Has anything ever acheived anything?

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Vaneigemappreci...
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Jan 3 2005 19:56
Has anything ever acheived anything?

As there seems to be some discussion regarding how effective various avant-garde groups have been in initiating any sort of social change i was wandering just who/what you think have been succesful in bringing radical social change any closer.

Obviously the most important groups that come to mind are the unions, particularly in the struggle for the eight hour day, sadly, generally in britain (with refernce to the lenth of the working day), their demands seem to have progressed little since the mid 1850s.

Who have made a difference, how were their tactics and actions effective and what can we learn from them with reference to contemporary society?

mk12
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Jan 3 2005 20:23

The Bolsheviks - led the Russian workers to abolish capitalism. Legalized homosexuality half a century before it was legalized in western countries. Organised the Red Army, which defeated 16 industrialised nations. Legalized divorce. Made anybody who owned two homes to give up their second home, and give it to a homeless person. Triggered revolutions (although unsuccessful) in other countries, which would have led to world socialism. Also ended the imperialist world war one.

Tactics - Came up with and implemented the April Thesis which generalised the slogan of 'all power to the soviets' into a revolutionary tactic, argued for it amongst the working class (against the Anarchists, liberals, Menshevisk and the rest) and then led them in a carefully prepared uprising which in Petrograd only led to 5 people dying (after gaining a majority in the Soviets).

Learn? - Learn from both their successes and mistakes. Mistakes are numerous, as I am sure that many anarchists would agree. I tend to agree with Rosa Luxemburg's critique of the Bolsheviks -

Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously -- at bottom, then, a clique affair -- a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians

Wayne
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Jan 4 2005 13:08

grin I almost forgot that Trots are even fucking stupider than anarchists. I'll bet mattkidd12 is 12, wears a RATM hoody and is still a virgin. Which I suppose is fair enough, given he is 12.

On November 14th 1917, the Bolsheviks passed the draft statutes of workers' control that subordinated all soviets to higher authorities appointed by the dictatorship. So the counter-revolution was imediate even if it took years of violence for it to fully assert itself and ensure the continuation of capitalism in a modified form.

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The Bolsheviks - led the Russian workers to abolish capitalism.

No. 20,000 people (Bolshevik membership at time of revolution) out of a population of 150 million couldn't abolish pubic lice. The russian working class briefly made great steps in the direction of communism but their attempts were shot down. Eventually literally.

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Legalized homosexuality... Legalized divorce.

Gee, thanks.

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Triggered revolutions (although unsuccessful) in other countries

Postwar reality, economic conditions, and capital's development triggered class struggle that sometimes came close to revolution. Regrettably the adoption of Leninist and then Stalinist ideas by many workers safeguarded capitalism for decades.

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Organised the Red Army, which defeated 16 industrialised nations.

And eventually the Makhnovtschina and the working class. They also organised the Cheka that that had 250,000 members (vastly more than the secret police of the Tsarist dictatorship) and by the time they became the GPU (forerunner of the KGB) had carried out an estimated 500,000 executions. Contrary to popular belief, the Red Army didn't defeat the communist rebellion at Krondstadt since they refused to slaughter their fellow workers. So Trotsky called on elite troops led by a former Tsarist general.

In 1921 when the Russian people were so poor they were eating dogs and even the bark off trees, Lenin was driving a Rolls Royce. By 1923 only 1 in 7 Bolshevik members were manual workers. Class system was maintained as was wage labour and the accumulation of capital through the extraction of surplus value.

The Bolsheviks were culpably responsible for Stalin's purges since Stalin inherited a dictatorship where all the working class's potential to resist tyranny had been systematically destroyed. There were restrictions on free speech unimaginable in some other bourgeois states, including the banning of almost all communist literature. There were no independent trade unions since they had all been subordinated to the dictatorship. And there were enormous, experienced and ruthless repressive mechanisms.

Learn? Crap politics leads to the defeat of our class. When our class loses in revolutionary situations lots of people get killed.

Crap trot politics in non-revolutionary times lead only to university lecturers in tank tops shouting dry slogans through megaphones that fortunately don't transmit their halitosis. Or to highly strung women shouting at school kids in RATM hoodys like paedophilic dinner ladies. Eventually these sadsacs become so embarassing that they almost manage to make the anarchist movement look good eek

Mattkidd12 your analysis is very bad. You are a fucktard. Kill yourself.

mk12
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Jan 4 2005 14:33
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I'll bet mattkidd12 is 12, wears a RATM hoody and is still a virgin. Which I suppose is fair enough, given he is 12.

Are all anarchists patronising?

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20,000 people (Bolshevik membership at time of revolution) out of a population of 150 million couldn't abolish pubic lice.

Urm..actually, in the two months since February, party membership rose from 24,000 to 80,000. In October, a report showed that in Petrograd there were 41,000 members, as against 15,000 in April. In Moscow 50,900 as against 13,000. By October, the party numbered 350,000.

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Legalized homosexuality... Legalized divorce.

Gee, thanks.

So social issues aren't important? The Bolsheviks gave women-

-enfranchisement

- equal pay

- universal paid maternity leave

- divorce made freely available

- eliminated legal distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children

- legalisation of abortion, available on demand

- communal kitchens, laundry facilities, childcare centres.

- homosexuality removed from criminal code

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Postwar reality, economic conditions, and capital's development triggered class struggle

Aren't these near perfect conditions for a revolution?

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In 1921 when the Russian people were so poor they were eating dogs and even the bark off trees, Lenin was driving a Rolls Royce.

Would you put the economic situation down to the Bolsheviks? Stupid question...you probably would. Proof he was driving RR please. Again, could you prove "including the banning of almost all communist literature."

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By 1923 only 1 in 7 Bolshevik members were manual workers

57% of Petrograds workers died during the civil war. 40% of Moscovite workers died during the civil war. The purges of the party membership in 1921 were simply down to the fact that careerists and Mensheviks had joined after the civil war.

Like most anarchists, you ignore the conditions in Russia at that time. As early as 1919 the Bolshevik government had also organised the People's Commissariat of Workers' and Peasants' Inspection , to weed out careerists and bureaucrats in the state and party apparatus. The Red Army HAD to include former Tzarist generals...there was nobody else. By August 1920, 48,409 former Tsarist officers had been called up as military specialists. How else would they have defeated the Whites?

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Stalin inherited a dictatorship where all the working class's potential to resist tyranny had been systematically destroyed

But Stalin had to overturn numerous policies that the Bolsheviks had carried out. As early as 1926, Lenin's widow Krupskaya, in a meeting of the Left Opposition, pointed out: "If Ilych [Lenin] were alive, he would probably already be in prison."

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Ed
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Jan 4 2005 15:31
mattkidd12 wrote:
Are all anarchists patronising?

To be fair, I think wayne would kill you if you called him an anarchist.

mattkidd12 wrote:
in the two months since February, party membership rose from 24,000 to 80,000...By October, the party numbered 350,000.

Fair enough, but the point still stands. 350,000 members out of a population of 150 million is still small (not even 0.5% of the population). Considering there were bigger left-wing groups in Russia at the time, what makes you think the Bolsheviks were the main force for change? What makes you distinguish between what the Bolsheviks did and a coup?

mattkidd12 wrote:
So social issues aren't important? The Bolsheviks gave women *list of right on things the Bolsheviks did*

Fair enough, but the point still stands, they murdered hundreds of thousands of revolutionaries, censored opposition inside and outside their own party, set up an intricate terror network of spies, informants and secret police and all that other nasty stuff. Justifiable? I've never seen a Marxist-Leninist convince me yet, but you can have a crack if you want.

mattkidd12 wrote:
wayne wrote:
Postwar reality, economic conditions, and capital's development triggered class struggle

Aren't these near perfect conditions for a revolution?

That's the point. You said that the Bolsheviks triggered revolutions across Europe but they didn't, the conditions created by capitalism did (ask any Marxist!). The point we're making is that dead-end Leninist (and later Stalinist) politics set our class back decades and squandered loads of revolutionary opportunities.

mattkidd12 wrote:
Would you put the economic situation down to the Bolsheviks? Stupid question...you probably would. Proof he was driving RR please. Again, could you prove "including the banning of almost all communist literature."

Are you denying that Lenin and Co enjoyed privileges that the Russian people could only dream of? Whether he was driving a RR or not is a side issue. I don't care if it was a RR or a BMW or a fucking Ford Escort, if he's living fat while millions are starving that is wrong and it's even sicker to do it in the name of communism. As for banning other communists: purges, gulags, secret police, Kronstadt, political prisoners, military discipline in the workplace...need I go on. Sounds less like communism and more like a warm dollop of wank.

mattkidd12 wrote:
wanyne wrote:
By 1923 only 1 in 7 Bolshevik members were manual workers

57% of Petrograds workers died during the civil war. 40% of Moscovite workers died during the civil war. The purges of the party membership in 1921 were simply down to the fact that careerists and Mensheviks had joined after the civil war.

You still don't address the seperation between party and class. After all, if dictatorship of the proletariat and dictatorship of the party are one and the same (as Lenin thought), then surely there is a problem when only 1 in 7 party members are actual workers.

mattkidd12 wrote:
As early as 1919 the Bolshevik government had also organised the People's Commissariat of Workers' and Peasants' Inspection

Wasn't Stalin head of this?

mattkidd12 wrote:
But Stalin had to overturn numerous policies that the Bolsheviks had carried out. As early as 1926, Lenin's widow Krupskaya, in a meeting of the Left Opposition, pointed out: "If Ilych [Lenin] were alive, he would probably already be in prison."

To be fair, Stalin also used many of Lenin's policies. I mean, you can't honestly be saying that everything was fine in Russia but then Stalin came in and completely turned it around from Dictatorship of Proles into despotic regime. There was a lot of ground-work set by Lenin, Trotsky etc which allowed Stalin to do what he did. I mean, increasing bureaucracy (yes, I know Trotsky opposed this...once he was losing power!), crushing independant working class orgs, red army, cheka, purges etc all started BEFORE Stalin. To coin the old phrase, Stalin didn't fall from the moon!

:red:

Vaneigemappreci...
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Jan 4 2005 15:37

lovely debate on the bolshevicks n all, but we know who wins that one, give me some others who HAVE actually made gains in the class struggle and the liberation of the proletariat and humankind, who havent been either co-opted, corrupted or butchered.

3rdseason
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Jan 4 2005 16:07
mattkidd12 wrote:
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I'll bet mattkidd12 is 12, wears a RATM hoody and is still a virgin. Which I suppose is fair enough, given he is 12.

Are all anarchists patronising?

Yes.

Vaneigemappreci...
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Jan 4 2005 16:20

*subserviently applauds revol*

that part about the ice pick and trotsky's spine, you only reap what you sow and all that: very poetic.

mk12
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Jan 4 2005 16:54
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The bolsheviks were actually hositle to the soviets from the start

That's simply not true. As Lenin wrote in 1906, "Forming Soviets means forming organs of the direct mass struggle of the proletariat."

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firstly the working class carried out the revolution not the bolsheviks

Of course they did. But the working class' organs of power, the Soviets, supported the Bolsheviks. They had gained a majority in Petrograd and Moscow. Antonov-Duseenko travelled to the Northern Front (WW1's Eastern Front) to find and organise support for a Bolshevik revolution, in which he was very successful. Petrograd's soldiers promised to support the Bolsheviks. It is a bit naive to sugges that it was a Bolshevik 'coup'.

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grassroots membership of the party had been so decimated by Trotsky and Lenin's authoritarian policies.

PLease could you provide evidence of this? I believe that the W/C was decimated through civil war, famine and starvation. Please tell me what you would have done in a situation like this?

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what makes you think the Bolsheviks were the main force for change

Because I believed in the authority of the Soviets. And the Bolsheviks had a majority in these Soviets - most notably the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets.

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I mean, you can't honestly be saying that everything was fine in Russia but then Stalin came in and completely turned it around from Dictatorship of Proles into despotic regime

Of course I don't. But I also don't think that this is inherent in Leninist ideology. I believe that objective conditions led to many things which no-one would like. It's very easy for anarchists to comment and criticise the Bolsheviks, without taking into account very external factors.

As Kropotkin said, "And although the effort to introduce the new social system by means of a party dictatorship is apparently condemned to failure, it must be recognized that already the revolution has introduced into our daily lives new conceptions of the rights of labor, its rightful place in society and the duties of each citizen, — and that they will endure."

He goes on, "Not that there is nothing to oppose in the methods of the Bolshevik government. Far from it! But all foreign armed intervention necessarily strengthens the dictatorial tendencies of the government"

mk12
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Jan 4 2005 17:48
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If bolshevism was the product of special circumstances in 1917 Russia then why the fuck would it be of any value to those wishing to create communism in todays conditions.

I don't really. I am just trying to defend the Bolsheviks in 1917...I agree, things have changed considerably. It is easier now, I think. There isn't a huge peasantry to worry about, we don't live under Tzarism which means we are freer to organise, and the majority of the population is literate. I don't think centralisation will be needed as much in a revolution in today's society. I am a Marxist, but I don't really agree with Lenin's theory of the party in terms of today's society. Obviously I believe in a party, but not a 'vanguard' party, as such.

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Those workers who do more for the general interests than others receive the right to a greater quantity of the social product than the lazy, the careless, and the disorganizers.
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Camillo Berneri argues that anarchism should be based upon "no compulsion to work, but no duty towards those who do not want to work." ["The Problem of Work", in Why Work?, Vernon Richards (ed.), p. 74]

Oh, and on the question of 'trade-union consciousness', Lenin’s view was applicable to a raw proletariat that had recently emerged from the peasantry and had no socialist consciousness. In other words, the situation in the nineteenth century in Europe, before the birth of the modern workers movement. Such was also the case in the early years of social democracy in Russia.

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Steven.
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Jan 4 2005 18:04
mattkidd12 wrote:
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The bolsheviks were actually hositle to the soviets from the start

That's simply not true. As Lenin wrote in 1906, "Forming Soviets means forming organs of the direct mass struggle of the proletariat."

Just quickly - Matt you are wrong here. I'm an ex-Trot and even while a trot I knew that. Lenin had to abandon democratic centralism in the bolshevik party and declare a commitment to "all power to the soviets" (the anarchist slogan of the time) to prevent the party being utterly sidelined by the working class, even though the Party voted to reject it.

mk12
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Jan 4 2005 18:31
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Lenin had to abandon democratic centralism in the bolshevik party and declare a commitment to "all power to the soviets" (the anarchist slogan of the time) to prevent the party being utterly sidelined by the working class, even though the Party voted to reject it.

I am sorry, but your idea that the Party was to be 'sidelined' by the w/c is wrong. On the 30th of October a meeting of representatives of all the Petrograd regiments passed a resolution: “The Petrograd garrison no longer recognises the Provisional Government. The Petrograd Soviet is our Government. We will obey only the orders of the Petrograd Soviet, through the Military Revolutionary Committee.”

The Central Committee of the Bolsheviks had been debating whether to call for an insurrection. Zinoviev and Kamenev were the only members of the Central Committee to disagree.

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the whole idea of the Party, Leninism and all the rest of the shite that goes with that tradition eg support for national liberation, oppurtunist electioneering, are all premised on the concept of "trade union conciousness". The working class are incapable of seeing thru their immediate short term interests and hence must be led by a vanguard of "professional revolutionaries".

What about anarchist organisations? Wouldn't you agree that those people that join Durruti's clan, or A-fed or whoever - have developed their consciousness and have realised that capitalism is evil, we need to change society etc...what's wrong with one of these groups going out and trying to convince others of their beliefs? Aren't they acting as a vanguard - a class-consciouss leadership? You take the idea of the Party to the extreme.

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revolutionary communist analysis thru their everyday experiance!

If that was the case, wouldn't we have a revolution by now?

Joe Hill
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Jan 5 2005 02:33

Some good stuff. Although Lenin is not properly represented. New times I suppose. On with the debate. (And yes, Ed I can't be bothered to make a full reply, no disrespect, there are people here who can get on with it). I prefer speech for reasons of echelon.

Love

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pingtiao
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Jan 5 2005 11:10

Also, there has been no mention of the Bolsheviks dissolving the Soviets that returned non-Bolshevik majorities. A real commitment to soviet democracy there!

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Jan 5 2005 11:41
pingtiao wrote:
Also, there has been no mention of the Bolsheviks dissolving the Soviets that returned non-Bolshevik majorities. A real commitment to soviet democracy there!

Of course! And re-instituting one-man management of factories, enforced by the Cheka. Wa-hey workers' democracy!

mk12
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Jan 5 2005 15:13

Workers Control resolution drafted by Lenin - http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/oct/26.htm

On October 27, the draft was placed before the Council of People's Commissars, which authorised Milyutin and Larin to draw up detailed Draft Regulations on Workers' Control within two days. But their draft clashed with the tasks of revolutionary workers' control formulated by Lenin; for instance, it did not contain the most important clause making decisions of workers' control bodies binding on factory owners. Lenin's draft was then taken as a basis for the law on workers' control. In the subsequent discussion, it was proposed that workers' control bodies setup in the localities should be replaced by government bodies, and that workers' control should be introduced only at the major factories, railways, etc. Lenin won his point that workers' control should be introduced everywhere to stimulate the workers' initiative.

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with a group of "professional revolutionaries" who see themselves as THE working class!

And they didn't see themselves as THE working class. That's just anarchist bullshit. Im not denying that Russia didn't turn into a one-party state, but civil war, economic blockade, famine and the virtual disintegration of the Russian proletariat led to the absence of working class self activity. The agent of revolutionary change had vanished. Read State and Revolution, written just before the revolution to see his politics.

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The bolsheviks got majorities in the soviets when they shadowed the demands of the working class

Yeah...because they were a working class party. Just after the first revolution of 1917 they were calling for a socialist revolution. The people's organisation for this revolution already exists and is growing. That organisation is the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, as Lenin said. This was written in Feb-March of 1917. Not simply in Sept-Oct, on the brink of revolution. They won workers over to their side.

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rather that such political debate must be rooted in the proletariats experiance and not injected in from the outside.

But a member of a revolutionary party discussing with a non-party worker and trying to convince him/her of the need for a socialist revolution isn't 'injected from outside'. A revolutionary party is made up of workers, and other exploited elements within society.

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but arose rather as a natural and inevitable result of the development of ideas among the revolutionary socialist intelligentsia. . . .

Weren't Bakunin, Kropotkin, Goldman and Durruti 'professional revolutionaries'? Didn't their 'development of ideas' help to influence the Spanish anarchists, or the Makhnoites etc? Without Bakunin and Kropotkin writing what they did, would people be talking about anarchism?

3rdseason
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Jan 5 2005 16:59

Nothing has ever achieved anything.

Mass suicide appeals.

( eek grin )

mk12
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Jan 10 2005 14:34

Workers Control resolution drafted by Lenin - http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/oct/26.htm

On October 27, the draft was placed before the Council of People's Commissars, which authorised Milyutin and Larin to draw up detailed Draft Regulations on Workers' Control within two days. But their draft clashed with the tasks of revolutionary workers' control formulated by Lenin; for instance, it did not contain the most important clause making decisions of workers' control bodies binding on factory owners. Lenin's draft was then taken as a basis for the law on workers' control. In the subsequent discussion, it was proposed that workers' control bodies setup in the localities should be replaced by government bodies, and that workers' control should be introduced only at the major factories, railways, etc. Lenin won his point that workers' control should be introduced everywhere to stimulate the workers' initiative.

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with a group of "professional revolutionaries" who see themselves as THE working class!

And they didn't see themselves as THE working class. That's just anarchist bullshit. Im not denying that Russia didn't turn into a one-party state, but civil war, economic blockade, famine and the virtual disintegration of the Russian proletariat led to the absence of working class self activity. The agent of revolutionary change had vanished. Read State and Revolution, written just before the revolution to see his politics.

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The bolsheviks got majorities in the soviets when they shadowed the demands of the working class

Yeah...because they were a working class party. Just after the first revolution of 1917 they were calling for a socialist revolution. The people's organisation for this revolution already exists and is growing. That organisation is the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, as Lenin said. This was written in Feb-March of 1917. Not simply in Sept-Oct, on the brink of revolution. They won workers over to their side.

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rather that such political debate must be rooted in the proletariats experiance and not injected in from the outside.

But a member of a revolutionary party discussing with a non-party worker and trying to convince him/her of the need for a socialist revolution isn't 'injected from outside'. A revolutionary party is made up of workers, and other exploited elements within society.

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but arose rather as a natural and inevitable result of the development of ideas among the revolutionary socialist intelligentsia. . . .

Weren't Bakunin, Kropotkin, Goldman and Durruti 'professional revolutionaries'? Didn't their 'development of ideas' help to influence the Spanish anarchists, or the Makhnoites etc? Without Bakunin and Kropotkin writing what they did, would people be talking about anarchism?