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Engraving of Lenin busy studying

Economic and 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 1357 29th September 2009

Revived “anti-racist” renegacy from Leninism is a capitulation to last-ditch crisis “black nationalist” reformism trickery played around the Obama presidency

The reactionary political content of the rising disruption and abuse of the EPSR paper and editor around the western “objectors” finally erupted into full clarity at the latest EPSR discussion meeting.

After two hours of shouting, indiscipline, abuse and persistent interruptions of speakers attempting to put points, and insults of the paper editor and to the chair, already a marked expression of contempt for the procedures and practice of Leninist discussion established over three decades, the protagonists let slip their utter failure to grasp Leninist theory and its difficult struggle to understand the world and guide the battle to end capitalism.

Referring to long running discussions with some African comrades (local to their area) about the grinding oppression of Africa by imperialism and how the struggle needed to go, the western objectors declared with utter sneering contempt “so what are you supposed to fucking tell them – just to build Leninism?”

This is an astonishing and hostile comment from someone who has been in the Leninist movement for more than two decades (almost three) and a tragic one, assuming that their declarations that for most of that time they “agreed with the paper” can be taken at face value, (and there is no reason not to, though claims that they still do are less believable).

The EPSR is a paper which has at its insistent core and in virtually every single political question it discusses, the need for the wide-ranging, worldwide, historically long-view Leninist revolutionary perspective urgently to be built, and which cites and has cited for that entire time Lenin’s own, even more concentrated declaration, that “without revolutionary theory there can be no revolution”.

And it is a party which has consistently battled for the understanding that the spectrum of single issue politics constantly postured about by the fake-“left” (black nationalism, gay rights, feminism etc) is not only not revolutionary theory (they are yet more reforms within capitalism, suggesting such progress is possible without ending capitalism) but are issues that have long been used to try head off, distract and even attack this core understanding.

Leninist revolutionary politics are the only way capitalist oppression, and racism as part of it, will ever be ended.

Fake-“left” ideological pressure (and the pressure from capitalism which has embraced these single issues without pause – because they not only are no threat to its existence but can even be turned to useful anti-revolutionary purpose as numerous EPSR articles have shown in the past) has been only too successful on the now renegade “objectors” section of the EPSR, as the discussion revealed.

Confusion and capitulation to long buried “black nationalist” illusions emerged as a key element in this, with constant reference to a particular “special” level of exploitation of Africa and an objection to the last issue of the paper (among others) referring to Barack Obama as being as much a fascist, leading the American imperialist onslaught on the planet which is winding the world up for World War Three conflict, as Bush before him.

But fascism is exactly the right description for imperialism in crisis and the warmongering it is already pursuing.

It is not limited to special jackboot wearing displays or even overt reaction in particular “nazi” parties.

It is embodied in the nature of all capitalism itself as it degenerates towards total crisis and the warmongering it is deliberately stirring up to get out of it.

All capitalist powers carry out barbarity and oppression, and all have contemporary and historical records that not only compare with the atrocities of Nazi Germany’s heyday, for example, but far exceed them: British imperialism alone has almost completely wiped out at least three entire nations in the Native American slaughter, the Aborigines in Australia and the Maoris in New Zealand, not to mention unlimited horrors in India and Africa and more; the Belgians’ Congo record is atrocious endless horrors, torture and slavery; the French African and Indo-Chinese slaughter is grotesque, not to mention its collaboration with Hitler Nazism later and Portuguese and Spanish imperialism are a byword for brutality and inhumanity – and American imperialism (and all world imperialism) is a non-stop tale from the mid-19th century of death squads, massacres, wars, coups, annexations (Texas e.g) invasions, stooge fascists, blitzing and all out war, - with more than 400 incidents in the post-1945 period alone, and all of it reviving yet again at Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo etc and in civilian blitzing from Belgrade to Basra, Afghanistan to Pakistan.

Obama is now the executive figurehead for the lead power in the whole sick and foul imperialist system, the tricksiest and sickest manifestation of the lying fraud of capitalist “democracy” yet, consciously and cynically tapping into the heroic and dogged history of the black civil rights movement in the US, to blindside the working class to bourgeois “vote” illusions, just when conditions ripen as never before, for revolutionary class struggle.

Capitalism is sliding into the greatest catastrophic collapse in all history (as only Leninist theory has understood and constantly and consistently warned) and is set on a path back to barbaric destructive conflict, which has always been the end result as the inevitable crisis of the profit making system breaks open, as it did early in the twentieth century and again in the 1930s, finishing in the appalling horrors of World War One and Two.

The destruction of capital and rival monopoly capitalist powers is the grotesque “solution” to the imbalances inherent in the anarchic development and general overproduction of capitalism.

To get the Second World War going after the horrors of the First, which had it had been promised would be “the war to end all wars”, imperialism wound up the conflict throughout the 1930s with the deliberately fostered theatricality of Nazism (which the German ruling class paid for, and encouraged covertly, throughout the 1920s) and which was then wholly supported by all the major powers which hoped to destroy the Soviet Union, before “sorting out” the huge imbalances and unevenesses of capitalist development internationally.

This time, as the EPSR has analysed, the historical disaster is of such scope and scale that the now leading imperialist power, the US, has stepped in directly to take the aggressive role, hoping to pre-empt by ruthless “shock and awe” any challenges to its authority in the devastation it knows is on the way, seizing the initiative back from reviving German imperialism which prompted the early break-up of the Balkans in the early 1990s.

But the strategy is proving a horrific disaster, unravelling on the reefs of Third World resistance and rebellion, from Iraq to Pakistan and Somalia which, while a long way from the Leninist struggle needed, is growing in militancy, coherence and combativeness.

Imperialism is simultaneously losing its ideological grip as the ruling class reaches the end of its historical road and illusions of “democracy” and “reformism” are played out, and with no “prosperity” and “peace” on offer after 65 years of “boom” (despite the supposed “end of communism” which was always falsely blamed for all the world’s problems and conflict).

Just the opposite. It is clearer and clearer that nothing essential has changed and capitalism is melting down into the greatest historic chaotic catastrophic disaster in all history.

Its “democracy” lie has been brought low by defeat and its own internal crisis.

The Bush presidency was the most despised in history by the time it finished, remembered for the humiliation and Arabic contempt of the thrown shoe.

Blairism too, a last ditch “spin and froth” big lie attempt to sustain the already threadbare parliamentary democracy fraud in failed, and bankrupt, imperialist Britain, was brought down, forced to crawl away sneakily, equally by stalemate defeat of imperialism’s attempts to re-impose colonialism on the world.

The Mother of Parliaments and the world’s “most powerful democracy” have been exposed as never before, and more so as the euphemistically named “credit crunch” economic disaster unrolls, unstoppably heading for the further meltdown collapse, briefly tasted in October last year and put-off only by the demented printing of money that will now only magnify the eventual disaster whenever and however it re-emerges (bank failure, Stock Exchange collapse, raging inflation, international credit defaults, collapse of the dollar and pound, or a combination of all this, and not long in the future.)

And even before that returns, the only “stability” on offer is of giant cuts in social services, living standards, health, education, jobs and pensions for the working class especially.

Obama-ism is a desperate bid to revive this played-out system, using the long prepared “black card” to head off sections of the working class that might otherwise be some of the first to turn towards revolutionary politics in the glaring vacuum that now exists politically.

Obama-ism is a high point of “black rights” reformism, one of the great “single issue” diversions alongside “gay rights” and feminism, made ready to block revolutionary understanding (and a mainstay of the posturing fake-“left”‘s avoidance of just that understanding).

The civil rights struggle was a genuine upheaval which had begun to head in a revolutionary direction (from passive pacifism) at the time of Martin Luther King, who was becoming increasingly anti-imperialist, anti-Vietnam war and pro-communist at the time of his assassination (almost certainly not a coincidence).

The black struggle was headed off by some concessions, as so many incipiently revolutionary struggles before, by imperialist super-profits reformist corruption of a layer of the working class, creating a new black petty bourgeoisie and its petty bourgeois influence into the working class, aided and carried by “black nationalist” illusions that the “fight against racism” was the main issue and constituted a real progress.

It did nothing to touch capitalism however, the malignant and constant source of antagonism and conflict, including racism which is constantly and divisively reviving and regenerating in the US and internationally as it always will until class rule is overturned.

The is a job only the whole working class can do, united by revolutionary theory and leadership.

Now the most cynical Democrat section of the most sophisticated bourgeois political lie machine in history, American presidential “democracy” – from its most corrupt and manipulative Chicago party wing – has thrown up a slick and devious lawyer, trained in all the devious image building lie techniques and manoeuvring developed by Madison Avenue trickery over the entire twentieth century (and new tricks too like “Internet participation” illusions), to head off the deep distrust of particularly the black working class, which because of its history of double oppression rooted in past slavery exploitation and still continuing, is widespread.

As some of the objectors correctly observed in the EPSR discussion, that is not the whole story; Obama also taps the full range of other reformist promises and “jam tomorrow” spin fine-tuned by Clintonism and then developed further by the full-blown “up-is-down” fat-cat loving, spin-doctoring of Blairism, absorbing as well the lying manipulations of 150 years of devious British Empire Labour “reformism” and lies which has constantly misled the working class away from revolutionary socialism, the only way out of capitalist disaster and war.

But the objectors’s intention was to pretend “race has nothing to do with it”, and deflect the exposure of their anti-Leninist revival of this reformism.

But the “race card” is exactly what has been played, alongside the feminist card in the form of Hilary Clinton and the republicans’ Sarah Palin, and the health card and every other card imperialism can throw into the pot.

A key focus of the Obama campaign noted by all the capitalist press commentaries, was to mobilise the unregistered black voters in states like Florida, where distrust in these sections of the working class has run deepest and the abuse of such democratic rights as there are, is the greatest (via “criminalisation” and poverty etc).

It is a signal of how desperately deep and disastrous the crisis is now that so many of these single issue diversions, set up by 40 years of cultural preparation, have had to be used together.

They are usable only once, as the working class will be rapidly disillusioned – already (see lead story) the warmongering provocations against Iran etc are being stepped up, the war in Afghanistan extended and intensified, with more killings of civilians than ever, the Zionists left untouched despite token gestures, and the Palestinians bullied to give up their national rights (over all Palestine) in return for a tiny percentage of pocket handkerchief size bantustan divided enclaves etc etc. The violent suppression of South America continues with the CIA-backed coup in Honduras going beyond anything Bush even managed.

And the slump goes on, with the state mobilised only to salvage and increase the wealth and power of the ultra-rich – all done within the first 10 months of a supposed “president of the people”.

The notion advanced by the objectors in justification of their position, that the rising rebellion of the working class in the US as much as in the rest of the world, has somehow pinned down and got the Obama presidency “under control” or not able to go too far in a reactionary direction, or makes it “actually forced to carry out measures in favour of the working class, particularly the black working class” as supposedly proven by the frenzy of the right-wing republicans etc, is not only completely upside down understanding but the crassest of “left pressure” reformist delusions.

Firstly no “left pressure” – not even a revived “black consciousness tapping an ancient history of slave repression and finally rising up against it” – is ever going to change the class rule nature of capitalism.

Even if the ruling class grants concessions, and it is by no means certain Obama’s posing on issue like a health service will amount to anything at all yet other than smoke and mirrors, it will not alter the existence of capitalism and its plunge into disaster.

Of course it is true that imperialism is playing one of its last cynical cards by finally “allowing” a black man into the White House, a compromise which the deeply racist arrogance of particularly the southern US ruling class finds almost impossible to tolerate.

But the ruling class, as Lenin pointed out a century ago, will give way on almost every front in order hang on to the core of state power and the sweet wealth and power of its exploitative dominance over the planet, making provision gradually to take back everything it has given up as soon as it can.

Most of the history of the 20th century demonstrates it and nothing more so than the complete lying fraud of “nationalisation” and “the welfare state”, granted throughout Europe (and to a lesser extent in the States) after the 2nd World War when the mass disgust and dismay had boiled over at the horrors of the 1930s Slump and the ten of millions killed in the inevitable war that followed, contrasted with the heroic sacrifices and inspiration of the Red Army triumph (at huge cost) in almost single handedly destroying fascism.

But all the “great steps forwards” of mass reform sold the working class by the disgusting cynicism and opportunism of Labour reformism (bolstered by fake-“left” parliamentarianism or “grudging” support by Trots and revisionists of all shades (still going on today)) have been privatised, sold off, or otherwise bought up and doled out to the fat cats, or taxed out of existence.

What few tokens remain (national health, pensions, welfare safety net, etc etc) are about to be slaughtered by the “credit crunch” and the “urgent necessities” of ensuring bankers, construction companies, pharmaceutical giants, the upper crust of lawyers and doctors etc can continue to plunder the public coffers to ensure their “emoluments” and “bonuses” for “performance”.

The urgent duty of the revolutionary party is to expose this lying racket and the slick advertising hype and trickery which puts into place Blairism or Clinton or Barack Obama.

The reality is the other way round to the objectors view; the trickery of reforms thrown out is there to further control the working class and its revolutionary instincts and head them off.

Obama has anyway made it very clear the Democratic White House is part of capitalism and ready to bail it out.

Obama is no different to any other president, running the most powerful, brutal and bloody power on the planet and in all history, the peak of the capitalist class system (and simultaneously its lowest and most disastrous point too as crisis bites).

The promise of a “black face” is intended only to buy time for imperialism and to confuse and head-off working class understanding and dismay, not just in the US but across the world, backed by a massive capitalist media campaign of popularisation and illusion mongering.

That it has caused massive hatred from the most reactionary sections of the ruling class, as registered by ex-president Jimmy Carter recently, is real enough from the most reactionary wings of the most reactionary ruling class on the planet, where the concession of giving any black face the White House (even a slick cynical manipulator) sticks in their deeply racist throats.

But it is still part of capitalism and in a perverse way the hostility is part of the game of adding credibility to a diversion from the only real perspective that will change anything, the building of a revolutionary understanding in a united working class to overthrow the whole system.

Nothing else will solve the racism inherent in capitalism or any other problems (see archive piece).

But these long ago argued principles of Leninist understanding have eluded the objectors, and without such a philosophical and scientific political foundation they have rapidly degenerated into philistinism and petty bourgeois contempt.

Arguing for theory and the primacy of the Leninist grasp in every situation is “just cheap words” it had already been declared in the meeting.

What? - does that include all 50 volumes of Marx and Engels’ profound thoughts, another 50 of Lenin’s collected works, numerous other contributions of major Marxist and Bolshevik figures from Lafargue to parts of Kautsky, Plekhanov, Bukharin on Imperialism, some of Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and many more?

Does it include 1350 issues of the EPSR which has also produced major contributions to revolutionary theory, most particularly in the analysis of the unnecessary decline and “failure” of the Soviet Union through revisionist brain-rot, anti-revolutionary liquidationism; on the significance to the overall world anti-imperialist struggle of the victory of the Irish anti-imperialist republican IRA/Sinn Féin (contrary to a stream of defeatism and sour cynicism from all the fake-“left”); on the capitalist turn to World War aggression and nazism as its crisis unfolds, etc and the enormous significance of that crisis; on the rise of Third World revolt as a symptom of historically unprecedented universal proletarian rebellion against the rotted-through monopoly capitalist order (despite the sometimes backward, sometimes unscientific or religious leaderships which carry it for the time being) and many more live issues?

The continuing battle to maintain and develop such revolutionary Leninist theory in constant living analysis of class struggle and world imperialist degeneration may need to be done a hundred or a thousand times better but it needs to be done and it is being done.

The objectors made clear that they thought it was totally pointless however and nothing to do with any real advice that is needed for their local discussions (or for anyone else).

Just what should replace it was not explained except by innuendo that it should be something other than revolutionary “talk”, because that was impossible and impractical.

To justify this retreat it was suggested that special circumstances prevailed for the African struggle where an atmosphere of oppression and death squad activity meant “you cannot even discuss these questions except as an exile”.

Not easy of course, and not conditions faced yet in Britain but no different in essence surely to conditions in Tsarist Russia???

Yet what were the methods of the Bolsheviks who eventually took power in 1917 in most dramatic upheaval of not only twentieth century history but the entire long development of mankind, which has had a shattering and irrevocably transforming effect not only on Russia but on all the world, proving forever that society not only does not need bosses, owners, capitalists and monopolists, but is much better off without them in general mass human, cultural, educational and social terms (and eventually material terms too) and able at last to start building a decent society?

It was to build Leninism – unsurprisingly since it was Lenin doing it, – nearly always in exile, in secret, by clandestine and underground organisation made crucial at that time and under those circumstances by the Black Hundreds’ (nazi) street bloodshed, Tsarist secret police torture, prison dungeons, military massacres and anti-strike violence by the government and factory bosses.

What did “building Leninism” comprise?

It comprised essentially the same as it did in even the most “democratic” and “tolerant” conditions (which could slide away more rapidly than suspected as slump-world war conditions collapse – witness Nazi Germany or the current British “surveillance” society, police brutality, state violence escalations etc),

That was, the great battle to understand the world and the class struggle in it from, above all, a revolutionary perspective and therefore explain and lead the working class struggle; studying and developing the political and scientific gains made by Marxism already, and constantly developing it in the light of unfolding reality, writing polemic, writing articles, arguing the case with any who would listen and dispute seriously, and exposing the lies and fraudulence of the Tsarist and bourgeois ideologists and of the ruling class, of the fake-“lefts” internationally and the renegades that figures like Karl Kautsky became, or Georgi Plekhanov, and exposing the dire conditions and oppression of the working class and its fight back.

It comprised discussion and debate and argument and explanation of every aspect of society, politics, the different classes, international conflicts, war, oppression, and overthrow, and as Lenin again himself repeatedly made clear, with the revolutionary nature of all history and the class conflict which drives it, and more broadly of the struggle of nature and the universe and the natural phenomena which human existence is part of (see for example “What is to be done?”).

That was “all” Lenin ever did, even when the Bolsheviks had taken power as his vast output of books and articles and letters demonstrates.

The heart of it was the constant battle for the revolutionary description of the world.

Whenever revolutionaries and party members addressed meetings or discussion, or explained things to workers and sympathetic intellectuals, it was crucial that, while focussing on the specific issues at hand, they should ensure that 95% of what they said was to explain the need for revolution, he said.

That was not meant as some wooden prescription but intended to describe what is the spirit and guiding principle of philosophical grasp in analysing all things; and most of all in the leadership of the struggle which that understanding is intertwined with, and which is its purpose (“not to contemplate the world but to change it” as Karl Marx famously declared.)

What it did not comprise was “practical advice for workers” which evades and avoids such a revolutionary core, a trend which was so pernicious an influence at various times that Lenin wrote reams of criticism and exposure of the fake-”lefts” of the time exposing it (limited trade unionism – economism as it was known – being one such example among many).

What it did not comprise was putting off or avoiding the revolutionary questions in order to build confidence with newer people who “don’t yet understand and might be put off by too hard an approach” (of which more below).

What it did not comprise was compromising understanding over the critical issues which have been worked through and understood as complete markers of revolutionary understanding; for example, on the reactionary nature of the 1980-9 Solidarnosc pseudo-“trade union” struggle sponsored by the West to overturn the workers states in East Europe and ultimately the Soviet Union, and every CIA organised “colour coded” counter-revolutionary “democracy and freedom” rebellion stunt since (the latest in Burma, Tibet and Iran) which has followed, helped and aided by the anti-communism of the Trots particularly; on the imperialist warmongering basis of a stream of blitzkrieging conflicts from Serbia onwards indicating the (re)turn to warmongering because of the deepening crisis of the system; on underplaying the catastrophic economic disaster which capitalism has been facing at its core throughout the great post-war inflationary “boom” and which threatens imminent disaster.

The EPSR’s constant warnings to the working class have drawn only derision and sneers from every fake-“left” group, who ignore the disaster at the core of capitalism, dismiss it or relegate such talk to academic “possibility” articles. These may have appeared last year when the meltdown was suddenly so glaring that only an imbecile could fail to see it, but the connection with world warmongering, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq and now Iran, all preludes to much greater world war devastation being prepared, were never made. And they have rapidly faded away again as the petty bourgeois sensibility of the fake-“lefts” has stepped back in dismay at the trickery of the bourgeoisie’s “quantitative easing” money printing, bemused and in awe as always of the ruling class.

They revert to the old reformist pleas of “make the bosses pay” and once again imply that the system goes on, instead of pointing to the crisis as the greatest evidence yet that it has reached the end of the road and needs to be toppled.

Critical issues too include the nature of the workers states like China, Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea, which continue to be major advances for the working class of the world, despite the dire retreats from revolutionary understanding that their revisionist leaderships have made, which confuse and flaw their sometimes heroic and determined achievements.

The first thing any Leninist says about China (or Korea, or Vietnam) is that it is a planned economy under the government of the working class. It was established by the 1949 revolutionary overturn, after years of brilliantly led class war, of local and international capitalist dominance.

It should be defended unconditionally as a giant gain for the masses everywhere.

Only the second thing they should say is that Beijing revisionism shows every sign of being at least as much of a philosophical and retreatist disaster as the Stalinism from which it derives its basic philosophy and constantly needs battling against theoretically and exposing for its dire inability or lack of motivation (caused by short-sighted smug revisionist complacency about the world capitalist crisis and its revolutionary inevitability) to lead and inspire a revolutionary militant understanding among the masses of the whole planet, which could threaten all these gains just as the final degeneration of Stalin’s retreats led to idiot Gorbachevite liquidationism and the easy success of counter-revolutionary capitalist restoration in 1989-1990.

In detail the revisionist failings over questions such the need to “join in the war on terror” for example, rather than exposing the entire specious nonsense as a warmongering scare propaganda for imperialism to justify its rush towards World War Three (the only end point of slump catastrophe), need to be taken up constantly.

All these issues and many more are crucial dividers between the Leninist truth about the world and the fake-“left” posturing and posing which pretends to be “revolutionary” (though it barely ever mentions the notion except in formal articles and long-winded academic screeds) but which in fact heads the working class into more tailending of capitalism, or even takes the lead in outright anti-communist stitch-ups as, say, (to exaggerate its importance) the Weekly Worker crypto-Trot CPGB do with their foul campaign against Iran’s nationalist anti-imperialist defiance of US world domination, and the twisted and meaningless “theory” of “reactionary anti-imperialism” which “justifies” it.

“Oh, so is there a checklist of things you can say to people then” was the objectors’ sneer, implying that such a way of talking about things was just “academic” or “instructionalist” or “robotic”. (The meeting was filled with such innuendo and sneering, a million miles in tone and approach from anything Leninism has ever been about).

More on this will follow but firstly, effectively, yes there is a checklist, starting with the Lenin quote which sits at the head of the paper that the comrades have received regularly in all those years, that the understanding of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the “touchstone” on which the real understanding of Marxism is built.

A touchstone means a reference, a check-off point.

Later, in the new Soviet Union Lenin was even to draw up exactly a “check-list” of conditions that were expected to be met by any parties applying to join the new Communist International, once the revolutionary arguments of Bolshevism had won the day against the tide of distortions, revisions, modifications and downright lying re-interpretations of “Marxism” by the entire reformist and social chauvinist left spectrum of the time, and were enthusiastically taken up by the mass of the working class, because they rang truer and truer as World War One crisis horrors bit home, (even though workers were often illiterate, uneducated, misled and ill-informed).

It ran to nearly twenty carefully set out and deeply philosophical points, as the EPSR has previously spelt out (EPSR 1211) in polemics against the revolutionary retreats of the Lalkarites and other revisionist threads, and which the objectors would be aware if they had ever paid any attention to the paper (which they “completely agree with”). Here are just a few for flavour since space is restricted:

1. Day-by-day propaganda and agitation must be genuinely communist in character. All press organs belonging to the parties must be edited by reliable Communists who have given proof of their devotion to the cause of the proletarian revolution. The dictatorship of the proletariat should not be discussed merely as a stock phrase to be learned by rote; it should be popularised in such a way that the practical facts systematically dealt with in our press day by day will drive home to every rank-and-file working man and working woman, every soldier and peasant, that it is indispensable to them. Third International supporters should use all media to which they have access — the press, public meetings, trade unions, and co-operative societies — to expose systematically and relentlessly, not only the bourgeoisie but also its accomplices — the reformists of every shade.

2. Any organisation that wishes to join the Communist International must consistently and systematically dismiss reformists and “Centrists” from positions of any responsibility in the working-class movement (party organisations, editorial boards, trade unions, parliamentary groups, co-operative societies, municipal councils, etc.), replacing them by reliable Communists. The fact that in some cases rank-and-file workers may at first have to replace “experienced” leaders should be no deterrent.

3. In countries where a state of siege or emergency legislation makes it impossible for Communists to conduct their activities legally, it is absolutely essential that legal and illegal work should be combined. In almost all the countries of Europe and America, the class struggle is entering the phase of civil war. In these conditions, Communists can place no trust in bourgeois legality. They must everywhere build up a parallel illegal organisation, which, at the decisive moment, will be in a position to help the Party fulfil its duty to the revolution.

.....6. It is the duty of any party wishing to belong to the Third International to expose, not only avowed social-patriotism, but also the falsehood and hypocrisy of social-pacifism. It must systematically demonstrate to the workers that, without the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, no international arbitration courts, no talk about a reduction of armaments, no “democratic” reorganisation of the League of Nations will save mankind from new imperialist wars.

7. It is the duty of parties wishing to belong to the Communist International to recognise the need for a complete and absolute break with reformism and “Centrist” policy, and to conduct propaganda among the party membership for that break. Without this, a consistent communist policy is impossible. [All the points are worth reading in Lenin’s original]


There are plenty more specific marker points as history has moved on. One of the most telling has been rush by the entire spectrum of the fake-“lefts” to repudiate more definitively than Judas, the rising Third World anti-imperialist struggle when it took a turn towards stepped-up militant “terrorist” struggle in the 9/11 World Trade Centre attack, to a man and a party group joining the imperialist piety and “condemnation” of the events, described in assorted fake - “left” ways as “criminal” or “wrong” or “not helpful” or “reactionary” or “tactically in error” etc etc.

Only the EPSR argued a consistently Marxist position that such events were part of, and a signal of, a rising mass upheaval against imperialism, which has been growing increasingly more militant and organised.

It took its grasp from Lenin’s understanding of 1906 in “Guerrilla War” which makes clear that the only way beyond such tactics and expressions of inchoate hatred is not to “condemn” but to develop much clearer and stronger revolutionary perspectives to win the leadership for mass class struggle to completely overthrow capitalism, and its monopoly profit imperialist form, the source of all violence, hatred, division and conflict in the world including terrorism.

The profound difference between the EPSR’s position and the capitulation and betrayal of the fake-“lefts” was a watershed moment at a point when the imperialist crisis first began to ripen into the fascist blitzkrieging which has been going on without pause ever since (and most of all under the supposed new broom iconic black president Obama – christened O’Bomber by the EPSR from the beginning) a re-run of the build-up to World War One and Two but on a greater scale than ever.

The “left” 9/11 betrayal is as significant as the capitulation of the Second International to social-chauvinism in the run-up to the First World War, when the various social-democratic parties (which until then was a name for Marxist party) declared support for the “German Motherland” or “the British Nation” or “Holy Russia”, etc, pouring out a stream of specious “patriotism” to fool workers into the backing their own “nations” (ie imperialist bourgeoisies) which took tens of thousands, – millions – into a mud-soaked foul death in the trenches that was so horrifying its impact is still reverberating around society nearly a century later.

In one sense the entire focus of the Leninist struggle is precisely to tease out and identify just such “markers” which separate and identify the lies, the Goebbels trickery, and even slicker modern confidence tricksterism and PR, the spin charlatanism and fraudulence of the ruling class and its loyal stooges in Labourist reformism, (and the panoply of dissembling and “clever” theorising to cover over this racket of bourgeois parliament etc coming from the fake-”lefts”) – from the truth.

Identifying the core ruling class interests in all the swamping tide of propaganda that constantly pours out of imperialism to bemuse and fool and mislead the masses, is the great philosophical struggle of Marxism, to find what is actually true and state it clearly.

Of course it is a more complex matter than rote repetition of a list of points, but that critical issues exists which it is the essence of Leninism to argue and battle for, is undisputable.

“Cheap words”!!

What a stinking cowardly betrayal is this comment by these renegades.

It was sneered further, when this point in discussion was reached, driven out by two hours of bitter philosophical struggle, that “you are just picking on a phrase” a refrain that has been heard for some weeks now in the gossiping and sabotaging that has been going on to deliberately undermine all confidence in the editor of the paper (and thereby undermine the production of the paper too since there is no alternative way proposed by the objectors for producing a paper –even when challenged to do so).

Why focus on this phrase?

For a trivial enough reason firstly, because it was a phrase stated clearly and undeniably in the discussion, which finally could not be denied, as many phrases and comments had been throughout with evasions and denials, or excuses that “phrases were taken out of context” or “over-emphasised” or simply that they had not been said at all.

But much more because it entirely encapsulates the essence of the growing opposition over the last two years which has now ripened into disruption – hostility to theory and the reluctance to put forwards a revolutionary perspective.

The two things are linked. Pinning things down and arguing them through to a conclusion (not simply “holding opposition positions) as far as possible with the evidence which has emerged, is precisely the way to develop Leninist theory.

But throughout there has been a refusal to put down clearly what the rising objections have been and let the argument come into the open.

In an attempt to clarify the politics the EPSR editor has repeatedly asked for things to be written down, and especially so as the discussion has intensified, so that there is a firm basis for working through the differences and clarifying the issues for everyone.

Three letters which were sent in, over the last three months, were all “not for publication” however.

Even so, the contradictions and political differences in the first two letters and in some associated verbal comments to various comrades were taken up in the polemic in EPSR 1355.

But not one of these major political differences over China, the notion of an “African voice”, over the responsibility of imperialism for the ills of exploited Africa, and for the abrupt reversal of a demand for a major shake-up against alleged sectarianism in the party were even mentioned in a third letter (the only short response to the polemic until the recent meeting).

These glaring political issues and differences were completely ignored in favour of a stream of insults and abuse against the paper’s editor and core EPSR support, complaining that its polemics were “too well written” (an excuse for the objectors not writing, on the grounds that ‘only perfect’ articles would be accepted or even allegedly escape sarcasm) and that the political differences were “just made up”.

This shallowness and cowardly evasion of the politics was accompanied by allegations that the paper and its editorship were suppressing the debate (or effectively doing so by belittling contributions).

How can that be when no contributions have been made?

(For the record the paper not only welcomes but constantly calls for contributions to the debate, and encourages such from the most unpractised of writers and unconfident of supporters, as long as they are serious. It is a critical part of building a Leninist understanding, with the line of the paper and leadership constantly up for genuine discussion, criticism and improvement (as opposed to destructive sniping - see also archive piece following).)

The only political comment the letter came close to was to call for “more discussion” about the America Obama presidency but without offering any clues about what was felt to be missing or wrong about previous analysis (which has been made in repeated papers during and after the US election.)

Leninism is a two way process in working through conflicts and differences.

A “discussion” from one side only may be a paradox of interest to Zen Buddhist mystics but it has nothing to do with clear Leninist philosophy.

The polemic in 1355 was challenging the objectors and was intended to stimulate the “further discussion” demanded by the objectors, so the questions can be worked through in public as far as possible to extract maximum understanding from them.

It would be pointless continuing with all this trivia in a “yes you did, no you didn’t” pantomime if the objectors had not been long term supporters of the EPSR and their transformation into sniping underminers therefore of some significance as a reflection of current conditions.

The world has dropped from the edge of a cliff in the economic crisis and the total hollowness and bankruptcy of capitalism has been revealed, alongside 10 years of warmongering already which is preparing the world for a return to outright World War blitzkrieging conflict – all leaving its consumerist “prosperity” ideology and “democracy and freedom” high and dry.

The world has never been more in need of Leninist revolutionary theory and the communist perspective.

And the world has never been more ready for it.

The old bourgeois game to deal with communism has been to sideline it, and ignore it, swamping the world on the one hand with its “triumph” of fashion and glitz and celebrity vacuousness (aided by the tragedy of revisionist Soviet leadership retreat turning into total capitulation to the “free market” under Gorbachevism) and with ever more lurid big lie accusations against and demonisation of communism, and all Third World anti-imperialism, all backed and reinforced by ‘57 varieties’ of fake-“leftism”).

There is no limit to the demented exaggerations and hostility (see numerous EPSR books and papers).

But the horrors and hardships of the world more and more clearly are seen to come from the capitalist domination of the world.

The ground is tinder dry for a fire of discussion and re-thinking which can only result in a massive turn back towards revolutionary understanding.

Small wonder that the pressure of bourgeois ideology to try and silence such a voice has massively intensified.

It finds early expression in just such a conflict as this within the Leninist debate, which however small and isolated it has been, is nevertheless still a highly sensitive barometer of oncoming class struggle (exactly one of its functions).

The world is heading for massive civil class war inside the major collapsing capitalist powers as its desperate and cataclysmic failure is forced onto the working class, and further huge escalation of the rising Third World rebellion which has refused to lie down for the degenerate barbaric mass civilian killing, torturing onslaughts on Afghanistan, Iraq, Serbia, southern Lebanon and Palestine, and Somalia already and potentially Iran, Sudan, North Korea, Cuba, Zimbabwe etc, all being demonised constantly to set them up (by the “black” Obama presidency as much as any other) for war escalating, the only answer monopoly capitalism has to its crisis of “over-production”.

Political attacks of this kind have been seen before, not coincidentally at point of lurching shifts in the imperialist crisis such as the 1989 and early 1990s “recessions”, a disastrous near meltdown which was salvaged for US imperialism only by shunting the burden outwards onto the imperialist rivals such as Japan (in almost constant “recession” since) and by the fortuitous Gorbachevite revisionist capitulation which temporarily took the heat off western imperialism (at the expense of the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of Soviet citizens, driven into the ground with poverty and despair ever since while capitalist gangsters plundered 70 years of achievement of the USSR worker’s state).

These politics now “echo”, to coin a phrase, exactly the underhand petty arrogance of the petty bourgeois breakaways who attacked the party 20 years ago at the time of the “black nationalist” split when the ILWP (forerunner of the EPSR) was accused of “ignoring” or “being incapable of understanding” the question of racism. See the archive pages further on and quotes such as this from ILWP 478 (18-01-89) for example:

What was initially presented as ‘nothing more than a few cross words but no real challenge’ turned into a fullscale onslaught on confidence in the ILWP using every dirty trick in the book to confuse the issues and undermine trust in the Party’s leadership and relations between cadres. The subjective contagion which ended in an openly racist attack on the Party (accusing it of wanting to ignore the fascist discrimination inherent in capitalism, of wanting to drop the work and analysis it has carried out brilliantly in this field, and of being collectively incapable of understanding racism – all because it was white),---- originated in a retreat from Leninist theory in favour of a centrist tail-ending of broad front work.

This approach continues to declare verbal allegiance to the fight for Leninist revolutionary theory but in practice compromises this fight in order to ‘win influence’.

Self-satisfaction with such ‘success’ allied to a number of other general subjective factors pertaining to this particular conflict plus other specific subjective factors peculiar to the individuals involved,- quickly encouraged a completely factional-revisionist stance to be adopted once an argument had developed over the place of anti-racism in revolutionary struggle, (so fundamental a matter to things which the critics were bound to feel they ‘knew something about.’)

Only finally did the absolute separateness of this stance emerge clearly. The national meeting of the ILWP demonstrated an outstandingly strong grasp, in breadth and depth, of scientific socialist theory concerning nationalism and racism. The ‘theoretical’ arguments against it were reduced to mumbled irrelevant truculence and the most backward black-nationalist arrogance. But the separateness remained total, - illustrating that class-subjective dogma was the real essence of this challenge.

And all of the tedious subjective contagion which echoed around this dispute concerning ‘loud voices’, ‘glares’, ‘male chauvinism’, ‘shouting down’, etc, came from the same petty-bourgeois origins, - trying to queer the pitch for unassailable Leninist arguments not by answering them (there was never any reply to the discussion articles, despite the promises) but by creating a fog of confusing gossip.

But this feminist tittle-tattle even declined an open debate on their favourite ground of ‘sexist’ innuendoes, such is their anti-theory bankruptcy.

There is much more but the pattern is clear: Verbal allegiance but, in practice opposition, Not a “real challenge” but just an attempt “to get a discussion” the objectors dissemble.

The latest onslaught comes full-on with such declarations of “complete agreement with the paper”, despite the editor being apparently “twisted”, a “raving liar, cheat, ranter, suppressor of free discussion and inventor of accusations of ‘hostility to the party’ in order to ‘turn a loyal supporter into opposition’”.

But there is much more in common.

As discussed above the entire opposition in the latest eruption has been built around the notion of a special “African voice” and a special status for the African struggle, which overrides the struggle for revolutionary grasp. Purely because of geographic and race origins the outsiders are declared to be giving the EPSR valuable political lessons.

Just what these lessons might be have not been coherently explained, and was still not spelled out at the recent discussion despite requests from the meeting.

It emerged among the few political points made in the objectors’s letters which included the query (to paraphrase) that “surely Obama alone - (and by implication American imperialism) - is not responsible for the plight of Africa but leaders there have to take responsibility too?”

This completely misses the point that imperialism is the cause and root of all the problems of human society, including the foulness of all fascist stooges in Africa, which it directly usually, (or indirectly through its money and ideological domination), puts in place.

Or to be clearer still, all the world’s problems come from imperialist profit making plundering of the labour and resources of the entire planet and the antagonistic oppressive brutal social relations which are imposed on the world in order to continue this sweet plunder and theft, through bribery and installation of fascist and gangster stooges, coups, overturns, covert interventions, manipulation and brainwashing propaganda, stunted up “mass movements” and reactionary strikes (Chile lorry drivers against Allende e.g) manipulated by bought media coverage, and when that is unsuccessful, by bullying sanctions and trade blockades, (the Iraq war followed a decade of squeezed trade and “no fly zone” imposition which killed half a million children in Iraq - long before 9/11 had given Bush and Blair the excuse to invade it), assassinations, kidnapping, mercenary invasions (as Mark Thatcher, and sections of the British ruling class were implicated in recently in Equatorial Guinea for example – stopped by Mugabe’s anti-imperialism in Zimbabwe) and all-out war and blitzing, including the destruction of whole countries like North Korea in the 1950s and Vietnam.

All of it accompanied by the constant intimidation of the whole world by the insane military power of the US and its hundreds of military bases across the globe and its thousands strong nuclear warhead arsenal, aimed first of all at Soviet communism (and the Chinese now) but with an equal threatening menace for any resistance by the planet from “rogue states” like Iran to the once more recurring might of the rival imperialist powers (more and more).

All the world’s problems can only be solved by ending this corrupt and decaying barbarous class rule which means revolution.

Revolution is precisely what was not to be heard in discussions with the outsiders that the western objectors have made so much of.

Exactly the opposite, when these “valuable outsiders” were introduced into the central discussions of the supporters they proved to be hostile on just some of the “key markers” which the objectors so deride, with nothing but contempt for China for example, declared to be “exploiting” Africa and behaving like imperialism.

This has nothing to do with Marxism; and is hostile, as two discussions with them have now made clear.

But far from challenging the mistaken views and arguments of the outsiders, the western objectors have brought those arguments into the discussion, arguing these positions on behalf of the outsiders instead of confronting them (as they concede in one of the letters).

For what reason?

Because just as in the 1989 dispute, the notion has taken hold of a supposedly special knowledge and experience coming from merely being black, or in this case “African” (which is code for black in this argument) and “on the ground” in the “worst treated continent on the planet”, and therefore supposedly having a knowledge which overrides the struggle for Leninist revolutionary understanding.

It certainly does if the grasp of revolutionary theory and its importance has either slipped away or has never really been there.

That is the tragedy of the current upheaval.

It echoes all the old arguments from the “black nationalist” debate, though hidden away because the objectors know only too well that the politics was brought out into the open and exposed at the time.

That is why they deny the clear reality of a capitulation to a black nationalist reformist fraud which is being deliberately revived by capitalism itself via Barack O’Bomber.

That is why the issue began with an oblique call in informal phone discussions with the editor more than two years back ostensibly chewing the fat over what tactics the EPSR might use to broaden its influence in the working class.

The politics should not be presented in too rigid a fashion it was argued and particularly not to outsiders who, while showing some interest, might yet be carrying a lot of baggage from bourgeois ideology and confusion mongering.

In the hurricane of celebrity fatuousness and consumerism, it was suggested, there should be some patience with wrong ideas when newer people approach the party and a willingness to persist with in debate with people who might have every kind of rough edge or disagreement.

This became a demand for a “shake-up” because of allegedly sectarian attitudes.

Not coincidentally this echoes the “shake-up” demands of the Trotskyist opposition in 1921 over alleged bureaucratic distortions, a demand vigorously repudiated by Lenin, who declared that while such problems were real enough, they would only be overcome by generations of cultural and philosophical revolutionary development, and that Trotsky’s position was itself academic and bureaucratic.

The modern shake-up call was dropped quite suddenly overnight (see 1355) because it was never anything but a cover for introducing the “black nationalist” position, which the objectors knew from past battles, would be exposed immediately.

That is why they will not write anything down, and make excuses for their failure to put their politics clearly, whingeing that “writing is easy for those with the skills but not us” so it is “not fair”.

Such dissembling does not become experienced comrades who had years of practice producing a local bulletin, and can write as well as any,

What it does reveal is a repetition of the 1989 argument that writing about revolution “is glib and easy” and “is less explanatory than the bourgeois press”.

The bourgeois press is well resourced to provide critical realist one-sided facts.

But they won’t find a word in the New York Review of Books (thrown on the floor theatrically during the debate as a supposed “better analysis”!!!) about the urgent need for revolution.

They don’t want to. They want, as put in the last objectors’ letter “to walk away without a word of explanation” – hiding behind disruption and dishonesty.

But they cannot hide their renegacy.

Leninism will try to be as flexible and open as possible in its struggles to explain.

But whatever patience is shown and “rough edges” tolerated in the hugely imperfect working class (made so by capitalist “culture”) the revolutionary argument needs to be constantly at the forefront.

Build Leninism Don Hoskins


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EPSR Archives

(Selected quotes from past issues).


This article (and part of the Lenin quotes) from issue 476 of the ILWP Bulletin 04-01-89 (forerunner of the EPSR) is reproduced because it shows not only how the petty bourgeois hostility to theory will rapidly degenerate into abuse, disruption and deliberate gossiping sabotage, to cover its the evasions, trickery and lies of its failure and self-loathing cowardly weakness, but specifically is also a forerunner of much of the “African voice” black nationalist anti-Leninism also in the current treachery and renegacy (triggered by the oncoming capitalist crisis) – a conflict these now-capitulating comrades experienced at the time


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No place in the ILWP for ‘anti-racist’ sectarians

The smug complacency telling the Leninist movement that it must not forget to ‘mention’ the race-prejudice aspect of capitalist backwardness is now mushrooming alarmingly.

In one sector of the Party, the standard answer to the philosophical struggle to clarify revolutionary priorities is now to insult the ILWP with the provocation: “But you would expose the racism too, wouldn’t you?”.

This spirit of moralising sectarian reformism is utterly alien to Leninism. Only Philistines steeped in smugness could so lose their way as to put up such an ‘argument’ against asserting revolutionary perspectives over all others.

There is only one consistent thoroughgoing anti-racism, and that is Leninism. Only international proletarian revolution will actually begin to get rid of racism in human culture.

The only serious anti-racist organisation is the ILWP. Every other ‘anti-racist’ stance is ultimately complacent reformist self-delusion. No movement or organisation which is not completely Leninist will ever ‘achieve’ anything other than ultimately futile reformist posturing.

The WPJs, BLFs,and BUFPs of this world, because of consistently ignoring or failing in the fight for Leninism, only finally emerge as the ‘left’ face of the same reformism which has given us the Abbott, Grant, Vaz, Boateng, Bellos, etc ‘solution’ to race-discrimination, - i.e. no solution at all.

Capitalism remains deeply and incurably racist because of its very nature. Only when international proletarian dictatorship overthrows international imperialism will the degeneracy of racism in human culture even begin to be solved. (See last Bulletin re difficulties of the incompleted Soviet revolution with backward racism in Armenia and Azerbaijan, etc)

The ‘achievements’ of the race-relations industry in Britain, for example (or the USA, etc) in breaking down some of the rigid formal discrimination and outrageous prejudice,- is capitalism’s business and the ‘reformist petty-bourgeoisie’s business.

Revolution is the business of Leninist proletarian internationalism. No amount of ‘reformism’ is ever going to change the ultimately murderous behaviour of the capitalist system towards the vast majority of mankind, and it must be overthrown, the sooner the better.

It can be argued: “But meanwhile wouldn’t it at least be an advance to get lunch counters de-segregated; or a system of independent investigation of police brutality; or more black QCs or MPs; etc”.

For Leninists the answer is, No it would not be. Leninism must work harder at building the international proletarian party of revolutionary theory.

Not black reformism, nor any other kind of reformism, will stop the capitalist system from being deeply exploitatory and discriminatory, - permanently as far as the vast majority of workers are concerned (and racistly so, as far as blacks are concerned);- or from being the murdering warmongering scourge of the vast majority of all mankind (and racistly so as far as the vast non-white majority of all mankind is concerned).

More black QCs in Britain, or a passport for Viraj Mendis, or any other single-issue stunt promoted by reformist protesters, will not stop British imperialism plunging towards inter-imperialist World War III which threatens far more lethal damage to mankind than do blocked promotions in the British bourgeois legal profession, or difficulties with the British bourgeois immigration controls.

Devotion to such protest campaigns as such which in no way offer any fundamental revolutionary challenge to the capitalist state, system and society, - and are not meant to,- are a complete diversion from the real fight which is needed, - to build a Leninist movement, for the overthrow of capitalism.

Spontaneous protests around such issues are obviously excellent things, as is every expression of revolt, no matter how unconsciously expressed, against what the capitalist system is doing.

But such protests need organising solely from the perspective of training conscious Leninist leadership on an ever larger scale.

For such work, a ruthlessly consistent, clear, and deep grasp of Leninist science is required. Confusion about what are the priorities of revolutionary programme, strategy, and tactics,- and philistine naivety which pretends to teach Leninism how to be anti-racist,- is the opposite of what is needed.

Leninism doesn’t need ‘blacks’ or ‘whites’. It needs scientifically objective revolutionaries.

It doesn’t need whites who say: “White, and feel guilty about it”, or blacks who say: “Black, and proud of it”. Such feelings of guilt or pride show an unhealthy preoccupation with the values of reformism (or capitalism).

What is needed is a merciless determination to fight to wipe out both white liberalism and black nationalism as political tendencies,- and every other reformist trap,-- in the only way possible, by building an invincible movement of Leninist theory.

This is what is still not being grasped in some sections of the party. When, in further development of the polemic against the nonsense that “the fight against racism is the same thing as the fight for international Leninism” the question is asked: Are there not circumstances in a complex class-war situation where the need to concentrate on the next immediate step forward for the revolution might not necessarily include a complete exposure of the underlying and unresolved problems of racism of everyone involved?, - the answer is still being peddled (now on a wider scale than previously) that such a philosophical hypothesis “unnecessarily separates anti-racism from the general class struggle”, followed by “and wouldn’t the party want to raise the question of racism too?”.

To repeat: The entire fight for Leninism is always the “raising of the question of racism too”, and is, as has been explained, the only way that the fight against racism will ever effectively be fought, - by overthrowing the capitalist bourgeois system worldwide.

It is not the ILWP’s insistence that the fight for revolutionary advance must always, be the first priority which “separates anti-racism” from the general class struggle. Every general advance in revolutionary understanding and organisation inevitably strikes more of a real blow against capitalism’s racism than anything else possibly can.

Sometimes any racist aspect of the struggle may well be the foremost revolutionary matter to be grasped too, and the racist angle will be the leading question to be raised. But sometimes there may well be racist undertones to be exposed but these will not be the immediate central revolutionary understanding that must be grasped in any particular issue. In which case the anti-racist question will not be the “equal priority” to the central question of broader revolutionary understanding being highlighted, nor “the same thing as raising the class question”.

It is this formulation that the main revolutionary question always includes the anti-racist question, “and vice-versa” which is persistently and artificially separating the anti-racist question from the class-struggle question, paradoxically. Only the most abysmally ignorant depths of petty-bourgeois idealist philosophy could keep on insisting that: “To fight for the revolution is to fight against racism; and to fight against racism is to fight for the revolution”.

This is straight-line idealist ‘logic’. It has nothing whatever to do with Marxist logic. The first phrase is self-evidently true. The second phrase does not follow from the first, and is to any Leninist, self-evident garbage.

Tsarist Russia was degenerate with rampant racism of every kind (much of it lurking there yet today because of post-Lenin revisionism’s failure to continue the Bolshevik revolutionary transformation of the proletariat into their consistent international revolutionary transformation along with that of the rest of mankind.)

And 1917 was the most massive single historical blow by far to imperialism on the planet, and therefore to racism on the planet (ultimately the most massive blow to racism on the planet by a long, long, long, long, way because of all the world-shattering consequences for imperialism which flowed from the Leninist Revolution).

And yet the Bolsheviks and Lenin built few campaigns around the race question as such in their long triumphant mastery of revolutionary strategy and tactics to take the mass movement step by step on to the next crucial development in revolutionary consciousness for the toppling of the empire-wide Tsarist state power.

In Lenin’s collected works, there are but half-a-dozen brief comments on racialism, plus a score or so more on the specifically racism issues connected with the Jewish question. As will be seen from a selection of these quotations,— emphasising the class issues was crucial to the Bolshevik perspective for ending racial persecution (and every other aspect of imperialist exploitation), frequently stressing all-Russia revolutionary unity behind revolutionary theory in conscious opposition to nationalist-separatist ways of analysing the struggle; and leaving specific local aspects of the campaigns to’ specific local agitation(against race-provocation,e.g.

Applied to the dispute within the ILWP, this understanding would unquestionably summarise past ‘left’ labour movement failures in Britain as, before everything else, a total inability to agitate against capitalist reaction with even the remotest glimmer of any credible world-revolutionary perspective.

The perverse(and mushrooming) campaign which insists that indicting the ‘left’ swamp’s “failure to expose racism” is “far more important” (first version); or is “equally important” (second version); or is “inseparably important and is being artificially split from the revolutionary perspective only by dogmatic arguments against versions 1 or 2” (third version)— is now digging itself into an ever-deeper trench against Leninism and against the ILWP.

Incomprehensibly, the ILWP is being told to ‘heed the needs of the black struggle’ when it is the ILWP which has pioneered the fight for Leninism and the revolutionary struggle (infinitely more effective a struggle against racism than any specifically anti-racist struggle could ever be), and which has painstakingly taught the present ‘critics’ everything worthwhile that they know about politics.

As for greater attention to local detail, it is precisely the ILWP which has consciously, - unasked, -deliberately assembled and launched the material and cadre for publishing and organising ARISE to campaign on just such matters, (which vantage point is now immediately being used to deride the ILWP’s competence on all these questions.)

The ‘critics’ are feigning puzzled surprise that they should be under attack. But the real cause for astonishment is the unmistakable hostility of their original ‘criticism’.

Only the most emotionally naive or politically illiterate people will swallow the ‘two cans of Pils’ theory for the aggressive rejection of the ILWP senior representative’s attempt to explain Leninist theory on the priority of revolutionary perspective over all partial or piecemeal struggle.

And the bitter and insulting agitation against the ILWP’s line which has gone on for over a fortnight since then (including the contemptible innuendo that the Party is either reluctant or backward in fighting racism) also obviously has far deeper origins than just ‘one misunderstanding’ or ‘one unfortunate show of temper’ (as the ‘critics’ alternatively try arguing, sometimes, when their sectarian smugness is overshadowed by their fear of the polemical minefield they are stumbling into).

But stumble on the ‘critics’ do, demonstrating one of the oldest political phenomena that once bitten by the revisionist-opportunist maggot, then a grouping will go completely rotten very quickly. And also demonstrating, of course, that there is far more to this argument than a simple Saturday-night misunderstanding.

Various other smokescreens are being used occasionally to try to cover up the sectarian traces such as ‘If there is a challenge, it isn’t conscious’; or ‘There seems to be some misunderstanding about what exactly was said’; or ‘It can’t be fair to rake in past differences if they weren’t taken up polemically at the time’; etc. It just lacks ‘It was only expression of opinion’ to complete the set of historic revisionist try-ons.

There was no misunderstanding; there is a challenge; and there is no way that the Party can do anything but take up all past differences to try to learn some lessons, particularly the chairman, about what signs were missed which led the Party into this embarrassing mess of being at odds with a selected full-time organiser. Any misunderstanding could have been cleared up next morning, or at worst a few days later when the first Bulletin discussion-article on this came out.

Far from there being any immediate attempt to clear up any ‘misunderstanding’, there was just the opposite,-- an immediate attempt to spread the dispute to other comrades in the Party, an attempt which has been most thoroughly expanded ever since. If the thoroughly-alarmed and clearly-focusing political instincts of two senior comrades that a major challenge to the Party’s line and leadership was being delivered are not considered scientific enough, then the subsequent conduct of the ‘critics’ in systematically trying to rally opinion behind them can hardly leave much doubt that the Party has a major dispute on its hands.

The idea that the Party leadership is fomenting this artificially makes no sense. The ILWP openly and proudly stood behind the launch of ARISE and its main cadres. It will be an enormous blow to the Party’s prestige if it has to be admitted that an embarrassing mistake has been made, and that the personnel running ARISE have had to be changed, (which is where the dispute is heading at the moment.)

No. What is happening is that a real challenge is being mounted against the Party’s line and leadership,- from the direction of a very hostile class ideology of revisionist-opportunist sectarianism in favour of anti-racist activism (reformism), which detracts from an ever firmer and deeper grasp of the primacy of revolutionary theory, and clouds understanding of it. A major provocation against the ILWP, - accusing it of being ‘reluctant to fight against racism’, or even of being ‘racist’ itself, - is waiting in the wings.

An earlier attempt to equate ‘activism’ and ‘revolutionary theory’ in importance was a clear demonstration of the philosophical weakness which paradoxically lies behind the rapid mushrooming of this smug sectarian challenge. The specific background, psychological and personal reasons why a cocky young comrade (who has done well) should decide they know it all,- is of less interest than the fact that it is a common phenomenon (Lenin’s “young eagle” Trotsky of 1902 had done the same by 1903).

If at all shallow, - however bright, - the budding anti-theory revisionist will be sucked up by whatever powerful, modish, and opportunist influence is blowing strongest. The ILWP has lost cocky cadres before, - to the Solidarnosc fever, to the Gorbachev fever, and, incipiently it seems, to the ‘black is beautiful’ fever (and black activism, when you’re running your own unbankruptable newspaper, is even better).

This smug arrogance has been increasingly noted and disliked around the Party. Before this pre-Christmas aggressive hostility to the Party’s line and leadership, an unmistakable note of resentment had begun to be heard (in all dealings between Manchester and London offering advice about how the Party’s work should best be conducted.)

Other comrades have begun complaining about having had poached off them political initiatives which they had pioneered. It seems that other comrades have also felt that in sustaining reverse-racist abuse from black nationalists, the ILWP has not always been as forthrightly supported as it should have been.

The first draft of the ARISE manifesto (which will now have to be circulated since it becomes a very relevant document) clearly contained, in retrospect, a disturbing amount of black nationalist backwardness and sectarianism. The whole emphasis is on ‘black struggle’. The anti-capitalist revolutionary struggle only gets mentioned at the end. The white working class and the dictatorship of the proletariat hardly get mentioned at all.

Black nationalism itself got an astonishingly easy ride (it was explained that ‘it no longer counts’); and then there was the notorious nonsense that whites in South Africa must see themselves as Africans if they want to join the struggle for progress.

But the criticisms were mostly accepted in that first and then subsequent drafts (which were better)and an ultimately acceptable final version eventually appeared (although still leaving some lingering doubts as to exactly what the relationship to black nationalism is of the ‘separately organised’ BUFP and BLF parties,- there allegedly being ‘no relationship at all’).

But it would now appear that this was all accomplished only at the cost of mounting hostility to ILWP leadership, and a growing cockiness that if left to run ‘independently’, that ARISE would be much better off.

Well the ILWP’s proudest boast is that it only wants its cadres to act and think independently, from within their own deepest conviction of Marxist-Leninist science, and rarely to have to act at all ‘only according to instructions’. The one thing this doesn’t mean however, is that ILWP cadres can act ‘independently’ of Marxism-Leninism, which is what is happening now.

The stubborn determination to persist with this line would ultimately threaten total failure and disintegration of the ILWP if not ruthlessly combatted.

How still ‘totally Marxist’ Plekhanov, Martov, Kautsky, and Trotsky, etc, thought they were after their disagreements with Leninism doesn’t alter the fact that they became utterly useless to the crucial business of mankind,- the world socialist revolution, - because they could no longer provide its crucial need, - the priceless ability to continue successfully the relentless struggle for the most objective-possible and most up-to-date scientific analysis of the international balance of class forces without which correct revolutionary programme, strategy and tactics is impossible.

In other words, without revolutionary theory, there can be no successful revolutionary practice. And most unoriginally, what the ILWP is being challenged with is “we’re doing the successful practice; the theory’s so obvious that it will take care of itself”.

The phrase “it’s so obvious” in response to the Bulletin’s weekly struggle for a correct up-to-date revolutionary world analysis could possibly be prompted by all sorts of things, good and bad.

But it was a phrase very frequently used in one corner of the party, and it is now becoming apparent that in part it smugly meant “This is easy”.

Is it? The ILWPs theoretical achievements are massive(see ILWP Books vols 2 to 13) and continue weekly. The critics score is zero in new theory yet.

The Party has often heard it stated, correctly, that the aim of cadre-training is to produce experienced young comrades whose accomplishments in revolutionary theory and practice will eventually dwarf (and replace) the first stumbling developers of renewed Leninist movement. Telling the ILWPs leading representatives that they are all at sea in trying to understand the correct strategy and tactics for the class struggle in Britain could yet emerge in this issue as a very legitimate and timely challenge. There would be nothing improper about it at all, right or wrong.

But these are not joke matters. Such challenges to the authority and credibility of the existing Party leadership could be matters of life and death for the struggle for Leninism,- a very delicate plant.

The existing leadership is obliged to consider the criticism, accept it or reject it, polemicise against it, and then mobilise the Party’s understanding into an impregnable fortress to rout the challenge.

Trust in the Party’s authority can only be earned, of course, by the Party getting things consistently right more or less promptly - trust in individual leaders works on the same basis.

But such confidence, if it can be developed, is a priceless asset for the Party to be able to have in its leadership, and for the class to be able to have in its party.

The ILWP’s development has benefited enormously from the constantly-tested and fundamentally-sound deep political trust within its cadres.

Correct criticism of the Party’s line which was obliged to disturb this confidence would be one thing, - a regrettable necessity ultimately strengthening the Party, by making it more scientific. Denunciation of the Party’s operation and understanding which turns out to be falsely based is not just a political mistake but is also a serious class challenge which must be thoroughly smashed.

The ILWP is not ‘just another party on the left’ or remotely comparable to the opportunist swamp. It is a struggle for Leninism, and nothing else; and as such it actually welcomes and promotes criticism of its line, and polemics, believing that understanding can only be strengthened as a result of them.

So, stressing the value of confidence in the Party’s leadership is not at all a plea for less criticism. Just the opposite. The more that the commissions and omissions of the party’s line are questioned, the better.

But once the criticism is delivered, then it has to be treated seriously and it must be answered. And if the criticism blows up into an all-out challenge,- however slovenly or haphazardly this is delivered,- then an all-out fight is inevitable.

Despite continued attempts to protest their innocence of any such challenge, the critics seemed not unaware from the beginning (or even before it) that a real conflict was possible, judging from such morning-after comments as: “Well, X and Y won’t agree with the Party leadership on this for a start” (echoing more distant comments that ‘only X, Y, and Z knew what they were talking about’ at a national committee meeting of the ILWP).

How far could these differences go? Well there is one tendency of this curiously West European phenomenon of bogus ‘revolutionary anti-racism’ which extends its black-nationalist revisionist-sectarianism (just one more variety of capitalism’s petty-bourgeois swamp) to arguing that even Lenin was a ‘suspiciously-flawed Eurocentric’, and that Marx and Engels were ‘outright racists’. Could the urge to sympathise with the black struggle even go as far as ‘sensitive relations’ with that degree of black-consciousness’ nonsense?

Certainly past conflicts in the Party about the ‘need to be more sensitive in dealing with the black struggle’, etc, must now be reviewed in the light of clear evidence that leading advocates of this strategy are in reality more concerned to tail-end nationalism rather than to gain a toehold for Leninism.

In the current confrontation of the critics are inspired totally by self-satisfaction at ‘how successfully this work is now going in practice’, rather than by a scientific-historical wish to see how the universal long-term truth of Leninist theory is to be applied.

In retrospect, there must also be some doubt now about all of the motivation during some uneasy moments when de facto organisational leadership was transferred in London to broaden the opportunities for advanced cadre training. There was a note in elements of the ‘Now I’m in charge’ attitude which had suspicions of sheer vanity and self-justification about it rather than a proper sense of self-awareness and grave responsibility about the enormous opportunities this fulltime work would provide for furthering the cause of the ILWP.

The Party has benefited greatly from this fulltime work. But this is the ILWP’s achievement, deliberately engineered. There would appear to be an attitude developing within the ‘critical’ camp of “The Party now needs us more than we need the Party”. This will be proved laughably wrong.

The Party will emerge immensely strengthened from this dispute. Conflicts within the party itself have always been understood by Leninism to be the highest possible expression of nuances within the class struggle, and therefore the most difficult and valuable lessons of all.

It is a painful process, that can hardly be welcomed, and the fact that it happens shows up a weakness in the Party’s work and preparation, and experience. But when a split to throw the Party off course is survived, it obviously provides the opportunity to learn ‘the lessons of previous inexperience’ and overcome the weakness in the Party’s armoury.

The suspicion of optimistic wishful thinking in the chairman’s handling of cadre matters will have to be thoroughly investigated, and the intention to apply a Leninist method of giving sharp new talent its head to find out exactly what it is made of, will need completely re-examining.

Comrades will have to ask themselves what more they might have done in foreseeing this crash coming. Moans about ‘Not another long article on Gorbachevism’ might better be seen as a need for (yet another) further discussion on why the Party thinks understanding the USSR’s position in world politics is so important (another area of past ‘critical’ confusion), - rather than passed over as just the normal grumpiness of everyday Leninist folk.

The achievements of ARISE have in fact been quite slow in coming, and a colossal amount of work remains to be done on correctly orienting its focus. The Party is totally capable of this work. No one else is remotely capable, nor could ever be without the Party. This area of Party work will proceed full ahead whatever the outcome of this struggle, and the Party will make whatever experience it can with ARISE in the normal Leninist way as it would have done before, free of the confusion of opportunism (and incidentally restoring the originally agreed sub-title of ‘against racist-imperialist slump-exploitation’ which doesn’t have quite the same meaning as ‘against racism, etc’, - a subtle change of wording which may have helped encourage a different direction than the one intended.)

The dispute will benefit the Party by at last taking a very hard and unemotional look at certain ‘sensitive’ areas to do with reverse-racism and the like,- in these discussion articles and in the debates already held and to come. Perhaps it needed a confrontation like this for the Party to get completely free at last from any lingering traces of white liberal guilt which leads to so much patronising mealy-mouthed nonsense on these matters in the swamp,- either tailending black reformism, or covering up labour-aristocracy closed-shop racism and class-collaborationism.

This dispute may also bring forward the Party’s long awaited confrontation with the idiocies of feminism which show signs of lurking just beneath the surface. Feminism is the ultimate in reformist philistinism, - more aggressively reactionary even than black nationalism, offering all the comforts of the most all-embracing glib ‘theory’ possible (that ‘men’ are hopeless) plus the cheap and nasty mafia ‘courage’ of the sorority. The despicable smugness of feminism may have a lot to answer for in this unpleasant mess inflicted on the Party.

It becomes immediately obvious that this conflict has shown up yet another mistake in the Party’s revolutionary preparation, - in delaying too long in making a thorough analysis of feminist reaction (on the grounds that it could wait; let sleeping dogs lie; keep the immediate enemy targets down to the necessary minimum; maybe it will die a natural death meanwhile, etc), --- all calculations made on the assumption that the Party’s cadres would ‘obviously’ remain perceptive about feminism, and keep clear of any contamination with it. A silly and pointless speculation, in retrospect. If feminism is a big problem in social and political confusion and needs attacking, then let it be given the full treatment. If all the Party was still clear on the subject, the deeper understanding would only make it even stronger. If confusions had begun to develop, then the polemic would possibly smoke them out and deal with them.

Examining this confrontation within the Party using partly the methods of speculative innuendo is obviously not entirely satisfactory, but the typically sly way with which this revisionism is challenging the Party gives few other opportunities for analysing the phenomenon, at the moment.

One of the nastiest things about this dispute is the repeated pretence by the critics that there is no dispute (while all the time continuing to argue insidiously that the leadership is to blame for the original ‘misunderstanding’).

Another case of having their cake and eating it too. ‘There is no dispute; but the leadership is responsible for the misunderstanding’.

The leadership is responsible for nothing except clearing up this appalling unpleasantness which has been inflicted on our Party.

First a series of hopelessly incorrect revisions of Leninism were argued for by the leading ‘critic’.

Then when these were painstakingly exposed and rejected (see summaries in this and previous Bulletin), the Party leadership was told it was incompetent in deciding the priorities in revolutionary theory of the class struggle.

After this abuse had been replied to in the only way possible, in the form: ‘The Party membership will have to decide who knows what they are talking about’, the critics made no attempt to halt the dispute but just the opposite, immediately began to approach other Party members with their verdict on the arguments in question, and who backed them.

And the response to the first discussion article was:’It will be replied to.’

It is the Party’s leadership and judgement which has been aggressively disputed with. The Party has neither imposed, nor sought to impose, a dispute on anyone.

But as explained earlier, once such a clearcut challenge has reared up and been continued with, the existing accepted Party leadership has no choice then but to weigh into the polemic with all the forceful clarity at its disposal. This article also seeks to explain what to most comrades is the most mysterious thing of all, - why this conflict has apparently ‘come out of the blue’.

It is the product of one of the most phenomenal historical forces ever, which has succeeded in the very advanced capitalist countries in creating near-total contempt for mastering Marxist-Leninist revolutionary theory, - a smug philistinism encouraged enormously by the anti-Leninist ignorance now all-powerful in the Socialist Camp bureaucracy. On the eve of the greatest triumphs ever of Leninist revolutionary science, the ruthlessly disciplined fight for theory finds support for it, paradoxically, at its apparently lowest ebb. Pragmatic opportunism of every kind,- from anarchism to nationalism, from occultism to feminism, from cynicism to freemasonry, from activism to pacifism, and from determinism to solipsism,- seems to be gaining victories in every direction.

In the age of cocky conceited complacency and obscurantism, it is miraculous that the ILWP has been able to make the advances that it has. Infinitely greater advances are on the way. The world will return to scientific Leninist understanding, as is repeatedly proved whenever the circumstances of capitalist crisis break down into a front-line civil war struggle,- inspired by Leninism.

The crucial part of Leninism is building the Party of revolutionary theory. It is the most difficult and most responsible task known to mankind. It requires strong and correct current leadership, and the careful preparation of reliable future leadership. The all-too-frequent problems in these areas in the history of the workers states is self-evident.

Wounded pride at being wrong in an argument is a fatal flaw in would-be leaders. The ability to bear the stinging pain of having to learn from mistakes is a crucial requirement for leadership.

One infallible test of a Party’s seriousness is how it reacts to its own mistakes. The same is true for individuals.

Plunging the Party into this appalling atmosphere of anti-leadership innuendoes all because of being squarely beaten in a fair argument is hopeless bankruptcy in a leading comrade. Fulltime Party work would become impossible.

And while blazing hostility may have exploded suddenly, it could only have been a very long time incubating, (as would appear to be demonstrated by a vast avalanche of ‘signs’ of this approaching trouble now being mentioned (properly) to the centre as sides are taken in this dispute.)

Allegations of the centre being rude to people down the phone and shouting at them, etc, are a monstrous invention. No such thing has taken place at all.

The decibels were certainly rising at the now notorious Saturday-night argument. But they were no worse or different from what has frequently been delivered by the chairman to the entire national committee on many a Saturday afternoon in the passion of emphasising a point.

Some people may well find it intimidating, or somehow even pompous and posturing. But this pattern of personal characteristics, attractive or unattractive, has now been chairing the ILWP for nearly nine years. The time to change it, or to plunge the Party into crisis over it, is the very first second when better-quality scientific leadership ability has been discovered in the Party’s ranks.

No such claim is being made. Instead, all we are getting is the dirty insidiousness of sly innuendoes being spread around the Party as far and as fast as can be.

But it is as well that people’s real feelings towards the Party are at last being brought out into the open. The Party has been saved from promoting revisionist opportunism and sick subjectivism any higher up its ranks. An embarrassing difficulty has been sustained, but a potential catastrophe has been averted.

Let those who think the ILWP has really got nowhere so far go their own way. The anti-philistines, who can appreciate scientific truth when they see it, will think differently.

The ILWP may still have a small public presence, but it would be silly not to take itself seriously just because others don’t, - including the need to be concerned about its future leadership, to maintain the struggle for Leninist science for as long as mankind needs it in the form of a combative political Party.

This may frequently mean making decisions more about the sort of future leadership it does not want to encourage rather than what it can recommend, but that would not necessarily be a bad start it if was a correct understanding.

The unpleasant shock for the Party (of this arrogant and aggressive challenge to its clarity and its unity based on hopelessly incorrect arguments and innuendoes) will be a lesson well-learned if it leads everyone to take a fresh look at what is meant by building an independently-minded but disciplined Party of revolutionary theory. Roy Bull


LENIN quotes:


Further, the Ekaterinoslav Committee is accused of lack of “orientation” in the question of anti-Semitism. The Bund’s Foreign Committee betrays truly infantile views on important social movements. The Ekaterinoslav Committee speaks of the international anti-Semitic movement of the last decades and remarks that “from Germany this movement spread to other countries and everywhere found adherents among the bourgeois, and not among the working-class sections of the population.” This is a no less dangerous fable (than the Zionist fables), cries the thoroughly aroused Bund’s Foreign Committee. Anti-Semitism “has struck roots in the mass of the workers,” and to prove this the ‘Veil-oriented” Bund cites two facts: 1) workers’ participation in a pogrom in Czestochowa and 2) the behaviour of 12 (twelve!) Christian workers in Zhitomir, who scabbed on the strikers and threatened to “kill off all the Yids.” Very weighty proofs indeed, especially the latter! The editors of Posledniye Izvestia are so accustomed to dealing with big strikes involving five or ten workers that the behaviour of twelve ignorant Zhitomir workers is dragged out as evidence of the link between international anti-Semitism and one “section” or another “of the population.” This is, indeed, magnificent! If, instead of flying into a foolish and comical rage at the Ekaterinoslav Committee, the Bundists had pondered a bit over this question and had consulted, let us say, Kautsky’s pamphlet on the social revolution,110 a Yiddish edition of which they themselves published recently, they would have understood the link that undoubtedly exists between anti-Semitism and the interests of the bourgeois, and not of the working-class sections of the population. If they had given it a little more thought they might have realised that the social character of anti-Semitism today is not changed by the fact that dozens or even hundreds of unorganised workers, nine-tenths of whom are still quite ignorant, take part in a pogrom.

The Ekaterinoslav Committee has risen up (and rightly so) against the Zionist fable about anti-Semitism being eternal, by making its angry comment the Bund has only confused the issue and planted in the minds of the Jewish workers ideas which tend to blunt their class-consciousness.

From the viewpoint of the struggle for political liberty and for socialism being waged by the whole working class of Russia, the Bund’s attack on the Ekaterinoslav Committee is the height of folly. From the viewpoint of the Bund as “an independent political party,” this attack becomes understandable: don’t dare anywhere organise “Jewish” workers together with, and inseparably from, “Christian” workers! If you would address the Jewish workers in the name of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party or its committees, don’t dare do so directly, over our heads, ignoring the Bund or making no mention of it!

And this profoundly regrettable fact is not accidental. Having once demanded “federation” instead of autonomy in matters concerning the Jewish proletariat, you were compelled to proclaim the Bund an “independent political party” in order to carry out this principle of federation at all costs. However, your declaring the Bund an independent political party is just that reduction to an absurdity of your fundamental error in the national question which will inescapably and inevitably be the starting-point of a change in the views of the Jewish proletariat and of the Jewish Social-Democrats in general.

“Autonomy” under the Rules adopted in 1898 provides the Jewish working-class movement with all it needs: propaganda and agitation in Yiddish, its own literature and congresses, the right to advance separate demands to supplement a single general Social-Democratic programme and to satisfy local needs and requirements arising out of the special features of Jewish life. In everything else there must be complete fusion with the Russian proletariat, in the interests of the struggle waged by the entire proletariat of Russia. As for the fear of being “steam-rollered” in the event of such fusion, the very nature of the case makes it groundless, since it is autonomy that is a guarantee against all “steam-rollering” in matters pertaining specifically to the Jewish movement, while in matters pertaining to the struggle against the autocracy, the struggle against the bourgeoisie of Russia as a whole, we must act as a single and centralised militant organisation, have behind us the whole of the proletariat, without distinction of language or nationality, a proletariat whose unity is cemented by the continual joint solution of problems of theory and practice, of tactics and organisation; and we must not set up organisations that would march separately, each along its own track; we must not weaken the force of our offensive by breaking up into numerous independent political parties; we must not introduce estrangement and isolation and then have to heal an artificially implanted disease with the aid of these notorious “federation” plasters.



Hardly more successful is the attempt to prove the “logical falsity” of autonomy by dividing the latter into programme autonomy and technical autonomy. The division itself is utterly absurd. Why should the specific methods of agitation among Jewish workers be classed under technical questions? What has technique to do with it, when it is a matter of peculiarities of language, mentality, conditions of life? How can you talk of independence in questions of programme in connection, for example, with the demand for civil equality for the Jews? The Social-Democratic programme only sets forth the basic demands, common to the entire proletariat, irrespective of occupational, local, national, or racial distinctions. The effect of these distinctions is that one and the same demand for complete equality of citizens before the law gives rise to agitation against one form of inequality in one locality and against another form of inequality in another locality or in relation to other groups of the proletariat, and so on.

One and the same point in the programme will be applied differently depending on differences in conditions of life, differences of culture, differences in the relation of social forces in different parts of the country, and so forth. Agitation on behalf of one and the same demand in the programme will be carried on in different ways and in different languages taking into account all these differences. Consequently, autonomy in questions specifically concerning the proletariat of a given race, nation, or district implies that it is left to the discretion of the organisation concerned to determine the specific demands to be advanced in pursuance of the common programme, and the methods of agitation to be employed. The Party as a whole, its central institutions, lay down the common fundamental principles of programme and tactics; as to the different methods of carrying out these principles in practice and agitating for them, they are laid down by the various Party organisations subordinate to the centre, depending on local, racial, national, cultural, and other differences.

Is there anything unclear about this conception of autonomy? And is it not the sheerest scholasticism to make a division into programme autonomy and technical autonomy? Just see how the concept autonomy is “logically analysed” in the pamphlet we are examining. “From the total body of questions with which the Social-Democrats have to deal,” the pamphlet says in connection with the autonomy principle taken as the basis in the 1898 Manifesto, “there are singled out [sic!!] some questions, which, it is recognised, specifically concern the Jewish proletariat.... Where the realm of general questions begins, the autonomy of the Bund ends.... This gives rise to a duality in the position of the Bund in the Party: in specific questions it acts as the Bund ... in general questions it loses its distinctive character and is put on a par with an ordinary committee of the Party....” The Social-Democratic programme demands complete equality of all citizens before the law. In pursuance of that programme the Jewish worker in Vilna puts forward one specific demand, and the Bashkir worker in Ufa an entirely different specific demand. Does that mean that “from the total body of questions” “some are singled out”? If the general demand for equality is embodied in a number of specific demands for the abolition of specific forms of inequality, is that a singling out of the specific from the general questions? The specific demands are not singled out from the general demands of the programme, but are advanced in pursuance of them. What is singled out is what specifically concerns the Jew in Vilna as distinct from what specifically concerns the Bashkir in Ufa. The generalisation of their demands, the representation of their common class interests (and not of their specific occupational, racial, local, national, or other interests) is the affair of the whole Party, of the Party centre. That would surely seem clear enough! The reason the Bundists have muddled it is that, instead of logical analysis, they have again and again given us specimens of logical fallacies. They have entirely failed to grasp the relation between the Social-Democrats’ general and specific demands. They imagine that “from the total body of questions with which the Social-Democrats have to deal, some questions are singled out”, when actually every question dealt with in our programme is a generalisation of a number of specific questions and demands; every point in the programme is common to the entire proletariat, while at the same time it is subdivided into specific questions depending on the proletarians’ different occupations, their different conditions of life, differences of language, and so on and so forth. The Bundists are disturbed by the contradictoriness and duality of the position of the Bund, consisting, don’t you see, in the fact that in specific questions it acts as the Bund, while in general questions it loses its distinctive character. A little reflection would show them that such a “duality” exists in the position of absolutely every Social-Democratic worker, who in specific questions acts as a worker in a particular trade, a member of a particular nation, an inhabitant of a particular locality, while in general questions he “loses his distinctive character” and is put on a par with every other Social-Democrat. The autonomy of the Bund, under the Rules of 1898, is of exactly the same nature as the autonomy of the Tula Committee; only the limits of this autonomy are somewhat different and somewhat wider in the former case than in the latter. And there is nothing but a crying logical fallacy in the following argument, by which the Bund tries to refute this conclusion: “If the Bund is allowed independence in some questions of the programme, on what grounds is it deprived of all independence in the other questions of the programme?” This contrasting of specific and general questions as “some” and “the others” is an inimitable specimen of Bundist “logical analysis”! These people simply cannot understand that it is like contrasting the different colours, tastes, and fragrances of particular apples to the number of “other” apples. We make bold to inform you, gentlemen, that not only some, but every apple has its special taste, colour, and fragrance. Not only in “some” questions of the programme, but in all without exception, you are allowed independence, gentlemen, but only as far as concerns their application to the specific features of the Jewish proletariat.

...[In general, the actual ties between all Party organisations during this period were very weak, but the ties between the Bund and the rest of the Party were not only far weaker than those between the other organisations, but they kept growing weaker all the time. That the Bund itself weakened these ties is directly proved by the history of our Party’s organisations abroad. In 1898, the Bund members abroad belonged to the one common Party organisation; but by 1903 they had left it to form a completely separate and independent organisation. The separateness and independence of the Bund is beyond question, as is also the fact that it has steadily become more pronounced.

What follows from this unquestionable fact? What follows in the opinion of the Bundists is that one must bow to this fact, slavishly submit to it, turn it into a principle, into the sole principle providing a sound basis for the position of the Bund, and legitimise this principle in the Rules, which should recognise the Bund as the sole representative of the Jewish proletariat in the Party. In our opinion, on the other hand, such a conclusion is the sheerest opportunism, “tail-ism”48 of the worst kind. The conclusion to be drawn from the five years of disunity is not that this disunity should be legitimised, but that an end should be put to it once and for all. And will anybody still venture to deny that it really was disunity? All component parts of the Party developed separately and independently during this period—are we perhaps to deduce from this the “principle” of federation between Siberia, the Caucasus, the Urals, the South, and the rest?? The Bundists themselves say that, as regards organisational unity of its components, the Party virtually did not exist— and how can what evolved when the Party did not exist be taken as a pattern for the restoration of organisational unity? No, gentlemen, your reference to the history of the disunity that gave rise to isolation proves nothing whatever except that this isolation is abnormal. To deduce a “principle” of organisation from several years of disorganisation in the Party, is to act like those representatives of the historical school who, as Marx sarcastically observed, were prepared to defend the knout on the grounds that it was historical.

Hence, neither the “logical analysis” of autonomy nor the appeals to history can provide even the shadow of a “principle” justifying the isolation of the Bund. But the Bund’s third argument, which invokes the idea of a Jewish nation, is undoubtedly of the nature of a principle. Unfortunately, however, this Zionist idea is absolutely false and essentially reactionary. “The Jews have ceased to be a nation, for a nation without a territory is unthinkable,” says one of the most prominent of Marxist theoreticians, Karl Kautsky (see No. 42 of Iskra and the separate reprint from it The Kishinev Massacre and the Jewish Question, p. 3). And quite recently, examining the problem of nationalities in Austria, the same writer endeavoured to give a scientific definition of the concept nationality and established two principal criteria of a nationality: language and territory (Neue Zeit,10 1903, No. 2). A French Jew, the radical Alfred Naquet, says practically the same thing, word for word, in his controversy with the anti-Semites and the Zionists. 30 “If it pleased Bernard Lazare,” he writes of the well-known Zionist, “to consider himself a citizen of a separate nation, that is his affair; but I declare that, although I was born a Jew ... I do not recognise Jewish nationality.... I belong to no other nation but the French.... Are the Jews a nation? Although they were one in the remote past, my reply is a categorical negative. The concept nation implies certain conditions which do not exist in this case. A nation must have a territory on which to develop, and, in our time at least, until a world confederation has extended this basis, a nation must have a common language. And the Jews no longer have either a territory or a common language.... Like myself, Bernard Lazare probably did not know a word of Hebrew, and would have found it no easy matter, if Zionism had achieved its purpose, to make himself understood to his co-racials [congénères] from other parts of the world” (La Petite République, September 24, 1903). “German and French Jews are quite unlike Polish and Russian Jews. The characteristic features of the Jews include nothing that bears the imprint [empreinte] of nationality. If it were permissible to recognise the Jews as a nation, as Drumont does, it would be an artificial nation. The modern Jew is a product of the unnatural selection to which his forebears were subjected for nearly eighteen centuries.” All that remains for the Bundists is to develop the theory of a separate Russian-Jewish nation, whose language is Yiddish and their territory the Pale of Settlement.

Absolutely untenable scientifically,* ------------------

[*Not only national, but even racial peculiarities are denied to the Jews by modern scientific investigators, who give prime prominence to the peculiarities of the history of the Jews. “Do the peculiarities of Jewry spring from its racial character?” Karl Kautsky asks, and replies that we do not even know with precision what race means. “There is no need to bring in the concept race, which provides no real answer but only poses new problems. It is enough to trace the history of the Jews to ascertain the reasons for their characteristics.” And such an expert in this history as Renan says: “The characteristic features of the Jews and their manner of life are far more a product of the social conditions [nécessités sociales] by which they have been influenced for centuries than a racial, distinction [phénoméne de race].”52 --------------------------------------

the idea that the Jews form a separate nation is reactionary politically. Irrefutable practical proof of that is furnished by generally known facts of recent history and of present-day political realities. All over Europe, the decline of medievalism and the development of political liberty went hand in hand with the political emancipation of the Jews, their abandonment of Yiddish for the language of the people among whom they lived, and, in general, their undeniable progressive assimilation with the surrounding population. Are we again to revert to the exceptionalist theories and proclaim that Russia will be the one exception, although the Jewish emancipation movement is far broader and deeper rooted here, thanks to the awakening of a heroic class-consciousness among the Jewish proletariat? Can we possibly attribute to chance the fact that it is the reactionary forces all over Europe, and especially in Russia, who oppose the assimilation of the Jews and try to perpetuate their isolation?

That is precisely what the Jewish problem amounts to: assimilation or isolation?—and the idea of a Jewish “nationality” is definitely reactionary not only when expounded by its consistent advocates (the Zionists), but likewise on the lips of those who try to combine it with the ideas of Social-Democracy (the Bundists). The idea of a Jewish nationality runs counter to the interests of the Jewish proletariat, for it fosters among them, directly or indirectly, a spirit hostile to assimilation, the spirit of the “ghetto”.

“When the National Assembly of 1791 decreed the emancipation of the Jews,” writes Renan, “it was very little concerned with the question of race.... It is the business of the nineteenth century to abolish all ‘ghettos’, and I cannot compliment those who seek to restore them. The Jewish race has rendered the world the greatest services. Assimilated with the various nations, harmoniously blended with the various national units, it will render no lesser services in the future than in the past.” And Karl Kautsky, in particular reference to the Russian Jews, expresses himself even more vigorously. Hostility towards non-native sections of the population can only be eliminated “when the non-native sections of the population cease to be alien and blend with the general mass of the population. That is the only possible solution of the Jewish problem, and we should support everything that makes for the ending of Jewish isolation.” Yet the Bund is resisting this only possible solution, for it is helping, not to end but to increase and legitimise Jewish isolation, by propagating the idea of a Jewish “nation” and a plan of federating Jewish and non-Jewish proletarians. That is the basic mistake of “Bundism”, which consistent Jewish Social-Democrats must and will correct. This mistake drives the Bundists to actions unheard-of in the international Social-Democratic movement, such as stirring up distrust among Jewish towards non-Jewish proletarians, fostering suspicion of the latter and disseminating falsehoods about them. Here is proof, taken from this same pamphlet: “Such an absurdity [as that the organisation of the proletariat of a whole nationality should be denied representation on the central Party bodies] could be openly advocated only [mark that!] in regard to the Jewish proletariat, which, owing to the peculiar historical fortunes of the Jewish people, still has to fight for equality [!!] in the world family of the proletariat.” We recently came across just such a trick in a Zionist leaflet, whose authors raved and fumed against Iskra, purporting to detect in its struggle with the Bund a refusal to recognise the “equality” of Jew and non-Jew. And now we find the Bundists repeating the tricks of the Zionists! This is disseminating an outright falsehood, for we have “advocated” “denying representation” not “only” to the Jews, but also to the Armenians, the Georgians and so on, and in the case of the Poles, too, we called for the closest union and fusion of the entire proletariat fighting against the tsarist autocracy. It was not for nothing that the P.S.P. (Polish Socialist Party) raged and fulminated against us! To call a fight for the Zionist idea of a Jewish nation, for the federal principle of Party organisation, a “fight for the equality of the Jews in the world family of the proletariat” is to degrade the struggle from the plane of ideas and principles to that of suspicion, incitement and fanning of historically-evolved prejudice. It glaringly reveals a lack of real ideas and principles as weapons of struggle.

We thus arrive at the conclusion that neither the logical, nor the historical, nor yet the nationalist arguments of the Bund will stand criticism. The period of disunity, which aggravated waverings among the Russian Social-Democrats and the isolation of the various organisations, had the same effect, to an even more marked degree, in the case of the Bundists. Instead of proclaiming war on this historically-evolved isolation (further increased by the general disunity), they elevated it to a principle, seizing for this purpose on the sophistry that autonomy is inherently contradictory, and on the Zionist idea of a Jewish nation. Only if it frankly and resolutely admits its mistake and sets out to move towards fusion can the Bund turn away from the false path it has taken.

POSITION OF BUND IN THE PARTY Iskra, No. 51, October 22, 1903

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