- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Red Deathy ( Socialist Party, UK ) on February 18, 19100 at 20:19:12:

In Reply to: The philosophy that guided the October Revolution posted by Barry Stoller on February 18, 19100 at 00:48:07:

: Social Revolutionaries (974,885; 54,375; 58; 14).
: Mensheviks (76,407; 15,887; 12; 4).
: Kadets (168,781; 101,106; 17; 26).
: Bolsheviks (75,409; 198,230; 12; 51).

: You have proved MY claim: that the Bolsheviks had the support of the majority of Russia at the time of the revolution.

A majority of a reduced turn-out, and some mere 198,000 votes out of a population of 200 million. Further, it was a *slight* majority, as much caused by walk-outs and dissafection with others, as with conscious support *for* the Bolsheviks - i.e. the bolsheviks played the dirty game of grubbing for votes in order to lead, in just the same way as Labour polliticians do now...

: And, as the above figures demonstrate, the Bolsheviks, who were the leading party of the proletariat and the poor peasantry, led the proletariat and the poor peasantry to victory BECAUSE they had the majority support of the proletariat and the poor peasantry:

But they *made* the revolution, not the peasantry and workers, also the peasants and workers were simply not strong enough in Russia to make the revolution as a nation.


: The task of the Communist Party is to lead the proletarian revolution. In order to summon the proletariat for the direct conquest of power and to achieve it the Communist Party must base itself on the overwhelming majority of the working class.(1)

51% of a reduced turn-out does not constitute an overwhelming majority.

: In order to do this, the Bolsheviks had to subordinate some of their ideological preferences to the preferences of the masses they wished to attract. One of these subordinations was the land issue---although the Bolsheviks (being consistent Marxists) believed that agriculture should be modernized and collectivized, they knew that the peasantry wanted independent holdings. The Bolsheviks deferred:

i.e. they lied through their teeth about what they stood for, and agreed with everything the workers said to them, instead of taking a principled stance of stating what they believed in - this leads to every Trot faction going round calling for workers to get a minimum wage, to fight for this and that reform of capitalism, and involves treating the working class like a pack of morons.

: [W]hen enforcing the land socialization law---the 'spirit' of which is equal to land tenure---the Bolsheviks most explicitly and definitely declared: this is not our idea, we do not agree with this slogan, but we think it our duty to enforce it because this is the demand of the overwhelming majority of the peasants. And the idea and demands of the majority of the working people are things that the working people must discard of their own accord: such demands cannot be either 'abolished' or 'skipped over.'(3)

Precisely, the majority of workers did not consciously want to build siocialism, and so it could not be built there, so the bolsheviks found themselves leading russia no-where in a hurry.


: [Communist parties] must soberly follow the actual state of the class-consciousness and preparedness of the entire class (not only its communist vanguard), and all the working people (not only their advanced elements.(4)

Follow? Not lead? :) Whats the point of kow-towing to already accepted opinion? Would Bolsheviks have joined the '74 Ulster Protestant general strike? I doubt it... somehow...


: Victory cannot be won with a vanguard alone. To throw only the vanguard into the decisive battle, before the entire class, the broad masses, have taken up a position either of direct support for the vanguard, or at least sympathetic neutrality towards it and precluded support for the enemy, would be not merely foolish but criminal.(5)

The emphasised bit is the exact same point I have made when quoting from "Hue and Cry over Krondstadt", that the minority party needs only that the majority express no preference eitehr way.

: Therefore! The Bolsheviks openly acknowledged that their destiny as leaders of the proletarian revolution were tied to the interests and support of the MAJORITY.

Yes, but in exactl;y the same way as Any western Government, polliticking and relying on public opinion to pass their policies. Further, we must distinguish theory from practise -Arthur Ransome, writing on Russia, observed how the bolshevik government behaved in exactly the same way as any otehr Government in England - the whole of teh above is simply rule by plebiscite, that the political elite have to work to win over public opinion, which exists merely as a mirror to reflect, passively, the acvtivity of teh vanguard - teh vanguard is active, the majority passive.


: 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.(6)

No, because that quote assumes the activity of teh workers allready, that the Party should simply work to bring understanding to that activity

: : But not *making* them, not in Trotsky's sense of the revolution being made by the minority...

: THAT'S the quote---Trotsky allegedly claiming that a minority 'makes' (leads, perhaps?) a revolution. You have attributed that line to him before and I have challenged the veracity of that attribution before. You have NOT YET substantiated your attribution. I say---in light of the two Trotsky quotes above which counter your assertion---cite your line properly or withdraw it.

1:Trotsky accepted Lenin's model of teh party, so attributing Lenin's line about the Jacobin to Trotsky's later political praxis is fair game.
2:I have *repeatedly* sourced my quote, to the *short* aryticle, "Hue and Cry Over Krondstadt", Collected Works, 1938. That is clearly and validly attribyuted, if I cannot give a page number, its because I can't get hold of the book atm.

: Comrade Luxemburg says that I characterized my standpoint more acutely, perhaps, than any of my opponents could have done when I defined a revolutionary Social-Democrat [later Bolsheviks] as a Jacobin who has identified himself with the organization of the class-consciousness workers. Yet another error of fact. It was P. Axelrod, not I, who first started talking about Jacobinism. He was the first to liken our party trends to those of the days of the great French Revolution. I merely observed that the parallel could only be allowed in the sense that the division of present-day Social-Democracy into a revolutionary and an opportunist wing corresponded to some extent to the division of into Montagnards and Girondists.(7)

Fair enough, I accept that then - although a good many Bolshevists did liken themselves to teh jacobins frequently.


: The 'Jacobins' of the twentieth century [the Bolsheviks] would not guillotine the capitalists---to follow a good example does not mean copying it. It would be enough to arrest fifty to a hundred financial magnates and bigwigs, the chief knights of embezzlement and of robbery by the banks. It would be enough to arrest them for a few weeks to expose their frauds and show all exploited people 'who needs the [First World] war.'(8)

No, I'm afraid the difference you highlight there - over violence - does not invalidate my claim that Lenin believed in a minority party taking control of and ruunning the revolution in a jacobin manner. The quantity of violence required is neither here nor there, it is the fact of a minority vanguard that I was highlighting.

: In conclusion: you attribute to the leadership of the Bolsheviks the criminal rule of Stalin's bureaucratic distortion of the Soviet state.

Leninism leads to stalinism, yes - Victor Serge makes the point excellently in 'Memoirs of a Revultionary'(IIRC)- by 1921 Lenin was allready relying heavilly on an old guard of loyalists within the party machine, Zinoiviev was behaving like a dictator in Petrograd, and Serge unconsciously reveals the substitutionism that that vanguardism entaisl, when he grudgingly accepted that the krondstadt mutineers had to be crushed, because their call for 'Sociest without bolsheviks' would have meant the collapse of teh revolution.

:Such blatant misrepresentation is not necessary, RD---there are plenty of procapitalist morons willing to make such ideologically contrived conflations in the name of discrediting communism. The Bolsheviks---as I've said many times before---made plenty of mistakes after their premature seizure of the faltering bourgeois dictatorship BUT they were, at the time of the revolution, supported by the majority of Russia (a material precondition, as they insisted, for successful revolution).

Supported by 198,000, out of 200 million. by a slim majority, on a reeduced turn out, aided by opposition weakness, divisuion and dissent. they acted *in the name* of the workers, the workers did not act themselves - where did the workers sanction the October Uprising by a conscious decision?

The SPGB - founded in 1904, before Lenin arrived on the scene, has always held that Socialist revolution was not possible in Russia, even in 1917. teh mistake of teh Bolsheviks was to believe that a small minority could lead the workers to socialism, in place of teh activity of those workers themselves. Its teh bolsheviks and their suppotrters who have discreditted communism, not me.

I'll be back on Monday.

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