Why all the Kautsky hate? (Part 2)

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Jacob Richter
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Nov 22 2011 07:00
Why all the Kautsky hate? (Part 2)

http://libcom.org/forums/theory/why-all-kautsky-hate-29062011

It's been awhile since the Libcom thread above had posts, but CPGB comrade Ben Lewis has done some articles and translations on "when Kautsky was a Marxist" - proving the turn to renegacy in the mid 1910s and also criticizing left demonizations of Kautsky in earlier periods:

http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004371 (Ben Lewis)
http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004372
http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004397 (Ben Lewis)
http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004398
http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004409
http://cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004620 (Ben Lewis, recently)

Now, with regards to the heated exchange between the renegade Kautsky and Lenin, both the renegade and Luxemburg failed to mention two things when criticizing the Bolsheviks, instead mentioning the Cheka and the discredited Constituent Assembly, thus giving cover to parliamentary cretinism (sorry, but WSM partisans follow parliamentary cretinism):

1) Violation of equal suffrage (such that urban soviets had more electoral weight than rural soviets)
2) Anti-soviet Bolshevik coups d'etat in 1918, as documented by (the albeit rather conservative) historian Brovkin

http://www.revolutionaryhistory.co.uk/revs/front-lines.html
http://revleft.com/vb/bolshevik-coups-detat-t134819/index.html

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Noa Rodman
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Nov 23 2011 21:38

Well, take a look at his 1922 Labour Revolution (the first chapter of which was dropped in translation, though it's a good critique of the Gorlitz program):

Kautsky wrote:
That the Marxian observations concerning the breaking-up of the State apparatus did not apply to every State, but merely to the military monarchies, is pronounced by Engels to be the case in his criticism of the German Social Democratic draft programme of 1891, where he states:

“If anything is certain, it is this, that our Party and the working class can only achieve power under the form of the democratic Republic. This is even the specific form for the dictatorship of the proletariat.”

On the other hand, Engels said that the Paris Commune of 1871 was the dictatorship of the proletariat. The constitution of the latter was that of a democratic Republic.

Where is the Kautsky hate against this major book? I don't see it. I would like to see it. With all the SPGB's preoccupation in bashing Lenin, they somehow failed to critique renegade Kautsky. It was the SPGB's responsibility. Even though the Fundamental Principles of Communist Production and Distribution by the Group of International Communists of Holland (GIK), is ambiguous toward Kautsky's book, they clearly thought it was a significant work.

Some other works by renegade Kautsky are listed at the bottom here.

S. Artesian
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Nov 22 2011 13:27

Wait a minute. This guy Richter has no business being on Libcom. He's an outright admirer of what he calls "3rd world Caesarism" -- a bizarre amalgam of authoritarian petit-bourgeois pseudo-radicalism, recidivist Maoism, and other assorted abominations.

He goes by the name of DNZ on revleft where he is known for rating Stalin's use of slave labor a "plus" and calling it primitive socialist accumulation.

Don't take my word for it. Just keep engaging with this guy and watch what happens.

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Noa Rodman
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Nov 23 2011 21:57

Thanks for the heads up Artesian. Jacob, I browsed through your articles with interest. With the latest translation of Kautsky's guidelines I don't see where the renegacy is (and Zinoviev quotes from articles that today can't be found).

Jacob Richter
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Nov 24 2011 03:47

Here's the renegacy with respect to the German Revolution, as opposed to the Russian Revolution as already pointed out by Lenin:

http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004610

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Noa Rodman
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Nov 24 2011 12:35

Yeah that's the article I meant. But if you read it closely, Kautsky's renegacy in claiming that the proletariat had taken political power in Novermber 1918 and that Germany had become a “democratic republic”, is actually disproven:

BL wrote:
It mocked Kautsky for claiming that the German working class had come to power in November 1918! This is quite clearly false. [..] And as in November 1918 the powerful German state bureaucracy of the old order remained intact and the army supreme command remained master of the situation - not the armed people.

Moreover, Kautsky actually recognises this state of affairs. Just a few lines later, he admits that a socialist action programme must bring about “the speediest dissolution of the standing army and the complete abolition of the dominant position hitherto assumed by the officer corps both in the army and in the state”. And further: “the power of the centralised government bureaucracy must be broken”.

And so Kautsky clearly does not mean democratic republic in Engels' sense, or that the proletariat had come to power. But there was sort of an attempt at revolution going on, however weak it was. Kautsky wrote this article during the spartacist rising. When does Zinoviev respond? Probably after its crushing, then yeah try to find an article where Kautsky still is claiming that the proletariat is in power.

Jacob Richter
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Nov 25 2011 03:20

Kautsky *the Marxist* had an inconsistent definition of the democratic republic.

Contrast:

"The social transformation for which we are striving can be attained only through a political revolution, by means of the conquest of political power by the fighting proletariat. The only form of the state in which Socialism can be realized is that of a republic, and a thoroughly democratic republic at that." (http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1909/power/ch05.htm)

With:

"Let us imagine then that this fine day has already come, in which at one stroke all power is thrown into the lap of the proletariat. How would it begin? Not how would it begin upon the grounds of this or that theory, or opinion, but must begin, driven thereto by its class interests and the compulsion of economic necessity.

In the first place it is self-evident that [the proletariat] would recover what the bourgeoisie has lost. It would sweep all remnants of feudalism away and realize that democratic programme for which the bourgeoisie once stood." (http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1902/socrev/pt2-1.htm)

So, already in 1902, the Kautskyan minimum program was no longer the same as the Marxist minimum program (purely political DOTP with substantive economic reforms). Contemporarily, of course, that doesn't mean the former is useless:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_programme

megaduu
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Nov 25 2011 09:50

That's good question that I would like to know as well!

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Noa Rodman
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Nov 25 2011 11:18
Jacob Richter wrote:
Kautsky *the Marxist* had an inconsistent definition of the democratic republic.

Could you highlight the inconsistency. Are you siding with 1909 Kautsky against 1902 Kautsky? If so, then his inconsistency in 1902 was undone later. In 1902 he acknowledged that

Quote:
All these are means that bourgeois radicalism has already placed before itself [..]

But the revolution would naturally not stop at these transformations. It would not be simply a bourgeois democratic, but a proletarian revolution.

Maybe you need to think dialectically wink

Jacob Richter
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Nov 25 2011 14:55

And there's the problem; Macnair explicitly contests that "bourgeois democratic" was never a goal of the bourgeoisie, just rule-of-law constitutionalism.

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Noa Rodman
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Nov 25 2011 16:23

You mean Macnair contests that the bourgeoisie ever set itself those goals (arming of the people, etc.). No offense, but I think Kautsky knows a bit more about history than Macnair. His Phd dissertation which was going to be on Jefferson as an American ambassador in Paris, allowing him to write both about the American and the French revolution. He had collected the material (given in his autobiography), chosen a professor and everything, but circumstances in 1879 forced him to retract. Whatever the truth to your point, it does not show Kautsky (in 1902 or whatever) reneging .

Jacob Richter
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Nov 26 2011 05:28

Why do we have standing armies? Why do we have police officers? Why do we have hereditary ceremonial monarchs with opulent wealth? Why don't we have popular militias? Why don't we have equality before the law (in terms of judgements not biased towards the capitalists)?

Only a fraction of the bourgeoisie were for radical stuff. By and large, everyone else settled for rule-and-law constitutionalism.

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Noa Rodman
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Nov 26 2011 13:25

I'm glad we settled that Kautsky wasn't a renegade then.

Jacob Richter
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Nov 26 2011 18:34

Huh? He did turn renegade. He didn't have a militant position against WWI. He called for unity with the MSPD reformists. He criticized the Russian Revolution for all the wrong reasons.

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Noa Rodman
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Nov 26 2011 19:51

It's my way of saying huh? to you. I was first, so if you could clear up;

1. What the fact that "only a fraction of the bourgeoisie were for radical stuff" (Kautsky says as much in the quote I gave) has to do with your claim that Kautsky had an inconsistent definition of the democratic republic?
2. Where is the inconsistency?
3. How does this even matter to my original point (Kautsky's renegacy in claiming that the proletariat had taken political power in Novermber 1918)? On the contrary, his guidelines show that there had not even taken place a bourgeois revolution.

Either you're just bringing this stuff up for the sake of it (which is cool by me), or there is something that you're trying to dispute?

My point is that before one proceeds to cogently explain why Kautsky's reasons for 'turning renegade' are mistaken (we're still far from that at this stage), one should give a trustworthy account of his positions. For that you need to read Kautsky (a knowledge of German helps here), or cite relevant passages from some of his works in English, as proof for any claims about his positions. That would be helpful for everybody.