May–September issues 2000
THREE. The greatest myth is that the Soviet workers state went wrong because over the years, its leadership had acted bureaucratically and dictatorially. The Stalin era went wrong because of the theoretical bankruptcy in failing to understand what was really happening in the world. The incurable revolutionary-crisis essence of imperialism was deliberately suppressed in favour of vain hopes for 'peaceful roads to socialism' and permanent peace with 'good' imperialists.
27. The most catastrophic mistake of all by the fake 'left', dominating the international-workers movement, — a mistake which makes them the permanent paralysed stooges of Western propaganda on the essential question of anti-imperialist struggle, — is the imbecile delusion that the Soviet workers state 'failed' because of 'a lack of democracy'. Firstly, it was not the workers state which failed at all. It was its leading philosophy which failed disastrously, deliberately handing the workers state over for destruction by dismantling the dictatorship of the proletariat(See paragraphs 16 & 17). Secondly, it is utterly fanciful nonsense, closer to voodoo than Marxism, to speculate that practices closer to Western traditions of 'party democracy', — basically petty-bourgeois traditions, — would have saved the CPSU bureaucracy from its ultimate revisionist lunacy of liquidating its own state power.
It makes utter gibberish of Marxist history to give credence to the barmy notion that Revisionism's damage to the international workers movement should best be categorised as a leadership behaving bureaucratically or dictatorially, and that stricter observance of a more democratic set of standing orders for a revolutionary party is the essential question to worry about for solving the problem.
In 100 volumes of the collected works of Marx, Engels, and Lenin, an enormous part of which was devoted to the polemical defeat of Revisionist nonsense attempting to undermine, hold back, or mislead the understanding of the world being fought out in the First, Second and Third Internationals, — it was the wrong analysis and ideas of the Revisionist backsliders, misinterpreting capitalist society developments, which bore 99.99% of the Marxist-Leninist onslaught, not the undoubtedly arrogant and undemocratic disposition of these Revisionists, or their bureaucratic practice. Lassalle, Proudhon, Bakunin, Bernstein, Kautsky, Plekhanov, Trotsky, etc, may all have been the biggest 'democracy' hypocrites on earth, denouncing Marx, Engels, or Lenin for their allegedly 'dictatorial ways', etc, while being genuinely hostile to the true spirit of communist democracy and objective truth themselves. But denouncing such 'democracy' humbug hardly features at all in the classic Marxist-Leninist destruction of these false prophets. Always it was their utterly wrong leadership which they attempted to give the socialist movement about the correct assessment of the latest changes in the capitalist system and the class & national struggle internationally, and the perspectives for revolution, — which Marxist science concentrated on.
But despite 73 years of living experience of the Soviet workers state's successes and failures, and a further 10 years hindsight on the causes of the self-liquidation debacle by the CPSU leadership, Western petty bourgeois ideological influence has proved powerful enough to leave contemporary Russian would-be 'left' groups (already 57 varieties of them) parroting nothing better than the same dumbed-down superficialities that the Trot and Revisionist fake 'lefts' are limited to in the West.
Although, usefully, in their descriptions of USSR problems there is no attempt to deny the considerable success of the completely publicly-owned and entirely planned Soviet economic achievements up to 1990, — or any thought of denying it, — the feeble conclusions of this new 'left' swamp in Russia about what went wrong with the USSR fail to rise above such shallowness as:
'As a result of Russia's economic difficulties and isolation, officialdom managed to take political power out of the working class's hands, seized in 1917 by the proletariat. Having become an out-of-control parasitic layer, the hierarchy made broad use of bureaucratic manoeuvring methods enabling it to protect itself both from capitalist restorationists and from the pressure of the working class. Such balancing between classes, layers, and parties in society bears the name bonapartism.
"The bureaucratic system had its resources of historical development since it confirmed itself on the gains of October. But the USSR's economic stagnation, plus the zig-zags of bureaucratic planning, signalled the exhaustion of the proletarian revolution's potential. At a critical moment in the 1980s, historical development left only two ways out. Either society had to be democratised with the building of class-based Soviets (councils) and freeing the plan from the clutches of the bureaucracy; or the economy had to be transferred into private hands and the dictatorship of the market.
"However, the hierarchy was not united, and under the blows of the crisis in society, it split into distinct rival fractions. The most cynical, young, and active branch of the bureaucracy ('the democrats') saw the possibility through the market of turning state property, of which it was only the management, into its own private bourgeois property. It found a leader in Yeltsin.
"A more amorphous but more numerous section ('the conservatives') feared exchanging their privileges for the risky life of a bourgeois. They just wanted cautious reforms along the Chinese pattern. Ligachev became the mouthpiece for this fraction, and after him Zhuganov.
"A third wing of the bureaucracy ('the irreconcilables') was the least clued-up, not grasping the historical limitations of Stalinism and the necessity for reform, and incapable of coping with the new conditions. The party secretaries of the major primary organisations would usually be in this group, pathologically opposed to any changes. The voice of this section was Nina Andreyeva, and after than General Makashov.
"In the sharpening conditions, Gorbachev could neither pacify nor strike down these fractions because the virus of these splits had penetrated into the system of control run by the KGB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. As a result, in August 1991 there came into power the hungriest and most determined fraction of marketeers.
"An independent workers movement and the cultivation of Marxist thinking had been destroyed in the Stalin years. Without any experience of struggle; and without any real idea of what the market would mean, and tired of the lies and the bossiness of the CPSU, - a section of workers which might have become active, swallowed Yeltsin's radical anti-bureaucracy slogans, and gave him their support .....
"The lesson is obvious. It is only possible to build a proletarian party on a basis of democracy, internationalism, and conscious principledness. Any other course leads to degeneration, splits, and extinction.'
('Left Vanguard' No 37, Jan 27, 2000. Publishing since 1990. Translated from the Russian).
Such is the astonishingly sad and reactionary confusion which 60 years of Revisionist dominance in Moscow, matched by 60 years of Trot and Revisionist fake-'leftism' in the West, have produced. This was some 'bonapartism'!!! In Marxist science always a term implying chronic instability, lack of clear-cut purpose, and regimes of a likely extremely temporary nature, this so-called 'bonapartism', however, totally transformed the most difficult country on earth to rule from the utterly degraded backward illiterate depths of collapsed Tsarist autocracy in 1917 to becoming a world superpower only 30 years later, able to hold at bay the greatest imperialist strength and domination the world has ever seen, and do it on behalf of virtually the entire Third World, breaking free from colonial empire, — eventually obliging the American, British, French, Dutch, Portuguese empires (etc, etc) to abandon their counter-revolutionary struggles through aiding in one way or another the local national-liberation forces. It managed to develop every aspect of modern society and statehood, easily equal to the average achievement over the whole capitalist world market, and to easily keep this going for 73 years (1917–1990) in spite of the country twice being totally destroyed by Western imperialist intervention, and despite having to cope with permanent international economic embargo throughout that time, and without a scrap of any capitalist class or free market in sight!!! Some 'instability' !!! Some 'lack of purpose'!!!
This imbecile Trot gibberish now puddling young minds in Moscow as usual fails to specify when, where, and how the effective 'counter-revolution' took place whereby this apparently classless 'officialdom' achieved this astonishing feat of "managing to take political power out of the working class's hands", — a remarkable accomplishment which Lenin, for example, died in 1924 convinced that 7 years of non-stop war-intervention, scorched-earth destruction, economic strangulation, and sabotage had failed to achieve despite the best efforts of, first, German imperialism and its allies (who were succeeding in giving the might of American and West European imperialism such a hard time in the First World War (1914-1918); then the 14 capitalist invasion armies, including troops and bombing aircraft from all the leading Western powers; and finally the unspeakable destructive savagery of the Western-backed counter-revolutionary White guard armies which put the whole country to the sword from 1920 to 1922. And if what Lenin led in those six most dramatic years of all world history was a proletarian state, the world's first, locked in life or death conflict of unbelievably savage class and national war to keep the power in the hands of the working class (which in Marxist science of modern society is the only way possible of preventing power returning into the hands of the bourgeoisie), then how can any alternative description be applied to the even more titanic and destructive Armageddon fought by that same proletarian state from 1941 to 1945 against even mightier bourgeois imperialist forces. That most colossal destruction in the whole history of warfare aimed to complete the task which the West had failed to achieve from 1917 to 1922, to defeat the Soviet workers state and to retake power for the capitalist-colonialist system, or in class terms to get power back into the hands of the bourgeoisie by taking it out of the hands of the working class. So still in 1945, power is obviously still in the hands of the undefeated, party-led Soviet working class.
It hardly makes sense to suggest that the greatest invasion force ever, fleets, tanks, planes, guns, and millions of troops, — were defeated by 'officialdom'.
So when and how was this mighty trick done which the whole might of world imperialism could not do taking over control of the USSR, the government of it, the political power, but which some hostile-to-the-working-class 'officialdom' managed to do, apparently, but which has no historical date to it, no venue, no noteworthy incidents????
It might be argued that not much of a fight was put up in 1991 when political power clearly was finally being seized by new class forces of a deliberately-revived privatising-bourgeois mentality deliberately supported by officially-encouraged Western capitalist intervention.
But the pointlessness of the analogy is made by the fact that the transformation between the Soviet workers state and the freebooting capitalist hell-hole that Yeltsin unleashed was unmistakable, unmissable. Times, places, personalities, and incident after incident after incident. The stripping of political and economic power from the planned socialism of the Soviet workers state is an undisputed matter of detailed history from 1989 to 1991. So the question remains: When, comparably, was political power lost by the working class before that? Time? Place? Personalities? Incident after incident after incident???
The entire thesis of these fake-'lefts' about the Soviet Union having been a 'bonapartist' regime is embarrassing political illiteracy from the start. Marxist science knows only of bonapartism as a temporary balancing act between the two major classes fighting for power within any country, — a regime which must very quickly,— within weeks or months, reveal which decisive class force it wishes to throw in its lot with and gain legitimacy (and survival) from. This Trot verbal trickery wisely avoids saying that any Bolshevik government survived by actually 'resting on the Russian capitalist class'. The whole history of the USSR from 1917 onwards is known by the whole world as one non-stop battle to destroy the capitalist class in Russia, and succeeding fairly rapidly.
But since it is also well-known that Western intervention never ceased, after that, trying to restore the capitalist class to power in Russia, then describing the Bolshevik government as always needing to "protect itself from capitalist restorationists and from the pressure of the working class" can appear, at superficial glance, to have established the conditions for 'bonapartism'. No such thing. Only one class was left with any power by the Russian Revolution, — the working class.
The notion of the Bolshevik regime "protecting itself from the pressure of the working class" is just sick slick meaninglessness from the phrasebook of anarchist philosophy, the long-time historic rival to Marxism in the workers movement, which dreamed that after capitalism was overthrown, there should be no more governments or leadership of any kind. It has been the childish mantra of 'rank-and-file socialism' dilettantes ever since. A government of communist leadership invariably tries to put pressure on the working class to change its ways, adopt new methods, respond to new challenges, and make even more sacrifices, etc, etc. Nearly 73 years of positive communist government in the Soviet Union led the working class to miraculous achievements. Just when, on what occasions, over what incidents, did communist government in the USSR ever identifiably or memorably "protect itself from the pressure of the working class"??? It is more pure anti-Marxist gibberish.
Much more adultly and interestingly, these modern Trot anti-communists in Moscow help demolish, inadvertently, another widespread myth:- namely, that the admittedly Revisionism-befuddled CPSU regime supposedly, however, had gone beyond the point of any cure or improvement by the late 1980s. These Trots, who were there, utterly hostile to communism, — admit it themselves that far from total paralysis, or being so emotionally and aspirationally afflicted that it was in no condition for anything other than to commit suicide, the CPSU leadership was, on the contrary, battling things out in three quite spirited factions, ready for conflict and not remotely prepared to just crawl away and die, ashamed of what they historically represented as CPSU leaders. Tragically, as is obvious, decades of 'peaceful-road-to-socialism' and 'imperialism-can-no-longer-develop-economically' Revisionist confusion had undermined any Marxist scientific ability to grasp that an international working-class fight against imperialist crisis via world socialist revolutionary struggle was the only possible objective perspective for civilisation's further survival and flourishing, and that without such a philosophy being restored to the CPSU, the Soviet workers state itself would find it increasingly difficult to maintain production and innovation enthusiasm or sufficient socialist harmony in society. Moreover, the long decades of Revisionist, anti-revolutionary, incipient international-class-collaborationist mentality of Stalinism would lead to total paralysis or worse if the pointless and insane perspective of overtaking the highest levels of Western consumerist life with even higher levels of Soviet consumerist life was not abandoned.
28. Earlier in its struggles for an objective scientific understanding of world development, the EPSR/ILWP Bulletin campaigned widely trying to warn that Gorbachev's frustrated tinkering and anti-Marxist ignorance was missing the point in a big way about the world's future (and the USSR's) and threatened real danger. Chapter titles from a collection published in 1988 (ILWP Books vol. 13) declared: "Only Leninist revolutionary theory can inspire USSR, not Gorbachev's exhortations" (No 331, 26/2/86); "The 'dissident' problem will become unmanageable unless there is a return to Leninist international revolutionary perspectives" (No 375, 7/1/87); "The West's enthusiasm for Gorbachev's distortions of Lenin on peaceful coexistence, class collaboration, and human rights is a grave counter-revolutionary warning" (No 376, 14/1/87); "Revolutionary communism is the only worthwhile individualism. 'Dissident' artists are purely bourgeois stooges. West cheers Soviet 'shake-up' so as to undermine dictatorship of the proletariat" (No 385, 18/3/87); "Death of Marxism through ignorance is the only real Moscow news" (No 419, 11/11/87); "Nationalism rampant due to zero Leninist leadership by Gorbachev"(No 433,2/3/88); etc, etc.
Conclusions written for that 1988 collection (and first published in ESPR's 450 & 451 of 29/6 & 6/7/88) failed to resolve a mistaken assertion frequently repeated in this period by the Review that the collectively responsible society and the planned economic gains of the USSR were by now so deeply ingrained in the Soviet workers state's way of life that a complete reversal to capitalist free-for-all would no longer be possible, (although repeated clear reminders that such a danger was posed are evident from the conclusions extracts (below) and the chapter headings (above). Such hopeful confidence was a mistake in understanding, born of personal cadre limitations in the EPSR at that time; but although wiser now on the specific definition (and colossal added danger) that a complete counter-revolution has taken place, the important historical understanding which encouraged that specific mistake remains a major factor still requiring to be weighed up continuously in calculating the international balance of class forces as variously affecting national and revolutionary struggles in different parts of the world, — namely the total transformation to the shape of the whole 20th century that the development and the achievements of the world's first workers states had wrought, — wiping out or mortally wounding immense imperialist-state forces (military and political) in direct confrontation (1919 War of Intervention; 1941-45 Axis imperialist powers (whose world war onslaught had the whole planet by the throat having initially crushed all the Allied imperialist rivals until in turn being crushed by the proletarian Red Army); 1950-53 Korean War; 1949-1973 Vietnam War; etc, etc), — and inspiring the total worldwide overthrow of all the West's direct colonial empires, etc, etc.
Such anti-imperialist inspiration is still keeping major workers states going (in China, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, etc), and still encouraging a steady increase in anti-Western revolt by both nationalist and revolutionary forces from the Philippines to Colombia, frequently brandishing the hammer-and-sickle symbolism still.
And a possibly even bigger question is: how destroyed is the influence of 73 years of successful socialist state-building in Russia itself, where the implantation of market capitalism has mostly brought nothing but utter despair and demoralisation to the vast majority of the peoples of the former USSR, including the now 'free' national republics and minorities. The Communist Party, albeit still hopelessly revisionist, continues as the only stable and coherent political force in Russia and many other Soviet republics; and the CP in Mongolia has just been put back in office with a 9086 majority after 10 years of locally experienced 'capitalist freedom'. All of Putin's public talk, confirming hopes in him as an ex-KGB hardman, is of rebuilding the power and authority of the central state machinery. The EPSR's 1980s best guess that Leninism could never revive in Moscow until major communist revolutions had started ousting market imperialism in new parts of the world, could also now be invalidated by spontaneous working class revolt in the ex-USSR. A return to a planned socialist economy there would certainly eliminate at a stroke the theoretical problem for international working-class understanding, of decades of still unresolved anti-communist and anti-Soviet brainwashing having been apparently crowned with Gorbachev's deliberate suicidal self-destruction.
29. The EPSR's 1988 attempts to summarise the long view of how the first workers-state epoch influenced the world and was influenced by it, have still retained some relevance although continuing to be speculative and unproven, in parts. No 450, 29/6/88:
'The horrifying philistine outpourings of anti-Leninism now swamping the Soviet Union (see ILWP Books vol.13) are no part of the Bolshevik 'revolution' at all but its exact opposite, — the re-enthronement of leaderless petty-bourgeois chaos which will fall easily manipulable to Western imperialism's ceaseless relentless crusade of anti-communist disinformation, black propaganda, dirty tricks, and outright subversion if Gorbachevism continues unchecked.
Although still badly handicapped prior to Gorbachev by Stalinist revisionism much as it had been since the mid-1920s,the Soviet socialist revolution was monolithic stability itself, and in no kind of crisis.
But just as the anti-Leninist oaf Dubcek succeeded in Prague in 1968 (assisted by enormous Western intervention) Gorbachev could quickly create dangerously unstable rudderless confusion if he is not stopped.
The massive financial power and subversive organisation of the CIA which has toppled countless regimes since 1945 deemed to be "hostile to American interests", — from Mossadeqh's Iran to Allende's Chile, from Lumumba's Belgian Congo (Zaire)to Arbenz's Guatemala, from Jagan's Guyana to Sankara's Burkina Faso, from the NJM's Grenada to Obote's Uganda, from Bosch's Dominican Republic to Diem's Vietnam etc, etc, plus scores more failed attempts in Poland, Hungary, Seychelles, Libya, Cuba, Afghanistan, Kampuchea, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, etc (see the entire library of memoirs of ex-CIA agents now available) — — is a history lesson obviously totally wasted on the anti-Marxist philistine Gorbachev. And he is undoubtedly equally ignorant of the vast and impressive Lenin literature on the inevitability of "all the old crap reviving" if there is any weakening of the dictatorship of the proletariat's class rule during the long interregnum between the wholly imperialist-dominated epoch of the world (prior to 1917) and the eventual winning of a planned organised world of communist abundance built on the graveyards of inter-imperialist warmongering (by degenerate tyrannical monopoly capitalism).
By capitulating the Soviet workers state to now being waylaid and held up by every last manifestation of petty-bourgeois idealist bollocks that has ever been spawned by Western anti-communist philosophy and intrigue, Gorbachevism has now opened the door towards the total paralysis that Dubcek achieved before he was removed, in Czechoslovakia.
The contemptible demonstrations suggesting the closure of the Soviet state security services(the KGB) are one particularly degenerate example of the conceited small-mindedness of apolitical sceptics and individualists whose dislike of the international class struggle is only exceeded by their despicable ignorance of un-ignorable imperatives for freeing the world's proletarian masses from imperialist warmongering crisis.
The incorrect policies and tactics of the KGB(and its predecessor organisations) are the political errors of the party leadership, — nothing else. It is another instance of philistine hatred of Leninism causing childish irresponsibility of demands that the baby be thrown down the pan because the bathwater has become a bit mucky.
Lenin built up powerful state security as one of his first priorities against counter-revolution. It is an outrage that the party under Gorbachev sees no need to immediately attack such confusing and destabilising drivel as 'Close down the KGB' as soon as it received worldwide publicity from Western TV broadcasts from Moscow. And there are many other examples of similar politically ignorant complacency. The nationalism unleashed in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Estonia, etc, is no joke, e.g. And Gorbachev is already in grave danger of being too late now to halt the nonsense of small-minded national exclusivity by merely urging these rebellious republics to "Stop being silly" (which is about all Gorbachev is capable of.) In the modern world, the track record of telling people to "Stop feeling so Armenian" or to "Stop this Azerbaijani conceit", etc, is a very poor one, — understandably, and to a limited extent, justifiably so. Imperialist exploitation has always either had to crush dissident nationalism 95% of the time, or else buy it off by granting some privileged colonial policing position or other(Ghurkas, etc).
The Soviet workers state can pursue neither of these paths. The USSR has held together hitherto because there has always been sufficient momentum in the socialist revolution to easily win the allegiance of the mass of the proletariat in the more than 160 nations making up the Soviet Union, including all the 15 major republics.
That would also easily still be the case if the class-proletarian instincts of the masses, were what was being appealed to, — against say, manifestations of counter-revolutionary, bourgeois nationalism of a separatist, individualist (anti-communist but not necessarily anti-capitalist) kind, — whether disguised or not(as will inevitably happen) as "multi-party democracy" or "parliamentary system" or "greater autonomy" or "less Russian influence", etc.
But at that point Gorbachev really would need a genuine "new revolution" with scientific communist appeal: to rally all the soviet masses on a proletarian internationalist basis for such a delicate and difficult struggle against local petty-bourgeois nationalist exclusiveness (in the aftermath of all the demoralising demobilising idiocies that Stalinist defeatist-revisionism has paralysed the Soviet people with (in parts and from time to time) since the abandonment of Lenin's perspectives in the 1920s).
In response to the aimless "pull your socks up" vacuity of Gorbachevism which is in reality just a thin veneer covering rampant international class collaboration, the Soviet masses may well not feel at all sufficiently proletarian-internationalist to take on Armenian or Estonian separatism, etc, when it begins to fall completely under the influence of worldwide bourgeois-imperialist reaction, and CIA subversion.
Whether or not the Afghanistan communists, etc, are to be totally abandoned (which remains to be seen), Gorbachevism is inflicting permanent massive ideological damage on the entire international proletariat and inevitably on Soviet workers' enthusiasm and clarity for the further building of the socialist revolution) — by his philistine mental diarrhoea on the all-important problem of imperialism.
Peaceful coexistence was a mere Leninist diplomatic tactic for causing splits in the warmongering imperialist camp and keeping the Soviet Union out of direct unequal confrontation for as long as possible, — nothing else.
The idea that it is a possible permanent condition between the socialist states and imperialism, or that it offers any kind of solution to the inherent catastrophe of incurable imperialist warmongering, — — is certifiable.
It is also a disarming ideological strait-jacket to handicap the proletariat with in its historic class-war-to-the-finish with the capitalist bourgeoisie.
If the mortal conflict with imperialism has suddenly been glasnosted out of existence by the third rate muddleheadedness of Comrade Gorbachev, than what possible conviction can all the hysterical "pull your socks up" urgings from fat bureaucrats in Moscow carry?
Gorbachev will be in a similar mess when it comes to trying to rally public support to counter any of the other destabilising threats to Soviet order (which his small-minded ignorance of Leninism and bureaucratic-idealist hostility to the dialectical rigours of proletarian dictatorship (as the greatest guarantee of real democracy in history) have unleashed) — such as the eruption of individualist artistic mysticism, petty-bourgeois nationalism, and fascistic religiosity, — all biliously and vengefully hostile to the dialectical independent-mindedness of proletarian communist leadership epitomised by Leninism.
He will be even more vulnerable on difficult questions of CPSU history in a party growing increasingly remote from the rigorous discipline of Marxist-Leninist polemics on the international revolutionary struggle, — a party of creeping opportunist philistinism. 0ne false move on the tightrope, and Gorbachev will be swallowed up without trace, just like so many of his predecessors, — or their reputations.
In fact there is very little stability in view for Gorbachevism in any direction. The planned socialist economy is likely to remain sturdy enough for Gorbachev to fiddle some industrial perestroika 'success' or other, but that will hardly fool the Soviet people any more. Most unlikely to be achieved in the wretched revisionist swamp atmosphere endemic to the retreat from Leninism is any renewal of wild production enthusiasm anywhere, (and almost as hard to fake).
Telling the Soviet people that US imperialism now represents everything that is 'friendly reasonableness' towards the USSR's interests around the world is giving hostages to fortune in a spectacularly big way. At any moment, the next piece of dirty filthy CIA subversion which might tread directly on Soviet toes could make Gorbachev look the biggest fool on earth.
And since it is coming anyway, — then the sooner the better. The longer Gorbachev's naive stupidity rules, the greater the damage to the socialist camp and to the Soviet revolutionary workers state.
Does it mean that the old sclerotic conservative bureaucracy, - half stifling the Soviet Union, was better, - and that no glasnost shake-up at all would have been preferable? It is an academic question. Leninists would have to agitate for Leninism, not Gorbachevism, which is totally opposed to Leninism. And the price that Gorbachevism is now asking the Soviet workers state to pay in terms of increased chaos and confusion from the idealist swamp being unleashed, — would have to be declared unacceptable, and fought against, under any circumstances.
This ideological paralysis could prove fatal, — and it is getting steadily worse, not better.
The latest outbursts from Vyshinsky, Gorbachev's deputy justice minister and reform adviser, has taken contentless formalism to even more exalted heights of stupidity than the 10-year-tenure rule examined earlier (Bulletin 446):
"We have to find the legal expression of the freedom of behaviour of an individual, of his choice to act at his own discretion" Mr Vyshinksy said. "Then the code of Soviet laws will be turned from a code of bans into a code of peoples' freedoms."
"It is necessary to divide by strict and enforceable laws the functions of the party, from those of the state and of the elected Soviets in the management of our society," he added.
A qualified lawyer, Mr Gorbachev has characterised the previous system as "lawless and arbitrary;" seeing legal, reforms and the emergence of an independent judiciary as essential to the success of perestroika.
Rather than interpret the various national disputes as a danger to the country's unity and superpower status, he is counting on the support of the radical delegates from the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Mass meetings with the delegates in all three republics have focused on popular demands for virtual economic and cultural autonomy, and the transformation of the USSR into a federation of sovereign republics.
The key to the Gorbachev reform will be the emergence of the professional Soviet politician, who need not be a party member, but who will make being an elected deputy into a full-time job, with the right to raise and spend and be answerable for locally-raised public money without having to depend on funds from central planners in Moscow.
Hitherto, party officials have held these reins of executive authority, but Mr Gorbachev will also propose that the economic departments within regional party buildings be closed down to end the party machine's traditional interference in the running of farms and factories.
Laws will not resolve the failure of leadership. Such an approach can only make things much worse and even more chaotic by presenting the difficulties of Soviet (and world socialist) development as though the phenomenon of 'leading' in itself were the problem, when in the Leninist real world it is the question of leading badly which in fact needs sorting out.
Yet again the crass philistine emptiness of mere symptoms (e.g. people feeling 'unfree' because badly led) quite uselessly getting all the treatment will leave the disease itself, the failure to develop a comprehensive Leninist perspective as the only way back from Stalinist bureaucratic defeatism and paralysis (and the only future ;for the whole of mankind), — as painfully evident and debilitating as ever.
The contentless undialectical formalism is blatant in everything Gorbachev does, revealing a profound ignorance of Marxist-Leninist science. Another crass example of shooting the pianist because someone didn't like the song, or of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, was the farcical anti-alcohol campaign, — virtually closing down the entire industry or pricing it out of existence just because some people didn't know, or didn't care, when they had had too much to drink. Naturally a far greater number of people who like occasionally to handle a beer or two, or a bottle of wine, or a drop of vodka, without any wish to permanently injure themselves with the stuff, immediately started brewing their own, with obvious damage to the state's drinks industry monopoly revenues, with a predictable fear of sugar shortages in the shops, and with probably slightly more drunkenness than usual as a result of all this manic behaviour.
Strong drinking is an ancient Russian — and now Soviet — tradition. It is a problem, of course. But the prat who dreamed up closing the breweries and distilleries, and putting the price up, as a way of dealing with the cultural, social, psychological, and political reasons why the ideals of Leninist objective science still exercise too weak an attraction or influence on too many Soviet citizens, — is as much in need of deeper education as they are.
The Soviet Union is a very modern-minded, technologically-capable and learning-oriented society, as well as already being very mature, and enlightened. It is crying out for even better education, and above all for far more advanced revolutionary and political inspiration. In a word, it needs much, much, much, much more Leninism. From Gorbachev & Co, it is getting fatal, anti-Marxist idiocy, dictated by Gorbachev's petty bourgeois philistine hatred of Lenin's international revolutionary perspective for the worldwide dictatorship of the proletariat as the only possible opening to the first fully international civilisation, — communism.
Tragically, this influence of Gorbachevism is now chiming-in disastrously with the nationalist rightwing revisionist nonsense which gripped Peking in the aftermath of Mao's bitter over-reaction to the Stalinist stupidities and insults from Moscow earlier. These latest quotes on capitalism sum up much of the revisionist 'new thinking' from many revisionist groups in the socialist camp. They make insane reading in the depths of the Western world's most cataclysmic financial and trade crisis in its entire rotten imperialist-monopoly history, — the certain prelude to yet another catastrophic collapse into war and fascism at the end of the coming re-run of the 1930s decade of Depression, trade-war, and inter-imperialist warmongering arms-race.
Some people fear capitalism because "they don't realise the modern capitalism system is a great creation of human civilisation," says Xu Jia-tun, China's representative in Hong Kong.
The great Marxist teachers had failed to envisage that workers' salaries would increase, social welfare improve or a capitalist shareholding system emerge, he argued.
"The trend of people's capitalism has emerged and the difference between the classes has narrowed," Mr Shao said. "Most of our understanding of capitalism is from the works of Marx and Lenin, who had little understanding of modern capitalism," the anonymous Guangming Daily writer said.
Marx and Engels erred in their assessment of the historical reality of 1848 (when the Communist Manifesto was written), theoretician Hong Zhaolong wrote in another article.
They are also grotesquely insensitive and criminally misleading comments to the world's proletarian masses who are daily suffering the most abysmal extremes of murderous sweatshop exploitation still involving much child-labour and virtual slavery all round the capitalist 'free market' world; plus, even worse, the dictatorial tyranny of fascist terror under endless stooge military regimes propped up by US imperialism; - not to mention the wholesale starvation and poverty which massacres 40 million people every year prematurely around this "modern capitalist system".
It took the socialist revolution to end perpetual mass famines in China created by capitalism. A few more Leninist revolutions are now going to be needed on the planet to restore an international objective scientific atmosphere which will see off the pea-brained revisionist oafs who have temporarily captured bureaucratic office in Moscow and Peking.
This total ignorance of Leninist revolutionary philosophy leaves the posturing Moscow opportunists incapable of grasping that the difficulties of powerful leadership positions in an imperfect world with very imperfect individuals - are precisely resolvable only by an even deeper understanding of Leninism itself and its crucial science of a strong leading class role for communists.
It was precisely when the Stalin group lost its confidence in leading and teaching a Leninist revolutionary perspective to the world proletariat that all the old crap of deliberate falsifications and 'letting people know only what we want them to know', etc, began to revive.
Not strong enough to explain their own appalling mistakes in the conduct of the Marxist-Leninist world revolution, the Stalin group simply retreated from the only reality (the dialectical materialist explanation of the necessity for world revolution) into the make-believe fantasies of defensive Soviet nationalism, bureaucratic vanity, routinism, and instructionalism, degenerating later into all manner of arbitrary stupidity and viciousness, — — — anything rather than the leadership role of constant expansion of Leninist consciousness for the Soviet and international proletariat.
Where this kind of Leninist leadership applies, — willing the masses to ever higher levels of achievement in independently grasping and acting upon, and innovating over) the demands for communist responsibility in society (in the USSR and in the world at large), then there can hardly be a problem of leadership appearing to limit people's activities other than the dying counter-revolutionary relics of middle-class anti-communism, — in all its forms (religion, nationalism, profiteering, opportunism, etc).)
Lenin's world revolutionary philosophy is precisely an invitation to every individual on earth to 'develop their freedoms' as far and mightily as possible, the freedom from ignorance, from fear of bourgeois-idealist bullshit, from diffidence about demanding, — and giving, — a revolutionary communist lead to anyone in any part of the planet.
The idea for all this was still intact when the last Soviet volunteer force went to fight in Spain in 1936 against the imperialist axis-led fascists, but by that time, of course, Stalinist defeatism had already stifled the Leninist content out of the Soviet form, and the heroic efforts and sacrifices were all in vain because of the hopelessly doomed political perspectives of fighting only in support of the bourgeois republican government, (instead of fighting merely against Francoism, and with full opportunities and expectations preserved that a Spanish communist revolution would take over the leadership of anti-fascist Spain as soon as it was strong enough to hold onto power). This 'Popular Front' nonsense meant only the certain death both of the Republic, and of the independent communist movement.
This was one feature in a steady degeneration from Leninism from the late 1920s onwards. The philosophical inspiration of the Soviet Union and its people has been relentlessly deteriorating commensurately.
At this stage, the Soviet Union should be bursting with millions of young Bolsheviks thirsting to storm the world (bringing health, agricultural organisation, education, industrial science, etc, to the exploited and alienated and backward billions in the majority of the planet suffering from ex-colonialism and neo-colonialism and in particular burning with indignation at the Western-backed fascist tyrannies still slaughtering the proletarian masses from South Africa to Zionist-occupied Palestine, from the Philippines to Chile, from Guatemala to Pakistan, etc), and ready to help fight nazi reaction. But the Soviet bureaucracy's retreat from Leninism has now degenerated so far that not even the formal idea of volunteering to combat fascist intervention (as against Spain) now has any echoes.
And one can only expect that it is with Gorbachev's encouragement that utterly spurious reformist mini-passions are being souped up around such dross as 'a monument for the victims of the terror' or for 'multi-party democracy to allow us to become social-democrats Scandinavian style' to act as a deliberate diversion from any possible real campaigns for a return to Leninism. If a sick industry in pity, nostalgia, and bathos is suddenly thought (Polish Catholic style) to be the best thing to do with the Soviet state of mind, then why are the prior claims of the vastly greater number of millions of victims of pre-1917 class conflict in Russia's bitter history being ignored? There is no especially-famous monument yet in the USSR to the victims of Tsarist terror.
And better still, why not combine two of the greatest current 'reforming' passions, and demand that the monument be to the victims of precisely the 'multi-party' period of Russian history when the capitalist state terror continued unabated throughout the empty posturings of Liberals, Constitutional Democrats, Monarchists, and every variety possible of Social, Democrat, who all went along with the slaughter of nearly 15 million Russian subjects in the 'Great War', — the nationalist-imperialist holocaust of 1914-1918 which was only kept going by Russia's Social Democratic parties in its final depraved year (until the Bolshevik revolutionaries put the entire sordid bourgeois multi-party mess to he sword, — the only way it could be ended then, and the only way that imperialist warmongering has ever been ended since.)
The Leninist answer to these 'monument' and 'multi-party' ghouls is stifled by the stench of Gorbachev's opportunist class-collaborationism. The wretchedness of Stalinist degeneracy needs answering in the Soviet Union, but a barmy monument (feeding on sentimentality which is directly out of the very same idealist muddle headedness, — distorting the real essence, importance, and perspective on events, — which Stalin ousted Leninism with in the first place), — is absolutely the most counter-revolutionary way of going about it.
Once again, it concentrates all the attention on personal tragedies symptomatic of what was going wrong, but away from the profound political causes in the international class war which were making things go wrong.
To return to the monument theme, if some eruption or other of sentimental impressionism cannot be avoided, then the best way of recalling the disasters of the revisionist Stalin era's defeatist retreat from world revolution might be to commemorate all the millions forced to continue to languish under imperialism because the 'peaceful road to socialism', the 'Popular Front', and other idiocies from Chile to Spain and Germany failed to organise a correct Leninist revolutionary answer to fascist reaction; or because class collaborating illusions imposed Zionist colonialism on 5 million Palestinian people through a Soviet UN vote (and subsequent arms-aid to the Zionists) in 1948; etc.
Commemorate the retreat from Leninism by commemorating the disasters which befell the international proletariat because of Stalinist bureaucracy's abandonment of Lenin's world socialist revolutionary perspectives. And tack Gorbachev's stint onto this lamentable record of defeatist revisionist disasters.'
No 451, 6/7/88:
'The historical record is clear. The post-Lenin Bolshevik leadership, trained in Leninism's world revolutionary perspectives, — brilliantly carried out certain aspects of Leninist science (building a strong socialist state of proletarian dictatorship; preserving party unity; reviving the economy through the paradoxical marketing aspects of NEP; conducting an international diplomatic offensive to end the USSR's isolation and trade embargoes against it, and to keep the potential imperialist counterrevolutionary aggressors divided amongst themselves instead of all united against the Soviet Union; developing the Third International; defeating Trotskyite pessimism (and ultra-left posturing etc, etc) — but became hopelessly baffled by the dialectical complications of strategy and tactics for further advance in a period when the revolutionary tide was in fact receding in part (in general) and imperialist counter-revolution consolidating again, — particularly in the industrialised West where the most crucial new communist-revolt breakthroughs, Germany in particular) were originally supposed (and expected) to take place.
Failing to grasp Lenin's masterly understanding that the revolutionary advance could continue to be made through the East, and the colonised countries generally, while the revolutionary banners should be kept flying independently in the West against revisionist backsliding while simultaneously fighting a tactically defensive battle for a while against imperialism's (and reformism's) temporary consolidation, — — the Stalinist leadership went into headlong retreat from Leninism itself, — falsifying its own record, and the Leninist record, as it did so, — and eventually rationalising away the continued international setbacks by effectively revising away all the conditions for continued revolutionary advance, — finally ending up suspicious of all 'revolutionary situations' because so fearful of more defeats, and substituting ultimately the class-collaborating nonsense of the 'Popular Front' abandonment of revolutionary leadership, and eventually the 'peaceful road to socialism' idiocy which tried to wipe out any notion at all of the inevitable future revolutionary advance of mankind (the only one open to it, in reality).
Stalinism as the management of the world's first socialist state had a choice of whether in its difficulties to just stick with running Soviet development, and keeping out of harm's way as much as possible from imperialist warmongering while preparing strictly for whatever defensive operations would be needed against direct imperialist intervention on the USSR, or whether it should actively pursue Lenin's revolutionary, internationalist line of triumphant profound analysis of revolutionary situations, strategy and tactics — all round the planet, — coupled with preparations to take on imperialist counter-revolution wherever and whenever it was possible within the still-developing potentials of Soviet power.
Having found the first choice made far fewer difficulties in their lives as a leadership wishing to be regarded as at least successful in managing the Soviet Union's affairs even if the international problems appeared dauntingly dismal and difficult at times, and the embarrassing failures hard to explain and analyse (from their weakness in Leninist science), — the Stalin leadership increasingly distorted the historical record (of Leninism, and its own disasters), and increasingly withdrew into a 'fortress USSR' style of management, — eventually full of much subjective idealist illusions, paranoia, and vicious arbitrariness.'
The contemporary Trot-anarchist resurrection of the anarchist age-old delusion of 'socialism without a state structure or bureaucracy' (effectively, the demand for rank-and-file democracy), marks the desperate retreat by many groups of anti-communist fake-'lefts' into the realm of total academic abstractions because their critiques of the Soviet workers state ('state capitalism'; 'the new class'; 'bonapartism'; 'counter-revolutionary agents of imperialism'; etc, etc)proved so ludicrously wrong when the USSR leadership did finally have to publicly and spectacularly, deliberately and messily, hack to pieces the virulently sturdy planned socialist economy and society, slowly killing it bit by painful bit. It couldn't and wouldn't just die by itself, and even 10 years later, it is still only half destroyed.
But this cynical dilettantism, — philistinely ignoring crucial historical lessons — about the massive impact the workers states had on the whole history of the imperialist 20th century in order to score some petty points about how life was lived inside the USSR, — nevertheless does lead on to some basic diversionary delusions created by much 'democracy' nonsense.
Only in the dream world of childish fantasies does present human society, still in the epoch of class war as the structural political backbone of history's progress, suddenly get transformed (by revolution or anything else) from a world of endless irreconcilable contradictions and conflicts, which find their echo all the way down to the strife-torn minutiae of ethnic, racial, workplace, neighbourhood, and family squabbling, — beyond the framework of class conflicts, religious, philosophical, and party political antagonism, itself confusedly labouring under even vaster national and international differences which threaten the most serious trouble of all ultimately to peoples security, well being, and peace-of-mind, individually and collectively, — suddenly into a completely calm world where quiet talking miraculously resolves all problems on earth, — with everyone on the planet scrupulously behaving themselves nicely, taking it in turns to speak, instantly accepting graciously every chairman's ruling with impeccable discipline, and generously listening seriously and fully to everyone else's point of view, and defending their right to say it, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.
The petty-bourgeois anarchist mentality quickly got into its fake-'left' stride against the Bolshevik Revolution, challenging the Leninist movement (which had brilliantly led and consolidated the seizure of power, having for years theoretically fought against all tendencies to build just such an organised, scientifically-educated workers party exactly capable of giving successful leadership to the inevitably spontaneous revolutionary upsurge against Tsarist autocracy and imperialist war) — with the deliberate provocateur's hoax of demanding a 'dictatorship of the masses' to replace the Bolshevik Revolution's supposedly 'dictatorship of leaders'.
One Lenin reply appeared in May 1920 in "Left Wing Communism:an infantile disorder".
'Any Bolshevik will at once say 'What old and familiar rubbish. What 'left' childishness' ....The mere presentation of the question 'dictatorship of the party OR dictatorship of the class; dictatorship party of the leaders OR dictatorship party of the class' testifies to the most incredible and hopeless confusion of mind, These people: ..in their efforts to be clever make themselves ridiculous.
"Everyone knows that the masses are divided into classes; that .... classes are led by political parties; that political parties ...are directed by more or less stable groups composed of the most authoritative, influential and experienced members who are elected to the most responsible positions and are called leaders, All this is elementary.. . To contrast IN GENERAL dictatorship of the masses to dictatorship of the leaders is ridiculously absurd and stupid.
".... Repudiation of the party principle and of party discipline, such is the opposition's net result. And this is tantamount to completely disarming the proletariat in the interests of the bourgeoisie. It is tantamount to that petty bourgeois diffuseness; instability; incapacity for sustained effort, unity and organised action; which, if indulged in, must inevitably destroy every proletarian revolutionary movement.
"From the standpoint of communism, the repudiation of the party principle means trying to leap from the eve of the collapse of capitalism (in Germany), not to the lower or the intermediate but to the higher phase of communism. We in Russia, in the third year since the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, are going through the first steps in the transition from capitalism to socialism, or the lower stage of communism. Classes have remained, and will remain everywhere for years after the conquest of power by the proletariat ....The abolition of classes means not only driving out the landlords and capitalists, - that we accomplished with comparative ease. It also means abolishing the small commodity producers and they cannot be driven out or crushed; we must live in harmony with them; they can, and must, be remoulded and re-educated only by very prolonged, slow, cautious organisational work. They encircle the proletariat on every side with a petty bourgeois atmosphere which permeates and corrupts the proletariat, and causes constant relapses among the proletariat into petty bourgeois spinelessness, disunity, individualism, and alternate moods of exaltation and dejection. The strictest centralisation and discipline are required within the political party of the proletariat in order to counteract this, in order that the organisational role of the proletariat (and that is its principal role) may be exercised correctly, successfully, victoriously. The dictatorship of the proletariat is a persistent struggle, bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, educational and administrative, against the forces and traditions of the old society. The force of habit of millions and tens of millions is a most terrible force. Without an iron party tempered in the struggle, without a party enjoying the confidence of all that is honest in the given class, without a party capable of watching and influencing the mood of the masses, it is impossible to conduct such a struggle successfully ....Whoever weakens ever so little the iron discipline of the party of the proletariat, especially during the time of its dictatorship, actually aids the bourgeoisie against the proletariat."
State power in the USSR was led by the party of proletarian dictatorship, and not by a conversational free-for-all. And that it needed to remain so led, was tragically instantly proved by capitalist counter-revolution engulfing the Soviet Union the moment that demented CPSU revisionist leadership decided to dismantle the dictatorship of the proletariat in order to encourage greater freedom of market forces. But within that party leadership of the Soviet workers state, there were factions in open conflict representing vast sections of different working class and workers state opinions, as the quoted current Trot-anarchists themselves now admit. Which re-raises the question of whether any faction could have found their way back to the correct Leninist perspective of future revolutionary internationalism as the only context in which the Soviet workers state, as it then was, could have won majority party and class support for a more convinced and harmonious renewed socialist advance. With the benefit of hindsight, the EPSR's struggles for understanding in 1985-1988 might have been better to have added that in theory, the PSU could find a constructive way forward for the Soviet workers state, while still doubting in practice that the massively-established revisionist tradition by then would let even a glimmer of Leninist understanding reshine its way through.
But either way, the speculation only once again demonstrates that, as with the 1920 attacks on Lenin, the 'democratic rights' line of (anti-revisionist) agitation can only hopelessly mislead workers into total confusion about the crucial role of workers states in history. Criticism of revisionism for making a wrong analysis of the world, on the other hand, remains the vital educational lesson for taking the anti-imperialist struggle forward as this new century of untameable economic crisis unfolds. Generations of millions of communist party members in the leadership of the Soviet workers state may or may not have included more or less 'bad people', whether measured by abstract idealist 'democratic principles' or whatever other arbitrary moralistic impressionism is used. But what, tragically, those generations of millions of workers state leaders collectively ended up being was wrong about the world and its further necessary revolutionary development.
The next expanded epoch of workers states is unlikely to regress anything like as far, if at all, after a further long period of taking civilisation forward under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Build Leninism.
Continue to Part Four
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