- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Red Deathy ( Socialist Party, UK ) on November 08, 1999 at 18:38:41:

In Reply to: The Candy-coated, Flower-scented, Hand-holding Revolution posted by Barry Stoller on November 05, 1999 at 15:34:58:

: 'You say you want a revolution...Don'cha know you can count me OUT.'
...(in)... as Charlie manson so accutely noted ;)

: This---as Engels circumspectly observed his introduction to Marx's Class Struggles in France---places the proletariat at a great disadvantage in its attempt to overthrow the bourgeois social relations.

As germany well shows, where the workers were roundly sluaghtered: we don't stand a prayer against such organised violence.

: Marx was most unsentimental on this point when he analyzed the fall of the Paris Commune. Indeed, his sternest rebuke for the Commune was leveled at its leaders for their 'conscientious scruples' in failing to instigate a civil war, i.e. to crush the resistance of the bourgeoisie completely and mercilessly while they had a chance.(2)

More accurately, he criticised them for holding back, in the face of an eemy prepared to use violence, when they could have actually triumphed over that enemy. In interviews regarding teh commune, he is remarkably circumspect, when asked if he supports violence, he hedges, and responds 'no great social upheaval occured without bloodshed' or somesuch - think its a Chicago tribune interview...

Further, he did address the ducth workers, suggesting that Liberal democracy in those countries, as opposed to, say, German bureaucratic tyranny, meant that revolution by ballot box was a possibility.

Marx did not, as some revolutionaries do, elevate violence into principle.

: And what sort of socialist society did Marx envision? Was it a 'democracy' in which the proletariat matched votes with the bourgeois? No, it was a government of the proletariat, a government 'against the appropriating class [the bourgeois].'(4)

Indeed, but lets look at that: bourgaois states can only rule by excluding teh majority from the decision making process, any close examination of the system shows that the democratic process accounts for a tiny amount of the work done by the state, to extend democracy into those areas would be to rob the bourgeoisie of power, since, numerically, they would always be outvoted - hence Mill's aversion to majority rule.

Remember, they rely on our co-operation for their system to work, they have to retain our confidence...


: 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. Would the Paris Commune have lasted more than a day if it had not used the authority of the armed people against the bourgeoisie?(5)

As Francis Wheen's new biography of Marx suggests, engels used to imagine himself as the dashing cavalry officer leading the revolutionary charge...

: In legendary parlance---a dictatorship of the proletariat.*

In other words, the famous tyranny of the majority...

: No class will ever surrender its income-producing property (the means of production). No class will ever concede defeat in any sort of parliamentary election should the outcome of such an election result in the legal expropriation of their income-producing property.

Indeed, a formal electoral victory would not force their defeat, a willing and militant class movement must accompany it: but formal defeat at elections would ideologically cripple the opponent, and further, perhaps, allow us to diable teh repressive wings of the state, by capturing their machinery: certainly, this is teh thinking behind Deleon's original model of the party as a sheild to defend teh self activity of the working class.

: In short, a legally expropriated ruling class would contest the legality of its expropriation---with as much force and terror as it could muster; it would annul the election, declare martial law, suspend the constitution---and attempt to annihilate its opposition.

And it would lose, if that election represented the will of the immense majority.

: History has never suggested otherwise.

Hmm, Roumania?

: So! Can there be such a thing as a candy-coated, flower-scented, hand-holding revolution? Can 'the people' vote Exxon into retirement? Can anyone expect a leader elected through the machinery of the ruling class to do anything other than satisfy the requirements of the ruling class?

Indeed, no leader can do anything, but we can, and must politically attack the machinery of repression, and at least try to conduct our revolution as peacefully and orderly as we can manage: its pointless to go looking for violence.

I supose I should have mentioned general Strike somewhere in there...

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