Monday, 5 May 2014

Socialism and Strategy: A Libertarian Critique of Leninism

Leninism is the very opposite of  Socialism Communism and anarchism  *** 

Socialism and Strategy: A Libertarian Critique of Leninism

Anthony Zurbrugg


"For the Bolsheviks, large scale industry was the foundation of socialism. Th is was set out
in their party programme. ‘We must promote the painless transition of this obsolete
form of production [in the home or on a small scale] into the higher forms of large-scale
machinofacture.’Luigi Fabbri condemned a belief that relied only on large scale factory
production; in his view according to circumstance, a mixture of large and small scale
production was appropriate and decisions in this matter should be taken by the workers

William Paul, of the British Socialist Labour Party
"When the revolutionary working class captures the State, when it overthrows
Capitalism, it will not, like all previous revolutionary classes, use the State to
enforce its will upon either a subject or an enslaved class. Since the working
class is both an enslaved and a subject class, and since there is no lower class
in society, its emancipation will mean the emancipation of all classes. The
triumph of the proletarian revolution will mean true economic and political
freedom; it will mean the abolition of all classes and propertied conflicts. The
revolutionary Socialist denies that State ownership can end in anything other
than a bureaucratic despotism. We have seen why the State cannot democratically
control industry. Industry can only be democratically owned and
controlled by the workers electing directly from their own ranks industrial
administrative committees. Socialism will be fundamentally an industrial
system; its constituencies will be of an industrial character. Th us those carrying
on the social activities and industries of society will be directly represented in
the local and central industrial councils of social administration....
When the central administrative industrial committee meets it will represent every phase of social
activity. Hence the capitalist political or geographical State, will be replaced
by the industrial administrative committee of Socialism. The transition from
the one; social system, to the other will be the social revolution. The political
State throughout history has meant the government of men by ruling classes;
the Republic of Socialism will be the government of industry administered on
behalf of the whole community. The former meant the economic and political
subjection of the many; the latter will mean the economic freedom of all – it
will be, therefore, a true democracy"

"There were challenges to patriarchal thinking in these times. In the Ukraine,
libertarians in the Nabat (Tocsin) youth organisation called for a struggle against
all forms of oppression, including: ‘A struggle against the existing family, which has turned us into deceitful hypocrites nourished on the poison of corruption'
Alexandra Kollontai nibbled away on the fringes of Bolshevik thinking, and wrote
about patrimony and free love; love that rejected possessiveness. Lenin, however,
rejected such thinking. He believed that in current circumstances, radical talk, talk
of free love especially, was ridiculous."

‘Nowadays all thoughts of Communist women,

of working women, should be centred on the proletarian revolution, which will lay

the foundation, among other things, for the necessary revision of material and sexual

relations. Just now we must really give priority to problems other than the forms

of marriage among Australia’s aborigines, or marriage between brother and sister

in ancient times.’(Lenin)

" It is now particularly clear to us how correct is the Marxist thesis that anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism are bourgeois trends, how irreconcilably opposed they are to socialism, proletarian dictatorship and communism."(Lenin)

"we must raise the question of applying much of what is scientific and progressive in the Taylor system"-Lenin

We must organise in Russia the study and teaching of the Taylor system and systematically try it out and adapt it to our own ends. At the same time, in working to raise the productivity of labour, we must take into account the specific features of the transition period from capitalism to socialism, which, on the one hand, require that the foundations be laid of the socialist organisation of competition, and, on the other hand, require the use of compulsion -Lenin

And yet it would be extremely stupid and ahsurdly utopian to assume that the transition from capitalism to socialism is possible without coercion and without dictatorship - Lenin

Dictatorship is iron rule, government that is revolutionarily bold, swift and ruthless in suppressing both exploiters and hooligans - Lenin

 If we are not anarchists, we must admit that the state, that is, coercion, is necessary for the transition from capitalism to socialism- Lenin

But be that as it may, unquestioning subordination to a single will is absolutely necessary for the success of processes organised on the pattern of large-scale machine industry. On the railways it is twice and three times as necessary. In this transition from one political task to another, which on the surface is totally dissimilar to the first, lies the whole originality of the present situation. The revolution has only just smashed the oldest, strongest and heaviest of fetters, to which the people submitted under duress. That was yesterday. Today, however, the same revolution demands—precisely in the interests of its development and consolidation, precisely in the interests of socialism—that the people unquestioningly obey the single will of the leaders of labour ---- Lenin
The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government  March-April 1918

"In August 1918 a conference of anarchosyndicalists condemned the downgrading of the infl uence of factory committees and saw state-capitalism as a ‘bureaucratic Behemoth’ using capitalist managerial practices."
"The Russian Marxism that emerged in symbiosis with the state embraced managerial power and rejected conceptions of workers’ management."
"After October a new system was burdened with the growth of an
unproductive, swollen and unpopular state apparatus. Party members received jobs in
this state apparatus, privileged rations, and other perks unavailable to most working
people. It was ‘jobs for the boys’ to use popular parlance. Many workers received
administrative jobs and became managers: they were co-opted into the new system."

But – as syndicalists had feared – the nationalisation of ownership in the workplace created not socialism, but a society ruled by managers. Piece-work and Taylorist labour relations were promoted as means to increase labour productivity. The status and authority of management in nationalised industry facilitated the reproduction of unequal relations empowering managers and disempowering workers, rewarding some more than others."

"Lenin drew on Engels who wrote: ‘The proletariat seizes the
state power and to begin with transforms the means of production into state property.
But it thus puts an end to itself as the proletariat, it thus puts an end to all class differences
 and class antagonisms, and thus also to the state as the state.’Trotsky argued
in similar terms: ‘The dictatorship of the proletariat is expressed in the abolition of
private property in the means of production, in the supremacy over the whole Soviet
mechanism of the collective will of the workers, and not at all in the form in which
individual economic enterprises are administered.’"

"In such arguments, socialism is equated with state property and nationalised
productive forces are deemed to be progressive. However, the nationalisation of
property did not by itself determine a progressive transformation of class and gender
relations. The proletariat was still constituted and reconstituted in everyday life in
work and society; class and gender antagonisms continued and were reproduced as
‘Soviet’ society empowered new layers of managers and subordinated workers and

It is true that circumstances were incredibly diffi cult. No strategy would have

been easy to implement. But the fact remains that Bolsheviks did not value critics, but
sought to crush them.66 Within the Russian Party and at Lenin’s behest opposition

factions were banned. Bolshevism allowed no space for doubts and made a virtue out

of necessity. Bolsheviks sought to export their thinking and mould others in their

image. In much of Western Europe, it was taken as axiomatic that they had been

successful and their model should be followed. Th e Th ird International did not accept

a pluralist model; from its early congresses it set out to promote its scientifi c socialism,

and ideology, as a world-wide model. Insofar as Bolshevism prioritised the construction

of a new state, it is useful to consider what forces were working within this new


Local Soviets were ceasing to be participatory

bodies and were becoming mere executive committees, now subordinated to central

government. Th e local state was more a cog in a centralised and bureaucratic nexus of

power, rather than a forum for working men – still less for women – to make decisions

on their own initiative, in co-operation with others. If non-conformists won

control of Soviets they were replaced. Th ere was a change of name as Ministries became

Commissariats, but not a change of organisational practice."

"Upon the Soviets, as organs of government, devolve the tasks of administration and service in all departments of local life " administrative, econoYnic, financial, and educational. 3. Under administration, the Soviets carry out all decrees and decisions of the central Government, take measures for giving the people the widest information about those decisions, issue obligatory ordinances, make requisitions and confiscations, impose fines, suppress counter-revolutionary organs of the press, make arrests, and dissolve public organizations which incite active opposition to or the overthrow of the Soviet Government. Note: The Soviets render a report to the central Soviet Government regarding all measures undertaken by them and important local events"- Decrees and Constitution of Soviet Russia

Soviets of Workmen's, Soldiers', and Peasants' Deputies, being local organs, are quite independent in regard to questions of a local character, but always act in accord with the decrees of the central Soviet Government as well as of the larger bodies (district, provincial, and regional Soviets) of which they form a part -  Decrees and Constitution of Soviet Russia

Malatesta :

It is possible to direct through advice and example, leaving the people –

provided with the opportunities and means of supplying their own needs

themselves – to adopt our methods and solutions if these are, or seem to be,

better than those suggested and carried out by others.

"Malatesta also called on his own particular organisation – the Italian Anarchist Union – to carry out certain delicate military preparations. Certain forms of organisation were more appropriate for particular tasks. The idea that varied forms of organisation were appropriate for distinct tasks would also develop in the feminist movement" "
Rudolf Rocker set out this conclusion to his survey of Bolshevism: ‘For all power to councils, and for nothing above councils! This is our slogan which will also become the slogan of the revolution.’"
"All sentimentality, all claptrap about democracy must be scrapped"-Lenin
"Malatesta believed that organisations do not last forever:
…the life and permanence of an organisation depends on how successful it has
been in the long struggle we must wage, and it is natural that any institution
instinctively seeks to last indefi nitely. But the duration of a libertarian organisation
must be the consequence of the spiritual affi nity of its members and of
the adaptability of its constitution to the continual changes of circumstances.
When it is no longer able to accomplish a useful task it is better that it should
Trotsky went as far as to say in 1924:
None of us desires or is able to dispute the will of the party. The party in the last analysis is always right, because the party is the single historical instrument given to the proletariat for the solution of its basic problems. I have already said that in front of one’s own party nothing could be easier than to acknowledge a mistake, nothing easier than to say: “All my criticisms, my statements, my warnings, my protests – the whole thing was simply a mistake.” I cannot say that, however, comrades, because I do not think it. I know that one must not be right against the party. One can be right only with the party, and through the party, for history has no other road for being in the right. The English have a saying: “My country – right or wrong.” With far more historical justification we may say: my party – in certain concrete cases – right or wrong ... And if the party adopts a decision which one or another of us thinks unjust, he will say: just or unjust it is my party, and I shall support the consequences of the decision to the end


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