Socialist & bourgeois revolution.

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horopo
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May 3 2010 19:15
Socialist & bourgeois revolution.

I posted this in another thread but then I saw the rest of the thread, which was a degeneration into arguments about leftist groups.

Entdinglichung wrote:

talking of Leninism in the sense of Lenin's "classical" theories: we have the rejection of Lenin's stage theory outlined e.g. in "Two Tactics of Social-Democry in the Democratic Revolution" which calls for a revolutionary dictatorship of workers and peasants (opposed to the Mensheviks' call for a bourgeois democratic government after a revolution against Tsarism) which carries out the tasks of a bourgeois revolution. Trotsky in "Results and Prospects" remarked, that a revolution carried out by the proletariat (with support of the peasantry) would fail, if it would limit itself to the tasks of a bourgeois revolution, it should not wait but advance to a socialist revolution ... in his April theses of 1917, Lenin adopted Trotsky's viewpoint

What is the actual difference between the positions Lenin and Trotsky were taking?
What's the difference between a bourgeois and capitalist revolution?

Dave B
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May 5 2010 17:00

Well I don’t mind much dragging my sorry arse to the keyboard for 10 minutes to try and throw some light on this one.

For clarification, the Marxist stage-ist theory ‘states’ that it is not possible to go from feudalism to socialism or in other words it is inevitable or necessary to pass through the capitalist stage, before and as a precondition, to socialism.

So much so that a socialist revolution for M&E would have been impossible in feudal Russia; as much in 1874 as 1917.

This is in fact so hardwired into Marxist theory that it is impossible to abandon it without throwing the whole of Marx’s theory overboard, which is an option nevertheless.

To substantiate this point I am including a quote from Karl on Bakunin only because I think it contains a clear demonstration of this position and not as an attempt at Bakunin bashing.

In fact within the quote, Bakunin made a good point that Karl hand waved away about how the ‘Marxist system’ could go wrong, as in from Bakunin;

Quote:
…which is unceasingly found in the works and speeches of the Lasalleans and Marxists, itself indicates that the so-called people's state will be nothing else than the very despotic guidance of the mass of the people by a new and numerically very small aristocracy of the genuine or supposedly educated.

Which lets face it is exactly what happened in Bolshevik Russia and even pre dated trotsky’s later bureaucratic caste theory.

Anyway, the stage theory;

Works of Karl Marx 1874 Conspectus of Bakunin’s Statism and Anarchy

Quote:
Schoolboy stupidity! A radical social revolution depends on certain definite historical conditions of economic development as its precondition. It is also only possible where with capitalist production the industrial proletariat occupies at least an important position among the mass of the people. And if it is to have any chance of victory, it must be able to do immediately as much for the peasants as the French bourgeoisie, mutatis mutandis, did in its revolution for the French peasants of that time. A fine idea, that the rule of labour involves the subjugation of land labour!

But here Mr Bakunin's innermost thoughts emerge. He understands absolutely nothing about the social revolution, only its political phrases. Its economic conditions do not exist for him. As all hitherto existing economic forms, developed or undeveloped, involve the enslavement of the worker (whether in the form of wage-labourer, peasant etc.), he believes that a radical revolution is possible in all such forms alike. Still more! He wants the European social revolution, premised on the economic basis of capitalist production, to take place at the level of the Russian or Slavic agricultural and pastoral peoples, not to surpass this level [...] The will, and not the economic conditions, is the foundation of his social revolution.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1874/04/bakunin-notes.htm

Lenin himself sort of understood this position in 1905 and put it in his own way in the quote provided below, the whole of section 6 probably needs to be read in its entirety however.

6. FROM WHAT DIRECTION IS THE PROLETARIAT THREATENED WITH THE DANGER OF HAVING ITS HANDS TIED IN THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE INCONSISTENT BOURGEOISIE?

Quote:
Marxists are absolutely convinced of the bourgeois character of the Russian revolution. What does this mean? It means that the democratic reforms in the political system and the social and economic reforms, which have become a necessity for Russia, do not in themselves imply the undermining of capitalism, the undermining of bourgeois rule; on the contrary, they will, for the first time, really clear the ground for a wide and rapid, European, and not Asiatic, development of capitalism; they will, for the first time, make

page 42

it possible for the bourgeoisie to rule as a class. The Socialist-Revolutionaries cannot grasp this idea, for they are ignorant of the rudiments of the laws of development of commodity and capitalist praduction; they fail to see that even the complete success of a peasant insurrection, even the redistribution of …………………….

That is why a bourgeois revolution is in the highest degree advantageous to the proletariat. A bourgeois revolution is absolutely necessary in the interests of the proletariat. The more complete and determined, the more consistent the bourgeois revolution, the more assured will be the proletarian struggle against the bourgeoisie for Socialism. Only those who are ignorant of the rudiments of scientific Socialism can regard this conclusion as new or strange, paradoxical.

http://www.marx2mao.net/Lenin/TT05.html#c6

The Mensheviks basically agreed with that position however the Mensheviks didn’t want to get involved or sucked into administrating capitalism after the bourgeois revolution or in other words the overthrow of feudalism.

The basic idea being, as far as the Mensheviks were concerned, was that whilst participating in the overthrow of feudalism was ‘good’; meddling in the administration of what followed ie capitalism was ‘bad’.

To some extent the Bolsheviks agreed with that position as well but justified a ‘working class party’ getting more involved in the bourgeois revolution as necessary in order to prevent it backsliding back into some sort of anti democratic bourgeois-feudalistic compromise.

As the bourgeoisie might get cold feet and fear that disrespect for property rights by the masses etc might go too far.

Which all had historical precedents in M&E’s early stuff circa 1850 etc.

So the Bolshevik ‘persistent’ involvement was just to ‘consummate’ the capitalist revolution.

So when Lenin advocated (state) capitalism in late 1917 and early 1918 he was in fact not deviating from orthodox Marxist doctrine of the necessity of going through a capitalist stage before socialism.

In fact he accused others of 'childishness' for thinking otherwise, and believing that it was possible to even put in place the kind of system that was in Lenin's own 'State and Revolution’.

Bukharin wrote a flattering review of Lenin’s ‘State and Revolution’ with the object of throwing it back into Lenin’s face, against Lenin’s ‘gigantic step forward’ of state capitalism theory.

But Lenin was correct in thinking that avoiding capitalism was a stupid idea. The issue was however whether or not a so called workers party should run capitalism, or for that matter a particular variety of it, state capitalism.

The Faustian temptation for the Bolsheviks to ‘temporarily’ enter into the marble halls and of power of running capitalism in 1905 was obviously even more irresistible in 1918 given the power vacuum of a numerically weak absentee imperialist capitalist class, located in France and elsewhere.

I think Trots like to think that Lenin somehow adopted Trotsky’s permanent revolution theory, whatever that might be.

But in fact Lenin dismissed Trotsky's permanent revolution theory as nonsense, as well as the idea of ‘introducing socialism’, on several occasions.

Perhaps most notably post April thesis in;

Economic Dislocation and the Proletariat’s Struggle Against It

First published in Pravda No. 73, June 1917

Quote:
The point is that people who have turned Marxism into a kind of stiffly bourgeois doctrine evade the specific issues posed by reality, which in Russia has in practice produced a combination of the syndicates in industry and the small- peasant farms in the countryside. They evade these specific issues by advancing pseudo-intellectual, and in fact utterly meaningless, arguments about a "permanent revolution", about “introducing” socialism, and other nonsense.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/jun/17.htm

Whether Trot intellectuals are lying when the say that Lenin adopted Trotsky’s permanent revolution theory or Lenin did is up for grabs I suppose.

ernie
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May 6 2010 20:56

Lenin put forwards the call for the October insurrection not because he believed that Russia was not faced with all sorts of problems but because he believed that an international revolutionary process was underway. Within that context the proletariat uprising in Russia would be part of this wider process. Thus, from the beginning the soviet Republic was dependent upon the international movement of the revolutionary proletariat.
I am not sure but Dave B's position would imply that if the revolution had taken place in Germany some how it could have been more successful. It certainly would have been faced with many less internal contradictions but without an international revolution it still would have ended up defeated.
To try and analysis the Russian Revolution and the actions of the Bolsheviks solely within the context of Russia is to abandon the Marxist method. But what about the quotes from Marx? Well they were written in the 1870s. Lenin and the revolutionary movement however were confronted with the First World War and the opening up of a new period, something all of the Marxist left were agreed on more or less,which placed the question of revolution and socialism directly onto an international terrain. Marx was commenting within the context of the developing capitalist structure in Russia: that development had taken great strides forwards 40 years later.
If we want to boil this question down to the most basic point: Lenin had confidence in the ability of the international proletariat to come to the rescue of the proletarian stronghold, This is the fundamental queston: was there a realistic possibility of international revolution at that time? The Bolsheviks and Lenin staked their lives on convinction that this was the case.
Marx also did not live to see the emergence of a strong socialist movement in Russia. A movement that regroup the most militant sections of the proletariat. Nor did he see the 1905 revolution and the emergence of the Soviets. In Dave B's analysis one is left wonder how a backwards country could produce the most advanced and revolutionary mass organisations of the international proletariat at the time? A central and vital strength of the Russian Socialist Movement was its ability to consciously draw on the experience of the international workers movement and to consciously try and draw the lessons of its experience. This internationalist vision was a fundamental strength of the proletariat in Russia and its revolutionary minorities.

ernie
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May 6 2010 21:24

horopo

The following articles add some more depth to the rather brief analysis above
October 1917: The working masses take charge of their destinyhttp://en.internationalism.org/ir/131/october-1917-masses-take-charge
The First Revolutionary Wave of the World Proletariat

As to the difference between Trotsky and Lenin, this depends when you are talking about. Up until about 1914 (may 1917, I am sure some one will correct me) Lenin still thought that the bourgeois revolution (i.e., the overthrow of the old feudal structures and their replacement by a bourgeois democratic system) was on the cards in Russia, whereas if I remember correctly, Trotsky thought that the proletarian revolution was on the agenda (given the international situation). However, faced with the War and Feb 1917 Lenin came to see that the international proletarian revolution was becoming a real possibility and thus the possibility of the proletariat taking poliitcal power in Russia, on the assumption that the international proletariat would rise up and save the proletariat in Russia from being left isolated, etc.

I hope that is of some use.

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May 10 2010 20:49
Dave B wrote:
Well I don’t mind much dragging my sorry arse to the keyboard for 10 minutes to try and throw some light on this one.

For clarification, the Marxist stage-ist theory ‘states’ that it is not possible to go from feudalism to socialism or in other words it is inevitable or necessary to pass through the capitalist stage, before and as a precondition, to socialism.

So much so that a socialist revolution for M&E would have been impossible in feudal Russia; as much in 1874 as 1917.

This is in fact so hardwired into Marxist theory that it is impossible to abandon it without throwing the whole of Marx’s theory overboard, which is an option nevertheless.

To substantiate this point I am including a quote from Karl on Bakunin only because I think it contains a clear demonstration of this position and not as an attempt at Bakunin bashing.

In fact within the quote, Bakunin made a good point that Karl hand waved away about how the ‘Marxist system’ could go wrong, as in from Bakunin;

Quote:
…which is unceasingly found in the works and speeches of the Lasalleans and Marxists, itself indicates that the so-called people's state will be nothing else than the very despotic guidance of the mass of the people by a new and numerically very small aristocracy of the genuine or supposedly educated.

Which lets face it is exactly what happened in Bolshevik Russia and even pre dated trotsky’s later bureaucratic caste theory.

Anyway, the stage theory;

Works of Karl Marx 1874 Conspectus of Bakunin’s Statism and Anarchy

Quote:
Schoolboy stupidity! A radical social revolution depends on certain definite historical conditions of economic development as its precondition. It is also only possible where with capitalist production the industrial proletariat occupies at least an important position among the mass of the people. And if it is to have any chance of victory, it must be able to do immediately as much for the peasants as the French bourgeoisie, mutatis mutandis, did in its revolution for the French peasants of that time. A fine idea, that the rule of labour involves the subjugation of land labour!

But here Mr Bakunin's innermost thoughts emerge. He understands absolutely nothing about the social revolution, only its political phrases. Its economic conditions do not exist for him. As all hitherto existing economic forms, developed or undeveloped, involve the enslavement of the worker (whether in the form of wage-labourer, peasant etc.), he believes that a radical revolution is possible in all such forms alike. Still more! He wants the European social revolution, premised on the economic basis of capitalist production, to take place at the level of the Russian or Slavic agricultural and pastoral peoples, not to surpass this level [...] The will, and not the economic conditions, is the foundation of his social revolution.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1874/04/bakunin-notes.htm

Lenin himself sort of understood this position in 1905 and put it in his own way in the quote provided below, the whole of section 6 probably needs to be read in its entirety however.

6. FROM WHAT DIRECTION IS THE PROLETARIAT THREATENED WITH THE DANGER OF HAVING ITS HANDS TIED IN THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE INCONSISTENT BOURGEOISIE?

Quote:
Marxists are absolutely convinced of the bourgeois character of the Russian revolution. What does this mean? It means that the democratic reforms in the political system and the social and economic reforms, which have become a necessity for Russia, do not in themselves imply the undermining of capitalism, the undermining of bourgeois rule; on the contrary, they will, for the first time, really clear the ground for a wide and rapid, European, and not Asiatic, development of capitalism; they will, for the first time, make

page 42

it possible for the bourgeoisie to rule as a class. The Socialist-Revolutionaries cannot grasp this idea, for they are ignorant of the rudiments of the laws of development of commodity and capitalist praduction; they fail to see that even the complete success of a peasant insurrection, even the redistribution of …………………….

That is why a bourgeois revolution is in the highest degree advantageous to the proletariat. A bourgeois revolution is absolutely necessary in the interests of the proletariat. The more complete and determined, the more consistent the bourgeois revolution, the more assured will be the proletarian struggle against the bourgeoisie for Socialism. Only those who are ignorant of the rudiments of scientific Socialism can regard this conclusion as new or strange, paradoxical.

http://www.marx2mao.net/Lenin/TT05.html#c6

The Mensheviks basically agreed with that position however the Mensheviks didn’t want to get involved or sucked into administrating capitalism after the bourgeois revolution or in other words the overthrow of feudalism.

The basic idea being, as far as the Mensheviks were concerned, was that whilst participating in the overthrow of feudalism was ‘good’; meddling in the administration of what followed ie capitalism was ‘bad’.

To some extent the Bolsheviks agreed with that position as well but justified a ‘working class party’ getting more involved in the bourgeois revolution as necessary in order to prevent it backsliding back into some sort of anti democratic bourgeois-feudalistic compromise.

As the bourgeoisie might get cold feet and fear that disrespect for property rights by the masses etc might go too far.

Which all had historical precedents in M&E’s early stuff circa 1850 etc.

So the Bolshevik ‘persistent’ involvement was just to ‘consummate’ the capitalist revolution.

So when Lenin advocated (state) capitalism in late 1917 and early 1918 he was in fact not deviating from orthodox Marxist doctrine of the necessity of going through a capitalist stage before socialism.

In fact he accused others of 'childishness' for thinking otherwise, and believing that it was possible to even put in place the kind of system that was in Lenin's own 'State and Revolution’.

Bukharin wrote a flattering review of Lenin’s ‘State and Revolution’ with the object of throwing it back into Lenin’s face, against Lenin’s ‘gigantic step forward’ of state capitalism theory.

But Lenin was correct in thinking that avoiding capitalism was a stupid idea. The issue was however whether or not a so called workers party should run capitalism, or for that matter a particular variety of it, state capitalism.

The Faustian temptation for the Bolsheviks to ‘temporarily’ enter into the marble halls and of power of running capitalism in 1905 was obviously even more irresistible in 1918 given the power vacuum of a numerically weak absentee imperialist capitalist class, located in France and elsewhere.

I think Trots like to think that Lenin somehow adopted Trotsky’s permanent revolution theory, whatever that might be.

But in fact Lenin dismissed Trotsky's permanent revolution theory as nonsense, as well as the idea of ‘introducing socialism’, on several occasions.

Perhaps most notably post April thesis in;

Economic Dislocation and the Proletariat’s Struggle Against It

First published in Pravda No. 73, June 1917

Quote:
The point is that people who have turned Marxism into a kind of stiffly bourgeois doctrine evade the specific issues posed by reality, which in Russia has in practice produced a combination of the syndicates in industry and the small- peasant farms in the countryside. They evade these specific issues by advancing pseudo-intellectual, and in fact utterly meaningless, arguments about a "permanent revolution", about “introducing” socialism, and other nonsense.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/jun/17.htm

Whether Trot intellectuals are lying when the say that Lenin adopted Trotsky’s permanent revolution theory or Lenin did is up for grabs I suppose.

Good post Dave.

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May 10 2010 21:38

Marx did in fact see it as integral that a society which has not passed through capitalism can never be a communist society. Why do you think Lenin and the subsequent Stalin set up state capitalism in Russia?

They were following Marx's lead. Unfortunately the Bolsheviks were in fact the Marxist vanguard. They took the power from the soviets [workers councils] and handed the people's power or potential for immediate socialist revolution over top the communist party and as we have seen replaced feudal maters with state capitalist masters.

If one is to take Marx as the authority [no pun intended] on socialism then you almost need to admit the need for a second revolution to overthrow the 'communist' state.

Marx was a genius as far as his critique of capitalism, predicting crisis etc but the main problem is hierarchy as we've seen. A centralized state be it capitalist or communist will eventually need to be overthrown for actual communism to exist. Why go through all the trouble?

Bakunin was right.
Would it not be so much easier to skip the state capitalist stage?

Anarchism is socialism without the Hegelian twist.

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May 10 2010 21:40

It is nonsense that Marx thought communism could not exist in any given society unless that society has gone through a capitalist period first?
Try re reading Marx if you don't understand his position.

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May 10 2010 21:41

Capitalism is the seed- socialism the plant and communism the flower.

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May 10 2010 21:48
revol68 wrote:
CRUD wrote:
It is nonsense that Marx thought communism could not exist in any given society unless that society has gone through a capitalist period first?
Try re reading Marx if you don't understand his position.

Except his comments about the Russian rural communes would suggest that his analysis was not so simplistic.

Try reading what I've been posting and then respond with points that are relevant.

Try sitting on a Hattori Hanzo.

How do you think Hegelian Dialectic could be related to Marxism concerning the need for capitalism/socialism/communism to manifest in that order?

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May 10 2010 21:54
revol68 wrote:
CRUD wrote:
revol68 wrote:
CRUD wrote:
It is nonsense that Marx thought communism could not exist in any given society unless that society has gone through a capitalist period first?
Try re reading Marx if you don't understand his position.

Except his comments about the Russian rural communes would suggest that his analysis was not so simplistic.

Try reading what I've been posting and then respond with points that are relevant.

Try sitting on a Hattori Hanzo.

How do you think Hegelian Dialectic could be related to Marxism concerning the need for capitalism/socialism/communism to manifest in that order?

Are you actually going to respond in a semi cogent way to any of the points I raised or will I have to wait for a grown up to arrive on the thread to have a semi interesting discussion.

Do you understand Hegelian Dialectic? And a Hattori Hanzo is a very sharp sword.

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May 10 2010 21:59

According to Marx's world view and the application of Hegelian Dialectic some people think Marxism isn't dead but is in a stage where a global capitalist state is being set up. That the revolution is not dead or stagnant, they say, but is simply in a phase of the bigger picture.

I don't agree with that.

Now lets kiss and be friends, I don't really want you to sit on a Hanzo.

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May 10 2010 22:05
revol68 wrote:
CRUD wrote:
According to Marx's world view and the application of Hegelian Dialectic some people think Marxism isn't dead but is in a stage where a global capitalist state is being set up. That the revolution is not dead or stagnant, they say, but is simply in a phase of the bigger picture.

I don't agree with that.

Now lets kiss and be friends.

The revolutionary mole of history never sleeps.

Well, what are we discussing here?

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May 10 2010 22:09

I think this thread should be melded with the "why is socialism marginalized" thread and perhaps the "announcement" thread I made.

Spassmaschine
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May 10 2010 22:28

Hey Revol, would you have a link handy to Marx's letter to Vera Z about the mir? The only one to her I can find on marxists.org is one from Engels that is one line long.

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May 10 2010 22:37
revol68 wrote:
CRUD wrote:
It is nonsense that Marx thought communism could not exist in any given society unless that society has gone through a capitalist period first?
Try re reading Marx if you don't understand his position.

Except his comments about the Russian rural communes would suggest that his analysis was not so simplistic.

Or that his position changed. I am guessing your referring to the late preface of the Communist Manifesto.

The 1882 Russian Edition wrote:
The Communist Manifesto had, as its object, the proclamation of the inevitable impending dissolution of modern bourgeois property. But in Russia we find, face-to-face with the rapidly flowering capitalist swindle and bourgeois property, just beginning to develop, more than half the land owned in common by the peasants. Now the question is: can the Russian obshchina, though greatly undermined, yet a form of primeval common ownership of land, pass directly to the higher form of Communist common ownership? Or, on the contrary, must it first pass through the same process of dissolution such as constitutes the historical evolution of the West?
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May 10 2010 23:07
Democratic Pan-Slavism wrote:
Just a word about "universal fraternal union of peoples" and the drawing of "boundaries established by the sovereign will of the peoples themselves on the basis of their national characteristics". The United States and Mexico are two republics, in both of which the people is sovereign.

How did it happen that over Texas a war broke out between these two republics, which, according to the moral theory, ought to have been "fraternally united" and "federated", and that, owing to "geographical, commercial and strategical necessities", the "sovereign will" of the American people, supported by the bravery of the American volunteers, shifted the boundaries drawn by nature some hundreds of miles further south? And will Bakunin accuse the Americans of a "war of conquest", which, although it deals with a severe blow to his theory based on "justice and humanity", was nevertheless waged wholly and solely in the interest of civilization? Or is it perhaps unfortunate that splendid California has been taken away from the lazy Mexicans, who could not do anything with it? That the energetic Yankees by rapid exploitation of the California gold mines will increase the means of circulation, in a few years will concentrate a dense population and extensive trade at the most suitable places on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, create large cities, open up communications by steamship, construct a railway from New York to San Francisco, for the first time really open the Pacific Ocean to civilization, and for the third time in history give the world trade a new direction? The "independence" of a few Spanish Californians and Texans may suffer because of it, in someplaces "justice" and other moral principles may be violated; but what does that matter to such facts of world-historic significance?

Sorry but, despite Bakunin's lurch into nonsense which Engels is right to pull him up at, I read the above as a crude reflection on what Marx and Engels are arguing for. Which is a call for the communist mode of production to be approached in a very linear fashion, in stark to the Communist Manifesto I quote above. Mark Leir in his biography of Bakunin argues that Marx drops the determinism towards socialist revolution and how its tied up with mode of production after the Paris Commune, which apparently took him completely by surprise. I can see no reason to argue against this.

Spassmaschine
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May 10 2010 23:10
revol68 wrote:
Spaßmaschine wrote:
Hey Revol, would you have a link handy to Marx's letter to Vera Z about the mir? The only one to her I can find on marxists.org is one from Engels that is one line long.

Here it is, I'd originally made a hyperlink to it in my post but then i had to reformat for some mad reason and lost it.

I think there is also a preface to a later edition of The Communist Manifesto that discusses the same issue, but I'm having trouble finding it.

Cheers. The preface you're thinking of is to the Russian edition, here.

Spassmaschine
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May 10 2010 23:15

oops, didn't read OL's post above.

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May 11 2010 00:56
october_lost wrote:
Democratic Pan-Slavism wrote:
Just a word about "universal fraternal union of peoples" and the drawing of "boundaries established by the sovereign will of the peoples themselves on the basis of their national characteristics". The United States and Mexico are two republics, in both of which the people is sovereign.

How did it happen that over Texas a war broke out between these two republics, which, according to the moral theory, ought to have been "fraternally united" and "federated", and that, owing to "geographical, commercial and strategical necessities", the "sovereign will" of the American people, supported by the bravery of the American volunteers, shifted the boundaries drawn by nature some hundreds of miles further south? And will Bakunin accuse the Americans of a "war of conquest", which, although it deals with a severe blow to his theory based on "justice and humanity", was nevertheless waged wholly and solely in the interest of civilization? Or is it perhaps unfortunate that splendid California has been taken away from the lazy Mexicans, who could not do anything with it? That the energetic Yankees by rapid exploitation of the California gold mines will increase the means of circulation, in a few years will concentrate a dense population and extensive trade at the most suitable places on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, create large cities, open up communications by steamship, construct a railway from New York to San Francisco, for the first time really open the Pacific Ocean to civilization, and for the third time in history give the world trade a new direction? The "independence" of a few Spanish Californians and Texans may suffer because of it, in someplaces "justice" and other moral principles may be violated; but what does that matter to such facts of world-historic significance?

Sorry but, despite Bakunin's lurch into nonsense which Engels is right to pull him up at, I read the above as a crude reflection on what Marx and Engels are arguing for. Which is a call for the communist mode of production to be approached in a very linear fashion, in stark to the Communist Manifesto I quote above. Mark Leir in his biography of Bakunin argues that Marx drops the determinism towards socialist revolution and how its tied up with mode of production after the Paris Commune, which apparently took him completely by surprise. I can see no reason to argue against this.

I prefer Paul McLaughlin's analysis of Bakunin's philosophical stance.

In the end, quite simply, fuck the state. It's what has created class society or the exploited proletariat. It's not going to be our savior. illegitimate hierarchical government is the problem.

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May 11 2010 01:16
Quote:
I prefer Paul McLaughlin's analysis of Bakunin's philosophical stance.

In the end, quite simply, fuck the state.

THE OUTLAW

That is all.

~J.

Joey OD
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May 11 2010 01:34

just to be clear. Marx never justified the dictatorship of a party claiming to represent the workers, still less in an underdeveloped semi feudal society. Marx agreed with Bakunin (see Civil War in France) that workers democracy would mean delegate democracy, direct democracy, rotation of unpiad posts or direct election of unpaid posts, or rather paid no more than the average worker. Unlike Bakunin Marx paid special attention to economic development and thought that workers revolution would occur in the most developed capitalist economies where there were only two remaining classes. Where this was not the case Marx suggested workers form alliances with peasants and "not hit them over the head" (Marx's notes on Bakunin's S&A). Yet Marx claimed Bakunin was too willing to accomodate peasants with occupier ownership and yet in the same work also claimed Bakunin went to far with socialisation of the land and abolition of inheritance thus "hitting the peasant over the head". Actually they both had the same position despite the slander and polemics: workers, while a minority, should try to form an alliance with peasants allowing individual possession in the country and workers control in the towns. But Marx was being political. Such an alliance had the short term gain of avoiding conflict between workers and peasants. But beyond demands Marx didn't really see this (individual possession) happening. He foresaw that capitalism would get rid of the peasants in the long term.
Lenin misused terms such as calling liberty a "bourgeois prejudice". For Marx socialism was full liberty, economic as well as political/legal/constitutional. Marx did not wish to get rid of individual liberty but extend it to freedom to control our own production, creation, freedom from wage slavery and exploitation. Lenin mistook his party, his flag, himself, his govt and state for the revolution. More genuine state socialists have claimed that liberal democratic state capitalism/ownership is the prologue to socialism. Leninism was not even this but authoritarian bureaucratic state capitalism with a vengeance. Marx believed in libertarian direct democratic workers ownership and control. He called workers democracy "a state" or rather the part of workers democracy that deals with defence, protection of what we have gained: workers militia, the people armed. Anarchists like Bakunin agree, we just don't call this a "state". There's is nothing wrong with dictatorship of the proletariat when the proletariat is the immense majority as it is now. No one and no party can "represent" the workers but the workers themselves. Lenin believed in dictatorship of the central executive of his party. Nothing more.

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Paulappaul
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May 11 2010 06:32

Urgh,

Quote:
In the end, quite simply, fuck the state. It's what has created class society or the exploited proletariat. It's not going to be our savior. illegitimate hierarchical government is the problem.

“The existence of the state is inseparable from the existence of slavery ... The more powerful a state and hence the more political a nation, the less inclined it is to explain the general principle governing social ills and to seek out their causes by looking at the principle of the state – i.e., at the actual organization of society of which the state is the active, self-conscious and official expression.” - Karl Marx

Dave B
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May 11 2010 19:22

This one has suddenly sprung to life.

I haven’t read all the posts but a few things have caught my attention.

On the Russian Mir thing and letters to Vera etc I think there is a much better, more comprehensive and later review of that material elsewhere.

I think it is a really interesting article by Engels..

On Social Relations In Russia by Engels Afterword (1894)

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894/01/russia.htm

I think that you can have an opinion on what Karl’s determinist stagist theory was; whether or not you agree with it is another matter.

I think the quotes I gave from Karl and Lenin sums up Karl’s theory well enough.

I think Karl thought that socialism/communism could only become possible after an increase in the productivity of labour that could provide abundance.

That would happen after an accumulation of the ‘means of production’; machines, factories, railways, roads etc, out of the surplus value of capitalism.

And that only capitalism would/could perform that process, as well as developing technology for its own ends.

It wasn’t a matter of Karl wishing it to happen that way it just that he thought it would.

Then there is the peasant question. I don’t think that their views on the peasants were based solely on theoretical projection but just as much on historical observation.

So speaking very generally;

The European feudal peasants, admittedly at edge of the ‘whirlpool’ commodity and capitalist production, tended to have a set of wants, desires and ambitions that were an anathema to Karl’s vision of socialism.

What they wanted was to possess their own piece of land that they would work for themselves and sell the produce on the open market run like a small business, and be independent like the self employed.

Just like the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ people from the book and TV series.

It was a matter I suppose of the economic base of commodity production in agriculture determining the ideological superstructure of the said peasants.

This tended to give them a petty capitalist outlook, and indeed they would and did go into competition with each other. The less efficient going to the wall, their land being gobbled up and acquired by the more efficient peasants in the normal process of capitalism.

The ones that went to the wall would be forced to become wage workers, either working for the industrial capitalists or their former brother petty capitalist peasants etc.

M&E thought that only the failed petty capitalists and the dispossessed could come around to recognise a common cause and identity of position with their fellow wage workers in class conflict against the big capitalists as a precondition to socialism/communism etc.

One problem with this is that it could be a long drawn out affair as the pressure of economies of scale and the use of expensive capital/ machinery were less in agriculture hence slowing down the process of the proletarianisation of the peasants.

The peasants were also backward looking, conservative, reactionary and stupid, so they thought.

They came to realise I think at one point that Russia was so ‘backward’ in places and insulated from commodity production that there still remained the residual ‘ideology’ of primitive communism that hadn’t quite morphed into its more modern European counterpart.

Therefore as these people still retained a communist consciousness they could in theory miss out on the path to communist consciousness otherwise arrived from the position of dispossessed wage worker.

And some stuff from Kautsky for what it matters;

Karl Kautsky Differences Among the Russian Socialists (1905)

Quote:
Twenty-four years ago no one could assert with certainty that the Russian village communities might not become the starting point of a modern form of communism. Society as a whole can not leap over any stage of evolution, but single backward portions thereof can easily do this. They can make a leap in order to correspond with other and more advanced portions. So it was possible that Russian society might leap over the capitalist stage in order to immediately develop the new communism out of the old. But a condition of this was that socialism in the rest of Europe should become victorious during the time that the village communities still had a vital strength in Russia. This at the begin- fling of the eighties appeared still possible.

But in a decade the impossibility of this transition was perfectly clear. The revolution in Western Europe moved slower and the village communities in Russia fell faster than appeared probable at the beginning of the eighties, and therewith it was decided that the special peculiarity of Russia upon which the terrorism and the socialism of the Narodnaya Volya was founded should disappear, and that Russia must pass through capitalism in order to attain socialism and that also Russia must in this respect pass along the same road as had Western Europe. Here as there socialism must grow out of the great industry and the industrial proletariat is the only revolutionary class which is capable of leading a continuous and independent revolutionary battle against absolutism.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1905/xx/rsdlp.htm

Karl Kautsky The Dictatorship of the Proletariat
Chapter VIII The Object Lesson

Quote:
But Russia, is not one of these leading industrial States. What is being enacted there now is, in fact, the last of bourgeois, and not the first of Socialist revolutions. This shows itself ever more distinctly. Its present Revolution could only assume a Socialist character if it coincided with Socialist Revolutions in Western Europe.

That by an object lesson of this kind in the more highly-developed nations, the pace of social development may be accelerated, was already recognised by Marx in the preface to the first edition of Capital:

One nation can and should learn from others. And even when a society has got upon the right track for the discovery of the natural laws of its movement - it can neither clear by bold leaps, nor remove by legal enactments the obstacles offered by the successive phases of its normal development. But it can shorten and lessen the birth-pangs.

In spite of their numerous calls on Marx, our Bolshevist friends seem to have quite forgotten this passage, for the dictatorship of the proletariat, which they preach and practise, is nothing but a grandiose attempt to clear by bold leaps or remove by legal enactments the obstacles offered by the successive phases of normal development. They think that it is the least painful method for the delivery of Socialism, for “shortening and lessening its birth-pangs”. But if we are to continue in metaphor, then their practice reminds us more of a pregnant woman, who performs the most foolish exercises in order to shorten the period of gestation, which makes her impatient, and thereby causes a premature birth.

The result of such proceedings is, as a rule, a child incapable of life.

Marx speaks here of the object lesson which one nation may afford another. Socialism is, however, concerned with yet another kind of object lesson, viz., that which a highly-developed industry may furnish to an industry which is backward.

To be sure, capitalist competition everywhere tends to displace old-fashioned industrial methods, but under capitalist conditions this is so painful a process that those threatened by its operation strive to avert it by all means. The Socialist method of production would therefore find in existence a number of processes which are technically obsolete; for example, in agriculture, where large-scale production has made little progress, and in places is even receding.

Socialist production can only develop on the basis of the large industry. Socialist agriculture would have to consist solely in the socialisation of what large-scale production already exists. If good results are thereby obtained, which is to be expected, provided the social labour of freely-organised men is substituted for wage labour, (which only produces very inadequate results in agriculture) the conditions of the workers in the large Socialist industry will be seen to be more favourable than those of the small peasants, and it may then be anticipated with certainty that the latter will voluntarily pass over to the new productive methods, when society furnishes them with the necessary means.

But not before. In agriculture the way for Socialism is not prepared by Capitalism in any adequate measure. And it is quite hopeless to try to convince peasant proprietors of the theoretical superiority of Socialism. Only the object lesson of the socialisation of peasant agriculture can help. This, however, presupposes a certain extension of large-scale agriculture. The object lesson will be the quicker and more effective according to the degree of development of large-scale industry in the country.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1918/dictprole/ch08.htm

Kautsky’s theory that the Bolshevik revolution was in fact ‘the last of (the) bourgeois, and not the first of (the) Socialist revolutions’ was in fact understood by the Trot intellectuals like Grant. Which was why they had to deny it was state capitalism.

Otherwise it would make the Bolsheviks look stupid, particularly from the opening lines of Karl’s 18th Brumierre.

Eg;

Ted Grant Against the Theory of State Capitalism
Reply to Comrade Cliff

Quote:
Cliff himself points to the fact that in the bourgeois revolution the masses did the fighting and the bourgeois got the fruits. The masses did not know what they were fighting for, but they fought in reality for the rule of the bourgeoisie. Take the French Revolution. It was prepared and had its ideology in the works of the philosophers of the enlightenment, Voltaire, Rousseau, etc. However, they really did believe in the idealisation of bourgeois society. They believed the codicils of liberty, equality and fraternity which they preached. As is well known, and as Cliff himself quotes Marx to prove, the French Revolution went beyond its social base. It resulted in the revolutionary dictatorship of the sans culottes which went beyond the bounds of bourgeois society.

As Marx explained, this had the salutory effect of completing in a few months what would otherwise have taken the bourgeois decades to do. The leaders of the revolutionary wing of the petty bourgeoisie which wielded this dictatorship - Robespierre, Danton, etc, sincerely believed in the doctrines of the philosophers and attempted to put them into practice. They could not do so because it was impossible to go beyond the economic base of the given society. They inevitably had to lose power and merely paved the way for bourgeois society. If Cliff’s argument is correct, one could only conclude that the same thing happened with the Russian as with the French Revolution. Marx was the prophet of the new state capitalism. Lenin and Trotsky were the Robespierres and Carnots of the Russian Revolution. The fact that Lenin

http://www.tedgrant.org/archive/grant/1949/cliff.htm

Boris Badenov
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May 11 2010 19:32
Dave B wrote:
It wasn’t a matter of Karl wishing it to happen that way it just that he thought it would.

leaving aside the whole "determinist" aspect, wasn't he sort of right in the end? The Bolsheviks, the Maoists, etc, ultimately set up an ultra-centralized state capitalist bourgeois economy, not communism. So ex post facto hasn't the stage theory been pretty much proven by history (genuine question; I've yet to find an answer myself).

slothjabber
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May 11 2010 21:55

I don't think so. Because despite the idea that the working class would sieze power in a series of 'national revolutions' Marx wasn't a stagist. He thought human development needed to move from slavery to feudalism to capitalism to communism certainly, but not that every particular state needed to, as the quote about Russia above shows.

His answer to Vera Zasulich is as I understand it is predicated on a revolution that would start in the west (where capitalism and therefore the proletariat were more developed); this would allow a still semi-communal Russia to overleap 'local' capitalism because it would still be locked into 'world' capitalism (and therefore socialism).

However, he was wrong about his timing, and the Mensheviks were wrong about Russia, which was of course by the time the revolution occurred one of the most intensely capitalised places on earth. Far from being backward, Russia had in 40 years become one of the most advanced capitalist countries, with the biggest factories (eg Putilov) and the 4th or 5th largest economy in the world.

So, even though the development of Russian capitalism had already occurred by 1917, it was unable to 'implement socialism'. And this in the end wasn't because it wasn't advanced enough, or even because the Bolsheviks were bad, it's because any isolated 'workers state' will inevitably institute state-capitalist repression, or it will perish (or both) but whatever way, it will take a lot of workers down with it.

In the end it was surely the failure of the German revolution that doomed Russia, wasn't it? Not any theory of stages (which the Bolsheviks didn't have, but the Mensheviks did).

Dave B
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May 11 2010 22:12

Well Lenin thought that Russia was ‘one of the most backward capitalist countries’ in1920

Quote:
But the dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be exercised through an organisation embracing the whole of that class, because in all capitalist countries (and not only over here, in one of the most backward) the proletariat is still so divided, so degraded, and so corrupted in parts (by imperialism in some countries) that an organisation taking in the whole proletariat cannot directly exercise proletarian dictatorship. It can be exercised only by a vanguard

http://www.marx2mao.net/Lenin/TUTM20.html

Isn’t the following a kind of Bolshevik stageism?

Quote:
What is state capitalism under Soviet power? To achieve state capitalism at the present time means putting into effect the accounting and control that the capitalist classes carried out. We see a sample of state capitalism in Germany. We know that Germany has proved superior to us. But if you reflect even slightly on what it would mean if the foundations of such state capitalism were established in Russia, Soviet Russia, everyone who is not out of his senses and has not stuffed his head with fragments of book learning, would have to say that state capitalism would be our salvation.

http://www.marx2mao.net/Lenin/SAR18.html

The difference between the Menshevik stage-ism and the Bolshevik stage-ism is that the Mensheviks didn’t want to have anything to do with running and administrating the capitalist stage whereas the Bolsheviks did.

slothjabber
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May 11 2010 22:46
Dave B wrote:
Well Lenin thought that Russia was ‘one of the most backward capitalist countries’ in1920
Quote:
But the dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be exercised through an organisation embracing the whole of that class, because in all capitalist countries (and not only over here, in one of the most backward) the proletariat is still so divided, so degraded, and so corrupted in parts (by imperialism in some countries) that an organisation taking in the whole proletariat cannot directly exercise proletarian dictatorship. It can be exercised only by a vanguard

...

Well, that kind of depends on what you mean by 'backward' doesn't it? It was certainly a small percentage of a huge and largely peasant empire. Doesn't alter the fact that Russia contained some of the biggest concentrations of proletarians on the planet, some of the newest and highest-tech factories, or was a massive economy. Sure, it had developed quickly, most industrial workers were only one generation off the land; it was if you like socially backward, but it wasn't economically backward, which is what the so-called 'stagist theory' is about.

In other words, yeah well, Lenin was wrong.

Dave B wrote:

http://www.marx2mao.net/Lenin/TUTM20.html

Isn’t the following a kind of Bolshevik stageism?

Quote:
What is state capitalism under Soviet power? To achieve state capitalism at the present time means putting into effect the accounting and control that the capitalist classes carried out. We see a sample of state capitalism in Germany. We know that Germany has proved superior to us. But if you reflect even slightly on what it would mean if the foundations of such state capitalism were established in Russia, Soviet Russia, everyone who is not out of his senses and has not stuffed his head with fragments of book learning, would have to say that state capitalism would be our salvation.

http://www.marx2mao.net/Lenin/SAR18.html

The difference between the Menshevik stage-ism and the Bolshevik stage-ism is that the Mensheviks didn’t want to have anything to do with running and administrating the capitalist stage whereas the Bolsheviks did.

The difference is that the Mensheviks thought the bourgeoisie needed to develop capitalism in Russia before a revolutionary situation could occur (they were wrong because both capitalism and a revolutionary situation had developed) and the Bolsheviks thought that the temporary implementation of state capitalist measures could 'hold the line' until the German revolution rescued them (they were wrong both about holding power and the prospects of a German revolution).

So the difference really is that the Mensheviks underestimated both the proletariat and the capitalists, whereas the Bolsheviks underestimated the capitalists, but overestimated the proletariat, and their own ability to stter a course between largely unseen icebergs.

Yorkie Bar
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May 12 2010 00:23
Quote:
Marx wasn't a stagist. He thought human development needed to move from slavery to feudalism to capitalism to communism certainly, but not that every particular state needed to,

Not to nitpick, but surely that is a stages theory of history, it's just applied at a global scale as opposed to a national or local one.

Joey OD
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May 12 2010 01:18
Quote:
And this in the end wasn't because it wasn't advanced enough, or even because the Bolsheviks were bad, it's because any isolated 'workers state' will inevitably institute state-capitalist repression, or it will perish (or both) but whatever way, it will take a lot of workers down with it.

No, it's not that the Bolsheviks were "bad" but that the executive committee of the party did not and could not represent the interests of the proletariat. Like the Mescheviks and SRs before them they represented only themselves against the interests of the propletariat. Right from their coup d'etat which coincided with the workers revolution the party executive began to ignore the soviets and institute state repression. It was never a 'workers state'. Many workers were duped into trusted the Boshevik leaders. The real gains made by the workers revolution and the cause of the left communists was not helped by the failure of Berlin, Bavaria, Hungary, Italy, all Europe. But you can't blame isolation for the degeneration of the Bolshevik party. They were a seperate class (not "bad") from the beginning. The gains were lost due to not only state capitalist repression, but to a loss of workers militancy, of class consciousness and instead the false consciousness of trusting the Party and joining the ranks of the Party and the Army and dying for the party rather than for workers revolution. It is easy to mistake the Party and the State for the revolution and for our class interests. Let us not make the same mistake again. Saving, protecting, defending the State and Party is not saving, protecting, defending the revolution or the class even if the State and Party flys red flags, hammers and sickles, and calls itself workers, labour, communist socialist, soviet, people's, democratic, republican.

Dave B
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May 12 2010 16:54

Berkman on the Mensheviks

Quote:
The Secretary himself could give me little information about labor conditions in the city and province, as he had only recently assumed charge of his office. "I am not a local man," he said; "I was sent from Moscow only a few weeks ago. You see, Comrade," he explained, evidently assuming my membership in the Communist Party, "it became necessary to liquidate the whole management of the Soviet and of most of the unions. At their heads were Mensheviki. They conducted the organization on the principle of alleged protection of the workers' interests. Protection against whom?" he raged. "You understand how counter-revolutionary such a conception is! Just a Menshevik cloak to further their opposition to us. Under capitalism, the union is destructive of bourgeois interests; but with us, it is constructive. The labor bodies must work hand in hand with the government; in fact, they are the actual government, or one of its vital parts. They must serve as schools of Communism and at the same time carry out in industry the will of the proletariat as expressed by the Soviet Government. This is our policy, and we shall eliminate every opposition."

http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/bright/berkman/bmyth/bmch23.html

Dave B
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May 12 2010 17:28
Vlad336 wrote:
Dave B wrote:
It wasn’t a matter of Karl wishing it to happen that way it just that he thought it would.

leaving aside the whole "determinist" aspect, wasn't he sort of right in the end? The Bolsheviks, the Maoists, etc, ultimately set up an ultra-centralized state capitalist bourgeois economy, not communism. So ex post facto hasn't the stage theory been pretty much proven by history (genuine question; I've yet to find an answer myself).

I think in the sense that feudalism is replaced by capitalism and state capitalism, I think that is an empirical truism.

I suppose we live in hope that communism will develop out of capitalism but that has yet to be proved.