- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Red Deathy ( Socialist Party, UK ) on February 16, 19100 at 18:10:20:

In Reply to: Pandering again, RD? posted by Barry Stoller on February 16, 19100 at 14:23:23:

: You know, that one-liner ALWAYS 'bubbles to your mind,' RD, and always without the proper citation so I can check the context.

Go to the marx internet website, its one of the chicago tribune interviews there - web so I can't give page numbers...1861, I think...

:: It is the specific duty of the leaders [of the proletarian struggle] to gain an ever clearer understanding of the theoretical problems, to free themselves more and more from the influence of traditional phrases inherited from the world, and constantly keep in mind that socialism, having become a science, demands the same treatment as every other science---it must be studied. The task of the leaders will be to bring understanding, thus acquired and clarified, to the working masses, to spread it with increased enthusiasm, to close the ranks of the party organizations and of the labor unions with ever greater energy.(1)

But note, no-where there does it say that those 'leaders' should form a vanguard to execute teh revolution *for* the workers, who couldn't otehrwise do so. Such leaders are leaders in thought and ideas, the conscious communists who point the way, etc.

:: The Communists..., are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.(2)

Pushes, not leads, not acting *for* the working class, but pointing the line of march, and showing the way.

:Sure sounds like parties have SOMETHING to do with revolutions,
RD---like leading them.

But not *making* them, not in Trotsky's sense of the revoultion being made by the minority, and certainly not Lenin's 'jacobins indissolubly *linked* with teh class conscious section of the working class" (note the shift in that quote from yours above...)

:First mistake: I wasn't discussing specific tactics or specific numbers,
I was merely pointing out that Marx did not rule out terror (hostages,
etc.) in the conflict between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
Trotsky's interpretation of Marx, therefore, is correct.

I didn't raise numbers, but *relations*, relations which we can see from Russia, from Spain, from experience this century, actually inhibit revolution.

:Second mistake: Some violence is very practical. Without violence, there would be no bourgeois in the first place. Recall Trotsky's observation (in the same essay) that democracy came into the world by anything BUT democratic methods.

It would be a mistake for us to think that the methods of a revolutionary bourgeoisie can be the methods of a working class revolution - you use bourgeois revolutionary methods, you get a bourgeois society.

Secondly, I do not present democracy as the reason for using the ballot, but as a practical means by which we can organise a willing and class conscious majority - it will be the force of the majority, refusing to consent to be governed by capitalism anymore, that will make the revolution, not the ballot itself.

Capitalism *needs* compliant and willing workers, to do the accounts, to manage the offices, to do the work, to do teh planning, without our co-operation its screwed, an unwilling majority would bring the whole system down.

Don't you think its worthwhile to at least *try* and avoid violence, chaos, etc. I mean, I'm against 'smashing the state', because, frankly, and I admit this is purely a matter of prejudice, I'm against dying of typhoid the day after the revolution - by all means, strip the state of its means of repression, but prey, lets keep teh department of health...

:Third mistake: The majority of workers and peasants supported the Bolsheviks avidly. You infer a coup.

Cobblers - a few months back I cited numbers from a Ted grant book - the bolsheviks took control of the Supreme Soviet on a reduce vote among the soviets, the total votes for the soviets amounted to a mere few millions out of the whole the 200 million population - why else did the bolsheviks *lose* the constituent assembly elestions - the petite bourgeoisie couldn't have formed a majority there. Further, much of the "support" was tacit support in preference to otehr options, not enthusiastic backing.

:If this was the case, and if the
Bolsheviks were (as you allege) a minority, then why did they allow the
peasantry individual holdings in contradistinction to their (Marxist)

Precisely because their grip on power was so precarious, and because they couldn't organise anything else in those economic conditions. they did not have a conscious and willing majority behind them.

:If they were the terrorist minority you claim, why did they not simply
collectivize agriculture? Why institute the N.E.P. instead?

Because any minority government can only rule by a form of consent, if they ahd tried to disposses the peasants they'd have had to fight them, and doubtless lost.

:: [P]recious few capitalists were on the receiving end of the red


There were precious few capitalists there to start with, and most scarpered.

:: Violence is inherently anti-social, counter productive, and
destructive of necessary resources.

: Excuse me?

Well, if I killed your father, you wouldn't like me very much, so our social bonds would be destroyed; if our social bonds are destroyed I'd lose your support, so its counter productive, because each death will lose more support than it gains; and food, and resources are fairly necessary, and war squanders them hideously, so its wasteful.

:A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is
an act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the
other by means of rifles, bayonets and canon---all of which are highly
authoritarian means. And the victorious party must maintain its rule by
means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionaries. (3)

I agree, revolution is authoritarian (it must be remembered that that quote comes out of a debate with anarchists, which is its context, arguing against those who oppose 'authority'). Terror does not necessitate violence, merely the threat of it, a threat implicit in a willing, conscious and revoluutionary majority.

:The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly
declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow
of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a
Communist revolution.(4)

And that does not imply any violence, merely revolution, which, for the dispossessed ruling class will be a tremble worthy quote.

:Now, hurry up, RD, and turn all these explicit quotes into equivocal,
liberal mush...

1:Not quite so explicit as you make out - mean, our platform is barely distinguishable from that of the Socialist League, the exstablishment of which Engels backed.
2:I am *not* a fucking Idolator, I am capable of independent thought, and just because Charlie or Fred said it, doesn't make it gospel, I am a Marxist because I agree with Charlie's analysis of how society works, of the class antagonism, and of the course of action we should take to remedy it - it doesn't mean that I have to subscribe to his every whim (and it must be remembered that he and fred shifted a fair bit on their exact programme over teh course of their lives).
3:I am primarilly concerned with the needs and interests of the working class, which, last I checked, do not include disase, faer, chaos and death - I think it is merely encumbent upon revolutionaries to try and make their revolution as orderly as possible, as peaceful as possible, to at least aim at bloodlessness, and certainly not to raise violence up to a revolutionary principle - where we can achieve a bloodless revolution, we should do it that way - as per Marxes address to teh workers of Holland. Our clear class interest lies in pewaceful revolution - this is not Liberal pacifism, wishy-washy ness, moralism, but interest.



1. Engels, The Peasant War in Germany, International 1926, p. 29,
emphasis added.

2. Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, International 1948, p. 22,
emphasis added.

3. Engels, 'On Authority,' Marx & Engels Selected Works volume 2,
Progress Publishers 1973, p. 379, emphasis added.

4. Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, International 1948, p. 44,
emphasis added.

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