- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Socialism, Utopian and Scientific

Posted by: noel ( SWP, UK ) on March 29, 1999 at 16:00:09:

In Reply to: Yes. posted by Red Deathy on March 26, 1999 at 14:19:58:

: : No you misunderstand the point, in France in 1968 around 10 million workers/students were on general strike, enough to start to form workers councils and begin the process of challenging liberal rule, they failed because reformists were able to argue in the absence of a large enough group or groups of revolutionaries to help the revolution develop, the union leaders literally stopped the workers from meeting the students (who were less stalinist), there never has been, nor will be a point where every working class person agrees simultaneously with the revolution.

: Well there ya go then- it won't happen, there never will be a revolution, we're stuffed.

Yes there will be/are plenty of revolutinary situations because of the contradictions of the capitalist system....and a large minority (i.e. 10 million europes biggest ever general strike) can radicalise the rest, otherwise capitalism will recover and the whole mess will start again. Thats why you need a clear strategy to convince other people that we can win, not by forcing but by proving in practice!

Incidentally, the events of '68 were more about immediate reforms than any particular programme,

Not true, the students and the young workers didn't think this, and anyway things may begin by being 'about' a number of things but when people shift people change, possibilities open up.....

in fact the whoel thing was let down by any lack of general direction.

PRECISELY, not enough revolutinaries around so the strike committees were not elected but appointed by the trade union bureaucracy. Millions of
workers occupied the factories.. but right from the beginning of the
occupations the union bureaucracy insisted that only a small minority of the
workers should stay in the factories while the majority were sent home. If
all the workers had remained in the occupation the strike would have been
active. Now it was passive.

If a large revolutionary organisation existed then these situations could have been different and the revolution would have deepened
that could overcome the bureaucracy.

: If 20 Million people can be got to vote Labour for reforms, then 20,30 million, more even, can be got to vote socialist.

But power isn't in parliament, it's at the point of production (a basic Marxist point), taking control of workplaces is the way to begin to challenge capitalism.....have you ever heard of Chile?????? I can introduce you to a few people who can tell you what the ruling class will do to keep power, even if all workers voted for socialism.

: :However if a large enough group such as above bring the country to a standstill, others envitably get sucked in and radicalised, the more we organise now the more we create the future so that when the crisis does hit we can prevent what happpened in france from happening again.

: *Sigh*
: 1:WHat if this minority brining the country to a standstill turns teh majority against them?
: 2:What if people are more than a bit narked about being forced into revolution?

10 million is a rather large minority! People are not forced into revolution, capitalism forces it upon them!

: : Yes they did, but not in the negative sense the you always seem to use the word...both had proved in practice and argument why they should be listened to as had Trotsky and Lenin...

: No, niether of them gave orders, neither of them controlled the movement except by democracy (one of Harman's complaints against Luxemburg is that the KPD didn't practise democracitic centralism (fnarr) and consequently the EC kept losing votes to the membership).

: Trotsky had this big beef about 'Bonapartism' and teh need for a one man dictator after the revolution.

no he didn't he spent his whole life fighting to keep the revoltionary flame alive....how do explain the massive support that the left opposition had?

: : No revolutionary socialist wants to do that.

: Isn't that the whole point of the Vanguard, sorry, they say smash the state, and then, like lenin, use teh doctrine of 'the withering away of the state' to build one. Thats what happened in russia.

: : But again you're talking about Stalinism not revolutionary socialism

: Oh, I'm sorry, obviously it wasn't Lenin at Krondstadt, it wasn't Lenin instituted the Cheka, Lenin didn't preside over the Red terror....

Lenin, Lenin, Lenin for god's sake one man is not responsible for what was going on in Russia at that time, it was a war, do you understand that?, that might mean having to do things you wouldn't do?

The White Terror was far worse than the red terror, soldiers in the red terror for instance used to spend time in literacy lessons, hardly like the animals in the whites.... what were the material conditions in russia at the outbreak of civil war?

It was producing 12 % of the steel it produced in 1913, iron was down to 12.3 compared to 1913, sugar 24, coal 42, linen 75, tobacco 19, 48% of tthe countries locomotives were oit of action, Petrograd had a third less workers by autumn 1918, hyperinflation massive, total state income by 1918 at less than half expenditure, food ration down to 10% of what a worker needed to survive...

V Serge Year One London 1972 p.350

What would your lot of been doing? Denouncing the Revolution along with all the other right wingers......

: : Now your being telelogical, there should be no reason why a society, organised on the basis of workers councils that can affiliate to various shades of opinion in the form of political parties and has immediate recall of its representatives, should end in Stalinism.

: I'm not being teloeological- what happened in Russia was that 'democracy was suspended' for the duration of the war, the minority needed to hold onto power so that the true socialism could come into being (reports suggest that the cheka was deployed to 'capture' recalcitrant soviets for the bolsheviks, or disband them.) (BTW- Have I mentioned that your comrades defend the Cheka...oh yes...). Kronstadts was about 'Soviets without bolsheviks'- all they wanted was fresh elections to the Soviets, but teh bolsheviks couldn't conceieve of a revolution without themselves (and by this stage already Lenin was relying on a loyal old guard, the revolution was crumbling).

Kronstadt, supported by the Whites....The white national centre raised nearly 1000000 francs, 2000000 finnish marks, 5000, $25000 and 900 tons of flour in two weeks, they were also making plans to land the french navy and the forces of general Wrangel if the revolt suceeded.

P Avrich Kronstadt 1921 Princeton University Press 1991 p.240

hmmm...look who you side with the right yet again....

: Its the logic of Vanguard/minority rule- our first duty- stay in power. We are the revolution, and so must oppose all other parties- and prevent them, by armed force, or dirty tricks if need be (in the name of the historical destiny of the workingclass). Freedom of speech is revoked for our enemies (which easilly becomes for anyone who doesn't stay on our message.). Any minority siezing power with anything less than the active support of teh majority, will find themselves turning in this manner.

: : People become class conscious at different times, a party is needed (and Karl Marx did advocate this) so those that become radicalised through the struggle can 1. remember the collective experience of the working class 2. Help organise so that we have the best chance of winning.

: But thats a long way from leading the working class, or from taking power in the name of the working class.

: : No the working class will control the state through workers councils, we hope that we would be the party that most workers would be a part of as most workers were part of the bolshevik party during 1917.

: Ahem- the Bolshevik party had 70,000 members, give or take, in a country of some 150-200 million people.

In Russia in March 1917 the Bolshevik
Party had 23,600 members and this number increased by August to 250,000.
....You know understanding the world in movement how people can shift as material conditions shift, dialectics, marxist basics etc..

And even teh support for teh Bolshiviks is dubious, as most of it seems to be rather more for their 'Bread and Peace' slogan, than actually for their plans for socialism.

So Peace and Bread, isn't some kind of plan then.....what was everyone one else doing....fuck all basically, who was waiting in the wings....the right.....

(Also, please note that after their failed 'all power to teh soviets' slogan, they switched to 'all power to the factories committeees' slogan, and then once in power, began to, erm, dismantle the factory committees.)

: Party Votes Percentages
: June September June September
: Social Revolutionaries 974,885 54,375 58% 14%
: Mensheviks 76,407 15,887 12% 04%
: Kadets 168,781 101,106 17% 26%
: Bolsheviks 75,409 198,230 12% 51%
: Total 1,295,482 396,598

: Now, look cloesly at the above, from a county of two hundred million, one and a quarter million voted in the June soviets, and less than a third (look at the drop in the total vote) voted in september. There is no way on Earth that the Bolshiviks and their apologists can claim legitimate backing, and this provides little proof of the Soviets being the demost democratic organ on Earth.

congresses no of delegates no of bolsheviks %
1.6. 1917 790 103 13
12.9 1917 675 343 51
3.1 1918 710 434 61
4.3 1918 1232 795 64
5.7 1918 1164 773 66

M Liebman Leninism under Lenin london 1975 p.357

Soviets were not invented by the bolsheviks, but by the working class, if you were a historical materialist you would look at how the working class has constantly tried to organise itself in revolutionary situations this century....i.e. soviets, workers councils or shoras (in Iran)...these unite politics and economics on a daily basis and thus overcome the false divisions created by liberal society, they simply are more democratic....Marx saw this in embryo in the Paris Commune and he understood.....

: : We don't have hostility to any workers, but it seems reasonable and is proved for instance in Indonesia right now that the middle class tend because of there objective position to be caught between the new and the old, but middle class people would have the right to organise into there own political parties in the revolution.

: But there is no such thing as the Middle class, hence my brackets, the ruling class are the middle class- those middle class people are workers too.

You are mad! I thought sectarians were crazy and now you confirm it! Ha, Karl really is turning in his grave, its for people like you that he said I am no Marxist!

: : But it happens...during the miners strike lorry drivers kept Thatcher going by driving coal into the country, wouldn't in this situation the miners be justified in stopping them?

: By force, no. By appeal to comradeship, yes.

Get on a picket line and say that, you know scabs sometimes have to stopped from getting to work, in the same way that their side use police try to intimidate striking workers.

'History is made by the working class and so the revolutionary party must
avoid two dangers: the first is substitutionism, believing that the party
can act for the class; the second is opportunism, adapting itself to views
prevailing in the class. To give an example: a revolutionary can stand on a
picket line, and find next to them a worker who makes racist comments. The
revolutionary can do one of three things: say, 'I'm not standing with a
racist on a picket line. I'm going home.' That is sectarianism, because if
the emancipation of the working class is the act of the working class, one
must side with the workers against the employers, however backward the
individual worker. Another possibility is to avoid facing up to racism. When
the worker makes a racist comment, one can pretend one hasn't heard, and
say, 'The weather's quite nice today, isn't it?' This is opportunism. A
third possibility is to argue with this person against racism. If they are
convinced, excellent, if not, still, when the strike breakers come, one
links arms, because the emancipation of the working class is the act of the
working class. A revolutionary cannot afford either substitutionism or
tail-ending the workers.'

Tony Cliff

: : Well here we have serious problems, if you consider yourself a Marxist surely you understand that the police are part of the state, and were created to control the working class and protect the property of the rich....this is not to say that they cannot be won over just like the army, but come on, if the police storm into your occupation, you cannot politely talk to them, because they will beat you up!

: No, chances are they won't, and I'll let myself get dragged out,

Poll tax, Miners Strike, etc. etc......need any more proof?

passive resistance and all that.

Bullshit middle class attitude, if you were a marxist you would understand that 'non-violence' as an idea has a materialist root and it doesn't come from the revolutinary working class.....

: : At UCL last week there was an occupation, people like yourself said no violence, then when confronted with the brutality of the police that were brought in to get them out, they all fought as hard as possible.

: Fair does, defend yourselves, but I wouldn't make a policy of wanting to kill the police come the revolution, as some of your comrades round this way do.

No we wouldn't make it policy, but if it was us or them then we make sure it's them.....

: : The police have a job to do, do not disarm our class by putting such a ridiclous argument!

: Its better to not have to fight them at all.


: : Um, well there I disagree, I get a say in everything I do, no one forces me to do anything, but if we have decided on a course of action we see it through, first democratic discussion, second unity in action.....if you don't have that you don't have democracy, ie. if you ignore what the majority have decided after open discussion then your not being democratic....

: Yeah, I've heard how democratic SWP internal procedures are.

well since you misunderstand our politics so badly, and you have no experience to back up your claim.......who cares, I'll fight the real enemy-

: : Wake up, everytime the working class have tried to take control of their own lives this century they have been met with brutal repression, if the balance of class forces id on our side, then we should have need for very little violence, you cannot be a Marxist if you think the working class cannot use force against the ruling class, the Paris Communards, Russian Revolutionaries of 1917, German Working Class of 1919, Chinese workers of 1927, Chile in 73, Portugal in 74, Iran in 79 to the six students shot dead last year in Indonesia all deserve more respect than that.

: I've got a thing about the German revolution, it failed because they went toe on toe with the state- if you try and smash the state you get smashed, I prefer our way- diasarm teh state by means of organising a VAST majority to conquor it by political democracy, and then abollish it. Othwerwise teh only people who get smashed will be workers.

Not Marxist I'm afraid.....point of production etc..etc...

: : Yes and so do we, but a high minimum wage would make life better for millions of people, but the point is that if people begin to fight for reforms they can come to realise that they actually have the power, and it can lead directly to revolutinary consciousness, but I also certainly don't want peoples lifes to get worse, that is not going to win you any friends, workers wouldn't even bother talking to you.....

: I don't want their lives to get worse niether, I just don't see how campaigning for reforms raises revolutionary consciousness.

Because people realise that they can make their world better themselves, and in fact this is how any genuine reform has been won in the past, therefore they potentially become revolutionaries through this process...you have to be where the majority of the working class are ideologically, it's no good just saying it's shit....this is sectarianism.

: Check out: http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/feb99/index.html
: For an Article Entitled 'Why reform a rotten system'.

: Or: http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/nov98/index.htm for an Article Entitled 'Germany, Novemeber 1919'.

: : I do hope you not saying you argue with the right, but with the locals, yes?

: No, we argue with the right. We have a long history of opposing the no platform policy.

Well what wonderful right wing logic that is, so you'd argue with the television workers at C4 who refused to show the BNP party political broadcast last year would you?

How dangerous your seemingly 'non-violence' stance actually is....

: : see point above, you will not be able to talk to all the people that believe in reformism if you take this attitude, this is sectarianism.

: No, I do talk to them, and I try and persuade them why they are wrong, going along with them is as unlikely to change their mind as not.

: : The ideas of every epoch are the ideas of the ruling class, in the communist manifesto, which directly contradicts the idea the socialism is the act of the majority in th einterests etc....it is not enough to just raise revolutionary consciousness, ideas must be linked to action.....

: And we do engage in action, we poster, we pamphlet, we stand in elections. thats action enough, for now.

: : The revolutinary party is the dialectical link between these two positions, it neither replaces itself for the class, nor submerges iteself within the class, it helps to organise all those radicalised in the struggle so that they can convince other workers that reformist ideas are against there interests, it cannot do this if it cuts itself off from where the majority of the working class are at, which is why I would suggest that you are in an organisation that numbers at best a few hundred?, and why the SWP is many times that size, and much more effective in convincing workers that revolution is both possible and neccasary.

: Erm, 10,000 at most aren't you, and I've met more than enough people who have 'passed through' the SWP and been put of Socialism for life. How many of those members are full blood revolutionaries, and not reformists? Chances are when you start standing for elections (as it appears youse are now) you won't get any more votes than we do.

Not the point we don't expect to get many votes, like I said revolutionary consciousness doesn't exist on a mass scale, otherwise there would be a revolution....we do it to propagate more about the system, and let people have the chance to vote for socialists, otherwise the right move in.....

Marxism is a living theory, it's about trying to analyze the world so that you can change it, our tradition, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Gramsci, Luxemburg did this, further more the ONLY significant scientific marxist analysis in the post war period is the theory of State Capitalism, the Permanent Arms Economy and Deflected Permanent Revolution....what do you offer? Hmmm...not much, Marcuse (anti-working class frankfurt schooler) and William Morris (good socialist but hardly the greatest), no wonder historical dialectical analysis is beyond....no wonder the working class don't tkae you seriously.....

: The working class is the dialectical unity of Theory and Action, not the party.

I'll leave the final word to Karl, someone I suggest you start reading again.....as your ideas are full of liberal revisionist distortions....

'In March 1850 Marx argued that the German
working class should not subordinate itself to the liberal bourgeoisie and
petty bourgeois intelligentsia:

The relation of the revolutionary workers' party to the petty-bourgeois
democrats is this: it marches together with them against the faction which
it aims at overthrowing, it opposes them in everything by which they seek to
consolidate their position in their own interests.

Far from desiring to transform the whole of society for the revolutionary
proletarians, the democratic petty bourgeois strive for a change in social
conditions by means of which the existing society will be made as tolerable
and comfortable as possible for them..

While the democratic petty bourgeois wish to bring the revolution to a
conclusion as quickly as possible.. it is our interest and our task to make
the revolution permanent, until all more or less possessing classes have
been forced out of their position of dominance, the proletariat has
conquered state power.. For us the issue cannot be the alteration of private
property but only its annihilation, not the smoothing over of class
antagonisms but the abolition of classes, not the improvement of the
existing society but the foundation of a new one..

It is self-evident that in the impending bloody conflicts, as in all earlier
ones, it is the workers who, in the main, will have to win the victory by
their courage, determination and self-sacrifice. As previously so also in
this struggle, the mass of the petty bourgeois will as long as possible
remain hesitant, undecided and inactive, and then, as soon as the issue has
been decided, will seize the victory for themselves, will call upon the
workers to maintain tranquillity and return to their work, will guard
against so-called excesses and bar the proletariat from the fruits of
victory.. they themselves must do the utmost for their final victory by
making it clear to themselves what their class interests are, by taking up
their position as an independent party as soon as possible and by not
allowing themselves to be misled for a single moment by the hypocritical
phrases of the democratic petty bourgeois into refraining from the
independent organisation of the party of the proletariat. Their battle cry
must be: The Revolution in Permanence.'

K Marx and F Engels, Collected Works, vol X (London, 1981) pp280-282,

Follow Ups:

The Debating Room Post a Followup