The IBRP

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Devrim
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Dec 13 2006 15:02

I don’t want this to get bogged down in semantics. I am not an anarchist, so I don’t have a fetish about the use of the word state. If we accept that after a revolution there will be a need for the working class to use certain organs to enforce its dictatorship, I think that we also have to accept that there is a possibility of these organs later turning against the working class. I think that this is what happened in Russia. Both the soviets, and the RCP(B) contributed to the creation of what we could call a state, and yes that state was anti-working class. It doesn’t mean that both the soviets, and the party were in October 1917.

Dev

mic
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Dec 13 2006 15:16

If you don't like the words "state" and "power", I can understand you.

But I think we agree working class will need to exercise force to eliminate social classes. Proletarians must be aware of this.

Actually, I don't like the idea, but I know there's no other option: we already live in violence. In fact, we're seeking a way to escape from it.

The difference is I call this exercise of force after the revolution "working class power", you don't.

Lurch
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Dec 13 2006 15:31

Welcome to the boards mic/bataglia. I'm an ICC sympathiser (a sap in revol's book, and no doubt a dullard - that part at least may be true).

Anyway, a question of clarification from revol, please.

Revol68 wrote

Quote:
The fact the revolution will have to be defended does mean it needs a state.

I'm assuming from the direction of your argument that you meant to write: 'The fact the revolution will have to be defended doesn't mean it needs a state.'

Before continuing, is that right?

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Demogorgon303
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Dec 13 2006 15:49

This comment has been moved here.

Lurch
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Dec 13 2006 16:35

Yeah, though baboon is just as fit for purpose. Anyway...

mic of the IBRP says the proletariat needs the state in the period of transition. revol says it doesn't (or at least not to defend itself). IMO, there's no choice to be made here. Whether the workers want it or not, independent of their will, a state will inevitably arise.

More fundamental than a simple tool of any given ruling class, the state is the product of society riven into opposing classes. That will still be the case the day after the revolution (we should live so long) and, unfortunately, for a considerable time afterwards.

So the question is: what attitude will the new ruling class (for that is what the proletariat will be) have towards this state?

Sure, ruling classes of the past have always used the state to uphold the status quo, a situation which obviously suits the dominant class. That's what the state does best, what its essence is: an organ of conservation, upholding and maintaining what is.

But above and beyond representing a certain continuity with the past, a successful proletariat will above all be a break from history: it will be the first ruling class that is also an exploited class: still, after the revolution, the producer class, carrying then as it does now the whole needs of society on its back. A society moreover pretty much wrecked by a civil war, let alone decades of capitalist decay.

In short, the proletariat will not have the same relationship to the state as previous ruling classes: its interests do not coincide with maintaining the status quo but in constantly revolutionising it, aiming to transform social, productive relationships and, (as revol says) to abolish itself by absorbing all other classes into itself so none are workers because all are workers.

It's for this reason, mic, that Marx not only described the state in transition as a semi-state: more importantly he described it as a scourge. For as long as the state exists, and it will exist for as long as class divisions persist, then the proletariat has not completed its job of emancipating itself and humanity.

Mic, the state, the semi-state, call it what you will, is not the agent of this transformation, the proletariat is. Of course it will use the state to impose its will on other classes; certainly some of the proletariat's day-to-day organs will inevitably form part of the state.

But the important thing to stress, IMO, is the proletariat's control over the state, its autonomy from it, its political direction of it and, if and when necessary, the force of arms to oppose it. It's not just the party that must avoid identifying with the semi-state -which should never be blessed with the name 'proletarian state' - its the entire proletariat.

We understand this much clearer after the experience of the Russian revolution. IMO, there's no point in berrating the Bolsheviks, horrendous as their errors were in this regard, for not having the benefit of this experience. That's another aspect of the discussion though.

mic
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Dec 13 2006 17:05

State is an instrument. More precisely it's an instrument of violence in the hand of the ruling class. One thing is the class, one thing is the state. I agree.

But it seems to me there's some confusion in your words, maybe it's only a misunderstanding.

"Product of society" is a very generic expression. Which class it's a product of?

State is not an institution over the classes, it's an instrument. Working class has to hold its semi-state, not to oppose it.

Instead it must oppose the old privileged class, and the semi-state must be used for this purpose. Obviously, the ruled class must be excluded from all the organs of the proletarian (semi-)state, and it must be opposed fiercely when it tries to control some part of the (semi-)state.

I'm in a hurry, sorry wink

Ciao. Mic

Battlescarred
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Dec 13 2006 17:05

Wass was there working class control of the Cheka or the other means of repression employed by the Bolsheviks. No, there wasn't. Indeed at times the Cheka acted as a law unto itself.
Further the Cheka was used from its creation to repress the labouring masses of the workers and peasants. Working class control over labour camps that revolutionaries were sent to from 1918 onwards? I think not

Lurch
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Dec 13 2006 18:51

mic (IBRP) wrote, vis a vis the state:

Quote:
"Product of society" is a very generic expression. Which class it's a product of?

State is not an institution over the classes, it's an instrument. Working class has to hold its semi-state, not to oppose it.

Thanks for the reply mic. I appreciate you are busy and I don't want to take advantage of that. In any case, to paraphrase Rosa, on these boards many questions are posed, but they may not be resolved here.

Let's just say that here is an area of debate - not just between the IBRP and the ICC (many years ago, there was a minority within the ICC that used the same arguments as you, and these can be found in old copies of the International Review - yes, the 'monolithic' ICC publishes opposing views that arise within its ranks).

And permit me also to say that this aspect of the debate goes to the heart of interpretations of Marx and Engels, let alone views on the experience and lessons of the 1917 revolution.

I repeat: over and above the commonplace that the state has always been the instrument of a ruling class, Marx and Engels insisted , time and again, that the state arose and was primarily a product of, not this or that ruling class, but of the schism of the old primitive communistic society into classes. It was not the creation of this or that ruling class, but of a whole new chapter in human history.

What is important at the origins of the state is also important at its demise - not the common thread that ruling classes use it, but the understanding of its conservative function, to hold society together - yes, in favour of the ruling class - but above all else an instrument, perverse as it may seem, to conserve society.

Your approach, it seems to me, ignores the unique nature of the proletariat. Yes, it will 'hold' the state close, as you say: by keeping a gun to its head! By recognising it, as Marx said, as a necessary evil, but certainly not by identifying with it, or thinking that the state is the organ of social transformation. It aint.

In the Period of Transition, a unique moment of human history, questions are not posed in the same way. The problem will then not be 'which class does this state represent' but 'the fact that a state exists means we still have much work to do, that our task is not yet finished.'

Enough (from me) on this subject: there are other issues.

When starting this thread, Oliver Twister asked for views on the IBRP (not the ICC's of course, he mistakenly thinks he knows what these are), and when other posters suggested that the IBRP might not be functioning anymore, it was the ICC that affirmed both the IBRP's contiued existence and its continued importance, whatever disagreements exist between the two so-called 'left communist' organisations.

The IBRP's contribution - and I repeat, I'm happy that it makes one - was not to stress, on a site largely animated by anarchism, the points of agreement and disagreement, with the ICC, but to straight away badmouth this organisation, to talk about its 'idealism', to invite a discussion on how it's far too centred on the personality of one comrade (who died well over a decade ago!). Solidarity or sectarianism?

For me, this illustrates a long-standing problem with the CWO/Battaglia, one which over 30 years ago helped point me in the direction of the ICC rather than them.

Devrim put his finger on it, though he located it only as a recent phenomenon: he said, if I recall a few posts back, that the IBRP seems to act like it is threatened by the ICC, as if they were in a kind of recruiting race rather than putting their agreements and diagreements forwad, in a responsible manner, for consideration of new elements emerging, questioning.

This is a point made forcibly by Leo in an earlier post when talking precisely of the diffuclties facing communists emerging in countries like Turkey, faced with two organisations, both with descent from the same traditions, apparently competing, not cooperating.

It goes back to the exclusion of the ICC from the late 70s international conferences, (in favour of including the radical nationalist grouping Komala, if I recall).

That's why, rather than recalling the thread about the recent IWW conference, the question of scarfs, skirts, baggy trousers and exclusions as Revol68 suggests, Baboon's concrete questions about the IBRP's role in the Nucleo affair are absolutely pertinent to this thread, and remain essentially unanswered by the IBRP.

It would be remiss of me - reinforcing the very situation I'm railing against - if I didn't voice my agreement with the IBRP's interventions here, particularly about the underlying reasons for the failure of the Russian Revolution: its isolation, the death of the revolution in Germany, etc, rather than any inherent wickidness of the Bolshevik Party.

But while disliking Oliver Twister's way of approaching the IBRP - are they greater or lesser 'pricks', to paraphrase, I think doubts about this organisations opportunist or otherwise attitude to other organisations remain valid.

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Dec 13 2006 20:53

To Revol,

revol68 wrote:
Devrim wrote:
I don’t want this to get bogged down in semantics. I am not an anarchist, so I don’t have a fetish about the use of the word state. If we accept that after a revolution there will be a need for the working class to use certain organs to enforce its dictatorship, I think that we also have to accept that there is a possibility of these organs later turning against the working class. I think that this is what happened in Russia. Both the soviets, and the RCP(B) contributed to the creation of what we could call a state, and yes that state was anti-working class. It doesn’t mean that both the soviets, and the party were in October 1917.

Dev

well i'll let the semantics slip but i'll just point out that i stay true to Marxs analysis of the state in his early works. wink

I agree that soviets and other working class organs can turn against the proletariat but this doesn't happen magically, it requires the formation of a class, of divisions within the class, it requires an historical actor. The Bolsheviks were that actor and i hold that they were never a proletarian party, that there support for the soviets was oppurtunist and their betrayal of the revolution not merely a forced compromise but also part and parcel of their programme.

I think that what you are suggesting here is actually quite a bizarre idea. Are you actually saying when you say ‘their betrayal of the revolution not merely a forced compromise but also part and parcel of their programme’ that all of the members of the RCP(B) planned to betray the revolution , and implement state capitalism? I think not. Are you saying that the Bolshevik party was not a party composed of workers? I think not. Are you saying that Lenin, ‘the Bogeyman’ only called for ‘All power to the soviets’ as a way of implementing his evil plans? I think not.

So if we actually look at the real points that I think you are trying to make here, we may be able to find some common ground. That the seeds of the counter revolution are to be found in the RCP(B)’s ideology, I couldn’t agree more. The RCP(B) was a part of the Second International, and riddled with its ideology. However, what became the communist left was at the time in the process of breaking with this ideology. Lenin didn’t, and remained what could be called a ‘centrist’ Various elements in the Russian party did though adhere to the line of the ‘left’. Including comrades who continued to take part in the struggles of the class against the regime, and ultimately paid for their actions. You know this yourself.

It must be remembered that October was the first time that the working class had ever seized power, and it was confronted with practical, and theoretical questions that it had never been faced with before. To resort to a ‘bad man’ theory of history is a bit pathetic though.

Do you really believe that Lenin went through exile, and poverty purely because he had the best idea for instituting modern capitalism in Russia?

To Battlescarred

Battlescarred wrote:
Wass was there working class control of the Cheka or the other means of repression employed by the Bolsheviks. No, there wasn't. Indeed at times the Cheka acted as a law unto itself.
Further the Cheka was used from its creation to repress the labouring masses of the workers and peasants. Working class control over labour camps that revolutionaries were sent to from 1918 onwards? I think not

Yes, the working class lost control of the state. Does this answer any of the points in the reply I made to you?

To Lurch

.

Lurch wrote:
Devrim put his finger on it, though he located it only as a recent phenomenon: he said, if I recall a few posts back, that the IBRP seems to act like it is threatened by the ICC, as if they were in a kind of recruiting race rather than putting their agreements and diagreements forwad, in a responsible manner, for consideration of new elements emerging, questioning.
This is a point made forcibly by Leo in an earlier post when talking precisely of the diffuclties facing communists emerging in countries like Turkey, faced with two organisations, both with descent from the same traditions, apparently competing, not cooperating

I don’t think that I said anything of the sort. Maybe it was Leo. To restate our position, we are interested in contacts with all revolutionary currents, and in working with them As you know we have worked in collaboration with the ICC in the past, and we look forward to this collaboration continuing.

We are also in contact with the IBRP, and hope to develop our work with them. We do not want to get involved in sectarian arguments.

Devrim

nastyned
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Dec 13 2006 21:04
Devrim wrote:
We do not want to get involved in sectarian arguments.

Devrim

Then maybe left communism isn't the ideology for you.

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Dec 13 2006 21:54
Dev wrote:
I don’t think that I said anything of the sort. Maybe it was Leo.

Nah, it wasn't me either. All I said was that they seem to be competing instead of cooperating, and this was completely an observation from the outside as I know nothing about the nature of their actual relationship with each other as two organizations. I wasn't accusing anyone, or maybe I was accusing both a little bit for not cooperating more. We want to be able to work both with the ICC and the IBRP.

Anyway, I think it was Alibadani who said that;

alibadani wrote:
It seems that lately the IBRP has begun to see the ICC as a competitor. This might explain why they would fall for the "Circulo" dude so easily, and why they've been hanging around the IFICC folks too. I wouldn't be surprised if they suddenly drop those folks soon too. You'd think they'd learn from the last time they hung around parasites. (The "Aberdeen clique" they called it?)

It's in this page:

http://libcom.org/forums/organise/the-ibrp?page=2

Mike Harman
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Dec 13 2006 22:27

This comment has been moved here.

Lurch
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Dec 13 2006 22:28

Apologies to Devrim, Leo and Alibadani: I did indeed incorrectly attribute the 'competitor' quote to Devrim. The ICC wouldn't be so sloppy.

However, I stand by the points I made. I'm know the ICC too has wanted to work more closely with the IBRP, in particular joint leaflets on major issues such as the wars in the Gulf. It hasn't happened. Perhaps it will take the emergence of new organisations founded on close programatic points to change this situation. Let's hope so. Meanwhile, I believe there is a difference between not wanting to become involved in sectarian arguments, a position with which I agree, and concretely confronting sectarianism when it raises its head.

Mike Harman
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Dec 13 2006 22:33

splitting this thread to here:

http://libcom.org/forums/history/leo-whats-your-view-on#comment-146916

takes a while so all replies there please.

mic
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Dec 14 2006 08:57

I already underlined some of the distinctions between ICC and IBRP. I don't absolutely want to be engaged in long sterile struggles and incomprehensible insults, or reverting to old episodes... These discussions are very annoying for me, like a sad sit com.

I'm here to clarify, for what is possible, the positions of the IBRP.

Those who want to read something more in-deep and serious about ICC and what makes us two separate organizations, should have a look at these documents:

* Elementi per la critica alla risoluzione della CCI sul periodo di transizione
* Comments on the Latest Crisis of the ICC

The first one is very precise, but only available on-line in Italian and French (till now, sorry). The author was known to many comrades of the ICC. Other old documents can be easily found searching for ICC or CCI on the ibrp.org site.

baboon
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Dec 14 2006 15:13

The IBRP wants to do some serious soul-searching over the shameful "Circulo" affair for its own sake.
Revol, the big intellectual "I am", is not only childish with his swearing and abuse but with his arguments. "I have criticised the leadership of the CNT" he says, now you must criticise the Bolsheviks. But we're not trading off criticisms with Revol, because the difference between the CNT at their "height" and Bolsheviks is a class difference. One was an organised expression and representative of the working class, the other, not just its leadership but the whole lot, was an agency of the counter-revolution in Spain. Another 7 year old playground argument used by Revol over Kronstadt, and on other posts, is the what would you have done, what would you do if you went back in time? It's a childish argument revol, it won't happen. Superman is a made up story.
Nor can the unions and collectives running the economy on behalf of Spanish capital in 1936 be equated with the 1917 revolution, a revolution that was the fruit of years of class struggle and the development of class consciousness. It's only in the context of the chaos and isolation of the revolution that the events of Kronstadt can be viewed. It was an expression of the degeneration of the revolution and significant of the weakening of the proletariat in Russia. The militarization of the workers as early as January 1920 was also a sign of fundamental weakness. And far from the stupid fantasies of "what would you do if you were there?" this was an unprecedented situation. The Kronstadt rebels wanted a regeneration of soviet power not petty-bourgeois communes and collectives. The Petrograd workers were basically coming up with the same demands for the "freedom to agitate", "power to the soviets, not parties". The brutal attack on Kronstadt and its bloody aftermath, whatever the Bolsheviks thought about saving the revolution, was an attack on the only force capable of defending the revolution. By identifying with the state, which the Bolsheviks believed they controlled, they could do nothing other than defend it - a grave error. This is the lesson and it's not a question of dates, 1921 for example, but of revolutionaries learning from the lessons of the past. By seeing party/class/state as one, the Bolsheviks sped up the counter revolution and the state re-emerged as the machine for bourgeois rule.
The Bolsheviks had a major role, instrumental even, for the revolution, and criticising their errors in its degeneration must be done within the context of the workers' movement. It is essential today to be able to distinguish the proletarian elements that the Bolsheviks represented - and these were vital to the success of the revolution - in order to see the betrayal that Kronstadt meant and not deduce the failure of party/state/class identification from the workers' siezure of power in 1917. Some elements of Bolshevism continued to put forward and defend, in the most difficult circumstances, the interests of the working class throughout the 20s. The failure of Kronstadt doesn't negate the neccessity for a clear, class party of the proletariat. On the contrary, it reinforces it.

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Demogorgon303
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Dec 14 2006 15:43

Revol

You make these comments time and again. No one disputes the social origins of the Bolshevik leadership although the mass membership of the party is another question. The question is whether this is unusual for working class organisations of the time. I'm still waiting for your analysis of the social origins of the leadership of the CNT or pretty much any other organisation of the period we might care to name.

Nor do you ever respond to the point that it was Lenin's tendency in the Bolsheviks that demanded the Soviets take power (in Lenin's case since 1905).

Your refusal to respond on these points just makes it clearer that you have no intention of actually discussing the subject sensibly.

Lurch
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Dec 14 2006 16:32

The debate on this thread has (correctly) been split. Strands within it relating to the Bolshevik Party and its relationship to the working class are being concretised in the 'new' thread on Kronstadt, and to a lesser degree that applies to the discussion on the state in the period of transition though, at some future time, I believe that topic warrants a thread in its own right.

Just a couple of points, which will have to remain undeveloped, on the argumentation that remains on (page 5) of this thread.

I agree with Devrim (in his discussion with Revol68) that the Bolshevik Party (RCP(B) was in its origins and in 1917 a proletarian party. I disagree with some of Devrim's argumentation which, if I have understood him correctly, badly undermines the main point he's trying to make, IMO. To argue this further here would now be off-topic. Another time, another thread, maybe on Krondstad

Which leaves this thread. On the IBRP.

mic (IBRP) wrote:

Quote:
I already underlined some of the distinctions between ICC and IBRP. I don't absolutely want to be engaged in long sterile struggles and incomprehensible insults, or reverting to old episodes... These discussions are very annoying for me, like a sad sit com.

I'm here to clarify, for what is possible, the positions of the IBRP.

Well, one of the (many) ways to clarify the positions of the IBRP is to intervene in debates here and, as I said above, I both welcome and agree with the main direction of your comments regarding, for example, the degeneration of the Russian Revolution, (now on the Kronstadt thread), in particular your insistence that this question has to be examined also in the context of the crushing of the revolutions elsewhere in Europe.

I was a little disheartened to follow the link you provide

Comments on the Latest Crisis of the ICC

(see the post above) and find that my contribution to our discussion on the state in the period of transition appears to put me "outside the ranks of the Left Communists" or even of marxism. And it was such a short discussion!

But what I really dislike and oppose is the IBRP's attitude and actions towards the ICC, and by extension towards the proletarian milieu as a whole.

I can well understand why you should find such discussions "very annoying" and if you liken them to "a sad sitcom", you should at recognise at least some co-authorship of the plot. And while they do indeed go back many years, they are not merely "old episodes" but are re-run, with repercussions today and also for the future.

That said, I'm not the ICC's PR person, others too can speak as they find on this and different, perhaps more positive, aspects of the IBRP.

Finally, a clarification

Lurch wrote:

Quote:
It goes back to the exclusion of the ICC from the late 70s international conferences, (in favour of including the radical nationalist grouping Komala, if I recall).

This is a tad (ahem) imprecise; The First of the international conferences called by Battaglia (in 1976) was held in Milan in 1977; the third, which ended the ICC's participation, was held in Paris in 1980 and a 'fourth conference' in London in 1982 was attended by Battaglia, the CWO and the Supporters of the Unity of Communist Militants (SUCM), a radical-sounding Maoist group with connections to Kurdish nationalists which by the time the conference proceedings were published had disolved itself into a wider support group for the Stalinist Communist Party of Iran. (See among other links

The “4th Conference of groups of the Communist Left”: a wretched fiasco
from International Review, Ist Quarter 2006).

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Dec 14 2006 16:37
Quote:
You know fine well the social origins of the CNT and it's 'leadership', they were by far proletarian. Durruti was not some lil bourgeois fuck who held a grugde cos the Tsar executed his brother.

And Stalin was a peasant. I want a breakdown of the social classes present in the leadership, not pulling this or that individual out of the hat.

But this constant harping on about social origin misses the point. As the militants of Bilan pointed out in the 30s, being a worker didn't grant any immunity to being taken in the by the Stalinist counter-revolution. In fact, they noted with horror, that worst Stalinists in the Italian Party were workers rather than intellectuals. And before you ask, Bilan itself was composed mostly of authentic proletarians.

The "proletarian" leaders of the CNT joined a bourgeois Government in Spain in the name of anti-fascist unity. In the Barcelona May Days when CNT (and other) workers went on strike against the Stalinist repression, these same "proletarian" leaders called for a return to work. And the workers obeyed! The Republican Government rewarded them with 10,000 troops sent in to mop up resistance. So if the Bolshevik success is indicative of weakness in the Russian working class, the same has to be said of Spain 36!

What matters is not whether militants are intellectuals or workers by trade, but the positions they defend.

And as we're talking about quotes from Lenin, lets pick ones he wrote in 1905 where he says that "I think it would be inadvisable for the Soviet to adhere wholly to any one party" and "I may be wrong, but I believe (on the strength of the incomplete and only “paper” information at my disposal) that politically the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies should be regarded as the embryo of a provisional revolutionary government. I think the Soviet should proclaim itself the provisional revolutionary government of the whole of Russia as early as possible, or should set up a provisional revolutionary government (which would amount to the same thing, only in another form)."

Considering the Bolsheviks had minimal involvement with the Petrograd Soviet, this is hardly a tactical move. In 1906 the Party adopted a resolution accepting Lenin's position despite the fact that the Soviet had disappeared. Nor was it a tactical move when Lenin called for "All Power To The Soviets" in April 1917 when Bolshevik representation in these bodies was utterly pathetic.

No one claims the Bolsheviks were right on all points. Lenin's comments in What Is To Be Done about class consciousness are complete rubbish - although he later criticised his own error.

The Bolshevik counter-revolution sprang from their effort to resist the retreat in class consciousness, when the Soviets and Factory Committees began calling for the reconstitution of the bourgeois state. The question here is what do revolutionaries do when the working class wants to hand back power to the bourgeoisie? The Bolsheviks answered this question with force and created the monster they were trying to resist.

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Dec 14 2006 16:47
Quote:
The Bolsheviks were never in favour of the Soviets in principle, you can spout all you want but their position on the Soviets was purely tactical.

Bolsheviks were not a monolithic gathering of evil men who wanted to rule the world. Myasnikov, for example, was a Bolshevik, and he was always in favor of the Soviets. There were others like him. I think Lenin was, initially sincere when he wrote the April Thesis, but the point is that it wasn't enough to be sincere. Bolsheviks found themselves on top of a state which ultimately they could not control, and initially for most of them, this situation ended up taking their lives. They learned that it was impossible to control the bureaucracy. Most of their leaders crossed the line and worked with that bureaucracy at some point and still got killed.

Quote:
I could also point out the Bolsheviks thoughts on the working class, I could quote What is to be done. I could quote until my fingers bled ffs.

Yes you could, and you would have a fair point. The statements about the proletariat in What is to be done were Kautskyist Second International thinking. But this doesn't mean that there weren't workers in the Bolshevik Party - in fact there were many workers in the Bolshevik Party.

Quote:
Secondly the Bolsheviks were never a mass party until the revolution, and infact their growth through working class members represented the relative weakness of the russian working class.

I think this is not true, I remember they had very active militant workers and grew massively especially during the first world war.

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Dec 14 2006 16:53
Mic wrote:
I already underlined some of the distinctions between ICC and IBRP.

With my apologies, comrade, I don't think those distinctions you underline are enough to convince me that the ICC and the IBRP shouldn't co-operate. As I said, we want to be able to work both with the ICC and the IBRP, and I have to ask from both organizations not to make this impossible.

petey
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Dec 14 2006 19:07
Leo Uilleann wrote:
Bolsheviks were not a monolithic gathering of evil men who wanted to rule the world.

yes they were

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Leo
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Dec 14 2006 19:27

I'm sure that's what you believe in.

mic
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Dec 14 2006 19:44

Leo, I understand your aspirations. They were also ours for a lot of time. The document I linked is a synthesis of tens of years of debates.

Without grudge, our political work, which we strongly believe in, must go on. Unfortunately, without the ICC.

Ciao. Mic

ernie
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Dec 14 2006 19:59

What is to be done? Certainly raises a lot of debate and rightly so. It is a major contribution to the theoretical and practical development of the workers' movement. Its insistence on the necessity for the proletariat to wage a political struggle against the ruling class and not to reduce itself to economic entity whose interests do not go beyond the factory, trade or area (i.e, the Economist vision) is of fundamental importance

Quote:
Opposing the Economist trend was the main aim of Lenin's book What is to be done?, published in 1902. Here Lenin had argued against the idea that socialist consciousness would arise simply out of the day-to-day struggle; it required the working class to intervene on the political terrain. It could not be engendered merely from the immediate relationship between employer and worker, but only from the global struggle between the classes - and thus from the more general relationship between the working class as a whole and the ruling class as a whole, as well as the relationship between the working class and all other classes oppressed by the autocracy.[2]

In particular, the development of revolutionary class consciousness required the building of a unified, centralised, and avowedly revolutionary party; a party which had gone beyond the stage of circles and the shortsighted, personalised circle spirit that went with it. Against the Economist view which reduced the party to a mere accessory or "tail" of the economic struggle, hardly distinct from other more immediate or general forms of workers' organisations such as trade unions, a proletarian party existed above all to lead the proletariat from the economic to the political terrain. To be equipped for this task, the party had to be an "organisation of revolutionaries" rather than an "organisation of workers". Whereas in the latter, being a worker seeking to defend immediate class interests was the sole criterion for participation, the former had to be comprised of "professional revolutionaries",[3] revolutionary militants who worked in strict unison regardless of their sociological origins.

[url=http://en.internationalism.org/ir/116_1903.html]
Before revol68 becomes totally apoplectic and begins to burst even more blood vessels, defending the political importance of this text does not mean agreeing with the mistaken conception of class consciousness that Lenin defends. Lenin accepted himself he had bent the stick to far on this question.
However, this error cannot and should not blind one to the importance of this text to the development of the workers' movement. What is to be done? was the basis for the Bolsheviks struggle against all those tendencies in the workers' movement which we unable to defend the political autonomy of the working class, particularly the proletariat's ability to arm itself with the necessary political organisation.
This was seen in 1903 in the struggle with the Mensheviks. Then in 1914 when the Bolsheviks were intransigent in the defense of internationalism. When they entered the Russian army with the direct purpose of defending the need to turn imperialist war into civil war. And from the beginning of the Russian Revolution led the struggle against the provisional government and for the eventual insurrection .
(Very odd actions for a bunch of bourgeois scum, one has to say!)
The example of the Bolsheviks was an inspiration for the whole of what was to become the Communist Left. It was the Communist Left that took up the torch of political and organisational intransigence faced with the opportunism, when the majority of the Bolsheviks and Lenin began to let it go due to the weight of growing opportunism.
It was the Italian Left in particular that continued this tradition through its struggle against the growing opportunism of Trotsky in the late 20's and 30's. Which reached its conclusion with the sinking of trotskyism into national defense faced with WW2.

ernie
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Dec 14 2006 20:22

For a very interesting discussion of the historical context in which What is to be done? was written is to be found in Draper's interesting article "The myth of Lenin's conception of the party" [url=http://www.marxists.org/archive/draper/1990/myth/myth.htm]
Its placing of Kautsky's conception of the party in the context of the struggle against revisionism is very pertinent:

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Why did Kautsky emphasize this view of socialist history at this time? The reason is perfectly clear: the new reformist wing of the movement, the Bernsteinian Revisionists, were arguing that all one needed was the ongoing movement of the workers, not theory; that the spontaneous class activity of the trade-union movement and other class movements was enough. “The movement is everything, the goal is nothing” was Bernstein’s dictum, thereby seeking to shelve theoretical considerations in favor of shortsighted concentration on the day-to-day problems. Reform was the concern of today (the movement); revolution had to do with tomorrow (theory). Kautsky’s generalization about the role of the “bourgeois intelligentsia” in importing socialist ideas into the raw class movement was one way, in his eyes, of undercutting the Revisionist approach. And this, of course, gave it equal appeal for other opponents of the new right wing, like Lenin.

It is certainly worth the read.

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Leo
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Dec 14 2006 20:30
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Leo, I understand your aspirations. They were also ours for a lot of time. The document I linked is a synthesis of tens of years of debates.

Without grudge, our political work, which we strongly believe in, must go on. Unfortunately, without the ICC.

I have read the text and it still hasn't convinced me that the "ICC has clearly placed itself outside of the tradition of the Communist Left". I haven't read ICC's writings on the IBRP but I don't think they too can convince me that the IBRP is outside the left communist tradition, if they tried. This is all I will say in this debate, I don't want to get involved in organizational polemics like this, but I don't think this attitude is helping anything at all.

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OliverTwister
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Dec 15 2006 00:31

LEo: Briefly there is a huge difference between defending 'positions' and having compatible praxi. The ICC and the IBRP may defend similar positions, but (and this is from an outside perspective) that attitudes are totally different. It seems the ICC's attitude is to look for any element in a movement which would place that movement outside of the 'proletarian camp', and then make that element the object of tremendous scorn. For instance they completely write off the piquetero movement because of the influence of some petty bourgeois elements. It was the ICC who called the PCInt 'opportunist' when it was created (or their predecessors in the GCF) and who called the CWO 'an incomplete regroupment'in the 1970s for not immediately fusing with the ICC.

On the other hand the IBRP appear to have an attitude of looking how to strengthen authentic class movements. I don't know if they've written about the piqueteros, but they've written positively about the possibility contained in the current mexican rebellions, in order to differentiate the wheat and the chaff in those rebellions. This seems to be a pretty old attitude: you can look at the stuff which the PCInt wrote about Hungary up on the website right now, and IMO it is among the best stuff i've read on Hungary in terms of trying to draw out political lessons but also trying to aid the struggle as much as possible (it's certainly all the better given that it was contemporary).

You might want to think about why it is that all the independent left-communist groups and individuals (Riff-Raff, Loren Goldner, etc.) link to the IBRP website and not the ICC. Is it because they are all part of the 'parasitic milieu'?

Lurch wrote:
When starting this thread, Oliver Twister asked for views on the IBRP (not the ICC's of course, he mistakenly thinks he knows what these are), and when other posters suggested that the IBRP might not be functioning anymore, it was the ICC that affirmed both the IBRP's contiued existence and its continued importance, whatever disagreements exist between the two so-called 'left communist' organisations.

But while disliking Oliver Twister's way of approaching the IBRP - are they greater or lesser 'pricks', to paraphrase, I think doubts about this organisations opportunist or otherwise attitude to other organisations remain valid.

Thanks for assuming, Lurch. But as a matter of fact, I DO know what the ICC has to say about the IBRP - I've perused most of the "IBRP" node at http://en.internationalism.org/taxonomy/term/77.

You also got my approach wrong - the 'prick' question was partly a nod to RedTwister, and partly it is an understandable question to ask about a newly-encountered political organization, given that quite a few of them are made up of 'pricks' (seemingly the IBRP is not in this category, I'm happy to say).

But while talking about disliking the approach of others towards the IBRP, I can't say that I'm terribly intrigued by the ICC's idealistic fiction of a 'proletarian political milieu', which while it might be a valid concept in certain times and given certain meanings, is warped out of all usefulness by the ICC's use of this concept, and its attempt to drag the IBRP unwillingly into this fantastic milieu within which the insults are clearly veiled and outside of which they are explicitly disgusting.

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OliverTwister
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Dec 15 2006 00:33

Devrim:

Why do you argue with Revol over the things he says but when ICC supporters make sick jokes like this:

Quote:
One was an organised expression and representative of the working class, the other, not just its leadership but the whole lot, was an agency of the counter-revolution in Spain.

you let it slide? Is it because you think one of these posters is worth spending more time talking to?

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Demogorgon303
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Dec 15 2006 08:28
OliverTwister wrote:
It seems the ICC's attitude is to look for any element in a movement which would place that movement outside of the 'proletarian camp', and then make that element the object of tremendous scorn.

Which is why they've called on all elements of the Left Communist milieu (and further afield for that matter) to do joint anti-war leaflets in every conflict since (and including) Kosovo? Your efforts to paint the ICC as sectarian just fly in the face of reality.

You also say that the proletarian milieu is an "idealistic fiction". Frankly this is completely bizarre. The milieu is that collection of groups and individuals that defend internationalist positions. It is that part of the working class that has developed its consciousness and a will to action. Do these people simply not exist? Or is it there really isn't much of a divider between say, the likes of the SWP or the IWW. We can all quibble about exactly who we think is part of the working class or not - as Alf said on another post there is debate about this in the ICC itself. We can call it by different names (the IBRP used to use the term "internationalist camp").

The only alternative I can see to a conception of such a camp is either a complete inability to distinguish between bourgeois and proletarian organisations or simply to say that anyone who doesn't share our particular politics is anti-working class.

The ICC's conception allows for political difference (often quite marked) between groups but also for the extension of solidarity and common work between them, without falling into the trap of working with anti-working class formations.