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I'm trying to understand the early Bolshevik conception of Proletarian and peasant dictatorship

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yoda's walking stick
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Aug 11 2011 21:12
I'm trying to understand the early Bolshevik conception of Proletarian and peasant dictatorship

So I'm trying to understand the Bolshevik conception of proletarian and peasant dictatorship in the early years of the revolution, when the rallying cry was "All Power to the Soviets," and the single party state hadn't been inaugurated.

When the Bolsheviks spoke of a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, other classes were disenfranchised under the soviet system, correct? Could they have conceivably have regained their suffrage if they, for instance, voluntarily proletarianised themselves or became proletarians out of circumstances beyond their control? Or were there voting rights meant to be curtailed for the immediate future, whether or not they gave up their economic privilege?

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Noa Rodman
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Aug 12 2011 00:10

Except Stalinists, no one speaks of a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. What is economic privilege but the means of production? They can't all be socialized at once, even with your few token-capitalists who are eking for socialism. So, the many little capitalists have no vote, don't know about their family, but until the 7th generation if need be.

Alexander Roxwell
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Aug 12 2011 03:17

Noa Rodman is wrong again.

Or do you consider me to be a "Stalinist" ?

Alexander Roxwell
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Aug 12 2011 03:48

As far as I can tell the idea of a "dual dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry" was something that Lenin held up in the great debate about the nature of the coming Russian Revolution before it took place.

The Mensheviks held up the traditional Marxist concept of an alliance of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in overthrowing the ruling aristocracy of semi-feudal (or "Asiatic") Russia and opening the road to the development of Russian capitalism.

While this made perfect sense if you ignored the real world and just remained in the fantasyland of Marxist catechism it made no sense whatsoever from the standpoint of the actual balance of forces on the ground in Russia.

Lenin paid more attention to what he saw on the ground in Russia and stated clearly that what he saw was that the coming revolution would be a convergence of two simultaneous events - a proletarian overthrow of the bourgeoisie simultaneous with a peasant war against the feudal aristocracy. The question was - what would such a revolution produce? Lenin postulated that that if it were successful it would create a "dual dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry" but did not spend very much time trying to understand or define what that might look like.

After the seizure of power in 1917 Lenin appears to have embraced Trotsky's crackpot theory of the "Permanent Revolution" and mostly quit talking about any "dual" dictatorship but just talked about the "proletarian" dictatorship exclusively. After Brest-Litovsk they went after the Left Socialist Revolutionaries and imposed their insane "War Communism" and went downhill from there.

I do not believe that you can understand these transitions from looking into the "minds" of Bolsheviks but rather from looking at what actually happened in Russia and beyond.

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CRUD
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Aug 12 2011 21:07

Not enough working class in early Russia to have an industrial "dictatorship of the proletariat". The peasants or farmers actually had the political power early on because they produced the actual surplus. Lenin had no choice but to give them more say than industrial workers.

Hell, the entire thing was a backwards mess and shouldn't have even gone forward after it was obvious Germany and France weren't going socialist. Russia didn't have both a large industrial work force and or a large industrial work force with proper class consciousness so Lenin saw his "vanguard" as the people who would lead workers into socialism.

Big problem, first they needed to create an actual industrial work force and then lead them into socialism (which is impossible in one country alone). In the end we ended up with the soviets (workers councils) giving all power up to the almighty and all knowing party which from that era on perverted and mangled the meaning of communism.

Russia (edit) SHOULD HAVE embraced bourgeoisie capitalism after Germany and France didn't go socialist then perhaps facilitate a proper revolution when Russia was an advanced capitalist nation. It's not socialism's job to industrialize....that's capitalism's job. The role of the party or state (according to Marx) was to use the state to facilitate expropriation in advanced capitalist nations (to abolish private property and disperse the wealth and power of the large capitalist). The use of the state under Lenin but more so Stalin was a perverted form of Marxism to say the least. The dictatorship of the proletariat was suppose to be a brief period where the state regulated the economy and kept capitalists from reestablishing property just after the initial stage of revolution in an advanced capitalist nation (which Russia wasn't).

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Noa Rodman
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Aug 12 2011 20:51
Quote:
Lenin paid more attention to what he saw on the ground in Russia and stated clearly that what he saw was that the coming revolution would be a convergence of two simultaneous events - a proletarian overthrow of the bourgeoisie simultaneous with a peasant war against the feudal aristocracy.

Yeah, you're not far off. I think the Bolsheviks thought and what happened is, first the bourgeois revolution (peasant revolt, though lead by the proletariat) and then from middle 1918 a socialist revolution (dictatorship of the proletariat).
If we're going to blame, then surely the socialists of the advanced countries are guilty for letting the revolutionaries in Russia in a hopeless position, but maybe that's too obvious to be said, plus it's kinda pointless to engage in blaming.

And anyway Stalin would not have disagreed with what CRUD wrote.

Stalin wrote:
Seventhly, work must be intensified among the non-Party workers. This is another means of improving the internal Party situation, of increasing the activity of the Party membership. I must say that our organisations are still paying little attention to the task of drawing non-Party workers into our Soviets. Take, for example, the elections to the Moscow Soviet that are being held now. I consider that one of the big defects in these elections is that too few non-Party people are being elected. It is said that there exists a decision of the organisation to the effect that at least a certain number, a certain percentage, etc., of non-Party people are to be elected; but I see that, in fact, a far smaller number is being elected. It is said that the masses are eager to elect only Communists. I have my doubts about that, comrades. I think that unless we show a certain degree of confidence in the non-Party people they may answer by becoming very distrustful of our organisations. This confidence in the non-Party people is absolutely necessary, comrades. Communists must be induced to withdraw their candidatures.

I like when Stalin says, I have my doubts that comrades.

But to be serious, Yoda's question is broader than Russia 1917. It's about the point and usefulness of taking suffrage away from capitalists, the wisdom of which was questioned by renegade Kauz. I'm not up for it, let the SPGB deal with this issue.