Living Words from a Dead Russian

Borba100 at Borba100 at
Sun Dec 9 16:13:49 MST 2001

In a message dated 12/9/01 5:41:38 PM Eastern Standard Time, lnp3 at

 Nor did it [What is to be Done, by Lenin] have anything to do with "crimes"
as such >>

That's Lou, the spin-master's, neuterization of lenin.  Of course, every
polemic has a time and place, and thus conveniently one can dismiss Lenin's
point about the crucial importance of exposing every crime of the regime and
teaching working people about the true character of every force.  In this
instance, 9-11, the specific proof that the current ruling force is the worst
gangsters - that it lives by lies and murder .

Lenin's point cannot be obscured by Lou's weird 'marxism,' which puts great
significance on his relations with some obscure list (how many dozen posts?)
put bans, as "conspiracy theory" (Sic!) discussion of the burning question of
our time: did the U.S. ruling class attack "its own people" -  which if it
did - and it did - means that NOBODY in the world can trust them.  This
question has penetrated every strata of our society.  When I interviewed the
head of the Belgrade Faculty of Law recently about the constitutional court
ruling against the extradition of Milsoevic - it was THIS question which he
brought up, and then would not let me off the phone.  When I returned from
belgrade 30 days ago, a state policeman at the airportasked me: do you think
the government did it? And when I said: "why didn't the planes intercept as
they always do?" he said: "That is what everyone here is asking."

But this list should not discuss this.  It should discuss silly Lou's
expulsion from some silly list.  THAT is the burning question.  What a bunch
of bs.


 In reply to my argument that we must expose the U.S. Establishment as
criminals regarding 9-11, Mr. Holberg wrote:

<< As to the argument that we  have to prove that 9.11. was done by the
imperialists themselves and not the  oppressed, I'm not certain if this is
really necessary. I don >>

How about we have to prove it because it is TRUE?!

The use of many words can drown a simple point.

Here's the point: Serious politics is the art of proving to all of society
that one force in society deserves to rule and another does not.

This is understood by every successful political force, whether right, left
or center.

Perhaps the greatest book on "practical" politics of the 20th century,
appropriately entitled WHAT IS TO BE DONE, focuses on the all-important task
of exposing crimes. First let me offer an excerpt, and then the full passage.

Here is the excerpt:

"To catch some criminal red-handed and immediately to brand him publicly in
all places is of itself far more effective than any number of "calls"; the
effect very often is such as will make it impossible to tell exactly who it
was that "called" upon the masses and who suggested this or that plan of
demonstration, etc. "


This is the essence of teaching ordinary people that those in power do not
deserve to rule. Some, lost in abstraction, cannot seem to get close to this
simple truth: that nobody thinks of replacing a ruling class, let alone one
that heads up an Empire, unless he or she believes, in specific (not simply
general) ways that ruling class conssts of criminals and hence is drawn into

For example, it is crucial that the Argentinean worker raises his voice to
protest the crime committed against the workers of New York by the leaders of
this Empire - for in doing so, the Argentinean worker is saying: WE not THEY
deserve to rule. "We Argintineans, will protect the people of New York!"

This must be done in every country - even in those places where "people
already know how bad the U.S. establishment is" because if they fully knew
it, then the local flunkies of the U.S. Empire would not be in power. So they
do NOT already fully know it, it is just that we romanticize them somewhat.

If, as my dear friend Gorojovsky correctly points out, the workers in
Argentina "already" know that the U.S. establishment is capable of any crime,
and therefore they do not have to be shown that 9-11 was a crime carried out
by the U.S. rulers - then why is it that the Argentinean press devotes costly
pages to praising the U.S., to championing the "war on terror," to phony
commiserations with the victims of "foreign" terror in NY,. and so on, even
in the midst of a local crisis?


Precisely because they realize the necessity of DOING POLITICAL WORK among
"all strata" including the need to BLUNT the perception of the toothless but
very smart factory worker that "the U.S. establishment is capable of

We who want to fight this Empire must teach all who are dissatisfied
EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW about all forces so that they fully comprehend
the specific nature of the criminals who run this Empire (who live in and
around Washington and New York...and rule Argentina and Belgrade)

The Serb Socialists came in first in recent District elections. Excellent!
But why did the combined DOS forces - Kostunica's candidates plus the other
DOS parties - get more votes? Because despite the utter misery that the DOS
government has brought to Yugoslavia, MOST PEOPLE still buy the idea that the
US will somehow itntervene and solve their problems. In their minds they say
"The US rulers are bad, BUT..." And this is true even though the U.S. bombed
these people. This of course points to the weakness on OUR side - in
convincingly exposing the U.S. rulers and their local flunkies in specific
circumstances. And 9-11 is so important because if they do this to their own,
even to their own middle class, how can anyone expect them to be loyal and
kind to other countries?

To the Argentinean worker, the newspapers of the Establishment whisper, in
Spanish of course, "Perhaps the US rulers have been bad, often very bad,"
they tell our brainy factory worker, "but in THIS case they suffered. In THIS
case we must follow their lead."

Teaching the truth - especially about crimes - regarding current events -
about the actions of all forces - is what Mr. Lenin advocates. On the
opposing side, it is what the disinformation services of the U.S. government
and other rotten regimes fully understand as THEIR task. Alas, it is what the
politically inexperienced opposition FAILS usually to understand and which
the Establishment uses its massive forces (with a budget of over $30 billion
a year) to make sure they don't understand. In a fight for "minds" in which
one side don't fight, guess who wins?

Here is the full excerpt from Mr. Lenin. Anyone - anyone - who is serious
about ANY politics, and who has not read Lenin's "what is to be done," is
fooling him or herself. You can read the whole thing at

The rest is Lenin:

 In advancing against Iskra his theory of "raising the activity of the
working masses", Martynov actually betrayed an urge to belittle that
activity, for he declared the very economic struggle before which all
economists grovel to be the preferable, particularly important, and "most
widely applicable" means of rousing this activity and its broadest field.
This error is characteristic, precisely in that it is by no means peculiar to
Martynov. In reality, it is possible to "raise the activity of the working
masses" only when this activity is not restricted to "political agitation on
an economic basis". A basic condition for the necessary expansion of
political agitation is the organisation of comprehensive political exposure.
In no way except by means of such exposures can the masses be trained in
political consciousness and revolutionary activity. Hence, activity of this
kind is one of the most important functions of international Social-Democracy
as a whole, for even political freedom does not in any way eliminate
exposures; it merely shifts somewhat their sphere of direction. Thus, the
German party is especially strengthening its positions and spreading its
influence, thanks particularly to the untiring energy with which it is
conducting its campaign of political exposure. Working-class consciousness
cannot be genuine political consciousness unless the workers are trained to
respond to all cases of tyranny, oppression, violence, and abuse, no matter
what class is affected -- unless they are trained, moreover, to respond from
a Social-Democratic point of view and no other. The consciousness of the
working masses cannot be genuine class-consciousness, unless the workers
learn, from concrete, and above all from topical, political facts and events
to observe every other social class in all the manifestations of its
intellectual, ethical, and political life; unless they learn to apply in
practice the materialist analysis and the materialist estimate of all aspects
of the life and activity of all classes, strata, and groups of the
population. Those who concentrate the attention, observation, and
consciousness of the working class exclusively, or even mainly, upon itself
alone are not Social-Democrats; for the self-knowledge of the working class
is indissolubly bound up, not solely with a fully clear theoretical
understanding -- or rather, not so much with the theoretical, as with the
practical, understanding -- of the relationships between all the various
classes of modern society, acquired through the experience of political life.
For this reason the conception of the economic struggle as the most widely
applicable means of drawing the masses into the political movement, which our
Economists preach, is so extremely harmful and reactionary in its practical
significance. In order to become a Social-Democrat, the worker must have a
clear picture in his mind of the economic nature and the social and political
features of the landlord and the priest, the high state official and the
peasant, the student and the vagabond; he must know their strong and weak
points; he must grasp the meaning of all the catchwords and sophisms by which
each class and each stratum camouflages its selfish strivings and its real
"inner workings"; he must understand what interests are reflected by certain
institutions and certain laws and how they are reflected. But this "clear
picture" cannot be obtained from any book. It can be obtained only from
living examples and from exposures that follow close upon what is going on
about us at a given moment; upon what is being discussed, in whispers
perhaps, by each one in his own way; upon what finds expression in such and
such events, in such and such statistics, in such and such court sentences,
etc., etc. These comprehensive political exposures are an essential and
fundamental condition for training the masses in revolutionary activity.

Why do the Russian workers still manifest little revolutionary activity in
response to the brutal treatment of the people by the police, the persecution
of religious sects, the flogging of peasants, the outrageous censorship, the
torture of soldiers, the persecution of the most innocent cultural
undertakings, etc.? Is it because the "economic struggle" does not
"stimulate" them to this, because such activity does not "promise palpable
results", because it produces little that is "positive"? To adopt such an
opinion, we repeat, is merely to direct the charge where it does not belong,
to blame the working masses for one's own philistinism (or Bernsteinism). We
must blame ourselves, our lagging behind the mass movement, for still being
unable to organise sufficiently wide, striking, and rapid exposures of all
the shameful outrages. When we do that (and we must and can do it), the most
backward worker will understand, or will feel, that the students and
religious sects, the peasants and the authors are being abused and outraged
by those same dark forces that are oppressing and crushing him at every step
of his life. Feeling that, he himself will be filled with an irresistible
desire to react, and he will know how to hoot the censors one day, on another
day to demonstrate outside the house of a governor who has brutally
suppressed a peasant uprising, on still another day to teach a lesson to the
gendarmes in surplices who are doing the work of the Holy Inquisition, etc.
As yet we have done very little, almost nothing, to bring before the working
masses prompt exposures on all possible issues. Many of us as yet do not
recognise this as our bounden duty but trail spontaneously in the wake of the
"drab everyday struggle", in the narrow confines of factory life. Under such
circumstances to say that "Iskra displays a tendency to minimise the
significance of the forward march of the drab everyday struggle in comparison
with the propaganda of brilliant and complete ideas" (Martynov, op. cit., p.
61), means to drag the Party back, to defend and glorify our unpreparedness
and backwardness.

As for calling the masses to action, that will come of itself as soon as
energetic political agitation, live and striking exposures come into play. To
catch some criminal red-handed and immediately to brand him publicly in all
places is of itself far more effective than any number of "calls"; the effect
very often is such as will make it impossible to tell exactly who it was that
"called" upon the masses and who suggested this or that plan of
demonstration, etc. Calls for action, not in the general, but in the
concrete, sense of the term can be made only at the place of action; only
those who themselves go into action, and do so immediately, can sound such
calls. Our business as Social-Democratic publicists is to deepen, expand, and
intensify political exposures and political agitation.

A word in passing about "calls to action". The only newspaper which prior to
the spring events called upon the workers to intervene actively in a matter
that certainly did not promise any palpable results whatever for the workers,
i.e., the drafting of the students into the army, was Iskra. Immediately
after the publication of the order of January 11, on "drafting the 183
students into the army", Iskra published an article on the matter (in its
February issue, No. 2), [10] and, before any demonstration was begun,
forthwith called upon "the workers to go to the aid of the students", called
upon the "people" openly to take up the government's arrogant challenge. We
ask: how is the remarkable fact to be explained that although Martynov talks
so much about "calls to action", and even suggests "calls to action" as a
special form of activity, he said not a word about this call? After this, was
it not sheer philistinism on Martynov's part to allege that Iskra was
one-sided because it did not issue sufficient "calls" to struggle for demands
"promising palpable results"?

Our Economists, including Rabocheye Dyelo, were successful because they
adapted themselves to the backward workers. But the Social-Democratic worker,
the revolutionary worker (and the number of such workers is growing) will
indignantly reject all this talk about struggle for demands "promising
palpable results", etc., because he will understand that this is only a
variation of the old song about adding a kopek to the ruble. Such a worker
will say to his counsellors from Rabochaya Mysl and Rabocheye Dyelo: you are
busying yourselves in vain, gentlemen, and shirking your proper duties, by
meddling with such excessive zeal in a job that we can very well manage
ourselves. There is nothing clever in your assertion that the
Social-Democrats' task is to lend the economic struggle itself a political
character; that is only the beginning, it is not the main task of the
Social-Democrats. For all over the world, including Russia, the police
themselves often take the initiative in lending the economic struggle a
political character, and the workers themselves learn to understand whom the
government supports. [11] The "economic struggle of the workers against the
employers and the government", about which you make as much fuss as if you
had discovered a new America, is being waged in all parts of Russia, even the
most remote, by the workers themselves who have heard about strikes, but who
have heard almost nothing about socialism. The "activity" you want to
stimulate among us workers, by advancing concrete demands that promise
palpable results, we are already displaying and in our everyday, limited
trade union work we put forward these concrete demands, very often without
any assistance whatever from the intellectuals. But such activity is not
enough for us; we are not children to be fed on the thin gruel of "economic"
politics alone; we want to know everything that others know, we want to learn
the details of all aspects of political life and to take part actively in
every single political event. In order that we may do this, the intellectuals
must talk to us less of what we already know. [12] and tell us more about
what we do not yet know and what we can never learn from our factory and
"economic" experience, namely, political knowledge. You intellectuals can
acquire this knowledge, and it is your duty to bring it to us in a hundred-
and a thousand-fold greater measure than you have done up to now; and you
must bring it to us, not only in the form of discussions, pamphlets, and
articles (which very often -- pardon our frankness -- are rather dull), but
precisely in the form of vivid exposures of what our government and our
governing classes are doing at this very moment in all spheres of life.
Devote more zeal to carrying out this duty and talk less about "raising the
activity of the working masses". We are far more active than you think, and
we are quite able to support, by open street fighting, even demands that do
not promise any "palpable results" whatever. It is not for you to "raise" our
activity, because activity is precisely the thing you yourselves lack. Bow
less in subservience to spontaneity, and think more about raising your own
activity, gentlemen!

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