Socialism or Barbarism? Review of "Another View of Stalin"

This book by Ludo Martens of the Worker’s Party of Belgium, Another View of Stalin (EPO, Antwerp: 1994.), is pretty incredible. For us, working in the United States where anticommunism is so institutionalized, it is an important book. It is a weapon for communists to use in the ideological front.

For a long time I didn’t understand Comrade Stalin. I came from a petit-bourgeois intellectual Marxism, distanced from practice and tied in rather closely to to the humanist/individualist ideologies of the U.S. I read Adorno, Jameson, and Critical Theory. As a young man, a teenager just coming to Marxism, I remember people would say, “but Socialism didn’t work,” and I would reply, with a fine mixture of youthful optimism and naivete, “but it was never really tried!” Any scientific socialist should be able to see such a statement for the utopianism that it is. Later my utopianism became more nuanced and sophisticated as I studied philosophy formally. It was only when I came to Mao Zedong’s writings and the experience of the Chinese Revolution that I could begin to reappraise Stalin, the USSR, and the world communist movement as a whole. Whatever his errors may have been, Mao was a breath of fresh air, so clear and simple, yet sharp as a razor – so practical and useful! And yet Mao was a “Stalinist.” So I had to ask, was Stalin a deviation from “true” Marxism and even from Leninism (and where did that leave Mao?), or was Stalin a genuine Marxist-Leninist? What did this say about socialism, what it is and what it isn’t? What did this say about what socialism could be?

Through a more thorough study of Marxism and of history, I came to see that Stalin was a great Marxist-Leninist and that the USSR, at least until the Krushchev years, provided a shining example of what Marxism was when applied. But why did it “fail” and where did that leave us? It was only much later that I came to understand the particulars of the sequence of events and what Mao Zedong calls the “two line struggle,” whereby in the transitional society that socialism is (not what Marx calls a “mode of production” but something between the capitalist and communist modes) contradictions are intensified and class struggle along with it. Nothing is assured just because the proletariat has seized state power.

Fast forward a bit. I attended a recent conference where a lot of Trotskyite groups tabled. On the way to conference, in the van that we had rented for our mobilization, I was talking about Soviet history, about Stalin and his contributions to building socialism, and about the slow death of the Soviet system as the sickness of revisionism tore the USSR apart from Krushchov to through Gorbachav, to Yeltsin and the liquidation of the CPSU and the rise of the oligarchs. Having read Another View of Stalin, it was an easy thing to address such questions as, “What about Lenin’s Will?”, “What about the Purges and Show Trials?”, “What about the Gulag? And the millions killed?” “The lack of democracy?” “The forced collectivization?” “What about Trotsky?” Martens goes into all of this. He addresses the usual criticisms of Stalin, going after their sources, showing how they don’t hold up to any scientific analysis of history, situating them in their actual historical conditions, from which they are so easily and with such cleaverness removed. He exposes the agendas of Stalin’s critics in the most thorough way. But people didn’t understand why all these Trots were around. They were very confusing, and after all, they said all the same things about Stalin that their highschool teachers had been saying all along!

And this brings us to the question of revisionism. Some don’t see why this question of Stalin is so important for Marxist-Leninists today. Stalin is dead, after all, and this isn’t Russia. In the last instance, it comes down to the very essense of Marxism, to historical materialism, to the scientific analysis of social, political and economic change. Had socialism “ever been tried” and did it work? If our answer is yes, then we must come up with a balance sheet of its successes and failures, we must go into the particulars, the local and geopolitical contradictions, the historical milieu. If no, we must discern how socialism in the USSR, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia or China differed from “true” socialism, and how is this “true” socialism to ever be achived given where are and what we know about class society, imperialism, uneven development and so on? The question of Stalin is central to this – the question of the architect of the first Socialist society and leader of the international communist movement for so many crucial decades. To defend Stalin one must have a firm grasp of history. To be a Trotskyite one must only say, “but think of what it would have been like if…” The concern is not with what happened. Trotskyite “theory” doesn’t hold water. And we know, as Mao Zedong has said, the basis of Marxist epistemology, that is the basis of all scientific knowledge, is practice.

A lot of people I know who have read this book on Stalin by Comrade Martens have been stunned by the degree of the lies perpetuated to attack the architect of socialism. It is a common thread that links all of communisms enemies: Imperialists, Fascists, Trotskyites, Revisionists, etc. Comrades like it because it is a weapon. Anti-capitalist fellow-travellers like it because it reaffirms what they have always suspected – that the greatest enemies of capitalism and imperialism are the ones who are most villified by the petit-bourgeois lackeys of international monopoly capital. Today as the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) stands on the verge of founding the world’s next socialist state, we see it happening again with the new “biography” of Mao Zedong, which is nothing but propaganda dressed in the trappings of history.

One need not limit oneself to Krushchov’s secret speech to the XXth Congress to find this problem. One can look in philosophy as well. The “Marxist” Humanists, celebrants of the velvet (counter-)revolution like Dunayevskaya (secretary of Trotsky and founder of News & Letters), Kolakowski (“Marxist” revisionist author of the most anti-Marxist philosophical text yet written, the three volume Main Currents of Marxism), and even Alain Badiou (“post-Maoist” methematician and philosopher who calls both the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Solidarity movement in Poland “obscure events” to study and upon which to refound the leftist project). And we can see where that leads. The humanists are liberals, as Louis Althusser has pointed out in his cleaver syllogism: “All humanists are liberals; Eric Fromm [famed “Marxist Humanist”] is a humanist; Fromm is a liberal.” Kolakowski sings the praises of revisionism to no end, and Badiou’s OP is at best infantile leftist and worst completely reformist. Where does this revisionism lead? In the Soviet Union and the Warsaw States it led to capitalist restoration in its most barbaric form. Humanism restored gangster-liberalism in the Soviet Bloc. It is easy when you start talking about “universal human rights” to forget that this means bourgeois right, and that in the end, “universal human rights”, “Socialism with a human face” and what have you, is a defeat for the working class.

It is odd that when anyone wants to talk about the “true essense” of Marxism, or a “return to Lenin” it is that old renegade Kautsky, the social-democrat who wanted a reformed capitalism, that they dredge up in order to liquidate the CP and liberalize the state and economy. And nobody embodies Kautskyism like Tony Blaire’s Labour Party as they unite with U.S. imperialism to rob the Middle East of all of its resources. Mao Zedong puts it very simply: never forget class struggle.

I am an activist, a militant involved in the daily struggles of the working and oppressed people. I argue for socialism, for Marxism-Leninism. To do this, this book by Comrade Martens is useful, especially with students and young people. So many people see these problems of exploitation, poverty, national oppression, sexism, and so on. They see that they are systemic, but so often it stops there. Because the radical alternative is “Stalinism” so many people settle for an ineffective social-democracy, a vain attempt to reform capitalism, or a cynical pessimism. But this book does well to demonstrate that, situated within its historical context, Communism is a good thing. And, as Lenin would have it, the dictatorship of the proletariat is “a million times more democratic” than anything else we have ever seen.

Stalin, architect of socialism, is a shining example to genuine Marxist-Leninists everywhere.

in unity and struggle,
Comrade Zero

(Another View of Stalin can be purchased from the Stalin Society. For a good discussion on revisionism in the USSR, perhaps one that is a bit more nuanced than Restoration of Capitalism in USSR by Martin Nicolaus that so many Maoists swear by, see Ludo Martens. USSR: The Velvet Counter Revolution. EPO, Brussles: 1991. For more on the role of Stalin, the anti-revisionist movement and a critical evaluation of the role of Mao and the CPC, see also Ludo Martens. “On Certain Aspects of the Struggle Against Revisionism“. PTB, Brussles: March, 1995. [.doc])

18 responses to “Socialism or Barbarism? Review of "Another View of Stalin"

  1. finally

  2. Wow, what a really thoughtful and honest post. Stalin is indeed a complex person, as is that whole time period in general. I’ve been trying to understand more about the Stalin period and the politics connected to it. My favorite book is The Stalin Era by Anna Louise Strong. There is also some online essays about Stalin that kind of play off Another View of Stalin, called “Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform” part one and two.

  3. Oh and some older comments of mine are online here.

    You might also be interested in my posts about Proletarian Democracy.

    Really great post, I look forward to see what else comes from your blog!

  4. I like the Strong book too.

    I read your stuff on proletarian democracy and your article on Stalin, and there are a few points I take issue with in both.

    Multi-party democracy: This is political liberalism. The experience of the USSR shows what happens when this happens (Gorbachav-Yeltsin). It is bourgeois democracy, plain and simple. And I am aware that the CPN (Maoist) is talking about it, and its making me nervous. Proletarian democracy means democratic centralism – it is the democratic relationshipt between the Party’s bodies and the masses.

    And in your Stalin article you make the statement: “My current opinion of Stalin is this: I uphold the period, but wouldn’t want to live there. Meaning, there was a qualitive improvement of life under the Stalin era for the majority of people. I think there is a point to be had about Stalin’s forced collectivization saving lives. But on the other hand, communists should never follow a commandist approach of doing things and should always carry out the mass line.”

    That’s a problem I have with people that like to talk about “Mao Zedong Thought” or “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism”. It negates Stalin from the “left” just as Krushchev did from the Right. I love Mao and value his contribution as a principal theorist of Marxism-Leninism, but the mass line is not a new creation of Mao’s. It was applied throughout the history of the Marxist-Leninist movement by all successful revolutionaries. I would say most expecially by Lenin and Stalin.

    And secondly, there was no “forced” collectivization. Again, see Ludo Martens’s book in question, namely the section on collectivization.

    Thanks for the compliments though. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for a while now.

  5. Well, I used to share your opinions on multiple parties. But I think if we have learned anything from the history of past socialist societies, it is that there is no formal measure to prevent revisionism. The running record for the one-party state preventing revisionism is 0 to 2.

    Mutliple parties creates a formal atmopshere of democracy and accountability – why is that bourgeois liberalism?

    Democratic centralism is absolutely essential to a revolutionary party. But does democratic centralism means absolute obedience to a CP, even if the CP is wrong? I don’t believe it does, and that is the biggest problem with the RCP and Avakian.

    “Which is better, to have just one party or several? As we see it now, it’s perhaps better to have several parties. This has been true in the past and may well be so for the future; it means long-term , coexistence and mutual supervision.”

    (The Relationship Between Party and Non-Party, Mao Tse-Tung, April 25, 1956)

    Online version: http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-5/mswv5_51.htm

    A slightly different tanslation is in Chairman Mao Talks to the People, Stuart Schram, 1974.

    Revisionism isn’t struggle among the proletariat, revisionism is the rise of oppressor politics under socialism. And yes, you have a very real point: revisionists always use democratic garb to disguise their vile intent.

    I am no revisionist – I believe in the dictatorship of the proletariat, and think the Cultural Revolution was one of the greatest moments in human history and the class struggle.

    Let me ask this: Why does the bourgoeisie get to copyright democracy?

    Somethings I posted in on Line & Structure is: “While studying the revisionism of the last cenutry, we find a common thread between the historic reivisonists. Revisionism, while gowned in the red flag, advocated democracy in the abstract, from Khruschev’s “Party of all People” to Deng’s “Black Cat, White Cat” comments, democracy is presented as a thing removed and detached from class. This was clearly a move to throw the proletarian revolutionaries off and to confuse the masses. Lenin smashed to atoms the notions of classless democracy in a class divided society. But the leason was not easilly learned, and still not learned by modern revisionists and social-democrats that populate the Western countries. But while fighting off revisionism and bourgeois liberalism, some communists have committed the opposite error, leaning towards stale dogmas and developing a rigid attitude towards differences of opinons, and contradictions among the people. Those who make mistakes of this kind will not only find themselves isolated, but defeated.

    I was being sarcastic, I should add “forced” collectivization to it. But I don’t honestly think the collectivization process was handled perfectly correctly, and I think Mao’s criticism are right on. Don’t get me wrong — I am not a bourgeois psuedo-historian, I believe it was absolutely correct that Stalin lead collectization, but that doesn’t mean the objective need absolves the mistakes and errors.

    I uphold the best things about the Stalin period, and criticize the wrong, but the issue of 21st Century Socialism is not the Stalin period – it’s how can we do better than that…and fight revisionism further.

  6. My friend, that you for this interesting discussion! We are in agreement about Stalin and the road to revolution in the 21st century, that is, as you say, that “the issue of 21st Century Socialism is not the Stalin period – it’s how can we do better than that…and fight revisionism further.”

    I don’t think we agree about mulitparty democracy, however. “Coexistence and mutual supervision” didn’t mean for Mao what you are trying to imply that it meant. It certainly didn’t mean competition between parties as in a parliamentary structure. It meant that bourgeois democratic “parties” were given space to exist, not as organizations competing for political power, but as individuals grouped formally around certain (non-Marxist) ideas. This is not the same thing. Not even close. No party but the CPC held the helm of the dictatorship of the proletariat. One of the major struggles under socialism is that between the bourgeoisie seeking more and more legal protection for their organizations (liberalism) and the enforcement of the people’s democratic dictatorship by the Communist Party.

    I think you are taking the rise of revisionism in the CPSU (where the Party was liquidated when just what you are advocating took place) and CPC (where capitalism has not been fully restored) out of their historical context. It isn’t multiparty competition (!) or fractionalism (!!) that has to prevent revisionism but healthy party democracy and a healthy culture of criticism and self-criticism.

    Please consider the Worker’s Party of Belgium’s Balance of the Collapse of the Soviet Union: On the Causes of a Betrayl and the Tasks Ahead for Communists

  7. Comrade Zero:

    Well, I think even a one-party state can be considerably democratic. But I think the whole of the ICM has been bogged by too much conservatism, including how we look at and examine history.

    Revisionism took on different forms…in China they still have the one-party system. And even with the one-party system, as William Hinton articlulated, there were always two Communist Parties in China – one led by Mao in an open revolution, and other by Liu Shao-chi in underground “secret” activities.

    So even if you don’t have have competing parties, there will be competing lines. I believe the one-party system only gives the revisionists and toadies more reason to join and subvert the CP.

    I haven’t read the essay you link, but I will and get back to you on it :)

    Comradely —
    celticfire

  8. I was just thinking about what you were saying here, and reading over you post on Baburam Bhattarai’s “The Question of Building a New Type of State” and you make some interesting points that I would like to call particular attention to here.

    You Say:
    “It should outlined in the clearest manor that a socialist republic is a dictatorship of the proletariat, and as such its goal is to abolish social classes, to fight racism, xenophobia and patriarchy, and other principals of socialism. As such, participants in the state should take oaths to promote and uphold these principals. If the Party is to contest power with other progressive and democratic parties, it must struggle harder to engage the mass line, to educate the people and to continually revolutionize society. Contested, multiparty elections serve the proletariat in this manor. If a Party, even the Communist Party itself should change color, or begin to lose luster, it can find itself removed from posts. If a party in power attempts to act against the will of the masses despite the formal consitution, it would the duties of revolutionaries and progressive people everywhere to struggle against that action. This is where the historical important and example of the Cultural Revolution in China comes to mind.”

    This is what concerns me. Consider several events – the so-called “velvet revolution” in Czechoslovakia, the counter-revolutionary events in Hungary in 1956, and the counter-revolutionary incident in Tienanmen Square in 1989. These events all had broad mass support and the intention of fundamentally changing the political, social and economic structures of the countries in question. Had there been other parties contesting for power it would have been Rightist parties that would have been given power – in some cases parties backed by the CIA, as were many of those upheavals. What then? A party without democratic centralism and criticism and self-criticism, with CIA backing and a counter-revolutionary agenda comes to power. That’s a far greater setback than the early stages of revisionism.

    As for two-line struggle. I think it is necessary and healthy – it is part of the collective leadership process, part of what is sometimes called “spiral development”. Criticism and self-criticism provide the party with a self-correcting line. If there weren’t various views together in the same party engaging in a healthy and democratic internal party life, but rather seperated into seperate parties we would have the same sort of rediculous spectacle of politics we have in bourgeois democracies.

    A constitution is fine and good. Parliamentary competion or even legal factions in the CP are not.

  9. Umer A. Chaudhry

    Comrade Zero,

    Revolutionary Greetings,

    Like it or not, I am taking liberty of posting this article to the Communist Workers and Peasants Party Email list. The link of the email list is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cmkp_pk/

    You are invited to join the email list and take part in the discussion. We have around 1950 members making it the largest Marxist-Leninist email list on the internet.

    In Solidarity,
    Vidrohi

  10. Thanks Virodhi!

    I’m glad you liked it. Please feel free to post whatever I write wherever you like. Just continue to give reference to this blog.

    I’m checking out that email list too. It looks really good.

  11. Celt –

    Regarding your dialogue with Vidrohi. Since you are still in the evaluation phase and like the CPC docs on Stalin, please read this article concerning those documents. I think it is very good and would be interested to know your opinion (and it would make for very interesting discussion, I think). Given your interests I think that you (perhaps more than many from the pro-Chinese or Mao Zedong Thought tendency) would find it particularly interesting.

    On Certain Aspects of the Struggle Against Revisionism.

    study and struggle,
    Comrade Zero

  12. Thanks comrade Zero, and Vidrohi.

    Zero: I will read the document carefully and get back to you. :)

  13. Umer A. Chaudhry

    This post on post on my blog might be interesting for you: http://www.pkblogs.com/reddiarypk/2005/12/two-articles-about-stalin.html

  14. More on multiple parties…

    In discovering your adherence to Ludo Martens line on Stalin, I thought more deeply about the relationship of Stalin’s thinking, and the errors of the period under his leadership.

    First of all, every disagreement within our class is not a line struggle, and those who would treat debate and ferment in such a way, I wonder what a society run like that would look like.

    When I think about socialism, a society where the masses of people are supposed to be in control, I don’t see Party purges for those who disagree with the leadership, or attempts at stifling debate in order to create unity.

    I also don’t see or want to see leadership speaking in the name of the masses while silencing the masses, I don’t want to see crimes against human dignity because someone dared to disagree.

    And all these things, are very real that occured in the Soviet Union under Stalin’s leadership, and a failure to understand this will lead to a very bad line.

    It seems you push forward Stalin more then Mao, and I wonder if this is correct. Speaking with bias, of course, as a pledged Maoist, I see Maoism as the highest stage of Marxism at this point in time.

    In recognizing this, I do not see Stalin as a tyrant, or despot, but a man in charge of a society riddled with contradictions, and a man in charge of doing things that have never been done before. Surely for Stalin’s part, there were undoubted great victories for our class. Literacy in the Soviet Union was expanded at an incredible rate, even some Russian minorities that had no writen language, they were developed by the communists under Stalin’s leadership. The rights of women were far more then in compared Western “democracies.” Medicine and housing were guarenteed. The econonmy grew greatly and for the first time Russia knew a stable (comparitvely) economy.

    But then earth changing events happened. The reovlt in Germany was defeated, and there was no hope of help from Western countries. Fascism took hold an immediately a sense of urgency and threat came over the land.

    And in the face of this challenge, Stalin dropped the ball. Old czarist heroes were promoted again as “nationalist” heroes. Disagreement with the official line was seen as being a traitor.

    Tens of thousands of people were arrested, thousands were killed, and more were deported.

    This was real.

    Then we communists in the 21st century are faced with not only defending Stalin’s leadership, but moving forward, past it.

    Mao did this. But even Mao couldn’t solve the complex problem of revisionism.

    My problem with most Maoist groups is that they have not yet broken with the Stalinized framework, with the attitude towards dissent, and with the mechanical dogma included.

    There will be struggle, there will be struggle for socialism, and then to keep socialism, and threre will be struggle to get to communism. It will not be an easy task.

    Stalin thought it would be. Just build the economy and communism will happen. This proved to be completely wrong.

    I challenge you comrades to think about Stalin’s thinking, and how simple he made it for revisionists to come power in the first place.

    A political revolution can spark a social revolution. Marxist “orthodoxies” are of little interest to me, and I have to admit I find it delicious to watch as you cling to out-dated theories as if they were gospel, while the ostensibly “dogmatic” communists have bothered paying attention to changes in the world economy and politics.

    I don’t think socialism will follow Lenin’s playbook. But without his insights on how class consciousness is developed through organized revolutionary forces, without his METHOD, there won’t be a revolutionary movement. It’s why your ideas of divine democracy have no traction.

    There will obviously be much transformation in the coming years, and those who cling to the past will find themselves consigned there. But the ideas of Lenin that have stuck: anti-imperialism, the necessity of a vanguard, genuine proletarian internationalism, and a ferociously dialectical materialism aren’t going away. They actually correspond to how revolutions ARE made and CAN be made.

    1) Ideas don’t determine reality. “Proletarian” ideas are still just ideas. Special, indispensible, “correct,” but ideas nonetheless.

    2) Without a vital, organic connection to the proletariat and oppressed classes, even correct ideas become transformed by their lack of vitality. This is one of the ways that “dogmato-revisionism” develops.

    3) The history of socialism in the 20th Century plainly shows that one-party states are no guarantee against capitalist restoration. If anything, it shows the exact opposite.

    4) The supression of open factions within communist organizations means that deep discussion is only possible to a point. It will tend to force contradictory ideas, including revisionist ideas, into a the same vocabulary… obscuring the differences and obstructing discussion and debate. Supression of democracy aids revisionism rather than the reverse.

    5) Supression of factions (on principle) under the dictatorship of the proletariat means that there is no form of proletarian class rule — NO MATTER what the “ideas” are in the heads of the leaders. If all social, economic, and cultural administration is concentrated in the hands of a party that in turn lacks any form of democracy, it is despotism. There’s no other word for it. That is not socialism, and it’s not a communist road.

    5) Dialectical materialism isn’t a flag to be followed, it’s a method to be applied. On this there should be no disagreement.

    6) Perhaps the greatest challenge for socialists is creating forms of popular agency.

  15. What will the modular forms of socialist production be? What will the CONTENT of revolution be in lived life, not merely in the mouth of leaders?

    In other words, where do the leaders lead? If the answer is: “uphold leadership,” then it is no answer at all. Not even if the suffix “…with the correct ideas” is added. That’s a debate about the ideas, not the material conditions of life. It makes life and death questions academic.

    That’s why the issue of democracy, which I would expand qualitatively to the word “agency,” is so essential. That’s why a great many people fear socialism and do not join and build a movement so much in their interests. Because it is not “theirs.”

    This is the problem with Stalin. This is it on the head. This is why Mao’s leadership in the GPCR was so indispensible. The 3-in-1 committees, the decentralization of culture and industry, the recallability of leaders by mass action, and the dignity of land reform (vs. simple “nationalization”) — it’s the difference between People’s War and armed revisionism. It is about the people’s power.

    Promoting that, criticizing commandism and dogmatism ruthlesslessly and recognizing that the main problem WITHIN the communist movement is right-revisionism is a good starting point. What seem the most left (often commandist and dogmatic), can produce states that act in the name of the people without their CONSCIOUS participation. That kind of participation is impossible if the masses of people are viewed simply as the “led.”

    Let the people be masters, let the masters tremble.

    Now is the time to engage these questions. Now is the time to make a fundamental correction to the “errors” of the past. Now is the time to be that “tribune of the people.”

  16. What will the modular forms of socialist production be? What will the CONTENT of revolution be in lived life, not merely in the mouth of leaders?

    In other words, where do the leaders lead? If the answer is: “uphold leadership,” then it is no answer at all. Not even if the suffix “…with the correct ideas” is added. That’s a debate about the ideas, not the material conditions of life. It makes life and death questions academic.

    That’s why the issue of democracy, which I would expand qualitatively to the word “agency,” is so essential. That’s why a great many people fear socialism and do not join and build a movement so much in their interests. Because it is not “theirs.”

    This is the problem with Stalin. This is it on the head. This is why Mao’s leadership in the GPCR was so indispensible. The 3-in-1 committees, the decentralization of culture and industry, the recallability of leaders by mass action, and the dignity of land reform (vs. simple “nationalization”) — it’s the difference between People’s War and armed revisionism. It is about the people’s power.

    Promoting that, criticizing commandism and dogmatism ruthlesslessly and recognizing that the main problem WITHIN the communist movement is right-revisionism is a good starting point. What seem the most left (often commandist and dogmatic), can produce states that act in the name of the people without their CONSCIOUS participation. That kind of participation is impossible if the masses of people are viewed simply as the “led.”

    Let the people be masters, let the masters tremble.

    Now is the time to engage these questions. Now is the time to make a fundamental correction to the “errors” of the past. Now is the time to be that “tribune of the people.”

  17. We need to go further than saying: accountable debate is good and necessary, as long as the “correct” idea is in place. The point above, that capitalist power is social and economic, not just political — is VERY important. Capitalist relations are the whole base on which their political power springs. Not the reverse. This materialist understanding is what differentiates communists from utopians. And it compels us to dream on a much grander scale than a mere changing of “policies.”

    My “positive” ideas is that we need to at least begin thinking about what “forms” proletarian dictatorship takes beyond it’s political guarantee via a socialist state. I don’t know entirely what those will be. It would make sense that these forms will be varied and particular to the circumstances in which they rise. But I do know that equating freedom of conscience, association and speech with revisionism ON PRINCIPLE is a boomerang that will smack the well-intentioned despot right upside that hard head. It’s a matter of where power lies, not of “toleration” by judges.

    Socialism needs to be more than a proletarian representation, just as capitalism isn’t a mere “representation” of ” the bourgeois line.” It is the lived power of capitalists to exploit us, and our largely UNCONSCIOUS participation and socialization into their dictatorship.
    We need some of that “dignity of immediate actuality.” The people will learn to rule by ruling. And Lenin’s visionary State and Revolution is perhaps a place to draw not just inspiration, but also an understanding of the differences we’re talking about. Fanshen is also a deeply challenging book for many of the same reasons.

    Socialism isn’t state ownership and a one-party state. It’s the dictatorship of the proletariat or it’s state capitalism (at best).

    Instead of viewing every initiative of the masses as some manifestation of an “incorrect line,” because it doesn’t aim towards the upholding of xyz analysis, the Mass Line comes into play as a FACILITATION, by bringing science into the spontaneous resistance and focusing the often incomplete, incoherent ideas of the people.

    There is a leader/led dynamic, but it’s not as simple as just telling people there’s a good leader to follow who will do the correct things down the road. Not at all. Good leaders bring socialism out of the people. It’s not laid over society like a shroud.

    This, in a nutshell, is the disagreement about democracy. Are people just objects to be molded, or are leaders subject to the people?

  18. Celt and Vidrohi –

    I want to thank you both for such an interesting discussion, which has spanned over both this site and Celtic Fire’s site (the post ‘Thoughts on Ludo Martens “Against Revisionism”‘). I want to spend some time going over all that we have discussed then I will put forward another post discussing the issue.

    thanks again!
    Zero

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