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Dancing with Trotskyists September 9, 2003 by RedStar2000


Some 50 years after Stalin's death, it is hard to find any group that proudly proclaims itself to be "Stalinist". But my impression is that there are still quite a few small groups that continue to revere Leon Trotsky and dispute endlessly among themselves the rightful mantle of "the prophet".

As you might imagine, I don't pay much attention to those theological controversies. Still, the Trotskyists show up, now and then, on message boards and I occasionally yield to the temptation of "arguing" with them.

As you will see, there's not a whole lot in the way of actual argument that takes place...more along the lines of "they're saved" and "I'm damned".

And you know that I've always been proud to be a sinner.


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There have been some interesting points made in this thread, but as a communist, I look at it somewhat...differently.

For one thing, "collapse" is not really a word I would use. It seems to me that what really happened is that old and obsolete political and economic forms were simply dismantled as no longer useful to a new capitalist country.

Perhaps a lot of illusions "collapsed"...but it's actually been known (by at least a few) since Lenin's day that a political elite uncontrolled by the working class cannot be communist or socialist in any meaningful sense of those words--the Bolsheviks converted themselves into a new ruling class who, increasingly over the decades, behaved like any other ruling class.

By the time of the Brezhnev era, this class began to gain sufficient confidence in their "right" to rule that they saw less and less reason to disguise their aspirations. I suspect that all of the leading capitalists, politicians, etc. in Russia today are ex-"communists" from the Brezhnev era or sons and daughters of such figures.

The same "transition" or, if you prefer, "collapse" is happening in China, Vietnam, and, probably, Cuba.

From a Marxist standpoint, there is nothing particularly unusual in the evolution of a semi-capitalist country into a capitalist country by means of dictatorship...though Marx would probably have been shocked by all the "red flags" and "Marxist" rhetoric. There are many parallels between Wilhelmine Germany or the France of Napoleon III and "revolutionary" Russia. There are plenty of modern examples, of course.

Advanced capitalist countries are generally characterized by "bourgeois democracy"--that marvelous combination of the illusion of popular sovereignty and genuine ruling class control--but most of them passed through some form of dictatorship to get there.

It's always a rough trip.
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First posted at Urban75 on August 15, 2003
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quote:

You are a strange kind of communist, an anti-communist to be precise.


No, I just don't worship at the "First Church of Trotsky"...that does not make me an "anti-communist".

You think that's bad? I don't even acknowledge the "holy status" of What Is To Be Done?...the "Book of Revelation" of St. Lenin.

Worst of all: I think pretty much all of 20th century "communism" was a mistake...well meaning, to be sure, but fundamentally wrong.

Marxists understand that there is no such thing as genuine proletarian revolutions in pre-capitalist or semi-capitalist countries. The material conditions do not exist!

The controversies between Lenin and the Mensheviks, Stalin and Trotsky and Tito, Khrushchev and Mao, etc. were all founded on a fundamental misunderstanding of material reality.

Communism is not possible in any but the most advanced capitalist countries, period.

Trying to "make up" for the lack of the necessary material conditions by substituting the "will power" of a vanguard party is an idealist distortion of Marxist materialism.

That's right: Lenin and his heirs all turned out to be idealists in practice, regardless of their philosophical materialism.

Gives you the creeps, right?

quote:

It is not enough for a political elite to control the industry in order for it to be a ruling class, it must own it.


Technically, quite right. But you have not grasped the fact that being determines consciousness.

If you were one of Lenin's "one-man managers" with all decision-making responsibilities in your hands, how long would such a material relationship to the means of production take before it changed your consciousness? How long before what you "manage" becomes something in your own mind that you think you have the "right" to own?

And, now, of course, they do own it.

quote:

Why did the imperialists want to destroy the USSR if it was just a different kind of capitalism?


Why do imperialists want to destroy each other? Why do capitalists seek to drive each other into bankruptcy?

The laws of capitalism demand relentless enmity between capitalists and, even more, between capitalists and workers.

World War II demonstrated that certain imperialist countries were more than willing to "unite" with "socialist" Russia to counter an even greater threat from other imperialist countries.

The "cold war" was an inter-imperialist struggle...not a battle between "freedom" and "communism".

quote:

By far the best analysis of the nature of the USSR is Trotsky's Revolution Betrayed, written in 1936 while in exile. He goes into detail about the class nature of the Soviet Union, why it was a workers state, and why it should be defended by the working class. This book is a masterpiece of Marxist analysis...


The idea of "betrayal" is un-Marxist, in and of itself. History is made by classes, not "great men" or "great devils".

If Trotsky had "won" his struggle with Stalin, he would have behaved the same way. He proved that back in 1920 or thereabouts with his proposals for the "militarization of labor"...making every worker subject to military norms of discipline.

And had Lenin lived, he also would have done the same things.

In fact, if the Mensheviks or the Kadets had won, they too would have proceeded to the rapid industrialization of Russia.

That's what was on "history's agenda".

quote:

In 1924 Trotsky pointed to Stalin as "gravedigger of the revolution," a very prophetic statement.


That was simply Trotsky's "professional" jealousy...the party liked Stalin a lot more than they "liked" Trotsky. Stalin was considered both competent and a "moderate"...Trotsky was considered arrogant and abrasive.

quote:

The final collapse, in 1992, was an unprecedented, world-historic defeat of the working class, not only in the USSR, but internationally.


Oddly enough, the Stalinists and the Maoists agree with the Trotskyists about this. What really collapsed was the Leninist paradigm...and the vast majority of the international working class reacted to the entire event with thunderous indifference.

Why should they care about ruling class changes in personnel?

quote:

This was the final undoing of October, and ushered in a new era of reaction world-wide. Now there is no counter to the domination of the world by the imperialists, who feel free to run roughshod over the world's poor.


October was undone by March 1921 at the latest--some would argue it was mostly all over by the spring of 1918.

The totality of 20th century capitalism has been "a period of reaction". And things are going to get even worse.

Not only is that the way capitalism "works", but it is what has to happen to convince the working class that it must make proletarian revolution whether it "wants to" or not.

Assuming Marx was right, of course.
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First posted at Urban75 on August 30, 2003
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quote:

The simple management of industry is not ownership, regardless if the managers feel like they own it!


But you were not paying attention. What I actually said is that, with the passing of time, they would feel as if they had a "right" to own it.

When you perform a capitalist function, you learn to "think like a capitalist" and, if objective conditions permit, eventually become a capitalist.

quote:

Imperialists do not, in general, want to destroy each other.


Their subjective desires are irrelevant. Each one intends to expand at the expense of all the others, if it can.

It has no objective alternative--the "law" of the falling rate of profit literally means grow or die.

There are, at this moment, a number of bitter controversies taking place between the U.S. and Canadian corporate interests. This doesn't mean that the U.S. and Canada are "about to go to war" but it is a symptom of the fact that there can ultimately be no "peace" between imperialist countries.

quote:

The U.S.S.R. was not imperialist.


Yugoslavia 1948? East Germany 1953? Hungary 1956? Etc., etc., etc.?

Or consider the price of Russian "assistance" to Cuba, 1961-1992.

Instead of providing Cuba with advanced technology to help it escape the "third world trap" of producing agricultural products (low export value) to trade for manufactured products (high import value), the Russians insisted that Cuba remain a "colonial economy", trading sugar for Russian-bloc manufactures.

Not that different from what things were like when the U.S. imperialists owned the island.

quote:

You severely distort the titanic struggle carried on in the CPSU in the 1920's by the Left Opposition. It was not a battle over which individual would head the party, but over fundamental issues of orientation toward economic and foreign policy.


Oh, please. First of all, there was nothing "titanic" about it. The so-called "Left Opposition"--including Trotsky--were a bunch of opportunists looking for political "pegs" to hang their personal opposition to Stalin on. Every time they opened their mouths in "criticism", within weeks or even days they were apologizing, promising Stalin to be "good boys", blah, blah, blah.

The overwhelming majority of the Russian peoples (workers and peasants) were utterly indifferent to the "titanic struggle".

That doesn't mean the "Left Opposition" were "Nazi agents" or "saboteurs" or any of that Stalinist crap. It just means that Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, et.al., were just a bunch of seedy politicians looking for a break.

With a little make-up and a couple of speech-writers, any one of them could have run for Governor in the California Recall Election.

quote:

Nevertheless, the USSR was a workers state, i.e. a state founded on proletarian property forms, until 1992.


What kind of idealist takes the "law" as not simply a reflection of material reality but as reality itself?

Can you grasp the idea that first material reality changes, then consciousness changes and THEN the "law" changes.

First, you become a boss.

Then, you come to think that you have the "right" to own what you boss.

And then, you have the law changed to make you the owner of what you boss.

quote:

You are no communist.


How would you know?
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First posted at Urban75 on August 30, 2003
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quote:

...the parasitic layer in the USSR did have all the appetites of the bourgeoisie in capitalist states. However, they were never able to act on these impulses in the manner of a Rockefeller or a Gates.


Actually, I think they began to act on the impulses before the ink was dry on their first decrees.

But I will grant you that before the death of Stalin, personal enrichment was certainly on a very modest scale compared to the "great capitalists" of the west.

It was probably the "reforms" of the Khrushchev era--most notably the establishment of "performance bonuses" for enterprise managers--that "tipped the balance." The children and grandchildren of those managers are the capitalist class of modern Russia.

quote:

Despite the brutality of the bureaucracy, they could never cease to claim to be Lenin's heirs, they could never cease to claim to be building socialism, etc.


Yes, the ideological rituals continued for some time after they no longer reflected material reality...that happens all the time.

The "formal end" of the USSR was a ratification of what had already taken place in material reality.

It may suit your purpose (upholding the reputation of the rather odious Trotsky) to date the end from the Brezhnev era, but the seeds were sown by Lenin's "New Economic Policy" in 1921.

quote:

You simply deny the reality of the Cold War, which was qualitatively different from inter-imperialist rivalries.


I deny the assertion that it was "different", because that assertion will not withstand critical examination.

How was it that the United States formed an alliance with "Communist" China against "Communist" Russia?

Because Nixon and Mao both understood that words are far less significant than material interests.

You look at the propaganda on the surface without seeking to discover what's going on in the boardroom.

quote:

Furthermore, the hostility toward the USSR that saturated every aspect of western ideology magically vanished after Yeltsin's coup.


Well, of course it did. Al Gore isn't running television commercials these days either. When the ad campaign is over, it's over; it's time for a new campaign.

As long as the new Russian capitalist class is appropriately servile to U.S. imperialism, the propaganda about Russia will be neutral or even moderately "friendly"...when the Russians begin to vigorously assert their imperial interests again, we'll have a new campaign--probably along the lines of Russians as "semi-Asiatic barbarians" who have "always" hated "freedom" and "democracy".

quote:

From day one the imperialists sought to bury the USSR because of what it represented.


There's some truth in this observation, but not all that much. There was some concern early on whether or not the USSR was going to be a country that "you could do business with". The Comintern was worrisome.

But those worries had largely abated by the late 1930s, I think. The very aggressiveness of U.S. imperialism towards the USSR after 1945 demonstrates, in my opinion, that the American ruling class knew that the USSR, whatever its ideological pretensions, was no real threat to "the order of things", if it had ever been.

The only "threat" that the USSR presented was one that imperialists are all familiar with...the removal of one's colonial possession(s) by another imperial power. They know how to deal with that...and they did.

quote:

The USSR did not export capital or seek to control markets for the enrichment of a domestic ruling class.


Of course, they did. Perhaps what confuses you is the fact that the Russian ruling class for a long period of time appropriated surplus value (domestic and foreign) collectively rather than individually.

In America or other modern capitalist countries (Russia and China now as well), a prominent and successful capitalist uses the surplus value he has extracted from "his" employees to, for example, build himself a fine mansion.

In the Russia of Stalin, Khrushchev, etc., the collective surplus value extracted from the entire working class (domestic and foreign) was used to collectively reward the ruling class...the most prominent party leaders having the greatest access to the goodies.

quote:

Since the 1959 revolution life expectancy in Cuba has increased by ten years, the infant mortality rate has been cut to one-tenth of what it was, and so on...


Who would deny those achievements? The point is that, to all intents and purposes, Cuba remains--after 40 years of "socialism"--a desperately poor country with a colonial relationship to the imperialist world market.

If the American imperialists unilaterally lifted the embargo on trade with Cuba tomorrow, very little would change...because very little has changed.

The Cuban working class never held political power in Cuba...the only thing that could possibly have made a real difference.

quote:

Seriously, dude, you are a despicable example of a communist. Why don't you take this vicious crap to the National Review where it belongs?


Judging by your responses--"comfortable petty bourgeois ass-hole", "comfortable arm-chair 'communist'," etc.--I think my "vicious crap" belongs right here...that people may compare it with your cargo-cult Leninism and draw their own conclusions.

You folks had the best part of the 20th century to fill people's heads with elitist rubbish in the "name" of "communism". Now the sanitation guys (like me) are here to haul it all away

It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 3, 2003
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quote:

It is quite clear, though, why you must disavow the USSR...namely accommodation to one's "own" bourgeoisie. Your hatred of the USSR is a necessary precondition, at least you think, for joining the rest of the imperialist hyenas.


Nonsense! First of all, it's not a matter of "hatred"--it's simply a matter of noting that the USSR was a class society (a variant of capitalism) and manifested that in its operation and behavior.

Properly speaking, "hatred" should be focused on the most reactionary imperialist power of any given period; in the 1920s, it was Britain and France, in the 1930s, Germany and Japan, since 1945, the United States.

But the apparent fact that there are one or two countries that are the most reactionary in a given period does not imply that other imperialist countries (like the old USSR or like France, Germany and Russia now) are "progressive".

They're not.

quote:

Those who held the position that the USSR was not really a workers state, or was just another form of class society, were all too willing to accommodate to the needs of the imperialists on other issues as well, from defending the U.N. attack on North Korea, to defending the U.N. attack on Iraq or Serbia, and even up to defending the U.S. assault on Vietnam.


Here is what I recently had to say about U.S. imperialism and its "leftist" lackeys with regard to Iraq...

"Leftist" Lackeys of U.S. Imperialism

quote:

...only the Trotskyists uphold the revolutionary Marxist tradition.


Marx would not have even let you use his chamber pot.

quote:

At least we know what side of the barricades you will be on when the revolution comes.


Ah yes, if anyone is reluctant to allow your precious sect unlimited political power, that "means" they must be "opposed" to proletarian revolution.

Pull the other one, squire, it's got bells on it.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 6, 2003
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This is a valid, if limited, point: there really is no known way of predicting revolutions. In the late 1870s, both Marx and Engels "predicted" that Russia would have "its 1789" (a bourgeois revolution) "soon." It took nearly 40 years to happen after the prediction.

But I think he misses the larger picture. The Russian autocracy, a semi-feudal aristocracy with "islands" of intensive capitalist development, really started cracking up around 1891 with an enormous famine. The disastrous war with Japan, the abortive rebellion of 1905, and the Russian participation in World War I all put enormous strains on a social order that was in pretty bad shape to begin with.

The bolsheviks, mensheviks, anarchists, etc. all "did their bit" to subvert the old regime. All attempted to organize workers in resistance. They all "helped".

But it was the failure of the system itself that made revolution both possible and necessary. At the end, even many of the members of the old ruling class despaired...realizing that "things could not go on".

Small groupings, however "revolutionary" they might think themselves to be, do not "make" revolutions. Only classes make revolutions and they only make them when the old form of society can no longer function.

Unfortunately, there is no way to predict the catastrophic collapse of an obsolete form of class society.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 6, 2003
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quote:

In fact, the net flow of wealth was outward from the USSR, which not only subsidized its client states in Eastern Europe...


Actually, I confess that I don't know as much about this subject as I should. However, here is a post (excerpted) from another board that I thought was very interesting...

quote:

I'm trying to get through a book I recently borrowed, The Economics of Imperialism by Michael Barratt Brown. The author, a self-proclaimed Marxist, examines the relationship between capitalism and imperialism from neo-classical and Keynesian perspectives, as well as Marxism, of course, and expounds on Rosa Luxemburg's thesis; that imperialism is a process of assimilation and transformation of economies into the sphere of competitive capital accumulation...

According to the book, "evidence of Soviet economic imperialism is found in three main fields; mixed Soviet-satellite enterprises of the post-war years, price discrimination by the USSR against other members of the Soviet bloc and the use of Comecon, the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance, by the Soviet Union and the richer members of the bloc to exploit the poorer."

Basically, what the book is saying that the USSR:

- restricted the development of countries that did not conform to their own economic plans

- monopolized markets at the expense of local independent operators, and practiced discrimination in tariffs and pricing policies (mainly against the Poles and Hungarians).

- charged the bloc more for exports and paid them less for imports in those instances in which the bloc and Western Europe both bought or sold similar commodity categories from [to] the USSR...


Looks like imperialism to me.

quote:

The very same fake leftists who supported various U.S. assaults also betrayed the working class when they deserted the defense of the USSR.


Well, I think I'm beginning to get a handle on your problem here (one of them).

You evidently conflate the defense of a victim of U.S. imperialism with some kind of back-handed endorsement of the regime of that country.

That is, you do not grasp that it was possible to attack aggression by U.S. imperialism without creating absurd formulas like "degenerate workers' state" to "justify" the "defense" of the USSR.

We can (and should) attack imperialism without regard to the class nature of the regimes that might be its targets. We are not "obligated" to defend Saddam Hussein or Joseph Stalin or Pol Pot or anyone. It's not a matter of "supporting the lesser evil"--it's a matter of directly attacking the greater evil.

quote:

Only the genuine Trotskyists have raised the slogan "Defend Iraq against U.S. attack!" While the rest of the pacifists and other servants of imperialism call for the U.N. or some other multi-national invasion, Trotskyists call for unconditional defense of small states under attack by the predatory powers.


Well, my slogan is pretty close to yours: "U.S. Get Out of Iraq NOW!" (I'll worry about the other stuff later.)

But I did like the bit about Genuine Trotskyists (copyright?)--as in "Accept No Substitutes!"

Don't you feel just a little foolish writing that stuff?
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First posted at Urban75 on September 7, 2003
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quote:

I'll thank you not to agree with me, "red"star. It makes my skin crawl when fellow travelers of imperialism agree with me.


Since you offer no evidence for such an absurd accusation--"fellow traveler of imperialism"--I'll assume it's just Leninspeak for "doesn't worship at my church".

quote:

The Bolsheviks didn't claim to make the revolution by themselves. On the contrary, they insisted that they were merely the representatives of the proletariat, which indeed they were.


No, they were not. They enjoyed considerable support among the urban proletariat in the larger cities, true enough.

But what does it really mean to say that someone "represents" a class? Would it not at least suggest that the real class interests were energetically put forward by this "representative"?

As I understand it, when the Bolsheviks started losing control of some soviets in the spring of 1918, the Bolsheviks simply dissolved them and started appointing officials...their own people, naturally.

And how did it serve the class interests of the proletariat to have its factory committees dissolved and replaced by "one-man management"--a Bolshevik hack, naturally?

It is one thing to claim to "represent the proletariat"--it's quite another to actually do it.

quote:

It is trivially obvious that small groups don't make revolutions. At best a small group can perform a coup, i.e. take over the already existing state machinery.


Which is what the Bolsheviks did, of course. That is, they dispersed a powerless provisional (bourgeois) government that no longer even had a functioning state apparatus on the eve of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets and then walked into that congress and announced that they had taken power "in the name of the soviets".

Not surprisingly, the congress of soviets approved the move (who wouldn't?)...but I imagine over the next few months it must have come as some shock to discover that the role of the soviets was to approve the decrees of the Bolsheviks, period.

quote:

...since the state, being the mechanism for class rule, can only represent one class.


Generally true, but not necessarily in periods of crisis. When the rising class has not yet seized power nor the declining class fully succumbed, the state can be pulled/pushed in one direction or another by the contending classes. The Weimar Republic is a good example of this; the apparatus was "formally" that of a bourgeois republic but the reality was that of intense class conflict within the apparatus itself between two sectors of the bourgeoisie as well as the old Prussian landed aristocracy and the army it created under the empire.

quote:

What is certain, however, is that the October Revolution would not have been successful without the Bolshevik Party.


A tautology--had there been no Bolshevik party, there obviously would have been no Bolshevik party coup in October.

quote:

What redstar holds to is a Kautskyist theory of revolutions as being inevitable.


So it would seem. Further investigation might suggest that "Comrade" Lenin had a lot more in common with "Renegade" Kautsky than I do...

Lenin and Kautsky

quote:

The only way for the proletariat to seize power is through its own guiding organizations.


What an innocent way of putting forward an extraordinarily dubious proposition. Why not say what you really mean?

"You have to follow us and do whatever we say or you will lose!"

If we followed you, we would lose!
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First posted at Urban75 on September 7, 2003
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quote:

Opposition to socialism is equivalent to defense of capitalism, since there is no third path at this stage in history.


Well, actually there is. It's called communism.

You may have heard of it.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 7, 2003
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quote:

It's called "socialism," and it is a necessary step to prepare the society for communism...


Marx and Engels were actually rather ambiguous on the subject and can be read in more than one way.

But even if it could be effectively demonstrated that they did indeed envision some kind of long-term transition period between capitalism and communism, that view would have to be situated in the level of the means of production in their own era.

My perspective is that we have reached (or will reach over the coming decades) a development of the means of production sufficient to render the "transition" period almost entirely superfluous.

In other words, forget "socialism" and go more or less straight to communism.

Granted that this would have sounded "wildly utopian" in the 19th century--and perhaps might explain some of Marx's ire with the anarchists of his time--we live in a different era now.

In particular, we live in an era where distrust and even hatred of authority in general has been growing for more than a century. As capitalism ages and becomes more despotic, working people begin to grasp the idea that they must "take matters into their own hands" if anything useful is to be accomplished.

Continued long enough, the only reasonable outcome is proletarian revolution.

But, at this level of development, what need is there for a "transition period" of any significant length? Or, for that matter, a "special party" to "lead" the revolution or "run the show" during the period of transition?

The workers of 2017 (est.) will be as far advanced over the workers of 1917 as the workers of that year were advanced beyond the "workers" of 1617. Even if Leninism was "the right choice" for 1917, it is long past it's "sell by" date now...as evidenced by its total lack of appeal in the advanced capitalist countries.

Marx is still read and with increasing interest; Lenin is not. And who, aside from historians specializing in Russian history, reads Stalin or Trotsky? (I should add that the Maoist variant of Leninism still has considerable appeal in semi-capitalist countries...it's a very good tool for making and consolidating bourgeois revolutions.)

Granted that there are still groups--a few hundred people here and there--who "re-fight" the battles of the Comintern, hoping for either a vindication or a reversal of the verdict of history. But they are cults. That is, they are people entirely de-coupled from their material roots, repeating their competitive liturgies at one another and, when they can, involving themselves in bourgeois electoral politics.

The Leninists are the Seventh-Day Adventists of modern politics.

The political future really belongs to those who return to the revolutionary totality of Marxist thought. First of all: the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the workers themselves.

There is no longer any legitimate reason, if there ever was, not to fight for what we really want--communism--and proceed directly to that goal.

A bloated and overweening state apparatus and an arrogant vanguard party--"socialism"--are neither desirable nor necessary.

Fuck 'em!
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First posted at Urban75 on September 8, 2003
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quote:

We Trotskyists rest on the principle of self-determination for all nations, and thus defend small states from the predatory powers unconditionally, that is regardless of the political character of the ruling group. However, we defended the USSR, and still defend Cuba, North Korea, China and Vietnam today, both against external attack and internal attempts at capitalist restoration, because these are/were workers states, because they have the preconditions for socialism, namely a planned, collectivized economy.


"Workers' states?" In Cuba, the working class never held political power. North Korea is a confucianist "asiatic despotism"...and probably the most potentially explosive country in the world right now--the tensions between the means of production and the relations of production there are enormous. In China, the working class held political power in one city, Shanghai, for a few weeks back in 1966 or thereabouts. As far as I know, the working class never held state power in Vietnam at any time.

We've already discussed the USSR...the most you can possibly say is that the working class held significant power in the period 1917-1921.

Of course, you'll want to play the "party card" here: the vanguard parties were/are the "representatives" of the working class.

Won't work. At no time have any of those respective parties ever been accountable to the class they purport to "represent". A "representative" that you cannot call to account and remove at your discretion is not a genuine representative, no matter what they call themselves.

As to the nationalized economies, Marx himself pointed out several times that nationalization was not socialism...otherwise the Prussian State Railways would have to be regarded as a step towards socialism.

quote:

That is a slogan that most liberals would be happy with. While it is true that the U.S. should get out now, taking this stance does not cross the class line. That is, a liberal bourgeois can also call for the U.S. out of Iraq.


Perhaps...but I haven't heard one do it yet.

quote:

We call for the military defense of Iraq, and any other small country under attack by the imperialists.


Does this mean you folks are going to Iraq to join the resistance?

I didn't think so.

quote:

This means that we want the U.S. to be militarily defeated. Every setback for the imperialists is in the interests of the international working class.


So who doesn't? I think it would be a tremendous victory for the international working class if the U.S. and the U.K. suffered a totally humiliating defeat in Iraq and had no choice but to flee in disarray.

There's at least a measurable chance that it may turn out that way...and I hope it does.

quote:

We also make a sharp distinction between the defense of Iraq and political support for the capitalist Hussein regime. We do not support the Ba'athists politically. Simultaneous to calling for the defense of Iraq, we call for the overthrow of the ruling capitalists.


As I read the situation there, the resistance movement consists of Ba'athists and Muslim fundamentalists. They are both quite reactionary.

It is unlikely that there are more than a few hundred communists of any kind in Iraq...so I doubt we'll be hearing much from them.

But truth to say, some sort of "progressive" bourgeois nationalist regime seems to be on "history's agenda" for that part of the world...to the extent that they can defeat the imperialist efforts to keep them backward, mired in reactionary superstitions, etc. (One is almost tempted to say: where are you Maoists now that we need you? After all, they are the contemporary experts in "progressive" bourgeois revolutions.)

I think what the United States "wants" in Iraq is a version of what they had in the Shah of Iran...only more conservative. They seek a "domesticated" religious fundamentalism--one that will confine itself to oppressing Muslims while co-operating with imperialism.

Not easy to find, though.

quote:

Repelling the U.S. invader will require a social revolution running side by side with the liberation struggle.


Also not easy to find.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 8, 2003
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quote:

I don't know why I bother, but...


Conditioned reflex, I suspect. I pressed the button called "transition period" and got the pre-programmed response.

In fact, I'm surprised some astute programmer hasn't gone after this "niche" market. Click the little bearded guy with glasses icon (TROTSKY_RULES.exe), type in a phrase, and out come all the relevant quotes.

No one would argue that the old ruling class must not be dispersed and rendered harmless. You seem to think that this is an enormous task that will take "a generation or so".

I think you overestimate their power by a wide margin. Deprived of wealth, political power, and arms, just what could they do? Flee for their lives, most likely.

Since proletarian revolution will certainly take place only in advanced capitalist countries, even foreign intervention is a marginal prospect at best. The United States, keep in mind, can't even conquer Iraq. What chance would they have against a communist EU? Slim and none, in my view.

Frankly, I think about 90 days or so should be sufficient to handle the "crushing" of the old ruling class...and two or three years to get the basics of a communist economy up and running. Things will be "messy"...but we'll work out the bugs as we go along.

quote:

Most of the population of the world lives in miserable poverty, on about a dollar a day or less. In order to address this problem you would need a centralized power, backed with the power of the state, i.e. special bodies of armed men.


I'm sorry, but I don't understand the connection there at all. Are you speaking of guarding the borders against hordes of impoverished immigrants?

Or what, exactly?

quote:

Oh, and by the way, Lenin's State and Revolution quotes extensively from Marx and Engels on the nature of the state, the role of the proletariat in a revolution, and the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is a basic text of Marxism, so it is no surprise that you missed it.


Yes, he copied & pasted every scrap he could find of Marx and Engels on the subject. Since Marx and Engels were silent on the "special role" of the "vanguard party" (how could they overlook such a thing?), the party goes almost unmentioned in Lenin's text.

It's a good question, though. Was Lenin really sincere when he wrote State and Revolution or was he just being a cynical bastard, planning all along to become "the workers' Czar"? Personally, I think he probably was sincere...but we'll never really know.

History is like that sometimes.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 9, 2003
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quote:

A state that defends collectivized property forms in the means of production and an economy that is consciously planned is a workers state. Such a state rises and falls with the working class, which is the ruling class.


That's "Marxism"? Looks like bourgeois formalism to me.

Marx would ask "who runs the show & who profits thereby?" He wouldn't care about what was written on paper; he would be interested in what was actually going on?

And he'd be the first to note that wage-slavery existed, that surplus value was being extracted, and that the folks on top were getting the rewards. In Marxist terms, the USSR, et.al., practically screamed CLASS SOCIETY.

And to suggest that the Russian working class was "the ruling class" of that society is not only sophistry, but inept sophistry.

It's not even remotely plausible.

quote:

Thus, they see no difference between the USSR and Nazi Germany, because Hitler and Stalin were similar in their modes of rule.


Perhaps they don't, but I certainly do. Stalin ruled as an autocrat, as a czar. Hitler ruled in the manner of a feudal lord, imposing his will (when he could) over his squabbling fiefdoms.

Of course the working class was viciously exploited in both countries, so they have that in common.

But one must remember that the capitalist class chose Hitler and the Nazi Party to save their asses from revolution. The Russian working class did not choose Stalin...they had no say in the matter precisely because they were not the ruling class in the USSR.

Something that should be obvious.

quote:

The truly superhuman effort they displayed in building up the productive powers of the state that could defeat the Nazi onslaught is something to ...learn from.


Not exactly a flourish of trumpets there, old bean. What exactly would you like us to learn?

Obedience to our "leaders" will save us from the fascist beast, perhaps?
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First posted at Urban75 on September 9, 2003
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quote:

...have you ever looked at a history book? (I mean, apart from the ones you have to color in.)


Cute quip.

Unfortunately for the "strengths" of your "argument", I've read quite widely in the field.

For example, I can tell you flatly that the Russian bourgeoisie played virtually no role in the civil war...it was the landed aristocracy that fought the Bolsheviks "to the death". They saw (much more clearly than you) that the whole class content of the year 1917 was, as Engels predicted, Russia's "1789"...and for them it really was a "death match".

The "invading imperialist armies" that you hear so much about really didn't amount to much except for the Japanese in the far east of the country. It was the military supplies furnished mainly by the British and French that kept the aristocrats in the field. Had those supplies been blocked or intercepted, the "civil war" would probably been over before the end of 1918.

The same thing is true about Spain; Franco and his supporters would have been crushed in a few months without soldiers from Italy, aircraft and pilots from Germany, and, most of all, military supplies from both countries.

It is as I said, once overthrown, the old domestic ruling class can only flee...unless they can acquire extensive foreign assistance.

Now, let us turn to the prospects of communist revolution in advanced capitalist countries.

It will certainly take place in the midst of capitalist crises--an economic "melt-down" in the major capitalist economies, perhaps several low-key anti-colonial wars, possibly the threat of inter-imperialist war, and who knows what else. Let us assume that it takes place in the western (most advanced) part of the EU. Who will intervene, with what means, and to what end?

The United States ruling class would "like" to do it, no question about that. But can they do it, bogged down in a multitude of colonial wars of their own...perhaps accompanied by rising domestic discontent?

Russia might want to use the "confusion" to regain some of its old colonial possessions in eastern Europe...but the re-conquest of central Asia makes far more sense.

China and Japan will naturally be pre-occupied with their own inter-imperialist rivalries.

So what is left?

That's only one of many possible scenarios, of course. The modern bourgeoisie rely heavily on their "professional armies"--mercenaries. They appear "stronger" than did the 19th century bourgeoisie with their conscript armies of questionable reliability.

But mercenaries really have only two priorities: getting paid and not getting killed. In the face of massive uprisings of the working class, I predict that after some initial atrocities, they will say "fuck it!"

If they take on the vast majority of the population, they will all be killed. And their "pay" is in the form of a currency that looks like it might soon become worthless.

A few of them will fight to the death; most will simply "lose" their uniforms and disappear into the general population.

I could go on, but you ought to get the idea by now. As the several crises of capitalism accumulate, the balance of class forces steadily favors the working class more and more. By the time of the "next wave" of proletarian revolutions--possibly as soon as the second half of this century--resistance by a demoralized capitalist class will be scattered and trivial.

We can go straight to communism...which is what we really want!

quote:

You cannot simply decree the state out of existence, it must die an organic death.


Nonsense. The state is not a "living" creature that must "die". That's just a lousy metaphor. It is a construct, something made by humans that can be unmade by humans whenever they no longer need it or wish to have it.

Organic metaphors are very striking and colorful...but rarely appropriate for non-living entities.

quote:

This call for a jump straight to communism may sound revolutionary.


Because it is.

quote:

Indeed, the fossilized Stalinists in the Progressive Labour Party do make the call.


They are a curiosity, aren't they? Their vision of "communism" is an entire society run by "democratic centralism". Every worker must be a member of the "party"--everyone must carry out the decisions of the leadership. They replace the state with a party that is a state.

If you wish to speak of "reactionary utopias", I think this would qualify. In practice, from what I've seen in the material on their site, they are a cult. For example, they spent most of their time over the last two decades "warning" us of "imminent" global thermonuclear war.

And they are hell on their members...at least in a capitalist sweat-shop you get paid something. The PLP work their people to exhaustion...like cults always do. If your leader keeps you busy enough, then you don't have time or energy to think.

They like it that way.

quote:

...in any revolution you are going to have leadership.


I know what you really mean by that word "leadership"--you mean a self-appointed elite that gives orders to all the rest of us.

It ain't gonna happen.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 10, 2003
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quote:

But, however bad it was in Russia, it will pale next to what will happen in China IF capitalism is restored there. -- emphasis added


And how are you enjoying your visit to Earth, comrade?

IF capitalism is restored???

Good grief!

As to the rest of your panegyric to the old USSR, I don't think it has much relevance to the point I was making. The process of transforming a backward semi-feudal economy into a modern capitalist economy (1921-1992) often involves "progressive" measures...as the emerging ruling class requires an educated and trained work-force.

The USSR was progressive only compared to the backward social forms it replaced. By western standards, many Soviet practices were quite reactionary...which is to be expected when comparing places with very different levels of development.

Economic "implosions" are not unknown in the process of major changes in the forms of "ownership" or the practices of a regime. One could argue, in fact, the the USSR was on the verge of a classical capitalist depression prior to its dissolution...and the dissolution itself was a rather desperate attempt to escape the inevitable by drawing in western capital investment.

Or, perhaps it was just a huge fuck-up. Ruling classes like to think they are omniscient...but they aren't.

The point is not to dwell on human suffering--that is universal in class societies--but to carefully note who was on top before and who was on top afterwards.

It was the same people.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 10, 2003
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quote:

Marx: The working class must take power.

Lenin: The taking of power requires a revolutionary party to split the working class from the capitalists.

Trotsky: Any revolution that is not made permanent will degenerate.

All the rest is just filling in the details, really.


Is this some kind of joke?

For Marx, proletarian revolution was not an "imperative", an act of "will power", but rather the inevitable consequence of the "laws" of capitalism ending in its own destruction.

Lenin's "contribution", dubious as it was, has nothing to do with "splitting the working class from the capitalists" (whatever that means)--the purpose of his "revolutionary party" was to act as "a general staff" of the working class, guiding it to "victory" in the same way that a regular general staff guides a regular army to victory. (I know, dumb idea, but at least it actually is what Lenin thought.)

I confess to never having bothered to explore the ambiguities of Trotsky's "permanent revolution". His "theoretical" differences with Stalin always struck me as akin to the dispute between Rome and Constantinople--does the "holy spirit" proceed from "the father" or from "the father and the son"?

Who knows?

Who cares?
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First posted at Urban75 on September 13, 2003
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quote:

There is NO GUARANTEE that a revolution will be successful.


I can see that whenever you try to say anything of substance, you get into trouble immediately.

Yes, there is no guarantee that any particular proletarian revolution will be "successful".

But IF Marx was right, then one of them will be successful...and on a global scale at that.

We know from the transition from feudalism to capitalism that there were many "ups and downs" in the struggle; the rising capitalist class had to fight many battles, winning some and losing others.

Now we can look back over five or six centuries and see clearly that the victory of the capitalist class was inevitable. There was no way, in the long run, that the feudal relations of production could survive and function with the new means of production.

The same thing is true in the era of capitalism. In the long run, the means of production will become permanently incompatible with the capitalist relations of production.

IF Marx was right, of course.

quote:

The contribution of Lenin, Trotsky, et. al., is in showing how to make a revolution successful.


If that's their "claim to fame", then it doesn't amount to a puddle of warm spit. All those "victories" are ashes and rubble now. Your praise of them is rather like the Wall Street Journal naming Ken Lay as "Businessman of the Year".

Total failure does not inspire confidence on my part or any other sensible person.

quote:

After all, if the revolution is guaranteed beforehand, why should he get off his ass and actually do something?

Faker.


Well, right now I'm doing just as much as you are...posting to a message board.

If I were a "faker" and lazy to boot, why would I even bother with that?

No, you cannot dismiss my remarks with crap like that. Argue the substance, if you can.

And, in passing, I believe there are extant speeches by Lenin from the period 1921-22 in which he argues that "state capitalism" would be a great advance over the conditions then prevailing. Stalin proved Lenin was right; he just "re-branded" the "product".

Who, after all, would gather under the slogan "Fight for State-Capitalism!"?
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First posted at Urban75 on September 13, 2003
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quote:

There is no guarantee WHATSO-FUCKING-EVER that the global revolution will succeed. None. It is perfectly possible for capitalism to continue on indefinitely, even assuming that the imperialists don't destroy the world first, without socialism ever being established.


Well, I explained it once. Do I need to do it again?

What is the reason, in Marx's view, that class societies change?

Is it the "spirit of history" manifested in the thoughts and deeds of "great men"?

No.

Does it "just happen" at random?

No.

How about divine intervention?

Afraid not.

Class societies change because their technology and their means of production change. New class societies emerge when the means of production have put an intolerable strain on the old relations of production.

As soon as a new form of class society emerges, it calls its gravediggers into existence at once (if they do not already exist). Class societies are societies of class struggle.

Is the old ruling class always "helpless" before such changes? Obviously not, and China is indeed a good example of how an old ruling class can "put off the inevitable" for several centuries.

But in the overall scheme of things, a few centuries one way or the other doesn't really mean anything.

The human species is over 150,000 years old (at least); class society is probably around 15,000 years old (at most).

So if proletarian revolutions and new classless societies emerge in 2050 or 2450, the "margin of error" is trivial.

Of course, we'd "like" it to be as soon as possible. We do what seems reasonable to "push" history in the direction that we think it "should" go, and that, if Marx was right, it eventually will go.

But, Lenin & Company to the contrary notwithstanding, there is no "royal road" to revolution...no "special" combination of methods of struggle that will "overcome" the inertia of historical development, certainly not the cult-like foolishness of democratic centralism and the vanguard party.

It is from capitalism itself that the opportunities for proletarian revolution arise...and it is the working class as a whole that decides whether or not to take advantage of them. Communists can encourage workers to do that...but that's about all.

The idea that a small group of "enlightened" individuals can "make" a proletarian revolution "on behalf of the class" is just infantile foolishness...political delusions of grandeur.

History doesn't work like that.

quote:

This brings up another point--we don't have much time. The greediest and most rapacious ruling class that has ever existed also has the power to destroy all life on Earth. As the inevitable trade wars turn into the inevitable shooting wars, nuclear weapons are going to be used sooner or later.


Here is that "sense of urgency" that cults like to...well, cultivate. "Follow us now, quickly, for DOOM is at hand and only we know how to escape it."

There is, at this point, nothing we can do about the threat of nuclear extinction. If they decide to do it, they'll do it, and that's an end to most of us. (The survivors will have a new historical agenda: the transition from savagery to barbarism.)

We can despair or we can carry on the struggle. The "fate" of the world is "not in our hands" and there is no "magical" way to change that.

Realistically, it would not surprise me to see limited use of nuclear weapons in the course of future imperialist wars. An all-out "earth-destroying" nuclear exchange seems to me to be wildly improbable.

It is very difficult, for one thing, to extract surplus-value from a planet of corpses.

quote:

As the bourgeois economist John Maynard Keynes once remarked, "In the long run, we're all dead."


Indeed we are, but so what?

When I was much younger than I am, I was convinced that there would be proletarian revolution "in my lifetime". Now that seems rather improbable. Does that mean I should just say "fuck it!"?

Or does it mean that I should just carry on the struggle and hope for the best? That's all any of us can really do, you know?

Your fantasies of being "the next Trotsky" (or, if you are more modest, being the guy that helps "the next Trotsky" put his overcoat on), are simply delusions. Future proletarian revolutions are likely to be very different from the primitive efforts of the early and middle 20th century...and the presence of "great leaders" is most improbable.

The working class, by and large, no longer believes in "great leaders". Progress has been made.

quote:

The capitalists triumphed in the past, therefore it was inevitable? Brilliant reasoning, that is!


Glad you like it.

That must mean that you don't care to dispute the point.

quote:

Bourgeois-democratic revolutions exploded when the capitalists had already developed, within the feudal societies, their own institutions, schools, art, literature, and so on. The capitalists had acquired wealth and power that challenged the landed aristocracy.


Yes, that's true.

quote:

The proletariat cannot follow this path of development. The working class cannot develop its own institutions, start running its own socialist economy within capitalism. Capitalism must be smashed first, BEFORE socialism can be constructed.


Probably also true, but so what? Proletarian revolution is different in many ways from previous upheavals; replacing one ruling class with another is different from the abolition of class society.

quote:

There are underlying laws that govern social behavior, but one cannot predict with certainty the path of development of any given society without taking into account the subjective factor.---emphasis added.


Because one cannot "predict with certainty" anything as complex as the path of development of any given society.

The conception of Marxism as a "magic key to predicting the future" may or may not be "vulgar"...but it is as useless as "reading" the livers of dead birds.

Marxism is excellent for understanding the past. It is very good for understanding the present. In terms of "predicting the future" in useful detail, Marxism is no better or worse than any other form of guesswork.

Consider the remarks of Marx and Engels towards the end of the 1870s: they said that Russia would have its "1789" (a bourgeois revolution), probably in the course of a war with Germany...soon!

So they were only "off" by nearly 40 years. (And they got the "war with Germany" part right...they knew their Germans.)

And actually, considering the whole duration of Russian autocracy, 40 years is a very small "margin of error".

But would that "prediction" have been of any use to a Russian revolutionary of 1880? None at all.

It's rather like predicting the weather; you can do pretty good up to a week or so ahead of time--then the uncertainties start to accumulate rapidly and your errors mount exponentially. If you want to predict the weather a year from now, you may as well use the I Ching as use a supercomputer--the accuracy of your resulting prediction will be no better than chance.

The conceit of the Leninist parties is that they have "mastered" Marxism and "can" predict the future.

Charlatans!

quote:

The point is that societies don't always develop in a linear fashion. They can surge forward at moments of great upheaval, or they can sink into a decay and slowly degenerate. There are no guarantees.


True but! But at some point China would have had the material and the subjective conditions for a successful bourgeois revolution. Had China been the only inhabited part of the earth, it would, sooner or later, have progressed through all the stages of class society. It would not necessarily have happened in a "laboratory" fashion, first A and then B and then C, etc.

But it would have happened.

quote:

Rosa Luxemburg, the great Polish communist, posed the dilemma, "Socialism or barbarism?"


Yes, Rosa Luxemburg was a brilliant theorist (far superior to all the Leninists, in my opinion) and she could very well have been right...as far as she went.

The slow slide into barbarism would eventually be arrested and reversed...though that might take several centuries to happen. There have been "dark ages" before; there is, as you say, no guarantee that it couldn't happen again--though I think the probabilities steadily decline with the development of the means of production. The Nazis made a very serious effort to impose a quasi-barbarism on Germany...it didn't "stick". City dwellers didn't want to go back to being middle peasants and, inspite of all the propaganda, the percentage of women in the work force actually climbed throughout the Nazi period.

If the working class of one era doesn't carry out "the historic task", then the working class of some subsequent era will.

Your idea of class societies that exist "indefinitely" into the future is belied by historical experience. They haven't and that rather strongly implies that they can't.

There is, of course, a neo-Hegelian current of thought that is presently fashionable: the end of the USSR "proves" that capitalism is the "ultimate goal" of human history.

Personally, I think that's an absurd conclusion but perhaps it has more appeal for you.

quote:

You really are a lazy twit.


Perhaps. Responding to your nonsense seems like "hard work" to me.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 14, 2003
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quote:

You are one sick puppy. How do you reconcile your monstrous indifference to human suffering with your alleged "communism"?


Are you under the impression that communism is "Heaven"? Do you think there will be "no" human suffering "after the revolution"?

What we humans do, at our best, is reduce some kinds of suffering and eliminate other kinds.

But the suggestion that pain and suffering will be "abolished" with the abolition of class society is not only absurd, it's cult-like.

Does that make me "a sick puppy"?

Bark!

quote:

Think about it for a second, though. If Marx thought that socialism was inevitable, why did he spend so much energy with the Communist League and the International Working Men's Association? Why did he do so much organizing, agitating, propagandizing? Why did he go to the trouble of writing Capital in the first place?

Again, "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it."


Why indeed. Certainly not from motives of abstract humanitarianism, that's for sure.

What he once suggested is that active and conscious communists could "ease the birth-pangs of the new society".

We cannot see inside his head, but I know what is inside mine. It is the desire to be free of wage-slavery. Perhaps Marx and Engels felt the same imperative.

Having read a few books, I've learned that the only certain way to do that is to abolish wage-slavery for everyone. (The worker who "starts his own business" and thinks that he has escaped wage-slavery will likely find himself back in the shit within a year.)

Therefore, and from a very young age, I had no choice but to be a communist.

As I said earlier, in my youth I was quite sure there would be a proletarian revolution in the United States in my lifetime. It didn't happen.

So now what? Since I will probably not live to see a proletarian revolution, what's the next best thing? Why, to help it along for the next generation, of course!

Nothing has happened, after all, to diminish my hatred for the ruling class...indeed, I hate them now more than ever. They stole my life! That is, they stole nearly one hundred thousand hours from me.

I do not have a forgiving nature. Whatever tiny increment I can contribute to their permanent ruin is fully justifiable.

quote:

Marxism is not just an analysis, but a guide to action for changing the world. You cannot separate the theory from the practice.



Yes, it is a guide to action, not an instruction manual. It is a toolbox, not a blueprint. It teaches you how to look at a political situation--class analysis--but it does not teach you what to do next. You still have to figure that out on your own.

Marx was many excellent things; do not degrade him to the level of prophet or reduce his work to "revelation".

quote:

The objective conditions for socialist revolution have not only ripened, but have begun to get somewhat rotten, as Trotsky put it....There is no reason why this cannot continue indefinitely.


Almost certainly wrong (and another dubious "organic" metaphor). If Trotsky were right about that, then there'd be little reason for optimism. Marx suggested that class struggles that failed to produce a clear "winner" ended up in "the common ruin of the contending classes".

It might turn out that way this time around. I hope not, but it could happen. In which case nothing you or I or anyone can do will make a bit of difference.

quote:

Nowhere have I suggested that a small group can make a revolution on behalf of the class.


Come now, why prevaricate? You know as well as I that "the vanguard party" is at the core of the Leninist paradigm. Yes, you need "the working masses" as cannon-fodder for the actual uprising, but you have no intention of letting them decide anything of importance, before or after the revolution.

At great risk of understatement, I'd say the 20th century demonstrated that rather conclusively.

quote:

When the revolution comes, he will be either hiding or in the camp of the imperialists, counseling the workers not to make so much bother, since the revolution's success is guaranteed beforehand.


No, actually I will most likely be worm shit. The question is really where will you be?

On the side of the workers or on the side of some tin-pot wannabe dictator?
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First posted at Urban75 on September 15, 2003
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quote:

In actual fact, your "program" amounts to lulling the workers to sleep with visions of a communist future, that will definitely happen in 500 or a thousand years. You are equivalent to the christians, in the sense of offering a pie in the sky, but you don't even offer it to them directly--only to their descendants in 500 or a thousand years.


Ah, but you misunderstand once again: communists are not "pie givers". We tell working people what is possible...but they must take it for themselves.

We cannot "give" it to them, now or ever.

You have just expressed in different words the Leninist error...that a few can do "for" the many what you do not think the many are capable of doing for themselves.

I wonder how many folks back in the days when kings were really kings said to themselves "if I were king, I would rule generously and take good care of my subjects". Leninism is the old pre-capitalist myth of "the good king" in "Marxist" language.

There is, of course, no such thing as "a good king", now or ever.

quote:

You have taken the side of the imperialists against every workers state that has yet existed.


That is not true and I think you know it. What gripes you as that I won't accept the existence of "workers' states" in which workers have no political power.

The reason I won't do that is that it would land me in the same puddle of absurdity that you are in--one might just as well call the United Kingdom "a workers' state". All you would need is some red flags and some "Marxist" rhetoric.

quote:

So please, take your pro-imperialist, "communist" mysticism elsewhere.


Possible, but unlikely, at least for a while.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 17, 2003
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You still miss the point.

The Third Reich was indeed a bourgeois despotism...you can, if you like, even call it "a degenerate capitalists' state". Certainly, the major German capitalist "players" had less direct control of matters than they did under two earlier parliamentary dictatorships--Bruning and von Papen.

But they had some...and it was not trivial.

Contrast this to the USSR...where the working class had nothing except a piece of paper that "declared" them to be the "ruling class".

According to the Constitution of the United States, I possess this wonderful thing called the "Bill of Rights"...which stops at the factory gate/office building door. "My" government may or may not observe these rights at its discretion; "my" employer ignores them as completely irrelevant.

My "Bill of Rights" means in practice the same thing as the Soviet worker's "ownership of the means of production"...nothing!

It is not the "law" that determines material reality; it is material reality that, sooner or later, is reflected in the "law". In the case of Russia, the counter-revolution really took place in 1918-1921...the law didn't change to reflect that until 1992. That's an unusual "lag" but one could doubtless find others if there were a reason to look for them.

After all, we know that in the entire Soviet era there was no attempt to ever give the working class any say about things. That should tell you right there that there was never any substance behind the claim that the USSR was a "workers' state".

Well it should, but it probably won't.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 18, 2003
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quote:

There was exactly one member of Lenin's 1917 Central Committee still living by 1940, namely Stalin.


Actually, that's not true. Alexandra Kollontai was not only on the Central Committee in 1917 but was actually a member of the Politburo until sometime in 1918 or 1919; I don't remember exactly when she quit, but it was over the abysmal failure of the Bolsheviks to support the Finnish workers in their uprising around that time (an uprising that was actually crushed by German troops).

She was not only alive in 1940 but Soviet Ambassador to Sweden...the first woman ambassador in modern times.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 23, 2003
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quote:

Socialism uses surplus value to benefit the proletariat rather than than specific individuals.


The socialist countries and their apologists always claimed that was the case.

Who knows, perhaps they even believed their own mythology.

Don't you realize that by now we know better?

While the baroque inequalities of "ordinary" capitalism did not exist in the socialist countries, there was nevertheless a significant and undeniable difference between the wealth and power of ordinary working people and the wealth and power of their masters...those who held positions of authority in the party and state apparatus.

The only rational source of that "extra" wealth and power was the surplus value extracted from the working class.

As to claims that it's all done "for our own good"...you may as well believe in unicorns.

Or that Leninism has anything in common with Marxism besides some scraps of terminology.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 24, 2003
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quote:

The theory of socialism in one country hardly strays from Marxism. Show me where it does, mate. You can't.


No, the clueless Trotskyist probably can't. But I can.

Try this...

quote:

Will it be possible for this revolution to take place in one country alone?

No. By creating the world market, big industry has already brought all the peoples of the Earth, and especially the civilized peoples, into such close relation with one another that none is independent of what happens to the others.

Further, it has co-ordinated the social development of the civilized countries to such an extent that, in all of them, bourgeoisie and proletariat have become the decisive classes, and the struggle between them the great struggle of the day. It follows that the communist revolution will not merely be a national phenomenon but must take place simultaneously in all civilized countries -- that is to say, at least in England, America, France, and Germany.

It will develop in each of the these countries more or less rapidly, according as one country or the other has a more developed industry, greater wealth, a more significant mass of productive forces. Hence, it will go slowest and will meet most obstacles in Germany, most rapidly and with the fewest difficulties in England. It will have a powerful impact on the other countries of the world, and will radically alter the course of development which they have followed up to now, while greatly stepping up its pace.

It is a universal revolution and will, accordingly, have a universal range.


From The Principles of Communism by Frederick Engels. (This was written in late 1847 as an earlier version of what later became The Communist Manifesto.)

If you are going to pose as a "Marxist", it would be advisable for you to familiarize yourself with at least the shorter texts.

A helpful hint from your nemisis...
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First posted at Urban75 on September 24, 2003
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quote:

In civilized societies, property relations are validated by laws.


Consider a modern capitalist corporation. Under the law, it is owned by tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of "investors". Nevertheless, it is perfectly acceptable for a minority of the largest investors owning a minority of the shares (as little as 5 or 10 percent in some cases) to run the corporation as if they owned 100 percent of the shares.

They are "owners in fact" though not "in law".

The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) were owners in fact of the "USSR, Inc." without regard to the legal formulas in place. The police and the military were also part of the USSR, Inc. and served the same purposes as a private security force serves in a modern corporation.

What neither Trotsky nor you understand is that the law is the servant of the ruling class, not its master.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 27, 2003
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quote:

The individual bureaucrat cannot transmit to his heirs his rights in the exploitation of the state apparatus.


Actually, they did...though, to be fair, it's possible that Trotsky was not aware of this.

The sons and daughters of the ruling class had priority in the best schools, advanced training, etc. and were first in line for new appointments into the administration. Not to mention an abundance of consumer goodies in an economy of scarcity.

Very much like ruling class kids now, in fact.

quote:

...it pretends that as a special social group it does not even exist.


No, actually they did have a special name for themselves and, if memory serves me, it's actually enshrined in the 1936 Constitution of the USSR--"a republic of workers, peasants, and the toiling intelligentsia". That's them at the end.

Not to mention the likelihood of one of our own contemporary robber barons getting up in public and proudly saying "my name is John Asshole and I'm a leading member of your Ruling Class."

Things don't work like that any more...and haven't really since World War I.

quote:

The predominance of socialist over petty bourgeois tendencies is guaranteed, not by the automatism of the economy (we are still far from that) but by political measures taken by the dictatorship.


Except it wasn't..."guaranteed" that is. On the contrary, functioning in the role of capitalists made those "socialist bureaucrats" finally decide to be capitalists.

Being determines consciousness, remember?

quote:

The fall of the present bureaucratic dictatorship, if it were not replaced by a new socialist power, would thus mean a return to capitalist relations with a catastrophic decline of industry and culture.


That almost looks prescient...except that the bureaucrats didn't "fall", they just sent their party cards to a museum and started functioning openly in the same way that they had been functioning covertly.

Nice try, though.
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First posted at Urban75 on September 28, 2003
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