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A Look

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At Leninism

Ron Taber


D -■ At-

A Look
At Leninism



\

A Look


At Leninism

by


Ron Taber

ASPECT FOUNDATION/NEW YORK/1983


copyright © 1967, 1988

Revolutionary Socialist League, Box 1268 GPO, New York, NY 10116


copyright 1986 ASPFCT FOUNDATION, New York, New York

First printing October 1988 /jf\

Printed by Grass Roots Press, Raleigh, North Carolina ®

Library of Congress Caialoging-in-Publication Data

Taber, Ron, 1947-

A look at Leninism / by Ron Taber.

p. cm.


ISBN 0-939073-36-6 : $3,50

1. Communism— Soviet Union—History—20th Century. 2. Lenin.


Vladimir Il'ich, I870-I924, 1. Title.

HX3I3.T24 1988 88-8169

335.43'0947—dc 19 CIP


Contents

Preface .. vii

Introduction 1


  1. What Kind of Revolution? 9

  2. Party, Class and Socialist Consciousness 25

  3. The “Ethos" of Bolshevism 37

  4. State and Revolution 52

  5. Lenin’s Theory ol Knowledge— Part I 67

  6. Lenin’s Theory of Knowledge —Part II 78

Conclusion 93


Preface



T

HE book in your hands was originally written as a series of
articles in (lie
Torch/La Antorcha, a newspaper published by

the Revolutionary Sod a list League, in 1987 and early 1988, The
ideas presented in these articles had been germinating in my mind
for quite some lime. They were, in particular, an offshoot of work
on a previous book,
Trotskyism and the Diktnma af Sodtrffrrm
(with Christopher
Z. Hobson), a history of Trotskyism and a cri-
tique of Leon Trotsky's theory of the nature of the Soviet Union,
During the course of writing that book, it became dear to me
that Trotsky’s tendency to lay the blame for the totalitarian evolu-
tion of the Soviet regime solely at die hands of Joseph Stalin, and
to exonerate Lenin of any responsibility, was, at the very least,
one-sided. The question: What role did Bolshevik Party founder
and leader, V,l, Lenin, and his theories and practical activity play
in the establishment or that oppressive society fwhieh we call state
capitalism)?—thus presented itself.


The resuk was a considerable amount of additional reading on
the October Revolution, the Civil War and its aftermath, various
philosophical questions, and a re-reading of a number of works of
Lenin himself. Partial conclusions from this program were recorded
in a number of rough drafts of documents intended for internal
discussion in the Revolutionary Socialist League and in a talk pre-
sented at the 1986 convention of that organization. 1 was not satis-
fied with any of these presents! ions or my conclusions, however.


At a cerlain poinl in my reevaluation of Leninism, it occurred to
me that the fundamental outlook and mentality of Lenin and the
Bolshevik ParLy as a whole were overwhelmingly authoritarian, and
1 could no longer square my acceptance of Leninism with my more
fundamental commitment to a revolutionary libertarian socialism.
As a major leader of the RSL. I could not in good conscience





keep this conclusion to myself. The series of articles now compiled
in this book was my attempt to explain and motivate my thinking.


Since they were written over a period of 13 months, for a news-
paper and hence for a fairly broad audience, and often under the
pressure of deadlines, the articles are occasionally repetitive, while
some issues are covered somewhat simplistically. Moreover, a num-
ber of topics—the attitude of Lenin toward the peasantry, for ex-
ample— were omitted for reasons of time and space Despite this,
the articles represent an accurate enough presentation of my cur-
rent evaluation of Leninism to warrant re-publication in book
form. It is hoped that whatever weaknesses the resulting book ex-
hibits do not prevent it from being of some value for those looking
for a political outlook and strategy that are both revolutionary and
anti-authoritarian.


I would particularly like to thank Bruce Kala for his time and
patience both in typesetting the original articles and inserting the
various minor editing changes made since then. All errors, of
course, are solely my responsibility.



Introduction

I

N the discussion that follows, Leninism is taken 10 mean the
theory and practice of the political tendeney/facti on/party with-


in the Russian revolutionary movement led by V.I. Lenin, from
around 1900, through the October Revolution of 1917, to the early
years of the Bolshevik regime. Although other individuals played
prominent roles in various phases of the Bolshevik tendency, Lenin
was by far the dominant personality, as theoretician, organizer and
overall leader. Bolshevism was overwhelmingly
his
idea. And while
Lenin’s ideas and policies changed during the course of his political
career, there is sufficient unity and continuity among them to justify
describing and analyzing them as Leninism.


This series is not meant to he a complete work on Leninism,
Nor is it intended to be a "balance sheet,” a careful weighing of
pluses and minuses. Having considered ourselves Leninists for the
length of our history as a tendency, our task now is not to look at
ihe positive but, in the interests of ait insightful analysis, to focus
on the negative, to look for the weaknesses in Leninism. A discus-
sion of the pluses — in the light of the negatives — and a balance
sheet can come later.


Our unifying theme, though, is not negativity per se, but a par-
ticular question or problem. This can be described roughly as fol-
lows: What responsibility does Leninism /Bolshevism have for the
social system, and the crimes, of what we have- loosely called Sta-
linism and more accurately labelled stale capitalism?


As most readers of the Torch/La Antorcha are aware, we do
not believe that the social systems that exist in Russia. China,
Cuba, Eastern Europe. Vietnam, etc.. are socialist, moving toward
socialism, workers' states or even progressive. Instead, we consider
them to be highly statifkd variants of capitalism—state capitalism.
In these societies, the workers and other oppressed people, deprived





of political rights and power over the state, are exploited by a bu-
reaucratic elite built around the party/state economic, political and
military apparatus.


I do not intend to argue for, let alone try to prove, this position
here, (We have discussed it many times elsewhere.) It is a premise
of the series. Taking it as a starting point, I am particularly inter-
ested in the establishment of the very first state capitalist regime—
that in Russia—which was the outcome of the October (Bolshevik)
Revolution of 17. This revolution and regime were not only the
inspiration and mode! for I he revolutions and processes that estab-
lished the other stale capitalist systems. In addition, because of the
nature of the October Revolution itself, the insurrection and the
Bolshevik regime it established have been key factors supporting
the illusion that Lhe state capitalist regimes are socialist.


We believe that the October Revolution was, to a considerable
degree, a revolution carried out by the working class and supported
by the peasantry. The Bolshevik Party, which led the revolution
(along with the Left Social Revolutionaries and various anarchist
organist ions} had won majorities in the soviets (workers’ councils
set up by the workers themselves after the revolution in February),
the factory committees and other mass organizations. Most of
these soviets had passed resolutions calling for ‘All Power to the
Soviets” some weeks before the revolution.


The uprising itseif was effected by a fairly broad number of
workers’, soldiers’ and sailors’ organisations, most of which were
not part of the Bolshevik Party or even under its firm control.
Moreover, after i( had occurred, the insurrection was approved by
an All-Russian Congress of Soviets and by other mass organisa-
tions. (The insurrection was also supported
de facto
—indeed, made
possible—by the mass of peasants, who rose up and seized and di-
vided the landed estates during the summer and fail of 1917,)


The October Revolution, in other words, was not simply a Bol-
shevik coup d’ftai, carried out against the wishes and behind the
backs of the workers and peasants.


Despite the popular nature of the insurrection, however, the re-
gime that finally emerged from the revolution, the Civil War and
Stalin’s consolidation of power was a frightful totalitarian dictator-
ship that had deprived the workers of any control over the facto-
ries, had taken the land back from the peasants, had deprived both
of them of control over the state, as well as virtually ail political
rights, and had killed millions of people in the process.





In the past, we tended to pin the responsibility for [his develop-
ment on 1) Joseph Statin, who look over the leadership of the Bol-
shevik (Communist) Party after Lenin’s illness and death, and
2)
objective conditions. In other words, paraphrasing Leon Trotsky’s
analysis, we believed that certain objective conditions—the failure
of workers in other countries to carry out successful revolutions,
the counter-revolutionary attempts and imperialist interventions in
Russia, Russia’s historical backwardness and poverty, along with
the disruption and devastation brought about by World W*r I, the
revolutions and Civil Wat — prevented the Bolshevik government
from evolving into a healthy proletarian dictatorship {’"a state that
is already becoming a non-state.” a “Commune-type state,” etc.).
Instead, they enabled a bureaucracy, led grd organized by Stalin,
to seize power, eliminate the last vestiges of workers’ control over
the economy and state, smash the peasants and consolidate itself as
a state capitalist ruling class.


Vet, is this the whole story? Is it realty possible to place the
responsibility/blamc soiely on objective conditions and Stalin, and
to leave ihe Bolsheviks and Lenin blame-freC? I don’t think so.


There arc a number of questions whose very posing suggests that
the Bolsheviks themselves (meaning Lenin and the party as a whole
prior to Stalin establishing his stranglehold over it) have at least
some responsibility for what happened. For one thing, how did
Stalin get to be the head of the party? Why was a man like that in
the parly in the first place? What kind of party would enable
someone like Stalin to thrive in it, be a major leader for many
years and finally establish himself as its key leader?


Why did Lenin appoint Sialin to the Organization Bureau and
Secretarial of the Party, let alone appoim him, or allow him to be-
come, General Secretary of the Party? Why did so many Bolshe-
viks line up with Stalin against Trotsky and against, so it would
seem, the original ideals of Bolshevism? What enabled Stalin so
easily to don the mantle of Leninism? Why didn’t more Bolsheviks
organize to stop Stalin? Why did they allow themselves to be “liq-
uidated’' by him without a serious struggle?


AH these questions suggest, at least to me, that there was some-
thing in the theory and practice of the Bolshevik Party, its politics
and methods, its atmosphere and “ethos” that ]) gave rise to Sta-
lin and 2) helped create the circumstances that allowed him to con-
solidate state capitalism in Russia,


Holding Letiin and the Bolsheviks (and Leninism) at least par-




tially responsible for the establishment of state capitalism flows not
just from the above questions about Stalin and the party, but even
more from an objective took at the state and society that had been
established in Russia at the conclusion of the Civil War (when
Lenin was still alive and well).


By this time, the Soviet government was a one-party regime, run
totally by the Bolsheviks, The parly dominated the soviets, which
had become little more than vehicles for carrying out policies the
Bolsheviks decided rather than the arena in which the workers de-
termined policies and chose and controlled their leadership. Nor did
the workers run the factories or any other part of the economy.
The factory committees had long been superseded by “one-man
management” — Bolshevik appointees in no way elected or con-
trolled by, or responsible to, the workers.


Almost all other political parties were either outlawed or barely
tolerated (until 1922 when they tvene outlawed) and harassed by the
Cheka (political police). After the ban on internal factions in the
Bolshevik Parly was adopted in March 1921, the Cheka hounded
opposition forces even within the party. The trade unions were al-
most exclusively arms of the state and while some strikes were legal
under the NEP (New Economic Policy, adopted in 1921), strikes
were strongly discouraged and strikers, and especially strike leaders,
were harassed and arrested.


More broadly, the Bolshevik Party was isolated from the popular
classes, including the overwhelming majority of the workers and
peasants. This is indicated by the Bolsheviks’ suppression of the
uprising at the Kronstadt naval fortress, the mass peasant uprisings
in a number of provinces (e.g., Tambov) and the near general
strike in Petrograd, which had long been the Bolsheviks’ chief po-
litical base—all of which occurred at the close of the Civil War in
early 1921. In short, while the Soviet state was nowhere near the
Stalinist nightmare it was to become, by 1922, the foundations of a
state capitalist regime had been constructed, replete with censorship
(libraries were periodically purged to eliminate “offensive” material,
including outdated Bolshevik writings), secret police, labor camps,
etc.


The point here is not that the post-Civil War regime in Russia
was fully state capitalist and totalitarian. Nor is it that the Bolshe-
viks were Lotally responsible for the establishment of such a regime
and therefore the Bolsheviks were nothing but a state capitalist po-
litical force. (1 think the question is more complicated than this.) It





is to indicate that an objective loo]; at the problem suggests that
the Bolsheviks have to be held at least partially responsible for the
establishment of state capitalism, and the Stalinist hell-hole, in
Russia. {Hopefully, just
how
responsible will emerge from the
series.)


Why is the question of Leninism and its relation to Stalinism/
state capitalism so important to 0$ There are two interrelated rea-
sons. 1} When the Revolutionary Socialist League was founded, we
defined ourselves essentially as "orthodox Trotskyists*1 with a slate
capitalist position on the nature of Russia and the other so-called
“socialist countries." Our Trotskyism included a belief in an ortho-
dox leninism and Marxism, more or less eis defined by Trotsky.
We rarely posed it precisely this way, but this is what we meant
when we defined Trotskyism as the “continuity" of Marxism and
Leninism.


Unlike other left groups, however, we were not content to define
ourselves In a certain “orthodox" way and then leave our politics
alone. For a variety of reasons (one of which was the impact of
[he women’s and the lesbian and gay liberation movements), we
subjected our politics to a continual questioning. In particular, we
began to investigate Trotskyism in some detail


A key impetus for this process was internal to our theory. Spe-
cifically, we began to realijtc that if Trotsky had been wrong about
the nature of Russia, this error was not likely to have been an iso-
lated one, without effect on other aspects of his politics and meth-
ods, Among other things, we recognised that in addition to what
we saw as the positive, pro-socialist aspects of Trotsky’s politics
(leading hint ultimately lo call for a revolution against Stalin and
to advocate a multi-party democracy under a workers’ state), there
were what we called "state capitalist" aspects or tendencies, tenden-
cies that justified or implied state capitalism, it was these tendencies
that led Trotsky’s followers in the Fourth International, after the
expansion of state capitalism into Eastern Europe following World
Wat 11, lo capitulate and become apologists for stale capitalism.
(As this suggests, the most obvious stale capitalist aspect of Trot-
skyism was Trotsky’s position that Russia under Staiin was a “de-
generated workers’ state,’’ and its implied corollary that a state can
be a workers* state even though it is not eontrolled by—indeed, ac-
tually oppresses—the workers,)


In short, we decided that there were definite state capitalist as-
pects to Trotskyism and that we should discard those, retain the





pro-socialist” aspects, modify the others as needed, and generally
move away from an “orthodox” (formalistic, dogmatic) conception
of politics toward a more synthetic (some might say eclectic) ap-
proach. The latter includes looking at, and borrowing from, other
left-wing political traditions, such as anarchism.


As part of our developing critique of Trotskyism, we began to
pay special attention to the period from the October Revolution,
through the Civil War, to Lenin’s incapacitation and
de facto
re-
tirement in late 1922-23. This was the period, according to Trotsky,
in which the Bolshevik regime was a relatively healthy workers’
state (it had “bureaucratic distortions,” in I.enin’s phrase). It be-
came clear to us, however, that this was far from the case, espe-
cially if viewed from the Marxist ideal of a state already beginning
to wither away, etc.


As has already been indicated, the soviet regime by this time was
significantly bureaucratized (stale capitalist), and much of this was
the direct result of the measures taken by the Bolsheviks them-
selves: centralizing economic and political power in their own
hands, eliminating direct workers’ control of the factories, sup-
pressing other political tendencies, requisitioning grain from the
peasants by force, establishing a secret police, building an army
along hierarchical/bourgeois lines, etc. However much these meas-
ures were taken in reaction to the equally harsh, if not harsher,
measures taken by the Bolsheviks’ opponents, they were neverthe-
less extremely bureaucratic, coercive and brutal. In addition, the
Bolsheviks justified and even glorified them, and made no serious
effort lo reverse them (except for forced requisitions), after the
Civil War was over.


Most important, these measures, for whatever reason they were
taken, whether justified or not, involved the
de facto destruction of
the workers’ control over the economy and state. A consideration
of this fact at least posed the question that I am now proposing to
discuss: How much responsibility for state capitalism lies with Len-
inism; or, how much state capitalism is there in Leninism?


There is a more general reason for our concern with the question
of Leninism, and it is something that has motivated our theoretical
interest from before the foundation of the RSL. This is another
question: How did revolutionary socialism, a world-view and move-
ment that claim to be for the liberation of humanity through a
revolution by ils most oppressed classes, wind up creating one of
the more oppressive, less liberatory social systems the world has





seen? Whatever the achievements of the state capitalist countries
(which we don’t propose to dispute or discuss here), these gains
have come at the suffering and deaths of
million
s of people, (The
estimates of the people who died as a result of Stalin’s forced
“collectivization” and the resulting famine, along with the massive
purges—not counting deaths in World War 11—range upward from
20 million. See Robert Conquest,
The Honest of Sorrow, Oxford,
1986, and
The Great Terror, Macmillan, 1968. Estimates of those
who died in Mao’s Great Leap forward and the Cultural Revolu-
tion in China run in the many millions.)


Moreover, the results of this incredible human sacrifice are not
dynamic and prosperous social systems in which people live in
abundance and security, (With one exception, these countries are
now stagnating; the exception, China, is saving itself from stagna-
tion, at least for now, by adopting free market, i.e., traditional
capitalist, policies.) Nor are these countries models of, or even
moving toward, socialist democracy.


These facts are something that revolutionary socialists, particu-
larly those who consider themselves Leninists, must face up to and
take responsibility for. It will not do to pretend that the Stalinist/
Maoist atrocities didn't happen, to downplay their extent and grav-
ity, to consider them merely temporary “aberrations," or to fool
oneself into believing that they cannot happen again. To those with
open eyes and open minds, the problem remains: The concrete his-
torical result of the program of socialist revolution has not led to
what it promised; instead, it has resulted in a stupendous human
tragedy, (The relatively benign character of the Cuban and Sandi-
nisia revolutions should not blind us to the realities of Russia, Chi-
na and,.. Kampuchea.)


Whatever the rest of the left may do, we in the Revolutionary
Socialist L eague feel we have a deep political, and moral, responsi-
bility lo investigate as thoroughly as we can why this happened.
How can we propose a way forward for workers and other op-
pressed groups, or say we have a solution to their problems and to
the crisis of world capitalism, without investigating the reasons for
the historic failure of revolutionary socialism? It is easy to be
against things—poverty, racism and sexism, the waste and brutality
of capitalism, the destruction of tremendous human resources and
the environment, the moral corruption, etc.—without doing much
theorizing. But to
advocate a profound social transformation and
the creation of a new social system, and lo do this in a responsible





manner, one oughi lo have done a greal deal of thinking about
what it is one is for and whether and under what circumstances ii
will work- Simply appealing to “historical laws” or the “science”
of historical materialism is the same as the Pope appealing to
“faith” and “revelation,” and equally dangerous.

-ONE-


What Kind of Revolution?

I

N this installment of our series, we will foeus on the question
of broad strategy, particularly—what kind of revolution did the


Bolsheviks advocate and prepare themselves for during the period
prior to the October Revolution?


Most people not very familiar with Marxist history tend to as-
sume that people and organizations that call themselves Marxist or
Communist always advocate and try to carry out
sociatisi revolu-
tions^
revolutions to overthrow capitalism and establish socialism
Yet, while such revolutions have usually been declared the '‘ulti-
mate goal” of such groups, Marxian socialists in so-called "under-
developed" countries have generally advocated
bourgeois (capitalist)
revolutions as the "first Stage" of the revolutionary process in their
respective countries. The Russian Marxists were no exception. Up
until April, 19)7, the entire Marxist movement, including Lenin and
the Bolsheviks, advocated and sought to carry out a bourgeois
(‘'bourgeois democratic”) revolution in Russia.


This position was consistent with, atid an essential part of, what
was considered to be "orthodox Marxism" at the time. This ortho-
doxy was largely defined by the major theoretician of the interna-
tional Marxist movement of the time (the Second, or Socialist.
International), Karl K am sky.


Based on a mechanical reading of the major texts of Marxism
and a generally formalistic mode of thought, this orthodoxy in-
sisted that each and every country in the world had to go through
all of what were considered to be the necessary stages—modes of
production—of human society between primitive communism and
social ism/comm un ism. These were ancient slave society, feudalism,
and capitalism.


Russia around the turn of the century clearly did not have a de-
veloped form of industrial capitalism—there was a king, the Tsar, a





landed nobility, peasants only recently freed from serfdom and still
bound to the land by debts, a lack of political rights, etc. The
Marxists of the period considered Russian society to be, or to have
just emerged from, a form of feudalism. And the revolution they
felt the country was moving toward, and which they advocated and
readied themselves for, was a bourgeois one. That is, the revolu-
tion would overthrow the Tsar, destroy the landed gentry, free the
peasants and set up some kind of bourgeois democratic political
system that would guarantee political rights, including the rights to
strike and form political parties, freedom of the press, etc.


Not least, the revolution would pave the way for the fullest de-
velopment of capitalism. Only after a period of capitalist develop-
ment of undetermined length, during which the country would be
industrialized and the working class would grow, organize itself
and become conscious of its position in society and of the need to
establish its own rule, would a second, socialist revolution take
place. Since, according to Marxist theory, socialism requires mod-
ern industry and material abundance, and a socialist revolution
could only be carried out by a modern working class, the Marxists
in Russia, ironically, found themselves advocates of a bourgeois
revolution and... capitalism.


With almost no exceptions (Leon Trotsky, after 1905, was one),
the entire Marxist movement in Russia subscribed to one form or
another of this theory. They not only believed it themselves, but
argued vehemently against — that is, denounced — those who dis-
agreed with them, including anarchists and populists, who after
1902 were organized in the Social Revolutionary Party. Marxism,
the “science of society,” “scientific socialism”—they contended—
deemed that Russia, feudal, semi-feudal, or recently emerged from
feudalism, could not “jump over” the “historical stage” of capi-
talism. And anyone who said it could was a dreamer, a muddle-
head or, worse, a utopian. The coming revolution in Russia was
going to be, and
had to be,
a bourgeois one.

In all the debates—polemics—Lenin carried out with other indi-
viduals, tendencies and parties, up to 1917, he never called the
bourgeois nature of the Russian revolution into question. For ex-
ample, in Lenin’s debates with his main Marxist opponents, such
as the "Economists” and the Mensheviks, the question of the fun-
damental (bourgeois) nature of the coming revolution was never
explicitly at issue.


In Lenin’s various books and articles on the “agrarian question,”

f





on which Lenin was an expert, one of his main aims was to advo-
cate measures that would guarantee the greatest development of
capitalist
relations in agriculture. Significantly, in much of the peri-
od between 1905 and 1917, the Bolsheviks’ main agitational slogans
(directed toward the "broad masses”), known as the “three
whales” were, roughly, the eight-hour day, land to the peasants,
and a democratic republic. These are all bourgeois-democratic de-
mands.


It was only in early 1917, after the February Revolution had
overthrown the Tsar, that the Bolsheviks adopted the point of view
that the revolution they sought to carry out would be a socialist
one. (Some have argued that Lenin had come to this position as
far back as late 1914. While Lenin’s thinking changed significantly
beginning at that time—the outbreak of World War I and the col-
lapse of the Second International—it is not clear that his view of
the revolution had changed prior to late 1916-carly 1917, In any
case, Lenin was isolated from most of his followers during this
period and the changes in his thinking were not likely to have af-
fected many Bolsheviks prior to his. and their, return Lo Russia af-
ter the February Revolution.)


I do not wish to argue the substance of the question here, that
is, whether the Russian Marxists were right or wrong in their con-
ception. The point 1 wish to stress is that throughout the entire
formative period of Bolshevism as a political tendency/mo ve-
inent/party, it advocated and sought to implement not a socialist
revolution, but a
bourgeois one. Given this, is it really very surpris-
ing that the revolution that the Bolsheviks did carry out in Russia,
when judged in terms of its long-term outcome, was basically a
bourgeois one, that is, il created a kind of capitalist society, not a
socialist one?


I don’t mean to be playing with words here, or to be making
cheap arguments. I am making a fundamental point. A political
movement is defined not only by its long-term proclaimed goal but
also, and even more so, by what it organizes itself around in thc
presenl and the near- and middle-term future. What it
does is more
important than what it sags it is "ultimately” for.


Revolutionary Marxists, including Leninists, have always recog-
nized the validity of this point when applied to the parties of the
Second International. Although these parties advocated socialism in
the long run, by and large, their day-to-day functioning was that
of reformist socialist organizations. They ran the trade unions and





other mass organizations, Fought for pro-labor and other progres-
sive legislation in parliament, etc. Socialism was primarily for
speeches on May Day and oilier working class holidays.


Thus, while Lenin was surprised when the Second International
collapsed at the beginning of World Wat 1 (most of its constituent
parties supported the predatory war aims of "their” respective rul-
ing classes, instead of opposing the war as a whole), we. looking
back, can see that this was the most likely development. And some
astute contemporary observers, such as Rosa Luxemburg, long a
left-winger in the German Social Democratic Party (the SPD), had
realized the true nature of the majority of the movement as early
as 1910.


If the argument is vaiid vis-i-vls the Social Democracy, why does
it suddenly become false when applied to the Bolsheviks? Por most
of their history, I repeat, they advocated and prepared themselves
lo carry out a bourgeois revolution. Is this significant?


The question is not whether the Bolsheviks were really reformists
rather than revolutionaries, but what kind of revolutionaries they
were, socialist or bourgeois. Jf we arc to be consistent with our
analysis of the Second International, 1 Lhlnk wc have to answer, or
at least be open lo the idea, that the Bolsheviks were a kind (a
special kind, to be sure), of bourgeois revolutionary!

I am not raising this argument here to prove
that the Bolsheviks
were really bourgeois rather than socialist revolutionaries, bur to
establish the plausibility of the contention, To me, the fact that
throughout virtually their entire history prior to the October Revo-
lution they advocated and prepared themselves to carry out a kind
of bourgeois revolution is highly suggestive. Among other things, it
makes the apparent paradox of how socialist revolutionaries wound
up creating a form of bourgeois society less paradoxical.


A number of arguments can be raised against the point i am
trying
lo establish- One is that the composition of the Bolshevik
tendency/movement/party was primarily working class. Actually,
this was only true in certain limes, such as revolutionary upheavals.
At other times, the “class character” of the movement cannot sim-
ply be considered to be proletarian. It had members from the
working class, but it also had many members who were part of the
intelligentsia, a stratum of intellectuals from different backgrounds,
roughly the equivalent of the modern middle class. There is also
the question of what to consider someone from a working class
background who is a full-time party functionary. On balance,





throughout much of its history the class character of the Bolshevik
movement would have to be considered as declasse, that is, as out-
side the class structure of Russia.


In any case, the nature of a political movement/party is not pri-
marily defined by the class its members and supporters arc part of.
Most of the members of the Democratic Party in the United States
today, for example, are probably workers, but that doesn’t make
the party a working class party.


Another argument against my hypothesis that the Bolsheviks
were (despite themselves) bourgeois revolutionaries is that they
thought of themselves as Marxists, studied Marxism, made it clear
10
the workers that'they were socialists, recruited people to be so-
cialists, etc. But calling yourself a Marxist doesn't automatically
make you one. Nor does being a Marxist automatically make you
a socialist, in the revolutionary libertarian meaning of the term.


Most tendencies which today call themselves Marxist we consider
to be state capitalist, and their vision of socialism really a form of
state capitalism. How do we know what the Bolsheviks’ vision of
socialism was? Perhaps they did recruit people to be socialists, hold
study sessions, etc. on socialism. But if their vision of socialism
was to any significant degree contaminated by state capitalist ideas
— for example, that one parly (theirs) will make the decisions for
the workers—their advocacy oT what they called socialism does not
make them socialists.


In fact, it is not clear how much discussion of, or education
about, the nature of socialism the Bolsheviks regularly conducted.
The Bolsheviks, like the entire Marxist movement going back to
Marx and Engels, were impatient with discussions or investigations
about what socialism would concretely look like. This was in part
a reaction lo the utopian socialists, Robert Owen. St. Simon,
Fourier, etc., who drew up detailed plans (down to who would live
where) about what the ideal society would look like, and, in some
cases, actually tried to set up such communities, Correctly sensing
the totalitarian nature of such projects (the people in those com-
munities don’t decide how the community will be set up; it is de-
cided beforehand, by someone else), Marx and Lngcls eschewed
elaborating, or even discussing very much, their vision of socialism.


This bent was also motivated by a conviction (with its own totali-
tarian implications, as we will discuss later) that socialism was the
necessary (inevitable) outcome of history; since socialism was going to
happen, there was no point in figuring out what is would look like.





For whatever reason, then, the Marxist movement Up to and
through the period we are discussing did not generally discuss or
elaborate its conception of socialist society. Given the Bolsheviks’
contention that the revolution “on the agenda?1 in Russia was a
bourgeois one, and given the fact that for most of their history
they were an illegal, persecuted group, it is nol likely that they had
many in-depth, detailed discussions about the concrete nature of a
socialist society,


A third argument against the contention that the Bolsheviks' ad-
vocacy of a bourgeois revolution in Russia was a significant, defin-
ing element of Bolshevism is that the Bolsheviks did, prior lo the
October Revolution, explicitly discuss and change their conception
of the nature of the revolution they aimed to lead. This refers to
the discussion held in the Bolshevik Party after Lenin’s arrival in
Russia in early April, 1917, and to the decision of the party,
adopted at the so-called "April Conference,” a few weeks later, to
seek to seize state power at the head of a working class socialist
revolution, based on the soviets {the workers1 councils established
by the workers during and after the February Revolution), They
did, of course, have this discussion and make such a decision,
among others. But, how deep or thorough was this discussion?


How long did it go on?

Lenin arrived in Russia after his long exile in Western Europe on
April 3 (old-style Russian calendar), a litdc over a month after the
February Revolution, Prior to his arrival, most Bolsheviks (there
were a handful who disagreed), believed that the Bolsheviks1 main


strategic task was to carry the bourgeois revolution to completion,

not to carry out a socialist revolution. And when Lenin first ar-
rived he shocked most Bolsheviks who heard him (again, minus a
handful) with his new position, expressed in his "April Theses,”
that (he Bolsheviks should seek to carry out a socialist revolution.
This was considered by almost ail Bolsheviks, particularly the long-
time members, the "Old Bolsheviks,” to be very unorthodox, here-
sy, even anarchism.


By the end of April, however, the Bolshevik Party conference
(April 24-29) voted overwhelmingly to endorse Lenin’s point of
view, The discussion over Lenin’s (unorthodox and heretical) point
of view' took ail of... three weeks. What kind of discussion could
they have had in this lime? Could il have been very deep? Could it
have been very thorough? Could the Bolsheviks have even begun
lo discuss what the new position really entailed? Did they use the




months between April and the October Revolution (October 25) to
continue this discussion on an ever-deepening basis? I think the
answers to these questions must be “no,'1


The Bolsheviks were in the middle of a political and social mael-
strom and had a million things to do; they were undoubtedly
spending most of their time feverishly agitating and organizing in
the midst of hectic conditions,


Lenin did, during this period (he was in hiding, mid-July-late
October), write a number of works, mostly short pamphlets, ex-
plaining what a Bolshevik government based on the Soviets would
look like and what it would do. In particular, during this period
Lenin wrote what n^any consider to be his greatest work,
The Slate
and Revolution
, which discusses his view of the nature of the dic-
tatorship of the proletariat, the withering away of the state, etc.
Yet, given the complexity of these issues, these investigations were
really not very detailed. Equally important
The State and Revolu-
tion
was never finished and was nol published until the following
year. It is quke unlikely, therefore, that the Bolshevik Party had a
full discussion of either
The State and Revolution or Lenin’s
pamphlets.


In short, I believe the Bolsheviks never had a thorough discus-
sion of the change of position adopted at the April Conference;
what it really meant, what a society based on the soviets would
look like, what would be the relationship between the soviets, fac-
tory committees and trade unions, for example, a question that
was to loom very large soon after the October Revolution, And the
course of the revolution, specifically the success of the October in-
surrection, seemed to make such a discussion irrelevant.


Probably the strongest argument that might be leveled against
the tine of thought I am outlining here is the fact that throughout
most of their history prior to 1917 the Bolsheviks did not advocate
a “typical” bourgeois revolution, that is, one led by the capitalists
and their representatives among the intellectuals, etc. Instead, be-
ginning around 1905, the Bolsheviks advocated a bourgeois-demo-
cratic revolution that was lo be carried out by the workers and
peasants against the Tsar, the landed gentry
and (paradoxically) the
capitalists
(the bourgeoisie).

As a result, this argument would run, since the Bolsheviks had,
since 1905, advocated a revolution carried out by the workers and
peasants against the capitalists, as well as the Tsar, landlords, etc.,
and had always tried to build a base among the working class, to





build a working class party, to make the workers class conscious,
etc., the switch in strategic conceptions in 1917 was not such a big
deal. Indeed, some have argued, this fact goes a long way to ex-
plain why Lenin could change the party’s mind, so to speak, on
this question so easily.


On one level, this appears to be a substantial argument. Yet, a
careful look at the issues involved will, I believe, support and even
strengthen my contention. Let’s look at the question more closely.


Although almost all Russian Marxists agreed that the revolution
they advocated and felt was coming would be a bourgeois-demo-
cratic one, they disagreed over the roles different classes would
play in the revolution and specifically over the tasks Social Demo-
crats should seek to accomplish, (They all called themselves Social
Democrats then; Lenin and the Bolsheviks took up the older name
Communists in 1917,) In fact, after questions of organization, it is
fair to say that the major differences between Bolsheviks and Men-
sheviks through most of their history were disagreements over the
configuration of the (bourgeois-democratic) revolution in Russia
and the role Marxists should play in it,


(For those who don’t know, or remember, the terms Bolshevik
and Menshevik come from the Russian words Bol'shinstvo and
Men’shinstvo, meaning majorityites and minorityites, respectively.
At the Second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor
Party, the official name of the Marxist organization, in 1903, the
delegates to the congress split into two hostile factions, largely over
questions of party organization, questions we will get to later. On
one of the crucial votes, the forces led by Lenin won a majority.
As a result, Lenin and his followers were called, and called them-
selves, Bolsheviks. Those who had lost the vote were called Men-
sheviks. This split was never healed, and the Marxist movement in
Russia largely consisted of two factions, with often separate news-
papers and structures, coexisting uneasily. The two factions were
formally in the same party until 1912, when the Bolsheviks formed
their own party. It is typical of Lenin’s genius, and the Mensheviks
ineffectiveness, that Lenin and his supporters kept the name Bol-
sheviks, which implies strength, while the Mensheviks were saddled
with a name denoting weakness, even though the Menshevik fac-
tion was often larger than the Bolshevik.)


The key differences between the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks
on the question of bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia cen-
tered on the role they expected the Russian bourgeoisie to play in





the revolution and, therefore, the attitude the working class and
Marxists should take toward it,


A mechanical, formalistic conception of a bourgeois-democratic
revolution would entail the view that, by definition, a bourgeois-
democratic revolution will be led by the bourgeoisie. Specifically,
the bourgeoisie, which by nature and class interests prefers a demo-
cratic republic, will lead the other progressive forces, including the
peasants, the workers and the middle class, in a struggle against
the monarch (king, queen, Tsar or whatever), the landed nohiiity
and other feudalist forces, [t would aim to do away with feudal
privileges and all forms of servitude, to set up a democratic repub-
lic and to establish the conditions for the fullest and freest develop-
ment of capitalism.


This was essentially the view of the Mensheviks. They therefore
advocated that the chief role of the working class and the Social
Democrats was to help the bourgeoisie carry out such a revolution,
to push ii from behind, as il were. Although advocating the inde-
pendent organisation of the workers in unions, a social democratic
party and, during the 1905 revolution, soviets (there is some evi-
dence that the Mensheviks were ihc first jwlitical group to call for
a mass, city-wide strike committee in St, Petersburg, which eventu-
ally became the Petersburg Soviet), the Mensheviks basically felt
that the workers should subordinate themselves to the bourgeoisie,
that the latter should have overall leadership of the revolution.
Some even warned of the danger of the workers pushing loo hard
(e.g., striking loo much for higher wages, threatening to take over
and run the factories, etc.), that this would frighten the bourgeoisie
and make ti pull back from a militant struggle against the Tsar,
gentry, etc.


The Bolsheviks, while accepting the bourgeois-democratic charac-
ter of the revolution, saw things differently. Instead of starting
from an abstract model of the bourgeois revolution, Lenin began
with a concrete analysis of the economic, social and political situa-
tion in Russia at the time. He was particularly aware of certain
“peculiarities” of Russian historical development: I) The Russian
slate, certaitily since around 1500, had been very strong and tended
to dominate Russian society, 2) Since the Lime of Peter the Great,
roughly 1700, the state had sought to encourage economic develop-
ment, through borrowing technology from Western Europe, as a
means of defending itself, 3} As a result, much of Russian industry
was built by and/or with the support of the state, and much was



state-owned, 4) Russian industry tended lo be concentrated in huge
enterprises, often employing thousands of workers (such as (he
giant Pulilov metalworking plant in St. Petersburg),


The result of these factors was that the Russian bourgeoisie
tended to be small, weak and greatly dependent upon the Tsarist
state, while the working class, in contrast, was proportionately
large and wcli-concentrated. Consequently, Lenin reasoned, rather
than leading the bourgeois-democratic revolution against the Tsar,
the bourgeoisie, at the first sign of independent and mi ii tan I mobi-
lisation of the workers and peasants, would side with the Tsar and
the nobility
against the workers and peasants and the revolution as
a whole, (All hough the capitalists were frightened of the large,
concentrated and oppressed working class, they also feared the mil-
lions upon millions of even more oppressed peasants, waiting to
wreak vengeance upon the landlords and seize the [and, and quite
willing to set fire to large portions of the countryside to do so.
This is what they did in 1917,)


The leadership of the revolution, Lenin concluded, would fall lo
the working class and, to a lesser degree, the peasants. It would be
they who would carry out the bourgeois-democratic revolution, not
only against the Tsar and the landlords,
bat aiso the bourgeoisie.

In the eyes of the Bolsheviks, then, the bourgeois-democratic
revolution was defined primarily hy the tasks that needed to be
carried out. e.g., overthrowing the Tsar, seizing the [and from the
landlords, establishing a democratic republic, etc., rather than by
being led by the bourgeoisie.


The specific vehicle for carrying out these tasks would be what
Lenin called the "revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the pro-
letariat and peasantry.” This was to be, roughly, a centralized,
revolutionary government, made up of parties representing the
workers and peasants respectively, and based on and supported by
the masses of workers and peasants. This dictatorship would be es-
tablished by armed insurrection. (The Bolsheviks actually attempted
such an uprising during the 1905 revolution, in Moscow in Decem-
ber of 1905.)


Although Lenin devoted many of his writings to various aspects
of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia, aside from a very
broad sketch, he never put forward a worked out conception of
what the "revolutionary democratic dictatorship” would Look like.
His failure, or refusal, to do so appears to have been motivated
mostly by the belief that il would be impossible to predict precisely





what would happen in the course of the revolution, that revolu-
tionaries should not try to cram the class struggle into some nar-
rowly-conceived mold and that, in any case, the Bolsheviks should
remain flexible.


Yet, in light of the detail Lenin wont into on questions of pro-
gram (e.g., the “agrarian” and "national” questions), party struc-
ture (he called for a reorganization of the party during 1905), and
tactics (a major focus of Bolshevik'activity during 1905 was the
formation of armed squads of workers), the failure to elaborate
the structure of the “revolutionary democratic dictatorship” is sig-
nificant. It is particularly noteworthy that the relationship between
the political parties, supposedly "representing” the proletariat and
the peasantry on the one hand, and the mass organizations of
these classes on the other, was never seriously raised or investi-
gated,


Lenin was also not very clear about what would happen to this
dictatorship once it had "carried the bourgeois-democratic revolu-
tion through to completion,” to paraphrase the Marxist language
of the period. He seems to have had two scenarios in mind, both
of which can be inferred from 71vo
Tactics of Social Democracy in
the Democratic Revolution,
a major work devoted to his concep-
tion of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia.


In one, the "revolutionary democratic dictatorship” would carry
out various steps (e.g.. overthrowing the Tsar, seizing the land
from the landlords, enacting the eight-hour workday) on its own
initiative, after which it would organize for elections, based on
direct universal suffrage, to a Constitucnt Assembly. Once this
assembly had gathered, approved the revolutionary measures
already taken and drawn up a constitution for a (bourgeois) demo-
cratic government, the parties constituting the "revolutionary dem-
ocratic dictatorship” would step down, in favor of a newly-elected
parliament and government. That Lenin took this scenario serious-
ly is suggested by various of his writings on the agrarian question
in which he advocates the relatively long-term development of Rus-
sian agriculture on U-S.-style (small, independent capitalist farmer)
rather than on Prussian (commercial landed estates) lines.


The second scenario follows the first, up to a point. Very tenta-
tively, and using only the most general terms, Lenin in
Two Tactics
writes that if the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia were
preceded, accompanied, or soon followed by one or more socialist
revolutions in Western Europe, the revolutionary parties making up





the revolutionary democratic dictatorship should seek to retain
power and begin taking up socialist tasks, e.g., expropriating the
capitalists, etc.


In other words, Lenin raises, very gingerly to be sure, the possi-
bility that under certain circumstances the bourgeois-democratic
revolution in Russia might begin to “grow over” into a socialist
revolution. Although this conception would later (during Stalin's
fight against Trotsky in the
1920b) become recognized "Bolshevik”
orthodoxy, from the lime it was written to early 1917, it had hardly
even been considered by the majority of Bolsheviks,


Our point in discussing Lenin’s conception of the "revolutionary
democratic dictatorship” was to assess to what degree this weakens
my argument that the Bolsheviks had generally advocated and pre-
pared themselves to carry out a bourgeois revolution, and that this
had a crucial impact in determining the politics and methods of the
Bolshevik Party,


Specifically, it can be argued that since the Bolsheviks had, since
1905, advocated a particular version of a bourgeois-democratic rev-
olution, that is, one led by the workers and peasants against the
bourgeoisie, it is not quite true to say that they had always planned
to carry out a bourgeois revolution in Russia,


Indeed, it can be argued that the bourgeois-democratic revolu-
tion as conceived by the Bolsheviks was a lot closer to a concep-
tion of a socialist revolution than a bourgeois one. This is why, so
Trotsky insisted, the Bolshevik Party was won so easily to Lenin’s
new perspective in April, 1917.


t would contend, however, that the stronger arguments go in the
other direction: I) That despite the new elements in Lenin's per-
spective of 1917 what he advocated remained largely within the
framework of his earlier conception, in other words, a bourgeois-
democratic revolution that, under certain circumstances, “goes be-
yond” the bourgeois-democratic "phase”; and 2) that what the
Bolsheviks actually did, looking at not just 1917, but the entire pe-
riod from 1917 to 1921, was to implement a version of the "revo-
lutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry,”
that is, to carry out a very specific, and very radical, kind of bour-
geois-democratic revolution.


As we know, in late October, 1917, the Bolsheviks, in alliance
with the Left Social Revolutionaries, seized political power at the
head of a workers’ insurrection (made possible by the peasants’
spontaneous seizure of the land), and set up a centralized dictator-





ship. Although this revolutionary government at first rested on and
was supported by the workers’ and peasants’ mass organizations, it
was not actually controlled by them. Believing that they were going
beyond the bourgeois-democratic revolution, the Bolsheviks sane*
tioned the workers’ seizure of the factories and then expropriated
the capitalists altogether. They dispersed tiie Constituent Assembly
and, after the Left SRs revolted against the terms of the Brest-
Litovsk peace treaty, concentrated all power into their own hands.
They also, in June, 1918, launched a campaign against the so-called
“middle peasants” in the name of extending the class struggle to
the countryside. In this sense, they did go beyond the “typical”
bourgeois-democratic revolution. But tlvey did not succeed in creat-
ing a true proletarian dictatorship, that is, a government actually
run by the workers for themselves. Instead, the Bolsheviks built a
government they believed was acting “in the interests” of the
workers, which is by no means the same thing,


(i may have rested upon the organizations of the workers, but in
its methods, e.g., its commitment to extreme centralization, its use of
a secret police to hunt counterrevolutionaries, and in its conception
of regimented, centrally-controlled economy run by decree from the
top, it was far closer to a Jacobin dictatorship (the dictatorship of
Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety, supported by the
oppressed “sans culottes” of Paris during the most radical phase of
the French Revolution) than to a true workers' government.


The fallacy in the Bolsheviks’ theory and practice, it seems to
me, is that (even within the framework of Marxism) the methods
and structure of a socialist revolution are not merely the logical ex-
tension of the structure and methods of the bourgeois-democratic
revolution. The dictatorship of the proletariat, supported by the
peasantry, is not merely the “revolutionary dictatorship of the pro-
letariat and the peasantry” going beyond the limits of the bour-
geois-democratic revolution.


Concretely, in a bourgeois-democratic revolution, the tasks
“appropriate to” that revolution can be carried out by a party, or
parties, that claim to represent the “non-feudal” classes, the bour-
geoisie, the peasants and the workers, if they exist. A government
of revolutionary intellectuals, for example, as long as it is sup-
ported by mobilized masses (sans culottes, peasants, workers) can
eliminate a monarchy, sanction the peasants’ seizure of the land,
the establishment of the eight-hour day, the calling of a constituent
assembly, etc.





In tliis sense, [his government, and the parlies participating in it,
if there are any, can be said to represent the progressive classes.
Once “feudal” or “semi-feudai” institutions arc dismantled or sig-
nificantly weakened, once the major obstacles to commodity pro-
duction and the accumulation of capital are eliminated, capitalism
develops spontaneously, ensuring the ultimate defeat of the reac-
tionary forces. Thus, during ihe Trench Revolution, many if not
most of the radical measures taken were not implemented by the
bourgeoisie, per se, but by essentially middle class intellectuals,
supported by the peasants and sans culottes, acting independently
of the bourgeoisie, And despite ihe fact that the Jacobins were
eventually overthrown and (he monarchy restored, the period of re-
action was temporary; capitalism conlinucd to develop and ihe
monarchy was eventually overthrown.


But in a socialist revolution, it is not sufficient for a party that
claims to represent (he working class to enact measures that are
supposedly in the workers’ interests and to concentrate ail power in
its own hands, it is not, in other words, sufficient for a dictator-
ship of one party to be supported by members of the class in
whose interests it claims to be acting, i.e., to rest on the mass or-
gan izaiions of the workers, such as soviets,


This government, if it is to remain or, better, become, a true
proletarian diclatorship, must increasingly come under the control
of the mass, democratic organizations of the workers. Instead, the
Bolsheviks believing they represtmcd the ini crests of the workers,
subordinated ihe soviets (and the factory committees} to them-
selves, withoul recognizing what I his meant. The result was not a
revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasan-
try moving toward being (he diclatorship of (he proletariat, but the
revolutionary democratic dictatorship that consolidated its own
power over and above the classes u claimed to lead.


Unlike the Jacobins, the Bolsheviks managed to fight off the
counterrevolution externally and internally, and also to defeat the
efforts of the workers and peasants to free themselves from the
dictatorship that claimed lo represent them {Kronstadt, the Petro-
grad strikes, the peasant uprisings of 1921). The result, in other
words, was a kind of permanent Jacobin dictatorship, a permanent
“revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and ihe the peasan-
try,” rather than the dictatorship of the proletariat or the triumph
of the old reactionary classes.


Tims, a deeper look al the third and best argument against my




proposition (the anti-bourgeois nature of Lenin's "revolutionary
democratic dictatorship") in fact reinforces my main point, that
the Bolsheviks advocated and sought to carry out a bourgeois revo-
lution throughout most of their history, and that this perspective
remained the Bolshevik de facto strategy even after the April Con-
ference in 1917. *


So, we return to our main starting point, F believe it is correct to
say that throughout the overwhelming part of its history prior to
the October Revolution, the Bolshevik faction /party advocated and
planned to carry out a bourgeois revolution and that, despite
Lenin’s new perspective of 1917 and the discussions in the party,
this never really changed. Moreover, I would argue that the funda-
mental nature of the party, its methods, ethos and style, were con-
sistent with, if not determined by, this. As we have discussed, the
party was never truly prepared to carry out a socialist revolution,
not just in the sense of a working class seizure of power but Lhe
construction of a true workers* state; it never even had a serious
discussion of the question.


More concretely, the party’s advocacy of a bourgeois-democratic
revolution had to have affected its composition. How many people
were attracted to the party specifically because they wanted to car-
ry out a bourgeois-democratic, rather than a proletarian, revolu-
tion? (To put it the other way around, how many people were
alienated from the Bolsheviks, as well as the Mensheviks, because
of their insistence that the revolution had to be bourgeois-demo-
cratic; how many people joined the various populist organizations,
such as the SRs, or the anarchists, because these advocated a full
socialist, or “social,” revolution?)


How many people joined the Bolsheviks because they were basi-
cally for economic growth and industrialization, which they per-
ceived to be the way to solve Russia’s poverty and backwardness,
and never gave two hoots about a truly worker-run society? How
many people were attracted merely by the thought of having power
and prestige, something that was totally closed off to them in Tsar-
ist Russia? How many had their vision of socialism distorted, at
the very least, by the failure of the Bolsheviks (and the Menshe-
viks) lo elaborate a conception of a revolutionary democratic
socialist society? How many people joined the Bolshevik Party, re-
mained active in it through the October Revolution and the Civil
War, participated in the post-war reconstruction, and joined in the
persecution of Trotsky, only to perish at Stalin’s hands because





they were never clear about what was the difference between a
workers’ state and a dictatorship of revolutionary intellectuals
believing they are acting “in the interests of’ the workers and
peasants?


The point is not to try to answer these questions specifically. The
point is to recognize that the Bolsheviks’ program, what it included
and what it excluded, had to have had an impact on who was at-
tracted to the parly, who remained with it, who got power in it,
etc. If we keep these questions and the point they imply in mind,
we can begin to get some answers to some of the questions raised
in the First installment, such as, how did Stalin get to be General
Secretary of the Party? why was he able to stand under Lenin's
mantle? why did so few Bolsheviks oppose him? etc., etc.


The answer, I think, lies in the recognition that the Bolsheviks
ultimately carried out what they had planned to ...a unique, very
radical type of bourgeois revolution.

-Two-





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