Russian revolution

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jaycee
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Jan 3 2006 12:06
Russian revolution

this is an extract from an essay i wrote last year about the soviets in the russian revolution.

Many historians including David Shub and Orlando Figes view the October revolution as a simple coup d’etat. David Shub argues this, in fact he names his chapter on the October revolution ‘Lenin Seizes Power’ while Orlando Figes calls it a ‘revolution of his (Lenin’s) own.’ However these accounts neglect the issue of the Soviets, from the middle of September there had been a tide of resolutions calling for the taking of power flooding in from local and regional Soviets. On the 11th -13th October a Congress of Soviets of the Northern Region openly called for insurrection. One worker shouted at a Bolshevik member ‘take power you sons of bitches, take power when we give it to you.’ Insurrection was decided ‘openly and publicly’ by the soviets, persuaded by the Bolsheviks but not behind the ‘workers back’ as the Mensheviks later claimed. The overthrow of the Provisional Government was not simply an attack on democracy, it was an attack on bourgeois democracy in favour of a working class democracy.

The arming of the workers was organised by the Revolutionary Military Committee (RMC). This was a body set up by the workers themselves through the soviets. The workers were themselves becoming more impatient with the Provisional Government and were becoming increasingly militant, ‘we will go into the street when we deem it advisable.’ The Bolsheviks by October had a clear majority in the soviets, especially in the major cities, for example in Petrograd the Bolshevik candidates received 443 votes while the second highest was 162 votes for the Social Revolutionaries (all of whom were left Social Revolutionaries who tended towards the Bolsheviks main principles). Although the Soviets nationwide were not monolithic and were only loosely centralised under the All Russian Central Congress of Soviets, the Bolsheviks were also gaining popularity among the peasants, largely due to the support they had given to the peasant revolts. Lenin at the time declared that ‘it would be sheer treachery to the peasants, to allow the peasant revolts to be suppressed when we control the soviets in both capitals.’

Despite the fact that the insurrection was decided upon ‘publicly and openly’ in the major soviets, the Mensheviks and many historians still claim that October was a ‘revolution behind the workers back.’ Orlando Figes, although seeing that the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks was ‘amidst a social revolution,’ still calls it a ‘coup d’etat.’ He also sees Lenin’s real aim as ‘all power to the party,’ this is a distortion of the truth. It is true that Lenin, like the majority of communists of the time, viewed the role of the party with the majority in the soviets, as the taking of power along side the soviets. Nevertheless the aims of the communists were always workers control over the economy and proletarian power through the soviets.

Trotsky argues convincingly in volume 3 of his ‘History of The Russian Revolution’ that, the Bolsheviks could only take power as relatively easily as they did because ‘they had behind them in the workers districts… an overwhelming majority.’ This is because as Trotsky showed, ‘at the end of October the main part of the game was already in the past. The ruling class was in many ways defenceless because of the massive scale of co-operation between the workers and the soldiers which meant they did not have the means to effectively put down an insurrection. However it would have been impossible for the Bolsheviks to stage a simple coup d’etat , they also did not have the capability. The red guards and the RMC with the support of the workers and soviets were the only groups able to carry it out. The role of the Party is shown clearly through the events of the storming of the Winter Palace, the workers carried out the action whilst being persuaded and aided in organisational matters, by the Bolsheviks.

Therefore it is clear that the October revolution was not a coup d’etat carried out by a revolutionary minority but was carried out by the workers of the major cities alongside the Bolsheviks and the peasants. This is of central importance as it shows what the relationship between the soviets and the communists was. The aims of the communists and of the soviets therefore cannot be so easily separated as the question suggests.

The Soviets Under the Bolsheviks and the Civil War

Despite the massive problems which the Bolsheviks faced after the October revolution such as a ruined economy, being part of a war which they had no interest in and keeping down counter revolution, the immediate period after October was not one of a party dictatorship as some historians claim. While it is true that the Bolsheviks shut down many critical news papers there was also a massive explosion of experimentation in music, theatre, art, politics and the economy. The massive repression and terror certainly were not characteristic of this early period, on many occasions they were too lenient, for example they let numerous White Generals such as General Krasnov free on the promise that they would not fight against the Bolsheviks. Also at this point there were massive debates within the party and workers control of production and politics was also much more important than is often realised. Workers on many occasions took over factories and demanded nationalisation, while others embraced the localised factory committees. This shows that while the Bolsheviks were immediately faced with massive problems and their actions were at times repressive, the early period of Bolshevik power was also one of experimentation and debate.

During this period the Soviets did have a great deal of power and economic control. This is shown by the massive expansion of soviet principles into production with ‘workers control of management…decreed on November 27 1917’(The Soviets Oskar Anweiler pg 221). The soviets also ‘thoroughly imposed’(Oskar Anweiler The Soviets pg221) in the army and in the judicial system in which for a time all judges were elected. However the democratisation of the economy did often exasperate the already chronic economic crisis, and as Oskar Anweiler says many factory committees tended to make decisions with ‘little consideration for the national economy.’ However these problems could probably have been dealt with without loosing the fundamental principles of soviet rule and there was much debate within the Bolshevik Party and the workers movement at large about the best way to do this. The Civil war however subordinated all experimentation and other issues to the task of maintaining power against the counter revolution.

As soon as the Bolsheviks took political power they were immediately forced into opposition with the soviets (and the factory committees) on many questions such as management of the factories. This was because they could not escape the idea that the success of the revolution depended on them holding onto state power. The problem was that with all the pressures coming from the capitalist world outside, and the still capitalist economy inside, the state very quickly began to detach itself from the control of the soviets and become a force standing above them; and though some Bolsheviks began to see this danger straight away (for example the Left Communist group around Ossinsky) the party as a whole became more and more fused with the new state. This tendency was greatly accelerated by the Civil War.

The Civil War

The Civil war was a major reason for the degeneration of Soviet power and the emergence the party dictatorship. It drained the resources of the soviets because so many workers fled the cities to go and fight as did many peasants in rural areas. It also subordinated a lot of the debate and experimentation in order to further the war effort. This also further ruined the economy and the resulting famines (also caused by the ‘democracies’ embargo on the country) sapped the morale of the population.

The demands of the civil war lead to the formation of the Red Army and with it the eradication of the red guards, this took away a very important weapon of the Soviets as the red guards were the armed wing of the Soviets. The idea was, at first to use the Soviet principle in the Red Army, however this was increasingly abandoned under the pressures of winning the military victory. Trotsky in particular became almost obsessed with installing order, even if that meant dismantling a large degree of workers democracy and power. Firstly in the army, where traditional military set ups were increasingly used, so much so that they even used old Czarist officers in some cases. Trotsky later posed the possibility of doing similar things in industry, which Lenin greatly opposed. This shows how the Civil War increased the fusion with the Bolsheviks and the state, above the Soviets. The left communists in the Bolshevik party would later go on to actually consider giving up power as they realised they had become too closely entwined with the state.

While it was increasingly necessary to use capitalist methods of exploitation, as Trotsky said, ‘the workers must increase productivity’(The Soviets, Oskar Anweiler) they also faced the problem a general lack of resources. They were under a massive trade embargo, they had lost massive areas of land and resources under the German ‘peace’ agreement and were losing workers to the war effort and the wars effects. The number of workers in Petrograd was 50% of those at the end of 1916 and by the end of the civil war, the birthplace of the revolution had lost 58% of it’s population. The new capital of Moscow had also depopulated by 45%.

The End Of the Soviets

Therefore the interests of the Soviets and the Bolshevik leadership which had once been so closely converged were increasingly opposed, this reached a culmination with the bloody repression of the Kronstadt revolt. The Kronstadt revolt was organised by a soviet type organisation and demanded new elections to the Soviets. While Trotsky and other leading Bolsheviks claimed it was a ‘White conspiracy’ it exemplified the antagonism between the party-state and the workers and the Soviets. However many Bolsheviks such as Miasnikov opposed the repression and many Bolsheviks in Kronstadt itself took part in the rebellion, this shows that the party had not yet lost all working class characteristics. However the Soviets had ceased to exorcise any real power by 1921 and any resistance within the Bolsheviks was defined to internal debates within the party.

The Bolsheviks believed that by suppressing the Kronstadt rebellion they were saving the revolution from the White counter-revolution. In fact, they helped to pave the way for an internal counter-revolution which was to overwhelm them all. In the last years of his life, Lenin realised that things were not going in the direction he had hoped and that the revolution was being swamped by bureaucracy. In 1922 he wrote ‘it (the state) did not operate in the way we wanted…The machine refused to obey the hand that guided it…as if it were driven by some mysterious, lawless hand’(this ‘mysterious hand’ was the economic laws of capitalism). By 1923 Trotsky had moved into opposition against Stalin, who personified this bureaucratic power, while the left communists made even more radical criticisms of the regime and were the first to describe the Stalinist state as a form of State Capitalism.

Conclusion

In Conclusion, the Soviets were effective in achieving the immediate aims of the Bolsheviks, such as the taking of workers political and economic power. However the Soviets aims became increasingly opposed to those of the Bolsheviks as a result of the isolation of Russia. This isolation not only lead to a ‘suffocation’ of the economy by the great powers but also lead to the Civil War, which drained the Soviets resources and lead the Bolsheviks to become increasingly bound up with the state. This meant that the Party went from being a party of the dictatorship of the proletariat to a dictatorship over it. The Soviets had lost all real power by 1921 and the party itself lost all remnants of its working class nature by the time the rise of Stalinism had culminated. Rosa Luxermburgs claim that ‘the problem could only be posed in Russia… it could not be solved in Russia,’ was very important because the failure of the revolution to spread spelt the death of Soviet power. Stalinism and its ideas of ‘socialism in one country’ was the complete negation of proletarian internationalism and represented an internal counter revolution through the degeneration of the Soviets and the rise of bureaucracy. This was largely down to the degeneration of Soviet power which in turn was brought about by isolation.

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Steven.
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Jan 3 2006 15:54

Do you mind if I ask first what your political position is, if you have one in particular?

On this point:

jaycee wrote:
The Civil war was a major reason for the degeneration of Soviet power and the emergence the party dictatorship.

I'd suggest that this debunks it pretty well:

http://libcom.org/library/the-bolsheviks-and-workers-control-solidarity-group

Although of course it was a factor in the development of the dictatorship, but by no means an essential one...

alibadani
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Jan 4 2006 11:28

Was this essay for school? IF so, how did your prof./teacher grade it?

BTW, I agree with your analysis. 8)

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Jan 4 2006 13:44

john i would call myself a left communist i read the icc and cwo regularly. i will answer your post when i have read the pamphlet you set up the link for.

Alibandi i wrote it for my A level exam at college, i was screwed, my teacher told me it was A standard but the examiner gave it 27/90. Maybe it was too political or maybe it was capitalist slurs against the proletarian movement, i don't know

jaycee
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Jan 4 2006 13:48

there was some sort of mix up there i (jaycee) sent that last post and for some reason it came up under Alfs name

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Jan 4 2006 14:34

And at that point you raised your fist and started singing The Internationale to urge your comrade schoolkids to rise up and rebel against the oppression of the History syllabus?

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Jan 4 2006 16:27

quite happy to be mixed up with jaycee on this - I also agree with his essay, and as revol68 fraternally points out, what do examiners know?

There is however plenty of scope for discussing Brinton's pamphlet, which seems to be regarded by so many as the ultimate nail in the Bolshevik coffin. It contains some very interesting research but there's a basic flaw'Bolshevism' is descibed as something totally separate from the proletarian movement 'from below', and yet time and time again the text cites Bolshevik groupings (Left Communists, Democratic Centralists, Workers Opposition) or members of the party active in the factory committee movement who were in the forefront of criticising the early signs of degeneration.

John's main point of disagreement with jaycee - isolation and civil war as the real key to the degeneration - uses Brinton as a point of reference. It's perfectly true (as opposed to the Trotskyists and others) that the Bolshevik party committed fundamental errors right from the start - identifying itself as the party in power being the first of them. But ideas like this were very widespread among all revolutionaries at the time Rosa Luxemburg had similar ideas, for all her criticisms of the Red Terror. This is something we've learned from the Russian revolution the role of the communists is not to take state power.

The question is this if the lifeblood of the Russian revolution hadn't been drained away during the course of the civil war, if the revolution had extended, these errors could have been corrected. But a working class decimated by civil war and starvation was not in a strong position to redress the situation.

The ruling class, in endless books and TV documentaries ('The Russian Revolution in Colour' a while back being a prime example) is only too happy to blame everything on the evil Bolsheviks or Lenin's lust for power. But while revolutionaries can indeed recognise and reject the errors made by the Bolsheviks, why should we let the bourgeoisies of the world off the hook? They (with the great democrat Churchill at the forefront) were all primarily responsible for strangling the Russian revolution in 1918-21, for creating the conditions which led it to die from within. They also made damn sure the German bourgeoisie had all it needed to crush the German workers in 1918-19. And it was the defeat in Germany which sealed the fate of the Russian revolution.

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Jan 4 2006 21:25
jaycee wrote:
there was some sort of mix up there i (jaycee) sent that last post and for some reason it came up under Alfs name

Don't worry its not even vaguely suspicious

Quote:
I was going to ask the same question as jaycee
Quote:
I strongly support jaycee and alibadani

He might think he's you next time.

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Just to prove to Jack that there are more than two of us, another ICC voice.

Personally I'd have edited or deleted the post before anyone noticed.

perhaps all the ICC posters should post simultaneously on a thread at 12pm GMT (or whenever is convenient) to prove they exist.

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Jan 4 2006 21:30
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The question is this: if the lifeblood of the Russian revolution hadn't been drained away during the course of the civil war, if the revolution had extended, these errors could have been corrected. But a working class decimated by civil war and starvation was not in a strong position to redress the situation.

Very interesting article with regard to value of British intervention was put on Libcom a day or two ago.

now I can't find it unfortunately.

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Jan 4 2006 22:05

It just proves we're not that devious, doesn't it Jef? I think any reading of our posts make it obvious that jaycee is not the same person as me. Are we not allowed to know each other and discuss with each other?

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Jan 4 2006 22:30
Alf wrote:
It just proves we're not that devious, doesn't it Jef? I think any reading of our posts make it obvious that jaycee is not the same person as me. Are we not allowed to know each other and discuss with each other?

OR you were playing an audacious double bluff.

I feel like Columbo.

But if you weren't "that" devious it does rather imply that you were devius to an extent.

I feel like Miss Marple

I don't think your posts have in any way proved that you are different people, in fact this could all be a bluff and I could secretly be Jaycee, Alf and Jef, and Shawarma for good measure.

I feel like Quincy

Maybe they should make me an admin?

ps sorry for derailing the thread and pointing out something rather obvious.

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Jan 5 2006 06:41

WE Left COmmies are a bunch of mindless drones anyway. WE might as well all be the same person.

I think the ICC should spend more time doing something usefel, like coming up with elaborate plans for a people's bank in a primitivist commune.

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Jan 5 2006 11:39
alibadani wrote:
WE Left COmmies are a bunch of mindless drones anyway. WE might as well all be the same person.

I think the ICC should spend more time doing something usefel, like coming up with elaborate plans for a people's bank in a primitivist commune.

I agree.

I hope we're the same person, I can't face reading Das Kapital

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Jan 5 2006 14:36

Jef. Vol 1. of Capital, although there's a lot of it, isn't difficult to read, and it's well worth the effort.

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Jan 5 2006 17:10
John. wrote:
On this point:
jaycee wrote:
The Civil war was a major reason for the degeneration of Soviet power and the emergence the party dictatorship.

I'd suggest that this debunks it pretty well:

http://libcom.org/library/the-bolsheviks-and-workers-control-solidarity-group

Although of course it was a factor in the development of the dictatorship, but by no means an essential one...

Just to back up what jaycee and Alf have said regarding the reasons for the defeat of the Russian Revolution, especially regards the argumentation used by Brinton in the Solidarity pamphlet refered to above. The ICC wrote a short critique of it here:

http://en.internationalism.org/wr/187_factory_committees.htm

One of the central arguments of the pamphlet is that if only the factory committees had been in effect the state - directing the economy - then the revolution would have been victorious inside Russia. This is a dangerous argument because it leads to the defence of the idea that how the factories are managed in one country is more important than the international extension of the revolution. This is very close to the Stalinist idea of the possibility of 'socialism in one country'.

It is vital to discuss the lessons of the Russian Revolution, and there has been a good discussion of the nature of the transition period here:

http://www.libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7420

So, if the exhaustion of the revolution through the civil war was 'by no means' an essential factor then what others were?

Beltov.

alibadani
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Jan 5 2006 19:32
Alf wrote:
It's perfectly true (as opposed to the Trotskyists and others) that the Bolshevik party committed fundamental errors right from the start - identifying itself as the party in power being the first of them. But ideas like this were very widespread among all revolutionaries at the time: Rosa Luxemburg had similar ideas, for all her criticisms of the Red Terror.

Where does such an idea come from? From Marx? I mean, didn't revolutionaries at the time have the example of the Paris COmmune? Workers in Russia made sure they seized the national bank since not doing so was apparently one of the mistakes the communards made. So it seems the Commune experience was something they looked back on. The Commune wasn't a "party in power"? I don't get it.

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Jan 5 2006 20:01
Quote:

One of the central arguments of the pamphlet is that if only the factory committees had been in effect the state - directing the economy - then the revolution would have been victorious inside Russia.

No, the pamphlet explains how the factory committees, which were moving towards a situation where they'd be in full control of the economy, were subsumed by the far less revolutionary organs: the unions, vesenka, one-man management, industrial 'specialists' (the old owners).

Quote:

This is a dangerous argument because it leads to the defence of the idea that how the factories are managed in one country is more important than the international extension of the revolution.

So the content of the revolution is less important than it spreading?

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Jan 5 2006 22:35

Alibadani I wouldn't say that the idea of the party taking power is entirely absent from Marx. In the period of the First International, there was in any case a tendency for the International to present itself as the unitary organ of the class, regrouping parties as well as unions. And of course there is is his famous phrase about the "constitution of the proletarians into a class, and thus into a political party". The point is that in this period, the notion of the party as a distinct political organ within the class was not clear.

The notion of the party taking power was certainly reinforced in the period of social democracy, which was the school for the revolutionaries who went on to form the Third International. On the one hand, there was an advance during this period, because there was a clearer separation between the party and the unitary organs (the trade unions). But parliamentary-type notions were strengthened in the social democratic parties, especially as the essential lessons of the Commune became 'buried'.

Lenin's view of the party as a distinct minority formed around a rigorous programme was the first breach in the social democratic conception of the mass party that aspires to become the organiser of proletarian political power; but evidently, the weight of the social democratic conceptions remained very strong and it was only the lived experience of the Russian tragedy that made a clearer synthesis possible.

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Jan 6 2006 00:58
Catch wrote:
Jef. Vol 1. of Capital, although there's a lot of it, isn't difficult to read, and it's well worth the effort.

Is it true that Marx is quite witty?

A girl said it to me and I was wondering if that was possible, not having read much Marx and hoping not to insult her I let the remark pass. I've found him fairly dull in terms of style etc, although the political content is interesting.

Don't worry Catch I will read it, I'm planning to steal a nice new edition for work. I might have a source for lots of books soon wink

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Jan 6 2006 01:49
revol68 wrote:
Jef Costello wrote:
Catch wrote:
Jef. Vol 1. of Capital, although there's a lot of it, isn't difficult to read, and it's well worth the effort.

Is it true that Marx is quite witty?

A girl said it to me and I was wondering if that was possible, not having read much Marx and hoping not to insult her I let the remark pass. I've found him fairly dull in terms of style etc, although the political content is interesting.

Don't worry Catch I will read it, I'm planning to steal a nice new edition for work. I might have a source for lots of books soon ;)

i think he's quite witty, i especially love it when he goes on a real rant for someone.

Is he actually laugh out loud funny?

Apparently it is so obvious that I'm a lefty that women will always go in that direction to impress me. I actually know she's interested I just wondered if it was likely that it was true or if she'd picked it up from an introduction to an edition or something like that.

Idle curiosity really.

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Jan 6 2006 02:15
revol68 wrote:

you lil fuck this whole conversation is more about you boasting about some girl hitting on you using Marx!

I'm so jealous i could puke!

I wouldn't be jealous. It doesn't happen very often. Plus they never do it properly, if I met a woman who actually cared about literature and politics the way I do then I'd be very happy but its rare, in fact people like that in general are rare sad

I'm not planning on doing anything anyway, I do like her but she is more interested in an image of me for her own purposes rather than actually interacting with me. It seems a little pointless to pursue under the circumstances. And aren't you with Grace?

I am genuinely interested in whether Marx is actually funny.

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Jan 6 2006 10:05

There is biting humour throughout Marx’s work. Try The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte as a sample.

However, to get back to the theme of this thread, in response to Catch on the question of extension of the revolution

Perhaps we can simplify the issue to one of a strike. In today’s conditions, the only way workers can have an impact on the bourgeoisie is by spreading their struggles as widely as possible. There is clearly a link between extension and the form that workers use in the struggle. Since the trade unions are there to hold back the movement and divide the workers, it’s vital for workers to take control of the struggle, by holding general assemblies and making sure any committees and delegations remain responsible to the assembly, not the unions. This is the best form for allowing workers to appeal to other sectors to join them and for taking effective action to spread the struggle (eg massive delegations to other workplaces). But if the strike remains isolated, then maintaining the best, most ‘worker-controlled’ general assembly will not be enough to prevent the struggle from dying from within. Then you have the whole danger of the assembly ceasing to be a place of real discussion and decision and of the strike committees ending up as a new form of trade union. In short, extension is oxygen to the struggle. This is equally true at a higher level of the struggle, when the working class has taken political power in one country or region.

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Jan 6 2006 11:00
Alf wrote:
There is biting humour throughout Marx’s work. Try The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte as a sample.

However, to get back to the theme of this thread, in response to Catch on the question of extension of the revolution:

Perhaps we can simplify the issue to one of a strike. In today’s conditions, the only way workers can have an impact on the bourgeoisie is by spreading their struggles as widely as possible. There is clearly a link between extension and the form that workers use in the struggle. Since the trade unions are there to hold back the movement and divide the workers, it’s vital for workers to take control of the struggle, by holding general assemblies and making sure any committees and delegations remain responsible to the assembly, not the unions. This is the best form for allowing workers to appeal to other sectors to join them and for taking effective action to spread the struggle (eg massive delegations to other workplaces). But if the strike remains isolated, then maintaining the best, most ‘worker-controlled’ general assembly will not be enough to prevent the struggle from dying from within. Then you have the whole danger of the assembly ceasing to be a place of real discussion and decision and of the strike committees ending up as a new form of trade union. In short, extension is oxygen to the struggle. This is equally true at a higher level of the struggle, when the working class has taken political power in one country or region.

extension is important, but surely it all depends on the value of the workers to capital. A small group of highly skilled workers can create a big effect by striking, or threatening to, whereas even a large group of unskilled workers will have trouble creating such a large effect.

I do agree with your basic point though.

Although I have always wondered if it is better to secure the revolution before attempting to spread it, I suppose it depends the external threats. I always thought a functioning communist state would be the best propaganda tool.

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Jan 6 2006 12:10

The question is whether you can have a 'functioning communist state' in the world of global capital. Leaving aside the fact that 'communist' and 'state' are two mutually exclusive terms, while the workers who had come to power in one area would obviously have to function as well as they could, they would basically be in a siege situation, a situation of extreme deprivation as long as the revolution stayed in that area. The world market is so interdepedent that the conditions facing the more advanced countries would perhaps rapidly become even more desperate than one facing a more agricultural country. These are not the conditions for creating an example of communist living; of course, the workers of the world would be inspired by the courage, solidarity, creativity and sense of hope displayed by a revolutionary struggle. But if they don't follow the example, all the efforts of their brothers and sisters in the areas where the revolution first broke out would come to nothing.

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Jan 6 2006 12:54

Hi

Quote:
This is a dangerous argument because it leads to the defence of the idea that how the factories are managed in one country is more important than the international extension of the revolution.

Dangerous as far as Internationalist orthodoxy is concerned. Not dangerous to the working class. On the contrary.

Loving the review of "Workers Power" on News by the way...

http://libcom.org/news/article.php?story=for-workers-power-brinton-review-6012005

Overall excellent, but I'm not too sure about this comment...

Quote:
There are aspects of this book which show its age. For example, the assumption, so common before the 1980s, that Russian-style state capitalism was a more rational and advanced form of capitalism. Looking back, this was obviously not the case.

I don’t think Brinton (or Lazy Riser) necessarily sees State Capitalism as more “rational”, although it may be from the perspective of a Bourgeois with a death wish. As for advanced, the point is that State Capitalism represents the eventual form that all Capitalism will take. Neo-Liberalism and State Capitalism are the same, the division between the Capitalist Corporation and the State is spectacular.

Love

LR

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Jan 6 2006 12:58

Hi

Sorry lucy82, don't want to derail here, so...

Quote:
The world market is so interdepedent that the conditions facing the more advanced countries would perhaps rapidly become even more desperate than one facing a more agricultural country.

But what if you regenerate primary industry as part of a transitionary programme? Would our resources not be useful to comrades abroad, increasing the chances of their own revolt?

Love

LR

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Jan 6 2006 19:41
Alf wrote:
Leaving aside the fact that 'communist' and 'state' are two mutually exclusive terms, while the workers who had come to power in one area would obviously have to function as well as they could, they would basically be in a siege situation, a situation of extreme deprivation as long as the revolution stayed in that area. The world market is so interdepedent that the conditions facing the more advanced countries would perhaps rapidly become even more desperate than one facing a more agricultural country.

semantics aside, surely it would depend on whether the communist 'area' was self sufficient or not. For example Britain cannot feed itself and is short on raw materials so would have problems, whereas Venezuela has oil gas and shitloads of other resources so could probably look after itself.

There is always a risk of attack by capitalist forces, I was just wondering whether it would be better to secure the revolution in the territory and ensure that communism was functioning before attempting to spread the revolution.

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Lazy Riser
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Jan 6 2006 19:47

Hi

Quote:
surely it would depend on whether the communist 'area' was self sufficient or not

Nearly there comrade. What do you suggest we might do to resolve the problem, or is it unsolvable and we must wait for the magical alignment of nations as prophesised?

Love

LR

Beltov
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Jan 6 2006 19:55
Lazy Riser wrote:
But what if you regenerate primary industry as part of a transitionary programme? Would our resources not be useful to comrades abroad, increasing the chances of their own revolt?

Thanks to LR for neatly summing up his argument. The question of extending the revolution is seen largely in material, economic terms. This expresses a councilist vision of the revolution. For all their criticisms of Lenin's early conception (which he soon corrected!) that the working class is only capable of a 'trade union' consciousness, councilism (and with it syndicalism, co-operatism and economism essentially sees the working class as an economic category, in sociological terms, rather than as a politically historic class, capable of having its own identity and consciousness, with a past and a future. The revolution is seen in technical terms as one of re-organising production, and the working class has no need to organize politically.

But communism is not just a new form of economy. Marx spoke of it as being the critique of political economy. It means the installation of new social relations, where production is decided upon politically, rather than the anarchy of the market. The first stages of the revolution are the international struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat, for the seizure of political power by the proletariat organised through the workers councils (AND NOT THE PARTY!). The economies in the areas under the proletarian dictatorship will be used to provide resources and materials to ensure that the international civil war for political power is won. Only when this has happened can the transition period truly commence and production be re-organised according to the principles of communism.

Those who think that it is possible to create 'islands of communism' within capitalism underestimate the fact that capitalism is an international system, that the law of value operates internationally, and will continue to do so until it is suppressed politically by the working class.

Mike Harman wrote:
So the content of the revolution is less important than it spreading?

Of course, the two are closely related. In the context of a revolutionary wave that is extending out across the globe, with the working class firmly in power, then the workers assemblies at base level will have a far greater chance of flowering and imposing their views, not just on the way the factory is managed, but on how society as a whole is managed. In contrast, in the context of a proletarian bastion that is increasingly isolated and being hammered in a civil-war then no amount of 'self-management' and democracy in the workplace could save it. And in practice, it will tend to result in the restoration of the old hierarchical relations because the workers’ assemblies will begin to lose their energy and their capacity for political mobilization.

A major problem with the Russian Revolution, apart from its isolation, was the identification of the Bolshevik party with the state, which was only worsened by the growing isolation in the early 1920s after the failure of the revolution to extend to Germany. The fusion between the party and the state led to the loss of life of the soviets, which is why the Kronstadt revolt was so important as it called for the reinvigoration of the soviets. Yes, the Bolshevik Party contributed to the degeneration of the revolution; but not because it was a party and all parties are inherently bad as the anarchists and councilists usually claim, but because its fusion with the state prevented it from acting as the most advanced part of the working class.

Beltov.

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Lazy Riser
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Jan 6 2006 20:15

Hi

We all agree that handing power to the party rather than keeping it with the autonomous working class was a fatal error in Russia. You have failed to explain why isolation exacerbated the problem. Russia’s economic self-sufficiency carried it through 40 years of isolation. When its isolation ended, through the convergence of its economic model and the West’s, the Leninist guard finally lost all hope.

Your beautiful reply is appreciated, but slightly distracting. I agree with all that “communism is not just a new form of economy” stuff, but what if you regenerate primary industry as part of a transitionary programme? Would our resources not be useful to comrades abroad, increasing the chances of their own revolt?

Love

LR

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jef costello
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Jan 6 2006 20:48
Lazy Riser wrote:
Hi
Quote:
surely it would depend on whether the communist 'area' was self sufficient or not

Nearly there comrade. What do you suggest we might do to resolve the problem, or is it unsolvable and we must wait for the magical alignment of nations as prophesised?

Love

LR

nearly where Lazy? I must require more sarcastic spoon feeding from you.

I was just asking whether it would be better to deal with counterrevolutionary forces before attempting to spread the revolution. Personally I think markets make little difference as long as you have natural resources that can be traded for others that you need.