- Capitalism and Alternatives -

great man theory...

Posted by: Red Deathy ( Socialist Party, UK ) on February 27, 19100 at 17:07:54:

In Reply to: The transition from Leninism into Stalinism posted by Barry Stoller on February 25, 19100 at 19:46:07:

:There is no question about Stalin's political ascendancy at that time
[1929, more than five years after Leninís death]? But was he a
dictator?(1)

Who gives a fuck? This is reading like a 'Great man theory' rendition of the story, where we focus solely on nasty mister stalin and his cohorts, instead of looking at conditions in wider society...


:The willingness to voice critical views or to oppose Stalin had its
source in the political culture of the regime in which he has risen to
supremacy... It was Lenin who established the role of a political leader
standing in a highly authoritative yet nondictatorial relation to the
rest of the ruling group. Lenin did not determine policy by autocratic
fiat, but rather by gaining majority assent to his policy positions in
the Central Committee and its smaller subcommittee, the Politburo. If
his views usually prevailed it was because his advocacy of them
generally proved persuasive, and also because of the immense personal
authority that he enjoyed.

Bingo, 'the immense personal authority', if we read in Serge's memoirs, we see him point out especially, that Lenin came and sat on teh steps and debated with them, breathlessly set out as if he were doing them a favour by doping so - which is what, in terms of pragmatic linguistics, he was doing - he could have driven things through on personal authority, but did not do so - we find here the suprisingly close relationship between democratic centralism and modern management techniques - initiate a policy, *consult* down the pyramid, and get involvement from all concerned, to help them feel they're part of a team. Never mind that the idea of a small committee dominated by one man making policy is absolutely against working class inetrests and democracy, and is itself ripe for take over by a Stalin...

: Important policy issues were normally
resolved through a process of debate in which the members of the high
party councils, meeting in closed session, were free to express their
own views and oppose those of others, including Lenin, until the
questions were settled by majority vote. To this extent Lenin's legacy
in party decision making is correctly expressed in the Soviet phrase
'collective leadership.'(3)

Secret meetings, very fucking democratic and open.


:Dictatorship by party, in Tucker's view---not dictatorship by a single
person.

A party dominated by one man (I believe a swift look at Lenin's memo's shows the extent of his autocratic real power within the regime). but still, dictatorship by party, its just as bad.


:the upshot is that an anomalous situation existed in the party-state at
the turn of the decade.(4)

What was that anomaly?

:None of this is an attempt to deny that the Communist Party, under
Lenin's leadership, did not centralize the state unduly. Of course it
did, and history has condemned that as the great failing of the
Bolsheviks. The precipitating factors for this tragic development, of
course, were an under development of industry and an overdevelopment of
peasant proprietorship in Russia---

You mean, all those features that the menshaviks wanred them about? Come on, you can say it, you know you can, try it, nice and slowly now, 'the menshaviks were right' - say it five times every morning, and you might come to understand it...

:(Let us acknowledge that the earliest capitalist forms of state were
every bit as harsh and autocratic as Stalinist Russia---owing, in part,
to the commensurate scarcity inherited from the undeveloped productive
forces of society at that time.)

Indeed,c omparisons between 20th C. Russia and "0Th. C. England are facile, 18th C. England is a much better fit - with a surprising degree of correspondance - although it was never quite as bad as russia, the contradictions were not as fully developed...

:All this said, it would be a mistake to characterize Leninism with
Stalinism. The latter was SIGNIFICANTLY different. The latter was
clearly un-Marxist (consider the material and social stratification of
Soviet society after Lenin and consider the institution of piece wages
after Lenin---two features of Stalinist society not dissimilar from
capitalist society). And, most importantly, the latter REQUIRED YEARS OF
POLICY UPHEAVAL.

Leninism is clearly un-marxcist any way, but thats by the wayside - what we can say, is that the stratification of wages, and bureaucratic privellege began under lenin, that the practise of terminal mendacity was begun under lenin (first response to krondstadt? to lie to the workers), that the over-bureacratisation was begun under lenin (he relied the old guard). And then there's the question of Cheka led gerrymandering of the soviets, the abolition of democracy and freedom of speech within a few weeks of the revolution - and the dismantling of any autonomous workers led institutions, such as the factories committees - I have a deal of sympathy for the anarchist 'bolshevik counter-revolution' hypothosis...

:There was nothing 'natural' about Stalinism. Indeed, Lenin's final
writings pointed toward the need to deal with what he called the
'bureaucratic ulcer' of the Soviet state.(5)

Your grasp of materialist history astonishes me, comrade, events happern withoput cause... hmmmmm.

:Lenin's deeds pointed
toward a decentralizing tendency by his opposition to Trotsky on the
trade unions (Lenin insisted that they must NOT be subordinated to the
party, as Trotsky advocated) as well as initiating a state body
(Rabkrin) to oversee instances of bureaucratic abuses.

The above is beneath all criticism.

:And, last but not least, Stalin purged the Communist Party of every
original Bolshevik. If nothing else, that speaks volumes about
ideological discontinuity

And, that is significant, how? Oh, yes, its significant if we want to talk about Stalinism solely in terms of the person of staklin, instead of the surrounding social structures.


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