L.L. Men - Two Texts for Defining the Communist Programme

L.L. Men - Two Texts for Defining the Communist Programme

L.L. Men (sometimes LLM or L.L.M.) was a Hong Kong-based left communist who in the 1980s corresponded and debated with at least the International Communist Current, Communist Workers Organization, and the Communist Bulletin group.

The book-length "Two Texts For Defining the Communist Programme" is comprised of two texts: "The Nature of the 'Socialist' Countries: A Politico-Economic Analysis" and "Russia: Revolution and Counter-Revolution (1917-1921)."

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schalken
Nov 12 2019 16:37

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  • "In all programmatic discussions today two of the most fundamental questions that must be examined are the class nature of the so-called 'socialist' countries and the Russian Revolution."

    L.L. Men

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Comments

Spikymike
Nov 12 2019 17:51

Thanks for uploading this. Was critically reviewed by the CBG in this issue here:
https://libcom.org/library/communist-bulletin-issue-12-summer-1987

ZJW
Dec 5 2019 02:53

Many many thanks to schalken for uploading this book. Myself, I had it soon after publication and then lost it. Without having gone through all of it again, I might say that the author's demolition of the notion of any 'communist' content to early Bolshevik ' War "Communism" ' merits reading and comment. That's mainly on pages 178- 203.

Some quotes from this section (pardon for not using the quote function):

'The CWO seems to endow the abolition of the *phenomenal* form of money with a significance it does not have (cf. its muddleheaded thesis that money was 'abolished' in the state sector during War Communism). '

'We have already proven that the law of value was never touched during War Communism. At the same time, as the soviet government immediately began to rapidly destroy the Paris Commune principle as soon as it was formed (see the relevent section later), the nationalization movement which began in mid-1918 did not alter, in terms of real social relations and not legal categories, the separation of the producers from the means of production. '

'We do not need Marxist revolutionaries to peddle the ideology that War Communism was "proto-communist" while the NEP "restored capitalism". Bourgeois ideologues such as Carr are competent enough to propagate such ideologies'

'From this angle, though the NEP differed a great deal in details from the War Communist programme, both programmes were capitalist from A to Z. '

' As pointed out earlier, the payment of wage in kind did not change the nature of wage as variable capital. '

ZJW
Dec 5 2019 08:31

Dyjbas:

I don't recall that the CWO ever reviewed this book, which would be strange, Can you check and see?

Dyjbas
Dec 5 2019 10:06

It's quite a bit before my time, but I'll check if we have. I know that this doesn't correspond to our views nowadays (if it ever did):

Quote:
The CWO seems to endow the abolition of the *phenomenal* form of money with a significance it does not have (cf. its muddleheaded thesis that money was 'abolished' in the state sector during War Communism).

See for example our pamphlet on Stalinism from the early 2000s:

Quote:
Although there had been some hopes that the emergency policies (collapse of money, distribution by rationing etc) of the period of so called “war communism” were steps towards socialism (and Bukharin argued just this in his Economics of the Transition Period, a book which was warmly regarded by Lenin) fundamentally there was no question of the Bolsheviks changing the mode of production in Russia to socialism. When Lenin called for nationalisations of parts of the Russian economy in 1917 he insisted that these were "measures which do not in any way constitute the “introduction” of socialism..." Far from thinking that a top-down introduction of socialism was possible, Lenin understood that the transformation of society could only be done by the mass of the working class “when they had learned to do it for themselves”. [...] Even during “war communism” the working class were no longer in control of their own institutions. [...] For those who argue that the Russian Revolution altered the mode of production in Russia there has always been a difficulty to say when this occurred. For some the change took place during “War Communism” (1918-21) but that was precisely when small peasant ownership had it greatest extension in Russian history. The capitalists might have all run away and abandoned the factories to the proletariat (who did begin to socialise them), money may have lost its value so that rationing and barter became the usual means of exchange but it was an illusion to assume that these emergency measures which were only intended to allow the regime to survive were attempts to build socialism. Socialism can only come about where the forces of production are in a position to create material abundance. In 1918 the condition of the collapse of the Russian economy was so severe that one historian at least has likened it to the Black Death of 1347.

Dyjbas
Dec 5 2019 11:29

So there is correspondence between us and L.L. Men in both Workers' Voice and Communist Review (our old publications, which unfortunately are not online - but plan is to have them up at some point). Some of it probably responds to the points made in these texts, and more (since it goes up to at least 1992).

ZJW
Dec 8 2019 08:39

Schalken:

If you would check your 'account' page, I have PM'd you.