The questions raised by Vladimir Bilenkin
hariette at easynet.co.uk
Mon Sep 23 17:00:11 MDT 1996
Vladimir completely misses my point and throws at me Marx's chapter and
verse alleging that I want to inspire the proletarian revolution in the
ruins of Greece and Rome. In fact, if he bothers to re-read what I wrote -
I was actually referring at what he called "ruins of socialism". That is
why - contrasting his attitude of dismissing real historic events for pie in
the sky Trotskyst historiography EVEN with the more practical attitude of
the bourgeois revolutionaries in regards to history and figures of the past
in relation to democracy and bourgeois liberty, I was merely trying to point
out that - contrary to his reckless dismissal of "ruins", these
revolutionaries at least understood the power of historical inspiration,
albeit, as I also pointed out, one in which "the class content of the
struggles were different"
However, I may, unwillingly and by badly constructing my own argument, have
indeed contributed to Vladimir's confussion using this phrase in refering to
him: "You are still immersed in this civilization and your attitude is that
of the intellectual, not the worker".
Obviously Bilenkin thought I was referring here to Classical civilization
and therein his references to Marx. I was in fact referring to socialist
civilization, one in which he - as well as all of us - are still immersed,
and in this respect the attitude of the worker and that of the intellectual
is certainly different.
Where Bilenkin - the idealist - sees "ruins", the worker sees evidence and
material proof of heroic attempts on the part of his own class to break the
chains of class society.
Where the petty bourgeois intellectual - he who departs from an ideal which
he considers unrealised and betrayed by conspiracies and dark forces - and
who one way or another perceives in socialism an "Animal Farm", the
conscious worker sees and perceives an unprecedented kind of society. A
society and a system created by his own class brothers, and whatever
insufficiencies and follies he discovers in those experiences, the conscious
proletariat perceives as those insufficiencies and follies of his own kith
For the proletarian with a sense of working class history, these attempts
are eminently susceptible of reconstitution and perfection, in accordance to
his practical and concrete mentality, so different in outlook from that of
the sanctimonious and idealistic intellectual hailing from the petty
That is because he or she has the standpoint of those very forces which - at
the cost of their own blood - established and developed the Soviet Union,
set China free from the milenary chains of feudalism and backwardness, shook
the ancient structures of Asia and awoke the national democratic revolution
of the colonial and oppressed countries in Africa and Latin America, and,
thus, with herculean efforts, made of the XXth Century the century in all of
human history in which the old world of class ridden society was turned
upside down like never before.
Such is the standpoint of the proletariat regarding the civilization in
which WE - Bilenkin as well as myself - are immersed. The civilization of
the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution, the era of the
overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the proletarian dictatorship, the construction
of socialism and the march to the classless society.
In this world of ours, the working class has no need of Habbabuk, nor
Pericles or Demostenes - in that, we are of course in agreement, and it
surprises me that Bilenkin could have thought I was referring to the ancient
civilizations in search for role models and historical inspiration for the
proletarian class struggle of today.
Moreover, the proletariat HAS ALREADY produced its own heroes and historical
events, its own LIVING HISTORY, fulfilling the admotions of Marx's chapter
and verse. Therefore, we should likewise note the fact that what Marx
speaks of as in the future, is already, in good measure, in the past for us
presently. It is our own living history, and not, in any way some grotty
Would Bilenkin speak, for example, of the "ruins of the Paris Commune" as he
does when he refers to the experience of LENIN AND STALIN as a "ruin",
recommending it be obliterated from the historical memory of the class in
favour of sheer idealistic moaning and groaning of the Trotskyst variety?
And that it is in FACT the historical experience of Lenin AND Stalin and not
that one he imagines - without a shred of reality - as that of Lenin and
Trotsky - since that was only a temporary collaboration as proven by the
very evidence of Lenin's long time assessment of Trotsky AND FUNDAMENTALLY
by historical perspective. It is then - from the standpoint of Bilenkin the
representative of the Trotskyst intelligentsia as oppossed to the standpoint
of the proletariat - quite understandable all this talks of "ruins" and this
dislike for historical continuity and the verdicts of the proletariat's own
Moreover, the Paris Commune, was also defeated, and many errors and
inconsistencies of its leaders, and even of the working masses themselves,
bear some responsability for that defeat too. So what? Does that mean we
should not praise and underline the overwhelmingly positive lessons and the
heroic attempt of the working class to remould the world in its own image?
The October revolution shook the world far deeper than the Paris Commune,
and if ultimately, albeit in my opinion temporararily, it has been
suppressed, it accomplished far in excess of Lenin's expectations fort it:
"several decades" in which the revolutionary wave of October was to
reverberate and shake the world.
Did it not? I think it did. Moreover, it left behind concrete and definite
proof that socialism can exist in practice and that it is certainly a system
superior to that of capitalism. What in Marx's time was merely a theory,
can now be said to have a rich practice, and therefore a HISTORY which we
are DUTY BOUND to defend and preserve, precisely because the bourgeoisie
aims to DISTORT, OBLITERATE AND DESTROY it in order to disarm the working
class and preserve their own class rule over them.
That is why only the petty bourgeois intellectual can speak dismissively of
"ruins", both in general terms insofar as to dismiss "ruins" altogether, as
of no use at all, as well as in referring specifically to the socialist
experience as "ruins", when in fact, far from being "ruins", these are part
of A LIVING AN ONGOING HISTORICAL EFFORT which is signed by a class position
and a class outlook, despite the temporary collapse of its super-structures.
In other words, the foundations are there, and they are good foundations,
upon which to build and enhance the future edifices of socialism and communism!
The conscious worker knows himself or herself as part of the NEW and last
class in history and follows the logic of the people - which I can resume in
Chairman Mao's words in this fashion: "Try and fail, try again, fail again,
try again, fail again until final victory".
It was, and is, in that sense in which I spoke of Bilenkin being "immersed
in that civilization". I hope this makes it clear to him.
As to his second point about the Trotskyst connundrum of a "degenerate or
deformed workers state" and his request for me to "explain" how would a
"workers state" pass into a capitalist state. He asks:
"It was on the ruins of the Soviet that Stalin erected a new
class society and its STATE which now has been easily INHERITED by
the restorationists and needed ONLY SLIGHT COSMETIC CHANGES before it
could be used by the protofascist clique now in power".
And of course the question can be throw back at him and ask him to explain
to us how - with no COSMETIC CHANGES whatever (because the form of Lenin's
state in no way differed from that of Lenin's and not even Trotsky has
claimed that to be the case) - could the Leninist (or Soviet) "worker's
state" be used by what he calls RESTORATIONISTS? And his answer cannot be
but to idealise the Soviet state under Lenin in order to denigrate the same
state - under the same class rule - under Stalin! Is that how the working
class is going to read its own living history? No. At most the worker
would say - correctly: Lenin was very good, and Stalin maybe was not so
good, but all in all, under their leadership things went well for us and the
bourgeoisie was thrown aback and our class and our cause advance
enourmously! That is what I mean by the standpoint of the proletariat!
And then he goes on:
"You claim to be a Marxist-Lenininst-Stalinist-Maoist, Adolfo. Could you
explain to us how could it happen in from the standpoint of Marx' and
Lenin's theory of the state? And should you try to avoid this question
by arguiing that it was not Stalin's state by 1985 could you
give us some concrete analysis of the difference between the two?"
Firstly I do not claim to be anything but a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist. It was
only because the Trotskyst gentleman Mr. Bilenkin - who today screams his
Trotskysm from the roof-tops was at one point denying it while in fact
advancing ALL the fundamental thesis of Trotskysm in which I said that I
would assume the consequences of my defence of Stalin and accept the label
that his enemies would in any case hang around my neck. But I hold that
there is no such a thing as "Stalinism", and that Stalin was a great
Secondly, I don't know if Bilenkin was here at the time, but I deal deal
precisely with this problem before at lenght, since it goes to the root of
the absurd - and idealistic - interpretation of the term "workers state" as
used by Trotskysts, and set upon to explain the correct Leninist
understanding of the "proletarian state" as a "bourgeois state without the
bourgeoisie", besides also the question of "state capitalism and its
relationship with socialism" and other themes which for me are settled issues.
Of course, once one understands the state which rises from the proletarian
revolution as a necessary "bourgeois excressence" which the proletariat is
both compelled, and able, to use in its class interests and in armed defence
of its class power (all kinds of state - within class society and in this
era - being by definition, either "bourgeois", or have -exceptionally - the
character of some other exploiting class) the whole metaphysics of the
concept of "deformed" and/or "degenerate workers state" is exposed for the
idealist icon it simply is and goes out of the window. Bilenkin ought to
look up in the record since to waste time in re-writing this all over again
is not a priority for me.
Sufficient to say that only if you understand the state of the proletariat
as a "bourgeois state without the bourgeoisie" can you explain the fact that
the bourgeosie, if it succeedds to grab hold of the levers of power of this
state can ALSO use it for fostering its restoration as a ruling class
without the need EVEN for cosmetic changes. The fact is that what Bilenkin
calls proto-fascists have no merely introduced cosmetic changes. They have
introduced a different system of power - a fascist
presidencial/parliamentary style form of Republic besides completely
diffrerent chains of command besides a totally different system of laws
which enshrine private property and the right of expoitation.
Indeed long preparation for these FUNDAMENTAL changes have taken place. But
not under Stalin, and there is where we differ. For Bilenkin, Stalin who
the bourgeoisie and those who implemented the preparations for this
restoration in the Soviet Union hate to the utmost, insult everyday,
denigrate, falsify, investing for this purpose thousands of millions in
propaganda and scribblers such as Orwell to spread around the world, is
guilty of having favoured the bourgeoisie in Russia.
However he accusses Stalin of the same crimes that the Russian bourgeosie
and the imperialist bourgeoisie always accuse him: To have killed millions
of kulaks (capitalists), to have killed tens of thousands of Polish
reactionary army officers, to have killed many thousands of saboteurs paid
by the Nazis and the imperialists, to have periodically suppressed the
bureacrats and the privileged class which tended to develop around the state
bureacracy with his "purgues" and his "persecution of religious and liberal
ideas, artistic freedom and all the other catchwords to describe the
bourgeois intellegintsia's "contribution" to the very restoration Stalin is
And from which standpoint does Bilenkin speak here? Was it not under
Khruschev that the "harsh Stalinist regime" was relaxed? Was not then
"freedom" for decadent ideas proclaimed in the former Soviet Union? Did not
the so called Stalinists (who were nothing but the disguised enemies of
Stalin) promoted every decadent capitalist trend in the former Soviet Union
under the signpost of "doing away with Stalin's legacy"? Was not Trotsky,
Bukharin, Zinoviev promoted by the Khruschovites too? Was not a "state of
the entire people" and "socialist democracy" as oppossed to Stalin's "coarse
dictatorship" boasted of?
Can anyone be surprised that Bilenkin saw Zugianov - the quintessential heir
of the Khruschovite brand of "Trostkysm" (entryism into Stalin's own
apparatus) - as a lesser evil than Yeltsin and advocated we all mobilised
HERE in defense of freedom against the fascists by taking the elctoralist
road on behalf of the very RESTORATIONIST bourgeoisie which rules Russia
today? No. I think there is an unbroken thread between his Trotskysm and
their restorationism - they are part and parcel of the anti-Stalin,
anti-proletarian policy of the revisionist bourgeoisie.
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