Thursday, 12 June 2008

A Reply To Mike McNair Part V

“The bourgeoisie as a class tolerated, for a while, being governed by feudal-absolutist regimes it did not control.”

It may be that this is a summary position, but in its formulation I think it is too mechanistic and teleological. It suggests an all powerful bourgeoisie that could have done away with feudal regimes at any time, but decided against because of some kind of cost benefit analysis. The relationship and history was far more complex than that. The first capitalists to arise were those of the 15th century in the Mediterranean City States. They did not “tolerate” the feudal Princes that ruled these states, they had to co-exist with them. These early Capitalists were Merchant Capitalists who made their profits from exploiting the peasant production driving prices down below values to the extent that peasants were often forced into below subsistence existences, and by selling high. They required the patronage of the princes for their activities, especially in foreign trade, and the princes themselves exacted a high price in the taxes imposed on their profits. In fact, so high that they eventually destroyed the potential for further Capitalist development.

The same is true of the first British Capitalists. The initial capital accumulation comes from the activity of pirates, and privateers acting effectively under licence from the British Crown. There is a symbiotic relation between the two. The pirates bring booty back to the Crown, and also act to extend the sphere of influence of the feudal aristocratic rulers. The first major Merchant ventures such as the east India Company, and the Hudson’s Bay Company are established as Monopolies under Royal Charter. Not only do these companies earn huge profits from their commercial activities, but through the activities of their private armies, and people such as Clive and Wolfe they develop colonies for the Crown, which as a feudal Landlord is interested in extending the area of land, and therefore, rental income it can earn.

Its true the interests of Capitalists and the aristocracy conflict in so far as the aristocracy seeks to tax the formers profits, but both classes are exploiting classes, and both have a shared interest in that. In respect of the initial capitalist class, the merchants, there is a symbiotic relation, the Merchants need the cover and patronage of the Crown – and often patronage from other powerful aristocrats – for their activities. The Princes of the City States had killed the goose that laid the golden egg, the aristocrats of England and Holland did not make the same mistake, and partly that was due to the increased revenues, the wider base that the English merchants were able to exploit, particularly given by the 16th century the maritime supremacy of Britain. The second area of course on which that primitive Capital accumulation arose was the slave trade, and the Triangular Trade, in which again both the Merchants, and the aristocracy were joined at the hip. The proceeds of that trade not only helped finance the merchants in their English ventures into handicraft industry, and then manufacture, but also provided the basis for the aristocrats to expand their land holding into foreign plantations transforming them partly into capitalists too. Large sums likewise were used by the aristocracy to extend their rental activity from the renting of land to the renting of money Capital in the form of the big banks, and financial institutions which were largely capitalised on the proceeds of this trade.

The main conflict that arises is where these Capitalists DO NOT have this kind of symbiotic relationship to the aristocracy i.e. industrial capital, but more initially in the form of capitalist farmers such as Cromwell himself. But, as I have pointed out in a number of other places, the similarity between Cromwell’s revolution and Lenin’s is striking. Both represent a premature political revolution carried out by representatives of a class, which has not yet achieved for itself social dominion. In both cases its true the revolutionary class has to rely on the support of the peasantry, but even in the case of Cromwell I don’t think your thesis holds up, because it is clear that the Protectorate does not represent a Dictatorship on behalf of the peasantry, any more than did that in the USSR. It represents in both cases a Bonapartist State ruling on behalf of a weak dominant social class.

“from tax strikes to political organization; and from political organization to the overthrow of the feudal state regimes and the creation of bourgeois states.”

Again I think this is too mechanistic and teleological. The process was more complex and dialectical. Cromwell’s state was not in my opinion in the full sense of the word a bourgeois State. It continued to have many aspects of the feudal State within it, and from my perspective not surprisingly.

I think that what we have in society are in fact three separate, but overlapping spheres, centres of power. Firstly, we have what Marx would call the economic or material base of society, that is to say the fundamental productive and social relations that exist and are determined largely by the level of society at any given moment. This determines not only which classes exist, but at any one time which classes are in the ascendant, which in decline. Secondly, we have the sphere of the permanent State apparatus. Following Marx and Engels, I would argue that the State in this context is the State of whichever is the ruling class determined by an analysis of that sphere. But, it is clearly not that simple. It is necessary to understand why this State is the State of that ruling class. I think your argument that it is so because it is made up of corrupt, and bought and paid for officials is not sustainable. There may be some element of that, but it is not the main explanation. The explanation is I believe to be found in Marx’s statement that the “ruling ideas are ever the ideas of the ruling class”. The State might be classically defined as bodies of armed Men, a monopoly of violence, but the way in which that monopoly is exercised in this way rather than that still has to be explained. There has to be more to it than simply bribery and corruption, for if that was all their was then its clear that those that actually exercise this monopoly could at any time exercise it in their own interest i.e. the State itself would always be a Bonapartist State. That does not happen for the simple reason that a strong ruling class exerts a far more powerful influence over the State than simple bribery, it is the influence that Engels refers to in Anti-Duhring, that of legitimation. The rule of the ruling class is legitimised ideologically, the way things are becomes accepted generally as the way things have to be, and becomes so because the ideological superstructure that is erected upon the material base – i.e. the ideas in Men’s heads that arise naturally from the way they go about producing in any given society, tells them that this is the way things have to be. The more it is the children of the bourgeoisie that enter the spheres of higher education, that they in turn become the educators, the producers of new theories and explanations of the world, the more those they influence come to accept those ideas, the more those in this sphere of life who go on to become the leaders within the State bureaucracy are educted within the context of these ideas, make social contact with this up and coming class, aspire to its way of life the more this new generation bureaucracy becomes infused with that ideology, and takes it into its own activity within the State. But, if that ruling social class is weak that process is undermined other forces, or sets of ideas and ideals can pollute the ideas of those that make up the State, and seeing weakness and disorder around it, the forces within the State itself are driven to establish order under its own direct rule.

At any one time then it is possible that crisis and division within society within the social base can result in weakness in those dominant ideas, and can provide the basis for a Bonapartist state, or alternatively the existence of two conflicting states a dual power. A dual power existed during the Civil War with its centres in Oxford and London, and was replaced by the Bonapartism of Cromwell. Cromwell rested on the social base of the bourgeoisie, and in many of his actions he carried out policies needed by that bourgeoisie, for example in the forging of the basis of a unified nation State, yet it is clear that elements of feudalism remained, and its not surprising that the Restoration occurs. But, as Trotsky says, no counter revolution ever restores this to the situation ex ante.

What I think exists here then involves the third sphere of power, that of Governmental or Political power. In pre-capitalist societies political power and State power are effectively fused. The class, which dominates society, dominates the State and dominates the political power. Conflicts within the political power are not conflicts between different classes, but restricted to conflicts within segments of the ruling class. But, the rise of the Capitalist class changes that. Political power becomes shared, though always contained by the power of the permanent State. The bourgeoisie has representation in Parliament can even muster a majority against further encroachment by the King, but ultimately where that political power comes to seriously conflict with the interests of the ruling class, the State power comes to its aid.

Consequently, a successful and stable political revolution is only possible when the revolutionary class has not only become the ruling class in the first sphere, but has also achieved dominance in the second sphere i.e. has captured the State, or put its own State in place of that which previously existed. The bourgeois could win a parliamentary majority, but it meant nothing, just as the parliamentary majority of the working class under Allende meant nothing without control of the State. That is not to say that control within that Governmental or Political sphere is not important as the above two examples show they have an importance in relation to legitimation, of demonstrating the need to have control over the State power. As Trotsky says in relation to the October insurrection, he believed it was important to have the legitimation of the Second Congress of Soviets to present the insurrection as a response to an attack from the provisional Government, even though the Congress would in any case be presented with a fait accompli.

If we return to the example of Cromwell what we see is an ideological debate taking place alongside the actual class struggle. On the one hand we have Hobbes effectively defending the old social order, and yet even within Hobbes Leviathan the main message is, there must be a single State power, a Sovereign must rule – he does not say that Sovereign must be the King. The bourgeoisie controlled the political power, though weakly, but the aristocracy continued to hold a powerful position within the State. The bourgeoisie could only exercise State power through the Cromwellian dictatorship. But the Restoration is effectively the bourgeoisie losing its grip on State power. It only regains that grip at around the time of the Glorious Revolution, and is symbolised ideologically by Locke’s “Second Treatise on Government”, which effectively reflects the fact that bourgeois ideas now dominate the State apparatus.

“latter are characteristically based round central banks and bourgeois-contractual forms of corrupt dependency of the state officials on the major capitals, and structured and legitimated by “the rule of law”.”

I have mostly dealt with this above, but I would add that if the issue were one of corrupt state officials then the problem for a Workers State would be easy to solve, it would simply require the working class to be effective in bribing those State officials, of utilising their corrupt nature for the benefit of the class. But, it is precisely the fact that State officials in a Workers State obtain a higher standard of living that leads them to adopt a petit-bourgeois outlook. The answer to that as I have outlined in earlier parts of this reply can only be through the working class building from the beginning its own alternative structures to the bourgeois state alongside the development of co-operative production and distribution, and thereby sharing out and proletarianising the functions of the State. The attempt to control the State and its officials by the various mechanisms proposed such as regular election, payment of average wages and so on can only be successful if they are implemented in relation to a State where those things have already come to be accepted as the norm. Attempts to impose them after some Leninist political revolution will ultimately be no more successful than they were in Russia and elsewhere, or of the bourgeoisie to impose its control over State officials during the Protectorate or under Bonaparte himself. The bourgeoisie is only able to exercise its control over these State officials – and even then not completely and perfectly – under bourgeois democracy, because of the overarching social and economic, as well as political power of the bourgeoisie as ruling class.

By the end of the 17th century the bourgeoisie in Britain was the dominant class economically and socially, and on that basis its ideas infused the State, even though it did not exercise power in that third sphere the Governmental or political sphere but shared it with the feudal aristocracy. It did so largely for the reasons I have given earlier the symbiotic relation between the major forms of Capital of the time – Merchant and Money Capital – with the feudal aristocrats. But, by the end of the first quarter of the 19th century industrial Capital has supplanted these earlier forms, and comes into conflict with them, and with the feudal aristocracy most notably over the issue of Trade – not surprisingly – and the Corn Laws. It sweeps away the last vestige of feudal power, by acquiring for itself through the reform Act of 1832 the means of exercising a monopoly also of political power, and thence to the Abolition of the Corn Laws.

What I think is significant here in relation to the proletarian revolution, is the degree to which the success of this process is wholly dependent on the revolutionary class holding that overarching economic and social power in order that this transformation is possible.

“As a result, since the nineteenth century the bourgeoisie’s willingness as a class to tolerate state regimes it does not control has been limited to cases (a) where an old state is tolerated, on condition that it does not seriously interfere with capital, because the alternative appears to be the rise of the proletariat (1848 and after); and (b) as in the case of the USSR and its satellites, where the bourgeoisie has attempted unsuccessfully to overthrow the state (1918-21, 1941-45) and calculates that the political-military costs of the attempt are too high for an immediate assault.”

I think this is important also in relation to another question, and that is the role of imperialism, and the extension of bourgeois democracy seemingly in contradiction to the predictions of Trotsky in Permanent Revolution. What has to be remembered here is that Trotsky wrote Permanent Revolution – and the Comintern wrote the These on the Colonial Question – at a time when direct Colonial rule was the dominant form of imperialist control. That is not surprising. Although, industrial Capital was dominant Commercial Capital, Money Capital and Landlordism (all of which extract Surplus Value by effectively a form of rent) were still significant, and it was the legacies of their forms of overseas dominion that still existed. For industrial Capital the overhead costs of this form of rule are too high, it favours bourgeois democracy overseas as much as at home, as the more cost effective form of rule. Moreover, Permanent Revolution was premised on the idea that the bourgeoisie would rush into the arms of the imperialists or the Landlords from fright at proletarian revolution following on from a national or democratic revolution, but that is only true if those leading the workers are aiming for such a revolution. The fact is that these nationalist movements were being financed by the USSR, which in many instances made clear its desire only to carry through a bourgeois revolution.

“In addition, the evidence is now clear that the capitalist class is from its earliest days international in its operations, and that the bourgeois order – even a nascent bourgeois order – always contains a ‘world-hegemonic’ state which is the ultimate guarantor of international money and the international market. Venice played this role in the later middle ages,”

I think this is highly contentious, but it would require a whole other lengthy essay to address.

“Thus Britain in the 1790s intervened, not primarily against French capital, but against the threat of plebeian democratic revolution.”

I think this is historically inaccurate, and basically wrong. Its true that the British Establishment were fearful of the events in France spilling over into Britain, that is undoubtedly true. That is why we have Edmund Burke, who had supported the American Revolution, writing his “Reflections on the Revolution in France”, condemning the anarchy and lawlessness. But, this goes back to the point I made earlier. Remember, that even by the late 1790’s the bourgeoisie did not exercise outright political power, but shared it with the aristocracy. Moreover, the industrial Capitalists still had not become the dominant form of Capital. As I have written in my Blog “Birth of a Labour Movement” at the end of the 18th century Tom Paine’s “Rights of Man” was in the hands of all the journeymen Potters in North Staffordshire i.e. the artisans and nascent bourgeois, even at the Peterloo Massacre we have reports that many there were not simply the plebeian masses, but included people like John Ridgway a prominent pottery manufacturer.

Moreover, the main actual intervention of the British State against France arises as a War against Bonaparte, but it is precisely Bonaparte’s rule which spells the end of the anarchy and lawlessness, and the revolt of the plebeian masses. No, I think the evidence is that Britain’s war against France was an early expression of imperialist conflict. British Capital saw a threat from French Capital, its old colonial rival, and sought to nip it in the bud.

“By 1921 this policy had been clearly defeated, and the most far-sighted element of the British imperialist centre, the wing of the Liberals led by Lloyd George, sought to exploit NEP to restore capitalism. However, forces linked to the Whites were strong enough in the domestic political relation of forces and in the state apparatuses in both Britain and France to block a change of policy in this direction, and the former Entente powers continued to maintain a regime of, in effect, trade sanctions against the USSR through the 1920s and 1930s.”

I don’t think that the imposition of sanctions was the result of White influences in the British Government – that seems awfully like the tail wagging the dog in the same way its argued that Israel dictates US foreign policy – or was contradictory to the hope amongst capitalist powers in a capitalist restoration through NEP. The two things go hand in hand. Had the West opened up trade completely with the USSR, certainly had the USSR been able to attract the kind of foreign Capital, and joint ventures that Lenin had hoped for, then the problem of capital accumulation and the scissors would have disappeared. The USSR would have attracted foreign capital to produce the much needed consumer and producer goods at the expense of a partial capitalist restoration – just as China has done over the last 20 years – the peasants would have exchanged their grain and food products for consumer goods from these industries, workers would have been trained as managers and administrators – again as Chinese workers have been – and the economy would have developed. Provided the working class in advancing economically and socially within this process had exercised its Dictatorship – and that is the big if – then this process would have benefited the Dictatorship. Its only by the policies of blockade that the NEP can be the basis of those nascent capitalist forces, the peasants and kulaks, the NEPmen that arise in the interstices of the black market, that the forces of counter revolution can be mobilised, not to mention that the worse the position for the State, the more it is forced to compromise with those forces internally and externally.

What the turn of Stalin against those forces represented was the continuing strength of the Proletarian Dictatorship, the strength of the working class exerted upon the Party bureaucracy, partly whipped on by the criticism of the Left Opposition, but probably more crucially of the United Opposition given the greater support within the working class that Zinoviev and Kamenev had compared to Trotsky, whose main support was in the ranks of the petty officials, the intelligentsia, and the students and youth.

“A sector of the British state elite clearly accepted this latter project and it informed their attitudes to the Austrian Anschluss and to the 1938 Sudetenland crisis. In this sense the political dynamic had shifted again to a policy of reconquest, leading up to 1941.”

I’m not sure this is the case. My understanding is that the British State understood that if Germany attacked Russia it would be defeated. The British State still had its own eyes on Russia, in particular the Baku oilfields. It was prepared to see a German attempt on Russia, because the result would be not only to weaken Germany further, but would also weaken Russia, and open up the possibility of intervention. There were many possible variations here, and explains the various jockeying and arrangements in the intervening period. For example, Germany and France could have attacked Russia, but then Britain would object, because it would not get any of the spoils, so an alliance of Britain and Russia could have arisen. Similarly an alliance between France and Russia was developed. Ultimately, Germany found itself with the only option of attempting to extend its territory piecemeal, and through the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact freeing itself to move West. It hoped to then sign a peace deal with England – hence the decision not to wipe out the British Army at Dunkerque – as a means of staving off war also with the US, and to then free itself to attack the USSR. It might have actually worked out had Halifax become Prime Minister, but it didn’t.

“Under these conditions the Stalin regime was able in response to the 1941 invasion to mobilise its population under the banner of national self-defence and an international People’s Front, i.e. alliance with the western ‘democratic capitalists’, and received significant material aid from the western imperialist Allies.”

For the reasons I have given earlier I think this grossly underestimates the role played by the USSR economy, and the existence of a Workers State – even a grossly deformed one – in defeating Hitler. The fact is that in 1941, France was defeated and occupied providing food and other materials for Germany, including from the French colonies including oil. Britain in 1941 was largely cowed if not actually defeated. It had survived the Battle of Britain at great cost. Shipping across the Atlantic was suffering huge losses due to the control of the Atlantic by the German U-Boats. It had lost in humiliating defeats much of its colonial possessions in Asia to the Japanese, and even in the Middle East it was suffering largely losses to the Germans. In 1941/42 the US was largely still involved in the Pacific. Although, its true the US did provide materiel for the USSR, and Britain ferried in supplies to Murmansk the accounts of the early combats are that, for example the American tanks were no match for the Panzers, whilst the Russian Tigers were able to defeat the Panzers, and the Russian fighter aircraft also appear to have gained superiority over their German counterparts. Given the experience of the First World War, and the reaction of the population in returning from the front and overthrowing the Tsar is in marked contrast to the Second World war, and the degree to which the working class mobilised for its defence in the most atrocious conditions.

“This configuration of forces inflicted a catastrophic defeat on the Nazi regime, allowed the Kremlin to create a glacis in eastern Europe and northern Korea and CPs in Yugoslavia, Albania, China and northern Vietnam to seize power, and thereby gave a powerful ideological impulsion to the ideologies of people’s front, national roads to socialism and party monolithism.”

That is undoubtedly true, but it is also an indication of the degree to which this was a defeat for Capital also, and resulted in a considerable weakening in the sphere of its influence.

“It also allowed a very substantial technology transfer to the Moscow regime both from the US and from the defeated Germans, and thereby gave a powerful material impulsion to the Soviet economy which was not to be exhausted till the later 1960s.”

I think this is highly misleading. There was undoubtedly a technology transfer, though I think for the reasons I’ve set out previously that can be exaggerated, the Soviets had been very successful in developing technology in the production of armaments, and that is not possible without a much wider technological development within the economy, including in the skills of those producing the equipment. More importantly, was the fact that at the beginning of the War the USSR lost 25% of its industrial and agricultural land to the Germans. That productive potential was not recovered as the Germans were rolled back, but was destroyed. Compare that with the fact that the US suffered no damage at all to its domestic productive potential – on the contrary it was able to develop that potential much further on the back of War production. Additionally, whereas the US lost just 300 THOUSAND people during the War, nearly all troops, the USSR with a similar size population lost 30 MILLION people, many of them those that would have made up the new generation of better trained and educated productive workers. Take that into consideration as a comparator, and the fact of the transfer of resources to Eastern Europe etc. the fact that the USSR, within just 10 years of this further huge calamity in its history, could become the second super power, could be the first into space and so on, is truly remarkable. At least at that stage in its development it completely undermines the idea you have put forward of this state being transitional between feudalism and capitalism and that of the new class theorists who put forward the idea of some new social formation less progressive than capitalism. It is no wonder that at this point in history we find those that had previously said that socialism was impossible economically, like Mises and Hayek now abandoning that argument in favour of the idea put forward by Hayek in his 1940 work “The Road to Serfdom” where he quotes approvingly the work of the Third Campist Burnham and the Managerial Revolution, that such societies necessarily lead to the domination of elites, and to a lack of democracy. It is no wonder that the statement of Khruschev that the USSR would simply overhaul western capitalism was seen at the time as no empty threat either, by him or by his western counterparts. It is easy, in the light of the collapse of the USSR and Stalinism, to forget that. History is always written by the victors.

“In response to these developments US policy-makers in the late 1940s developed the systematic policy of ‘containment’ of communism. This was in substance a return to the policy of blockade on a more systematic level: trade controls were accompanied by a large-scale military presence of the US and its allies at the borders, and by major concessions to the European (Marshall Aid, GATT 1, Bretton Woods), and, later, the east Asian bourgeoisies and to their working classes, to make capitalism more attractive to the populations of the borderlands on both sides of the line.”

This is true, and is yet again a confirmation of the point made above. Were the USSR and its economy as unprogressive as you and the new class theorists make out why would US Capital make such large concessions?

“Nonetheless, the survival and even extension of the bureaucratic regimes between 1948 and the 1980s was an artefact of the US’s policy of containment. The internal contradictions of these regimes meant that they needed to be under blockade: a real opening to the world market would destroy the internal social relationship of forces which supported the regime.”

I don’t believe this is true. China has been opened up for 20 years, yet the bureaucracy still hold sway. Indeed, to the extent that consumerism has bought off Chinese workers the regime has been even more legitimised. The Challenge to the Chinese Stalinists as it was for Stalin in the 1920’s will arise when and if Chinese Capital develops its own interests cogently in opposition to the interests of the State, which – as far as I can see, but I would want far more detail to make a definitive statement – remains tied to a social base within the working peasantry. Until recently, the State still accounted for 70% of Capital and Labour invested. In the last 3 or 4 years that has changed drastically with large scale unemployment, and the private sector now accounts for the majority of employment. The State, however, still controls through huge monopolies basic industries such as Energy, Transport and Finance. In addition, finance even for private enterprise comes almost exclusively through the four main State Banks, and from the State itself in the form of grants and incentives. As one economist put it recently the business decisions of even private enterprises are dictated not by market requirements, but by the availability of finance available for different types of activity, and those types of activity remain determined by the State, and are formulated through the Plan.

“This in turn weakened the ability of the regimes to respond to the centralised manoeuvres of US-led world imperialism, and reinforced (by producing national plans inconsistent with a rational international division of labour in Comecon) the planning irrationalities which flowed from bureaucratic control of information, from the go-slow resistance of the workers and peasants, and from the development of local corporatisms.”

This may be true, but I think the idea that this could have been avoided through some form of rational plan is just plain wrong. The Trotskyists too want to purvey the idea that everything would have been fine had their been a democratic workers plan. Its nonsense. The USSR failed in part because of the attempt to plan the unplannable. Its not a matter as the Trotskyists think of resolving the problem by introducing democratic as opposed to bureaucratic planning, but of planning the economy in the way envisaged was itself impossible. That is not to say that planning is impossible, but that the extent to which planning can be used, the type of plan that can be introduced is narrowly circumscribed. This is not a matter of development – in some ways its easier to plan a more backward society because there are fewer variables to consider – but of technique, and of the relations which exist between members of society, the degree of social solidarity and co-operation that has been developed between individuals, enterprises, communities etc.

The USSR developed the Stalinist bureaucratic plan because the alternative was the market, and in the given conditions the return of the market meant the return of private capital, which ultimately meant a capitalist restoration. Even a bureaucratic plan on the basis of nationalised property and the advantages that conveyed, with the existence of a Workers State even hugely deformed, and the mobilisation of the working class for given ends that that entailed meant that for fairly straightforward quantitative planning – produce more coal, more electric, more steel great advances could be made, and even for those things for which the bureaucracy was the direct consumer, armaments, space science etc. the direction of the necessary skilled labour, and control of the production process meant that even great qualitative advances could be made. But, those measures cannot be usefully employed for the production of a wide range of consumer goods, especially where the fashion and tastes for those goods was determined on a world market by a multi billion dollar capitalist advertising industry. Nor could they have been resolved simply by making the planning democratic. They could immediately only have been resolved through the market, and ultimately through the kind of techniques used by the large capitalist monopolies of developing complex models of demographics, and market research and the integration of operations between enterprises. But, that would have meant that the enterprises themselves had to first be under the immediate ownership and control of their workers a position which not only was not going to be adopted by the bureaucracy, but also for which the workers themselves were unprepared, and for which they showed little enthusiasm.

“These unexpected results occurred because though the Soviet bureaucracy had escaped from the control of the proletariat and come to be the Bonapartist representative-master of the petty proprietors, it had not escaped from ideological and social dependence on the quasi-enserfed Russian urban working class, or from ideological dependence on and integration in the international workers’ movement.”

I think this is true, but the conclusion for me is wholly different from that you draw. If a State apparatus is dependent upon a social force for its existence as you rightly set out above that is an indication that that social force remains the ruling class. In Russia that remained the working class whether you want to describe that class as enserfed or not. In fact that can only mean anything if the economic and social relations in which this class exists are feudal, and in Russia for the reasons I have previously outlined they were not. The conclusion that has to be drawn then from this is that what existed was a Bonapartist state that rested upon the continuing social dictatorship of the proletariat, which in turn relied on the support or at least acquiescence of the only other major class in society – the peasantry, that is a Workers State. The Workers State is from the beginning deformed as Lenin said, and not degenerated a la Trotsky, for the simple reason that at no point is this State directly under the control of the workers. It is not and cannot be so for the simple reason of the economic and social weakness of the workers as a class, and hence its need for a Cromwellian New Army to make up for that weakness, in the form of the Bolsheviks. The initial form of this State as a Bonapartist regime standing above society determines its future evolution, and cannot be separated from the Leninist ideology of the role of the revolutionary Party in this transformation, or from the Leninist ideology that relies on a Lassallean, statist top down view of socialist construction. For the same reasons it is impossible to break from the logic of this development without breaking at the same time with that Leninist ideology. That is the problem the followers of the Third Camp face, who want to remain attached to Leninism.

Go to Part VI

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