Lenin's "What Is To Be Done?" Analysis

421 posts / 0 new
Last post
LBird
Offline
Joined: 21-09-10
Aug 1 2012 08:41

The real problem then, as it is now, is that whilst workers see themselves as a nationality they are not anywhere near the level of self-consciousness of class that is required for Communist actions.

Whilst the workers in Poland regard themselves as to any extent 'Polish', or the workers in Russia regard themselves as to any extent 'Russian', and so on for workers in the Ukrainian, Finland, Britain, USA, etc., etc., the problem is an objective one, not a subjective one.

Political action by external vanguards, Leninist voluntarism, can't change that.

Workers themselves have to come to consciousness of themselves as workers. Their political identity has to be 'worker', not a nationality (or, indeed, an 'individual', a 'colour', a 'sex' or a 'sexuality').

Our problem as workers is how to help this process to develop. Education? Leadership? Intervention?

The issue has baffled greater minds than mine. And it baffled Lenin's: he was wrong.

andy g
Offline
Joined: 24-02-12
Aug 1 2012 08:58
Quote:
The real problem then, as it is now, is that whilst workers see themselves as a nationality they are not anywhere near the level of self-consciousness of class that is required for Communist actions.

indeed - that is exactly Lenin's point of departure as I tried to show. His argument on why communists should support the right to national self-determination (not universally BTW) was about how to cope with this situation and "help" the process of class displacing nation as primary identifier for workers.

Lenin may have been right or wrong but establishing that shouldn't depend on distorting his positions

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Aug 1 2012 15:43
RedHughs wrote:
ALF wrote:
Agree also with andy g's points. Lenin's book can only be understood as a polemic against the dominant form of opportunism in Russia at the time. 'economism'.

Really?

Quite. I guess I'd be the only one then, if this thread is anything to go by, who sees the primary purpose of WITBD was to be a weapon against Martov's rising prestige in the Social Democrats. Just as Materialism & Empirio-Criticism makes no sense as a work of philosophy, but perfect sense as an instrumental text written purely to justify expelling Bogdanov from the party. All Lenin's texts appear to me to have clear instrumental agendas, any political content being purely secondary trimmings to the primary agenda - i.e. more power for Lenin. If you found single-mindedness admirable, then I suppose you could respect that. But to mistake it for revolutionary theory seems a bit bonkers.

But don't mind me. Let the Lenin-love keep pouring forth.

Dave B
Offline
Joined: 3-08-08
Aug 1 2012 18:21

Talk about integrity!

S artisan lifts one of my quotes from Revleft; 17th March 2012, 22:46 post 50

And accuses me of not mentioning it!

http://www.revleft.com/vb/cheka-and-lenin-t169034/index.html?p=2386911

andy g
Offline
Joined: 24-02-12
Aug 1 2012 19:35

I find the "meglomania thesis" unconvincing, whatever reservations I might have about the content (and definitely the style) of Len's interventions. IIRC Lenin WITBD was seen as expressing the position of the Iskra group, including Martov. Don't think he is ever even mentioned, is he?

S. Artesian
Offline
Joined: 5-02-09
Aug 1 2012 19:46

Dave B.

This may come as a surprise, but along with others with whom I am happy to be associated, I was expelled from revleft in Dec. 2011, you horse's ass you, consequently, I don't know and don't care what you posted on revleft in 2012.

I'm responding to the the tendentious, dishonest bullshit you keep posting here. Pay attention to your location. It might help.

RedHughs
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
Aug 2 2012 00:39
Quote:
the idea that Lenin advocated the subordination of workers' movements to bourgeois nationalism is absurd given his political life history is defined by the relentless assertion of the need for proletarian organisational and political independence.

No, he organized the subordination of the workers' movement to the "proletarian party", which in practice would wheel-and-deal with the bourgeois as necessary. And he wasn't above using bourgeois ideology to recruit people to this "proletarian party". Now, if one believes in this party's unalterable proletarian nature, then there's no problem but otherwise...

LBird wrote:
The real problem then, as it is now, is that whilst workers see themselves as a nationality they are not anywhere near the level of self-consciousness of class that is required for Communist actions.
...
Political action by external vanguards, Leninist voluntarism, can't change that.
...

I think LBird has at least an important part of the puzzle here.

The thing is, the logic which Lenin ultimately uses is the "vanguard must always do something, the vanguard must counter each pronouncement of the bourgeois". Why is that? Because it is the vanguard, apparently. Because it must be the stalwart and the positive face of proletariat.

Notice that Andy's tedious Lenin quotes frame the debates as "the right of national self-determination? Are you for or against? there are no other answers!" when "right of national self-determination" is a mystification within a mystification given that both nations and rights are constructs of capitalist relations.

It is the logic of the propagandist. The propagandist must have position on every issue which bourgeois society puts on the agenda. War in Syria? For or against? "Your two second time slot won't allow for 'a pox on both their houses'."
This has been the Leninist and Stalinist argument against the ultraleft even though Stalinism ultimately did take an ultra-left position pre-WWII. The point isn't even how they really did propaganda but how they used the "crying need" to be propagandistic against all internal opposition.

Lenin as quoted by Andy wrote:
If the proletariat of any one nation gives the slightest support to the privileges of its “own” national bourgeoisie, that will inevitably rouse distrust among the proletariat of another nation; it will weaken the international class solidarity of the workers and divide them, to the delight of the bourgeoisie. Repudiation of the right to self-determination or to secession inevitably means, in practice, support for the privileges of the dominant nation.

IE, you, oh would-be radical, have no voice but to say yay or neigh to the positions already outlined by the bourgeois. "Do you support 'the right of national self-determination', yes or no, asshole". Anything else you say will be the diseased ravings of amateurish petit bourgeois apologists for economism.

Now, I don't want to extract a moral judgment of Lenin. I have no idea whether an alternative to the Bolshevik party would have been possible in the time of Lenin. But I think it entirely reasonable for revolutionaries of today to use more or less the exact opposite logic to Lenin's argument of the propagandist. IE, we should support only those upsurges with a communist logic and to the extent they have a communist logic and refuse to be the "great helmsman" taking a for-or-against position on each pronouncement flowing down capital's river of ideology.

RedHughs
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
Aug 2 2012 00:35
ocelot wrote:
Quite. I guess I'd be the only one then, if this thread is anything to go by, who sees the primary purpose of WITBD was to be a weapon against Martov's rising prestige in the Social Democrats. Just as Materialism & Empirio-Criticism makes no sense as a work of philosophy, but perfect sense as an instrumental text written purely to justify expelling Bogdanov from the party. All Lenin's texts appear to me to have clear instrumental agendas, any political content being purely secondary trimmings to the primary agenda - i.e. more power for Lenin. If you found single-mindedness admirable, then I suppose you could respect that. But to mistake it for revolutionary theory seems a bit bonkers.

But don't mind me. Let the Lenin-love keep pouring forth.

Hey I agree with Lenin's text seeming like pretty much nothing but an outline of the need for his power.

The only caveat I would have with this is that they set the tone and established the model for more of the same later - IE, for Leninism.

If someone were to say "Lenin wrote WITBD because he was against economism. If you're against economism, then it should be OK", I would say "now hold on there, I may indeed be against economism but the way this debate was conducted set a bad precedent, a precedent that has had legs, to say the fricken' least". That was more or less what the post of mine, that you quoted one word of, was saying.

S. Artesian
Offline
Joined: 5-02-09
Aug 1 2012 23:08

Lenin's arguments re national self-determination, like his "analysis" of imperialism, is devoid of one important item.....economics; the manner in which society reproduces itself, and in this case, the manner in which capitalism reproduces itself, i.e. accumulates value; that is to say, the relations between classes.

Consequently "national self-determination" appears as an ahistorical principle, without any fixing of the moment of the eruption of "national consciousness" in a) the general breakdown and problems of capitalist accumulation and b) the inability of capitalism to overcome the limits to its accumulation in any one space due to its absorption, adoption of, adaptation to, embodiment of the relations of private property. Concretely, the "national moment" is incapable of addressing, resolving, the two great issue of every economy-- land and labor.

The appearance of "national self-determination" is a moment when this so-called future, this anticipation is already obsolete; it's the echo of a voice, a nostalgia for something that has never existed.

rooieravotr
Offline
Joined: 28-10-09
Aug 2 2012 05:02

Small factual thing:

Quote:
the primary purpose of WITBD was to be a weapon against Martov's rising prestige in the Social Democrats.

I think you mean Martynov, not Martov. At the time of WITBD, Martov and Lenin were still allies, as Iskraists against the Economists.

LBird
Offline
Joined: 21-09-10
Aug 2 2012 06:29
Marx wrote:
The further back we trace the course of history, the more does the individual, and accordingly also the producing individual, appear to be dependent and to belong to a larger whole. At first, the individual in a still quite natural manner is part of the family and of the tribe which evolves from the family; later he is part of a community, of one of the different forms of the community which arise from the conflict and the merging of tribes. It is not until the eighteenth century that in bourgeois society the various forms of the social texture confront the individual as merely means towards his private ends, as external necessity. But the epoch which produces this standpoint, namely that of the solitary individual, is precisely the epoch of the (as yet) most highly developed social (according to this standpoint, general) relations. Man is a Zoon politikon [political animal] in the most literal sense: he is not only a social animal, but an animal that can be individualised only within society. Production by a solitary individual outside society – a rare event, which might occur when a civilised person who has already absorbed the dynamic social forces is accidentally cast into the wilderness – is just as preposterous as the development of speech without individuals who live together and talk to one another. It is unnecessary to dwell upon this point further.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1859/critique-pol-economy/appx1.htm

This assumption by Marx (which he shared with the classical Greek thinkers), that humans are necessarily social and political animals, is the objective factor that is presently missing from our society, and especially our class.

All our efforts as Communists depend upon the re-emergence of 'social and political' activity amongst the proletariat prior to our urgings.

Leninism is the voluntaristic political belief that humans have to be subjectively made into zoa politika by an outside force.

But as Marx said, 'who educates the educators?'

andy g
Offline
Joined: 24-02-12
Aug 2 2012 08:40
Quote:
Leninism is the voluntaristic political belief that humans have to be subjectively made into zoa politika by an outside force.

no it isn't. if you can be arsed to read the Draper article I linked above he discussed this in depth. Lenin's formulations on party and class shifted over time to reflect the exigencies of circumstance. In 1905 he was claiming the working class is "spontaneously Social Democratic" and arguing for mass recruitment to the Bolshevik party and lambasting the "committee men" who stuck to old conspiratorial methods. I don't think Len came to view the party as external to the class but the organisation of its most "politically conscious" layers.

Red, I am deeply sorry you found my quotes from lenin "tedious", poor dear. I introduced them only as earlier posts seemed to indicate the ability to quotes lenin was a pre-condition for your position being valid. Bollocks, of course, but I suppose you have to take things as you find them. Which is exactly what Lenin did with national self-determination. It wasn't an issue he "chose" to raise or insist on discussing - it was one he was compelled to address by the circumstances of his time i.e. as a revolutionary operating in the "prison house of nations" that was the Tsarist empire. Your abstract "nationalism is an illusion" ignores the realities of national oppression and the grip of national identities on working class consciousness.

S Artesian - you arguing from a place close to Rosa Luxemburg's? I can see where you're coming from, I think. I don't think Lenin would have necessarily have disagreed with you on the "bankruptcy" of nationalism - his point was how best to address the reality of imperialism and the divisions it engenders, surely?

LBird
Offline
Joined: 21-09-10
Aug 2 2012 08:54
andy g wrote:
no it isn't. if you can be arsed ...

Oh no, not you, again!

Can't you learn some manners, you idiot?

If you don't like what I write, either use a comradely tone in your replies, or just fuckin' ignore me, eh? Rhymes with 'banker'.

RedHughs
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
Aug 2 2012 09:28
Quote:
Your abstract "nationalism is an illusion" ignores the realities of national oppression and the grip of national identities on working class consciousness.

Well, I defy you to find any place in which I define nationalism as "illusion" in the sense of not existing. Obviously, nationalism exists like many other ideologies.

What is the "reality" of "national oppression"? That some flags get whipped on a regular basis? That the elites of "oppressed nations" don't get the same respect as their oppressor-nation counter-parts when shopping at the best department stores? The concept implies a reality to what could be called "specters" (the "national spirit") but as I said, I am well aware that nationalist ideology does exist and often has a strong grip on the working class. But do the Leninist conclusions automatically follow from this "grip strength"? The Christian religion has a tremendous grip on the US proletariat today. Does this reality imply that we should become theologians?

I am not arguing from the basis of never simplifying or popularizing one's positions. Rather it seems that the logic that Andy and Lenin use is that of opportunism on principle or on the unreflected strength of "it is reality, it's grip is strong".

andy g
Offline
Joined: 24-02-12
Aug 2 2012 09:46

LBird - over-sensitive much?!?!?!?

If I had said "if you take the time to read" the sense of what i was saying wouldn't have been altered. Yet you seem to ignore this in favour of a gross over-reaction a relatively anodyne phrase.

Either you have anger management "issues" or you are a complete prick. either way, please feel free to naff off

andy g
Offline
Joined: 24-02-12
Aug 2 2012 10:07

the analogy with religion is an interesting one - I seem to remember marx arguing for freedom of religion......................?

No, I am not talking about privileged access to the best shops and you taking this approach simply demonstrates your lack of awareness. I think the Irish had a bit more than that to complain about under British rule - Famine anyone? Penal laws? predatory absentee landlords? never mind routinised harrassment, disenfranchisement and poverty in more recent times?

Hence Charlie's strong support for Irish national self-determination and his remarks on the domination of Ireland being at the heart of the conservatism of the British working class.

Lenin manifestly doesn't believe the grip of nationalism is "too strong" given he repeatedly says the opposite.

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Aug 2 2012 11:03
rooieravotr wrote:
Small factual thing:
Quote:
the primary purpose of WITBD was to be a weapon against Martov's rising prestige in the Social Democrats.

I think you mean Martynov, not Martov. At the time of WITBD, Martov and Lenin were still allies, as Iskraists against the Economists.

Absolutely right (and andy g) on this. Either the post-its are falling off my zimmer-frame or my memory is getting worse with advancing age. 1904's "One step forward, two steps back" is where he sticks the boot into Martov. WITBD was beating up on the Rabocheye Dyelo crowd. Although it is often seen that WITBD helped precipitate the split between Martov and Lenin at the Second Congress of 1903. I still maintain my point about the principal motive for Lenin putting pen to paper was instrumental in "taking out" the next potential rival, though.

I wouldn't attribute this to "megalomania" though, in a vulgar psychologising fashion. I think Lenin's politics were sincere, but they contained in their political DNA, certain core principles - The need to develop the forces of production in Russia and the need to create/seize a centralised state power in order to carry out this objective. Out of that, everything else flows - and imo they are in complete contradiction to communism. In other words you can be a communist or you can be a Leninist, but you cannot be both.

andy g
Offline
Joined: 24-02-12
Aug 2 2012 12:00

didn't picture you as a zimmer kinda guy, ocelot! bet it's got go-faster stripes!

I can understand where you are coming from. The first thing I read of Lenin's was The State and Revolution which led to the epithet of "anarchism" being thrown his way which is somewhat ironic. I lean more towards Serge's position on Bolshevism and the reservations he expressed about Bolshevik policy in the Civil War than to any kind of blind Lenin worship. Unsurprisingly, I don't follow your "Leninism or Communism" dichotomy but that doesn't stop me feeling uncomfortable with aspects of the Bolshie legacy. The late Dave Widgery once described himself as a "reluctant Leninist" and i can sympathise

S. Artesian
Offline
Joined: 5-02-09
Aug 2 2012 13:30
Quote:
S Artesian - you arguing from a place close to Rosa Luxemburg's? I can see where you're coming from, I think. I don't think Lenin would have necessarily have disagreed with you on the "bankruptcy" of nationalism - his point was how best to address the reality of imperialism and the divisions it engenders, surely?

I'm just trying to argue from the materialist place; "nationalism," "national self-determination" has an economic moment, if you will, and that economic moment cannot be separated from a class content.

It's one thing to oppose national chauvinism, it's quite another thing to pose "national self-determination" as an intermediation for the proletarian revolution, and this, the latter, is precisely what Lenin does.

It's one thing to oppose the intervention and actions of the US, UK, France, etc in China in 1919, 20. It's quite another thing to advocate or award the KMT membership in a supposedly Communist International.

andy g
Offline
Joined: 24-02-12
Aug 2 2012 13:54

I don't think Lenin was unclear on the class character of nationalism, was he? I don't recall him arguing anything other than for class politics - his tactical approach to national oppression was about how to unify the proletariat across national boundaries, at least as I read it. hence I'm not sure about your comment about "intermediation" above.

As I said before, I think you need to supplement Len's pre-1917 stuff on national self-determination with the theory of permanent revolution as the CI in its early years tried to. IIRC overtures by the CI to the KMT started in 1923 when Lenin had been removed from the scene by the illness and could be said to be reflective of the ongoing degeneration of the revolution. Certainly by the mid twenties Trotsky was arguing strongly for the political and organisational independence of the CCP

S. Artesian
Offline
Joined: 5-02-09
Aug 2 2012 16:34
andy g wrote:
I don't think Lenin was unclear on the class character of nationalism, was he? I don't recall him arguing anything other than for class politics - his tactical approach to national oppression was about how to unify the proletariat across national boundaries, at least as I read it. hence I'm not sure about your comment about "intermediation" above.

As I said before, I think you need to supplement Len's pre-1917 stuff on national self-determination with the theory of permanent revolution as the CI in its early years tried to. IIRC overtures by the CI to the KMT started in 1923 when Lenin had been removed from the scene by the illness and could be said to be reflective of the ongoing degeneration of the revolution. Certainly by the mid twenties Trotsky was arguing strongly for the political and organisational independence of the CCP

Oh, indeed he was. Unclear to the max. Read his report to the the 2nd Congress of the CI. It's strewn, littered actually with ambiguity. I believe at the Congress, the actual theses on the national question were only "tightened up" [moved to the left] after the intervention of MN Roy who represented the CP of Mexico.

Lenin's analysis is shot thru with references to "semi-feudalism" in the colonial countries, when in fact such relations were not semi-feudal at all, but capitalism's adaptation of, and adaptation to the existing organization of land and labor, particularly landed labor, that were the limits to, and the measure of uneven and combined development; limits and index to, definition and negation to, capitalism's "determinate-being," its private property.

To argue that capitalism is impossible, or not necessary, in the "less-developed" countries, but that a "national-democratic" revolution is, is an oxymoron.

The "national-democratic" revolution is extracted from what a nation is-- a broad-based market organization of labor, a "democracy" of small property holders.

The demand for "independence" is not, in and of itself, revolutionary as was proven in the cases of Mexico, Ireland, etc. Lenin is quite ambiguous on this.

Now whether Lenin would have, or wouldn't have, refined his position, really isn't the issue. It's speculation. But the ambiguity is there; and it is an ambiguity that at once expresses the pressure of capitalism upon the proletarian revolution and retreats before that pressure.

Book O'Dead's picture
Book O'Dead
Offline
Joined: 31-07-12
Aug 2 2012 17:39
RedFlagg wrote:
I'm 1/3 of the way through Lenin's What Is To Be Done? and basically what I've been able to get out of it is that he wanted democratic, yet centralized debate inside the social-democratic(i.e Marxist-socialist parties that existed around the time Lenin wrote this work ) parties, as opposed to reformist, bureaucratic decision making and a stifling of debate akin to several social-democratic parties of his day.(correct?)
[...]
Thoughts? What can be made of Lenin's What Is To Be Done? in relation to Russian and ultimately world history?

To me "What Is To Be Done?" is an interesting and enlightening document that needs to be read critically (as you have done) by aspiring revolutionaries.

However, in the way of prescriptions, I feel it offers little that is applicable to our present struggle against capitalism.

In fact, upon further reflection I think that "What Is To Be Done?" ceased to be relevant even to the Russian working class soon after the triumph of the October revolution.

I recall reading a 1920's essay by Lenin wherein he bitterly complained about the sudden influx of newcomers into the party whom he considered political opportunists and careerists. This development, I think, put to rest his conception of the party as a compact force of professional revolutionaries (a bad idea to begin with). Moreover, subsequent developments in the creation of the Soviet state and the evolution of the party destroyed any real possibility of either becoming truly democratic institutions.

IOW's, the postscript of "What Is To Be Done?" should read: "What we could have done and would have done if circumstance, ambition and defective reasoning had not prevented us."

My opinion on "What Is To Be Done?" is also influenced by E.H. Carr's study of the Soviet state.

LBird
Offline
Joined: 21-09-10
Aug 2 2012 17:49
ocelot wrote:
In other words you can be a communist or you can be a Leninist, but you cannot be both.

I'd actually say "In other words you can be a Marxist or you can be a Leninist, but you cannot be both."

I think Marx can be damned for his fatalism, whereas Lenin, in reaction to Marx's determinism, can be damned for his voluntarism.

Is there an answer to this fine line between objective conditions and subjective politics?

This debate is not really about Lenin and his politics, good or bad, but about the development of the proletariat. Can history be forced, through human awareness, or are we trapped by circumstance?

Proletarian self-consciousness. We're still waiting. However, not just 1917, but also 1789, wasn't long ago.

Whatever, 'democratic centralism' is not the answer. Lenin was wrong. Most of us have lived the 'Bolshevik' party, and we know by experience.

RedHughs
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
Aug 2 2012 19:03
andy_g wrote:
His argument on why communists should support the right to national self-determination (not universally BTW) was about how to cope with this situation and "help" the process of class displacing nation as primary identifier for workers.

OK,

Putting aside Andy's petulant, sneering tone, one instructive question that arises is: "what should communists do when they are the masters of a state which rules non-communists?" And the answer is: "nothing! communists should never put themselves in such a position and the result if they is a capitalist state same as if non-communists were in that position!"

Book O'Dead's picture
Book O'Dead
Offline
Joined: 31-07-12
Aug 2 2012 19:20
RedHughs wrote:
andy_g wrote:
His argument on why communists should support the right to national self-determination (not universally BTW) was about how to cope with this situation and "help" the process of class displacing nation as primary identifier for workers.

OK,

Putting aside Andy's petulant, sneering tone, one instructive question that arises is: "what should communists do when they are the masters of a state which rules non-communists?" And the answer is: "nothing! communists should never put themselves in such a position and the result if they is a capitalist state same as if non-communists were in that position!"

That is consistent with Marx's dictum that "workers cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made machinery of state and wield it for their own purposes".

The capture of the political state by the workers can have no other objective than its complete destruction. To achieve that they must have in place the necessary social and economic institutions that will rule society directly from the workplace.

S. Artesian
Offline
Joined: 5-02-09
Aug 2 2012 22:00

Look, history has kind of provided its own critique of WITBD-- and it did that back in 1905-- when with very little "help" or "injection of consciousness," the workers of Russia produced soviets. Now at that time, and after that time, I don't recall reading anything from the Bolsheviks, or the Mensheviks, pointing to to the soviets as a revolutionary organization, one that was, in fact, an organ of class power, that must inevitably confront the existing state power.

Trotsky pretty much grasped that, but Trotsky was also pretty much scorned.

We can take this "party as consciousness" nonsense and point out that the so-called vanguard of the Bolsheviks was in fact in favor of limited cooperation with the Prov Govt after the February Revolution, until Lenin's return, and... it wasn't the bringing of revolutionary consciousness to the workers that made the Bolsheviks the most popular of the soviet parties, but the fact that the Bolsheviks expressed the overwhelming, already-existing sentiment of the workers for the soviets to take power as the government.

Why did the sentiment swing that way? Because of the actions, and inactions of the Prov Govt... because of the fact that it only had such power as the soviets in truth allowed it; because the PG attempted maintain Russia's participation in the war; because the PG attempted to reintroduce capital punishment in the military, etc etc etc etc.

All of the nonsense about "vanguard this" and "vanguard that" is historically irrelevant to the construction and functioning of the organs of dual power, and becomes an ideological weapon against those workers organization.

Book O'Dead's picture
Book O'Dead
Offline
Joined: 31-07-12
Aug 2 2012 22:24
S. Artesian wrote:
Look, history has kind of provided its own critique of WITBD-- and it did that back in 1905-- when with very little "help" or "injection of consciousness," the workers of Russia produced soviets. Now at that time, and after that time, I don't recall reading anything from the Bolsheviks, or the Mensheviks, pointing to to the soviets as a revolutionary organization, one that was, in fact, an organ of class power, that must inevitably confront the existing state power.

Trotsky pretty much grasped that, but Trotsky was also pretty much scorned.

We can take this "party as consciousness" nonsense and point out that the so-called vanguard of the Bolsheviks was in fact in favor of limited cooperation with the Prov Govt after the February Revolution, until Lenin's return, and... it wasn't the bringing of revolutionary consciousness to the workers that made the Bolsheviks the most popular of the soviet parties, but the fact that the Bolsheviks expressed the overwhelming, already-existing sentiment of the workers for the soviets to take power as the government.

Why did the sentiment swing that way? Because of the actions, and inactions of the Prov Govt... because of the fact that it only had such power as the soviets in truth allowed it; because the PG attempted maintain Russia's participation in the war; because the PG attempted to reintroduce capital punishment in the military, etc etc etc etc.

All of the nonsense about "vanguard this" and "vanguard that" is historically irrelevant to the construction and functioning of the organs of dual power, and becomes an ideological weapon against those workers organization.

I'm not sure that even at their strongest the Soviets were ever powerful enough to dismantle the political state or to fully dispense with it.

This is what in my mind gave the Bolsheviks ample justification for holding on to state power and, once in control of the state, they found themselves on top of the tiger, unable to dismount without being eaten. Actually, their position was more akin to the boy's in Lincoln's story who couldn't let go of the boar hog's tail as they raced around a tree: "I cain't let go of her, mister; she''ll catch me!"

RedHughs
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
Aug 2 2012 23:04
Quote:
All of the nonsense about "vanguard this" and "vanguard that" is historically irrelevant to the construction and functioning of the organs of dual power, and becomes an ideological weapon against those workers organization.

I don't get your two sentences here. I agree with the second one but...

As far as I can tell, the idea of a vanguard is very relevant to us because of your second sentence - the idea is an strong ideology weapon against us. And moreover, real honest-to-god counter-revolutionary vanguardists of multiple stripes will also something the revolutionary proletariat will certainly have to deal with.

proletarian.
Offline
Joined: 15-08-11
Aug 3 2012 02:57
Quote:
Hence Charlie's strong support for Irish national self-determination and his remarks on the domination of Ireland being at the heart of the conservatism of the British working class.

Can someone please briefly explain this idea.

Jacob Richter
Offline
Joined: 13-07-08
Aug 3 2012 04:43

Contemporary study of this pamphlet, whether of a historical or political nature, is insufficient without reading the translation provided by Lars Lih and the Lenin Rediscovered commentary, especially Chapter 1 of that book.

For some really quick political conclusions, The Merger of Socialism and the Worker Movement (Chapter 1) is the material to read, most of which is available for free on Google Books.