"Russian" questions

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Wed Feb 28 06:29:34 MST 1996

Jorn Anderson said, "But as I guess you do: Shouldn't a revolutionary
party, a party whose  main ambition is to advance the struggles of the
working class to the level, where it can "defeat the capitalist class" and
exercise workers power, shouldn't such a party be clear on the experiences
from the first and only time - yet - that such an attempt has succeeded?
(In Russia 1917.)"


First of all, Jorn, while I am on the topic of readibility, you should
make an effort to find out why your messages get preceded with a bunch of
garbage text. Doug Henwood complained about it and I find it to be a pain
in the ass as well.

Now, on to issues of substance.

If by clarity, you mean consensus around Tony Cliff's theory of
state capitalism, I say no. I have my theory of what went wrong and you
and Adam have yours. Tony Cliff and Alex Callinicos (who is one of my
favorite people) are very smart people (is Cliff still alive, by the
way?), but I will never in a million years subscribe to their notions of
the class nature of the USSR.

Your theory is *within Marxism* and so is mine. There is no reason a
theoretical magazine of a socialist party modelled on the Bolshevik Party
could not feature regular debates on such questions. Against the Current,
the magazine of the Solidarity group in the US regularly features such
debates, but let me close with some words from the founding statement of

"We believe that it is a mistake today to organize
revolutionary groups around precise theories of the Russian
Revolution. We want to be clear about what this means.

Precision, clarity and rigor are the highest of virtues in
developing theory and historical analysis; however, lines of
political demarcation do not flow in a mechanical and linear
way from differences of theoretical interpretation. Such an
approach leads to unnecessary hothouse debates on issues
where long-term discussion would be more in order. It also
contributes to the dynamics of factionalism and splits, which
in any case have been too high owing to our history of
misassessing the political realities of our own society."

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