(CV #41, February 2008)
The question of mass initiative
The views and experience of the "proletarism" group of Isayev and Razlatsky
You replace socialism with state-capitalism
* Your three-sector state-capitalist economy
* The nature of the "gift economy" as "cooperative anarchy"
* Cooperative anarchy" cannot provide for environmental protection,
nor can it go beyond marketplace medicine
* From anarchism to Stalinist state-capitalism
* The difference between a transitional economy and your state-capitalism
The question of party-building
* You negate workers' rule itself
* The proletarists and the party
* The state as ruling party in your system
* Power corrupts
* You don't care for elections or majority rule
* Marx and the proletarian party
. Thank you for your interest in my article "What would socialist health care be like?", which appeared in the Communist Voice of August 24, 2007. You have written an open letter about this article to me, and circulated it in a number of circles. You criticize my article harshly in your letter, which is your right, but in so doing you acknowledge the importance of the issues raised for discussion by my article. So although your letter approaches the matter from an anti-Marxist point of view, and even calls for "a decisive break" with talk of "socialism" in favor of "proletarism", I think your letter may perform a service in promoting discussion of some of the theoretical issues involved in the issues of socialism and health care.
. Your open letter begins by pointing out that my article "goes further" than Michael Moore's film Sicko because it "not only supports the many existing proposals for universal health care--but makes an effort to describe the essential difference between (1) the proposed reforms of the health care system and (2) the health care system as it will exist when the working class runs society." I thank you for your generous acknowledgment that my article brings out theoretical issues beyond the scope of what Moore talks about. And indeed, the same issue of Communist Voice that carried my article also carried Mark William's review of Sicko, and Pete Brown's criticism of the Massachusetts plan.
. But your statement is a bit misleading because it implies that I support all the proposals for universal health care. This is not correct. The California and Massachusetts plans are denounced in my article. (You did read my article before replying to it, didn't you, Ben?) It is important to oppose these plans. It is not just on the Iraq war, but also on health care that the Democratic Party, a party of the ruling class, is betraying the working people.
. True, I do not call for people to boycott these plans if they are passed, as the Massachusetts plan has already been. We in the Communist Voice Organization believe that people should use whatever health care they can obtain from these plans. But we show, for example, that the Massachusetts plan is mortally flawed. It cannot achieve universal coverage, because it relies on extending private insurance. Its funding is doubtful, and its employer mandates are a joke. It aims to solve the health crisis faced by corporations and the Massachusetts state government by giving more subsidies to private insurance, and the financial side of the plan is likely to go into crisis pretty fast. Moreover, it begins the process of criminalizing workers who don't have health insurance, and thus it is a bitter new twist to the ongoing privatization of health programs; this is a bad precedent for other states as well as for other social problems. At the moment, the plan is sugarcoated by promises of help for the working poor, but the subsidies for the working poor will fade at the first sign of fiscal crisis while the precedent of criminalizing the working people will remain. Similar things can be said about the California plan.
. We oppose the California and Massachusetts plans, as they are not steps forward. On the other hand, we support the agitation for a single-payer system of universal insurance. My article shows the limitations of the single-payer plan, and points to various issues, such as struggles with the big pharmaceutical companies, which will arise even under a single-payer plan. But a single-payer system would be a step forward, and so we vigorously support it, while the California and Massachusetts plans are steps to further privatize government services and throw the entire burden of the health crisis onto the working class. Moreover, I and the CVO support, not just major reforms such as a single-payer system, but even minor and quite limited ones such as the extension of various health programs that presently help the population. But that doesn't mean that we support all proposals for universal health care that happen to be made. One has to judge the concrete effect of each proposal. One shouldn't simply apply a stereotyped, universal pattern and say without thinking that anything that is called a reform may not be the final goal, but it is good and worthy of support.
. As the articles in the Communist Voice point out, there isn't simply one health crisis in this country, the same for the workers and the rich. The working class is concerned about obtaining health care: about their own health care, and about the health care of specially endangered sections of the population, such as retired people, the working poor, children, and immigrants. The bourgeoisie is concerned about the government's financial crisis; about the costs to the corporations of providing health benefits; and about ensuring an ever-increasing stream of profits to the big pharmaceutical firms, the private insurers, and other health industries. The bourgeoisie is going to try to solve its financial concerns while continuing the program of neo-liberal heartlessness toward the masses. For example, if the corporations cut health benefits, this would solve their problem, even though it will make it much harder for workers to obtain health care, and many corporations are already implementing this plan piecemeal. This difference in class interest between the workers and the bourgeoisie is reflected in the type of neo-liberal health plans being promoted by most bourgeois politicians, the Democrats as well as the Republicans.
. So there is going to be a class struggle on the issue of how to solve the health care crisis. True, the working class is presently disorganized, and so the working class side of this struggle is weak. In this situation, you talk about the need for agitation, but your attitude is essentially that "oh, it's fine to support some reform or other, yes, let someone else go ahead and do this, but we really knowledgeable people will do the important work". Instead of this above-it-all attitude, revolutionaries must take up the issues of the class struggle. In your open letter you raise the question of how to have effective agitation for workers' rule, rather than simply engaging in "unrealistic pipe dreams". One way would be to deal concretely with the issue of health care, and show how the system of medicine for profit is behind the current crisis. Moreover, we can also show that the medical crisis isn't simply one of funding. Public health is affected by workplace practices, by new technologies, and even by climate change. One can show how these challenges point toward the need for social planning of the economy and go against capitalist private ownership. Thus we can show that social planning isn't simply a "utopia", but an increasingly urgent need; and it's not a matter of our preferences, but of what we need in order to survive in the coming world. And moreover, measuring our idea of the future society, whether it be socialism or -- as you would have it, "proletarism"-- against the needs of health care, is one way of testing our ideas of the future society and seeing how realistic they are. As I will point out later on in my remarks, I think the anarchistic system you advocate for a future society cannot satisfy the health care needs of the masses.
. But unfortunately your open letter, which begins by taking up the issue of health care -- or, at least, by referring to my article on health care and socialism -- immediately retreats from this subject. It shows no indignation at the bitter frauds being perpetrated on the workers by politicians who are using the health crisis as another opportunity for privatization. I am not even sure what your stand is on the different proposals for solving the health care crisis that are currently being debated. It's not in your open letter. It doesn't seem to be on your web site,www.communism.com either (shouldn't you, Ben, be changing that to www.proletarism.com, now that you believe in "decisively" repudiating such "weasel words", as you would put it, as "socialism" and "communism"?).
. Could you tell me what you view of the Massachusetts and California proposals are? Do you oppose them, or do you regard them as reforms that are useful but not the final goal? If you oppose them, it would be helpful if you would make this clear, publicize your stand on your website, and take part in the discussion in the left on this. On the other hand, if you support the Massachusetts and California plans, you should explain why, and answer the objections to them made in the articles on health care in the Communist Voice.
, Do you support the proposal for a single-payer system of national health insurance? If so, it would be helpful if you would make this clear, explain why, and take part in the struggle against the system of private medical insurance, and in the struggle to ensure that national health programs cover all residents, including the undocumented workers. On the other hand, if you don't support the single-payer plan, or regard it as no better than the Massachusetts and California plans, you should explain why, and answer the arguments in its favor made in my article and elsewhere.
. Similarly, you could analyze the issue of a national health service as opposed to simply a
single-payer system, and analyze what's happened to the various national health care systems in
other countries. We have done some of this work in the Communist Voice, and will do more in
the future, but there's always work for more hands.
. But so far, you haven't done this. Instead of analyzing the issue of health care, in your open letter you accuse me of advocating not workers' rule, but the building of "a police state with rampant hypocrisy, repression, fear, stagnation and shortages". You accuse me of supporting the revisionist, Stalinist, and state-capitalist system that existed in the "Soviet Union, China and North Korea". You sound something like an old-style bigot who replied to any activist, no matter what they stood for, by shouting "go back to Russia".
. Yet, in reality, my article, "What would socialist health care be like", goes out of its way to distinguish socialism from what it described as the "state-capitalism which pretended to be socialist, namely, the Stalinist system of the past or of Cuba or China today." Meanwhile, ironically, it is you who don't really understand what the problem was in the old revisionist (fake communist) regimes. Indeed, you don't even recognize them as state-capitalist regimes, and, as we shall see later on, you support building a state-capitalist system, which you believe will act as a transition to the ultimate anarchist system you desire.
. The sole evidence against me that you give in your letter is that I hold that the working class will build up its own political party to serve as the ruling party of a socialist country. Oddly enough, you hold that anyone who works to build a proletarian party must want to imitate the anti-proletarian parties that ruled the state-capitalist countries. That's quite a jump in logic. Nevertheless, you need this logical fallacy in order to argue that because the revisionist parties of the state-capitalist countries suppressed the masses, ruled through bureaucracies, and turned mass organizations into servile servants of the state, therefore these practices must be my view of socialism.
. In fact my article gives a different conception of a socialist society and of a socialist party. It points out that socialism "doesn't just mean technocrats or party officials administering the system, even socialist technocrats, but that the working population as a whole must be increasingly involved in directing production and dealing with all the common concerns of society as a whole." It points out that "Step by step, the working class must learn how to control the economy, both as an overall whole and workplace by workplace." This refers both to workers learning how to administer their own workplace, and learning how to unite in large regions and on a countrywide basis to give overall direction to the economy.
. Moreover, my article applies this conception to the problems of health care. It doesn't portray socialist care as simply a better-funded version of present medical care. Instead it points, among other things, to the role of mass initiative in heath care:
. My article covers many points, so it only has time to briefly sketch these issues. There's clearly much more work to be done in developing them. And there's a lot of room for more people to take part in such agitation.
. Yet you, Ben, don't seem concerned about such issues. You claim to be discussing my article, and yet you don't find such topics of any interest. That's one of the reasons why your supposed concern for the masses who are allegedly going to be oppressed under socialism seems so shallow. For you the denunciation of tyranny is just an anti-socialist mantra which you repeat over and over, just like any number of Fox News commentators or neo-liberal ideologues. But for us, communist revolutionaries who are involved in encouraging class organization among the oppressed, these issues are of vital concern.
. You, Ben, aren't actually concerned with discussing the role of mass initiative. Instead you are
interested only in such things as your dogmas concerning the harmfulness of proletarian political
parties and of the terms "socialism" and "communism", dogmas you don't test by experience.
You don't really look at the history of revolutions and mass struggles, which show that
communist parties, when they are live parties which still deserve the name "communist", have
invigorated the mass struggle, and allowed the working masses to raise their heads and fight back
against suppression by hostile employers, racist bigots, fascist occupiers, and other oppressors.
Instead, solely because I disagree with your dogmas, you accuse me of supporting the tyranny of
the old Stalinist system. And yet, the irony is that you promote, in your letter and on your
website, the theoretical views of a group -- the "proletarism" group -- who hold that workers'
rule existed under the state-capitalist system led by Stalin. And you also advocate building up
what would amount to a state-capitalist system as the way to prepare for the future "cooperative
anarchy" that you advocate. I will go into these matters in some detail as this letter proceeds.
. Your letter to me starts out on health care, but its main appeal is for workers and activists to drop "socialism" in favor of "proletarism", and on your website you make clear that you want the workers' movement to drop "communism" as well. In essence, you want us to drop the banner of Marxism as well, but you are more cagey about how you say that.
. Nevertheless, Ben, while you suggest that others stop using the supposed "weasel words" of 'socialism" and "communism", you keep on using them. Why is that, Ben? You don't need my permission to change your website. Why not openly proclaim what you are doing? If you really believe what you are saying, if you aren't just playing with the movement, lead the way and show us how you think real agitation should be done. And, in accordance with your own suggestions, change your URL from www.communism.com to www.notcommunism.com or wwww.notsocialism.com or www.notmarxism.com.
. After all, you write to me that you "advocate a decisive break from this word ['socialism'] and am in favor of the proposal by Russian revolutionaries (who organized underground groups of workers to struggle against the abuses of the Brezhnev regime) to use a new word, 'proletarism', to describe our goal: the historical stage in which the proletariat runs society."
. But what is this new goal of "proletarism"? Indeed, activists have held just as many different ideas about "the historical stage in which the proletariat runs society" as they have about "socialism", as most of them regard the two as the same thing. So to see what is distinctive about the new goal, we will have to examine the views and practices of the proletarists.
. Well, the main theorist of this group of Russian activists was A. B. Razlatsky, who died in 1989. Grigorii Isayev was thus left as the practical leader of this trend, and he became prominent in the Russian strike movement against the Yeltsin regime in the late 1990s. The proletarists gained support rapidly in a major strike in the city of Samara, and the proletarism group led the Samara Stachkom (strike committee). But the proletarism trend wasn't able to consolidate that support, which seems to have fallen away as quickly as it had developed. There doesn't seem to anything new on their website, certainly nothing in English, since the year 2000. (1) They appear not only to have lost mass support among the workers, but to be inactive. There is no indication that Isayev and his supporters have carried out any organizational, political, or theoretical work since 2000 or 2001.
. If you have knowledge of their current activities, Ben, it would be useful if you [would] let others know about it. You could post such knowledge on your website. Since you are telling others to follow the example of this grouping, you have the moral responsibility of letting everyone know what's happened to it, and what its experience has been. Among other things, how have they fared with their decisive repudiation of the words "socialism" and "communism", and how was their agitation received by the Russian working class?
. Now, there was originally a good deal of excitement about Isayev and the proletarism group, precisely because they continued to stand for communism while opposing the revisionist KPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation--the successor of the old state-capitalist party) and denouncing the facade of communism in the old USSR (at least, for the period after Stalin). They were spirited activists. On the other hand, as we shall see, it does seem that their views were quirky; that they didn't understand the economic basis of the post-Stalin regimes which they denounced; and that they had a rather simplistic idea of the class struggle and proletarian organization. Of course, this shouldn't stop us from examining their experience, and seeing what we can learn from it. If this trend is still alive, this should be useful to them as well. Activists from different countries should exchange experience. But surely activists should have a chance to examine the proletarist views and practices before being pressured to follow them.
. Let's start examining their views and practices by looking at their relation to the class struggle:
. In 2000, the last year of which I have much knowledge of their activity, Isayev and the proletarists opposed the struggle against the reactionary labor law reform of the Putin government. Indeed, they didn't just stand aside from this struggle: they denounced it. This presumably was one of the reasons that they lost support among Russian workers. It was a shocking stand in Russia, and it echoed in an angry internet debate among leftists elsewhere.
. What was the labor law reform and why was it important? Recall that Vladimir Putin was Russian President Yeltsin's hand-picked successor. Yeltsin resigned at the end of 1999 so that Putin could go into the presidential elections of 2000 as an incumbent. In power, Putin immediately pressed two issues: he restarted the war against the Chechens, and he stepped up pressure against the Russian workers with his plan for labor law reform. As the Communist Voice put it at the time, Putin's proposals
"would allow 12-hour days and 56-hour weeks; give the OK to child labor; eliminate protections for women with small children; cut maternity leave in half; eliminate the need to obtain trade union consent for firing, work schedules and workplace norms; and so forth. This labor code, approved by the IMF, would establish the type [of] workplace relations that capitalist bosses love."(2)
. Putin's labor law reform not only proposed miserable conditions, but removed any legal basis for workers to fight back for their own demands. It was Putin's answer to the worker resistance that had flared up at times under Yeltsin, and a struggle broke out over Putin's proposals. This was a trial of strength between Putin and the Russian workers, and, unfortunately, one that Putin eventually won. The labor law reform would become law in 2002, with provisions even worse than originally proposed.
. But the proletarists couldn't see the point of fighting this reactionary legislation; they regarded it as a diversion from carrying out a new revolution. They folded their hands while the Russian workers suffered a defeat that left Putin free to carry out his anti-worker program.
. The proletarists also seemed to have had trouble with the idea of reforms in general, regarding just about all of them as diversions. Indeed, back in 2000 you were one of the moderators of the "proletarism" mailing list, which was run by their party, the PDP (the Party of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat). During the fierce controversy on this list over their opposition to the struggle against Putin's labor law reform, you wrote that it seemed that
"a large part of the thinking of the PDP is that all struggles for partial demands (ie: reforms) in the legal sphere are useless or counterproductive. Part of the evidence here is that Grigorii's [Isayev's--JG] September 25 post appears to counterpose the campaign against Putin's Labor Code to revolutionary slogans that will be abstract to most workers. The PDP does not appear (at least to the extent that I am aware) to have some kind of alternative program of work that includes the struggle for reforms. The impression one gets is that the PDP considers the struggle for reforms itself (other than strike struggles) to be a _distraction_ from the revolutionary struggle."(3)
. Indeed, one of the supporters of the PDP, A. A. Razlatsky, who you identify as probably the son of A. B. Razlatsky, the "PDP's founder", was accused of writing that if the campaign against the Labor Law Reform was successful, "the condition of the working class will be improved, which will make more remote its readiness to carry out revolutionary changes in society." Thus he was accused of opposing the reform precisely because he thought the reform would benefit the working class.
. Did he in fact hold such a view? You thought that it was indeed possible that he did, and wrote that "If this quote is even halfway accurate it is devastating to the position of Grigorii Isayev and the PDP. . . . That a close supporter of the PDP could express such a view would be solid evidence that the political consciousness of at least some supporters of the PDP is at an extremely low level. If A. A. Razlatzki has _not_ accurately reflected the views of the PDP then, again, it is up to Grigorii Isayev or the PDP to clear this up."
. A renewed war to suppress the Chechen people was the other part of Putin's original anti-working class plan. It was important for the Russian working class movement to support the right to self-determination of Chechnya, but the proletarists stood aloof from the struggle against the ravaging of Chechnya. They betrayed proletarian internationalism on this point.
. Their stand on the war was "Let us not focus on the Chechen question but on the STRIKE MOVEMENT [it is underlined, capitalized, and in red in the original--JG], for that is where the only path to revolution lies! It is this which will decide all the 'national' questions."(4)
. What would happen if American workers and activists took this stand with respect to American imperialism? We would have to abandon the struggle against the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and other aggressions by US imperialism as diversions from organizing economic struggles. It is thus extremely serious to suggest that American activists, right while we are in the midst of the anti-war movement, follow the example of the proletarists: yet you call on me and other activists to regard the proletarists as leaders in how to carry out mass agitation and organize the workers movement, and you do so without any qualification or critical assessment of their experience.
. Indeed, while it is important for activists here to bring the issue of fighting imperialism to the fore in the anti-war movement, the proletarists have some odd views about the relationship of Western imperialism and war. They don't see the economic basis of militarism and war. Their website still promotes an article by Razlatsky entitled "State Imperialism Should be Distinguished from Economic Imperialism". In his view, state imperialism is "feudalism raised to a higher level", which means that he attributed militarism solely to the revisionist system, which -- as we shall see -- he regarded as feudalist. As to economic imperialism, he saw this as merely peaceful economic pressure. He wrote that "Economic imperialism is international monopolism, a purely bourgeois phenomenon. It conducts its struggle, not in society, but in a given branch of production, suppressing and subordinating competitors by means of economic pressure. It prefers not to clash with society." By way of contrast, he held that "To conduct a war, the more backward state imperialism is needed."(5)
. This seems to put forward an incredibly prettified picture of Western imperialism, which is apparently regarded as mere "economic imperialism". Well, while such a view is horribly mistaken, perhaps it might have been understandable that he could temporarily make such an error in the heat of the struggle against revisionist persecution. When he wrote this article, Razlatsky was preoccupied with denouncing the then-existing Soviet system (recall that he died in 1989). It is more surprising that this article still occupies a place of honor on the proletarism website to this day.
. Moreover, Razlatsky also seemed to have had an odd overall view of Western capitalism. The proletarist website carries his article from 1989 entitled "USA, Socialism, Us. . ." This is a reply to an article by L. Liubimov, entitled "To what system does the USA belong?", which apparently claimed that the US is socialist. Razlatsky didn't quite agree, but he didn't completely disagree either. He believed the US "is capitalism, though, of course, not the classical form which tried to develop itself exclusively on the basis of capitalist relations". Pardon? Does this mean that he thought that there are some socialist relations of production in the US? In fact, it does. He held that state ownership and state regulation, even by the bourgeoisie, is socialist, and wrote "As you can see, I am not disputing the fundamental conclusion of Liubimov on the obvious existence of socialism in the social life of the USA and many other capitalist states. But, in arriving at the conclusion along a different road, the possibility exists to make a scientific comparison of the stage of development of capitalist and socialist society. In particular, what is interesting for us today, is to note how capitalism decided the question of private land ownership." So he held that state ownership in a capitalist society is socialist, while you, Ben, believe -- as we shall see in a moment -- that state ownership under workers' rule is simply state capitalism. (Both views are wrong.) And Razlatsky had to look at the question of land ownership to refute the idea of Western capitalism being socialism. Razlatsky's article, although it was written to slap at extreme pro-Western views, nevertheless suggests a prettified view of Western capitalism, and a misunderstanding of the nature of state ownership. Indeed, he seemed to regard the very idea of state-capitalism as dogmatism, and he explicitly slapped at the term "state-monopoly capitalism".(6)
. But, back to the theory of imperialism, it is notable that the proletarist theory separates off political events and wars from their economic basis. For the proletarists, imperialist war comes from feudalism, which they use to refer to crude political tyranny. They separate it off from the monopoly capitalist system which underlies modern imperialist war. Need I point out that modern world developments haven't been kind to this view of theirs? Who, say, could ignore the struggle for oil that is so important with respect to the Gulf Wars?
. The proletarist trend also proved unable to deal with the ebbs and turns in the workers' struggle. They couldn't fit this into their picture of revolutionary tactics. When the strike movement rose, they seem to have anticipated a straight path to revolution through building strike committees. This was their set pattern or dogma: everything else was a diversion, and they sought to build strike committees whether or not there were ongoing strikes.
. The proletarists also had difficulty dealing with the different political and class trends that would take part in mass struggles. They seem to have wanted to find a pure mass movement, which would allow their work to be free of complicated political situations and the need for a protracted struggle against opportunism. Thus one of their reasons for denouncing the struggle against Putin's labor code was that the various labor bureaucrats and reactionary parties, such as the so-called "Communist Party of the Russian Federation", postured within this movement. Instead of seeing that this raised the need to fight opportunism in the movement, they denounced the movement itself. This is reminiscent of how the Spartacists and other left Trotskyists here in the US denounce the anti-war movement because of the presence of Democratic Party politicians and other opportunists.
. Meanwhile, in their local work, the proletarists apparently made some dubious deals in Samara with an anti-worker personality. This was referred to in the debate that had taken place in the internet over their opposition to the movement against Putin's labor reform. So the flip side of their insistence on a pure mass struggle was their lacking any standard as to when deals with other forces are appropriate.
. Their idea of agitation seems to have been quite primitive, and this seems to be what eventually gave rise to the idea of denouncing the terms "communism" and "socialism" and, for that matter, "democracy".
. Actually, they didn't originally do this. This is indicated by the very name of their main theoretical work, the Second Communist Manifesto by Razlatsky. Nor does the Program of the Party of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat denounce these terms. It seems that it wasn't until 1999 or so that they began to disassociate from the terms "communism" and "socialism"; the first place I have seen them do this is in Isayev's "Letter to Comrade Lobov" of April 1, 1999.(7) You, Ben, may have more information about this. If so, you should let us know about it. This is important for us to judge the basis on which the proletarist group made their proposal.
. Thus, as far as I can presently tell, it seems likely that the proletarists began to denounce the terms "socialism", "communism", and "democracy" in the excitement of the strike movement, or possibly as they saw the mass support they had gained in the strike movement ebbing away. They were faced with dealing with the different political stands being put forward in the mass movement, and they had trouble doing this concretely. So they approached the issue with big general denunciations. One brief appeal on their website ended with a series of such general appeals: "All to the Square of Glory! Down with the Communists and Democrats! Down with Presidents and Parliaments! Long Live the Power of Workers! Long live Revolution!"(8) They seemed to have believed that revolution was imminent, and rousing calls to revolution would suffice.
. While you don't bring it out in your open letter, Ben, it's notable that they seem to denounce democracy as well as socialism. Their appeal "down with the democrats" doesn't simply mean down with the Democratic Party of Russia. This party is more widely known in Russia as Yabloko, an acronym, based on the names of its founders, which means "apple" in Russian. Moreover, there are a number of other parties of the pro-Western free-market liberals, and they are apparently known widely as the rightist parties. Indeed, one such party calls itself the "Union of Right-Wing Forces". But the proletarist proclamation characterizes what is wrong with the liberal parties and the ruling Yeltsin government as their supposed democracy. It declares "Now, new exploiters--democrats have thrown us into the new, bourgeois slavery."
. Are you going to follow them on this too, Ben? Do you propose that the workers and activists here should drop the term "democratic" similarly to how you want them to drop the term "socialism" and "communism"?
. It's notable that the proletarists had the Stachkom (strike committee) denounce communism and democracy. Yet it's rather unlikely that this corresponded to the mood of the broad masses who a strike committee should be striving to lead. The proletarists seem to have imposed their views on what should be genuine organs of the masses.
. Why didn't the proletarists instead declare their views through their party, the PDP, or a declaration of their trend, instead of pretending that the masses were already putting these view forward themselves? Well, the theory of the proletarists is, in essence, that a party is somewhat oppressive in itself. Their catchword is that the proletariat party must not be the ruling party, but must remain in contradiction with the proletariat state. I will go into their theories on the state briefly later on. For now, the point is that they find the oppression of the masses arising, not so much from a ruling party being the party of an exploiting class, but simply from its being a ruling party.
. This is presumably one reason they seem to make just about all their declarations, except the program of their party, through the Stachkom. They presumably see the Stachkoms as the only real representative of the masses. It seems like their view is that a call from a party might be oppressive, but never a call from a properly-functioning Stachkom. But whether various actions and declarations truly represent the masses isn't determined simply by which organization carries them out or issues them. In reality, a non-party body can also impose on the masses, and this is a frequent occurrence in history. The proletarist theories denigrating the role of the party seem to have blinded them to the proper relations with the masses needed to ensure that the organizations that speak in the name of the working class remain its true representatives.
. As I have examined the stands of the proletarists in the class struggle, I have been led to examine the theoretical rationale for their stands. Let's continue further into some general historical and theoretical issues:
. The proletarist trend didn't have much idea of the economic and class relations of the state-capitalist regimes. They were clear that the post-Stalin Soviet Union was oppressive, but they didn't recognize its capitalist economic basis--that's why they denounced it as feudalism rather than state capitalism. This wasn't just an agitational phrase; they seriously theorized on the system being feudalism. But feudalism was a decentralized system, which was based on a relatively stagnant agrarian economy, and this stagnation was a condition for its stability, while revisionist economic power was based on state ownership, wherever possible it engaged in rapid industrial development, and economic stagnation undermined it. They are very different systems, with different class structures, and different economic contradictions.
. But the proletarists don't really mean that the revisionist states were feudal economically; instead their critique was basically just political. By talking of feudalism, they were comparing the oppression of the revisionist bureaucracy to the political system which existed under tsarism. Their analysis being mainly political, the remedy they envisioned was narrowly political: indeed it was simplistic as well as quirky -- the dominant proletariat should have its party, but it should not be the ruling party.
. Isayev reiterated this viewpoint in 2000 when he stated "And here is the most important question: should the party take power into its own hands. . . This is about what we should hold a heated discussion. But instead of it there are more and more fathomless in 'depth' and 'novelty' conversations of the thinkers: 'Trotsky, Stalin, state capitalism, bureaucracy, trade unions, centrism and etc.'"(9)
. In particular, their failure to understand the state-capitalist nature of the revisionist regime led them to believe that the Stalinist system, while Stalin himself was alive, was socialism, albeit a "substandard" type of socialism, and they held that the Stalinist regime was a dictatorship of the proletariat, albeit a flawed one that could not survive Stalin's death. This analysis appeared in such documents as Razlatsky's Second Communist Manifesto, which is still promoted by you, Ben, on your website.
. As far as I know, the proletarist trend never gave up this attitude to Stalinism. Thus Isayev, writing in March 2000, stated that "It is undoubtedly (sic) that under Stalin the Main law of socialism was executed -- how did Stalin achieve it, what were his mistakes, what did it cost to society--this is a separate conversation."(10)
. You, Ben, say that we should drop the terms "socialism" and "communism", like the
proletarists, and that this would be a radical break from the revisionists. But the "proletarist"
trend was never clear on revisionism in general, and never clear on Stalinism in particular. Far
from their campaign being a sign of how firm their struggle against revisionism was, it came
about because of the weakness of their analysis of revisionism and of revisionist political
tyranny. It would have been a step forward for this trend, a step beyond Razlatsky's Second
Communist Manifesto, if Isayev and company had realized that the Stalinist system wasn't
socialist; it was a step backward from Razlatsky to denounce the terms "socialism" and
"communism" (and even "democracy"). No, Ben, we are not going to join you in following them.
In essence, Isayev and company look like they were moving toward abandoning Marxism
altogether, which is something you did long ago, when you embraced what you used to call
. Your open letter demands that the goals of socialism and communism be thrown out. So the
question arises, what do you want to replace them with? You talk of "workers' rule", but what do
you envision by it? If one examines the broad outlines of the economic system you are proposing,
it turns out that the economic system you propose is well-known, and was tried extensively in the
20th century. It is Stalinist state-capitalism. You want this old economic system, but with a
different political superstructure. You envision a multi-party system, but you see it presiding over
the same economic system that existed under the old revisionist regimes.
* Your three-sector state-capitalist economy
. You have describe your vision of "workers' rule" as an economy consisting of "three economic sectors: private capitalist, state capitalist and gift economy".(11) These are the private sector, the state sector, and a free sector, subsidized by taxes levied by the state on the private and state sectors.
. You describe the private sector as "private capitalist economy". So it is the realm of enterprises that are owned and run by the remaining capitalists and, presumably, also by small individual owners. This sector will be regulated by the state, but it will retain private ownership of the means of production. This sector existed in the Stalinist economy, and in state-capitalist economies generally.
. You describe the state sector as "state capitalist economy". It will still use money and commodity production. But more than that, you regard that it will be dominated by "state-appointed bureaucrats" who do pretty much as they please, independent of the working class. You say that workers might be able to run some of the state corporations, but you regard that, overall, this sector is the realm of state bureaucracy. Of course, such a state-capitalist sector existed in the Stalinist economy.
. You say that there will be a "gift economy", that "does not make use of money or exchange" and which will "likely require many years of subsidies that will in effect tax the rest of the economy". That is, the gift sector will be a gift from the government, which will tax the rest of the economy to support it. The internal organization of your gift economy has its own peculiarities, but all modern economics have sectors that are financed by the government. Stalinist economies had various social services provided free to the population, and financed, of course, by the rest of the economy. Even capitalist economies provide certain services without fully charging for them: American capitalist politicians, however, talk of "entitlements" rather than of a "gift economy". This is what one might call their "free sector".
. Indeed, all present-day industrial economies have these three sectors. The Stalinist economies differ from market-capitalist economies in that the state sector is dominant, as it is in your system too. After all, you point out that the "state capitalist economy" would, "in the initial period" following the revolution, take over "many (or most) of the large capitalist corporations". Given the weight of large corporations in modern industrialized economies, this means that the state capitalist economy would be dominant economically.
. An economy may have several sectors, but it also has an overall character. The economy you describe doesn't just have a state-capitalist sector, but overall it is a state-capitalist economy; there has never been a pure state-capitalist system which consisted of only one sector, the state sector. And certainly, the Stalinist state-capitalist economies didn't consist only of a state sector, but of several sectors.
. Of course, your picture of the various sectors differs in certain details from the state-capitalist
economies of the past. But these state-capitalist economies themselves differed one from another,
and evolved over time. Some had larger state-sectors, some smaller; some left small-scale
agriculture in the strictly private sector, while others collectivized it; some had utopian
experiments within the free sector for a time; etc. But, in broad outline, they had certain common
features. And if one ignores the absurd parts of your plans, and deals with what they would
actually amount to in practice, one has the well-known revisionist, state-capitalist economy.
* The nature of the "gift economy" as "cooperative anarchy"
. At this point, it is necessary to look a bit more closely at the particular type of free sector that you are proposing. This is the sector that you regard as fundamentally new, that has something different from capitalism. Moreover, you regard that it is not only a sector, but that it is somehow self-contained, forming an entire gift economy on its own, although at the same time you picture that it is incapable of surviving on its own and that it lives on subsidies.
. Your free sector has a number of distinctive features. You imagine not only that it doesn't charge for various services, but that it has done away with money altogether. Yet it exists in the midst of an overall economy that uses money, and it receives resources from this economy. You imagine that this economy will have no overall or central planning or "central authority", but will consist of a multitude of independent units, in "competition and cooperation" with each other. What it boils down to is that you use the term "gift economy" as another name for what you used to call "cooperative anarchy".
. Capitalist economies have a large number of independent enterprises that are free of conscious social planning, and engage in "competition and cooperation" by means of buying and selling from each other. The marketplace provides the connection that forces these units not to produce at random, but to be part of a whole. The result is, while they may imagine themselves free to do as they please, the sum of their activities is ruled by Adam Smith's famous "invisible hand". The invisible hand is also an iron hand, and it results in boom and bust, devastation of the environment, overwork and unemployment, and the other well-known features of capitalism. The economy appears to have a life of its own, independent of human volition. Each enterprise and each worker appears to be economically free, and yet they are ruled by forces beyond their control.
. Communism aims to replace the rule of money and the marketplace with conscious social planning. Thus the overall direction of the economy, that today is determined by economic laws that act behind the back of people, via the "invisible hand", would become subject to conscious control. The ability of people to control their own destiny through social planning would go hand-in-hand with local and individual freedoms of all types. Your many libertarian speeches to the contrary, social planning will be a source of freedom under communism.
. You, however, want to erase the terms "socialism" and "communism" because you are opposed to social planning or any central authority. You agree with communism in looking towards the abolition of money and the marketplace. But you want a society of completely independent units, and you don't know what will connect them, what will replace the old financial connection. So you wave your hands and talk of "cooperation and competition". This says nothing, as all systems have "cooperation and competition"; whether there is central planning or the marketplace or a hybrid system, whether there is oppression or freedom, there is still going to be some form of "cooperation and competition" among people and economic units. What differs from one economic system to another, and one political system to another, is the form this "cooperation and competition" takes.
. So let's see what this "cooperation and competition" would look like in your vision of the future. You list many possible disagreements between people in your letter. How would they be settled in the gift economy? At one time, you admitted that "the answer is kind of simple: the various sides *fight it out*. This would kind of be like a war." (12)
. These days you prefer to sanitize everything, and you only talk about "information war". But this is just a euphemism to make it sound as if you only mean widespread discussion and debate and the sharing of information. At one time, briefly, you were more forthcoming about what type of war would characterize the ordinary workings of your cooperative anarchy.
. So let's take a look at that. My article of 1995 on your "mailed fist" excerpted a number of your enthusiastic descriptions of the war-like trials of strength that would be a routine affair under cooperative anarchy. For example, if two factories disagreed with one another on something, such as the proper environmental protection measures, what would they do? You wrote that the workers of one factory would "stage a *labor action* (possibly similar to a strike or slowdown or at least a dampening of enthusiasm) in order to *put pressure on the rest of the workers* to rethink their positions." So in capitalism, workers strike against the bosses, but in the gift economy, they will strike against other workers. And if the strike didn't work, they would look to shut down the offending factory through having its suppliers deny it raw materials. And if that doesn't work, they would proceed to "strikes, slowdowns, boycotts", with each side "targetting or aiding their *allies and enemies".(13)
. You went on to describe how the activists in a cooperative anarchy would use these methods to censor the mass media, to re-educate people they regarded as recalcitrants, and otherwise apply direct pressure to force people to behave properly. So long as all this was done by individual groups, and not by a central authority, you couldn't see how any of this violated the freedom of speech or individual rights. But in reality, the only real freedom in cooperative anarchy will be to engage in such wars.
. Why, it might be asked, wouldn't workers try first to come to a common decision, and perhaps vote on issues of common concern? Wouldn't that be more appropriate than fighting each issue out? Surely a struggle that is like a war should only be resorted to in extreme circumstances. But voting on an issue implies that there will be an overall authority -- such as the authority of the vote itself. This would be centralism and hence anathema to your cooperative anarchy. And so, the only way that is left to resolve disagreements is to "fight it out", not just in words, but through fierce economic struggle, including the building of broad coalitions that would boycott each other, deny each other needed goods, censor each other, etc. And it is hard to imagine that such economic struggle might not spill over into physical struggle as well.
. That is how the gift economy would work in what you regard as "workers' rule". It may be a
"gift economy", but it's no gift.
* "Cooperative anarchy" cannot provide for environmental protection,
nor can it go beyond marketplace medicine
. Back in 1995, when you and I were debating the issue of cooperative anarchy, one of the issues which came up was environmental protection. This requires the ability for overall planning, which cooperative anarchy cannot provide. For example, we debated the issue of how to deal with environmental poisons.
. You gave an example of your views by referring to what would happen if society had to make a choice between two products, one which was easy to produce but poisonous, and the other which was harder to produce but was safe. It turned out that it was impossible, in cooperative anarchy, to altogether stop the production of the poison. You saw the problem as one of what proportion in which to produce the products, and said this would be settled by how many consumers wanted to buy each product, how many factories wanted to produce each product, etc.
. This would be recognized by any intelligent market advocate as a neo-liberal approach: so long as there were a few consumers who didn't care how much damage a poisonous production process caused, some of the poison would be produced. If 15% of the consumers still didn't care how many people died because of the poison, then 15% of the former amount of poison would be produced. If 99% of the people wanted to eliminate the poison, still there would be 1% who wanted to buy the poisonous product, and they could probably find some factory still producing it, so the poison would continue to be spread throughout the world.
. In this debate you went on to denigrate the need to ban poisons. You wrote that it was "binary logic" to worry about banning things, and that "real life throws up many situations for which the boundaries are less clear".(14) Of course there are many cases in which total bans are inappropriate. But if your cooperative anarchy can't even handle the case where bans are necessary and appropriate, how is it going to handle tougher questions?
. Meanwhile banning poisonous products is an important part of health care. It is a scandal that capitalist society produces so many poisonous products, poisonous either to the consumer (such as lead-coated toys) or to the environment. But your cooperative anarchy wouldn't ban a single product. The population would have to resort to "fighting it out . . . kind of like a war", on each and every product.
. What about regulating workplace conditions? The society of the future should do better on this than capitalist society. But this would be as hard under cooperative anarchy as banning a poisonous product.
. What about the occasional need for quarantining people with certain contagious diseases. How would this be accomplished in cooperative anarchy? You regard it as oppressive for any central authority to be responsible for this, and so it would have to be up to individual groups to decide who has to be quarantined. But a fight between different groups over who is to be quarantined, or a fight between a person and a group insistent on quarantining him or her, would likely be a real war, not simply a simulated one.
. More examples could be given. The lack of overall planning in cooperative anarchy would
make it hard for it do anything better than marketplace medicine.
* From anarchism to Stalinist state-capitalism
. Moreover, you implicitly recognize the unworkable nature of cooperative anarchy when you say that the gift economy would probably have to be subsidized for years. This is a devastating admission on your part. It turns out that it is your vision of the future which is an "unrealistic pipedream".
. And you are not talking about subsidies just for, say, a couple of years to allow the gift economy to get on its feet. You envision these subsidies going on for a long time. Actually, your gift economy, free as it is of overall direction, couldn't survive long even with outside help. But for the sake of argument, I'll restrict myself in this letter to your admission that it won't achieve self-sufficiency for years.
. You hide your admission by talking on and on about how "workers' rule" must be efficient, must have high productivity, must be transparent, etc. You talk all the more about this, because your gift economy, run along the lines of cooperative anarchy, will be none of these things. It will not only be subsidized, but its various enterprises need not be transparent: they may be as secretive as they wish.
. It's true that the free sectors in other economies, whether capitalist, state-capitalist, or moving towards socialism, will also require subsidies. They are largely involved with the provision of social services to the masses; and they distribute goods produced by other sectors in the economy. So clearly they need subsidies. (These are not the only subsidies that exist in those economies: parts of the private and state sector are also subsidized. Thus, for example, the Bush administration has given lavish subsidies to favored industries and corporations. But the point here is that social services and the free sector in the various economies live mainly on resources produced by the other sectors, and this is so, not as a matter of corruption or inefficiency or as a temporary matter, but by their very nature. )
. The free sector you envision for "workers' rule", however, is supposed to be a complete economy. You set it forward as a working model of the future ideal society, as the ultimate goal of the proletarian struggle: indeed, it is supposed to have already transcended commodity relations. It is the future already manifested in the present, and all "workers' rule" is supposed to have to do to achieve economic liberation is to keep expanding the gift economy.
. But there's that little nagging problem: the gift economy doesn't work. It needs to be propped up from the outside. Your letter to me emphasizes that socialism must be efficient, but in your picture of "workers' rule", it is only the capitalist and state-capitalist sectors that are efficient, while the gift economy is on life-support, living off their surpluses. Thus the everyday working of your system, if it proceeds as you imagine it, will be a constant advertisement for capitalism.
. You say that while the gift economy will need subsidies for a long time, it will eventually outgrow them. But there's no particular reason for that to be so. The gift economy will operate according to cooperative anarchy from the very start. There will be no major internal change as it grows older. If anything, it's likely to get worse as it grows older and the zeal of its early pioneers dim. It's no more likely to overcome its tendency to stagnation than was state-capitalism during the long economic crisis that brought down the Soviet Union.
. Thus, while you denounce revisionist economies for their inefficiencies, you need them to provide subsidies for cooperative anarchy. You don't picture that another truly progressive sector of the economy will bail out the gift economy, because you don't believe there is any such sector. But anyway, if there were such an alternative progressive sector, why wouldn't the activists in the future society just build that sector rather than worrying about the gift economy? Why wouldn't they build the economy's liberating sectors that actually work, and discard the pipedreams that don't? No, you need a system where there is a constant influx of aid precisely from backward sectors that are doomed to wither away and die. This is the road that has led you from an anarchist utopia to an apology for Stalinist state capitalism. You need state-capitalism, because you imagine it will provide the womb for the anarchist future.
. And this shows that your gift economy wouldn't need just financial subsidies from the economy: it will also need political subsidies, so to speak. It would need the iron hand of an oppressive government to ensure that the toiling masses who are paying for the gift economy keep doing so, and, moreover, don't decide to remake the gift economy into something more reasonable. Workers throughout the economy might ardently wish to finance social services and "entitlements", but what interest would they have in financing a multitude of independent enterprises working outside any general plan? True, some people might be enthusiastic to build a gift economy, but most of those would, presumably, actually go into the gift sector, so the rest of the country will consist of those who are still skeptical and unconvinced about cooperative anarchy.
. But would it be possible to imagine that a high overall level of class consciousness will allow these subsidies to be made, if workers for some unimaginable reason thought that the gift economy really was their goal? No. Given your overall description of the political situation, this would be hard to imagine. After all, you stress the many differences that will arise among the workers of the future society. You say they differ over how much to finance this or that, even over how much money to pour into the gift economy (which is presumably what you mean by differences over how "aggressive to be in trying to develop" it). You think these differences will be enough to prevent them from uniting in a workers' party. But in that case, won't there also be differences over whether to have the gift economy?
. You prattle on and on about differences of opinion among the working class. But you raise mainly minor quantitative differences, differences that resemble capitalist squabbles over financing. You don't raise the possibility, the certainty, of differences over qualitative questions, such as differences in orientation:
. Is it realistic to think that workers will disagree on the various questions that you list in your letter, but be unanimous on their conception of the gift economy? And unanimous for all those years for which the gift economy has to be subsidized? Hardly!
. So differences on such questions will doom your plan for cooperative anarchy altogether: some type of free sector will survive, but not as an economy of independent enterprises without any overall connection. What could prevent this? What could protect the gift"economy from interference from those who finance it from the outside?
. I think the answer is clear. Your system requires a supposedly benevolent despot to hold the
population in line. Not only do you need state-capitalism to finance cooperative anarchy, but your
system will require, in order to be stable and enduring, a Stalinist-style ruler. Just as Stalinist
economics were the basis for the eventual Stalinist politics, so your economic conceptions will
give rise to the need for despotism. As in some despotisms, the people will be allowed to have a
multitude of squabbling factions, disagreeing on minor points, while the government will prevent
any tampering with the basic structure of the system.
* The difference between a transitional economy and your state-capitalism
. It's true that there will be a transitional economy between a revolution where the workers take power, and the classless society of communism. And moreover, this economy will have several sectors. So the transitional economy will have a number of surface similarities with the multi-sector economy you describe.
. But this economy will not be state-capitalism. Yes, it will have a capitalist shell of commodity production, money, etc. , and a dominant state sector. But the working class will have an increasing ability to consciously control the economy, both on a countrywide basis as well as workplace by workplace.
. It is this increasing working class control of the economy that distinguishes the transitional economy from state capitalism, and that is an essential part of any true workers' rule. It is this control that your conception lacks. Indeed, such control would be incompatible with your goal of a society without any overall planning.
. This affects your view of the state sector. Since you don't see any liberating value in overall planning controlled by the working class, you don't see what role a revolutionary state sector can play in moving towards the abolition of commodity production. Oh, you say that workers might control this or that state enterprise, but you pooh-pooh the significance of this, because you don't believe that the working class can exercise overall control, as a class, of the state sector or of the economy as a whole. Centralism and overall planning are bureaucracy and tyranny to you. You take them as synonymous with every sort of oppression, while you take the lack of overall planning as synonymous with freedom. That's also why you don't see the liberating role of the proletarian party, because it involves having workers cooperate together in overall political planning.
. Thus in your society, the state sector is nothing but state-capitalism, and thus your version of the transitional economy is nothing but Stalinist economy. A real transitional economy has a state sector which still has some state capitalist features, but also has something new. There is a state sector, but it is not a state-capitalist sector. There might be some other sectors of the economy which are state-capitalist, that is, state-regulated capitalism in the strict sense, but the state sector controlled by the working class will be something else.
. Your idea of the state and private sectors of the economy subsidizing the gift economy may, at first glance, appear similar to such basic socialist ideas as that the workers will provide aid to help the peasantry collectivize. But in that case, a more advanced sector of the economy, advanced in that there is more social control over production, helps a more backward sector. The more advanced sector can do this because it has an economic surplus, and because the workers in that sector have a higher consciousness, and because it can provide help in promoting new, collective methods of work as well as providing material aid. In contrast, in your conception the more backward sectors of the economy, which are thoroughly capitalist or state-capitalist, will subsidize the development of the communist future (or, rather, the cooperative anarchist future). In the socialist conception, the most conscious sections of the working class, such as the industrial proletariat, will encourage small petty-bourgeois proprietors to collectivize as well as helping the rural proletariat to organize. In your plan, the sectors of the economy which are run by the most capitalist-minded section of the population are expected to be the most conscious backers of communism. These are very different plans.
. The Communist Voice has carried a series of articles on the transitional economy that describe
what distinguishes it from both capitalism and communism. They show that, while this economy
has several sectors, that it has to be regarded as a distinct economic system in its own right, and
not as a mere pastiche of so much capitalism and so much socialism. They also show that the
state-capitalist economies are not transitional forms, half-way between capitalism and
socialism--as you, in essence, believe--but another form of capitalist rule. Thus, it cannot be
expected that a state-capitalist economy will give birth to the future society. You can find links to
these articles at www.communistvoice. org/00LeninistTransition.html.
. Although your open letter supposedly discusses my article on health care, your main concern is to denounce the idea of the proletarian party. I only mentioned the role of the party in passing in my article on health care, and bracketed it with talk of other working class organizations, but that was enough for you go to go off on a tirade.
. You characterized my position as being support for one-party despotism. You told one and all that I advocated
. Yet none of these things have anything to do with what I wrote in my healthcare article or elsewhere. Your reasoning is as follows: anyone who works for working class unity behind its own class party thereby supports the forcible suppression of all other parties, the denial of all democratic rights, and making mass organizations into Stalinist or fascist instruments of mass control. Indeed, you use a basic Fox News-style of argument. You argue that it doesn't matter what I actually wrote on these issues. Supposedly all someone needs to know about my article is that I uphold the crucial role of a proletarian party -- everything else is supposed to be window-dressing.
. For you, parties are only sad necessities, and better yet there should be only a "trend of trends"
or a variety of competing groupings, but a true communist party is a defender of the rights of the
masses, and an essential tool for working class activity. Meanwhile, while you prattle on and on
about democratic rights in the abstract, you are the one who opposes them in the concrete. You're
skeptical of the idea of elections, whether in your future goal of "cooperative anarchy" or in a
transitional regime; your future cooperative anarchy wouldn't guarantee any democratic rights at
all; you support the ideas of the proletarists who are against the term "democracy" as well as the
term "socialism"; and without realizing it, in your conception of "workers' rule" you make the
state into the ruling party, and free it from any effective supervision from the working class. Your
crusade against party-building is not for the sake of democratic rights, but is your way of
opposing oppose Marxism without saying so openly.
* You negate workers' rule itself
. You present yourself as an opponent of the terms "socialism" and "communism", but as a supporter of "workers' rule". But your arguments against the proletarian party could equally be used against the idea of workers' rule. You believe it is absurd to imagine that the bulk of the class-conscious workers would unite behind a single party because of all the different things they might disagree on. But, if there are disagreements on what policies a party should advocate, there will be the same disagreements on what policies the government should implement. If your reasoning were valid, it would be equally absurd to imagine that the working class could rule.
. When people unite into a party, it doesn't mean that they agree on every detail. It means that they recognize their common interests despite their differences, and they believe that if a party adopts certain general standpoints, it is worthy of support. And after they gain experience in party life, they may well come to recognize the value of working out views in common. That is why it takes a certain level of consciousness and class maturity for the working masses to unite into a party. If people really could agree on every last comma, then people could unite easily. But one has to learn how to work together with other people on a certain definite platform, even though there are differences of temperament, viewpoint, experience, abilities, circumstances, and even of certain material interests. This is required not just for unity in a party, but for any type of class unity, such as the class unity needed to rule a country.
. You write about differences. But you focus on differences about exactly how much money goes here and there. There are some very well-known differences which you neglect to mention. What about differences of nationality and of religion? Your argument would lead to the view that there must be separate parties for workers of each religion (as well as a separate one for nonbelievers), and separate parties for workers of each nationality. The working class movement would dissolve into separate religious and national movements. In fact, it is unity across national and religious lines that gives a tremendous moral authority to the working class movement. Meanwhile the Leninist party especially showed that it was possible to pay attention to the special needs of different sectors of the working class, while preserving the unity of the party.
. If workers can actually run the affairs of a country on a class basis, and if this is a stable rule, then it means that they have overcome their divisions and, in some sense, have formed a political party. That's what it means to act as a class on political issues. This party, or party in a broad sense, might be organized in a better or worse fashion, and might formally be divided into several organizations. But the most favorable circumstance is that most of the working class is organized behind a single class-wide party. There are many examples of classes which have been defeated because they were politically divided. But even if a single proletarian party maintains the stable support of the majority of the population, this doesn't necessarily mean that other parties, if they haven't risen in revolt against proletarian rule, will be suppressed. Moreover, even when there is a single dominant proletarian party, there may be a number of smaller parties closely associated with it: naturally, though, as you don't regard mass organizations as truly reflecting the masses if they back the proletarian party, you probably wouldn't regard the smaller revolutionary parties as actual separate parties either.
. Moreover, whenever the working class has moved toward class-wide struggle and revolutionary
upsurge, there is generally a strong gravitation by the working class towards unity. The old
divisions begin to break down. And on the other hand, bourgeois parties will tend to rise up
against the insurgent working class. These bourgeois parties may call themselves socialist or
workers' or revolutionary parties, just as many bourgeois parties do now, but they will not be
competing with the working class party or parties to improve proletarian rule, but they will aim
to smash it to bits. The struggle of classes and parties in a revolutionary age isn't going to be
simply a gentle parliamentary "competition and cooperation".
* The proletarists and the party
. The proletarist trend, which you promote, shares some of your suspicion of the party. Although this trend declared its own Party of the Proletarian Dictatorship, it also highlights the slogan "The party of the proletariat should not be the ruling party". No doubt you find this slogan attractive.
. Yet at the same time, they differ with you in their ideas about party-building. Indeed, they are building what they believe will be a proletarian party, and they believe there should only be one such party. Yet, strangely enough, you don't accuse them of the long list of crimes you accuse me of. Maybe you think that no one will notice what the proletarists stand for.
. Their view of the party is put forward in their key documents. Thus Chapter Four of Razlatsky's Second Communist Manifesto described a complicated and rather quirky system of relations between the working class, society, the proletarian party, and the state. At one point Razlatsky explicitly discussed and rejected the idea of a multi-party system:
". . . Two-party (or multi-party) system? And let public contradictions be solved in the fight of the ruling and oppositional parties?
"But in this case the basic contradictions of society -- the source of its development -- are hidden, are complicated or even completely displaced by the rivalry of parties in the power contest, i.e., by side-line contradictions, which distract. . . Furthermore, commitment to multi-parties is unavoidably connected with the stratification of society, with the separation of its interests -- i.e., it serves as an additional obstacle in the way of transforming the society into a classless one.
". . .
"Not the opposition of the ruling and oppositional parties, but direct opposition of the party and the state-- this is what maximally bares public contradictions. . .
"Yes, the party must lead the proletariat in the power contest. Yes, the party, heading the proletariat, must take this authority. Yes, it must destroy the government apparatus and build a new one. It must advance its most experienced organizers and leaders to the leading state posts -- and it must immediately remove them from the ranks of its full-fledged members.(15)
. This is a quirky single-party system, where government leaders come from the ranks of the party but, when they join the government, are immediately expelled from the party. Also in Razlatsky's system, there are no paid party activists: he was emphatic on this; on the other hand, while government officials are paid, they, in essence, lose their political rights. And he stressed that "The Party must remain in opposition to the state. It must act on the state only through the proletarian masses."
. Razlatsky's system not only called for the proletariat to be represented by only one party, it apparently ruled out any possibility of other parties existing at all. Thus, presumably, Razlatsky envisioned that they would be forbidden as a matter of course, although possibly he thought that this would be enforced through direct action of the proletariat, rather than by state ban. In any case, it turns out that you, Ben, accuse me of things which are, in fact, not my stand, but the stand of the proletarists you support.
. The same contradictory set of ideas about the party is set forth in the Program of the Party of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat", which dates back to 1990 but is still promoted on the proletarist website. One particular point deserves to be brought out. The Program saw the rallying of the workers around their party as the only way in which the present crisis of the workers' movement could be overcome. It referred explicitly to "the crisis in the working class movement", and said that it could only be overcome "with the creation of the revolutionary proletarian party, which will indicate passage from the spontaneous economic fight, which the workers now lead, to the organized class struggle for political supremacy." (16) This is very different from your conception of the crisis in the working class movement, isn't it, Ben? In your view, the workers lose all independence and become mere pawns when they rally around their party.
. In the proletarist view, the proletariat rules both the party and the state, which are closely connected, and yet in complete opposition. This doesn't really make sense. But the [proletarist] system was their response to the hypocrisy and corruption of the revisionist party and state. They tried to combat this hypocrisy, and there is a heartfelt protest underlying the contradictions and absurdities of their idea of party-state relations.
. But overall, their system is not only contradictory, but shows a shallow grasp of the problem of
revisionism. They assumed a situation where the party would be virtuous, if only it were
independent of the state, and the state would be virtuous, if only it were independent of the party.
This ignored the real class developments in the Soviet Union that turned both the party and state
into instruments of the new bourgeoisie. The problem wasn't that the party and state, both being
instruments of the working class, corroded simply because of their connection. The problem was
that both became agents of an alien class, and their relationship to each other was predicated on
* The state as ruling party in your system
. One problem with the proletarist system is that, if there is no ruling party, the state apparatus may find itself independent of outside political control. Thus the possibility exists that the government itself would emerge as the ruling party.
. The proletarists compared the revisionist system to the old tsarist system, but they forgot that there was no ruling party under tsarism. The government itself was the real ruling party, and this was so even after the creation of the Duma (Russian parliament).
. The proletarists may have overlooked this, because they envisioned that the dominant proletariat could somehow use its party to keep the government in check, and also that the government would be staffed with the best former members of the party. But your system, Ben, even more than that of the proletarists, would make the government into the real ruling party. In your system, the government would not only have its hands on the reins of power, but it would emerge as the only unified, country-wide political force. Aside from the government, the only political forces would be a multitude of individuals, groupings, small parties, and "trends of trends", all in "cooperation and competition" with each other.
. Something like this has actually happened in Russia, not just in Tsarist times, but recently as well. After the Soviet Union fell, Yeltsin and then Putin ruled Russia. There were parties that supported them, but they came and went. It wasn't the parties that put Yeltsin and then Putin in power, but Yeltsin and Putin who utilized first this and that party, bombarded and tamed the Duma, and even built personal parties around themselves. The supposed ruling parties in Russia are but the shadow of the government, and the government is the real power.
. In your rush to denigrate the proletarian party, Ben, you are creating conditions for unrestrained
state power. In your version of workers' rule, the only country-wide institution that can act in a
unified way is the government. Moreover, your conception of workers' rule not only creates the
conditions for the state to dominate society, and keep the squabbling factions and trends in line,
but it requires that this take place. That is the only way in which the society you envision, with its
various sectors and its subsidies of the gift economy, could be maintained. You implicitly assume
in your descriptions that while the various factions and trends might disagree on how much to
finance this or that project, they never tamper with the basic structure of society that you have
laid out. All the guarantees you give so freely of what will happen in your future society quietly
assume a touching unanimity on this question. Yet, since you argue that the people will be
divided into many factions, there will be no such unanimity. So the only way this structure could
be stably maintained would be if the state is the ruling party.
* Power corrupts
. Instead of looking at the real class relations in modern society, and at how governments can be held responsible to the masses, you resort to abstract phrases. Thus you cite approvingly in your letter the expression "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". This expression is also used in the Program of the Party of the Proletarian Revolution, where it is given as the main explanation for the degeneration of the Bolshevik revolution and is claimed to be a quotation from Marx. This shallow explanation again shows that the proletarists didn't have much idea of the actual class relations that led to the rise of revisionism. They didn't see the development of a state-capitalist economy run by a new bourgeoisie as the economic basis for the revisionist regime; no, the problem was supposedly only corruption caused by power.
. However, it is not Marx, but the British liberal bourgeois historian Lord Acton, who said "power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely." No doubt there is some truth in his saying, and power can corrupt. But at the same time, power can also liberate, and the fear of wielding power would amount to a renunciation of both socialist revolution and workers' rule. Engels spoke eloquently on this with respect to the socialist Duhring's fear of force: "That force, however, plays another role in history, a revolutionary role; that, in the words of Marx, it is the midwife of every old society which is pregnant with the new, that it is the instrument by the aid of which social development forces its way through and shatters the dead, fossilised, political forms--of this there is not a word in Herr Duhring. It is only with sighs and groans that he admits the possibility that force will perhaps be necessary for the overthrow of the economic system of exploitation--unfortunately, because all use of force, forsooth, demoralises the person who uses it. . . . And this parsons' mode of thought-lifeless, insipid and impotent--claims to impose itself on the most revolutionary party that history has known."(17)
. You, Ben, seek to inspire the same fear of the party as Herr Duhring has of force. Power
corrupts, you say, and so a strong party would be corrupt, and so we had better abandon
party-building. There is not a word in your letter about the revolutionary role played in the past
by working class unity behind a revolutionary party. Moreover, you back the views of the
proletarists, who explain revisionism mainly by saying that power corrupts. But the proletarists
were led by this into contradictions, because they saw that the revolutionary party was necessary
if the crisis in the working class movement was to be overcome and if there was to be revolution
and proletarian rule, while you enthusiastically oppose party-building.
* You don't care for elections or majority rule
. While you present yourself as a champion of democratic rights, when it comes down to brass tacks, you don't really care for majority rule. In the system of cooperative anarchism that you champion and that would be concretized in the gift economy, there wouldn't be elections: differences are to be settled, as noted above, by a struggle that "would kind of be like a war". If the results of elections were binding, then they would constitute a sort of general authority, and you regard all general authority as oppressive. Instead differences are to be resolved by struggle, until one side intimidates or otherwise imposes it will on the losers. Power, not majority support, would determine who wins. But this type of power doesn't seem to you to have any chance of corruption.
. These days you don't talk so openly about this. Sometimes you pretend to support elections, sometimes you hem and haw about elections, and sometimes you just forget about them. For example, there is a section entitled "Frequently Asked Questions about communism" on your website.(18) At one point, it asks in big bold letters "What democratic rights will workers have after the overthrow of bourgeois rule?" You talk about the right to "create independent organizations and mobilize public opinion" against corruption and various policies of the government. You don't mention the right to form or determine the government itself, or to have a system of elections.
. Well, you say that "for more info and background on this see my essay on proletarian democracy". That link points to a page labeled "Proletarian Democracy" in big letters. The subtitle is "How will economics, politics and culture work when the working class runs modern society?" In the first section you give your general outlook. You talk about whether there is a single party, and call for the competition of "multiple workers' parties"; you redefine parties as just "interdependent trends within an umbrella organization"; you talk about struggle "to win the support of the masses"; but you never get around to elections. How does the support of the masses determine the composition of the different levels of government, or which policies are followed? How does one determine who in fact won the support of the masses? Once again, silence.
. It seems that you finally had to say something about elections in response to someone else. And then you started to hem and haw. In your letter in reply to Eric, "Politics, Economics and the Mass Media when the working class runs the show", you wiggle back and forth about elections. (19) One section in entitled "Will there be elections?" You start by saying that you "consider it likely that there will need to be elections of some kind in order to *measure the popular support* of the various competing principles/platforms and *determine the popular will*. " Here you are already uneasy, and talk of "some kind" of elections. Maybe. You immediately add that you "don't know if these measurements would be called 'elections'. . . " (The emphasis in the quotes in this and the following two paragraphs is yours.)
. You then spend a paragraph on how bad elections are in capitalist society. This leads to you concluding that "My guess is that elections under working class rule would involve *formal voting*. . . as well as *marching in the streets* and vigorous media campaigns and *mass debates* of various kinds." So you seem to regard voting as a mere "formal" issue, not something of real live importance. And it's only your "guess" that elections would involve voting -- but what other type of elections are there? Could you, Ben, by chance describe to me how elections might be carried out without voting? I'm really curious about that.
. Well, you talk about marches and debates. Do you mean that there will be marches and debates as preparation for voting? No, that's not what you mean, because later on, in the section entitled "Returning to Eric's question", you write that "the policies of the workers' state will be *controlled by democratic means*" and you add parenthetically "(whether by elections or mass protests or other activist campaigns)". Thus you are putting the mass protests and activist campaigns forward as an alternative to voting.
. Most people would probably regard democracy as the rule of the majority. But you have defined democracy to mean something else. That's because you're still thinking of "cooperative anarchy" where every difference is determined by struggles of a war-like nature. You don't want to say this directly anymore, because a lot of activists would think that your conception is pretty repulsive. So you start to tone down anything that might alarm people, and you seek to put a good spin on things. Thus, replying to Eric, you slyly left out the issue of boycotts, and denying needed materials to one's opponents, and censoring and reeducating them, things about which you spoke in the past. You don't say that workers of one opinion bludgeon those of the other opinion, and censor them, and infiltrate them, and cut off their access to the media. Now all you talk about are more reasonable things, like transparency and democratic rights and demonstrations and debates and freedom to create public opinion. When pressed hard, you even concede that there should be some voting, maybe, perhaps, if people march enough and demonstrate enough and insist enough, but you leave out that in your conception, the voting wouldn't settle anything. Indeed, in cooperative anarchy voting -- "whether in a polling station or clicking a button on a web page", as you put it -- could at most be an opinion poll. No one need respect the result.
. Now, strictly speaking, democracy isn't just the rule of the majority, but it's a form of a state. As such, it would eventually wither away as the state dies out. But this doesn't mean the end of majority rule. Lenin explained the matter as follows:
"it is constantly forgotten that the abolition of the state [in classless society--JG] means also the abolition of democracy; that the withering away of the state means the withering away of democracy.
. "At first sight this assertion seems exceedingly strange and incomprehensible; indeed, someone may even begin to fear that we are expecting the advent of an order of society in which the principle of the subordination of the minority to the majority will not be observed -- for democracy means the recognition of just this principle.
. "No, democracy is not identical with the subordination of the minority to the majority. Democracy is a state which recognizes the subordination of the minority to the majority, i.e., an organization for the systematic use of violence by one class against the other, by one section against the another.
. "We set ourselves the ultimate aim of the abolishing the state, i.e., all organized and systematic violence, all use of violence against man in general. We do not expect the advent of an order of society in which the principle of the subordination of the minority to the majority will not be observed. . . . people will become accustomed to observing the elementary conditions of social life without violence and without subordination."(20)
. But you're not so sure about the elementary conditions of social life, and you are expecting to
do away with the subordination of the minority to the majority. True, the subordination of the
minority to the majority isn't everything in democracy; there are also the rights of everyone,
including the minority. For example, take the right of workers to speak their minds openly and to
spread their views among other people. But your skepticism towards majority rule has nothing to
do with these rights. In fact, in your system of cooperative anarchy, none of the democratic rights
you talk so much about would be guaranteed. In describing about how things will be done under
cooperative anarchy, you've enthusiastically talked about the struggle that would be waged to
censor bad views or reeducate wrong-minded activists. Under cooperative anarchy, there would
be no state censorship, as there would no state, but there would be censorship. There would be no
state infringement on democratic rights, as there would be no state, but there would be many and
onerous infringements on democratic rights, as is inevitable when every difference is settled by
struggles that are waged like wars.
* Marx and the proletarian party
. Finally, I think you should be more honest and admit that your main problem is not with my article on health care, but with Marxism itself. For it was not me or the Communist Voice Organization, but Marx and Engels who called for the building of a proletarian party, and regarded this as indispensable for the achievement of workers' rule. From writing the Manifesto of the Communist Party, to organizing the International, and on to helping the development of socialist parties in every country with an active workers movement, they devoted their life to this.
. They maintained this principle in the struggle against anarchism, and wrote that:
. "In its struggle against the collective power of the possessing classes the proletariat can act as a class only by constituting itself a distinct political party, opposed to all the old parties formed by the possessing classes.
. "This constitution of the proletariat into a political party is indispensable to ensure the triumph of the social revolution and of its ultimate goal: the abolition of classes."(21)
. You write that the differences over funding and sectional interests will divide the working class into numerous parties or groupings. Marx and Engels were well aware of the differences among the workers. They pointed out, however, that so long as the workers saw these divisions as more important than what united them, the workers were not a class for itself, but merely a class in itself. It was only when the workers defend their overall interests, their class interests, that they became an active factor, as a class, in world history.
. Thus Marx wrote that "Economic conditions had first transformed the mass of the people of the country into workers. . . . This mass is thus already a class as against capital, but not yet for itself. In the struggle, . . . , this mass becomes united, and constitutes itself as a class for itself. The interests it defends becomes class interests."(22)
. What happens if a class doesn't unite, but stays divided into independent units? Then it will be politically inert. Marx showed how the division of the French peasants among themselves led them to be dominated by the despotism of the Second Empire of Louis Bonaparte, who fancied himself the successor to Napoleon. He wrote that:
. "The small-holding peasants form a vast mass, the members of which live in similar conditions but without entering into manifold relations with one another . . . In this way, the great mass of the French nation is formed by simple addition of homologous magnitudes, much as potatoes in a sack form a sack of potatoes. In so far as millions of families live under economic conditions of existence that separate their mode of life, their interests and their culture from those other classes, and put them in hostile opposition to the latter, they form a class. In so far as there is merely a local connection between these small-holding peasants, and the identity of their interests begets no community, no national bond and no political organization, they do not form a class. They are consequently incapable of enforcing their class interests in their own name, whether through a parliament or through a convention. . . . Their representative must at the same time appear as their master, as an authority over them, as an unlimited governmental power that protects them against the other classes and sends them rain and sunshine from above."(23)
. You believe it's a guarantee against despotism if the working masses are divided among themselves and unable to form a common political organization. Actually, this is the secret of their continued domination by the bourgeoisie. So long as they don't unite into a class for themselves, they will remain dominated by the Putins and Yeltsins in Russia, and the imperialist bourgeoisie here in the US. They must unite to carry out the socialist revolution. And after they obtain power, if they cannot continue to act as a class for themselves, then there's the possibility that the state power will become independent of them and come to represent a new bourgeoisie.
. But the development of such a despotic state power is a prerequisite for your gift economy to thrive. The gift economy will lack overall institutions, and it will be formed "by the simple addition of homologous magnitudes", who will fight each other over every disagreement in conflicts that would, in your vivid phrase, "kind of be like a war". They would "consequently [be] incapable of enforcing" their common interests on their own behalf, and will have to look to an overall power for protection. The French peasants once looked to the emperor for "rain and sunshine", and, as you point out, the gift economy will have to look to the state for year after year of life-giving subsidies. This state will have to be despotic, because the majority of the population might not see the point of taxing itself for the sake of making a gift to the minority of "cooperative anarchists" of the gift economy. This would be the inevitable outcome of the setting up of the institutions which you advocate.
. Marx and Engels had a different idea of what workers' rule would be like, and of what would be needed to achieve it. They pointed to the need for the working class to develop class-wide political organization if it were truly to act as a class for itself. But at the same time, they did not see the proletarian party as simply a party like any other, with the same structure as the then-existing parties. They worked instead to form a new type of party, the mass political party of the proletariat. This led eventually to the development of the social-democratic parties of the Second International. The best of these parties represented something quite new in the history of the working class movement, and also something new in the history of political organization. But this wasn't the end of the evolution of the proletarian party. The bankruptcy of the main leadership of the Second International in World War I led the communists to conclude there was a need to transform the very structure of the proletarian parties, and this led to the formation of the Third International.
. The Third International had many accomplishments in its short existence as the vanguard of the revolutionary working class. But revisionism first corroded and then killed it. In building new organization among the working class today, we must learn from the past parties, but we cannot simply copy them, just as the Third International could not simply copy the Second. We have to critically analyze the experience of the past, and to continue the evolution of the proletarian party. You can see a brief history of the struggle to develop a new type of party in the section "The history of the proletarian party" in part three of "An Outline of Trotskyism's Anti-Marxist Theories" at www.communistvoice.org/34cTrotsky.html.
. You, however, would abandon all this. While beating your breast about how communist and anti-revisionist you are, you stand for the abandonment of Marxism, condemn party-building as revisionist tyranny, and want activists to stop talking about socialism and communism. You would replace communism with cooperative anarchy. This, and not any concern about the growing struggle over health care, is what is behind your letter to me about my article on socialist health care. As far as I can tell, you haven't yet even expressed opinions about most of the issues on health care addressed in my article. While we Marxist-Leninist communists apply our theory to the most diverse fields of the class struggle, such as health care, you back your views with repetition of liberal shibboleths and would, in effect, condemn proletarian organization as a violation of democracy.
. Ben, I await your clarifications that I have asked for above. These include a description of your position concerning current health care proposals, any information you may have about what happened to the proletarist trend you have been promoting, and an explanation of your idea that elections are possible without voting. I am also interested to hear how you would apply your views to the current environmental crisis, a subject of much concern to the working class, and one on which Communist Voice has recently carried major articles. As for your proposal that activists drop the term "socialism", I encourage you to do so yourself, as you long ago abandoned the ideas of socialism and Marxism in favor of a zealous promotion of "cooperative anarchy". The Communist Voice Organization, however, has no intention of joining you in that campaign. A clear discussion of the differing standpoints of Marxism and cooperative anarchy, however, might well be helpful to activists.
(1) This would be the website of the Party of the Proletarian Dictatorship, see
www.proletarism.org, with its English language page at www.proletarism.org/m1str.shtml.
(Return to text)
(2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18) (19) (20) (21) (22) (23)
(2)See "Putin's two wars: on Chechnya and Russian workers", in the Communist Voice of June 14, 2000, p. 29, col. 2. (Text)
(3)See "Information war breaks out between trends in the Russian left as struggle breaks out against Putin's new labor code", Oct. 24, 2000, as reproduced on the Iskra group at yahoo, [www.yahoo.com/group/Iskra/messages/754]. The remarks in rounded parentheses are yours, as is the spelling "ie". (Text)
(4)"Let Us Consider Imperialist War and Proletarian Revolution (On the War in Chechnya)", www.proletarism.org/chechen.shtml. (Text)
(5)"State Imperialism Should be Distinguished from Economic Imperialism",www. proletarism.org/abr_imp.shtml. (Text)
(6)"USA, Socialism, US. . . " at proletarism.org/abr_usa.html. (Text)
(7)"Letter to Comrade Lobov", April 1, 1999, at www. proletarism.org/lobov.shtml. (Text)
(8)"PROCLAMATION" (it is in capitals in the original), at www.proletarism.org/procla.shtml. (Text)
(9)"In addition to the discussion about the PROGRAM of the PPD", proletarism.org/discussi.shtml, spelling corrected. (Text)
(10)See "In addition to the discussion about the PROGRAM of the PPD", proletarism. org/discussi. shtml. There are no later documents from Isayev on this website, at least not in English. (Text)
(11)"Ben's reply to Eric: Politics, Economics and the Mass Media when the working class runs the show", October 20, 2002, struggle. net/ALDS/Essay_153_content. htm?cco-ad. (Text)
(12)Cited in my article "Left-wing neo-conservatives: The mailed fist behind the anti-authoritarian phrase", www.communistvoice.org/04cBen2.html, emphasis yours. (Text)
(13)Ibid., "Appendix to part 2: A guide to Ben's society", emphasis yours. (Text)
(14)See "Joseph's binary logic applied to pollution from hamburgers" in Ben's "The Tragedy of the Commons", www.leninism.org/some/80y.htm.(Text)
(15)Razlatsky, "The Second Communist Manifesto", Chapter 4, "Proletarian Dictatorship and Proletarian Democracy", at proletarism.org/hm_2_4.shtml. The translation here is very rough, probably by Babelfish or some other computerized translation program, and I have taken the liberty of smoothing it out a bit. But the emphasis is as in the original. (Text)
(16)See proletarist.org/apr_pdp.shtml. I have once again taken the liberty of smoothing out the translation a bit. (Text)
(17)Engels, "Anti-Duhring", p. 203, at the end of Part II, Chapter IV. The Force Theory (Conclusion). (Text)
(18)See communism. com/#faq. (Text)
(19)See note 11. (Text)
(20)Lenin, "State and Revolution", Chapter IV "Continuation. Supplementary explanations by Engels. At the end of Section 6. "Engels on the Overcoming of Democracy". The emphasis is Lenin's. (Text)
(21)From the resolutions of the Hague Congress of the International, September 2-7, 1872, see "Selected Workers of Marx and Engels", vol. II, p. 291. (Text)
(22)Marx, "The Poverty of Philosophy, p. 166, Ch II, Section 5, "Strikes and Combinations of Workers". Norman Bethune Institute edition. (Text)
(23)Marx,"The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte", Section 7, "Selected Works", vol. I, p. 478-9. (Text) <>
Last modified: February 14, 2008.