11 comments on “Bonapartism, Bureaucracy, Categories, Lessons And The Revolution Betrayed

  1. Pingback: Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung

  2. RR writes in part: “…the ruling class… doesn’t need to relearn [the lessons of history] while the working class…has to relearn lessons every generation …the current generational break…of much of the worker’s movement makes this task…more difficult. …hence most Marxists [insist]…on the need for revolutionary political parties as a way to embody lessons….”

    Could RR please write more on this? It’s an important point about the crisis in working-class historical consciousness today. The even harder question is whether the fundamental terms of party building have changed given the overall picture that RR paints.

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    • Ron,

      Your questions requires a lot more time and thought than a simple reply. I’ll try to think more about it and do a post. I’ve always tried to understand Leninism as a method of approach of revolutionaries to the working class, not an organizational formula. So, just as it was with Lenin, I expect ‘party’ formations to take many forms. Parties are tools in the class struggle; I think there was a kind of Zinovievism translated into Cannonism that saw ‘the party’ as the embodiment of the class struggle, rather than as a tool of it. Well, if that is true, it is only true episodically and under definite circumstances. Like at times of revolutionary transformations. Most of the time that kind of thinking is a real hindrance. Given the “crisis in working-class historical consciousness today” seems to answer the “question…whether the fundamental terms of party building have changed.” The terms for party building are always changing and some of those terms have been more fundamental than others. The First International was, ideologically speaking, a step back from the Communist League of ’48, yet no one would say today that it was, historically speaking, a retrograde step. Certainly, the “party building movement” of the 70s is over and, unfortunately, too many in the far left want to continue that project. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need parties, of course we do. They’re tricky business; they have to be consciously created and yet have to be organic to the workers movement if they are to be real parties. Party building is an art, and the sooner we get away from blueprints, the sooner we’ll be able to explore that art. None of this is to imply that in the absence of real parties, even small ones, that revolutionaries should remain unorganized; quite the contrary. But let the tool reflect both the task at hand AND the abilities of the one wielding it. You only get bloody knuckles trying to pry off a bolt with tweezers. None of this answers your question, I know, but I don’t have a lot of specific answers. Wish I did.

      RR

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  3. bon i excel·lent material del POUM, la referència de sempre per una esquerra marxista necessària i combatent! salut des de la orwelliana Catalunya del segle XXI!

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  4. bon recordatori del POUM, referència heterodoxe per l’esquerra revolucionària d’avui, d’ahir i de sempre. Excel·lent article, des de Catalunya una salutació… aquests dies estem preparant la vaga general contra les mesures del govern social-liberal de Zapatero i en contra de la refundació del capitalisme en crisi!

    visiteu els nostres webs:

    http://revoltaglobal.cat
    http://premiademarx.blogspot.com

    salut!

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    • For readers not speaking Caralan:

      good reminder of the POUM, heterodoxe reference to the revolutionary left today, yesterday and forever. Excellent article, a greeting from Catalunya … these days we are preparing a general strike against the measures of social-liberal government of Zapatero and against the reestablishment of capitalism in crisis!

      visit our websites:

      http://revoltaglobal.cat
      http://premiademarx.blogspot.com
      ——-

      We will be watching the strike with full solidarity! Your fight is ours (especially since it is the only fight we know here these days). I wasn’t sure if google would translate ‘general strike’ into English. I know it must be in the dictionary, but the google program may have thought the usage was too archaic for the English language usage. Somehow I knew that if I brought up LT, Kronstadt would come up. Can we leave that tired argument for another post. I’ll get around to it by the anniversary in 2021, I promise.

      RR

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  5. There is no comparison. The Kronstadt sailors were the most backward elements in the fleet, utterly contemptuous of the proletariat and the revolution, who, egged on and funded by White officers, launched a violent putsch against the Kronstadt soviet. All comparison to the POUM is specious and insulting to their memory as working-class fighters, whatever their mistakes.

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  6. Trotsky did the same thing to the Kronstadt sailors in 1921 that Stalin did to the anarchists and the POUM in 1937. I fail to see the difference between criminal and counter revolutionary. As for the rest of your post, if I thought Trotsky was some sort of alternative I might care.

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    • Not really the point of my post, but…..I think Trotsky called the POUM ‘centrist’ (see above for my view on the limits and necessity of such categories) and their role in the Catalan government ‘criminal’. In my opinion Trotsky’s criticism was unduly harsh, often relying on the sectarian analysis of some of his supporters, but also part of Trotsky’s political MO in those years. We can debate the role of the POUM in the Catalan government and the Spanish Revolution and Trotsky’s interpretation of it; but he always defended them and the anarchists against the Stalinists (who he did call counter-revolutionaries) and valued their heroism in the struggle with fascism (recognizing that many of the most committed militants were in their ranks). The point of the photo is that the POUM (and other Iberian revolutionaries) were destroyed by Stalin because they refused the peaceful co-existence with capital that the Stalinist bureaucracy wanted. They were hardly wiped out because they weren’t ‘left’ enough, quite the contrary.

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