The national question, democratic tasks & Stalinism

Robert Malecki malecki at
Sat Oct 5 00:50:46 MDT 1996

>Bob M writes:
>>Any kind of marxist orientation goes right out the window when Adam starts
>>spouting his state capitalism (social imperialist?) line here. Of course the
>>death of Najibullah does not raise tears to the eye where as Richard starts
>>posting revolutionary arbituaries. But the difference between mullah
>>fundementalism and the "reforms" of the pro Soviet bureaucracy must and should
>>be defended by Trotskyists. In fact i am almost to the point where i could say
>>that even bougeois democracy could be defended against these Mullah
>>fundementalist taking us back to the middle ages.
>Whoa, Bob! Bourgeois democracy in a semi-colonial country is just a crazy
>utopia. That's the whole point of the theory of permanent revolution.

Yeah I know! You are right. It is just that i get enraged to see the
Stainists and the State caps with a position to the right of the imperialists!
>So we're confronted with imperialist occupation, Stalinist occupation, some
>version of petty-bourgeois nationalism or rule at gunpoint by sectarian
>warlords. None of which provide a solution. Slavery, slavery, slavery or
>slavery. It's a bit like the old conundrum of free trade or protectionism
>-- do you want to be skinned by a foreigner or one of your own?
>In semi-colonial countries, nothing will be solved unless the national
>question is solved first, but the democratic tasks of which this is the
>first can't be solved on a national bourgeois or petty-bourgeois basis any
>more. No bourgeoisie or petty-bourgeoisie is willing to lead a revolution.
>So the best you can get here is small armed groups with a petty-bourgeois
>ideology leading the proletarian and poor peasant masses in a revolution
>which contradicts itself by on the one hand overturning property relations
>(China, Cuba) and on the other forcing the mobilization to remain within
>national bounds and strangling any free development of workers' union and
>political organization. Then you get aborted revolutions like the one in
>Nicaragua which didn't even get near overturning property relations. The
>worst alternative you can see in Liberia and Afghanistan.

I subscribe to this too..
>This calls for a transitional strategy, agitating for the solution of
>democratic tasks, and mobilizing the popular masses behind the leadership
>of the working class. No other leadership will be able to provide a way
>forward that doesn't involve the masses capitulating to some insufferable
>tyranny or other. A working class leadership will also be the most
>effective when it comes to mobilizing solidarity abroad, both for getting
>help for the revolution at home and for spreading the revolution to other

In Afghanistan this struggle would have also been linked to a political
revolution in the Soviet Union.

>A demand that is absolutely necessary, first perhaps mainly as propaganda,
>but which as the revolution grows must become more and more agitational, is
>for a regional federation of socialist states.
>Adam writes:
>>>A political alternative to fundamentalism in Afghanistan will only
>>>become viable in the region when the working class in Pakistan,
>>>Iran, and the Muslim states in the ex USSR moves into action again.
>>>Stalinist politics, which we have seen here in the mourning of
>>>Najibullah, are an obstacle to this. In fact, by identifying socialism
>>>with a set of regimes which oppress ordinary muslims, Stalinist politics
>>>directly strengthens the various shades of fundamentalism.
>He's is right in so far as the repression of the voluntary exercise of religion
>is in violation of democratic rights. In countries such as he mentions,
>however, with the possible exception of the former Soviet Union, the
>existence of vast semi-proletarian strata of poor and pauperized people
>without the consciousness of industrial or even service workers must be
>taken into account. They are probably proletarians in the sense that they
>have nothing to lose but their chains, and only have the sale of their
>labour power to live by, but will be more likely to mobilize for democratic
>than socialist demands.
>It is fatal to ignore the power of national and democratic demands. Labour
>Militant misses this completely in its line on Ireland, for instance, and
>in its position during the Malvinas, which failed to give unequivocal
>support to the Argentine national and anti-imperialist demands, regardless
>of the vicious brutality of the Videla dictatorship that was leading the
>anti-British war.
>The Argentine experience shows how such a war can be a spark to ignite
>anti-regime mobilizations.
>>>[ And quite what Gary's "the gains they represented for the workers" means
>>>to some Uzbeck agricultural worker who has seen their country turned
>>>into a cotton plantation by Russian Imperialism I don't know. There is a
>>>more concrete basis to talk about "the gains they represented for the
>>>of your average liberal democracy. It doesn't make liberal democracies some
>>>none capitalist "workers state" , however large the quotation marks. ]
>Here is a very clear example of an incredibly contradictory mess, with the
>national question taking centre stage. One of the progressive aspects of
>the collapse of Stalinism in the Soviet Union was its unwitting solution of
>the problem of national oppression in a number of states. The gains of
>October benefited the oppressed nationalities of the Stalinist regime in
>the Soviet Union in an even more distorted and mediated way than they did
>the working masses in Russia itself. But I think that the working masses of
>these oppressed nations are realizing in the same way as the  rest what it
>means to swap the combination of a vicious regime and a *workers' state*
>(with an automatic place for every citizen in the means of production,
>state control of the commanding heights of the economy, the financial
>system and foreign trade, permitting planning over the whole economy,
>universal health and child care etc) for a combination of a vicious regime
>and the chaos of a state transitional between a workers' state and a
>restored bourgeois state.
>>>What I want to know is why the dregs of Stalinism, who have dissappeared
>>>from the real world, have rematerialised on m1 ? Don't you lot understand ?
>>>Your politics have died, gone, kaput. It's the end. You lot perverted the
>>>real meaning of socialism for 60 years and now it's all over. The CPGB
>>>understood this and had the good grace to commit political suicide. You lot
>>>are like the living hairs on a corpse.
>Or the worms in a zombie.
>But political ideas don't disappear that easily, as we have seen here.
>There are class roots to Stalinist principles and methods.
>There are still the sectarian joys of being a big fish in a little pond,
>but more importantly, as the examples of the SACP and the PCP-SL teach us,
>there are still real live gun-in-hand mass movements with completely
>Stalinist principles. Not to mention of course the BIG C in the East, and
>the little c in the West. The pressures of the bourgeoisie on the mass
>movement are of course enormous, and this together with the non-proletarian
>origin and petty-bourgeois way of life of many leaders of the labour
>movement and the lack of Bolshevik schooling in the mass movement for many
>decades means that there is a broad social base for ideologies of class
>collaboration, national limitations on workers' movements and comfortable
>bureaucratic routines of obedience and irresponsibility in politicial life.
>M1, unfortunately is more of a mirror than we might like to admit,
>reflecting (echoing might be a better image) the opinions of fairly
>important segments of the labour movement. Right now it's heavily
>overrepresented in terms of academics and Stalinists, but that's probably
>just a childhood disease, at least as far as the Stalinism is concerned.
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