- Capitalism and Alternatives -

The Truth Comes Out: SDF is a Liberal

Posted by: Stoller on November 27, 1999 at 21:03:58:

In Reply to: Offhand dismissal is a great substitute for debate posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on November 27, 1999 at 13:05:54:

: Once you accept a DICTATORSHIP, you have to accept its decrees, whether they be good or bad -- if you had accepted DEMOCRACY, you would at least have assured yourself of a VOTE.

At last, you conclusively take a stand on one of the most important issues posed by Marx's work: the dictatorship of the proletariat.

You reject it in favor of 'democracy' instead.

The sort of 'democracy' that makes Joel Kovel the latest unknown hero to a small group of educated liberals? The sort of 'democracy' in which the BOURGEOIS get to exercise their overwhelming power day after day? The sort of 'democracy' in which the 'leading questions of the day'---whether or not the candidate smoked pot or whether or not the other candidate is getting any nooky---overwhelm the simple truth that in the work force there NEVER HAS BEEN ANY DEMOCRACY IN THE FIRST PLACE? The sort of 'democracy' in which the petty proprietor gets to defend his / her 'universal human right' to hang on to 'some' private ownership of the means of production?

It's a stinking, corrupt 'democracy' to defend over the dictatorship of the proletariat, Sam.

Freedom to or freedom from? That's the issue you wish to evade with your vague word 'democracy.'

Democracy for WHO? Everybody?

We have no more use for the peasant as a Party member, if he expects us to perpetuate his property in his small holding, than for the small handicraftsman who would fain be perpetuated as a master.(1)

: SDF: Which would explain why Marx DIDN'T insist upon an oath to abolish property as an entrance requirement to the First International?

I don't know that particular work. I do base my current opinions upon the above quote of Engels---made the year before his death---in which it is EXPLICIT that party membership should be barred to those who wish to retain 'some' private ownership of the means of production.

Another thing.

You seem to think that I reject a strong UNITED FRONT between communists (of various tendencies) and other progressive parties. THAT'S NOT TRUE.

As my post here makes very clear, I'm ONLY arguing that an effective communist party should exclude from their ranks 'peasants' and 'masters' (as Engels called them) and other ideological representatives of private holding and privilege! If this makes me an 'authoritarian'---as you have called me here, then all I can say is that you have really abused the English language. And me.

Other points...

Please read "Critique of the Gotha Programme" on institutional "equality".

AND you'll notice a 'higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of individuals under the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished' (International 1938, p. 10).

I see no connection between that part of the text any argument which you may have wanted to make about "equality"...


Are you forgetting the ESSENTIAL AIM of the struggle for the HIGHER PHASE of communism? Are you neglecting the Soviet abuses that were defended in the name of the (indefinite) FIRST PHASE? Haven't you figured out that I advocate---job rotation ring a bell?---going straight to the higher phase of communism in order to prevent a bureaucratic caste from forming?

Or is it more satisfying to paint me as an 'authoritarian' so your own naive faith in 'democracy' and Joel Kovel's pointless legal (i.e. parliamentary) pursuit of power will remain unshaken?

Moving on...

You STILL haven't dealt with Marx's Address of the Central Committee from March 1850!

SDF: OK, I will. What was Marx's definition of "bourgeois elements"? We have to assume that Marx did not exclude from the category of "socialists" those who disagreed with him on some points, in view of his apparent tolerance of non-Marxist elements within the First International. (Unless you want to show that Braunthal was a liar.)

The site where I found Engels' Peasant Question doesn’t have the 'First Address of the Central Committee of the Communist League to its Members in Germany’ active.

I would strongly urge you to take a look at it---it was one of Lenin's (and Trotsky's) favorites---and contains much eye-opening material. Such as:

While the democratic petty bourgeoisie wishes to bring the revolution to as swift a conclusion as possible...it is in our interest and it is our task to make the revolution permanent until all propertied classes are more or less dispossessed, the governmental power acquired by the proletariat and the association of proletarians, achieved not only in one country, but in all important countries of the world, thus ending the competition of the proletariat in these countries and at least until the most important productive forces are concentrated in the hands of the proletariat.(2)


The Central Committee of the League will come to Germany as quickly as possible, soon after the overthrow of the present [bourgeois] government, and will immediately convene a congress and lay before it the necessary proposals for the centralization of the worker's clubs, under a directorship functioning from the central point of the movement.(3)

To which he added:

At the present day it is the task of a really revolutionary party to carry through the strictest centralization as was the case in France in 1793.(4)

Did Braunthal omit those statements, too?

And, if you add Marx's conclusions drawn by the fall of the Paris Commune---amply documented in The Civil War in France (especially part three of the 'Address of the General Council of the International Working Men's Association on The Civil War in France, 1871') and the famous Letter to Kugelmann of 12 April 1871---you will see that Marx favored strong governments led by resolute revolutionary groups.

And, finally...

: Offhand dismissal! Great substitute for addressing the issues I discussed!

Your comments on Russia were:

Isn't this the promise of a wider cage, of "socialism in one country"? Or maybe of a new regime of the apparatchiki? Does Zyuganov promise anything more? The end of the money system perhaps?

Support him? Serve in his army perhaps?

And I said here that I doubted that Zyuganov would be more than the next Kerensky.

You see, I don't believe in parliamentary process and bourgeois 'democracy' any more, Sam.

My apologies to Joel Kovel.

Workers of the World Unite!


1. Engels, The Peasant Question in France and Germany [1894]. Use link.

2. Marx, 'First Address of the Central Committee of the Communist League to its Members in Germany,' appendix to Engels, Germany: Revolution and Counter-Revolution, International 1933, p. 139.

3. Ibid., p. 143.

4. Ibid., 145. This statement was annotated by Engels in 1885 who corrected Marx's 'misunderstanding,' stating that France in fact was NOT centralized at that time. He does not question, however, the necessity for such centralization.

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