Engraving of Lenin busy studying

Economic & Philosophic Science Review

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested.--- V. I. Lenin


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No 1547 19th December 2018

French gilet jaunes upheaval and Brexit paralysis both symptoms of revolutionary turmoil spreading to capitalist heartland as crisis inexorably deepens towards Slump catastrophe. Vital ingredient missing is the revolutionary perspective and the Leninist leadership to build it – instead the fake- “left” continues to wallow in defeatism, anti--Sovietism, reactionary condemnation of “violence” and aiding capitalist “war on terror” excuses for endless blitzing. Rejection of theory and rejection of polemic to sort out critical current and past issues holds back working class. Cunning ruling class, more aware of need for theory than the opportunist “lefts” themselves, encourages anarchist and “leaderless” movements . Growing turmoil will leave all “revolutionary” pretenders and class collaborators high and dry, exposed like the floundering Corbynites, now refusing to seize chance after chance to bring down the government. They do not want power, knowing unsolvable crisis collapse will expose all their lies about “ending austerity by reversing the cuts” - or by Brexit. British capitalism one of the weakest links.

France’s “yellow-vest” revolt, Britain’s Brexit paralysis, useless eco-armagdeddon “international action” posturing in Poland and endless Yemeni war horror, all underline the total failure, opportunism and ignorance of fake-“leftism”.

Along with hair-raising warlike provocations against Russia and China, events daily make clear the urgent need to rebuild revolutionary understanding to overturn and end this crisis wracked system.

Chaotic mess piles onto ever increasing blitzing and torture degeneracy, slump poverty impositions, environmental disaster and warmongering horrors.

But the more glaring becomes the need to finally end this stinking, foetid class-rule mess and its grotesque inequalities, irrationality and barbaric oppression the more the Trots and revisionists alike retreat from the ever sharpening need for an anti-capitalist revolutionary perspective, the only possible way forwards for mankind and the planet it lives on.

Only by understanding all these disparate threads and upheavals as part of the same crisis catastrophe can the working class be brought together and united for the gigantic class war struggles to come which alone can stop this descent into barbarism by establishing a planned socialist world.

Yet far from giving incipient revolutionary upheaval the guidance it needs, the “left” has wallowed in defeatism and hostility, constantly dragging the working class back behind the bourgeois “democracy” fraud, social-pacifism and craven capitulation to the “war on terror” cover for the international blitzkrieg unleashed by capitalism as its “way out” of crisis.

Monopoly capitalism, led by its top dog American imperialist power, has been dragging the world towards utter devastation and war destruction to escape its bankruptcy, the inescapable end point of its blind, crude greed and brutal world exploitation which its contradictions will always bring it back to, each time worse and deeper in destructiveness than before (see Marx, Lenin and subsequent EPSR Leninist science – EPSR box and multiple books).

The response has been a massive ramping up of the ferment of revolt already spontaneously erupting for decades against the blitzkrieg and torture degeneracy, incompetence and vicious exploitation brutality of this decadent ruling class, most of all in the oppressed and tyrannised Third World.

Propaganda-painted as “evil terrorism” or “rogue states”, growing rebellion and turmoil has been brutally and violently suppressed by the Western warmongering system – only to trigger far more “jihadism” and then the mass street revolts of the Arab Spring, along with the anti-fascist struggles in East Ukraine and Latin American working class movement.

Its weakness remains the confused sectarianism and religious backwardness of its leadership and world philosophy, but it has still inflicted great blows against imperialism (Afghan and Middle East quagmire for US intervention, African upheavals, non-stop revolt in the Philippines, etc all weakening imperialist writ and adding to and escalating the crisis if not yet taking things much towards socialism).

Now as the world relentlessly spirals into ever worsening slump “austerity” and bitter belligerent trade conflict, mass spontaneous revolt is spreading into even the richest countries as both the French yellow-vest turmoil shows and the Brexit chaos too (a deliberate diversion driven by fears of working class riot and revolt at austerity savaging).

It can only grow, as too will the deliberate jingoism and backward nationalism being fostered everywhere to try to divert and confuse the working class and stampede it into Third World War.

Far more economic and social catastrophe is to come everywhere.

The world teeters on the edge of massive and universal upheaval once the full soup-kitchen Depression arrives.

Housing deprivation is extensive in the USThat is inevitable as soon as manic Quantitative Easing valueless credit creation implodes and the world dollar system collapses back into the “financial nuclear winter” just temporarily avoided in 2008’s world banking failures the full blown catastrophe which Marxism alone has consistently predicted and warned the working class about.

Economic meltdown due very soon will be ten times - a hundred times - worse in fact for having been artificially extended yet again with multiple currency collapses, inflation, domino bank failure and national bankruptcies all likely - (see recent EPSRs and cuttings further below).

The contempt the working class will have for the opportunism, misleadership and careerism of the “left” of all shades, which has failed to warn them of the gigantic disaster unfolding and fosters complacent delusions about “ending austerity” through “more spending”, instead of insisting that revolution is the sole path out of chaos, will be unbounded.

Already in different ways these upheavals pull the rug from under all the irrelevant squabbling factionalism and academicism of the fake-“left”, shining a bright light on its defeatism, reformism, and disarming pointless pacifism and above all its common underlying anti-communism.

Every rubbish theory about “no socialism can be fought in just one country” or “the working class is wallowing in reactionary racism and quiescence” or “imperialism is firmly in the saddle and ready to quash any upheavals” or “we have to tread a path through democratic means” or “workers are not ready for revolutionary theory”, and “we have to go step by step”, or “we can stop imperialist war by strike action” is holed beneath the waterline. The need to consciously and loudly challenge this confusion and petty-bourgeois anti-revolutionism is a critical part of re-establishing Leninist understanding, without which the working class cannot complete the socialist revolutionary transformation of society (or even get far along the path in current conditions).

Yellow-vest revolt in FranceWithout the battle for a clear theoretical understanding the working class’s spontaneous eruptions will remain at best fragmented or headed off by temporary reforms, as a desperate President Macron has been trying to do in France, and at worst open to brutal counter-revolution as Latin America is once more demonstrating.

France is delivering powerful lessons.

It is the revolt, not “reasonable peaceful pressure” which has had such a staggering effect, forcing the arrogant authorities into reverse on the latest “austerity” policies in France, and sending shock waves around the world, triggering similar upheaval in Brussels and fears further afield:

Egyptian authorities restricted the sale of yellow reflective vests amid fears opponents might attempt to copy French gilets jaunes protesters during next month’s anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Security officials and retailers said industrial safety equipment dealers have been instructed not to sell yellow vests to walk-in buyers and to restrict business to wholesale to verified companies, but only after securing police permission. They were told offenders would be punished.

Six retailers in a Cairo downtown area where industrial safety stores are concentrated said they were no longer selling yellow vests. Two declined to sell them, giving no explanation, but the remaining four said they were told not to by police.

“They seem not to want anyone to do what they are doing in France,” said one retailer... on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Security officials said the restrictions would remain in force until the end of January.

The move showcases the depth of the government’s concern with security. Egyptian authorities have clamped down heavily over the past two years, deploying police and soldiers across the country to prevent marches to commemorate the 25 January anniversary of the start of the 2011 uprising. Scores of people have been killed and wounded in clashes during previous anniversaries.

Far from there being “no point in struggling in one country alone” as many of the “knowing” fake-“left” still defeatistly insist (the CPGB Weekly Worker in its latest paper for example), the impact is international and a setback for all of world capitalism, just as the initial Arab Spring eruptions were in Cairo for example.

But the potential strength of spontaneous movement is hampered by its own confusion and lack of clarity.

So fundamental questions are raised about leadership and unity, and how it is to be achieved.

There is no clear picture in France even for such trivial matters as who is able to negotiate or represent and speak for the upheavals of recent weeks, and whether or not to accept or reject Macron’s desperate “offers”, let alone to decide how to take the struggle forwards while avoiding its diffusion by illusions in reformist sops.

All concessions forced from the ruling class can be useful for the working class but only if they do not reinforce the great pretence that step-by-step “peaceful pressure” reforms can be won in themselves which will eventually carry the working class all the way along the road to socialism and a better more rational life.

The deadly end result of this hoodwinking ruling-class “democracy” fraud, if the working class should make too much progress (despite non-stop manipulation, bribery and gerrymandering), or if crisis conditions change what the ruling class can “afford”, has been experienced repeatedly by workers in country after country, most notably in the brutal 1973 military-fascist coup which put an end to the “socialism by peaceful majority vote” of Salvador Allende in Chile and suppressed the struggle there for decades by the slaughter, torture and intimidation of the working class. And the installation of fascist and military tinpot dictators to sustain imperialist control, has been a constant feature both before and since, through bribery and manipulation (eg Ukraine) or with utmost barbarity imposed where necessary or possible, such as the 1965 massacre of at least 1 million and almost certainly many many more in Indonesia, and again in the genocidal suppression of the East Timorese in the late 1990s, in repeated US backed coups in Haiti, in depraved death squad slaughter in Central America and in the suppression of the Egyptian Arab Spring revolution by General Sisi’s military takeover in 2013, drowning street protest in the blood of thousands of innocent men, women and children (and many more since).

And beyond that has been the constant warmongering and coup making of imperialism, with well over 400 interventions, topplings, fixed elections, raids, sabotage incidents, economic blockades and assassinations in just the post-WW2 period, including the all-out devastation of Vietnam, (4M) North Korea (3M), the Gulf War and Iraq War, Afghanistan, Serbia, Libya, Syria, Yemen and constant war and massacres in the Congo and other important resource rich African nations.

None of that is ruled out in even the most “advanced” countries should the ruling class feel itself pressed hard enough as crisis deepens into cutthroat to-the-death competitive survival levels.

Sufficient stern warnings about the “dangers to the national interest” of even the tamest Labourite pseudo-leftism and pacifism have been heard from the gold-braided military admirals and generals, occasionally wheeled out onto the bourgeois state-owned broadcast mouthpiece of the BBC and given unquestioned airtime in compliant “interviews”, to alert anyone paying attention, to what the ruling circles and their state counterparts discuss and plan for behind their closed doors.

It is not the class-collaborating Labourites and their grovelling refusal even to challenge for power, they worry about, but the left movement beneath them as it become more conscious.

What that will need for its education and warning is the building of a revolutionary party with thousands of cadres independently able to consciously and clearly grasp and explain the revolutionary context and significance of all such developments such as the weakness revealed by Macron’s about-turn, while holding as necessary to a common line on where to take things next.

And such a common disciplined line will be held only by a party which hammers out with constant open polemical struggle in front of the working class, all the complex and difficult questions of past and present developments, particularly the history of the working class struggle to date, countering the crude anti-communist denunciations and lurid fabrications which capitalism drums into heads morning noon and night from infant school to the twilight years.

That means examining the workers states, recognising their giant historic strides forwards (still continuing in China, Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea), and more generally anti-imperialist struggles, while facing up to the philosophical and leadership flaws, errors and difficulties, which eventually liquidated the USSR and East Europe and which hamper class struggle everywhere (notably at present in the “left” nationalism of Latin America, wide open to the constant subversion of local and international bourgeois counter-revolution for want of a firm grasp of the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat).

And it means analysing all the complexities and contradictions of rising contemporary struggle, particularly the “terrorism” and “jihadism” manifestations which for the moment have filled the vacuum in world revolutionary leadership left by the long retreat from Leninism of Moscow-dominated revisionism.

But once again on France the “left” variously avoids the question by its philistine rejection of the battle for theory altogether, as manifest by the crude workerism of the Trots like the SWP declaring that the working class will “build its own leadership” in the process of struggle, or by blaming the working class for its backwardness and vulnerability to racist and reactionary nationalist notions.

But they are only there and able to make some headway because not one scrap of Leninist revolutionary understanding has been battled for over decades by the “left”.

To the contrary the fake-“left” has mocked, belittled, denounced and opposed the insistence on openly fought-for theory and rejected, suppressed or ignored the polemical debate to clarify all the most difficult issues.

Trotskyism and its allies like the revisionist Weekly Worker CPGB, join in the bourgeois hostility to the workers states (Trots, Labourism) with even more poison, jumping on every counter-revolutionary stunt fixed up by the West from the 1956 Hungarian “uprising” by the former Catholic reactionary clerical-fascism saturating the middle class to the more subtle pretences of Czech anti-communism in 1968 and the bogus “trade unionism” of the Vatican/CIA funded Solidarnosc and its Pilsudski-worshipping reaction which led into the revisionist Gorbachevism and its liquidation of the soviet workers state.

Dunderheaded revisionist opportunism (just as anti-communist deep down) simply covers up all the difficulties past and present, uncritically lauding Stalinism and ignoring its great mistakes and errors (eg as listed in EPSR 1184 -

- China 1927; Germany 1933; collectivisation 1930s; Spanish Civil War 1936-39; disbelief in German blitzkrieg 1941; agreement to let imperialism occupy West Berlin postwar 1945; letting imperialism re-occupy communist-liberated Greece 1945-49; supporting Zionist-imperialist colonisation of Palestine 1947; approving the “peaceful road to socialism” counter-revolutionary bollocks post 1945; refusing to fight in Korea 1950; pressuring China to curb world revolutionary enthusiasm post-1950; etc, etc, for scores more examples).

All of it has capitulated to the “war on terror” bullshit that there is a “new threat in the world”, used by imperialism as a cover for its own warmongering and terrorising.

But as even the bourgeois press occasionally frets and admits (reading between the lines) the cause of the monstrousness is the capitalist system itself, both in the incredible scale of its destruction and its initiation – famously the Iraq war was not set going because of “terror” but because of a completely made-up lies about WMD – just like much of the rest of the destruction in reality, often around similar Goebbels stunts like the Racak “massacre” excuse for bombing once-socialist Serbia, the “Gaddafi is going to genocidally destroy Benghazi” crap and similar lying excuses all the way back to Hitler's Gleiwitz radio station and the non-existent Gulf of Tonkin “US ships attacked” incident used to set the Vietnam war in train.

The real generator of war (and responsibility for terrorist attempts to fight back) is capitalism’s efforts to escape its crisis and bully the world into accepting its continued domination:

America, according to a new study from Brown University, is running counter-terror operations in 76 countries – 39% of all the nations in the world. Since 2001, at least half-a-million people have been killed in wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq alone. The real figure is likely to be far higher. A New York Times investigation last year suggested that the civilian toll in Iraq from coalition airstrikes could be 31 times greater than officially admitted.

Include the conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen and the toll would be significantly higher still. These are just direct deaths. The number of indirect deaths – from the destruction of health facilities or infrastructure – run into the millions. Meanwhile, the 2017 Global Terrorism Index suggested that terrorist attacks accounted for 25,000 deaths in just the previous year. Up to 106 countries, more than half the nations in the world, suffered deadly attacks, 94% of which were in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The level of terrorism is usually the justification for the intensity of the war on terror. Yet, despite the effective destruction of Islamic State, the influence and scope of terror groups is greater now than it was in 2001. Already this year, the US has dropped more bombs on Afghanistan than in any previous year. The Taliban still controls 20% of the country and its bloodlust remains undiminished. Just last week, a suicide bomber killed at least 53 people in Kabul.

What began after 9/11 as an attempt to eliminate al-Qaida has metastasised into a never-ending war against an ever-expanding universe of terror groups. And yet it’s become little more than background noise in the west. Isn’t it time we started asking serious questions about the war on terror, its scope and its consequences?

And perhaps more questions about why and how it has come about and what drives it???? (See EPSR 1248 14-09-04 for example).

Simply parroting the notion that the Taliban is driven by “bloodlust” is certainly not going to help - it is obviously a resistance movement to the American (and sidekicks') occupation firstly.

Let its philosophy be understood to be backward, primitive and even reactionary by all means, and not one that can be supported as such, but let it also be understood that it is the material contradictions of imperialist oppression which has set such turmoil going, and not simply in the mechanistic sense that “they were all set up by the CIA” or Western proxies such as Saudi Arabia.

Certainly Western imperialism has repeatedly played that trick (beginning with the mujaheddin in Afghanistan itself notoriously during the Soviet aid period) and sporadically with other “jihadists” (though by no means all) in Syria particularly.

But equally jihadism has “blown back” in Afghanistan itself, still sending body bags back to America, as has the ISIS phenomenon and its anti-imperialist anti-Zionist alliances – and much is simply the hate-filled response of the Third World to western tyranny, most obviously the Hamas-led Palestinian revolt in Gaza and many other struggles like the Mindinao rebellion against Filipino oligarch exploitation, the Nigerian Boko Haram, the Islamic revolt in Chad and Mali.

But the “left” all long ago forever disgraced themselves by going along with the “moral” condemnation of such upheavals and totally un-Marxist denunciations of them as “headbangers” (- including the Palestinians? - the anti-Sisi Sinai fighters? the anti-occupation fight in Iraq against the US stooge Shia regime in Baghdad? - the Iranian Islamic state?)

Thereby they all variously play into the hands of the West’s pretence to be “cleansing the world of a monstrous threat”, a craven capitulation no less significant than the socialist Second International’s treachery and betrayal in 1914 when it lined up with its own bourgeoisie in country after country “defending the Fatherland etc” and dragged the working class behind the butchery of World War One, stopped only by the Russian revolution, led by Lenin’s Bolsheviks which alone (save two small parties in Serbia and Bulgaria) had opposed the war and called for it to be transformed into civil war against the ruling class in each country.

So they are unlikely and unable to now give the revolutionary lead now required anywhere.

That gives more space to the anarchist and “community” “rank and file” posturing hostility to theory which has inevitably surfaced and which the ruling class press is encouraging.

The bourgeoisie, for all that it is not Marxist and can never really comprehend dialectical materialist science (which would mean accepting its own demise, having reached historical uselessness) has a deep class cunning and experience giving it a better philosophical grasp than most of the “Labour Movement”. It knows for sure the absence of a coherent theory is a significant weakness in the class war.

Small surprise perhaps that the following bourgeois press piece tries to encourage just that with its “right-on” support for “leaderless movements”, the same kind of carefully calculated enthusiasm for “street movement” and “self-help micro-organisation” advocated by such arch anti-communist liberals as Naomi Klein:

The gilets jaunes movement in France is a leaderless political uprising. It isn’t the first and it won’t be the last. Occupy, the Arab spring and #MeToo are other recent examples of this new politics. Some of it is good. Some of it is not: a leaderless movement, self-organised on Reddit, helped elect Donald Trump. But leaderless movements are spreading, and we need to understand where they come from, what is legitimate action and, if you want to start one, what works and what doesn’t.

The Arab spring began with the self-immolation of one despairing young man in Tunisia; the revolt rapidly spread across the region, just as protests have proliferated in France. In highly connected complex systems, such as the world today, the action of a single agent can suddenly trigger what complexity theorists call a “phase shift” across the entire system.

...Leaderless movements spring from frustration with conventional top-down politics, a frustration shared by many, not only those on the streets. Polls suggest the gilets jaunes are supported by a large majority of the French public. Who believes that writing to your MP, or signing a petition to No 10 makes any difference to problems such as inequality, the chronic housing shortage or the emerging climate disaster? Even voting feels like a feeble response to these deep-seated problems that are functions not only of government policies but more of the economic system itself.

What such movements oppose is usually clear, but what they propose is inevitably less so: that is their nature. The serial popular uprisings of the Arab spring all rejected authoritarian rule, whether in Tunisia, Egypt or Syria. But in most places there was no agreement about what kind of government should replace the dictators. In Egypt, the Tahrir Square protests failed to create an organised democratic political party that could win an election. Instead, the Muslim Brotherhood, long highly organised and thus prepared for such a moment, stepped into the political vacuum. In turn, this provoked further mass protest, which eventually brought to power another dictatorship as repressive as Hosni Mubarak’s.

When the demand is for change in social relations– norms more than laws – such as the end of sexual harassment, the results can be as rapid but also more enduring and positive. The #MeToo movement has provoked questioning of gender relations across the world. The British deputy prime minister, Damian Green, was forced to resign; in India, a cabinet minister. The effects are uneven, and far from universal, but sexual harassers have been outed and ousted from positions of power in the media, NGOs and governments.

Some mass action has required leadership. The race discrimination that confronted the US civil rights movement was deeply entrenched in both American society and its laws. Martin Luther King and other leaders paid exquisite attention to strategy, switching tactics according to what worked and what didn’t.

King correctly judged, however, that real and lasting equality required the reform of capitalism – a change in the system itself. In a sense, his objective went from the singular to the plural. And that is where his campaign hit the rocks. Momentum dissipated when King started to talk about economic equality: there was no agreement on the diagnosis, or the solution.

The Occupy movement faced a similar problem. It succeeded in inserting inequality and economic injustice into the mainstream political conversation – politicians had avoided the topic before. But Occupy couldn’t articulate a specific political programme to reform the system. I was in Zuccotti Park in New York City, where the protest movement began, when the “general assembly” invited the participants to pin notes listing their demands on to trees. Ideas were soon plastered up, from petitioning Washington DC to replacing the dollar – many of which, of course, were irreconcilable with each other.

This is why a leaderless response to the climate change disaster is tricky. It’s striking that in Emmanuel Macron’s fuel tax rises the gilets jaunes opposed the very thing demanded by Extinction Rebellion, Britain’s newly minted leaderless movement: aggressive policies to reduce carbon emissions to net zero. Macron’s proposals would have hit the poorest hardest, illustrating that resolving the crises of the environment and inequality requires a more comprehensive, carefully wrought solution to both. But leaderless movements have largely proved incapable of such complicated decision-making, as anyone at Zuccotti Park will attest.

Conventional party politicians, reasserting their own claim to legitimacy, insist that such problems can only be arbitrated by imposing more top-down policy. But when most feel powerless about the things that matter, this may only provoke further protests.

Ultimately, to address profound systemic challenges, we shall need new participatory and inclusive decision-making structures to negotiate the difficult choices. An example of these forums has emerged in parts of Syria, of all places. Rightly, this is precisely what the Extinction Rebellion is also demanding.

Inevitably, leaderless movements face questions about their legitimacy. One answer lies in their methods. The Macron government has exploited the violence seen in Paris and elsewhere to claim that the gilets jaunes movement is illegitimate and anti-democratic. Mahatma Gandhi, and later King, realised that nonviolent action – such as the satyagraha salt march or the Montgomery bus boycott – denies the authorities this line of attack. On the contrary, the violence used by those authorities – the British colonial government or the police of the southern US states – against nonviolent protestors helped build their own legitimacy and attracted global attention.

Complexity science tells us something else important. System-wide shifts happen when the system is primed for change, at so-called criticality. In the Middle East there was almost universal anger at the existing political status quo, so it took only one match to light the fire of revolt. Meeting people in colleges and towns across the UK but also in the US (where I lived until recently) you can hear the mounting frustration with a political and economic system that is totally unresponsive to the needs of the 99%, and offers no credible answer to the climate emergency.

There will be more leaderless movements to express this frustration, just as there will be more rightwing demagogues, like Trump or Boris Johnson, who seek to exploit it to their own advantage. For the right ones to prevail, we must insist on nonviolence as well as commitment to dialogue with – and not denunciation of – those who disagree. Messily, a new form of politics is upon us, and we must ensure that it peacefully and democratically produces deep systematic reform, not the counter-reaction of the authoritarians. Get ready.

• Carne Ross is a former British diplomat and author of The Leaderless Revolution

The ruling class ethos represented here is calculatedly heading minds away from any struggle to argue out all the great questions and to establish revolutionary leadership.

Slyly, without mentioning Leninism and communism as such, it pretends that basic spontaneity is a “new” approach, which can avoid all the old (implied) “problems and mistakes” merely through the way it does things (essentially anarchic) rather than by understanding and analysis.

Form is everything and content virtually irrelevant, though to sustain this shallowness it has to swiftly gloss over the overt rightwing content of much such “populism” including Trumpism, a “minor” aspect of reality batted into a corner with the throwaway line that “some is good and some is bad”.

A fifth form GCSE essay could clarify things better.

Its slick language about “participatory and inclusive decision-making structures” and dazzling new “complexity science” is so much sociological flannel (in the worst bourgeois academic sense of “sociology” devoid of any content about class forces at work in the world) to further head minds away from actually thinking, the only way that any real unified and sustainably coherent working class movement will be built.

No need for theory it says, nor analysis of what is driving such movements, especially as “what they oppose is clear but what they want less so”.

Just “start one” anyway (as if it were a local club) and that lack of clarity will sort itself out through “new” “participatory and inclusive decision-making structures to negotiate the difficult choices”.

Lenin at his deskBehind the pretence of rejecting “topdown” policies - in reality rejecting leadership – are hidden some very “old style” assertions of leadership, setting boundaries for what is ”permissible”.

In Leftwing communism: an infantile disorder Lenin made short work of this kind of “radicalism” which was a central element of the Trotskyist opposition from the earliest days of the Soviet Union (as quoted in EPSR book 5 Lenin against Trotsky):

“The mere presentation of the question ‘dictatorship of the party OR dictatorship of the class; dictatorship (party) of the leaders OR dictatorship (party) of the masses’ testifies to most incredibly and hopelessly muddled thinking.....classes are led by political parties; political parties , as a general rule, are run by more or less stable groups composed of the most authoritative, influential and experienced members, who are elected to the most responsible positions, and are called leaders. All this is elementary. All this is clear and simple. Why replace this with some kind of rigmarole...

“... one can see simply a thoughtless and incoherent use of the now fashionable terms ‘masses’ and ‘leaders’. These people have heard and memorised a great many attacks on ‘leaders’ in which the latter have been contrasted with the ‘masses’ ....

“...to contrast IN GENERAL the dictatorship of the masses with a dictatorship of the leaders is ridiculously absurd and stupid. What is particularly amusing is that, in fact, instead of the old leaders....NEW LEADERS are brought forth (under cover of the slogan ‘Down with the leaders’) .....

“Repudiation of the Party principle and of Party discipline, — that is what the opposition has arrived at. And this is tantamount to completely disarming the proletariat in the interests of the bourgeoisie. It all adds up to that petty-bourgeois diffuseness and instability, that incapacity for sustained effort, unity and organised action, which if encouraged must inevitably destroy any proletarian revolutionary movement. From the standpoint of communism, repudiation of the Party principle means attempting to leap from the eve of capitalism’s collapse not to the lower or the intermediate phase of communism, but to the higher. We in Russia, in the third year since the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, are making the first steps in the transition from capitalism to socialism or the lower stage of communism. Classes still remain, and will remain everywhere FOR YEARS AFTER the proletariat’s conquest of power...The abolition of classes means not merely ousting the landowners and the capitalists... it also means abolishing the small commodity producers, and they cannot be ousted, or crushed; we must learn to live with them. They can (and must) be transformed and re-educated only by means of very prolonged slow and cautious organisational work. They surround the proletariat on every side with a petty bourgeois atmosphere which permeates and corrupts the proletariat, and constantly causes among the proletariat relapses into petty-bourgeois spinelessness, disunity, individualism, and alternating moods of exaltation and dejection. The strictest centralisation and discipline are required within the political party of the proletariat in order to counteract this, in order that the ORGANISATIONAL role of the proletariat (and that is its PRINCIPAL role) may be exercised correctly, successfully, and victoriously. The dictatorship of the proletariat means a persistent struggle bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, educational and administrative — against the forces and traditions of the old society. The force of habit in millions and tens of millions is a most formidable force. Without a party of iron that has been tempered in the struggle, a party enjoying the confidence of all honest people in the class in question, a party capable of watching and influencing the mood of the masses, such a struggle cannot be waged successfully. It is a thousand times easier to vanquish the centralised big bourgeoisie than to ‘vanquish’ the millions upon millions of petty proprietors; however through their ordinary, everyday, imperceptible, elusive and demoralising activities, they produce the VERY results which the bourgeoisie need and which tend to RESTORE the bourgeoisie. Whoever brings about even the slightest weakening of the iron discipline of the party of the proletariat (especially during its dictatorship), is actually aiding the bourgeoisie against the proletariat...

“... There HAVE ALWAYS BEEN attacks on the ‘dictatorship of leaders’ in our Party “ (Leftwing Communism Ch 5).

The “new leadership” smuggled in around the yellow vests is very much “old politics”.

And of course it has already failed dismally with the Occupy movements, broken up and dispersed partly by violence and partly by lack of focus.

For all its apparently radical gush about “voting feels like a feeble response” and “revolution” what does its last paragraph advocate anyway? Exactly the same old perspective of struggling for reforms (“deep systematic” ones, natch) through the same old “democratic” paths which supposedly this “messy new form of politics” is supposed to be opening up.

Just to further prevent any clarity, every kind of diversionary confusion and single-issue political cause is advocated; the witchhunting anti-communist feminism of the #metoo movement, pacifism, environmentalism etc, all designed to take attention away from the only “movement” that can actually change anything, the movement to overturn capitalism.

Everyone knows that 15,000 delegates just wasted their time in Poland last week agreeing new “carbon reduction standards” etc, because Donald Trump and his cohorts will simply trample all over such niceties – and if they don’t the big multinational corporations will go ahead anyway with plundering resources, poisoning rivers and clogging the oceans with plastic, making sure to find another figurehead to tear up the laws, and denounce climate science, if and as needed.

And while the greed saturated profit motive dominates decision making, it will be needed and to hell with pleas from celebrity naturalists.

To hell with the planet.

It is no coincidence that the US Koch brothers, the target for much ineffectual fake-“left” denunciation by the likes of reformist George Monbiot because of their sinister manipulations and funding of reactionary political “think tanks”, derive their wealth from the oil industry.

Equally everyone does not know, but should, that it was the militant and armed anti-imperialist movement in India over decades, combined eventually with the very non-pacifist impact of the Asian defeats for the moribund British Empire rule in the Second World War, and the anti-Nazi victories of the Red Army inspiring anti-colonialism everywhere, which won independence for India, not the theatrically “humble” posturing of the racist Ghandi, deliberately elevated to obscure the revolutionary reality by British cunning:

A statue of Mahatma Gandhi on a university campus in Ghana has been pulled down by lecturers arguing that India’s most renowned independence leader was racist.

The statue was unveiled in June 2016 by India’s former President Pranab Mukherjee, who also gave a speech encouraging students to ‘emulate and concretise’ Gandhi’s ideals.

However shortly afterward lecturers started a petition to get rid of the statue, which had been located in the university’s recreational quadrangle. The professors said that the fact that the only historical figure memorialised on the university campus was not African was ‘a slap in the face that undermines our struggles for autonomy, recognition and respect’.

They cited several of Gandhi’s writings which refer to black South Africans as ‘kaffirs’ (a highly offensive racist slur), accuse the South African government of trying to ‘drag down’ Indians to the level of ‘half-heathen natives’ and describe Indians as ‘infinitely superior’ to black people.

Gandhi is remembered for his tactics of peaceful civil disobedience, which have inspired civil rights movements throughout the world.

From age 23, Gandhi spent two decades living and working as a human rights lawyer in South Africa, where he developed his political and ethical views.

...In October this year, construction work was stopped on a statue of the Indian leader being built in Malawi after more than 3,000 people signed a petition arguing against the statue citing the fact Gandhi had referred to black people as ‘savages’.

In their court application, activist group ‘Gandhi Must Fall’ said his remarks on black people ‘have invited a sense of loathing and detestation.’

Students in South Africa successfully campaigned in 2015 for the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a notoriously racist mining magnate who died in 1902, from the University of Cape Town campus.

But while Ghandi is eulogised the people’s spontaneous opinion of the millions strong mass movement behind the Arab Spring is denounced – despite its peaceful character – as simply being “hijacked” by the Muslim Brotherhood, a sufficient justification, it is implied, for the bloody coup then organised with CIA and Zionist support to turn it over in 2013 once the West had overcome its initial shock.

So much for newly conceded “democracy” for Egypt, forced out of the ruling class by the 2011 popular movement and a significant defeat for Washington’s world control.

It is that factor, the impact on imperialism’s world dominating presence, that has to be the measuring stick for assessing all spontaneity - not what subjective ideas are in heads but the objective factors driving them and the objective defeats they inflict.

But preventing any further understanding is the purpose above.

Note how it carefully works in at the end the “advice” - which is to say, a proposition for leading the struggle along certain paths - that above all everything must be “peaceful” and even that “we must insist on non-violence”.

This is deliberate philosophical confusion mongering, knowingly trying to keep spontaneous revolts trapped in the anarchic fragmentation and disunity which is obviously a major flaw in the effectiveness of the French movement for the for the moment,

Its biggest fear is precisely the middle class terror of the “mob” and the violence and breakdown of “law and order”.

But these are the key phenomena of the spontaneous revolt which has been erupting for decades and which is an inevitable aspect of the total breakdown and paralysis capitalism’s contradictions have brought the world to and no more stoppable than King Cnut’s North Sea waves.

Ruling class fear of potential revolutionary upheaval is the underlying factor which is paralysing the British ruling class over Brexit equally, especially as it watches the French upheaval.

It is split firstly over which of the great monopoly blocs it should side with in the deepening trade war (see last issue) - the German-dominated European Union, or the still most powerful USA, with its historic Anglo-Saxon ties.

Trying to balance the two as before is impossible as trade war deepens and as Trumpite anti-European belligerence emphasises.

Staying in the EU is expensive in national fees and costly for weaker industries confronting the “regulations” imposed by Brussels, which are designed to favour the largest combines, able to afford the R&D and re-tooling, which the hopelessly declining British economy finds more and more difficult.

But leaving it is even more disastrous from a capitalist monopoly point of view, now tied into ever more consolidated monopoly production chains and with no prospect of striding the world as an independent power, whatever the fantasies of the cynical Boris-es and Mogg-ites.

Hence the ruling class agonies, damned either way.

But a further factor has been the need to head off the attention of an increasingly hard-pressed and austerity exhausted working class from the unrolling crisis collapse cause of their problems into chauvinism and localised clannishness, blaming foreigners for their troubles.

Chauvinism and jingoism are being stirred everywhere by the antagonisms of trade war rivalry in the crisis, but it is particularly a factor in Britain where petty bourgeois induced political corruption built up a Little Englander sense of “superiority” deep into multiple layers of the working class, bribed with a few crumbs from the superprofits of Empire, the world’s richest and most powerful for much of the nineteenth and early twentieth century through the ruthless exploitation of slave and near-slave colonial labour.

Tapping that legacy is one factor in ruling class calculations, hoping to divert attention from basic working class anti-capitalist interests into nationalism.

It is total garbage, fooling them with notions of “getting back control” – (since when did workers have any control or parliamentary sovereignty be anything but a façade for bourgeois control?) – and the pretence that their difficulties might solved if only they could “stop the migrants”.

But it serves to head off revolt to some extent, particularly in the absence of a revolutionary international explanation of the crisis and particularly because it is sustained by the opportunism and backwardness of the class collaborating Labour and TUC tradition, long representing the “labour aristocracy” and saturated in the empire arrogance and underlying racism of the past (overt and covert) and by the sections of the “left” falling for the same “import controls and protectionism” agenda (CPB, SWP, Counterfire, Lalkar/Proletarian).

That disastrously leaves workers wide open to the scapegoating “explanations” of the right, from UKIP to outright fascist groups, and all the more so as the fake-“lefts” then try to compensate for the obvious stirring of backward attitudes by “morally” denouncing racism and calling for workers to “welcome all immigrants”.

As the EPSR has explained (last issue and also 1133-36 eg) such “politically correct” piety is a hopeless response to working class fears of undercut wages and further competition for already savaged services, and just further plays into the hands of the reactionaries; capitalist immigration certainly is a problem while its system continues and one deliberately used by the ruling class to cut wages, undermine class organisation and weaken class struggle in the countries of origin.

Or put another way in EPSR 1103 (11-09-01):

As Marxist science endlessly points out, it is far easier to envisage and carry out a total socialist revolution than to morally persuade or re-educate the entire working class to stop being the unfortunate victims of racist or chauvinist confusion, for example. If it is really possible to get the entire...working class to unite and say “asylum-seekers welcome”, then surely it will be 100 times easier to unite the proletariat on the slogan: “Let us take all the wealth and power away from the rich bastards who are oppressing all of us”.

It is like the social-pacifist slogan of ‘No to war’ or ‘Nuclear disarmament now’. If it was really possible to persuade a moral majority to disarm the ruling class in this way, it would surely be 100 times easier to make out the ‘moral’ case for the total socialist revolution.

But this is all, of course, reformist pipe-dream fantasy of the nastiest fake-‘left’ kind, - posturing as ‘revolutionary Marxism’, but predictably cynically condemning the working class to the further permanent diet of just defeats, demoralisation, and division, which is all that ‘reformist pressure’ can ever mean.

There is not going to be any working class “unity to welcome all asylum seekers”.

And if this insane Mary-Poppins pipedream is pursued by these fake-’left’ petty-bourgeois PC posturers, then the BNP is going to draw more and more interest because it is at least showing awareness that the working class is properly agitated about the hypocritical lack of any clear picture of what bogus ‘asylum-seeking’ and people-smuggling ‘immigration’ is really all about in the current imperialist crisis situation.

Are they recruits for the revolution? What revolution? Who has called it? Who is organising it? Are they recruits for the total unionisation of the labour force to regain full employment and put a stop to cheap casual labour? So when is this total reformist elimination of all the effects of imperialist economic crisis going to be completed? How is it to be imposed on the free market? Is it to be imposed internationally (because there are at least 500 million more, utterly crushed and impoverished, desperate ‘asylum-seekers’ waiting in a queue all round the world to join the dream of those who have made it through the immigration rackets to get to Britain (or Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, etc) already)?

Are they genuinely tiny handfuls of genuinely ‘misplaced persons’, just one-off idiosyncrasies from here and there whose lost souls just don’t fit in with the poverty and tyranny (that the other hundreds of millions suffer throughout the Third World), but who are the future Einsteins, Rachmaninovs, and Joseph Conrads of this world?

Or are they the tip of the iceberg of an intolerable worldwide imperialist-system economic and political crisis in which growing refugee-floods will be the only pressure safety-valve for avoiding revolutionary explosions everywhere, and in which masses of world-market cheap scab-labour will keep inter-imperialist trade-war cost-cutting and unemployment-exporting going for long enough to wreck entire economies and drive whole populations into fascist-chauvinist despair so that the imperialist system can get World War III going, in order to complete the destructive work of ‘recovery’ from this iron-law Marxist crisis of world capital ‘surpluses’???

And if it is the latter, then why the surprise that the BNP should be able to make such mischief among a totally confused, leaderless, and demoralised existing proletariat?

These race-riot asylum-seeking issues really are nothing but a deliberate total chauvinist diversion to distract the working class from what it really needs to be concentrated on which is the immediate future of the whole planet in world socialist revolution.

But while “Brexit” distraction has succeeded for three years, it is losing energy and is likely to backfire soon.

The ruling class is completely trapped, desperate to keep the working class tied in behind the Brexit pretence but knowing that it solves nothing – and worse that “leaving” massively compounds the economic mess that it is already in, with the vicious competition of the European rivals displaced by the sharks of a US imperialist dominated “world market” which is loudly declaring it will go all out in its own “America First” interest.

Worse still, past humiliation and retreat is hemming in its options from the other direction, namely over Ireland where for all the recalcitrant sulking of the bigoted unionist DUP, by chance able to wag the tail of the desperate minority Tory Party, there really is no turning back history to the days when the artificial statelet of “Northern Ireland” was arrogantly carved out from Ireland at bayonet point to suit the Orange colonists.

Whatever token notions were agreed for the sake of saving face, (to keep on pretending that the six counties were “still part of the United Kingdom” after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement), the reality is that Ireland is on a path to full unity, realised practically by the steady dissolving of the border, establishment of cooperation with Dublin in multiple ways and the “constitutional mechanisms” which the republicans could now use (won by the armed national liberation struggle after decades of no civil rights and total humiliation).

And for all the posturing and obstructiveness of DUPers, and the Empire-restoration dreams of the reactionary Moggers etc, none of them dares to challenge this snails’ pace process for fear of triggering a revival of the “Troubles” in some form at least.

All have bent over backwards to make clear that a “hard border” is not being imposed (even if they try to slip it through with arguments about ‘technical advances’).

But that makes a mockery of a “standalone” Britain.

Brexit obviously implies a border and controls – Westminster obviously cannot impose one.

It makes a mockery too of the fake-“left” defeatists who all completely wrongly declared the GFA to be a “sellout” and a humiliation for the Irish nationalist struggle and still do.

Just the opposite. This issue alone, which is insurmountable for the “Brexit process”, proves that the GFA was a complete victory for the anti-imperialist guerrilla war.

So now the ruling class must make clear that “Brexit” solves nothing, and that it dare not go through with it, compounding the anger and frustration of the working class (and further undermining its “democracy” pretence by reneging on the referendum).

Or it must plough on into total WTO economic chaos, also ratcheting up the pressure on a slump-pressed working class at the end of its tether, with the additional problem of potentially renewed revolt in Ireland.

For fear of just the kind of social outbursts seen in France, the Chancellor Philip Hammond has already spent £ billions of extra money (mysteriously “finding” surplus funds just before the Budget – yeah, right, as the youths say).

But the options are running out.

It is an unsolvable conundrum, which is why total paralysis prevails in the ruling class, parliament is reduced to a farce and why the class collaborating scabbiness of the Labourites will do nothing to break the logjam either, rejecting one opportunity after another to bring down the government, hiding behind the total fraud of parliamentary “procedure” and legal niceties and refusing to call on the working class to show its strength.

For all the “left” pretence, this Labourism does not want power because they know they too can solve nothing within the capitalist system which they always run and will only ever run as its loyal servants.

What a disgusting spectacle the whole vicious circus makes!

And the paralysis will grow deeper, because the Brexit conundrum is only a small reflection of the much bigger contradictions of the world catastrophe.

As spelled out at the top of the article the signals of the great lurch into the abyss are coming thick and fast, as always, accompanied by imperialism’s arrogant and bullying demands that others pick up the pieces of the mess it has made (eg Japan in the past - now China etc):

The storm clouds of the next global financial crisis are gathering despite the world financial system being unprepared for the next downturn, the deputy head of the International Monetary Fund has warned.

David Lipton, the first deputy managing director of the IMF, said that “crisis prevention is incomplete” more than a decade on from the last meltdown in the global banking system.

“As we have put it, ‘fix the roof while the sun shines.’ But like many of you, I see storm clouds building, and fear the work on crisis prevention is incomplete.”

Lipton said individual nation states alone would lack the firepower to combat the next recession, while calling on governments to work together to tackle the issues that could spark another crash.

“We ought to be concerned about the potency of monetary policy,” he said of the ability of the US Federal Reserve and other central banks to cut interest rates to boost the economy in the event of another downturn, while also warning that high levels of government borrowing constrained their scope for cutting taxes and raising spending.

Lipton said the IMF went into the last crash “under-resourced” before it was handed a war chest worth $1tn (£790bn) from governments around the world, while adding that it was important that world leaders had agreed to complete a review of the fund’s financial firepower next year.

Gold prices are risingSpeaking to an audience at Bloomberg in London, Christine Lagarde’s deputy called on China to take urgent steps to open up its economy to global competition.

Against a backdrop of Donald Trump engaging in a bitter trade dispute with Beijing, he said China needed to lower trade barriers, while also impose tougher rules to protect intellectual property – a key complaint of the US president.

Lipton suggested that Chinese trade policies that were once considered “acceptable” when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 as a $1tn economy may now be inappropriate as it had become a $16tn international superpower.

However, he did warn that the US should not take an overly heavy-handed approach to reform, adding: “China has many reforms that it could carry out that would be in its own interest and in the interest of countries around the globe. But China feels they can’t take those steps, as they put it, with a gun to their head, in the midst of trade tensions.” (12 Dec 2018)

 

The value of the City’s leading companies has fallen by more than £56bn during waves of selling on stock markets in Asia, Europe and North America prompted by heightened fears of a trade war between the US and China.

The FTSE 100 index suffered its biggest percentage fall since the day after the EU referendum in June 2016 – closing almost 218 points lower at 6,704.

Only three of the 100 companies quoted in the FTSE 100 closed up on a day of heavy and coordinated selling on every major global stock market.

Wall Street was on course for a second day of heavy losses following news of the detention of Meng Wanzhou, chief global finance officer for the Chinese telecoms company Huawei by Canadian authorities and the request by the US for her extradition to face reported cyber espionage and sanction-breaking charges.

But news that the Federal Reserve is considering slowing the pace of interest rate increases after a likely rise at their meeting in December cheered investors and a large sell-off was avoided. President Donald Trump has been a vocal critic of the Fed’s rate rises, calling them “crazy” and arguing they could derail economic growth.

Reports of Wanzhou’s arrest – and China’s demand for her release – led to falls of 2% in the Shanghai and Tokyo markets overnight and the sell-off spread to Europe, where all the main bourses saw losses in their main indices of more than 3%.

Frankfurt’s DAX index has now fallen by more than 20% since its peak – the official definition of a bear market – amid concerns that the country’s manufacturing exporters will be hard hit by an intensification of US-China protectionism.

The mood in the world’s financial markets has worsened dramatically since the beginning of the week, when a dinner between Trump and the Chinese premier, Xi Jinping, at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires appeared to call a truce in their tit-for-tat trade war.

Fears that the US would break the armistice led to an 800-point drop in New York’s Dow Jones industrial average on Tuesday and selling resumed after a day’s break on Wednesday for the funeral of former president George HW Bush. The Dow opened 400 points lower and at one point was down more than 700 points before rallying to close just 0.32% down. (7 Dec 2018)

 

UK economic growth slowed in October as car sales went into reverse, while factory output stalled amid heightened uncertainty over Brexit.

According to the Office for National Statistics, GDP growth cooled to 0.4% during the three months to October from a rate of 0.6% in the three months to September, as the economy hit a softer patch in the autumn after a strong summer.

The latest health check for the economy revealed manufacturing growth was flat amid a decline in car production. Analysts said new emissions tests and nervousness among consumers to spend on expensive items in the run-up to Brexit were taking a toll on the industry.

In a sign of the continuing woes on the British high street and the worst period for car sales since the financial crisis, the retail and wholesale sector also recorded a drop in growth of 0.02%.

Economists said the slower rate of growth reflected growing uncertainty over Brexit, as Theresa May struggled to win approval for her EU withdrawal plan before a vote in parliament this week.

In a sign of lingering weakness, the monthly GDP growth rate picked up only slightly, to 0.1% in October, from zero growth in September. Manufacturing growth fell into a steep decline of 0.9% and the construction sector also slowed.

The latest figures confirmed the economy had faltered in recent months after a bumper summer, when hot weather and the World Cup led to a jump in retail sales (10 Dec 2108).

 

official figures seem to reveal a fairly positive picture. There are high levels of employment, while unemployment remains low in spite of economic uncertainty. Earlier this week the Office for National Statistics said that pay was now growing at an above-inflation rate of 3.3%.

But then there is the nightmare before Christmas, the reality of what working people are actually experiencing. And it is this: adjusted for inflation, people are still getting paid less on average than they were 10 years ago – almost £500 a year less, according to the Resolution Foundation. And according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, wages will not return to their pre-financial crisis peak until at least 2024. New research from the TUC has found that pay is worth a third less in some parts of the country than a decade ago. The average worker has lost a total of £11,800 in real earnings since 2008, the TUC says, the worst real-wage slump among leading economies.

This services-driven economy of ours fills warehouses with pressured fetchers and carriers, packs out our roads with delivery drivers and cycle couriers, and makes sure you get served a drink or a meal in bars and restaurants, but it does not put enough bread on the table. The 1990s belief that “any job is better than no job” has been exposed as a (perhaps well-intentioned) delusion.

Still the government repeats the claim that “the best way out of poverty is to get a job”. But given the rates of pay on offer in so many parts of the country, this simply isn’t true either.

More than half a million British workers have fallen into poverty in the last five years, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, bringing the total to around four million. Feeble wage growth, in addition to reductions in tax credits, benefits cuts and the high cost of housing have combined to produce this lethal state of affairs. Some 4.5 million children are now living in poverty – nine out of 30 children in an average classroom.

It is little consolation to say that things could be worse. Without the introduction of a national minimum wage (NMW) 20 years ago there would be even more poverty pay than there is today. And this government did at least aim a bit higher when, in 2015, the then chancellor George Osborne set a target for the NMW of £9 an hour for the over-25s by 2020 (although that target is probably going to be missed).

What was the vote for Brexit if not, in large part, a rejection of the sunny economic story Dave and George were telling us all? “Project Fear” failed because so many people didn’t think things could get any worse. It was no use saying “vote remain or the country gets it”. A lot of people felt utterly got at already.

Politicians in Westminster have told the country that all is more or less fine. But the country doesn’t believe it. The queues at the food banks tell a different and more convincing story.

As the man said “you ain’t seen nothing yet”. Build Leninism

Alan Moss

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Discussion

Distorting Lenin’s April Theses

Attempts to undermine Leninism by the fake-“lefts” (arising out of their hatred of the dictatorship of proletariat) by distorting the historical record of the Soviet Union’s revolutionary history up to 1989 needs to be combatted and defeated if the working class is to be convinced of the need for revolution once again. One such distortion pivots around Lenin’s April Theses polemical fight against local Bolshevik theoretical limitations early in 1917. Trotskyism lyingly pretends that in this Lenin was “won over” to Trotsky’s “permanent revolution” shallowness but this is too crude and easily disprovable for some of the more “astute” of the fake-“lefts” who sense that its anti-communist value will have limited mileage once the working class is drawn back into polemics for revolution. Renewed “seriously researched” challenges against Leninism are made by the pseudo-academic Weekly Worker/CPGB dilettantes, claiming little difference in understanding between Lenin and the “old Bolsheviks” in April 1917. But this is superficial garbage and the historical significance of Lenin’s view remains as historically proven correct by the earth-shattering proletarian revolution in October; confirming to the international proletariat the historical validity of Marxist-Leninist scientific theory

The building of a revolutionary party of theory that embraces the dialectical materialist philosophical approach towards analysing world history and current events founded by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, further developed by Lenin, and fought for today by the EPSR, is crucial if the working class is ever going to bring an end once and for all to imperialist ruling-class dominance over the planet, overthrow their crisis-ridden capitalist system and establish workers states founded on co-operative socialist relations.

The bourgeois class’s dictatorial control over key areas of law enforcement, education and information has kept the working class ignorant of the capitalist crisis roots of emerging and growing domestic and international turmoil through omissions, distorted facts and fabrications, and divided by means of the deliberate inflaming of hostilities and prejudices towards assorted scapegoat figures, communities and nations, and the whipping up of bilious chauvinism generally.

Anti-communism has so corrupted modern society over decades and is so deeply ingrained that the international working class struggles even to grasp what is keeping it divided, let alone how it is to achieve the unity necessary to re-build an anti-imperialist struggle capable of ending capitalist exploitation and crisis turmoil once and for all.

Conniving with this bourgeois anti-communism has been the philistinism of the so-called ‘lefts’ or ‘progressives’ whose hatred of the 73-year history of the Soviet Union, the other workers’ states and the anti-imperialist struggles it inspired, has proved to have been greater than their supposed opposition to capitalism.

Marxist-Leninism has always understood that the only way to achieve greater levels of unity is to achieve even greater levels of agreement about what has happened in the past and what is happening now, and what can be done about the today’s circumstances and what are the principal forces that can bring about the change needed.

The workers’ revolutionary consciousness and determination will only strengthen when they see a party that is not only capable of describing the actual world struggles but is able to identify who the main imperialist enemy it is, what may lead to its defeat, and how those defeats may lead to even greater defeats for all imperialism, and then demonstrate that this revolutionary perspective is the correct one as history moves in the general direction outlined in theory.

The only scientific approach that has proven itself capable of giving such a lead to the working class is Leninism. The establishment and existence of the Soviet Union for 73 years, and the further defeats for imperialism across the planet after the second inter-imperialist world war, proved in reality the correctness of the theoretical revolutionary perspectives developed by Lenin and the Bolsheviks in the years prior to the Russian Revolution and afterwards, which were themselves built on the prior theoretical achievements of Marx and Engels.

For this reason, the fake-“left” anti-communists have, since the disastrous and unnecessary liquidation of the still viable Soviet Union, increasingly distanced themselves from their past pretences of being “Leninists” and begun to challenge the very notion that Leninism has any historical value whatsoever.

Such is the case of the CPGB-PCC/Weekly Worker, which arose out of the now defunct revisionist CPGB as the “Leninist faction” but has now distanced itself so far from any “Leninist” pretences that it now claims that the Soviet Union, fought for and won by Leninism, had nothing to do with socialism, as it once told the fake-“left” lash up, Left Unity:

We reject the idea that the Soviet Union and similar regimes were democratic, socialist or represented either the political rule of the working class or some kind of step on the road to socialism.

A series of articles by Lars T Lih published in the Weekly Worker in seven parts from April 2017 to April 2018 has continued this challenge to Leninism by claiming to have uncovered swathes of evidence from contemporary Russian language documents that supposedly “proves” that Lenin’s April Theses (1917) had next to no impact on the Bolsheviks’ understanding of the revolutionary developments that took place in 1917. Astonishingly, he goes as far as claiming Lenin’s intervention was an “embarrassment” and a “confused muddle” from an “out-of-touch émigré”.

In the course of correctly taking apart the Trotskyists’ lying claim that, by writing his Theses, Lenin had distanced himself from a “reformist turn” made by the “old Bolsheviks” local leadership (led by Kamenev and Stalin) and moved towards Trotsky’s “permanent revolution” gibberish, Lih barmily claims that Lenin needed to be rescued by the “realistic” and “practical-minded” Petrograd Bolsheviks. Lih does this through an admixture of pedantry, sophistry and, at best, wilful ignorance and mis-readings of Lenin’s writings.

Lih’s principal contribution to the Weekly Worker’s long-standing air-brushing of Lenin from history is to add yet more layers of empty academic verbiage to confuse and intimidate any workers drawn into the discussion. He attempts to show that there were only minor differences between Lenin and the Petrograd Bolsheviks in April, when Lenin returned from exile; and that Lenin’s April Theses merely applied the Bolsheviks’ existing programme to the conditions that immediately emerged after the 1917 February Revolution.

Lih is astute enough not fall for the Trots’ denigration of Stalin, Kamenev and the ‘old Bolsheviks’ as “right-shifting capitulators to bourgeois reformism that had crystallised into a ‘right opposition’ which eventually turned counter-revolutionary under Stalin” (conveniently allowing the Trots to condemn the heroic Soviet Union and its legacy, which is what their “permanent revolution” rigmarole is really all about).

Rather than fall for such crude anti-communism, Lih’s pseudo-academism trickily takes the opposing view that Lenin’s intervention was “unnecessary” because the Bolsheviks already understood the nature of the February revolution, had the correct strategy all along, and did not need any lessons from an “out-of-touch émigré”. Thereby they hope to undermine Lenin’s theoretical achievements in the eyes of the working class (and, by doing so, play at least as big a counter-revolutionary anti-Soviet role as the Trotskyists).

Staying true to the Weekly Worker’s abstract academicism, nowhere in any of Lih’s seven lengthy articles is there any indication given as to how he thinks his “new findings” would be of any benefit to the working class’s struggle to end capitalism today.

Lih likes to pepper his articles with the original Russian words for generally accepted English translations. This allows him to impress on readers his supposed superior insider knowledge and bolster his standing as a “left” guru figure. For example, Lih starts his series of articles with a definition of the word “power”. Not content with the English translation, he prefers to use the Russian ‘vlast’, which he claims is more nuanced. Unfortunately for everyone else, his translation of this word only obscures the real meaning of the Bolsheviks’ slogan “All Power to the Soviets!”, which was adopted after Lenin’s April Theses, and so turns out not to be a definition at all:

Vlast has a more specific reference than the English word ‘power’; the Russian word refers to the sovereign authority in a particular country.

The problem here is this tells us nothing of the word ‘power’ as used within the context of the slogan. Introducing concepts such as ‘sovereign authority’ without describing the nature of the state and the class relations within that state is the work of a liberal, not a Marxist.

To describe the nature of the state scientifically, Lih would have to write about class dictatorship, but he somehow manages to avoid doing this.

In the bourgeois state, ‘democracy’ is confined to the minority who have the power, the big bourgeoisie and landed gentry, because the only ‘legitimate’ decisions made are those that are in the interests of the bourgeoisie. It is a dictatorship over the majority, the proletariat, whose struggle to advance their own interests is suppressed, ruthlessly if necessary, by means of the police armed forces and state bureaucracy. It is a bourgeois dictatorship.

In a workers’ state, power is in the hands of the majority, the workers and poor peasants. Decisions are based on the needs of the majority, following a decision-making process that involves the majority, and are made in the interests of the majority. As such it is ‘democracy’ in the true sense of the word. To ensure the survival of the workers’ state, any attempts to advance capitalist interests at the expense of the working class is suppressed dictatorially. This is the proletarian dictatorship.

The revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry is an intermediate stage between the bourgeois dictatorship and the workers’ dictatorship. It is still a bourgeois state because the petty-bourgeoisie, the peasantry and small traders, are in the majority and their interests prevail. It uses its dictatorial powers to extend bourgeois democracy to its limits within the confines of capitalism – universal suffrage, freedom of assembly and the press, abolition of the agrarian landed estates, a people’s militia to replace the standing army, etc.

As the Bolsheviks had already understood in 1905’s first revolutionary upheaval - it is in the interests of the working class to take the lead in the revolutionary-democratic state to ensure that the bourgeois-democratic measures are pushed as far as they go within capitalism because that would create the best conditions within which the struggle for socialism can be fought to a successful conclusion.

As Lenin explained in his April Theses, the February Revolution of 1917 saw the unexpected conditions emerge of a dual power in which the bourgeois (Provisional Government) and revolutionary-democratic (Soviets of Workers and Soldiers Deputies) dictatorships emerged simultaneously because of the rapid escalation of the revolutionary process that resulted from the inter-imperialist world war and a rapid expansion of capitalism since the 1905 Russian Revolution. The “All Power to the Soviets!” slogan can only be seen within this context.

When Lih defines ‘vlast’ as “sovereign authority” in this Russian context without explaining the nature of the state, the class relations within the state and class dictatorship, he is not explaining anything, or at best he is merely referring to bourgeois state authority.

In the bourgeois state, the bourgeois parliament has the notional ‘authority’ (although the real decisions are made behind closed doors). In the revolutionary-democratic state, power is rooted in the armed workers and peasants. This is what Lenin had to say about ‘authority’ in 1905, when the Soviets first emerged as a class force:

2) the creation of new organs of revolutionary authority— Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, Railwaymen’s and Peasants’ Deputies, new rural and urban authorities, and so on, and so forth. These bodies were set up exclusively by the revolutionary sections of the people; they were formed irrespective of all laws and regulations, entirely in a revolutionary way, as a product of the native genius of the people, as a manifestation of the independent activity of the people which had rid itself, or was ridding itself, of its old police fetters. Lastly, they were indeed organs of authority, for all their rudimentary, spontaneous, amorphous and diffuse character, in composition and in activity. They acted as a government when, for example, they seized printing plants (in St. Petersburg) and arrested police officials who were preventing the revolutionary people from exercising their rights (such cases also occurred in St. Petersburg, where the new organ of authority concerned was weakest, and where the old government was strongest). They acted as a government when they appealed to the whole people to withhold money from the old government. They confiscated the old government’s funds (the railway strike committees in the South) and used them for the needs of the new, people’s government. Yes, these were undoubtedly the embryos of a new, people’s, or, if you will, revolutionary government. In their social and political character, they were the rudiments of the dictatorship of the revolutionary elements of the people. This surprises you, Mr. Blank and Mr. Kiesewetter! You do not see here the “reinforced security”, which for the bourgeois is tantamount to dictatorship? We have already told you that you have not the faintest notion of the scientific concept “dictatorship”. We will explain it to you in a moment; but first we will deal with the third “method” of activity in the period of the “revolutionary whirlwind”; the use by the people of force against those who used force against the people.

The organs of authority that we have described represented a dictatorship in embryo, for they recognised no other authority, no law and no standards, no matter by whom established. Authority—unlimited, outside the law, and based on force in the most direct sense of the word—is dictatorship. But the force on which this new authority was based, and sought to base itself was not the force of bayonets usurped by a handful of militarists, not the power of the “police force”, not the power of money nor the power of any previously established institutions. It was nothing of the kind. The new organs of authority possessed neither arms, nor money, nor old institutions. Their power—can you imagine it, Mr. Blank and Mr. Kiesewetter?—had nothing in common with the old instruments of power, nothing in common with “reinforced security”, if we do not have in mind the reinforced security established to protect the people from the tyranny of the police and of the other organs of the old regime.

What was this power based on, then? It was based on the mass of the people. This is the main feature that distinguished this new authority from all the preceding organs of the old regime. The latter were the instruments of the rule of the minority over the people, over the masses of workers and peasants. The former was an instrument of the rule of the people, of the workers and peasants, over the minority, over a handful of police bullies, over a handful of privileged nobles and government officials. Such is the difference between dictatorship over the people and dictatorship of the revolutionary people: mark this well, Mr. Blank and Mr. Kiesewetter! As the dictatorship of a minority, the old regime was able to maintain itself solely with the aid of police devices, solely by preventing the masses of the people from taking part in the government and from supervising the government. The old authority persistently distrusted the masses, feared the light, maintained itself by deception. As the dictatorship of the over-whelming majority, the new authority maintained itself and could maintain itself solely because it enjoyed the confidence of the vast masses, solely because it, in the freest, widest and most resolute manner, enlisted all the masses in the task of government. It concealed nothing it had no secrets, no regulations, no formalities. It said, in effect: Are you a working man? Do you want to fight to rid Russia of the gang of police bullies? You are our comrade. Elect your deputy. Elect him at once, immediately, whichever way you think best. We will willingly and gladly accept him as a full member of our Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, Peasant Committee, Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies, and so forth. It was an authority open to all, it carried out all its functions before the eyes of the masses, was accessible to the masses, sprang directly from the masses, and was a direct and immediate instrument of the popular masses, of their will. Such was the new authority, or, to be exact, its embryo, for the victory of the old authority trampled down the shoots of this young plant very soon.…

The scientific term “dictatorship” means nothing more nor less than authority untrammeled by any laws, absolutely unrestricted by any rules whatever, and based directly on force. The term “dictatorship” has no other meaning but this — mark this well, Cadet gentlemen.

[The victory of the cadets and the tasks of the workers’ party, March 1906]

 

Not the police, not the bureaucracy, who are unanswerable to the people and placed above the people, not the standing army, separated from the people, but the people themselves, universally armed and united in the Soviets, must run the state. It is they who will establish the necessary order, it is they whose authority will not only be obeyed, but also respected, by the workers and peasants.

[Speech delivered at a meeting of soldiers of the Izmailovsky regiment April 10 (23), 1917, April 1917]

Lih does not even begin to explain Lenin’s April Theses argument that the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants had already been realised in February 1917 (as far as it was ever going to be at that stage) in the form of the Soviets, and so his attempt to demonstrate that Lenin’s insistence that all state power be transferred to the Soviets is no different to the old Bolshevik “calls for a full state ‘vlast’ for the workers and peasants” falls flat.

According to old Bolshevik, pre-April 1917, theory the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship would emerge after the bourgeois dictatorship. Lenin had demonstrated that this theory, although correct in general, had become obsolete in the specific circumstances of Russia’s revolution. By maintaining this now out-of-date theory, the “old Bolsheviks” were misleading the working class.

Lih confuses matters further in his elaboration of his “definition” of ‘vlast’:

In order to have the vlast, one has to have the right of making a final decision, to be capable of making the decisions and of seeing that they are carried out. An effective vlast needs firm control over the armed forces, a strong sense of legitimacy and mission, and a social base. Max Weber’s phrase, “a monopoly of the legitimate use of force”, goes to the heart of the matter.

This has nothing to do with Marxism. A bourgeois parliamentary republic needs “firm control over the armed forces”. In his point 5 of his April Theses, Lenin made it clear that the task of the revolutionary proletariat and peasantry was not to take “firm control” over its armed forces, but abolish them, alongside the police and state bureaucracy - and replace them by the arming of the whole people:

5) Not a parliamentary republic—to return to a parliamentary republic from the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies would be a retrograde step—but a republic of Soviets of Workers’, Agricultural Labourers’ and Peasants’ Deputies throughout the country, from top to bottom. Abolition of the police, the army and the bureaucracy.*

* I.e., the standing army to be replaced by the arming of the whole people.

[Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution, April 1917]

Lenin was responding to already existing material conditions, not abstract notions of “sovereign authority”:

According to the old way of thinking, the rule of the bourgeoisie could and should be followed by the rule of the proletariat and the peasantry, by their dictatorship.

In real life, however, things have already turned out differently; there has been an extremely original, novel and unprecedented interlacing of the one with the other. We have side by side, existing together, simultaneously, both the rule of the bourgeoisie (the government of Lvov and Guchkov) and a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, which is voluntarily ceding power to the bourgeoisie, voluntarily making itself an appendage of the bourgeoisie.

For it must not be forgotten that actually, in Petrograd, the power is in the hands of the workers and soldiers; the new government is not using and cannot use violence against them, because there is no police, no army standing apart from the people, no officialdom standing all-powerful above the people. This is a fact, the kind of fact that is characteristic of a state of the Paris Commune type. This fact does not fit into the old schemes. One must know how to adapt schemes to facts, instead of reiterating the now meaningless words about a “dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry” in general.

[Letters on tactics, April 1917]

The only way to take “firm control” of the armed forces in circumstances where the process of abolishing the armed forces was already underway would be to take measures to seize the arms from the people and place them in the hands of their bourgeois oppressors. Lih’s ‘definition’ is making a case for counter-revolution!!

Lih further underlines his utter confusion by quoting Weber, who he claims “gets to the heart of the matter”. Weber was an anti-communist bourgeois who opposed Russia’s revolutions in (1905 and 1917) as “senseless” (and therefore not “a legitimate use of force” to use the quoted expression), as Lenin explained:

The bourgeoisie likes to describe the Moscow uprising as something artificial, and to treat it with ridicule. For instance, in German so-called “scientific” literature, Herr Professor Max Weber, in his lengthy survey of Russia’s political development, refers to the Moscow uprising as a “putsch”. “The Lenin group,” says this “highly learned” Herr Professor, “and a section of the Socialist-Revolutionaries had long prepared for this senseless uprising.”

To properly assess this piece of professorial wisdom of the cowardly bourgeoisie, one need only recall the strike statistics… Let us recall, too, the progress of the revolution, the peasant and soldier uprisings, and we shall see that the bourgeois “scientific” view of the December uprising is not only absurd. It is a subterfuge resorted to by the representatives of the cowardly bourgeoisie, which sees in the proletariat its most dangerous class enemy. In reality, the inexorable trend of the Russian revolution was towards an armed, decisive battle between the tsarist government and the vanguard of the class-conscious proletariat.

[Lecture on the 1905 Revolution, January1917]

For Weber, “sovereign authority” is to be found in the military command structure of the bureaucratic-centralised bourgeois state. And this is the person Lih recommends to the working class!!

To really get to the heart of the matter as to where the source of power and authority was in February 1917, read Lenin. There is no need to use Russian expressions to convey the “nuances” here. Lenin is perfectly clear:

The basic question of every revolution is that of state power. Unless this question is understood, there can be no intelligent participation in the revolution, not to speak of guidance of the revolution.

The highly remarkable feature of our revolution is that it has brought about a dual power. This fact must be grasped first and foremost: unless it is understood, we cannot advance. We must know how to supplement and amend old “formulas”, for example, those of Bolshevism, for while they have been found to be correct on the whole, their concrete realisation has turned out to be different. Nobody previously thought, or could have thought, of a dual power. What is this dual power?

Alongside the Provisional Government, the government of the bourgeoisie, another government has arisen, so far weak and incipient; but undoubtedly a government that actually exists and is growing—the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.

What is the class composition of this other government? It consists of the proletariat and the peasants (in soldiers’ uniforms). What is the political nature of this government? It is a revolutionary dictatorship, i.e., a power directly based on revolutionary seizure, on the direct initiative of the people from below, and not on a law enacted by a centralised state power. It is an entirely different kind of power from the one that generally exists in the parliamentary bourgeois-democratic republics of the usual type still prevailing in the advanced countries of Europe and America. This circumstance is often overlooked, often not given enough thought, yet it is the crux of the matter. This power is of the same type as the Paris Commune of 1871. The fundamental characteristics of this type are: (1) the source of power is not a law previously discussed and enacted by parliament, but the direct initiative of the people from below, in their local areas—direct “seizure”, to use a current expression; (2) the replacement of the police and the army, which are institutions divorced from the people and set against the people, by the direct arming of the whole people; order in the state under such a power is maintained by the armed workers and peasants themselves, by the armed people themselves; (3) officialdom, the bureaucracy, are either similarly replaced by the direct rule of the people themselves or at least placed under special control; they not only become elected officials, but are also subject to recall at the people’s first demand; they are reduced to the position of simple agents; from a privileged group holding “jobs” remunerated on a high, bourgeois scale, they become workers of a special “arm of the service”, whose remuneration does not exceed the ordinary pay of a competent worker.

This, and this alone, constitutes the essence of the Paris Commune as a special type of state. This essence has been forgotten or perverted by the Plekhanovs (downright chauvinists who have betrayed Marxism), the Kautskys (the men of the “Centre”, i.e., those who vacillate between chauvinism and Marxism), and generally by all those Social-Democrats, Socialist-Revolutionaries, etc., etc., who now rule the roost.

They are trying to get away with empty phrases, evasions, subterfuges; they congratulate each other a thousand times upon the revolution, but refuse to consider what the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies are. They refuse to recognise the obvious truth that inasmuch as these Soviets exist, inasmuch as they are a power, we have in Russia a state of the type of the Paris Commune.

I have emphasised the words “inasmuch as”, for it is only an incipient power. By direct agreement with the bourgeois Provisional Government and by a series of actual concessions, it has itself surrendered and is surrendering its positions to the bourgeoisie.

Why? Is it because Chkheidze, Tsereteli, Steklov and Co. are making a “mistake”? Nonsense. Only a philistine can think so—not a Marxist. The reason is insufficient class consciousness and organisation of the proletarians and peasants. The “mistake” of the leaders I have named lies in their petty-bourgeois position, in the fact that instead of clarifying the minds of the workers, they are befogging them; instead of dispelling petty-bourgeois illusions, they are instilling them; instead of freeing the people from bourgeois influence, they are strengthening that influence.

[The dual power, April 1917]

Lih’s attempt to define the Bolsheviks’ use of the word ‘power’ is abstract, wooden and schematic, and, in essence, counter-revolutionary. Lenin’s profound dialectical grasp of the duel power conditions of Russia post-February was deeply rooted in the living material circumstances.

That’s enough of Lih’s bogus ‘definition’ of power. This is how he introduces his general “theory” in his first article:

I argue for what I call the ‘fully armed’ interpretation of Bolshevik politics in spring 1917. As opposed to the rearming narrative, which cuts Bolshevism off from its past, I stress the continuity with old Bolshevism. The Bolsheviks were not flummoxed by the February revolution: they faced the post-February situation with a winning strategy that was based firmly on old Bolshevism’s class scenario. The return of Lenin and other émigré leaders to Russia in early April marked an important shift in tactics - but this shift was not due to the controversial April Theses. Bolshevik praktiki who expressed misgivings about the April theses did so because they shared the goal of soviet power.

To back up his argument, he quotes Nevsky, a Bolshevik party historian who wrote a history of Bolshevism in 1926. However, his quote does not clarify anything:

In fact, Lenin’s position [in the April Theses] was the natural development of the doctrine that he had worked out long ago in the previous periods of the history of our party, since one of the basic propositions of Bolshevism … was the one put forward already during the first Russian revolution [in 1905]: the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. This same idea also implied all the conclusions and all the measures inevitably arrived at, as soon as the party was convinced of the necessity and the inevitability of a proletarian-peasant dictatorship.

It is formally correct to say that the “old Bolsheviks” were “convinced of the necessity and the inevitability of a proletarian-peasant [revolutionary-democratic] dictatorship”, and they were not wrong in general. However, they failed to understand the nature of the dual power. They remained fixed on the notion that the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship would follow the bourgeois dictatorship, and so were behind the curve. Lenin was battling against this potentially disastrous misreading of events.

To talk in April 1917 of “the necessity and inevitability of proletarian-peasant dictatorship” would be to place the Bolsheviks behind the revolutionary process; misleading the working class when it should be taking the lead; and thereby inadvertently helping to prolong Russia’s involvement in the inter-imperialist war and endanger the necessary transition towards the proletarian revolution.

Anybody who now talked of such a “necessity” will have, in Lenin’s words, “effectively gone over to the petty-bourgeoisie and against the proletarian class struggle” (see below). The local Bolshevik leadership were in danger of falling into this trap.

Soviet in 1917As Lenin argued repeatedly, forcefully and clearly throughout the month of April and May, the task now was not to argue for a “revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry” but to fight for the transfer of all power from the bourgeoisie to the existing revolutionary-democratic dictatorship, the Soviets.

What was needed was not a “shift in tactics” but a complete break. Old Bolshevik tactics were aimed at putting “pressure” on the Provisional Government via the Soviets, by making demands for peace, which they said would expose the government when it failed to act on them says Lih. However, this was strengthening the bourgeoisie to the detriment of the proletarian revolution. For Lenin, it was necessary to split the proletarian elements (including the semi- and rural proletariat) and poor peasants within the Soviets away from the influences of the petty bourgeois elements (led by the Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, etc.) that were supporting the bourgeois government. Such a split was crucial because the petty bourgeois-dominated Soviets had lined up behind the chauvinistic notions of ‘revolutionary defencism’. This meant support for the bourgeois Provisional Government in its continuation of the inter-imperialist war. The poor peasantry had fallen behind this line because they were led to believe that they were defending the gains of the February Revolution.

As part of this battle to develop an independent proletariat that would be capable of taking the lead and push the revolution towards socialism, Lenin also argued that the revolutionary proletarian party needed to “patiently explain” to the masses the necessity of a socialist revolution, whilst simultaneously advocating “steps towards socialism” to be taken once the split had been achieved – nationalisation of the banks, confiscation of the landed estates abolition of the standing army, police and bureaucracy.

[Continued next issue]

Phil Waincliffe

 

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