Nonviolent revolution.

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appledoze
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Jan 26 2010 02:05
Nonviolent revolution.

It's probably a silly question but I'm interested in seeing what you guys think about it. Would it work? Can we prove that achieving anarchism/socialism requires little bloodshed, like the revolutions of 1989? Keep in mind I'm not talking about peaceful reform social democrat style.

RedHughs
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Jan 26 2010 03:08

I've heard that it's amazing what a hundred men armed with heavy machine guns can do.

I think our enemies could find those hundred men. Often they find many more.

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The thing 1989 and other "velvet revolutions" is that mainly they are devices used by a ruling class itself to change it's personnel - Gorbachev on one side, Yeltsin on the other.

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This isn't saying that a revolution should aim for violence. But being entirely unprepared for self-defense can be recipe for a more horrific repression than one might otherwise experience - consider, for example, Tiananmen Square:

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On the other side, the violence of upsurges like Spain 1936, the LA riots or the October Revolution is often overstated (things went more South after the initial October Revolution and Spanish anti-fascist upsurge). In LA in 1992 during the period of the riots, the death rate, including the National Guard's retaking of the city, was less than ordinary murder rate in South Central (which admittedly was quite high).

The best non-violent revolution: the police and army surrender without a fight to the armed workers' and neighborhood councils - Good gun control means hitting your target. Better gun control is the enemy knowing you'll hit your target and surrendering first.

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It is pointless "prove" that a non-violent revolution is possible in any case. Revolutions happen when a powerful enough social consensus appears. At that point, non-violence wouldn't determine things one way or another. And there is nothing but a revolution that could prove this.

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Consider again Tiananmen Square. This revolt wasn't even a would-be anti-capitalist upsurge, it was just a would-be regime-change/velvet-revolution. It just happen that the Chinese ruling didn't want to change their ruling configuration in that fashion (and a fraction of the working class joined in).

Blah, Blah.... It's all been said before....

Boris Badenov
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Jan 26 2010 03:10
appledoze wrote:
like the revolutions of 1989?

I think a change of regime, from state socialist to free market capitalist, can hardly be called a revolution. And it would be a mistake to think that all were bloodless. In Romania for example several thousands were severely injured or killed during the bloody military coup that toppled the stalinist government.
I think pacifism/nonviolence as an ideology is contrary to any notion of class conflict. This explains why it has, in our age, been embraced most fervently by middle class politicians, from Gandhi to Vaclav Havel.
There may have been some positive consequences for the working class as a result, but only as a byproduct. What real freedoms were obtained were obtained not through pacifism, but through struggle (as in the case of the American Civil Rights movement which though adopting the rhetoric of nonviolence, was, at its peak, engaged in the most brutal struggle against the state).

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Entdinglichung
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Jan 26 2010 10:33

unfortunately, it is generally the ruling class who decides, if a revolution will be violent or non-violent

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back2front
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Jan 26 2010 13:18

In the event of a social revolution the State will send everything it has to crush it. If the choice is whether to man the barricades or turn the other cheek, I know which one has the greater chance of success. I'd rather defend the revolution with force rather than chant a regurgitated hippie anthem from the Viet Nam protest era and sit on my arse until some cunt sticks pepper spray in my eyes and then carts me off to the clink with a few whacks of the truncheon, or perhaps a shot of the taser for good measure if I'm lucky.

Nonviolence is convenient to the State, in fact it helps to perpetuate the State, simply because it cannot ever threaten the status quo. This is not a glorification of violence but an acceptance that if we are to create anarchist-communism then we will need to be prepared to defend it by force. One always hopes that mutiny in the ranks of state forces will occur and the transition might be easier but that is probably just wishful thinking.

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cantdocartwheels
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Jan 26 2010 12:06
Quote:
unfortunately, it is generally the ruling class who decides, if a revolution will be violent or non-violent

this

30bananasaday
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Jan 26 2010 18:20

I don't think anyone would deny that for an anarchist/communist revolution to occur, there would need to be a massive shift in social consciousness from what we have today.

In response to those who have posted above, why is it so unimaginable that such a shift in consciousness would affect the individuals making up the army and police?

I'm not sure I fully understand how it is that a violent anarchist revolution could be successful. If a revolution has to be violent, that means that there must lots of people who don't agree with it. If lots of people don't agree with the principles of the revolution, their disagreement will surely present a huge obstacle to the society of cooperation that is supposed to follow the revolution.

Boris Badenov
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Jan 26 2010 18:26
30bananasaday wrote:
In response to those who have posted above, why is it so unimaginable that such a shift in consciousness would affect the individuals making up the army and police?

It is not unimaginable, but if we go by historical precedent, it is very unlikely. As long as the army and the police are kept in place, and their internal hierarchies left intact, it doesn't matter whether they serve a "red" master or a capitalist one. The victims will always be the workers.

30bananasaday
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Jan 26 2010 18:39
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It is not unimaginable, but if we go by historical precedent, it is very unlikely.

If we go by historical precedent, the prospects of a violent revolution resulting in anything but authoritarianism are grim indeed (although correct me if I am wrong, my historical knowledge is very poor).

Boris Badenov
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Jan 26 2010 18:47
30bananasaday wrote:
Quote:
It is not unimaginable, but if we go by historical precedent, it is very unlikely.

If we go by historical precedent, the prospects of a violent revolution resulting in anything but authoritarianism are grim indeed (although correct me if I am wrong, my historical knowledge is very poor).

Well it depends. If we consider the example of the Russian revolution, the forming of the soviets definitely relied on violence to some extent, but this was violence used by workers to take control of their lives. You cannot equate it with the violence used by the Bolsheviks to impose militarized labour and "democratic centralism."
IMO the dichotomy violence = evil, nonviolence = good is a false one. Both violence and pacifism are ultimately political tools and it depends on who uses them and for what purpose.

appledoze
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Jan 26 2010 21:19

I definitely agree that at some point we will need to defend ourselves through force knowing that the enemy will NEVER cede its power without a fight. By violent revolution I mean to the extent of the brutality and aggressiveness of France and Russia. I find it quite funny how no one questions the violence of the American Revolution, but that's here in the US I dunno how you Brits see it lol. I guess it's because the American war is considered a defensive war. So if we are to expect a socialist revolution will it be defensive or aggresive in nature?

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The Outlaw
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Jan 27 2010 01:41

A non violent revolution is possible, if the enforcers of the state embrace the revolution.

But as Che said "The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall."

It's safe to say that the bourgeoisie won't hand over the keys to the pearly fucking gates and begin to share out their wealth, but i think a non violent revolution is alot more favourable than say massacre of the ruling elite, followed by their familes.

But, we'd have to fight to achieve revolution, as it's already been said they will pull out all the fucking stops.

So, i think violence *not to an overly oppressive, deranged, psychopath* kinda way, plays it's part but there are times when it is better to turn the other cheek.

Edit: I don't think we should wait around for the bourgeoisie, we should take to the streets and vent our anger through attacking the state.

ajjohnstone
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Jan 27 2010 03:14

As many already know here , part of the Socialist Party of Great Britain's argument is that by endeavouring to go through parliament and capturing the state machine which includes the armed forces the likliehood of bloodshed is minimalised .

The state controls every part of the armed forces, from policemen’s clubs to the atomic bomb. So long as the capitalist class is allowed to remain in control of the military, there would be no chance of dispossessing the capitalists, or abolishing their system. The primary objective of a revolutionary working class entails gaining control of the armed forces.
There is no possibility of the workers successfully engaging the capitalist class in violence. If the capitalist means of co-ercion was solely the police , then, we could organise workers’ battalions such as the Irish Citizens Army . But the tremendous nature of military force in society today preclude the possibility of prevailing. So capitalists has the supreme weapon w: political power and with it , control of the army, navy, air and police forces and that power is conferred upon the representatives of the capitalist class by elections and that is why they invest such large amounts of wealth and much time and effort to win them .

The SPGB are not pacifists. We considered violence a possibility but we argue that the more workers understand and the more educated they become in socialist ideas, the less chance there would be of violence.

Historically the battle of ideas has been waged both in the mind ( in debates and discussions) and on the streets. The SPGB favour the first approach, and do all we can to keep activity there. Street fighting can only firstly divide us and secondly weaken us. Authoritarian parties such as the old Communist Party denigrate and suppress their opposition so as not to compete by demonstrating the relative values of their ideas. This is where street-fighting plays its negative role: physically removing opposition that one cannot overcome in a battle of hearts and minds. The revolution is aborted in the process, not defended. This is another reason why a socialist revolution must be peaceful.

Revolutionary violence” is a sign of weakness in the working class. Our assumption in the SPGB is that significant numbers of capitalists will see the futility of resisting a well-educated, well-organised working-class majority . The capitalist class cannot continue it’s rule even through violence when enough workers decide to break with the capitalists’ legitimacy and the capitalist system.

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Lexxi
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Jan 27 2010 04:58

To even get into parliament in a capitalist system requires a capitulation to capitalist factions. The idea that a 'socialist' group can control the state in capitalist society and remain on the side of the working class is ludicrous. The Social-Democrats and Ebert didn't have a problem using the army and the Freikorps in putting a bullet in Luxemburg's head and putting down whatever rebellion.

The state certainly controls the armed forces, but the point of a revolutionary working class isn't to get hold of the capitalist state so as to turn the armed forces into their weapon, but to turn the armed forces into a revolutionary ally. In Russia the workers didn't get military control from entering the Duma years before; soldiers themselves refused to fire on workers and joined in support of the Soviets. That means agitation within the armed forces themselves.

I think your assumption flies in the face of historical precedent. Wherever the working class has rebelled the capitalist class has fought to the end in a civil war and attempted to rule through violence even in the face of radical opposition to the capitalist system. That's the very basis of fascism.

Fletcher
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Jan 27 2010 10:04
ajjohnstone wrote:
Revolutionary violence” is a sign of weakness in the working class. Our assumption in the SPGB is that significant numbers of capitalists will see the futility of resisting a well-educated, well-organised working-class majority . The capitalist class cannot continue it’s rule even through violence when enough workers decide to break with the capitalists’ legitimacy and the capitalist system.

I would have to disagree with this SPGB assertion that the capital class will simply give up in the face of overwhelming workers power.

Capitalism when under pressure from workers will attempt to change itself to suit the conditions. A move towards fascism and the suspension of parliamentary democracy would be one option. Another would be an attempt to co-opt the revolution and to derail it down the liberal democracy road.

By attempting to sieze state power via parliament we would make it much easier for the capitalist class to broker an arrangement that would leave the fundamentals of capitalism in place. What is needed is a complete break with both the state and the economic system. A new alternative that leaves the capitalist state behind.

On the question of limiting the level of violence I would suggest that a prerequiste to any successful revolt would be that the standing army of the state can on longer be relied upon by the state to inforce its will. Soldiers are not a distinct and separate part of our class, they are workers like the rest of us and as such they will undoubtedly form a very important part of any workers movement that successfully challenges capitalism. By winning the majority of the military away from their alliance to the state we can indeed limit the level of violence.

ajjohnstone
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Jan 27 2010 10:22

Illien , i think you are actually confirming in some ways the views advanced by the SPGB , that BECAUSE of their control of the state , the German SPD could enforce its rule . And of course , it was the control of the state again that permitted the Bolsheviks to assume dictatorial control over Russia through the coercion of the Red Army over the SR/Menshevik/Anarchist opposition .

The position of the SPGB is that the control of the state neutralises the threat of a recalcient capitalist class thwarting the will of a class conscious majority , which is the precondition of establishing socialism .The SPGB reject ALL forms of minority action to attempt to establish socialism, which can only be established by the working class when the majority have come to want and understand it. Without a socialist working class, there can be no socialism. The establishment of socialism can only be the conscious majority, and therefore democratic, act of a socialist-minded working class. I think in many of the so-called revolutionary situations in the past that majority did not exist within the working class .

The German SPD prevailed because they indeed had either the active or passive support of most Germans who sought simply a period of respite and recuperation after the war years . Luxemburg understood that the battle for the hearts and minds of the German working class was still to be won and that any insurrection would have been premature . The Sparticist / Revolutionary Shop Stewards Uprising was actually provoked by the Right and certainly not instigated by Luxemburg or Leibnecht . That the Left did what was expected of them demonstrated the political immaturity of the times .

Again your example of the army in Russian Revolution answers those that argue that soldiers (and state employees in general) due to their indoctrination, would not obey the instructions of a workers' parliament but would still respond to the orders of the capitalists. They claim that they could then be used to put down the revolution and this gives rise to further speculation about the need for workers' militia, by-passing parliament and so on. It is quite illogical to assume that the wave of enthusiasm for socialism which would be sweeping through the working class as a whole would somehow miss out that section which forms the bulk of the armed forces. Our evidence for this is the record of previous revolutions. The success of the bourgeois revolution in Russia in 1917 was guaranteed when the military, which for decades had brutally put down all opposition to the tsar, succumbed to the general revolutionary discontent and refused any longer to protect the old ruling class. If soldiers then took up the slogans of the Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and SRs, how much more likely will they be to accept socialist policies put forward by workers like themselves organised in a mass socialist party ?

The capitalist class are the dominant class today because they control the State (machinery of government/political power). And they control the State because a majority of the population allow them to, by their everyday attitudesbut also voting for pro-capitalist parties at election times, so returning a pro-capitalism majority to Parliament, so ensuring that any government emerging from Parliament will be pro-capitalism. Just as today a pro-capitalism majority in Parliament reflects the fact that the overwhelming majority of the population wants or accepts capitalism, so a socialist majority in Parliament would reflect the fact that a majority outside Parliament wanted socialism.

The SPGB contest that control of parliament by representatives of a conscious revolutionary movement will enable the bureaucratic-military apparatus to be dismantled and the oppressive forces of the state to be neutralised , so that socialism may be introduced with the least possible violence and disruption.

But as i have stated in the previous post , the SPGB is not pacifist and does not exclude if need be violence but has adopted the Chartist slogan "peacefully if possibly , forcibly if necessary"

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Jan 27 2010 13:17

It would be preferable that the state come into our hands so we can destroy it from within but what wil llikely happen is the formulation of a new bourgeoisie - Revolutions that use the state are pretty much middle wanking class in nature and as li pointed out, they will get conformed into the capitalist class and become an enemy of the working class, this would be likely through compromises with the capitalist system, which will in the end warp and convert them to the motherfucking darkside.

Ajj the only thing you said which i agree on is that it must be a wide working class awakening that will bring on revolution - that doesn't mean we have to use that state to achieve that end; Social work, chatting down the boozer, carnivals and other social functions, aswell as propaganda campaigns and as someone said agitation (our main weapon) - can all achieve this.

Far from violence proving our weakness, it proves our fucking strength! IF we go in the dead of night, fuck up their cars, smash their fucking windows and disappear before sunrise, what does that do? It puts fear in their hearts and they should rightly fear us because we will get revenge for all the crimes they've done on our people!

Yorkie Bar
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Jan 27 2010 13:50

middle wanking class

Yorkie Bar
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Jan 27 2010 13:51

*fapfapfapfapfapfapfap*

Fletcher
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Jan 27 2010 14:31

OUTLAW it wasn't that long ago that you were on here saying that you wanted to see state power seized and used to bring about communism. Has you time in exile altered your leninist view of politics?

Yorkie Bar
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Jan 27 2010 14:37

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Jan 28 2010 00:21

I was stating whati stated there fellar, that the most favourable situation would be the state destroying itself - that would be the less bloodshed and more humanist way of things.

Fletcher
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Jan 28 2010 09:51
The Outlaw wrote:
I was stating whati stated there fellar, that the most favourable situation would be the state destroying itself - that would be the less bloodshed and more humanist way of things.

That is slightly different from what you previously stated don't you think?

The Outlaw wrote:
The state is the body that will get us to communism in my opinion.
ernie
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Jan 28 2010 10:12

Rosa may have been against a premature revolution and rightly said the central task after the formation of the German CP was to concentrate on the winning over the the class to the party's platform, but that does not mean she was a against the eventual insurrection. She was following the example of the Bolsheviks.
To try and claim Rosa as some form of supporter of the policy of the SPGB is a travesty of history. She did not reject the need for the revolution or for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

ajjohnstone
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Jan 28 2010 12:48

If i gave the impression that i was claiming Rosa Luxemburg for the SPGB my apologies.
I was hoping to convey that only a majority of socialist-minded workers could have made the revolution in Germany. The bloody defeat showed how violence, especially by a minority, is suicidal against an existing organised state. That Luxemburg was against proposing a revolutionary putsch is i think on record and what she simply did , was what any honest representative of the working class could do when events actually began - she took the side of the workers against blood-thirsty mercenaries .

We do share points of agreement with Luxemburg . The rights of nations to self determination is such a point that Luxemburg is closer in agreement with the SPGB than she is with Lenin. But the SPGB certainly did not accept her economic theories as published in Accumulation of Capital .

Nor did Luxemburg share Lenin's conception of the socialist party from as early as "Leninism or Marxism" to her criticisms of the Bolsheviks suppression of democracy . Her idea of what the "Dictatorship of the Proletariat" entailed greatly differed from Lenin's and is closer to the SPGB's interpretation .

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There must be the widest participation on the part of the workers, that is, a real democracy, and it was precisely this democracy which alone could be designated as the dictatorship of the proletariat. A party-dictatorship was for her no more than "a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense,, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins." - Paul Mattick

But indeed Luxemburg did view The Russian Revolution as a proletarian revolution and supported the Bolsheviks , warts and all ,in spite of all their various mistakes and all her reservations . What she would conclude if she had lived longer and seen how it developed , well , we will never know , eh ?

ajjohnstone
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Jan 28 2010 14:56

And maybe you should have read my later comment and answered that before offering your word of wisdom .

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Again your example of the army in Russian Revolution answers those that argue that soldiers (and state employees in general) due to their indoctrination, would not obey the instructions of a workers' parliament but would still respond to the orders of the capitalists. They claim that they could then be used to put down the revolution and this gives rise to further speculation about the need for workers' militia, by-passing parliament and so on. It is quite illogical to assume that the wave of enthusiasm for socialism which would be sweeping through the working class as a whole would somehow miss out that section which forms the bulk of the armed forces. Our evidence for this is the record of previous revolutions. The success of the bourgeois revolution in Russia in 1917 was guaranteed when the military, which for decades had brutally put down all opposition to the tsar, succumbed to the general revolutionary discontent and refused any longer to protect the old ruling class. If soldiers then took up the slogans of the Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and SRs, how much more likely will they be to accept socialist policies put forward by workers like themselves organised in a mass socialist party ?
Boris Badenov
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Jan 28 2010 16:01
ajjohnstone wrote:
The success of the bourgeois revolution in Russia in 1917 was guaranteed when the military, which for decades had brutally put down all opposition to the tsar, succumbed to the general revolutionary discontent and refused any longer to protect the old ruling class. If soldiers then took up the slogans of the Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and SRs, how much more likely will they be to accept socialist policies put forward by workers like themselves organised in a mass socialist party ?

Yet the Russian revolution was anything but bloodless, and many of the soldiers, peasants and politicians who were not satisfied with the Bolsheviks (not to mention those to the left of them) joined the Whites. Do you actually believe that any degree of enthusiasm for socialism will prevent a military coup from even being attempted? Because that certainly has no precedent in history.

30bananasaday
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Jan 28 2010 19:38
Vlad336 wrote:
30bananasaday wrote:
Quote:
It is not unimaginable, but if we go by historical precedent, it is very unlikely.

If we go by historical precedent, the prospects of a violent revolution resulting in anything but authoritarianism are grim indeed (although correct me if I am wrong, my historical knowledge is very poor).

Well it depends. If we consider the example of the Russian revolution, the forming of the soviets definitely relied on violence to some extent, but this was violence used by workers to take control of their lives. You cannot equate it with the violence used by the Bolsheviks to impose militarized labour and "democratic centralism."
IMO the dichotomy violence = evil, nonviolence = good is a false one. Both violence and pacifism are ultimately political tools and it depends on who uses them and for what purpose.

Hey again Vlad,
I agree with you here. One question I have, and this is a request for information, not an objection, is this: what was the violence used to set up the soviets? I guess it was directed at the bourgeoisie, but I'm really unsure of its specific form. The reason I ask is that I recall from my a-levels the violence used by the bolsheviks during, for example, collectivisation, and I would like to be able to clearly distinguish it from that used to create the original workers control. I think that this will help to clarify my views on the difference between the perhaps necessary violence of a revolution on the one hand, and the violence perpetrated by a revolution collapsed into authoritarianism on the other.

Bye for now.

ernie
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Feb 2 2010 12:09

ajjohnstone

Thanks for that clarification on the SPGB's attitude to Rosa. However, you have studiously avoid answering the point made about the policy the Rosa put forwards being the same as that defend by Lenin and the Left of the Bolshevik party from April 1917. Rosa may have supported participation in the National Assembly in 1918 but this was secondary to the fundamental task for developing the strength of the workers councils. The stratetgy of the Communist Party of the soviets being the revolutionary organisation of the proletariat and revolutioin is totally opposed to the SPGB's defence of bringing about political revolution through parliament. The speech that Rosa made at the founding of the Communist party makes very clear how far from the SPGB's conception of the political tasks of the revolutionary party she stood.

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Comrades! What general tactical considerations must we deduce from this in order to deal with the situation with which we will be confronted in the immediate future? Your first conclusion will doubtless be a hope that the fall of the Ebert-Scheidemann government is at hand, and that it will be replaced by a declared socialist-proletarian-revolutionary government. For my part, I would ask you to direct your attention not to the leadership, not above, but to the base. We must not nourish and repeat the illusion of the first phase of the revolution, that of November 9, thinking that it is sufficient to overthrow the capitalist government and to set up another in its place in order to bring about a socialist revolution. There is only one way of achieving the victory of the proletarian revolution. We must begin by undermining step by step the Ebert-Scheidemann government through a social, revolutionary mass struggle of the proletariat. Moreover, let me remind you of some of the inadequacies of the German revolution which have not been overcome with the close of the first act of the revolution and which show clearly that we are far from having reached a point when the overthrow of the government can ensure the victory of socialism. I have tried to show you that the Revolution of November 9 was, above all, a political revolution, whereas it is necessary that it become in addition and mainly an economic revolution. But further, the revolutionary movement was confined to the cities, and up to the present the rural districts remain practically untouched. It would be a folly to realize socialism while leaving the agricultural system unchanged. From the standpoint of socialist economics in general, manufacturing industry cannot be remodeled unless it is amalgamated with a socialist reorganization of agriculture. The most important idea of the socialist economic order is the abolition of the opposition and the division between city and country. This division, this conflict, this contradiction, is a purely capitalist phenomenon which must be eliminated as soon as we place ourselves upon the socialist standpoint. If socialist reconstruction is to be undertaken in real earnest, we must direct attention just as much to the open country as to the industrial centers. Here, unfortunately, we are not even at the beginning of the beginning. This is essential, not merely because we cannot bring about socialism without socializing agriculture, but also because while we may think that we have reckoned with the last reserves of the counter-revolution against us and our efforts, there remains another important reserve which has not yet been taken into account: the peasantry. Precisely because the peasants are still untouched by socialism they constitute an additional reserve for the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie. The first thing our enemies will do when the flames of the socialist strikes begin to scorch their heels will be to mobilize the peasants, the fanatical devotees of private property. There is only one way of making headway against this threatening counter-revolutionary power. We must carry the class struggle into the country districts; we must mobilize the landless proletariat and the poorer peasants against the richer peasants. [Loud applause]

From this consideration follows what we have to do to insure the presuppositions of the success of the revolution. I would summarize our next tasks as follows: First and foremost, we have to extend in all directions the system of workers’ and soldiers’ councils, especially those of the workers. What we undertook on November 9 are only weak beginnings, and not even that. During the first phase of the revolution we actually lost extensive forces that were acquired at the very outset. You are aware that the counter-revolution has been engaged in the systematic destruction of the system of workers’ and soldiers’ councils. In Hesse, the councils have been definitely abolished by the counter-revolutionary government; elsewhere, power has been wrenched from their hands. Therefore, we have not merely to develop the system of workers’ and soldiers’ councils, but we have to induce the agricultural laborers and the poorer peasants to adopt this council system. We have to seize power, and the problem of the seizure of power poses the question: what does each workers’ and soldiers’ council in all Germany do, what can it do, and what must it do? [Bravo!] The power is there! We must undermine the bourgeois state by putting an end everywhere to the cleavage in public powers, to the cleavage between legislative and executive powers. These powers must be united in the hands of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils.

Comrades, that is an extensive field to till. We must prepare from the base up; we must give the workers’ and soldiers’ councils so much strength that the overthrow of the Ebert-Scheidemann or any similar government will merely be the final act in the drama. Thus, the conquest of power will not be effected with one blow. It will be a progression; we shall progressively occupy all the positions of the capitalist state and defend them tooth and nail. In my view and in that of my most intimate associates in the Party, the economic struggle, likewise, will be carried on by the workers’ councils. The direction of the economic struggle and the continued expansion of the area of this struggle must be in the hands of the workers’ councils. The councils must have all power in the state.

We must direct our activities in the immediate future to these ends, and it is obvious that, if we pursue this line and pursue these tasks, there cannot fail to be an enormous intensification of the struggle in the near future. It is a question of fighting step by step, hand-to-hand, in every province, in every city, in every village, in every municipality in order to take and transfer all the powers of the state bit by bit from the bourgeoisie to the workers and soldiers councils. But before these steps can be taken, the members of our own Party and the proletarians in general must he educated. Even where workers’ and soldiers’ councils already exist, there is still a lack of consciousness of the purposes for which they exist. [Right!] We must make the masses understand that the workers’ and soldiers council is in all senses the lever of the machinery of state, that it must take over all power and must unify the power in one stream – the socialist revolution. The masses of workers who are already organized in workers’ and soldiers’ councils are still miles away from having adopted such an outlook, and only isolated proletarian minorities are clearly conscious of their tasks. But this is not a lack, but rather the normal state of affairs. The masses must learn how to use power by using power. There is no other way to teach them. Fortunately, we have gone beyond the days when it was proposed to “educate” the proletariat socialistically. Marxists of Kautsky’s school still believe in the existence of those vanished days. To educate the proletarian masses socialistically meant to deliver lectures to them, to circulate leaflets and pamphlets among them. No, the school of the socialist proletariat doesn’t need all this. The workers will learn in the school of action. “ [Hear! Hear!]

Our motto is: In the beginning was the act. And the act must be that the workers’ and soldiers’ councils realize their mission and learn to become the sole public power of the whole nation. Only in this way can we mine the ground so that it will be ready for the revolution which will crown our work. This, comrades, is the reason, this is the clear calculation and clear consciousness which led some of us, and me in particular, to say yesterday, “Don’t think that the struggle will continue to be so easy.” Some comrades have interpreted me as saying that they wanted to boycott the National Assembly and simply to fold their arms. It is impossible in the time that remains, to discuss this matter fully, but let me say that I never dreamed of anything of the kind. My meaning was that history is not going to make our revolution an easy matter like the bourgeois revolutions in which it sufficed to overthrow that official power at the center and to replace a dozen or so persons in authority. We have to work from beneath, and this corresponds to the mass character of our revolution which aims at the foundation and base of the social constitution; it corresponds to the character of the present proletarian revolution that the conquest of political power must come not from above but from below. The 9th of November was an attempt, a weak, half-hearted, half-conscious, and chaotic attempt to overthrow the existing public power and to put an end to class rule. What now must be done is that with full consciousness all the forces of the proletariat should be concentrated in an attack on the very foundations of capitalist society. There, at the base, where the individual employer confronts his wage slaves; at the base, where all the executive organs of political class rule confront the object of this rule, the masses; there, step by step, we must seize the means of power from the rulers and take them into our own hands. In the form that I depict it, the process may seem rather more tedious than one had imagined it at first. It is healthy, I think, that we should be perfectly clear as to all the difficulties and complications of this revolution. For I hope that, as in my own case, so in yours also, the description of the difficulties of the accumulating tasks will paralyze neither your zeal nor your energy. On the contrary, the greater the task, the more will we gather all of our forces. And we must not forget that the revolution is able to do its work with extraordinary speed. I make no attempt to prophesy how much time will he needed for this process. Who among us cares about the time; who worries, so long only as our lives suffice to bring it to pass. It is only important that we know clearly and precisely what is to be done; and I hope that my feeble powers have shown you to some extent the broad outlines of that which is to be done. [tumultuous applause]

http://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1918/12/31.htm
She certainly made some very cogent critiques of the weakness of the Russian Revolution but she allows defended the centrality of the Soviets.

Quote:

This is no different what what Lenin called for in the April Theses

Quote:
Recognition of the fact that in most of the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies our Party is in a minority, so far a small minority, as against a bloc of all the petty-bourgeois opportunist elements, from the Popular Socialists and the Socialist-Revolutionaries down to the Organising Committee (Chkheidze, Tsereteli, etc.), Steklov, etc., etc., who have yielded to the influence of the bourgeoisie and spread that influence among the proletariat.

The masses must be made to see that the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies are the only possible form of revolutionary government, and that therefore our task is, as long as this government yields to the influence of the bourgeoisie, to present a patient, systematic, and persistent explanation of the errors of their tactics, an explanation especially adapted to the practical needs of the masses.

As long as we are in the minority we carry on the work of criticising and exposing errors and at the same time we preach the necessity of transferring the entire state power to the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies, so that the people may overcome their mistakes by experience.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/apr/04.htm

If she had lived yes Rosa would have been one of the most intransigent critics of the degeneration of the revolution and the role of the Bolsheviks. But certainly not from the SPGB's Kautskyite position of hostility to the revolution from the beginning, but from an instransigent defence of the proletarian nature of the revolution and the Bolsheviks. We should not forget that her book criticising the Revolution was not published by her and was only published by Paul Levi as part of his critique of the party in 1921

As for Rosa and Lenin sharing different views of the nature of the party in 1903, this does not hold up: they both defend the same vision of the party based on the SPD and the Erfurt programe. Her criticism of Lenin in 1903 was incorrect.

ernie
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Joined: 19-04-06
Feb 2 2010 12:35

For comrades who may be interested in an analysis of the German Revolution from a Left Communist perspective we produced a series of articles to mark the 90th anniversary;
- Germany 1918-19 (i): Faced with the war, the revolutionary proletariat renews its internationalist principles
- Germany 1918-19 (ii): From war to revolution
- Germany 1918-19 (iii): Formation of the party, absence of the International
- Germany 1918-19 (iv): Civil War
- [url=http://en.internationalism.org/ir/2009/137/germany-1918-19-Noske-to-Hitler]Germany 1918-19 (v): From Noske to Hitler[/urll
If nothing else they demonstrate how false the idea is that the Russian Revolution was some kind of isolated event, rather they demonstrate that the Russian revolution was part of an international revolutionary movement which was pivoted around the outcome of the revolutionary movement in the world's most industralised country Germany.. The defeat of the proletariat's revolutionary struggle in German was the defeat of the Russian Revolution, and that of the rest of the world. No wonder that the ruling class does all it can to bury the German Revolution, and all the more reason for revolutionaries to re-discover and drawn the lessons of this pivitol event in the history of our class.

ajjohnstone
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Joined: 20-04-08
Feb 2 2010 14:29

Ernie , what would you say to this extract from The Russian Revolution concerning the Bolshevik dissolution of the Constituent Assembly .

Quote:
"...All this shows that “the cumbersome mechanism of democratic institutions” possesses a powerful corrective – namely, the living movement of the masses, their unending pressure. And the more democratic the institutions, the livelier and stronger the pulse-beat of the political life of the masses, the more direct and complete is their influence – despite rigid party banners, outgrown tickets (electoral lists), etc. To be sure, every democratic institution has its limits and shortcomings, things which it doubtless shares with all other human institutions. But the remedy which Trotsky and Lenin have found, the elimination of democracy as such, is worse than the disease it is supposed to cure; for it stops up the very living source from which alone can come correction of all the innate shortcomings of social institutions..."
http://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1918/russian-revolution/ch04.htm

The SPGB position is to capture parliament to abolish capitalism as you well know , not to assume political office or to institute a policy of reforms . Therefore i think i can agree with Luxemburg when she says :

Quote:
"Our participation in the elections is necessary not in order to collaborate with the bourgeoisie and its shield-bearers in making laws, but to cast out the bourgeoisie and its shield-bearers from the temple, to storm the fortress of the counter-revolution, and to raise above it the victorious banner of the proletarian revolution.In order to do this, is a majority in the National Assembly necessary? Only those who subscribe to parliamentary cretinism, who would decide the revolution and socialism with parliamentary majorities, believe this. Not the parliamentary majority in the National Assembly, but the proletarian mass outside, in the factories and on the streets, will decide the fate of the National Assembly.... It, the mass, shall decide on the fate and the outcome of the National Assembly. What happens in, what becomes of, the National Assembly depends upon its own revolutionary activity. The greatest importance therefore attaches to the action outside, which must batter furiously at the gates of the counter-revolutionary parliament. But even the elections themselves and the action of the revolutionary representatives of the mass inside parliament must serve the cause of the revolution. To denounce ruthlessly and loudly all the tricks and dodges of the esteemed assembly, to expose its counter-revolutionary work to the masses at every step, to call upon the masses to decide, to intervene – this is the task of the socialists’ participation in the National Assembly."
http://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1918/12/23.htm

I remind you that i have stated before on Libcom at another thread the SPGB stand is that:

Quote:
The vote is merely the legitimate stamp which will allow for the dismantling of the repressive apparatus of the States and the end of bourgeois democracy and the establishment of real democracy.It is the Achilles heel of capitalism and makes a non-violent revolution possible.What matters is a conscious socialist majority outside parliament, ready and organised to take over and run industry and society; electing a socialist majority in parliament is essentially just a reflection of this. It is not parliament that establishes socialism, but the socialist working-class majority outside parliament and they do this, not by their votes, but by their active participating beyond this in the transformation of society.

I see simply a difference on emphasis and not of principle between the two positions . We fully agree with her that "Without the conscious will and action of the majority of the proletariat, there can be no socialism."

But the SPGB is NOT a Luxemburgist party , and we do not consider her , or Marx , as infallible canon. Her position , or Kautsky's , did not determine the SPGB critique of the Russian Revolution . And as an experience October 1917 . the lessons from it for to-days working class , can only be negative ones , and i realise that for yourself , Ernie , that is indeed heresy and thus will never be accepted , no matter what arguments are presented .

Many shared Luxemburg's initial support and enthusiasm for the Russian Revolution , that cannot be denied , but on later mature reflection of events , Marxists such as Pannekoek could re-evaluate the whole revolutionary period as a bourgeois revolution from the outset . How long it would have taken for Luxemburg to reach a similar position , who knows ?