Sunday, 3 August 2008

Shachtman and Leninist Apologism

Shachtman’s article in Solidaity 3/80 “Stalinism and the ‘original sin’ myth” is an apologia for Leninism. It shows why generations have been lost to Marxism. Whatever the merits of Wolfe’s analysis critiqued in that article, Shachtman fails to draw out the relationship between Leninism and Stalinism, even where he hints at the real relationship, which Wolfe himself had failed to analyse. By focussing on the narrow concept of party organisation, Shachtman fails to draw the more important conclusions about the very concept of the Leninist Party as a party of professional revolutionaries, as a separate party from the workers, and what implications that has for the relationship of the party to the class, and what it says about the Leninist concept of the role of the working class as the revolutionary class, and, consequently, what it says about the Leninist concept of revolution and socialist construction. It is in these areas I believe that the roots of Stalinism are to be found.

Shachtman says that Lenin’s position on the development of class-consciousness was the same as that developed earlier by Kautsky, who he quotes.

“Many of our revisionist critics believe that Marx asserted that economic struggle create, not only the conditions for socialist production, but also, and directly, the consciousness of its necessity…In this connection socialist consciousness is presented as a necessary and direct result of the proletarian class struggle. But this is absolutely untrue.

“Of course, socialism as a theory, has its roots in a modern economic relationship in the same way as the class struggle of the proletariat has, and in the same way as the latter emerges from the struggle against the capitalist-created poverty and misery of the masses. But socialism and class struggle arise side by side and not one out of the other; each arises out of different premises.

“Modern socialist consciousness can arise only on the basis of profound scientific knowledge. Indeed, modern economic science is as much a condition for socialist production as, say, modern technology, and the proletariat can create neither the one nor the other, no matter how much it may desire to do so; both arise out of the modern social process. The vehicles of science are not the proletariat, but the bourgeois intelligentsia: It was out of the heads of members of this stratum that modern socialism originated, and it was they who communicated it to the more intellectually-developed proletarians who, in their turn, introduce it into the proletarian class struggle where conditions allow that to be done.

“Thus, socialist consciousness is something introduced into the proletarian class struggle from without, and not something that arose within it spontaneously. Accordingly, the old [Austrian] Hainfeld program quite rightly stated that the task of Social Democracy is to imbue the proletariat with the consciousness of its position and the consciousness of its tasks. There would be no need for this if consciousness emerged from the class struggle.” (See Solidarity 3/80 p17.)

But this is not the position adopted by Lenin. Kautsky’s position is totally compatible with that of Marx, and the need for the Communists to undertake patient persistent work within the workers movement and the workers party, to educate the workers, to analyse the workers struggles and to relate back to them the lessons of what they had done, to steadily develop within the working class, as the revolutionary class, a steadily growing and resolute class consciousness, an understanding of its class interests and historic role. Kautsky like Marx argues that socialism developed as a set of ideas developed by sections of the bourgeois intelligentsia, but, with the development of the working class, a section of this intelligentsia develops socialism as a scientific theory which analyses society and the role of the working class, recognises its revolutionary role, and thereby begins the process of educating that class and developing within it, a consciousness of its interests, and mission. The degree to which this is successful depends on economic and social relations, the clarity and significance of the Communists, and the extent to which this combines with the workers experiences in such a way that the workers develop.

But, in fact, Lenin rejects such a role. He believes that the working class as a whole can never achieve this class consciousness under capitalism, because it will continue to be dominated by bourgeois ideas, and worse, unless the Marxists form their own pure revolutionary party, they risk being pulled down into the swamp of bourgeois and reactionary ideas that riddle the workers movement. Only certain sections of the vanguard of the workers movement can be drawn into such a party, and its role, whilst conducting propaganda and organisation within the workers movement, is geared not to this long term work of consciousness building, but of preparing the ground for those rare moments when a crisis breaks out, a revolutionary situation where the workers break free of the domination of bourgeois ideas, see the light, become class conscious and throw out the old regime. Indeed, the work in the meantime can be little more for the simple reason that Lenin believes that all struggles short of the overthrow of capitalism must by definition be dominated by, not socialist consciousness, but Trade Union consciousness, reformism. The Communists can, within the context of these struggles, try to show their limitation, and thereby radicalise the workers and try to win over a few more of their vanguard, but that’s about it.

This also is the position of Shachtman.

“To this should be added: neither would there be any need for a distinct, separate political movement of socialism – a socialist party – except, perhaps to fulfil the not very useful function of passive reflector of the welter of ideological and political confusion that, to one extent or another, will always exist in the working class, at least so long as it is a class deprived of social power and therewith of the means of wiping out its own inferior position under capitalism by force – but only in the last analysis, only at times of crisis. As a rule, be it under democratic or even under fascist capitalism, the ruling class maintains or seeks to maintain itself by ideological means.

“The whole of capitalism’s ‘headfixing industry’, as one Marxist wittily called it, is directed toward keeping the working class in ignorance or confusion about its social position, or rather about the purely capitalist reasons for its position, toward concealing from the working class the emancipating historical mission it has and the road it must travel to perform it.” ( ibid P17.)

But this is “Economism” in reverse, and leads to a lot of pseudo-Marxism that has left a lot of Marxists looking ridiculous as they contort to try make their theory fit reality. Shachtman, like Lenin, seems to rule out the possibility that poor gullible workers might be capable of rejecting the “welter of ideological and political confusion” if they are actually educated by the Communists on a daily basis in their struggles and in their Party, instead of the Communists giving it up as a bad job and concentrating on a few individuals (who by the same definition tend to be bourgeois or from a bourgeois milieu such as students). It is not Lenin’s organisational concept per se which leads to Stalinism, but this rejection of Marx’s belief in the working class as the agent of revolution once combined with socialist consciousness, disdain of that prospect prior to the revolution, and the substitution, therefore, of the Party for the class.

Look at the contortions of modern day Marxists in relation to the ideological arm of the State in relation to this comment by Shachtman,

“The whole of capitalism’s…perform it.” (ibid P17.)

If that were true, then, one of the most progressive demands Marxists could raise, would be “end education for our children”. There seems no concept of dialectics here at all, any more than there is in terms of the working class achieving class consciousness as a process in general. All sorts of contortions are required to explain the role of socialist teachers within this bourgeois ideological monolith whose only function is to “confuse” the workers. There is no sense that even within this ideological arm the contradictions of capitalism are reproduced and become manifest, and it becomes itself an arena for class struggle within which the workers, far from being simply passive recipients of bourgeois ideology, can develop their own class consciousness. Shachtman here has the same elitist, and dismissive attitude to the working class as Lenin. I would actually take issue to some extent with Kautsky on this point in relation to where he says,

“Indeed, modern economic science is as much a condition for socialist production as, say, modern technology, and the proletariat can create neither the one nor the other, no matter how much it may desire to do so; both arise out of the modern social process. The vehicles of science are not the proletariat, but the bourgeois intelligentsia: “

This was probably true at the time Kautsky was writing, but the fact is that today, science whether natural or economic is largely the product of workers, highly paid workers in some cases, maybe, but workers nevertheless.

“But if the bourgeois fetters upon production are thrown off and destroyed, that alone does not and cannot assure the growth of socialist production. Under capitalism, production is assured by the irrepressible tendency toward accumulation of capital which is dictated primarily, not by the will of the capitalist, but by the blindly-operating market as the automatic regulator of capitalist production. Socialist production is incompatible with market relations.

It is production for use and therefore planned production, not automatically regulated by a blind force. Given a certain level of development of the productive force available, everything then depends upon planning, that is upon the conscious organisation of production and distribution by human beings.” (ibid. P18.)

Shachtman makes this statement after quoting Lenin,

“One of the main differences between the bourgeois revolution and the socialist revolution consists in this, that for the bourgeois revolution which grows up out of feudalism the new economic organisations, which continually transform feudal society on all sides, gradually take form within the womb of the old society.” (ibid p18)

Is this necessarily true? Just as feudalism was forced to take on board aspects of capitalism, which grew within the old society, is not the same thing true in many ways with respect to socialist relations within capitalism? For example, in order to avoid repeated crises capitalism has not only been forced to adopt some of the methods of socialism, but some of these methods have developed within capitalism naturally. Competition has largely been replaced by monopoly. Whilst competition still takes place it is refracted through this lens, even without cartelisation just look at the co-operation that takes place within say the motor industry where every major company shares engines, chassis and other components with its competitors, for example the recently announced joint venture between Ford and Fiat to develop a new small car. And as the role of competition has declined, so, now these companies determine what, and how much to produce, not in response to price signals sent from the market, but on the basis of comprehensive market research, demographic models and the formulation of five year plans for production, finance, and marketing. What is the purpose of these if not in a very real sense to determine what use-values people want producing, and to organise production to achieve it? In what way would socialist planning at an enterprise level differ? The main difference here is simply the issue of workers control of this process. Given the resources of workers in the developed world in their pension funds, is it inconceivable that workers could be convinced they should have democratic control of these funds, and the companies in which they are invested. Large sectors of the economy are under government control where the production of use values such as hospitals, schools etc. dominates. Government seeks to use various methods of macro-planning to manage the economy through fiscal and monetary policy. Indeed, a number of the demands in the Communist Manifesto, such as the establishment of Central Banks, the introduction of a progressive or graduated income tax, combination of agriculture with industry and gradual abolition of the distinction between land and country, free education in Public Schools, abolition of child labour, together with some improvements not even included in the Manifesto such as free healthcare, are now a reality. How is this adoption of socialist methods under capitalism, different from the adoption of capitalist methods under feudalism? The factor lacking is not the adoption of socialist methods, but democratic workers control over those methods, and therefore, their limited scope and effectiveness.

“Until the distant day when all classes are completely abolished and socialism fully established, the conditions of production and distribution must necessarily be determined by politically associated human beings – no longer by the blind market but by the state.” (ibid P18).

Why?? If workers took control over their factories tomorrow, why would that mean the market ceased to exist? When economies were dominated by owner/producers the market existed without capitalists, and there was no need of state direction. It is perfectly conceivable, theoretically, to envisage a market economy where every enterprise is a workers co-op. It is likely that if these enterprises continued to compete against each other then some would go bust, and capitalism would reproduce itself, but it is also not beyond comprehension that the workers in these co-ops might decide, rather than competing all out against each other (at least on the basis of price), they would co-operate whilst still in a market context. Indeed, if you read Trotsky in “The New Course” he makes clear that it was never part of the Marxist conception of socialist construction to be able to go straight to a planned economy, the problems are too great, and it is necessary to learn first how to control the market, and how to bring production under planned control bit by bit. There is no reason why co-operative and collectively owned businesses, could not open their books to each other, share their information and plans, co-ordinate their activities to try to limit the possibility of overproduction, to liaise with their suppliers and customers to gradually integrate their own business plans, with those of other enterprises, and in none of that process is there any requirement for state interference or control. Only at the point where the workers have reached a stage where they have mastered control over the economy and it requires a national plan is there any requirement for a state to be involved, and such a state would be nothing like what we understand by a state now. Such a process, of independent working class socialist construction, completely removes the possibility of bureaucratism or Stalinist degeneration, but it is the antithesis of the concept of socialist construction put forward here by Shachtman or by Lenin.

Compare Shachtman’s view with that of Marx who refers in Capital to the role of Credit in socialist construction, to be used by workers in buying and accumulating capital to establish their own direct ownership of the means of production, or Marx’s discussion of the co-operatives established in Lancashire by the workers. Compare this also with Marx’s own earlier ideas, before he had begun to recognise the revolutionary nature of the working class, where his ideas were still dominated by Hegelianism and statism, for example, the demand in the Communist Manifesto for the extension of factories and instruments of labour owned by the state.

“Like the soviet, for example? Then how explain that every party in Russia, except the Bolsheviks, fought to keep the Soviets (the ‘revolutionary democracy’) from taking over all power, and worked to keep them as a more or less decorative appendage to the never-elected but self-constituted Kerensky regime?” (ibid p18.)

But according to Trotsky the Bolsheviks themselves argued these concepts right up to and beyond Lenin’s return. Why did Lenin want “All Power to the Soviets”, simple the Bolsheviks were more likely to be able to gain a majority there. But, the reality is too, as Trotskypoints out inhis "History", Lenin dropped the slogan several times in favour of the Bolsheviks basing themselves instead on the Factory Committees where they were able to win a majority. Lenin knew that in all previous revolutions the masses always continue to press forward, and those that offer the most radical solutions, in the end, win the leadership, provided they are well organised – (the problem of the Levellers against Cromwell’s disciplined organisation). But if working class consciousness had really made a great leap forward why was it not reflected in the elections to the Constituent Assembly? The standard Leninist response to this is that the Soviets were the really democratic organs, it was they that reflected the true state of affairs. But just read what Trotsky says about the Soviets in February. Talk about rotten boroughs!!!

“There were over 150,000 soldiers in Petrograd. There were at least four times as many working men and women of all categories. Nevertheless for every two worker-delegates in the Soviet there five soldiers. The rules of representation were extremely elastic (I’ll say AB), and they were always stretched to the advantage of the soldiers. Whereas the workers elected only one delegate for every thousand, the most petty military unit would frequently send two. The grey army cloth became the general ground-tone of the Soviet.

“But by no means all even of the civilians were selected by workers. No small number of people got into the Soviet by individual invitation, through pull, or simply thanks to their own penetrative ability. Radical lawyers, physicians, students, journalists, representing various problematical groups – or most often representing their own ambition. This obviously distorted character of the Soviet was even welcomed by the leaders, who were not a bit sorry to dilute the too concentrated essence of factory and barrack with the lukewarm water of cultivated Philistia. Many of these accidental crashers-in, seekers of adventure, self-appointed Messiahs, and professional bunk shooters, for a long time crowded out with their authoritative elbows the silent workers and irresolute soldiers.

“And if this was so in Petrograd, it is not hard to imagine how it looked in the provinces, where the victory came wholly without struggle.” (Trotsky – History of the Russian revolution pp234-5)

This was the real nature of the Soviet, and there is no reason to assume that its nature became more democratic once the Bolsheviks had a majority, no reason to suspect that the Bolshevik self-appointed Messiahs with their own authoritative elbows didn’t secure that majority by similar measures. Anyone who was involved in the Miners Strike of ’84 will have seen a similar phenomena where people who had nothing to do with the mining industry appeared as members of strike committees; anarchists and all kinds of people emerged out of the woodwork claiming to be “Miners Wives” etc. Or take those unions led by supposed revolutionaries, does anyone really believe that the fact that they have been elected to their positions reflects a membership committed to revolutionary ideas??? Trotsky said socialists should tell the truth. The first place to begin with that is telling the truth to yourself, and not engaging in delusion.

“Here too, the decisive test was 1917 itself. At least, you would think so, on the basis of almost universal experience in such matters. A working-class movement which is suffering from a fatal disease – opportunism, let us say, or bureaucratism – does not usually reveal it, not clearly, at any rate, in normal periods, in periods of social calm or political decay. It shows it, and most disastrously for itself and its followers, in the most critical and troubled periods of society, above all in the crisis of war and the crisis of revolution. But precisely in the critical period of 1917, the Bolshevik Party passed the test, and so well that Trotsky found it possible to abandon his early apprehensions about it.” (Solidarity 3/80 P19.)

Really? According to Trotsky, if the Bolshevik leaders in Russia demonstrated all the opportunism of the “social-patriots” before the arrival of Stalin and Kamenev, the situation became worse after their arrival, resulted in as Trotsky says a decisive move to the right!

“The struggle of parties in the Soviet was extremely peaceable in character. It was a question, almost, of mere nuances within one and the same ‘revolutionary democracy’. It is true that with the arrival of Tseretelli (Menshevik leader) from exile (March 19) the Soviet leadership took a rather sharp turn right – toward direct responsibility for the government and the war. But the Bolsheviks also toward the middle of March, under the influence of Kamenev and Stalin who had arrived from exile, swung sharply to the right, so that the distance between the Soviet majority and its left opposition had become by the beginning of April even less than it was at the beginning of March. The real differentiation occurred a little later. It is possible to set the exact date: April 4, the day after the arrival of Lenin in Petrograd.” (Trotsky – “History of the Russian Revolution” p243)

And this kind of theme echoes throughout Trotsky’s "History". Whatever the romantic vision of the Bolshevik Party that has come down to us over the years, reading Trotsky’s "History" you find time and again, that this party of professional revolutionaries, on questions of the attitude to the war, on the attitude to the government etc., in practice shared all the same positions as its Menshevik and SR opponents. Its leading members were people like Kamenev, a man that had been a member from its inception, who, if anyone knew the innermost thoughts of Lenin, it was him, because he had spent many years with Lenin in exile. True Trotsky describes Kamenev as understanding Lenin’s ideas better than anyone only to interpret them in their mildest form, but not only do we have to take this opinion in the light of subsequent events, but we also have to ask if Kamenev (who Trotsky admits was not without theoretical ability) was not up to the job, what does this say about the rest of the Bolshevik organisation. Whatever, the degree of debate and dissent within the Bolshevik ranks we are left with the picture of a party which in its great mass was little better equipped than any of the other socialist parties. The main factor was – Lenin.

Trotskyists refer to the way Stalin airbrushed Trotsky out of the picture during and after the revolution. Trotskyists airbrush Stalin out of the picture prior to the degeneration. It is a rather facile attempt. In the footnote (Solidarity 3/80 p.18) we read, “Then why the title ‘Three, Who Made a Revolution’? Up to now, only Stalinist forgers have presented Stalin as one of those who outstandingly led the revolution. The facts presented by Wolfe show this to be a falsification and the above quotation confirms it. The title he gives his book is therefore utterly misleading. It would of course be very awkward to load a book with a title like ‘Two Who Made a Revolution and One Who Made a Counter-revolution’, but one merit it would have: it would be accurate.”

But prior to Lenin’s return who were the leaders of the Bolsheviks – Kamenev and Stalin. Who were the editors of Pravda? Kamenev and Stalin, who, after Lenin’s April Thesis, continued to run editorials in the paper opposing it. Or take this quote from Trotsky,

Lenin was fuming about the fact that Kerensky’s government was putting over the war as now being a war of defence rather than an imperialist war, and that the Bolsheviks were going along with it. Trotsky quotes Lenin’s letter to Pravda.

“Our party would disgrace itself for ever, kill itself politically if it took part in such deceit…I would choose an immediate split with no matter whom in our party rather than surrender to social patriotism…” He goes on, “Kamenev must understand that a world historic responsibility rests upon him.” But Trotsky then immediately comments after this “Kamenev is named here because it is a question of political principle. If Lenin had had a practical militant problem in mind, he would have been more likely to mention Stalin.” (Trotsky – “History of the Russian Revolution” p308)

Does this suggest a Stalin that was a nonentity? And if so what kind of a well disciplined, pure, intellectually solid organisation would lift such a nonentity into its highest position even during Lenin’s lifetime, long before any bureaucracy could have become a decisive social force, long before the Lenin levy could bring in forces alien to the supposed tradition of Bolshevism.

“In 1917, most of the party leadership opposed his (Lenin’s) famous ‘April Theses’. He was not only unable to dictate to others, but did not dream of it. He won them over, one by one, partly by the pressure of the party ranks whom he convinced and partly by convincing the leaders as well.” (Solidarity 3/80 P19.)

Yes and no. According to Trotsky, many of the Party ranks were already in practice merged with the Mensheviks on a day-to-day basis. At the Conference where Lenin’s April Thesis is put forward the Mensheviks were there too, on the basis of there being the potential for a formal fusion of the two organisations, a prospect that disappeared after Lenin made his speech, but which also saw many of the Party ranks go over to the Mensheviks. In actual fact, having already threatened to split, “split with no matter whom in our party rather than surrender to social patriotism”, Lenin threatened the same course of action again. Trotsky quotes Lenin’s statement at the Congress. “’Even our Bolsheviks’, he says, narrowing the circle around his antagonists, ‘show confidence in the government. Only the fumes of the revolution can explain that. That is the death of socialism….If that’s your position, our ways part. I prefer to remain in the minority’.” And Trotsky makes clear what Lenin was saying. “That was not a mere oratorical threat; it was a clear path thought through to the end.” (Trotsky – “History of the Russian Revolution p321.)

“And it is only when the masses were exhausted or apathetic or prostrate, that is, when the revolution was succeeded by reaction, that the Stalinist counter-revolution could triumph over the masses and over the Bolshevik party.” (Solidarity 3/80 P19)

But that is the point. Revolutions are special events. They do not constitute the normal consciousness of the class, and its not surprising that during these periods the revolutionary class lifts up the most revolutionary leaders. Wolfe is right when he says “no people can live forever at fever heat.” and it is precisely when that fever heat dies down, when normal class consciousness is resumed that the Leninist conception of revolution falls apart, when it must of necessity become reactionary. It is precisely at this point, which of necessity must arise, that those leaders that reflect the consciousness, not of the most advanced elements in society, but at best the average elements, and at worst the lowest elements, are pushed forward. What is the only safeguard against such reaction? That the revolution is based, not on the revolutionary consciousness of the masses, not on the emotions thrown up in the fever heat, but is based upon a permanent sense of class consciousness within the working class, a class consciousness that exists, not just as a negative reaction against the old order, but as a positive recognition of its interests and historic role, a consciousness reflected, not just during the fever heat of revolution, but manifested day after day as it seeks to consciously replace the rule of capital with the rule of labour. Under those conditions no degeneration can occur because the social weight of the working class controls any bureaucracy they may require in socialist construction, reduces it to an insignificant social force incapable of influence.

“The first big public step, so to speak, taken by the Stalinist bureaucracy was the notorious Lenin levy organised right after Lenin’s death. Hundreds of thousands of workers were almost literally poured into the party.” (ibid P19.)

But this is to explain the cause by the effect. What was the reason for the Lenin levy suggested here, to enshrine the Stalinist bureaucracy’s power. Why did the Lenin levy occur that diluted the party, because Stalin initiated it. How was Stalin able to initiate the Lenin levy, because he had been General Secretary since 1922, two years before Lenin’s death, and had control of the Party. We are left with an explanation of Stalin’s control of the party, which is explained by something that could only occur as a result of Stalin’s control of the party!!! What has to be explained is not what happened after Lenin’s death, but how Stalin, the supposed nonentity, became General Secretary while Lenin was alive, whilst the party is still supposed to be a healthy party of professional revolutionaries, all well versed in the methods and theory of Leninism. A control which began in 1922, when, rather than a growth of bureaucracy in the country, there should actually have been a reduction due to the ending of War Communism, and commencement of NEP; when, with the ending of the Civil War, there should have been a rebuilding of workers organisations, and development of class consciousness, which, on a day to day, enterprise by enterprise basis, should have been seeing that class consciousness manifest itself in a growing awareness and development of workers control that, of itself, would have undermined any bureaucratic tendencies; would have seen even the peasants showing some kind of consciousness in organising themselves into co-operatives, or collectives. Did any of that happen? No. Why, because the necessary level of class-consciousness amongst the workers and peasants was lacking from the beginning.

“Almost to a man they could be counted on by the bureaucracy in the fight against the Opposition, against the Bolsheviks, their principles, their revolutionary and socialist democratic traditions. It was Stalin’s first and least important step in literally dissolving Lenin’s ‘machine’ in order to substitute a despotic police regime that was utterly alien to it. This first step was typical of those that followed.” ( ibid p19)

Doesn’t that demonstrate the folly of trying to carry through a socialist revolution, a revolution, which, unlike the bourgeois revolution, requires a clear class-consciousness on the part of the working class, on the basis, not of the support of the majority of the working class, but of a small minority? Doesn’t it show that the most democratic society the world has ever seen, can only be created by the active, conscious support and self-activity of the majority? Moreover, this opinion of Trotsky is in contrast to what he had written in "The New Course". There also writing that the Dictatorship of the Proletariat could ONLY exist in the form of a Dictatorship of a single Party, he wrote that the Lenin levy represnted a strengthening of the proletarian base of the Party!

This is a fundamental weakness of Trotskyism and its inheritance from Leninism. Because it is elitist, because it is essentially idealist, it focusses necessarily on the question of leadership, and puts itself in a position of necessary contradiction. This quote from Trotsky demnstrates this clearly.

In "The Meaning of the Struggle Against TRotskyism" - Writings 1938 pp42-3 Trotsky argues that the workers of the developed capitalist economies such as Britain, France and Germany had been led into the World War by the leaders of the Labour Movement. The working class of those countries had been ready to rip the head of capitalism, but were prevented from doing so by their leaders. Within the space of just a few lines he gives the explanation for the weakness of the workers in Russia, and the rise of the burueacracy. It was he says, due to the economic backwardness of Russia, and the consequent cultural backwardness of the workers.

"Had the level of technology in Russia been as high as in Germany or the UNited States, the socialist economy would from the start have produced everything needed to satisfy the everyday needs of the people. Under those circumstances, the Soviet bureaucracy would not have been able to play an important role, since a high level of technology would also mean a high cultural level, and hte workers would never hav permitted the bureaucracy to order them about."

He doesn't seem to recognise the obvious contradiction here. First of all, we have the idea that the workers are ready and able to rip the head off capitalism. Fine let us assume that is correct. Now Capitalism even at that time was an entrenched system, the Capitalists a powerful and disciplined class, with a powerful state apparatus at its disposal. What prevents the workers ffrom fulfilling their wishes? Not this powerful class and State machine, but a handful of bureaucrats that themselves are dependent on the workers for their existence!!!!! This is what is known as swallowing camels and choking on gnats. Surely, if the working class consciously WANTS to get rid of the capitalists, and is able to do so then a few bureaucrats are not going to stand in its way are they. After all that is what Trotsky tells us would have been the case in Russia if only the workers there stood at the same level as those western workers!!!

But, clealy both are wrong. It is clearly the case that a conscious working class that understands its historic role, and is confident in its power will not let a few bureaucrats stand in its way. Those bureaucrats only exist in their palces because in general they do represent the aggregate level of class conscioussness of the working class - in fact are if anything at most times slightly ahead of it. But, nor is it true that had workers in the USSR stood at the same level of culture as western workers that the bureaucracy could not have arisen. The capitalist class has allowed a bureaucracy to arise that controls its Capital - albeit as Robin Blackburn et al proved many years ago they do so probably more consistent with the interests of the Capitalists than the Capitalists would themselves - and a cultured working class in the West has allowed a bureaucracy to develop in its Labour movement. Workers in the West do not largely participate in their own organisations and control them - hence the existence of the bureaucracy - they see no need to interrupt their daily lives to do so.

It is, of course partly true that Russian workers after the Revolution did not care to spend their time in meetings etc. - its also largely true that the Bolsheviks made sure they kept control for themselves of these organisations to the exclusion of the general opinions of ordinary workers - and this is a facet of alow level of culture. But, that culture is not a simple reflection of economic development. Workers will only come to see the importance of such involvement if it is to their immediate and obvious benefit. Workers need a long period of education through co-operatives - where they HAVE TO participate in daily decision making - before they come to understand such a means of proceeding, take such activity as a natural aspect of their daily lives. A Leninist political revoluiton from above can never provide that. Once again as on so many occasions the Leninists from their top down approach fail to account for the real working class, and fail to account for the timescales involved in the process of creating class-conscioussness.

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