Tuesday, July 30, 2019

One answer to the Left

The Socialist Party and our companion parties in the World Socialist Movement claims that socialism will, and must, be a wage-free, money-free, worldwide society of common (not state) ownership and democratic control of the means of wealth production and distribution. It claims that socialism will be a sharp break with capitalism with no "transition period" or gradual implementation of socialism (although socialism will be a dynamic, changing society once it is established). We claim that there can be no state in a socialist society. Another Socialist Party claim is that there can be no classes in a socialist society. The Socialist Party promotes only socialism, and as an immediate goal and that only the vast majority, acting consciously in its own interests, for itself, by itself, can create socialism. 

The Socialist Party opposes any vanguardist approach, minority-led movements, and leadership, as inherently undemocratic and instead promotes a peaceful democratic revolution, achieved through force of numbers and understanding. The Socialist Party neither promotes, nor opposes, reforms to capitalism. It claims that there is one working class, worldwide and lays out the fundamentals of what a socialist society must be, but does not presume to tell the future socialist society how to go about its business. Socialists advances an historical materialist approach—real understanding where it considers that religion is a social, not personal, matter and that religion is incompatible with socialist understanding. We seek election to facilitate the elimination of capitalism by the vast majority of socialists, not to govern capitalism. Leninism is a distortion of Marxian analysis. 

The Socialist Party opposes all war and claims that socialism will inherently end war, including the "war" between classes. It noted, in 1918, that the Bolshevik Revolution was not socialist, having earlier, long noted that Russia was not ready for a socialist revolution. It was the first political party to recognise that the former USSR, China, Cuba and other so-called "socialist countries" were not socialist, but instead, state capitalist. The Socialist Party has held a very accurate, consistent analysis since 1904 when first founded. To summarise our position in contrast to other organisations that claim to be socialist: Socialism will be a wageless, money-free, free-access society. Very few agree with this. Most support a market system. Some suggest that a non-capitalist market is possible. These suggestions show a lack of understanding of market economics. While non-capitalist market systems have existed, they are impractical in a modern world. If a "non-capitalist" market system was established it would eventually become a capitalist market system.Leaders are inherently undemocratic; socialists oppose leadership. All support leadership. Socialists shouldn't work for reforms to capitalism, because only a movement for socialism itself can establish socialism. Those which work for reforms hold either that reforms to capitalism will eventually result in socialism, or that supporting reforms is an appropriate way to convince workers to support socialism. Some put forward a reasonable analysis of capitalism, but then work to give capitalism a "human face". Some claim that they want to end capitalism. Their bottom line is, however, just capitalism with reforms. Democratic Socialists of America is a good example of this.

Socialism will be a cooperative, world wide system, and it has clearly not yet been established. Most, perhaps all, of them support nationalism, which is closely akin to racism (which they explicitly claim to oppose), and in any case hinders worldwide working class solidarity. Nationalism is a concept only useful to separate people, and is therefore anti-working class. A scientific approach and understanding by the working class are necessary to establish socialism. Generally support emotionalistic campaigns, in which logic and rational analysis are ignored. Any group which wants people to follow their leadership is unlikely to promote real understanding. What needs to be understood if one is just following the leader and doing what one is told? Democratically capturing the state through parliamentary elections is the safest, surest method for the working class to enable itself to establish socialism. Most seem to support this, parliamentary, approach at some level. But their commitment varies so that some support both parliamentarism and anti-parliamentarism at the same time.

The SPGB was formed in 1904 from a breakaway from the Socialist Democratic Federation. Its founding members were influenced greatly by the Socialist League which had William Morris and Marx's daughter, Eleanor, as members. The main issue that led to the split was one that you touched upon in your video, raising demands for reforms. The SDF had a programme of immediate reforms, as Trotskyists do these days. The SPGB argue that this places the demand for socialism on to the back-burner because those who wished reforms would dominate the party and make reforms the priority which would mean standing for election and becoming the government on a platform of reforms and relegating the socialist objective to the far-off future while running capitalism in the meantime and growing more and more pro-capitalist because of that. 

A look at history seems to prove our case, doesn't it? It was not a matter of leaders betrayal that Trotsky often blames it upon but a consequence of their principles, similar policies to Trotsky's own. The SPGB ideas spread first to Canada and then on to the USA during World War One and the WSPUS formed before any Trotskyist party or a distinct tendency had emerged , they still being part of the general Bolsheviks. The WSPUS did not support the Socialist Labor Party position on industrial unionism but many of their other ideas now over-lap with our own. The Proletarian Party of America was another organisation that agreed much with the WSPUS but differences over the interpretation of the Russian Revolution led to a parting of ways. The SPGB roots go back to a strand of 19th century Marxism, Trotskyism sprung from the events of the 20th century Russian Revolution. 

Circumstances in post 1917 Russia dictated Lenin's policies and directed his actions which led to the implementation of a form of capitalism. It led to the dictatorship of the party substituting for the dictatorship of the proletariat. But the problems were no unforeseen. As Marx explained, you cannot jump from feudalism to socialism. It is to turn Marx upside down by suggesting that Russia assist the more developed West. Marx  specifically described that the only way Russia could possibly miss out the capitalist stage was through the intervention from the industrialised nations. The post First World War world situation was indeed radical…general strikes in America and in Canada and elsewhere. Lenin made a judgement call that there was a genuine revolutionary surge and he saw evidence in many movements of this revolutionary fervour. He was wrong. Simple as that. There existed a strong re-vitalised class struggle by workers but organisations and actions he considered to be the vanguard could not bring over the majority of workers to its side. That was reality. That failure of Lenin reading what was really happening and fully understanding the workers consciousness outside Russia, determined the shifting and changing compromising rhetoric of Comintern and the abandonment of world revolution as an objective to be replaced by an accommodation with the Western Powers. 1923 Treaty of Rapallo with Germany saw the Red Army training and supplying German government troops that were used against a workers uprising in Germany (Stalin was not yet in power so it cannot be laid at his feet.) However, there were other alternatives to choose from which would have strengthened the working class, not weakened it by removing its independent self-organisation. For all its flaws bourgeois democracy would have been more benefit for the small Russian working class and would have avoided or at least minimised the civil war that you correctly describe as turmoil. The Left Mensheviks, perhaps represented the better option for the urban working class and the Left Social Revolutionaries for the peasantry. We are not going to convince you in a brie exchange of posts as this. It is up to yourself to read the links you have been provided, to Julius Martov and other socialist but anti-Bolshevik critics like Anton Pannekoek and Paul Mattick. 

Don't be misled by those apologists who claim that the Kronsdadt of 1921 was different from 1917 in class make-up. Simply not accurate. Historian, Israel Getzler investigated this issue and demonstrated that of those serving in the Baltic fleet on 1st January 1921 at least 75.5% were drafted before 1918. Veteran politicised Red sailor still predominated in Kronstadt at the end of 1920. Of the 2,028 sailors where years of enlistment are known, 93.9% were recruited into the navy before and during the 1917 revolution (the largest group, 1,195, joined in the years 1914–16). Other research confirms Getzler’s work. 
Documents from the Soviet Archives such as a report by Vasilii Sevei, Plenipotentiary of the Special Section of the Cheka, dated March 7th, 1921,stated  that a “large majority” of the sailors of Baltic Fleet “were and still are professional revolutionaries and could well form the basis for a possible third revolution.” 
“In September and October 1920 Bolshevik party lecturer Ieronymus Yasinksky went to Kronstadt to lecture 400 naval recruits and writes “‘in Kronstadt the red sailor still predominates.’ 

Gramsci says that “to tell the truth is a communist and revolutionary act”. Most Trotskyists argue that the suppression of the rebellion was essential to defend the “gains of the revolution.” What exactly were these gains? Not soviet democracy, freedom of speech, assembly and press, trade union freedom and so on as the Kronstadters were crushed for demanding these.

Marx actually said that Socialism/Communism would only come about, when the material conditions existed to make it possible. In the agrarian, feudalistic society, that existed in Russia, whether pre or post revolution, the material conditions for a revolution for and in the interests of the vast majority did not exist. One also has to factor in, the "fact", posited earlier, that Marx  also understood that the Socialist/Communist revolution would, of necessity, be a world wide revolution. To replace Capitalism worldwide, with Socialism/Communism worldwide. Even though I do not have qualifications in 'geography', the last time I looked, Russia did not, nor does, encompass the whole landmass of the planet. We can take from this, one simple fact, the Russian revolution had nothing to do with the idea that Marx had, for a proletarian revolution, it was 'only' the conceptualisation of revolution as envisaged by Lenin and thereafter by his disciples, Trotsky and uncle Joe. That their idea of "revolution" was to be brought about, by "an intellectual elite", a "cadre of professional revolutionaries" is another and indicative pointer, to the fact that these 'people', did not draw their inspiration from Marx but from their own "twisted" interpretation of Marx.

So let us be quite clear, Lenin and his lickspittle sycophants, were not following, in any way shape or form, the ideas, nor tenets of revolution, as espoused by Marx. You want Socialism/Communism, read Marx. You want "State-Capitalism", read Lenin, Totsky, Stalin et al. But do not, in any way, transpose one set of ideas from one to the others. Intellectual redundancy is simply that, whichever way you slice it.

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