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On Trotsky: Stalinism and Bolchevism

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 21:53
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 03:22
To put it succintly:

Lenin stabilished a set of rules guiding the socialists on how to achieve socialism, what usually is called marxism-leninism, or bolchevism.

A central aspect of Marxist-Leninist thought is on how to, at the same time, overcome the apathy of the masses (because most of the proletariat live in a state of apathy, alienated), where people are hardly able to fight for their rights, and the material conditions on wich the proletariat lives.

Material life generates alienation, and alienation induces the proletariat to keep working in the same material conditions that generate the alienation to start with.

Lenin detected that a small group of proletariat is already conscious of the proletariat situation at large, this group is called the vanguard of the proletariat.

Very well, he proposed using that vanguard of the proletariat to lead the large proletariat mass into a revolution, the estabilishment of a ditactorship of the proletariat etc.

So, Marxism-Leninism (Bolchevism) was created to overcome a specific set of conditions. Right ?

Very well, later, after Stalin rose to power and Trotsky was expelled (a little before he was killed), Trotsky wrote Stalinism and Bolchevism.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky ... linism.htm

His argument against concil comunists was that a specific set of historical conditions generated the bureocratic deformation of socialism, and not that there was a fatal flaw in the set of concepts of Marxism-Leninism.

So, i argue :

Marxism-Leninism was created and advocated for a certain set of historical conditions, yet, after failing, their proponents defend themselves by raising a set of historical conditions as excuses for its failures ?

Can we simply state that Lenin tried to create a concept about on how to produce a socialist country and them those set of concepts simply failed to achieve its result ?

When Trotsky wrote about the betrayed revolution, the only country in the world wich was socialist was the URSS itself.

But now we can see that all late joiners to the bolchevique club generated the same set of results.

They diverge from being an old european country (Russia) to being old Asian country (China) to being ex-spanish colonies (Cuba) etc. Some countries became comunists due to direct URSS intervention, and we can say, because of this, that they are clones of the central URSS mode of organizing.

All they had in common was the fact that they were in state where the proletariat was in the early stages of development and the fact that they followed the Leninist formula for socialism, with some local adaptations.

Yet, they all gererated the same basic results :

- Retraction of the revolutionary spirit of the proletariat.
- Big advances in base industries and agriculture (with variations, but we see a large increase in the basic economic performance).
- Advances in social care, health etc.
- A ditactorship centered around the same person or group of persons.
- Retraction (or inexistence) of the soviets.
- Economic stagnation (Or return to capitalism, via shock or via gradual transformation)

So, if Trotsky has the excuse of having only the URSS as example, and could say that the stagnation of the revolution in URSS were the result of one-of-a-kind historical conditions pertaining that specific political entity, we, in hindsight, can say that the whole idea of vanguard party, and the ditactorship of that vanguard party (because in URSS we never reached the state of a proletariat ditactorship) is flawed.

Two things can be said about the historical conditions faced by the countries where the revolution was sucessfull (at least sucessfull in putting the vanguard party in power) :

1º - They are industrially underdeveloped and poorly urbanized. This means that the proletariat in those countries are a small group in relation to the peasantry.
2º - Because of 1º, the only possible way to go all the way from their semi-agrarian state into a fully developed socialism is to have a transition state (a pre-socialism) where a single party rules the country and imposes the solutions to provide the industrialization and urbanization of that country.

This is exact the situation set (the specific historical condition) where Leninism applies (because Lenin was russian, and thought from a russian point of view). Yet, the exact same leninism failed to pass from the pre-socialist state into the proper socialist state (and dont even think about going from socialist to communist state). [by state i dont mean a political entity "state" but a status or condition]

Very well. Can we them say that leninism was defeated by the very same conditions it tried to solve ? Whats the value of a theory that was defeated by the problem it was crated to solve ?

[Yes, i tried to be succint]

So, Trotsky goes on saying that the concilists are rationalists who argue against Leninism on the bases of an abstract thought process and away from material reality, yet, when leninists deal with the problem of URSS fall (or even Trotky when dealing with the bureucratic deformation of URSS), they are the ones who retreat into idealism.

Because when you defend a set of revolutionary ideas as being defeated by objective conditions (reality), you are implicit saying that those set of revolutionary ideas are not perfect for the current reality (because you cant argue against reality), but twisting it, so as to look as if the ideas were perfect and the reality was flawed instead...

So, ignoring the unsolvable problem of trying to do a proletariat revolution in a country where the proletariat is a minority, what can be done ?

In a later post i will tell. (I am sleepy)
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 21:53
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 03:49
To illustrate the point :

Lenin: - I have a perfect set of ideas to reach proletariat ditactorship (at least), perfectly suited for our current material and spiritual conditions.
Comrades: - Lets implement it !

After some 74 years. After URSS falls.

Trotsky suporter: - Hey ! Lenin was not wrong. The material and spiritual conditions were the wrong things. Thats why Stalin rose to power ! A next time, when the material and spiritual conditions are perfect for Lenin ideas, it will work, i promise !
Stalin suporter: - Hey ! Everything went perfect, but we were betrayed by a single person...
Concil comunism suporter: - We said that the ideas were wrong to start with, because they could not deal with the material and spiritual conditions of URSS, or of any other country in the world.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 21:53
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 04:00
Too anxious to wait for another day.

Very well, so what can we do ?

To start, we must start from were leninism started.

There is a part of the proletariat that is more well versed into politics and economics than the rest of the proletariat. We call that the vanguard.

So we have a contradiction inside the proletariat. We have a kind of proletariat that knows a little (or much) about marx and a kind of proletariat totally alienated from Marx works.

Should we take power, using the vanguard proletariat to lead the rest of the proletariat into power ?

That could work on a backwards country like Russian Empire. But i dont believe (and we have reasons to do so) in a more developed country like Germany and USA.

We can take another turn, and use that vanguard of the proletariat to, by teaching, by organizing soviets (in the labor unions for one), decrease the difference in knowledge, so as to solve that contradiction betwen those who are the vanguard and those who arent.

So, we can say, in that context, that the object of the proletariat vanguard is not to lead anything to anywhere, but to - by teaching and sharing their knowledge - be surpassed, reuniting the proletariat into a single class without intellectual divisions.

As soon as a certain degree of homogeneity (total homogeneity is impossible) is achieved, the vanguard dissolves itself - being superated, as if a teacher having teached everything he knows becomes equal to the students.

Not wanting, or finding excuses for, by fear of losing their privileged status, place themselves into the position of sole leadership of the proletariat into revolution and into the proletariat ditactorship. The vanguard must become pedagoges, not masters of the proletariat class.

Having completed the pedagogic task, the proletariat as a whole can organize themselves into soviets, and those soviets, into bigger soviets controlling larger tracts of land or bigger interests.

The revolution, one momment or other, will become a military affair, and military affairs are hardly things that can be solved via votes. So, in that exceptional case the workers organize themselves into the tipical struture of a top-to-bottom military.

But this military structure should never be perpetuated into the civil life.

So whats the task of the party ?

Lead the pedagogy of the proletariat. Connect isolated collectives and groups of marxists into a bigger body. Make liason between national socialist entities into international socialist entities. etc. Write periodics about marxism and the current state of affairs. Produce multimedia content to instruct local sections (soviets). Allow small writers, people who could never have a voice in a capitalist structure, to reach wider audiences. The party, instead of being the masters of the proletariat, should become enablers, they must serve the proletariat into what they cannot find in the capitalist society, but its needed for its emancipation.

The party should not say what the proletariat should want, because an educated proletariat can already know that, but tell what they should do to achieve their objectives. The party is the conselor of the proletariat, an acessory to it, not the central part of the struggle.
Last edited by AldoBrasil on 26 Jul 2014, 04:10, edited 1 time in total.
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 04:05
Quote:
2º - Because of 1º, the only possible way to go all the way from their semi-agrarian state into a fully developed socialism is to have a transition state (a pre-socialism) where a single party rules the country and imposes the solutions to provide the industrialization and urbanization of that country.


This is basically menshevism.

Quote:
Yet, the exact same leninism failed to pass from the pre-socialist state into the proper socialist state (and dont even think about going from socialist to communist state).


Is this a failure of Leninism? A failure of a single, isolated country (a backwards one no less) to implement a world system and abolish the law of value within its borders?

I think not. I think with the death of the international revolution by the end of the 20s, there was little the USSR could do except nation-build and guide the anti-fascist movement.

Quote:
So, ignoring the unsolvable problem of trying to do a proletariat revolution in a country where the proletariat is a minority, what can be done ?


Ignoring the fact you want to go to pre-1917 kind of Marxist thought, most countries in the world have no peasant majority anymore.

What can be done is applying Leninism to a first world, advanced country. What Russia in 1917 desired in the first place, to link up with such a revolution. Particularly Germany.

I think the problem is this:

Quote:
Marxism-Leninism was created and advocated for a certain set of historical conditions, yet, after failing, their proponents defend themselves by raising a set of historical conditions as excuses for its failures ?


The historical conditions Leninism addressed were that of backwards countries that had not properly underwent a bourgeois revolution, however in an era where the national bourgeoisie was no longer revolutionary (usually thanks to imperialist-aligned aristocrats who repress them, just as it was in Russia). It was basically an idea to create an alliance of workers and peasants (in an unequal relationship) to carry out out the tasks of the national, bourgeois revolution (such as expropriating land) and immediately carry over to the international, socialist one.

They were not ever created to build socialism in one country. At least that's my opinion, I'm sure others disagree but I'm not really a Marxist-Leninist.

Quote:
But i dont believe (and we have reasons to do so) in a more developed country like Germany and USA.


Why not? Workers are still too busy trying to survive to dedicate themselves to such things in the immediate, and you will need a vanguard to push the most revolutionary platform. No doubt socialism in the first world will be divided between petit-bourgeois socialists and proletarian revolutionaries, at least, like Bolsheviks and SRs.

Quote:
Concil comunism suporter: - We said that the ideas were wrong to start with, because they could not deal with the material and spiritual conditions of URSS, or of any other country in the world.


And this is why council communism fails, and must consider October a run-of-the-mill bourgeois revolution.

Also, council communism is not really left communism, to my knowledge.

Quote:
So, we can say, in that context, that the object of the proletariat vanguard is not to lead anything to anywhere, but to - by teaching and sharing their knowledge - be surpassed, reuniting the proletariat into a single class without intellectual divisions.


Now this is idealism. Material conditions and the simple fact workers have to spend most of their time surviving will never let this happen.
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 04:13
Quote:
This is basically menshevism.


Nope, if you have an agrarian country, you will have to pass thru a pre-socialist state to produce the results of a burgeoise revolution (without one) until you reach the state of material development that allows you to start socialism.

You can do that with or without a burgeoise (you can do the tasks without a burgeoise classe, having the state as capitalist).

I am not arguing about the bolshevik work as "state capitalists", they developed the URSS way better than capitalism would do (in capitalism Russia would probably become a third world country like my own country Brazil).

IF ONLY i defended that this was impossible and that right after the revolution the Bolchevikes should refrain from taking control and allow the constituent assembly to take over, them that would be menshevism.

Conscript, you always read my texts with a wrong eye.

For example here :

Quote:
The historical conditions Leninism addressed were that of backwards countries that had not properly underwent a bourgeois revolution, however in an era where the national bourgeoisie was no longer revolutionary (usually thanks to imperialist-aligned aristocrats who repress them, just as it was in Russia).


I am saying EXACTLY THAT. Leninism failed (If you dont agree, tell people in CIS that they are still in the URSS), and we cannot rely on it simply because the conditions for which it was wrote dont exist anymore.

This is a simptom of PREJUDICE. You already read my text EXPECTING to see what you already THINK you know about me, instead of reading the WHOLE TEXT, taking a pause, thinking and producing a rational answer. You premptively assume ignorance, because someone who does not agree with your bolshevism can only be ignorant, right ?

I will later reply in total.

Please stay on topic.

You accuse another of assuming things instead of discussing what you wrote, and yet you are doing exactly that. Stay off the accusations and focus on what is being said.

-Praxicoide
Last edited by AldoBrasil on 26 Jul 2014, 04:22, edited 1 time in total.
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 04:20
Except Leninism didn't fail in those conditions, it did very well at tying the bourgeois revolution and the socialist one together. It opened up a whole era of anti-imperialism in the global south.

Furthermore, Leninism is still relevant today because its members are consistently revolutionary, unlike democratic socialists and eurocoms, and because it represents Marxism in the era of imperialism, it extended and elaborated on Marx's ideas (particularly on what the lower and higher phases of communism look like, and how the state withers away). It is far more than just an idea of how to have a socialist revolution in a country that hasn't even had proper capitalism yet.

Pointless jab removed.

-Praxicoide

C'mon, you know better than this. Here you are purposely resorting to insults in order to derail a discussion. That's fishing for a carding, don't resort to this again.


Quote:
Nope, if you have an agrarian country, you will have to pass thru a pre-socialist state to produce the results of a burgeoise revolution (without one) until you reach the state of material development that allows you to start socialism.


Said no Marxist since April of 1917.

Ironically, this sounds a lot like socialism in one country. To nationally industrialize and have a phase of accumulation so the state can introduce socialism, again on a national level.
Last edited by Conscript on 26 Jul 2014, 04:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 04:30
Quote:
Except Leninism didn't fail in those conditions, it did very well at tying the bourgeois revolution and the socialist one together.


Thats exactly where it failed.

Having used the proletariat vanguard to lead the country into the revolution and into putting the bolcheviques into power, Lenin was unable (because he died) to see URSS reaching socialism. And under Stalin, the vanguard ceased to exist. There was always a intelectual divide difference between a certain part of the proletariat and the ruling aparatus. Worse when the entire cultural power of the state was used to create a cult of personality around Stalin (and later Krushev etc).

You argue that the proletariat work and because of that he cannot take the task of studing etc.

But, if we take this as a true impossibility, then we might very well know beforehand that the proletariat will always work, in capitalism or socialism. Under good or bad conditions. So can we suppose that the proletariat will forever be unable to get rid of their ignorance ? I dont believe so, even because in our current world communication and knowledge is so easily spread (Internet for one).
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 04:38
Quote:
Is this a failure of Leninism? A failure of a single, isolated country (a backwards one no less) to implement a world system and abolish the law of value within its borders?


If you read the text you will see that i am talking about ALL countries that tried socialism, because they followed marxism-leninism.

But as i see that you avoided, and as i believe this is a central part of the problem.

Trotsky argues that a certain set of historical conditions are the cause for bureocratic deformation of socialism in Russia, yet, Leninism is recognized as the most developed theory that suits the specific material and spiritual conditions found in Russia.

So, how can the material and spiritual conditions of URSS not be the best for application of socialism, yet, we chose Leninism right because its the correct set of ideas for the specific set of conditions of URSS ?

Can you please solve that paradox ?

For trostskysts, URSS was betrayed. But, i am no idealist, so i cannot believe a single man (Stalin) single-handedly changed the course of history. There must be underlying conditions that created the oportunity for Stalin to rise to power ? What are those conditions ? Maybe the divide between the common proletariat and the vanguard of the proletariat ?
Last edited by AldoBrasil on 26 Jul 2014, 04:46, edited 1 time in total.
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 04:41
It succeeded pretty well, actually. It changed Russia, Europe, and eventually the world forever. Leninism gave us our first socialist revolution and built Russia, along with many many other agrarian, third world states later on.

Unable to see socialism? What the hell does that mean? So, why did he look to Germany and why was he talking about socialism and cultural revolution in 'On Cooperation'?

You said the vanguard ceased to exist, but there's this intellectual divide? Isn't that contradictory? Especially since you're the one talking about using the vanguard to eliminate such a divide.

Quote:
But, if we take this as a true impossibility, then we might very well know beforehand that the proletariat will always work, in capitalism or socialism. Under good or bad conditions. So can we suppose that the proletariat will forever be unable to get rid of their ignorance ? I dont believe so, even because in our current world communication and knowledge is so easily spread (Internet for one).


While proles will be working under socialism, they will be doing so as the ruling class and manage their own common affairs. Additionally, working under capitalism means while you are distracted bourgeois ruling class ideals permeate society and academia.

Off-topic comments removed.

-Praxicoide


Quote:

If you read the text you will see that i am talking about ALL countries that tried socialism, because they followed marxism-leninism.


1. A change of ideology wouldn't magically change anything for these countries, council communism I doubt would do anything for Cuba or Vietnam, for example.
2. All of these trace their roots to the USSR and the Russian revolution. They basically copied the status quo of the time in the USSR and depended Soviet gains in the world in the Cold war. This time was, accordingly, after the death of the international revolution and into the cold war and a lot of them were just buffer states.
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 04:48
Quote:
You said the vanguard ceased to exist,


Dude, that single line made me give up.

WHERE IN THE WHOLE TEXT I SAID THAT THE VANGUARD CEASED TO EXIST ?

What i said was that the objective of the vanguard is to cease to exist !

Sorry, i give up, its impossible.
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 04:50
Right here:

Quote:
And under Stalin, the vanguard ceased to exist. There was always a intelectual divide difference between a certain part of the proletariat and the ruling aparatus.


I'm guessing this is an english language issue?

Quote:
There must be underlying conditions that created the oportunity for Stalin to rise to power ? What are those conditions ? Maybe the divide between the common proletariat and the vanguard of the proletariat ?


There was. The defeat & demoralization of the international revolution and the isolation of the USSR, an insufficiently industrialized country.
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 04:54
Sorry, "And under Stalin, the vanguard ceased to exist." pls read : And under Stalin, the vanguard did not ceased to exist.
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 05:10
Quote:
Trotsky argues that a certain set of historical conditions are the cause for bureocratic deformation of socialism in Russia, yet, Leninism is recognized as the most developed theory that suits the specific material and spiritual conditions found in Russia.



There is no paradox. Russia was the weak link in the chain of imperialism, a very backwards society that was in dire need of revolution. Leninism enabled this.

It unleashed an international wave of revolutions and revived revolutionary Marxism, which just years before lived the shame of Second International.

Quite simply, this isn't contradictory:

Quote:
So, how can the material and spiritual conditions of URSS not be the best for application of socialism, yet, we chose Leninism right because its the correct set of ideas for the specific set of conditions of URSS ?


The most glaring fact is that Leninism from the outset hinged Russia's skipping of capitalism on linking up with revolution in an advanced capitalist state.

Your confusion lies in the fact that Leninism isn't stagist, like yourself. So you wonder how a country that didn't have the right conditions for socialism, could have good conditions for a leninist party, could be the spark for an international revolution and could 'skip' capitalism. So Leninists set themselves up for stalinism, which is basically what you're arguing in this thread.

To answer your question, how you can have one but not the other: uneven and combined development of capitalism.
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 05:21
Quote:
While proles will be working under socialism, they will be doing so as the ruling class and manage their own common affairs. Additionally, working under capitalism means while you are distracted bourgeois ruling class ideals permeate society and academia.


First, why cant they manage their common affairs under capitalism, and why will they manage their common affairs under marxist-leninist socialism ?
Second, why are you distracted by bourgeoise ideals under capitalism ? Cant this be avoided ?
Third, is the academia trully permeated by capitalist ideals ? I find it hardly, by looking in my own surroundings, academia here in my country is full of marxists. From the alumini to the teachers.
Our labor union too, full of socialists and marxists.

I fail to see the impossibility you are stating. If the proletariat under capitalism can watch soccer and be part of greenpeace, if in Europe alone a lot of people are sensitized about poverty in third world (so much as to donate the incredible ammont of money they do - as individuals), why cant they read marxism ?

I believe its just a matter or organizing things and taking advantage of the fact that we are in a time were communication is so much easier.

I once proposed my mates (in my country) to start a marxist television via internet. The idea was to everyone record small pieces of video to be streamed via a free streaming platform. No one showed interest (yet they lose a lot of time debating on facebook).

Because marxist-leninists usually see the task of developing "class conscienciousness" as a simple matter of making the person join the party or agree with their side, they dont believe in educating the masses and making the masses knowledgeable.

If the person takes a party flag and wave it in a congress - congratulations, that dude reached class conscienciouness.
Last edited by AldoBrasil on 26 Jul 2014, 05:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 05:23
Quote:
Your confusion lies in the fact that Leninism isn't stagist, like yourself.


Were did i spouse ideals of stagism ? Worse, if i talk about modern capitalist contries and how to produce a socialist revolution there (where the burgeoise, using one method or anothr, already produced a proletariat class), how does stagism matters ?

You still dont understand what i said, and instead of asking questions to dispel misunderstanding, you simply jump to make conclusions.

Offtopic comments removed.

-Praxicoide
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 06:12
OK, enough with the mutual accusations. This is a very good discussion, so please try to stick to the issues at hand.

Feel you're being misinterpreted? If so, then please clarify your position.


Also, no double posts, please. If you have another point to address, edit your last post.
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 07:25
OK, I'm going to break my own advice, because now I'm posting in non-Mod capacity, so that warrants another post.

AldoBrasil, you've make a good point that raises lots of questions; especially in regards to the historic specificity of Marxist discourse, which is the most historically-concious of ideologies.

I don't have much to say about the critical part of your argument, because I think that the points raised are the ones that we all have to raise anytime we encounter discourse: what context did it apply to? how much does it apply now? What are the current circumstances, and so on.

That was what Lenin did, we would say., and that's what we have to do when looking at it now. When it succeeded, we have to look at why; and when it failed, the same thing is called for. Though you make a strong argument in saying that something made for precise circumnstances is then excused from these very circumstances, I feel that you are charecterizing perhaps only a certain reading of Lenin, which would be an acritical, ahistorical reading.

What I'm saying is that the issue doesn't reduce itself to "analysis of historical circunstances vs falling into idealism", because it is all historical circumstances, context. Leninism succeeded in some things and failed in other things; you can't simply writhe the whole thing off as a failure, because then we learn nothing.


Now, to the positive side of your argument, I think that it is correct in a lot of ways, but also a bit one-sided in others.

What I mean is that educating the working class, making it gain class-conciousness, has always been a goal of socialists, and this goes beyond "holding a flag" as you said. But, as Lenin explained, it is not just a theoretical matter, but a practical one. It isn't just a matter of knowledge, of reading and discussing things, but of living it, acquiring its ideology.

Utopian socialists held the Enlightenment-derived notion that knowledge is neutral. That we are all pretty much "the same" ideally, and that the advancement of mankind is a matter of educating, of overcoming prejudices.

Marxists know that it isn't so. We know that social practices shape and frame the ideas that arrise within classes. Something is held as true, because it conforms with the worldview that derives from certain practices. A thinker that comes to early or to late will be considered a fool.

So teaching the masses about Marx won't cut it, because many won't be interested, many won't find it to be true (it will seem counterintuitive), or will acquire it as some passive knowledge, with no bearing towards their lives. Of couse, since they are proletarians, they will find that it resonates to some degree, but it is those with more working class experience who will feel it more in their hearts.

Even those who don't know Marx, but who are forged in class struggle gain a proletariat ideology and will arrive at a lot of the same conclusions that Marxists do. The vanguard is not something that a party creates through education, but a phenomenon that appears as a result of class struggle. Of course, it is our duty to aid it by educating it, and also by educating ourselves from its experience. For it to be truly a pedagogy of the revolution, the educators have to be educated; that is, we have to always learn from class struggle.
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 14:49
I don't have a lot to add to Praxi and Conscript's posts, they've said most of what I would say. But I have a few criticisms to make.

AldoBrasil wrote:
Trotsky suporter: - Hey ! Lenin was not wrong. The material and spiritual conditions were the wrong things. Thats why Stalin rose to power ! A next time, when the material and spiritual conditions are perfect for Lenin ideas, it will work, i promise !
Stalin suporter: - Hey ! Everything went perfect, but we were betrayed by a single person...

That seems like a pretty big misrepresentation to me. Most Stalinists and Trotskyists would agree with both of these statements: Gorbachev was a social-democratic traitor surrounded by a bureaucracy full of opportunists, and the reason that ended up happening was the material conditions in Russia at the time. The only Stalinists who would disagree with the latter are semi-mystical weirdo nationalist types, the only Trotskyists who would disagree with the former are pro-Gorbachev Shachtmanites who don't really exist anymore.

To address your stuff involving China and Cuba, these are still-standing, even though the former is teetering on the brink of dropping socialism altogether (if not for Hu Jintao and the CPC's left it would have already) and the latter is showing slight signs of it cracking. They can resist that direction and both countries have prominent hardliners in their party; I think Cuba stands a pretty good chance of doing so, since their hardliners are the dominant faction. And their material conditions were pretty similar to Russia's, both were primarily peasant societies (China was even more of one, hence why Maoism emphasized industrial development so strongly) that faced even stronger imperialist oppression than Russia did. As Conscript's said, the reason they haven't been able to move beyond their current stagnation is that they haven't gotten a first-world superpower on their side. The attempted revolution in Germany fell through, and the US committed the biggest individual act of mass murder in history to stop the USSR from taking Japan. The most they can do at present is preserve their gains to block their whole land being turned into sweatshops, while building up their international clout so they can eventually be in a position where taking that first-world power is possible. For example, Cuba is building up a network of alliances in Latin America, with the governments of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, even your own Brazil to some extent.

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First, why cant they manage their common affairs under capitalism, and why will they manage their common affairs under marxist-leninist socialism ?

They don't own the means of production under capitalism, they do under socialism?


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Second, why are you distracted by bourgeoise ideals under capitalism ? Cant this be avoided ?

The ideals of the ruling class in any society are the prevailing "common sense," and Marx even argued in the Manifesto that some from bygone eras remain. Hence why there's still church bigotry against homosexuality, and some racial and gender discrimination that the bourgeoisie want to break up. Even with those gone, there would still be predominant bourgeois social norms, and new bourgeois norms to replace the old feudal (homophobia) and early-capitalist (racial discrimination) ones. Seeing life as a constant race to consume the best and newest products is a good example of one that permeates basically all of our lives; "finding the IKEA set that defines you as a person." Changing this is the whole idea behind Gramsci's "march through the institutions" and part of what a Cultural Revolution (almost the same concept) entails. It can't be avoided without a change of relationship to production and thus what the dominant class is, along with broader shifts in cultural norms.

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Third, is the academia trully permeated by capitalist ideals ? I find it hardly, by looking in my own surroundings, academia here in my country is full of marxists. From the alumini to the teachers.

Plenty are relative to the general population, which makes sense since academics are educated proletarians. But academia is also an institution of social control; if it challenged the bourgeoisie enough that they'd fear it, they'd stop funding it. Based on my experience with academic Marxists, most seem to be taking Marxian analysis as a dispassionate analytical fact with no emotional connection to real world struggle. Most of my "Marxist" professors have even rejected that due explicitly to the example of the USSR; they've mostly been self-identified eurocommunists. And for every academic Marxist, you'll find about five liberals/social-democrats. Even then, they all congregate in the humanities and poli-sci/sociology. In things like economics you'll outright find a ton of conservatives and basically nobody left of Neo-Keynesianism (Clinton/Blairnomics).

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Our labor union too, full of socialists and marxists.

Sure, they're actually involved in class struggle from day to day. But I bet there are a lot more collaborators than there are outright revolutionaries, especially at the top of those unions. The US example is worse than most since we have a law called the Taft-Hartley Act which explicitly forbids radical union action, but even before that was passed most unions collaborated with the Democratic Party. It just wasn't a legal requirement, so you saw some radical sections of groups like the AFL-CIO.

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I fail to see the impossibility you are stating. If the proletariat under capitalism can watch soccer and be part of greenpeace, if in Europe alone a lot of people are sensitized about poverty in third world (so much as to donate the incredible ammont of money they do - as individuals), why cant they read marxism ?

They can, and they should. But you can see yourself that there are so many different interpretations of Marxian ideas available, to carry those out into random individual actions would essentially make us anarchists and make any revolution fail spectacularly. And as Praxi said for many it won't emotionally resonate on any deep-seated level. Owing to society's prevailing common sense, Marxist ideals are often shunned too, so you'll find being a member of Greenpeace is a lot more acceptable in "polite society" than being a member of even a neo-Menshevik group like the CPUSA. Being a member of Greenpeace says you're a regular middle-class liberal with a social conscience, being a member of a communist party would often be treated about the same as being a Nazi.

This is where a vanguard party comes in, to lead the proletariat in a cohesive revolution and raise popular awareness in a way that does more than just encourage seeing Marxism as some vague fact with no bearing on peoples' lives. They might not even explicitly call their ideas Marxist until later, Cuba's revolutionaries didn't, but they bring people together around the banner of socialism. Without that, what do we do? Just sit around on our lazy butts debating theory, waiting for everyone to spontaneously decide to overthrow capitalism? Somehow that sounds like it would work about as well as the similarly anti-vanguardist anarchist revolutions in the past.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 21:53
Ideology: Other Leftist
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 15:52
I'll outline some concepts that i believe are needed to understand the difference from Bolchevism.

When analising USA culture and history, and comparing it to a european country (Like Italy for one), during the 40's, you find several differences. For one, USA was founded by groups of immigrants from a lot of european countries, yet, they had the same common trait (or most of them). They were fleeing from an absolutist Europe, where the rule of one man was the norm, and where most countries were still monarchies. In USA they wanted to create a free society, as much as possible, under the concept of the rule of the law. Not having an aristocrat class there (because the aristocracy had no reason to leave europe) they managed (at least in the area of immigration colonization) to avoid certain cultural aspects of Europe.

During the burgeoise revolutions, the higher level aristocracy, and the bergoise at large, engaged in the burgeoise revoltionary wars. From a commonly held point of view, burgeoise and aristocracy were irreconcilable. So as if it was possible for the burgeoise to completely replace the aristocracy. But not, the objective of the burgeoise was not to challenge the private ownership of lands, but only the political structure created to preserve that ownership (ancient regime). Having acomplished the task of grabing political power, the burgeoise stops there.

This is so because the contradiction of the ancient regime at this era was that the political power rested in the hands of the aristocracy, while the economic power rested in the hands of the burgeoise. Not only that, but the scientifical and cultural development of the era was tied to the burgeoise. They were the ones creating new explanations for how the universe worked. So they were in the position to achieve something called hemegony.

Upon grabing power and stoping the revolutionary force, the burgeoise went only so far as to abolish the political strutures of the ancient regime. Because if they challenged the private owneship of land, they could very well have their own private ownership of the means of production being challenged.

So, even if the higher aristocracy and royalty had their powers diminished, they werent outright removed (in some countries the royalty is preserved in power, if only checked by the power of a national assembly). So, the political change was just an acomodation of something that was already a fact, turned now de jure.

In order to rule this new world order, burgeoise must achieve something we can hegemony. But they cannot stabilish a whole new concept of world overnight. And they surely dont want to mess with the problems of the still existing peasantry and the lower aristocracy, still owners of the land. In the rural areas, capitalism starts to exert its power. We can say that the burgeoise already existed in feudal era, and that capitalism is just the momment were the capital becomes so strong as to change the relations everywhere into capitalistic relations. So, the outcome of the burgeoise revolutions in Europe is one where we have the burgeoise at the political and cultural power, but we still have leftovers from older eras, in the form of the relationship between the aristocracy and the peasantry. This does not happen in USA, because they never had a aristocracy to start with.

The burgeoise now have to, quickly, move to create and propagate their own set of ideologies (they already exists in a certain point of view). At uttmot, they must justify why revolutions that started under the banner of freedom, equality and fraternity, must now stop short of reaching those goals. If we return a certain ammount of time, we will see the proto-burgeoise revolution in the form of the fight between science and religion. The primary media of expansion of burgeoise ideas (and not all those ideas are bad or pure ideology) is the press, while the primary media of propagation of aristocracy ideas is the religion. This means that the burgeoise was already in control of the faster and most penetrating mean of communication of the time, the press (the internet of their era !). Using that media, the burgoise explains, at first, why toppling the ancient regime was necessary, and using the very same media, they explain why they stoped the revolutions after achieving political power.

There are certain areas of spiritual development that are common to all people. If we ask a engenieer how to build a bridge, he will answer right from his scientifical knowledge. But if we ask the same engenieer (supposing a quite generic engeniee) how to solve economic problems, he will resort to something we call "common sense".
Common sense is a group of uncritically accepted ideas, wich people usually dont know from where they got them, and that they accepted without even thinking.

And by being used to answer questions when people have no scientifical knowledge, no empirical or theoretic evidence to suport what they think, the common sense holds a very strong power. Common sense, as a kind of minimum set of ideas shared by a group, is very powerfull in directing people actions. But common sense is not a system as science is. Commonsense is not tested or stressed in order to become a coherent whole.

Common sense is a set of loosely tied together groups of ideas that legitimates a certain group of people. But that specific groups of ideas dont go (and dont need to) on to explain the whole universe. Even if a median person (lacking any kind of scientifical knowledge - something i think its impossible) believes every single idea of the current common sense, he, by examining his thoughts, can very well start to detect contradictions in his woldview. This is because common sense is not the result of an just-in-time construction. Common sense was not created by the burgeoise alone, and was not the result of a single burgeoise thinker. Was not the result of a strategy machiavellic planed by the burgeoise think-tanks. So, you can very well find neolitic ideas, feudal, modern, ultra-modern, liberal, socialist, nazist, etc, ideas right in our own era common sense.

But this is a mess ! How can burgeoise legitimize itself under such a group of incoherent ideas ? Simply, because their objective was not to free the proletariat from the rule of ideologies from the past, but only to teach the proletariat enough to make them docile workers. Everything that did not present an imediate danger for burgeoise power, was ignored, left in place. By grabing the most penetrating and fast media of the era, the burgeoise set themselves to achieve something we call cultural hegemony.

So, returning to the comparision between USA and Europe, burgeois class in Europe went so long as to physically, economically and ideologically supress aristocracy, leaving alone the aristocracy (and engagining in economic relationships with the same aristocracy) as soon as the bugeoise class objectives were reached. If you look further back in history you will see this repeated, for example, when the christian church had to supress old paganism and adopted a sincretic stance to allow easier integration of the former paganistic groups. Thats how common sense from former eras is preserved in modern discourse. This explains why by having a majority of migrants who fleed from absolutist Europe, USA avoided a lot of the left overs from feudal European culture. (Under a certain point of view, USA is/was one of the most culturally advanced countries in the world, if not the most). USA starts itself by proclaiming a set of radical burgeoise ideas that could not be adopted in Europe due to the power struggle between the progressist burgeoise and the regressist aristocracy.

So now lets adapt this concept of common sense and hegemony to the URSS.

The Russian Empire was a semi-feudal society, where the proletariat was ill developed. We call that kind of society an oriental one. There, the burgeise is still too small and too underdeveloped to achieve hegemony. The most powerfull thing that bugeoise have in their advantage is the fact that the government itself (and a wide swatch of the aristocracy) recognizes the need for modernization, and that moderizaton can only be done by reforming the aristocratic country into a capitalism one. But the burgeoise cannot itself rule the country yet. In the oriental societies we say that the civil society is not very well developed, and that the only thing holding burgeoise private property is the force of arms provided by the state. This is one of the reasons why its impossible to have democracy in a oriental society. By oposition, a ocidental society is one where the civil society is so developed as to allow democracy without risking a socialist revolution. Because the elements of civil society (the schools, the labor unions, the press, the church, the ONGs, even the soccer teams) organize themselves already around concepts of burgeoise rule. So, in a oriental society, you can, by toppling the government, force socialism upon the masses without being challenged by any kind party of civil society.

But, in an ocidental society (and the world is quickly walking into a total ocidentalization), even if you topple the government (a la Venezuela today via elections, and URSS in the Lenin times) you are still under attack from the civil society, from structures created under the leadership of the burgeoise. That burgeoise structures animated by the spirit of the common sense slowly penetrated by capitalism can evolve into a counter revolution and recreate, by themselves, the capitalist top power of state, returning things to their desired and believed status quo.

I will stop because i have some things to do and to eat. I will continue later.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 21:53
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Post 26 Jul 2014, 17:22
Now lets try to apply leninism to an ocidental society.

You take the vanguard of the proletariat and use them to, via military action, depose the central government. The civil society, animated by the common sense aquired during capitalism, resists changes. You use the force of arms to impose the changes into the proletariat and the civil society at large. This foments dissent, sabotage etc. You enter the revoluctionary terror to fight two enemies instead of one. The first enemy is the archrival of any socialist endevour, the burgeoise class itself, wich is a tiny piece of the civil society. The second, way stronger and developed, its the proletariat middle class. Engenieers, medics etc. This second class is essential for the economy. If they engage in overt or covert sabotage, your economy is ruined (Why are we lacking toilet paper here in Venezuela ?). If the terror suceeds, you will root out a important part of the civil society in order to impose the revolution.

But now, what happens ? By lacking the all important literate, educated, middle class, you lose one element that is too important, because its the developed proletariat middle class that checks and balances any government. Its the organized civil society that is able to understand current conditions and foment revolt. They are the leaders of their proletariat peers in a modern developed country. By supressing civil society, you supress any chance of democracy in the short term. And you create the conditions for a hostile takeover by the kinds of Stalin. We call that proletariat middle class "intelligentzia".

On the orientally structured Russian Empire, we had a small intelligentzia in the cities, even smaller than the small proletariat. The society at large was still organized in feudal terms. Russia lacked a capitalist revolution. The common sense of the people was still deeply rooted into medieval thought. You still have medieval calendar, medieval units of measurement, medieval church etc. Your political organization is still organized around the strong leader (represented by the Czar). This structures replicates itself from top to bottom. Below the czar are the subjects, but some subjects acts like czars to their own subjects, and so on, organizing the society into a pyramid like structure. This pyramid structure can only be sustained, without the risk of continual revolt, if the common sense is already (and it was) stabilished towards the legimitacy of the aristocratic rule, the despotic rule, and the rule of a single man, who is the law and order. Even the families organize themselves into similar structures, where the father is the Czar of the house.

So, you might say that instead of being corrupted by this cultural left-over from czarism, the russian revolution could be saved from the intervention of the treachereous Stalin (or a similar tyrant in an alternative line of history), and that being saved, the task of removing the cultural heritage from czarism is still in the hands of the proletariat vanguard, and that the plan was already that from the start.

But there you make the basic mistake. You assume that the proletariat vanguard is completed protected from the cultural contamination of Czarism. You assume that the simple will to revolutionize is sufficient to guarantee that the vanguard of the proletariat is free from the absolutist culture of the Russian Empire. And being sanitized from such influence, it could teach and emancipate (in a long period after revolution) the non vanguard masses of the proletariat. Impossible I say (i believe even I, myself, am under the influence of doctrines i dont know that i am, something that I cannot see), even worse when you need a whole group of vanguardist proletariats to lead the masses into socialism. But what is it that prevents the vanguards to get themselves rid of the cultural heritage of czarism and other older isms (like machism etc) ?

Its because the common sense is - like i said in the earlier post - modified (as discourse) in the exact momment that it is needed. You cannot replace the whole common sense structure in one go, but you can fix certain aspects of it as long as you live in certain conditions that demands that actualization.

This, in regard to the proletariat, means that the vanguard itself needs to have to live with, deal with, a rebellous and ignorant proletariat (in order to detect and root out their own absolutism and spirit of superiorty - that has the outcome of leading that vanguard to believe being the saviours of the people and entitled to rule them even against their wishes) while at the same time the proletariat itself must deal with his own ignorance, when presented with the challenge of runnning a proletariat assembly.

In other words. The soviet is a model of revolution for the external society at large, it is in itself, an exercise of proletariat democracy, a cultural revolution for the proletariat, in his vanguardist form or the alienated form. Because once in the soviet does not give up itself to the culture that tells we need a leader to solve our divisions by placing himself above others, there is a whole set of relationship problems, material conditions, cultural heritage etc, that must be solved inside the soviet itself.

The proletariat, and other classes before it, is used to a system where there are the intelectual producers, the burgeoise philosophers etc - in our current times the caste of scientists - who are responsible for the production of a set of guiding ideas, the interpretation of current hard knowledge, and a cast of folowers, who need to produce tangible goods by the guidance of the cast of intelectuals. They are used to a concept of power as the rule of few over many. They are used to the representative system, where the masses - who cannot govern for themselves - are suposed to be able to decide who is going to govern (as if knowing how to govern and how to choose someone who can govern was not the same thing in the end). By being placed into the soviet, the proletariat and the civil society in general, are forced to break with this culture of servitude and face itself as equals, brothers etc.

Returning to Stalin. As the absolutist culture was not rooted out in URSS, it was all too easy for the "great wheelsman of socialism" to turn the state aparatus of culture into a machine for cult of personality. If the socialist state became, in the hands of illustrious proletariats, an instrument of material liberation of the proletariat, that same state aparattus became an instrument of replication of the czarist culture into its own bureucratically deformed form. Stalinism, in that vein, is an reform, not a superation, of the czarist cultural mindset. So to paraphrasing someone important, there is no revolution without revolutionary conscienciousness.

The shell of reactionary culture is rooted out from the appearences of the socialist building, but the core is there, waiting for someone to used it as an aparatus to justify before the masses (and even the party itself !) the ditactorship of a single man.
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