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

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andy g
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Sep 8 2012 19:55

the big deal isn't a product of the content of the text or its actual historical role in building Bolshevism. It's about the way in which a dubious version of the text was elevated to canonical status by stalinists on the one hand and left communists and anarchists on the other.

S. Artesian
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Sep 8 2012 20:02
andy g wrote:
the big deal isn't a product of the content of the text or its actual historical role in building Bolshevism. It's about the way in which a dubious version of the text was elevated to canonical status by stalinists on the one hand and left communists and anarchists on the other.

I think that's right, based on what happened in this thread, more or less. But you left out the Trotskyists, who, borrowing from Eldon Tyrell of the Tyrell Corporation in Blade Runner want to be "more Lenin than Lenin."

andy g
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Sep 8 2012 20:08

yep can agree with that!

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Noa Rodman
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Sep 8 2012 20:25
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So I'll just wait for you to come up with something that has the slightest relations to "dialectic." Don't rush, plenty of time.

It was a solution to your created contradiction between Marx (and most socialist propagandists) as individual and belonging to the bourgeois intelligentsia. This conversation is quite straining, so my attempt to crack a joke about dialectics obviously helped to ease the tension.

The quoted passage from Kautsky is perhaps unclear about what is meant with "modern economic science", but it doesn't say that the proletariat cannot change the relations of production on its own (Although, the help of bourgeois intelligentsia is definitely needed, cf. Russia). Kautsky must mean the classical political economy which Marx studied (and of course critiqued - a point I already anticipated), but I think also later on with specific or new developments the bourgeois intelligentsia is studying and explaining them, and it takes some intellectual effort to appreciate their results and then further, to seriously critique them.

I agree with you about the "auto-didact" process, but this is not a point against 'junk Marxism' (btw, that does sound awfully similar to the usual charge Bernstein et al. made about 'dogmatic Marxism'.).

Kautsky wrote:
What the proletariat needs is a scientific understanding of its own position in society. That kind of science a worker cannot obtain in the officially and socially approved manner. The proletarian himself must develop his own theory. For this reason he must be completely self-taught, no matter whether his origin is academic or proletarian. The object of study is the activity of the proletariat itself, its role in the process of production, its role in the class struggle. Only from this activity can the theory, the self-consciousness of the proletariat, arise.

S. Artesian
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Sep 8 2012 21:17
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Kautsky must mean the classical political economy which Marx studied (and of course critiqued - a point I already anticipated), but I think also later on with specific or new developments the bourgeois intelligentsia is studying and explaining them, and it takes some intellectual effort to appreciate their results and then further, to seriously critique them

.

I never assume what anybody "must mean." I tried reading minds, once, but when I couldn't make a living at it, I had to go to work for the railroad.

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Sep 8 2012 21:34

Fair enough Artesian, I stand corrected.

Jacob Richter
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Sep 9 2012 07:11

Shit, I missed out on the better discussions in this thread!

Noa Rodman wrote:
The party shouldn't be a bureaucratic specialist divided, due-paying, spiritless literature-spreading passive tool in the hands of the Central Committee, but should stimulate the proletariat's consciousness and political participation (Trotsky).

We know that latter model, for all its euphemisms, has failed miserably. The literature-spreading is part of stimulating the political awareness. "Political participation" was Trotsky's code-word for growing political struggles out of mere labour disputes, the line of the very Boris Krichevskii denounced by all the Old Bolsheviks.

S. Artesian wrote:
I reject the notion of a "vanguard party." I don't reject soviets, factory committees, nor am I stupid enough to think there are not going to be parties in the midst of those class organizations looking to disempower the class that formed those very organizations, which brings us to the point-- that is an organization that can represent the class as a class is the essential requirement for the revolutionary transformation of society. This may shock and appall some people, but in the first and last analysis, the soviet is nothing other than the highest expression of a united front of the class, for better and for worse.

It is the highest expression of only a "united front of the class," usually for worse, and not that of the class for itself, for better.

Quote:
A party, a "vanguard" cannot, by its very definition, its very existence represent the class as a whole. Lenin's notion of a party, later taken over to the point of parody by Trotskyists is the highest expression of this inability, and divorced from those organizations of the class as a whole became, internally and internationally, an enemy of the proletarian revolution. But the operative word here is became.

You didn't distinguish between Lenin of the Comintern era from Lenin of the Old Bolshevik era.

Old Bolshevism agreed with the European Social-Democratic premise that the party-movement is the very class-for-itself.

rooieravotr wrote:
Small factual correction. Artesian writes:
Quote:
I also support the seizure of power authorized by the sovnarkom

First there was the taking of power of the MRC. It then handed over power to the Conress of Soviets, with a pro-Bolshevik majority at that stage. Then the Congress , pushed by Lenin, formed a Sonarkom, a form of giovernment. So there was no Sovnarkom authorization for the taking of power, because when power was taken, Sovnarkom did not yet exist.

ocelot wrote:
But it was his subsequent declaration of a Republic on September 15th and the establishment of a 5-member Directory (in the model of the Directoire that crushed the French Revolution) which gave the lie to Provisional Government's stated intention of only being an interim body until the projected (pipe dream) Constituent Assembly was called.

[...]

Either the reaction would regain the upper hand and crush the mutinous soldiers and tear up Order no. 1 (the foundation of dual power), establishing a new military dictatorship, or the mutineers would be forced to overthrow the PG. Simple as. Unfortunately, within the process of overthrowing the reaction, the seeds of the counter-revolution took root at the same time.

But both of you are off the mark with regards to the question of authority: only a Revolutionary Provisional Government could solve this question left by any overthrow of the Kerensky regime. This RPG was not the collection of soviets.

Jacob Richter
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Sep 9 2012 07:25
S. Artesian wrote:
The first five year plan was actually achieved through lowering the productivity of labor, and I think Marx states somewhere in his Economic Manuscripts that the "historic task" of the bourgeoisie is simply raising the productivity of labor.

And the second five year plan? Fattened up the Russian goose for Germany, don't you think? "Purchased" at the cost of the international revolution, no? Tearing asunder the linkage between "development" and international emancipation of labor and taking us to the destruction of WW2.

Neither the "old Bolsheviks" or their successors ever conquered the relatively [relative to the advanced capitalist countries] poor productivity in agriculture.

Since you veered off-topic here, I should note that they partially did. They did so where a particular agricultural policy was pursued: public-sector wage relations (i.e., sovkhozy). Even combining this with piecemeal compensation for a more "socialist primitive accumulation" bent would boost productivity, and I say this last part in the very contemporary conditional tense.

Jacob Richter
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Sep 9 2012 08:44
Noa Rodman wrote:
Of course bourgeois intellectuals are the vehicles of modern economic knowledge (e.g. Keynes), like technique, which is simply because of capitalist division of labor. Kautsky's point is that at least historically Engels and Marx were bourgeois intellectuals who studied classical political economy (developed by - shock horror - bourgeois intellectuals) and their critique of political economy or Marxism was then spread or injected into the working class, often by intellectuals. Neither Kautsky or Lenin had kind words for intellectuals (you mention the Economists were an academic strain). From the same Kautsky:

Kautsky wrote:

The alliance of science with labour and its goal of saving humanity, must therefore be understood not in the sense which the academicians transmit to the people the knowledge which they gain in the bourgeois classroom, but rather in this sense that every one of our co-fighters, academicians and proletarians alike, who are capable of participating in proletarian activity, utilise the common struggle or at least investigate it, in order to draw new scientific knowledge which can in turn be fruitful for further proletarian activity. Since that is how the matter stands, it is impossible to conceive of science being handed down to the proletariat or of an alliance between them as two independent powers. That science, which can contribute to the emancipation of the proletariat, can be developed only by the proletariat and through it. What the liberals bring over from the bourgeois scientific circles cannot serve to expedite the struggle for emancipation, but often only to retard it.

Hear hear! Just think of all the academic post-Keynesian distortion of Marxism.
Bringing consciousness "from without" is necessary to counter to "spontaneous" underconsumption argument injected by the trade-unions.

Comrade, Kautsky was wrong on the count of "bourgeois" as the adjective he used. In his day there were both bourgeois and petit-bourgeois intellectuals. Engels was a small business owner, not a "captain of industry." Today the best sources for "socialist consciousness" do not come from these relics. However, one such group of sources is the coordinator intellectuals (per parecon class theory), such as tenured professors with research staff.

Moreover, the last two sentences are already in WITBD, in the form of "proletarians who stand out due to their intellectual development, and these then bring it into the class struggle of the proletariat where conditions allow." You quoted the MIA version, of course, but I quoted directly from Lars Lih's own translation.

I name yourself and myself, of course, as two such examples. wink

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Sep 9 2012 11:57

"Bürgerliche" means something like middle class and even if it were misleading to translate as bourgeois, coupled with intelligentsia it clearly doesn't mean a "captain of industry". Even Artesian figured that out. Although Kautsky could have been a bit clearer about "modern economic science" I take the liberty to mind-read him as saying classical political economy (on whose shoulders Marx stood, even if to take a piss on their heads).

Jacob Richter
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Sep 9 2012 17:30

Perhaps, but today it is the petit-bourgeoisie that occupies the "middle class" spot. As for "modern science" (I already "agreed" with your assumption years ago), classical political economy was more scientific than today's mainstream "economics."

NannerNannerNan...
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Sep 17 2012 05:42

huh so if you want to make a bunch of libcommers tear each others throats out, mention Lenin. in any context.

RedHughs
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Sep 17 2012 06:51

Well, it makes more sense if one "libcommer" is a libertarian communist and the other "libcommer" is a Leninist...

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Sep 19 2012 16:16

apropos de rien...

andy g #370 wrote:
I have addressed some of "the ocelot thesis" however cack handedly...

Er... First, my original contribution was not by any stretch a "thesis". Second, what actually happened is that you replied while I was on holiday far away from wifi or other internet connections, and by the time I got back, it seemed self-obsessed to go back to a point so far back in the thread.

However, if because of that, you've been left with the impression that your response somehow addressed what I said (and, above all, given that there appears to be bugger all of interest happening on the forums atm, and I'm at a slow point at work...), then I will respond.

andy g #355 wrote:
[...]a few observations on the "ocelot thesis" :

I don't think anyone denies that Russian Marxism originated amongst the intelligentsia. However, I think this is a different point to establishing that the class content of Bolshevism was "petit bourgeois". I'm guessing that a similar look at the origins of prominent anarchists (Kropotkin, Voline, Malatesta) or Left Communists (Pannekoek, Gorter) would show they came from middle class backgrounds - can we validly infer from this that anarchism / Left Communism is a middle class movement? I would also be interested to see if the origins of Lenin et al are reflected in the membership and support of the Bolshevik party, particularly during periods of radicalisation. Don't know off hand but guessing not from the degree of support they gained amongst workers in 1917....

I'm not conflating the intelligentsia with the petit bourgeoisie (artisan producers and small business classes, bot commercial and industrial). If the grand and petty bourgeoisie had been sufficiently well-developed then not only would they have been able to pursue the overthrow of Tsarism on their own account, but there wouldn't have been the gaps in the social development of late Tsarist society that led to the production of the intelligentsia in the first place. However you seem to be equating petty bourgeois with "middle class" in a fairly un-materialist and a-historical way - in which case it is difficult to discuss the historical specificity of a) the pre-revolutionary intelligentsia, b) the influence of combined and uneven development in Russia on the development of the former and the political and ideological culture of the radical intelligentsia (Chernyshevksy's Rakhmetov & "Sto Delat" etc) and c) the influence of the previous two on the leadership cadre of the Bolshevik party - Lenin, Kamenev, Zinoviev, etc and later Trotsky, all of whom were of that background.

On the question of turning that analysis around, similarly, on the Russian anarchists, certainly Voline/Eichenbaum was a paid up member of the intelligentsia, being the son of two doctors and going to St Petersburg to study law, before dropping out to join the SRs (and invent the Soviet). But both Bakunin and Kropotkin were aristocrats, of the middling and upper layers, respectively. Makno of course was a peasant turned prole and Arshinov was a metal worker. The point being that although there were members of the aristocracy and intelligentsia amongst the peasants and workers within the anarchist movement - as there were in the Bolshevik movement - at no stage did the anarchist movement create a centralised dictatorial leadership that allowed the intelligentsia to rule over the proletarian and peasant base of the membership, by dictat. To speak of the class composition of a specific political organisation, one has to speak of the power-structure of that organisation and the distriution of the different compositant fractions within it. Ultimately, at no stage did any mass anarchist movement (and here I refer you to Black Flame, and the forthcoming Global Fire, to remedy the euro-centrist conception of anarchist movement history) manage to effect a counter-revolutionary suppression of its proletarian base by the dictatorship of anti-proletarian leadership from the centre, in the way that Bolshevism did in the period between 1918 and 1921. Within the brief period of July 1936 to June 1938, you could say that elements of the CNT-FAI leadership, did in fact try this (for e.g. by broadcasting on the radio that all CNT members were to aid the Stalinist rounding up of the POUM, FoD and other pro-revolutionary militants in the wake of the 1937 May Days), but thankfully they did not have the institutional power, within the movement, to succeeed in this. But in any case, there are afaik no anarchists that would identify Abad de Santillan, Montseny & Garcia Oliver as anything other than traitors (apart from maybe a few particularly thick/ignorant a-s). Certainly there are no "Montsenyists" or "Oliverists" in the same way that there are Trotskyists and Leninists around today.

andy g #355 wrote:
I think ocelot's argument depends upon a "compare and contrast with the French Revolution" for much of its polemical force. more tricky than you might think to pull off well as has been remarked upon (in different contexts) many times - not least by Perry Anderson, someone whose work I think Ocelot admires. I am not sure how far the comparison between the intelligentsia in France and Russia can be pushed. It is worth noting perhaps that the relative "under-devlopment" of civil society in Russia and one would assume the relatively limited role of the intelligentsia has been advanced as an explanation of the "morphology" of the RR (eg Gramsci in the Prison Notebooks).

In parenthesis, I don't have a particular admiration for Anderson. The best you could say in his defence that his failed trilogical meisterwerk (we are still waiting for that third volume) was a more instructive starting point than most of the dribble produced by post-war UK based writers labouring under the delusion of being Marxist theoreticians (E. P. Thompson being an honourable exception).

I wouldn't categorise the social layers that led the French Revolution as intelligentsia. As mentioned before, I see this latter category as specific to Russia's underdevelopment relative to a much more advanced global capitalism than anyone was even aware of as a possibility at the time of the FR. The resemblence is really to do with the economically dependent relationship to the state, that appears to me shared, across the wide width of "the long 19th century" that these two, otherwise quite different, class fractions shared. Quite the opposite to your assertion here, the underdevelopment of Russia meant not the marginalisation of the intelligentsia within Russian society, but its absolute dependence on them. That there may, at times, have been a relative overproduction of them, thus leaving a surplus intelligentsia to act as the feedstock for radicalism, yet that doesn't mean that their production was not part of the state project of modernising the country. To turn illiterate peasants into literate workers, the state must produce teachers and other auxiliary professionals (doctors, administrators, urban planners, etc) to effect "the great transformation". Layers that would otherwise, in a less "forced catch-up" mode of capitalist development, accumulate naturally around the bourgeoisie, large and small, as fat accumulates around muscle, rather than being force-grown by state ukaze.

andy g #355 wrote:
I don't see how a stratum peripheral to Russia society and so dependent on the patronage of the state bureacracy can be credibly cast in so revolutionary role. Neither do I see any evidence or supplementary argument to support the idea that the intelligentsia was infused with the spirit of capitalist modernisation as ocelot maintains.

*ahem* counter-revolutionary role. That's the role of riding the revolutionary tiger long enough to destroy the old barriers to development of the ancien regime, then suppress the (surviving) revolutionary elements to impose a new order intent on development ("of the productive forces").

Secondly, as above, in no way was the intelligentsia peripheral to Russian society. As for the evidence that the intelligentsia "was infused with the spirit of capitalist modernisation", that would be in the large scale social histories of the RR, ranging from Rabinowitch to Figes and everything in between.

andy g #355 wrote:
although ocelot acknowledges uneven and combined development he doesn't seem to have addressed its most striking manifestation in Russia - the "grafting" of advanced capitalist production (often under the aegis of the autocracy) onto a social formation characterised by semi-feudal agriculture. I guess I would say this is of decisive importance in shaping the RR - explaining the nullity of the bourgeoisie by the greater social weight of the working class relative to France in the late 18th century say and the consequent growing over of bourgeois into workers revolution.

The "nullity" of the bourgeoisie was not due to the "greater social weight" of the w/c who were still a relatively small proportion of the population themselves. It was more to do with their lack of independence from the state spending of the Tsarist regime. Their failure to compete in the world market against the capitalists of the British or French Empires, the rising US or any of the rest of the developed world, left them in the shadow of the Tsarist military-industrial complex, feeble as it was, hence their unwavering support for the war to the last, despite all the evidence that it was leading to total societal destruction. Both the commercial and industrial bourgeoisie subsisted as purveyors of mostly non-capital goods to the pomeshchiki exploiters of the peasantry and the Tsarist state. The grafting of advanced capitalist production methods for the production of these goods could not add to the capitalist development of the state, so long as the goods they produced were mainly non-capital goods for the unproductive consumption of the ancien regime's parasitic class.

suffit déjà...

andy g
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Sep 19 2012 17:48

the "ocelot thesis" was a joke - hence the (!) and the smiley. Obviously I better not look to stand up as a second income....

And no, I don't think I in any way "addressed" your points in anything like the manner they demanded. That's why I called what I posted "observations" rather than a considered argument that would probably be beyond me anyway. I was really trying to address what I saw as Red's attempt to ride your coat tails in pushing his point without really understanding what you were saying or adding anything of value.

Will make some feeble attempt to unpick your post later, perhaps. Net time suffering as capitalist oppressors appear to be monitoring web usage more closely. bastards.

andy g
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Sep 19 2012 19:02

dp

andy g
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Sep 19 2012 19:03
Quote:
suffit déjà...

thanks to google now know what you meant - enough already indeed....

Dave B
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Sep 19 2012 19:38

It is worth bearing in mind that it can be argued that many of the founders of Russian Marxism actually came from the real working class and proletariat in the form of the secular Russian “Jewish” Bundist movement.

‘Members’ of the “Jewish” community; because of institutionalised anti semitism, marginalisation, prohibition of land ownership and ‘originating’ out of petty artisan production etc etc were some of the first to be absorbed into the economy of international capitalism in Russia, as proletarians.

The Bundist became an important, and disproportionate (as regards the population of Russia) constituency of the RSDLP.

As regards to the intelligentsia it needs to remembered what the principal programme of the RSLP party was, up until 1917 anyway, the introduction of liberal capitalism.

The main object was to overthrow autocratic Tsarism and institute a political system like they had in Switzerland and America with freedom of speech, political liberties; and perhaps the subliminal attractions of intellectual meritocracy where real ‘talent’ can obtain 'surplus' rewards, within capitalism .

As opposed to competing feudal nepotism.

The development of Capitalism in Russia was as much an economic opportunity for the capitalist class proper as it was for their traditional parasitstic lickspittles and functionaries, the intellectuals and intelligentsia.

Dave B
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Sep 19 2012 19:39

It is worth bearing in mind that it can be argued that many of the founders of Russian Marxism actually came from the real working class and proletariat in the form of the secular Russian “Jewish” Bundist movement.

‘Members’ of the “Jewish” community; because of institutionalised anti semitism, marginalisation, prohibition of land ownership and ‘originating’ out of petty artisan production etc etc were some of the first to be absorbed into the economy of international capitalism in Russia, as proletarians.

The Bundist became an important, and disproportionate (as regards the population of Russia) constituency of the RSDLP.

As regards to the intelligentsia it needs to remembered what the principal programme of the RSLP party was, up until 1917 anyway, the introduction of liberal capitalism.

The main object was to overthrow autocratic Tsarism and institute a political system like they had in Switzerland and America with freedom of speech, political liberties; and perhaps the subliminal attractions of intellectual meritocracy where real ‘talent’ can obtain 'surplus' rewards, within capitalism .

As opposed to competing feudal nepotism.

The development of Capitalism in Russia was as much an economic opportunity for the capitalist class proper as it was for their traditional parasitstic lickspittles and functionaries, the intellectuals and intelligentsia.

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Sep 21 2012 23:04

I think the phrase from Kautsky about modern economic science being a necessary precondition for socialism, is also used in a broader meaning later, against the Lenin of State and revolution himself:

Kautsky wrote:
the task, not only of organizing the circulation process, but of doing so in such a way as to dispense with what has hitherto been the regulative factor: profit.

To create these new organizations, alike within the separate undertaking as within the whole social economy, is the proper economic task of the victorious Labour movement. Closely connected with it is the transformation of property in the means of production, which can only be accomplished in the measure that this process of organization becomes possible. Compared with this, the regulation of distribution is quite a secondary question.

The task is one of the most colossal and most difficult that world history has ever imposed upon a victorious class.

To solve the problem with one stroke is in the nature of the case impossible. It is equally impossible to solve the problem according to the indications of a single dictator, however ingenious and erudite he might be. It demands organizing capabilities, practical experience, and scientific knowledge in a measure which the greatest of mortals could never combine in his own person. It requires the zealous and devoted co-operation of the best representatives of economics in theory and practice, if we are ever to grapple with and progressively approach the solution of the problem.

... [then, after Kautsky quotes State and revolution, he comments:]

No, a social apparatus of production which is of so simple a nature that anybody who can read and write can organize and direct it, and in which the manager has nothing to do except supervise work and pay everybody an equal wage – that is a prison, not a factory. Even the simplest factory places greater demands upon its manager, to say nothing of the collective social work.
...
However useful a revolutionary temperament which refuses to be hampered by the chains of tradition may be, it becomes dangerous when it is not directed and controlled by scientific thoroughness.

Do functionaries, intelligentsia and so on, not fulfill a vital role in the division of labor, also in the transition phase (never mind conditions in Russia)? Dave B, you seem (ironically) to share Lenin's view in State and revolution, also articulated by Fredy Perlman, that they're just parasites standing in the way of a spontaneous division of labor, in which every worker knows how to run things by instinct (which is supposedly the nightmare of managers/apparatchiks because it renders them superfluous).

Kautsky's standpoint from which he critiques Lenin, would appear to you personally (as "Kropotkinist") to make him more of a "Leninist" than Lenin himself.

Kautsky wrote:
Great organizers are as rare as great artists. For the large business they are all the more indispensable, the more extensive the undertaking, and the more various and intricate its ramifications into the total economic processes of society.

This fact has long been recognized by capital, and consequently the separate businesses seek to attract qualified organizers by offering them enormous advantages and great freedom of movement.

The State bureaucracy requires eminent organizers not less than the capitalist, but rather more so. ....

Now a socialized undertaking will be obliged to embark upon this competition with capital. It will not be able to thrive without competent organizers, and must offer them at least the same advantages as the capitalist business.

For this reason it is impossible to give effect to the demand put forward by Marx, and adopted by Lenin, that nobody employed in the State service should receive a salary in excess of workers’ wages. This principle may be in harmony with Labour sensibilities and our socialist conceptions, but it is incompatible with economic requirements, which always enforce themselves. We shall do well to recognize this fact from the start and allow it to guide our actions, instead of becoming wise after bitter experience.

So I think that the bitter history of so-called socialist countries shows that for some minimal effective management of production they had to have recourse functionaries, contrary to their own initial intentions of leveling wages, etc. Not to put a too fine point on it, but when you send people with glasses to the countryside, your production isn't exactly moving towards socialism.

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Sep 21 2012 23:05
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Sep 21 2012 23:34

To be clear, WITBD has nothing to do with functionaries running things in the transitional stage; but as it is the common objection Dave B raises, I counter on this separate subject with an argument, namely that there has been no lack of attempts to implement full communism, directly abolish money, etc. with the familiar results, point being, it's very easy to say that those systems weren't really socialist (they weren't), but the fact is that they had the same vision of communism without law of value, no division between country and city, etc. as all socialists have (compare e.g. Gaddafi's Green Book with Dauve).

Jacob Richter
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Sep 22 2012 04:37
Noa Rodman wrote:
Kautsky's standpoint from which he critiques Lenin, would appear to you personally (as "Kropotkinist") to make him more of a "Leninist" than Lenin himself.

Quote:
For this reason it is impossible to give effect to the demand put forward by Marx, and adopted by Lenin, that nobody employed in the State service should receive a salary in excess of workers’ wages. This principle may be in harmony with Labour sensibilities and our socialist conceptions, but it is incompatible with economic requirements, which always enforce themselves. We shall do well to recognize this fact from the start and allow it to guide our actions, instead of becoming wise after bitter experience.

So I think that the bitter history of so-called socialist countries shows that for some minimal effective management of production they had to have recourse functionaries, contrary to their own initial intentions of leveling wages, etc. Not to put a too fine point on it, but when you send people with glasses to the countryside, your production isn't exactly moving towards socialism.

The renegade has it wrong here. One key word is missing there: skilled.

I'm with Marx and Engels here, but of course taking modern details into account. Those in the "public service" per se should not have standards of living in excess of the median equivalent of professional and other skilled workers (thus, implicitly, not have the means to go above these standards). The median and not the mean would be more precise in defining "average skilled workers' wage" as intended by its proponents.

Last year, I agitated to a couple of union members or more about skilled workers' wages and recallability as a response to our finance minister's hypocrisy, and they were very receptive without me mentioning Engels as my source (on commenting upon the two most basic measures for a DOTP).

I, of course, wrote of how this particular should apply to internal party organization, promoting the notion of "revolutionary careerism."

P.S. - Of course the renegade's argument would apply otherwise to those advocating only an "average worker's wage."

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Sep 24 2012 19:03

Kautsky is not speaking of the salary of (all) those in the public service, but of the salary of captains of industry of large businesses owned by the state (not the state bureaucracy, but let's not derail further unless Dave wishes to reply).
________________________________

Since on another thread (about John Molyneux) this thread is referred to, it might be interesting to confirm that he, like Trotsky and other Trotskyists (and through their influence also some left communists), rejects the "Kautsky-Lenin theory":

Molyneux wrote:
I have attempted elsewhere[namely in Marxism and the Party, London, 1978] to refute this position, to show its harmful consequences, and to demonstrate that it was characteristic of Lenin's thought only up to his experience of the revolutionary working class in 1905. Suffice it to say there that the Kautsky-Lenin theory is an example of the contemplative materialism criticised by Marx in the Theses on Feuerbach, and that, in the Communist Manifesto, Marx offers his own explanation of the role of the socialist intelligentsia.

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Sep 24 2012 20:13
Noa Rodman wrote:
To be clear, WITBD has nothing to do with functionaries running things in the transitional stage; but as it is the common objection Dave B raises, I counter on this separate subject with an argument, namely that there has been no lack of attempts to implement full communism, directly abolish money, etc. with the familiar results, point being, it's very easy to say that those systems weren't really socialist (they weren't), but the fact is that they had the same vision of communism without law of value, no division between country and city, etc. as all socialists have (compare e.g. Gaddafi's Green Book with Dauve).

Wow or, uh, interesting...

So are you claiming Gaddafi made a real attempt to implement the ideas of the Green Book? Do you have any documentation for this? (not that I'd count a top down effort as a "real" attempt at communism but I would still be curious).

Anyway, what are the other "attempts to implement full communism" that you refer to?

Did any of these have a relation to, uh, the working class actually doing the implementing on a nation-wide scale? I mean, the Khmer Rouge might have abolished money but I wouldn't count that as even an attempt at full communism.

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Sep 24 2012 21:38

There was no lack of implementation of "routing out" parasites, petty-bourgeoisie, intellectuals, etc. by these regimes (and if money was abolished in Cambodia, so was inequality in wages), precisely in the name of the people (workers and peasants) and they had to have general cooperation by the masses, if only tacitly. They claimed to be attempting to implement communism but of course acknowledged that they didn't reach it yet (lack of democracy, too much bureaucracy, etc., lack of self-criticism, lack of real attempt to implement communism) - I'm just rehashing Zizek on Stalinist ideology here, and how usual critiques of it are not so good (though even cold war studies had better analyses than 'blame it on Lenin's WITBD').

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Sep 24 2012 22:33

I have no interest in Zizek's claims

But I don't think you can find many efforts to create communism in the sense of Dauve.

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Sep 28 2012 10:33

Right, that's the contradiction between on the one hand claiming to strive for communism (the same rough vision of which we all, Dauve included, share) and the reality of having privileged managers, etc. Between theory and practice. This contradiction was acknowledged by the 'socialist' regimes themselves (or its defenders). I think that's commonly known (if even Zizek points to it). And when Dave B (or Fredy Perlman) blames it on the petite-bourgeois, bureaucrats, egocrats, parasites, etc. I find that has a slightly worrying parallel with the discourse of the Stalinist regimes themselves.

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Sep 28 2012 18:42

Well it wasn’t, if it ever was, just a discourse within Stalinism, it was also a predictive ‘discourse’ within ‘Anarchism’ before the Bolsheviks seized power; with Bakunin’s ‘political aristocracy’.

It may be true that in any kind system that calls itself socialism; it may be the case that some ‘clever pigs’ may have the peculiar skills necessary for the supervision of work.

But in such situations the workers should at least be able to elect their own managers.

Lenin’s viewpoint was that they should not; because most of factory workers were too corrupted, degraded and irresponsible, as the more stupid of animals, when it came to animalism, to even do that.

And the appointment of managers should be left to the elite vanguard, and the ‘real proletarians’, who didn’t work in factories.

Just as in capitalism proper; were the appointment of manager is left to people who don’t work in factories.

Thus;
V. I. Lenin The Party Crisis

Quote:
Why have a Party, if industrial management is to be appointed (“mandatory nomination”) by the trade unions nine-tenths of whose members are non-Party workers? Bukharin has talked himself into a logical, theoretical and practical implication of a split in the Party, or, rather, a breakaway of the syndicalists from the Party.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/jan/19.htm

Incidentally it was almost inevitable that 90% of the even legal ‘state’ trade unionists were not party members, as the party membership was at that point even less than 1% of the working population.

And thus that ideology follows on directly, 15 years later, from the ‘bourgeois intelligentsia’ and ‘revolutionary bacillus’ idea of WITBD

Quote:
On the other hand, the idea, common among the old parties and the old leaders of the Second International, that the majority of the exploited toilers can achieve complete clarity of socialist consciousness and firm socialist convictions and character under capitalist slavery, under the yoke of the bourgeoisie (which assumes an infinite variety of forms that become more subtle and at the same time more brutal and ruthless the higher the cultural level in a given capitalist country) is also idealisation of capitalism and of bourgeois democracy, as well as deception of the workers.

.

In fact, it is only after the vanguard of the proletariat, supported by the whole or the majority of this, the only revolutionary class, overthrows the exploiters, suppresses them, emancipates the exploited from their state of slavery and-immediately improves their conditions of life [under Bolshevik state capitalism] at the expense of the expropriated [other] capitalists………… that the masses of the toilers and exploited can be educated, trained and organised around the [real] proletariat [ that don’t work in factories and never did] under whose [bourgeois intelligentsia] influence and guidance, they can get rid of the selfishness, disunity, vices and weaknesses engendered by private [as opposed to Bolshevik state] property; only then will they be converted into a free union of free workers.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/jul/04.htm

Lenin put flesh on the bone and made Bakunin’s nightmarish vile calumny real.

The perverse inverse workerism of dialectical Stalinism and Leninism is beneath contempt.

Quote:
All the other male pigs on the farm were porkers. The best known among them was a small fat pig named Squealer, with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements, and a shrill voice. He was a brilliant talker, and when he was arguing some difficult point he had a way of skipping from side to side and whisking his tail which was somehow very persuasive. The others said of Squealer that he could turn black into white.

http://www.marxists.org/subject/art/literature/children/texts/orwell/ani...

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Sep 28 2012 21:28
Quote:
It may be true that in any kind system that calls itself socialism; it may be the case that some ‘clever pigs’ may have the peculiar skills necessary for the supervision of work.

But supervision of work is not what managers of production are (mostly) occupied with I think, as Kautsky wrote (in response to State&revolution): "No, a social apparatus of production which is of so simple a nature that anybody who can read and write can organize and direct it, and in which the manager has nothing to do except supervise work and pay everybody an equal wage – that is a prison, not a factory. Even the simplest factory places greater demands upon its manager, to say nothing of the collective social work."

I suppose that naturally within specific plants or departments the appointments of foremen are made by those working and most familiar with the business. I anticipated rather that you would object to material privilege of higher pay of managers.

"Although the ultimate aim of the Soviet government is to achieve full communism and equal remuneration for all kinds of work, it cannot, however, introduce this equality straightaway, at the present time, when only the first steps of the transition from capitalism to communism are being taken. For a certain period of time, therefore, we must retain the present higher remuneration for specialists in order to give them an incentive to work no worse, and even better, than they have worked before; and with the same object in view, we must not reject the system of paying bonuses for the most successful work, particularly organisational work."

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1919/mar/x02.htm

From the article on Party crisis which you cite, Lenin is against compartmentalized control by trade-unions:

"The trade unions should eventually arrive ”(which means that they are not yet there or even on the way) “at a de facto concentration in their hands”(in their, that is, the hands of the trade unions, that is, the hands of the fully organised masses; anyone will see how far we have still to go even to the very first approaches to this de facto concentration) . . . concentration of what? “of the whole administration of the whole national economy, as a single economic entity”thence, not branches of industry [..]"

To me this looks almost like a syndicalist deviation of entrusting trade-unions a task way beyond their ability.

I agree with you that the idea that proletariat can only be educated after or by the experience of revolution is not so good (but Lenin says it against "old socialist leaders", whom he in WITBD still considered as examples).

Quote:
The perverse inverse workerism of dialectical Stalinism and Leninism is beneath contempt.

inverse workerism?