Libcom Thread on Socialist and Bourgeois Revolutions

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Red Hughs
Libcom Thread on Socialist and Bourgeois Revolutions
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The libcom BBS raises quite a few interesting topics. Unfortunately, the tenor of discussion is often so shrill an abusive that these same important points get obscured and the debaters become more hostile and defensive. And of course, a number of the posters are closer to one or another faction of leftism - usually syndicalism but also various forms of [i]third-worldism[/i]. This thread in one, one Alexander Roxwell debates with Devoration.

I posted my comment, most addressed to Devoration but I would say they are addressed to any ICCers.

My hope is that we can have a more comradely discussion around methods of analysis since I agree with a number of analytical methods of the ICC - while naturally disagreeing with others.

My post on Libcom is thus pasted below for comment.




The link is

The spam filter seems to be rather over-active, so you'll have to add an http: at the start




I agree with some of Alexander Roxwell's posts above in the sense that I  see too much hand-waving and too little concrete class analysis of the situation in Russia and China in the ICC's articles. I don't agree with the rather insulting tone he take but taking an insulting ton seems to have become a sad standard for this board.

At the same time, I would still like argue that the method of looking at the tendency which a particular group represents is valid - that is I [i]also[/i] agree with devoration that [i]"Whether a party is bourgeois or proletarian doesn't depend on the class background of those who are members of said party- it is due to the actions, platform/programme and interests it serves."[/i]

But an analysis of this shouldn't be used in a vacuum - an approach which which ICC too often follows.

Communists are not "objective social scientists" but partisans of social revolution aiming to use analysis as a part of the efforts to achieve communism.

Much of timeline Alexander sketches in his outline also involves non-controversial for communists simiarly to ICC's article.

[i][b]On the surface[/b][/i], the Russia revolution and following third world revolutions represented the coming to power of the bureaucratic sector. Whether in Russia, China, Cuba or where, state autocracy and private capitalism represented two [i][b]apparently[/b][/i] distinct models of development. They competed for fifty years and the modern consensus is that private capitalism won. While the models competed, they seemed like two models. As Roxell says, the third world had already been arranged as a mere resource base for the Western private capitalists. In this process, the developed local elite were the colonial functionaries, the under-bosses. And so the USSR and the West competed for the loyalties of this group. In places as diverse (and ironic) as Tibet and Afghanistan, nations experience [i]local[/i] Stalinist revolutions lead by local elites seeking to "bring the nation forward". I'm saying all this to reinforce the point that the bureaucracy [i]seemed[/i] both a new ruling class and developed it's particular method of controlling an integrated state and economy.

Given this, I think it is entirely reasonable to say that the Leninism of 1919, say, that made the choices which lead to the Stalinism of 1933, already represented the bureaucratic tendency.

Looking in more detail, I think making an analogy to physics is illuminating. The various categories of social relations we're talking about could seen as the stable positions of our social system. A revolutionary situation is naturally an unstable state of a system, a bifurcation. In a bifurcation, small local changes lead to large global changes in one direction or another. The position which support the move towards bureaucracy in 1919 were certainly more complex and subtle than the final operations of bureaucracy in 1933. But this is how any dynamic system works, once you towards a stable position, information is destroyed and the forces moving you in the direction become more irresistible. The choices of 1919 were complex and multiple intentions were involved but given that only one or another of the stable states could be the outcome, we are justified in [i]reducing[/i] the tendencies to the tendency towards communism, the tendency towards private capitalism and the tendency towards bureaucratic rule.

With all that, the question whether bureaucratic rule and private capitalism represent fundamentally distinct approaches tendencies or simply wide varieties within an overall system. I think the ability of Stalinist nations to convert to some version of private capitalism without any change in ruling class argues for us to consider "bureaucracy" and private capitalism to be part of a single system. I would say that's quite fine to call this system capitalism. (there is more to the argument than this but I've argued this elsewhere).

Thus, I'd say that this is my less-hand-waving argument why it is justified to speak of the Stalinist parties as representing a capitalist or "bourgeois" tendency.


My problem with that thread

My problem with that thread is, as I mentioned in one post, it is not being made in good faith. It has turned into a point-scoring match between AR and I about the Chinese civil war and Mao, when my involvement in the thread was entirely (aside from 1 post on Permanent Revolution not addressed to anyone imparticular) devoted to helping explain the comments from another poster (baboon), who AR repeatedly said he didn't understand what baboon was trying to say.


Bureaucracy isn't important, or isn't that important in my opinion. State capitalism (pseudo-'socialist' and 'people's republic' regimes) is manifested partially by a bureaucracy taking on the role of the bourgeoisie (as the managers and directors of exploitation, accumulation and extraction of surplus value, etc)- but what is noteworthy is that capitalist relations of production are still in effect.

Regarding the 'private' vs 'state' capitalism competing with one another, I don't see it that way. The so-called 'private' capitalism of the West was not so private after all. State capitalism became a general tendency of capitalism in the period of decadence. In the Western bloc it took the form of Keynesianism and the Welfare State/massive entitlements. In the Eastern bloc it took the form of an almost completely statified, nationalized economy. Both bloc's economies were state capitalist- just to different degrees.


The competition between the two bloc's was a competition of imperialism, not economics.


I would very much like to see evidence that the ICC or other left communists on Libcom or elsewhere analyze in a vacuum. Of all of the political leftist schools and workers groups going back a long time, the left communist (and specifically that of the ICC) methods of analysis are the most comprehensive I've found.


The Leninism of 1919 led to the Stalinism of 1933? Not in the way you seem to be suggesting. The Bolshevik's economic policy was following the consensus of Marxists of the time. From the Communist Manifesto of 1848 to the theorists of the Second International, it was believed that nationalization was the means to move toward socialism. The ICC has written that the Bolsheviks were 'stumbling in the dark', using the theories and ideas available at the time. They were in uncharted territory- trying to move forward the revolution, and maintain the gains made so far. The RSFSR of 1919 was legitimately proletarian, despite the mistakes they made; because these mistakes were made due to a lack of experience, not opportunism, as the Stalinism of the mid to late '20s and beyond acted on.


I don't think you've made an argument that the Stalinist parties are bourgeois- only that the economic policies of Stalinism (well Marxism-Leninism in general, from Trotskyism to Juche) are. As far as the Stalinist parties, from the CPUSA, PCF, CPGB, etc their bourgeois nature is clear through a series of commonalities such as:


-Participation in bourgeois-democratic elections and parliamentarism.

-Participation in and support of business unionism.

-Alliances with bourgeois parties (Democratic Party - CPUSA, etc)

-Support for imperialist war (one side against another, such as support for Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, etc).

-Support for National Liberation.