may have come from a working-class background (I've never seen any accurate numbers on this subject). But the party's leadership originated considerably higher on the food chain...except, of course, for Stalin.


Class consciousness originates among the most conscious members of the working class as well as among dissident bourgeois elements.

You may or may not be right about that...but it's not what Lenin actually said.


The bourgeois elements are in the minority, though. Always have been.

See above. It is the leadership that rarely/never comes from the working class. As a good "democratic centralist", you should "know" that "leadership" is everything. The leaders command and the members least that's how it is supposed to work, according to the Leninists themselves.


As I have shown before, Leninists (Marxists)[sic] are proletarian mainly. Just because Lenin himself was bourgeois, doesn't mean the whole Leninist movement is bourgeois. How would you, by the way, explain that Stalin was everything but bourgeois but still made quite a big impact on Bolshevism? I thought Leninists would only let bourgeois capitalists in their party vanguard?

I think you are misunderstanding my point...perhaps because you exaggerate it so much.

A Leninist party (or any political group) is not "bourgeois" or "proletarian" depending simply on a count of many bourgeois, so many workers. What really counts is the actual ideology that this group carries out in practice.

Leninists always assert that they were/are carrying out "Marxism"...though it's generally a "Marxism" that Marx himself would find unrecognizable.

True, use is made of Marxist terminology and sometimes the words are even used correctly. But that's not good enough...obviously.

Far from creating "the dictatorship of the proletariat", Leninist parties all created dictatorships of small elites--oligarchies--that claimed to rule in the name of the proletariat.

These little neo-aristocracies did indeed drive out or crush the old ruling classes. But no attempt was ever made to actually cede power to the working class as a whole...and worse, in Russia, there were numerous efforts to make damn sure that the workers didn't get "above themselves" and start thinking or acting like they had real power.

By March 1918 at the latest, the Bolsheviks were acting like a ruling class...against the working class.

This is exactly what a Marxist would expect from a group dominated by bourgeois this case, a bourgeois version of "Marxism".


Comrade Lenin is a hero of the proletariat and was a true revolutionary, not a hippy-anarchist-Green-market 'socialist'-kautskyite-trotskyite-careerist-social democrat reactionary.

Aawww, did I piss on your icon? Don't get mad at me; don't you know that they have a statue of him in a Las Vegas casino now?

The bourgeoisie honor one of their own.


Right, just sit back in your chair, watch Yankee-Hollywood programs and wait for it (immediate Anarchism, paradise, freedom and love) to happen.

Rather unfair, don't you think? My impression (and I could be wrong, of course) is that anarchists are presently among the most active and radical elements in the anti-globalization/anti-war movements in the advanced capitalist countries. Their influence far outweighs their actual numbers.

Of course, we are a long way from revolution and no one knows at this point which ideas and which groups are going to play the most significant roles (if any).

But you reveal, perhaps unintentionally, your own substitutionism. No Leninist party is going to "hasten" the revolution by a single hour...unless you propose to substitute your frenzied activity for the activity of the working class itself.

That's been tried (Germany in 1919 and again in 1923). It didn't work.


...the kind of authority that would have to be imposed under socialism would not be nice at all, and would probably at the time to some people seem not even marxist. But in the long-term I think it is much more likely to reach the stage where the transition to communism can be made.

So far, the only transitions that the Leninists have managed is the transition to capitalism.

Faith is, to some, a "noble" quality...but when history comes knocking, it's best to answer the door.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 21, 2003


I'm saying that total class-consciousness can not be achieved when we haven't got the state under our control.

I'm not sure what "total" means in this context. But you are saying something different from what Marx said.

In addition, of course, the Leninists have had the state "under their control" and not only failed to produce "total" class consciousness but, in most cases, the exact opposite.

Your figures about Cuba are interesting...after 45 years of Leninism, only 50 per cent of the population consider themselves "revolutionary".

How about the rest?


I see a time coming, when even anarchist idealists will realize that there is no way we can achieve anything such a [as?] class-consciousness under capitalism.

Class consciousness is not something that is "achieved" is rather an emergent property of the existence of a working class. In Marx's words, the working class will become a class "for itself" as an inevitable by-product of the functioning of the capitalist system.

Conscious revolutionaries (whatever their orientation) can only accelerate this process...they cannot "create" it, much less substitute themselves for it.

And, in all likelihood, they can't even accelerate it all that much; certainly not enough to significantly change the timing of a mass uprising.

This is where Leninism departs from a Marxist understanding of history.


I do think that the Cuban Guerrilla history is a monument of how modern revolutionary politics should look like.

The 26th of July Movement was fundamentally a peasant uprising.

The only peasants in the advanced capitalist countries are "rich peasants"...and generally extremely reactionary in their politics.

Your "advice" makes no sense in the "western" world...and, interestingly enough, Leninism has failed most of all in the advanced capitalist countries.

Perhaps the left will remain "dead" in the "west" until we rid ourselves of all the Leninist crap and develop a genuinely revolutionary alternative to capitalist ideology.


You're trying to discredit our ideology by saying the vanguard is the most important to us...

Well, it is, isn't it? Without a "vanguard", nothing significant can really happen, can it? Isn't that what Leninists always tell us? No successful revolution without a "vanguard", right?

Oh, sure, the workers have a "role" to "play" need cannon fodder to overthrow the old ruling class and make sure it can't return. You need working class support.

But they mustn't be allowed to get the idea that they should actually run things themselves. They're "not qualified".

No, they should understand that what's taking place is "regime change" "benevolent" bosses taking over from old "malevolent" bosses.

Funny, the more often this stuff is put into plain English, the more difficult it is to see how anyone ever fell for it...much less still get suckered into it today.

I "see a time coming" when Leninism will run out of suckers.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 22, 2003


Fulgencio Batista's secret service repeatedly reported of Marxist-Leninist elements in the Guerrilla organization of the Sierra Maestra.

You consider those guys to be a credible source?

Back in the 1950s, every form of dissidence was considered "communist inspired" if not "communist infiltrated".

J. Edgar Hoover's FBI considered Martin Luther King, Jr. to be a "communist". Utter nonsense, of course.

It is certainly possible that Raul was a member of the Popular Socialist Party (I think that's what the pro-USSR communists were called then). But even if that's true, I suspect he was "acting on his own"--the official PSP line was initially support for Batista.


Concerning Fidel, historians still don't know for sure whether he was already a Communist during the revolution, but it would indeed make sense.

Not to me. The program of the 26th of July Movement as of January 1, 1959 was agrarian reform...if they had anything else in mind, they cleverly hid it from everyone.


Considering that by 1953 the imperialists were still looking strong and there was still class struggle in the Soviet Union, I don't see why you expect the state and the vanguard to disappear.

You are evading my point. Even if your assumption of the need for a "workers' state" was valid, the workers in the USSR were denied the right to run that state.

They were not even allowed to run "their own" vanguard party.

Forget communism; what kind of "socialism" is that?

Leninism did not only not deliver on the promises of didn't even deliver on the promises of Lenin...the ones he made before October 1917.

All power to the soviets? Hah! All power to the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party--that would have been the honest slogan.

When the workers' opposition people presented a proposal at the 10th Party Congress (March 1921) to transfer economic power to the trade unions...Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky all agreed that this was an "anarcho-syndicalist deviation" and it was promptly crushed.

There was no intention ever to actually allow the working class any real power.

It was a fake.


Yes, the working class becomes a class 'for itself', but that doesn't imply that class-consciousness, too, will come as an inevitable by-product of capitalism.

I'm afraid that it does mean exactly that.

This is not all that clear in the English translation; the German phrase (so I have been informed) actually connotes a sense of pride and self-worth, a "fitness" to rule.


When the oppressed countries will have prevailed in their fight for national liberation, it will all turn to the working classes of the western world. Then, the Leninist model will work in the west, too.

Thus far, when Leninists have "prevailed", what actually happens is that they are very "radical" for a generation or two...and then they re-integrate themselves into the imperialist world...Vietnam is visibly doing that right now.

I can't rule out completely the possibility that your scenario might come to pass...though the timing would be very tricky.

But what in the world makes you think that workers in the advanced capitalist countries would ever agree to have their lives run by a small group of bourgeois dissidents "in the name of the working class"?

Most American workers have never been exposed to Leninism at all...but the ones who have been exposed to it are extremely hostile. And not because of some generic "anti-communism" but because of what life is like inside a "democratic" centralist's just like having a really shitty job with zero pay.


The people are everything that matters to Marxism-Leninism. Marxism-Leninism, in fact, only exists because both Marx and Lenin were in favor of justice and humanity.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

Human history is full to overflowing with people who were "in favor of justice and humanity"...or at least said they were.

In fact, it's rather difficult to find people who actually stood up and said "I'm in favor of injustice and inhumanity!"

What sets Marxism apart from those who are "in favor of justice and humanity" is a scientific analysis of human history.

"Justice" and "humanity" are meaningless concepts unless they are situated in specific historical situations, in specific class societies.

Marxism does not appeal to "justice" in the abstract or "humanity" in the abstract (some strains of anarchism do make such an appeal, by the way).

Marxism appeals to a specific class...invites it to overthrow its exploiters, achieve class justice for a specific class of humanity.

Moreover (and this is the tricky part), Marxism asserts that this is going to happen no matter what. It's the "next stage" of human history.

Leninism, on the other hand, weasels on this question. It "sort of" agrees with Marx...but only if the Leninists are there to provide "correct leadership". Otherwise, it "won't happen".


You are too emotional concerning the word 'authority.' I know this feeling of disgust towards it, I have experienced it myself. It is important to look at things, ideas and ideologies always with reality in sight, too.

It's not just the "word" that bothers me...or you either. Perhaps some actual experience in a Leninist party will prove more convincing than anything I could say.

I've been in a Leninist party; I'm not just blowing theoretical smoke out of my ass.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 22, 2003


As concerns the idea that the guerrilla activity preceding the overthrow of Batista's regime contained Marxist-Leninist elements, this is incontestable, for no one which has ever taken up a gun for a socialist cause since the Bolshevik Revolution can escape being viewed as a Marxist-Leninist.

Well, I "contest" it. The 26th of July Movement's program was the overthrow of the Batista dictatorship and agrarian reform. They didn't "take up the gun" for socialism...though Che undoubtedly did his best to radicalize the outlook of the people involved.

Agrarian reform is not socialism...not even Leninist socialism.


Following this line of reasoning it can be easily discerned why MLK,Jr. was himself considered a communist, in that he campaigned for equal-rights for his people and this in fact is among the chief tenets of the communist ideology.

King campaigned for civil rights under capitalism. That's not "communist ideology", that's bourgeois "equal rights before the law" stuff.


I myself find the entire notion of one being a communist based on the idea that such a one is a card-carrying member of a recognizable communist party to be utterly ridiculous. Communism, as any other ideology, exists first and foremost in the realm of thought and therein one consigns oneself to the various camps.

Not if you are a Leninist. A Leninist without a party is obligated, first of all, to form one. You can't do anything without a "vanguard" party.


Socio-political ideologies are much the same as theologies in the way of religious thought,and as one is either a Muslim, Christian or Hindu by means of his personal beliefs and practice, likewise, one is either a Capitalist or Communist by the same approach, regardless whether he does or does not openly confess by mouth this faith before men ... for truly it is by actions alone that one bears witness to the true man.

Yes, I agree, it is what people actually do that reveals their real convictions. Nevertheless, I see little to be gained beyond a transient personal safety by disguising one's communist convictions. How aggressive one is depends on practical circumstances, of course. I could quite understand, for example, that Che would not have been making Marxist speeches to peasants engaged in a rather traditional peasant rebellion.


As concerns,"Leninism did not only not deliver on the promises of Marx" ... it has been said by some that Comrade Lenin was more a Marxist than Marx himself, and were it not for the contribution of Comrade Lenin, I suspect that we would not this day be gathered at such a forum discussing the various aspects of socialist thought.

I have no idea who these "some" are who "said" that Lenin was "more a Marxist than Marx".

But if you really believe that had Lenin never existed then there would be no forums discussing socialism, then you are less of a Marxist than Lenin himself.

"Great man theories" of history are "out of fashion" even among reputable bourgeois historians now...they were never "in fashion" among serious Marxists, including Marx himself.


As concerns the idea of workers-control of the state, I will speak plainly ... workers shouldn't be given control of the state. The entire premise of Comrade Lenin's revolutionary ideology was geared toward a hardened elite whose role it was to agitate and stir workers' support for the triumph of communism[sic] by which state-control would come to rest in the hands of the one-party, who in turn would introduce social reforms by which to create an egalitarian society.

Well, that's one of the questions being discussed in this thread. You evidently feel that Lenin was "right" about this.



It is unfortunate that people go about espousing socialism when in fact they themselves don't even possess the essentials of such an ideology. I find this anti-Leninist trend among professing communists personally offensive in that the name V.I. Lenin has been forever etched upon communism, and those who strive to divorce the two are either fools or else think others to be fools.

I find it incomprehensible why you should find anti-Leninism to be "personally offensive"...are you related to him or something?

In any event, my perspective is precisely to sweep away all the accumulated Leninist rubbish from the Marxist project. If there are "etchings" to be removed, the "acid" of Marxist criticism will do the job.


Marx himself had said that theory has gone as far as it can, the idea now being to move theory into practice, why then all this endless chatter? I myself could proceed to be numbered among the great pontificators of socialist theories but I find the entire notion to be quite senseless in that this doesn't contribute anything to concrete reality.

The failures of 20th century Leninism have generated a theoretical crisis in the Marxist paradigm. If Marxism is to be salvaged and renewed, it is imperative that those failures be fully and critically dealt with.

The alternative is to allow "Marxism" to become a cult of ritual formulas with no further relevance to material reality.

It's not a matter of "chatter".


Likewise, pretentious idlers who never cease to debate upon socialist thought can mutter till their tongues fall off and it will not accomplish one thing.

The problem is that it is often quite difficult to distinguish between the "pretentious idler" and the "brilliant theorist"...except in hindsight.

Late 19th century critics of Marx were known to sneer that for all of his talk of workers, Marx had never done an honest day's labor in his whole life.

It takes a while to tell...


To speak of a world that doesn't exist is delusional and to talk of a socio-political ideology which one doesn't actively pursue is a complete waste of one's time; and as a practical man, I myself strive not to become entangled in matters that require one to be either a fool or a liar.

Naturally I share your distaste for fools and liars and your desire to avoid becoming either.

But you must be aware that many of the people on this board do actively pursue what they perceive as radical political goals at this time and also try to gain greater theoretical clarity about what they really want to accomplish and the best ways to do that.

Boards like this one help in both tasks.

As in all serious matters, both theoretical and practical, the exchange of views and experiences is a necessity if progress is to be made on either front.

The Russians, for example, spent just about a century talking about the overthrow of Czarism before they got around to doing it. Who would be so bold as to say it was all just "chatter"?
First Posted at Che-Lives on November 23, 2003


The point I was trying to make, though, is that Lenin certainly wasn't 'evil', in the sense that he wanted to oppress the working class. Lenin was a man of the people, that's why he fought for them.

No one is "evil" in their own eyes. No one sets out to "do evil". Everyone always has "good intentions" least that's what they think about themselves.

What Marxists are supposed to do is look past that and evaluate what this or that "leader", group, class actually does.

And, historically, Lenin was not "a man of the people". He actually grew up on a (small) estate and probably lived better than 95% of the Russian people. He might have even been entitled to his father's title (very minor nobility...a civil service award)...though I don't think he ever actually used it.

Among the Bolsheviks, Stalin was the only real "man of the people".

And look how he behaved.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 23, 2003


The party and the working class are one.

That's a purely metaphysical assertion. It has as much validity as the assertion that "the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are One".
First posted at Che-Lives on November 24, 2003


Man, it seems us Stalin supporters are to blame for everything wrong that happens in the world eh? We are to blame for the defeat of the Anarchist army in Spain, we are to blame for the rise of Hitler in Germany, we are to blame for all of World war II, we are to blame for the collapse of the Soviet Union, we can't do anything right, can we? Well it's our leader's fault, who we sing in praise to every day around a campfire and plot on killing everyone who disagrees with us.

Can you tell me how "Stalinists" are to blame for the slaughter of communists (we are communists whether you like it or not by the way) and anarchists?

Now you are just whining.

No one but a handful of bourgeois idiots "blames" Stalin "for" World War II. The collapse of the USSR was clearly the work of those who followed Stalin into power...though some of those people were selected by Stalin and enjoyed his confidence.

But you cannot expect your "communist" pretensions to go unquestioned given the overall lack of communist practice in the circles of those who still profess to admire Uncle Joe.

In the case of Spain, the conservative and pro-bourgeois bias of both the Spanish Communist Party and the Comintern (Uncle Joe) is a matter of historical record. It can't be denied, regardless of squabbles over the details. You can try to defend that bias, echoing the arguments that were made at the time...but you cannot deny it without lying.

Had the "ultra-left" prevailed, the fascists might have still won...that's a fact. Only if the USSR had stepped up and fully matched the German and Italian intervention might the outcome have been different. That didn't happen...thanks to Uncle Joe.

That was then...this is now. What is most aggravating about modern "Stalinists" is your persistent refusal to learn from history. You are so anxious to "rehabilitate" Stalin's historical reputation that you simply cannot progress beyond the level that he attained.

You are a mirror-image of the Trotskyists that you despise--both groups stuck in some time-warp where it is always 1920 or 1930 or 1940 and the same things happen over and over again...the same polemics, the same strategies, the same battles, the same wins and losses, blah, blah, blah.

Insofar as you address present concerns at all, you simply want to emulate what Lenin or Stalin did. Lenin's party ran candidates for the Duma? Then "we will too"...ignoring 80 years of futility in bourgeois electoral politics. Lenin thought anarcho-syndicalism and direct workers' control of the economy was a really bad idea? Then "we do too"...ignoring all the evident failures of state-monopoly capitalism in the USSR and elsewhere. Lenin and Stalin developed "democratic" centralism? Then "we will too"...ignoring the stultifying and demoralizing effects of such procedures on our own members...not to mention how much that sort of thing alienates the working class.

If you were to confine yourselves to something along the lines of "Stalin wasn't nearly as bad as everyone thinks he was" and move on to how you propose to do better than Stalin did...well, that at least might secure you a respectful hearing and a thoughtful consideration of your views.

One of the very first threads I ever started on a political message board was entitled "Stalin as Rock Star" which I suggested that internet "Stalinists" are not really "political" at all--they are fans.

Perhaps I exaggerated...but not by much. Your post conveys the outrage of a groupie because his favorite icon has been defamed...shown to be a tone-deaf, semi-literate clown of a musician.

Groupies are not "respected"...not even by those they worship. Someone who "gushes" over Stalin is no different from someone who "gushes" over the latest pop construct...both demonstrate a marked lack of reasoning ability if not of intelligence altogether.

In the age of Linux, you want us to go back to using CP/M.

No one with any sense is going to do that.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 30, 2003


You would want a bunch of illiterate, hungry, and superstitious peasants to run the economy?

And is that the situation we face now?

If there is a proletarian revolution in western Europe or north America, is the "main danger" that power will fall into the hands of "illiterate, hungry, and superstitious" peasants? Is a Leninist-Stalinist party "needed" to "avert" that "terrible fate"?

What century are you living in?

Even in the conditions of 1917-21, your position is questionable. Not all peasants were illiterate and superstitious...and that was even less true of the working class in Petrograd, Moscow, and other cities.

Perhaps they would have "fucked up" terribly and ended up handing power back to the capitalists...which is what happened anyway!

In any event, they never got the chance. It was your "hero" Lenin and your "hero" Stalin--and even your "arch-demon" Trotsky--who all agreed on the absolute supremacy of the Communist Party, period. The only honest word in your phrase "democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants" is dictatorship.


It is in fact confusing you call yourself a communist, why not call yourself a 'punk rocker' instead like the rest of your anarchist friends?

Perhaps because I'm not at all fond of punk rock.

But if anyone is guilty of terminological inexactitude, it is yourself. There was never anything "communist" about the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or any of its international franchises. At best, it claimed to be "for communism" in some misty, far-off "future"...bearing precisely the same relationship to practical affairs as "the return of Jesus"

If you were honest, you would call yourselves Leninist-Stalinists or perhaps Leninist-Maoists. And you would never be permitted to use the word "communist"...what you actually intend to establish is a variant of "socialism" at best...and pretty undemocratic "socialism" at that. Your party and its "great leader" will rule and everyone else will obey...or else!

How do I know this? Because this is what you praise and hold up as a "shining example" to us all.


We debate it and we come to a conclusion on how to replace it or fix it.

Well, when does this happen? Do you have fresh ideas already? What are they? Do you intend to produce fresh ideas in the future? Then why don't you begin to do so...and quit spending all your time re-hashing ancient battles.

You hate it when people joke that all you guys do is sit around and plan who to kill...and when. But whenever you speak, you rarely miss a chance to talk about "Trotskyite-fascists" or "anarchist-fascists" in tones that strongly imply a murderous intent. Indeed, it's almost as if the thing that you really admire about Stalin is that he was such an "efficient" and "effective" killer.

(The romanticization of death is a feature generally characteristic of fascist ideologies.)


I am outraged by the fact that some of you believe these lies and are not willing to prove them.

Evidence has been offered in dozens of threads and hundreds of books on the subject.

Personally, I think that Stalin's infamy has been wildly exaggerated by the bourgeois media and by academics and politicians who were/are explicitly anti-communist. His real crimes and fuckups were bad enough. And, of course, he had lots of help...mainly from the secret police.

But that doesn't concern me greatly and I don't see why it concerns you. If Stalin's politics were "correct", then the "errors" will be forgotten.

The politics were not correct and led directly to the crimes and fuckups...that's my view and the view of many who are neither "Trotskyists", "anarchists", or "bourgeois".

You have not and cannot defend the politics of Stalin in either Marxist or humanitarian terms...all you can do is respond with abuse.

That's not going to work.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 30, 2003


You anarchists view anyone who has any capitalist ideas as an enemy, instead of a potential comrade, that is your downfall in all your movements.

"Anarchists" like Marx and Engels? They were rather notably unfriendly to people "with capitalist ideas".

On the other hand, Leninists have something of a history of cooperating with "progressive" bourgeoisie.

Not exactly something to brag about, is it?
First posted at Che-Lives on December 1, 2003


I believe your anarchist [sic] revolution will never happen here in the West, my "Leninism" has a chance. Why? Because the American people need the government nanny to clean up after their messes, provide security, social benefits, education, etc.

That's certainly a novel that I've never seen anyone make before. What makes it interesting is the fact that conservative political groups enjoy a wide appeal on the basis of promising to "shrink" the "nanny state".


Actually, I don't plan on instating [sic] my ideas in the West. Frankly, I see most of the people in the west as the enemy and as the class oppressors (except maybe some of the negros, homeless, and women who are oppressed).

Well, there you are, then. If the working classes in the west are your "enemy", then why should I or anyone who lives in the west give a rat's ass what you think?


I believe on bringing my ideas were the soil of revolution is fertile, where material conditions are good, where mere social evolution and "reforms" are going nowhere, where capitalism claims its most victims. The third world is the answer.

I'm sure they are all awaiting your arrival with feverish impatience.

May I suggest a deep suntan and proficiency in a "third world" language as minimum requirements?

Enjoy your trip.


Because Anarchism is bourgeois individualism, and the People in general don't want individualism, they want a home, stable employment, and their patriotism back (which has been stolen by the capitalist corporate snakes).

Some anarchists are "bourgeois individualists"; the vast majority are not.

But your statement really reeks of something from a dummyvision show back in the 1950s.

"Revolutions" that seek to restore "a golden age" are almost always if not always reactionary in content.

And patriotism? Even Lenin himself would find that a bit embarrassing.

Ever hear of proletarian internationalism?


Well, we call ourselves communists because we one day hope to achieve communism. I think that is pretty clear, no?


Ritual declarations don't mean very much when the actual practice is exactly the opposite.


Another thing, are you one of those PLP people who want to go straight from capitalism to communism?

No, I'm not one of "those PLP people".

Yes, I think we should completely bypass the so-called "socialist" stage and proceed at once to establishing the new society on a communist basis.

That's why I think I'm really entitled to use the word communist and you and Leninists in general are not.

(The PLP, by the way, have a rather peculiar definition of communism. They plan to abolish the state and replace it with their party. They also have extremely "traditional values" might like them more than you think.)


Idealists and sentimentalists like you Mr Red Star have out of this world ideas that are impossible to execute in a world of state dependent humans.

"State dependent humans"? What interesting "sociological" notions you have. Is that your idea or did you copy it from someone?

Keep in mind the fact that for most of the 150,000 or so years of our species existence, we lived without a state.

Do you suggest that a recent "mutation" in the human genome has rendered that no longer possible?


When I say things like "that icepick looked good on Trotsky, eh?" I am kidding.

Are you surprised that people don't find it very funny?


Anarchists and Trotskyists are dogmatic, revisionist (kind of an oxymoron huh?), idealist, and selfish.

Not to mention their notorious bad breath and body odor.

You suggest that my ideas are "out of this world"--what planet do you live on?

Or what era? I think you would be much happier in 1937 (roughly)...but getting there is the hard part.

At least you are learning the language.
First posted at Che-Lives on December 2, 2003


To begin with, I am currently active in my local socialist youth movement, which is basically our local social-democrats' youth organization. The youth is, of course, socialist, not 'social-democratic.' The reason why I won't let you go through with these 'fight by example' - phrases is that we have already tried that. I have tried it, my comrades over here have tried it and we have failed. Fighting by example, it is all not that easy. Of course we can link up with the workers, help them, talk to them, ask them questions, what they want, what they need, what their worries are or what they want to achieve. Of course we can link up with them, working with them and 'showing them their way to freedom.' But it isn't working. It - is - not - working. I've been doing this kind of political work for quite some time and it gets you nowhere, it leads you nowhere. It is a dead end.

Very well. Let's assume that you are "right" about that. What is the Leninist alternative?

Start a guerrilla war in the countryside? Win over the peasantry by enforcing land reform in the "liberated zones"? Defeat the regular army and such U.S. forces that may assist it? Ride into the capital city in triumph on the back of a captured U.S. tank?

It's been there's no particular reason why it couldn't be done again.

But exactly what have you done? Yes, you have smashed an old and probably senile ruling class. Yes, you will proceed at once to establish a much more egalitarian society.

Is that "enough"? Is that "all" you want to achieve?

If it is, fine. Go for it. Most guerrilla warfare attempts have failed or enjoyed only partial successes...but if you're really good at it and catch a few breaks, there's no reason why you can't pull it off.

History has already demonstrated what the ultimate outcome of your endeavors will be...a new and much more vigorous capitalist ruling class. Yes, you can still point to Cuba and say "not necessarily"...but, if you're honest, you'll have to admit that Cuba is on "the knife's edge". It would take very, very little to restore capitalism in Cuba and, if that happens, the destruction of the Leninist paradigm will be complete.

On the other hand, let's go back to your quote...about "the dead end". Did you perhaps anticipate that organizing at the bottom of the social order was going to be "quick and easy"? That people would see the "obvious" merits of your ideas as soon as you informed them?

Every revolutionary learns a painful lesson sooner or later: overcoming the inertia of a class society is enormously difficult. Like it or not, all attempts at change in the social order ultimately depend on changes in material conditions...something over which we generally have zero control.

When "the tide of events" is flowing our way, things become "easy"...people are extremely interested in what we have to say and "flock to our banners". When the case is otherwise, "nothing works"...sheer willpower cannot overcome material conditions.

Anarchists can recruit a few more anarchists and Leninists can recruit a few more Leninists and social democrats can recruit some more social democrats...but in a period of reaction, no one is going to win many recruits or make a significant difference in the outcome of events.

Only when there are significant changes in class reality do significant political changes become possible and perhaps inevitable.

The reality of the situation is that we all "do what we can"...and wait for the tide to turn again.

It always has.
First posted at Che-Lives on December 4, 2003
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