Decline of KPFK

Mark Jones jones118 at lineone.net
Wed Jun 13 07:24:37 MDT 2001


Johannes Schneider wrote:

>you are the one who
> is outdated
> for years. All SWP publications are online.
>
> If there ever was a ban for SWP members  for particpating in elists, I
> highly doubt it. But even if so, it was never enforced. Even this
> very list
> has its 'IS representative' and the SWP and IS policies are dicussed here
> controversely.
>
You're right, I'm probably outdated. If the British SWP changed its stance,
that can
only be good. My general point remains. One leftwing academic  explained it
to me this way: people, he said, want to: "swivel a gun and blast
an academic ...We are all idiots, can't see
the facts, lazy, arrogant, fanatically cling to false models, we tyrannize
students who disagree with us, etc. Jeezus I never knew so many found
college so
traumatic. Even if all that is true no sane asshole would volunteer to
subject
himself to such a litany of his insufficiencies. It is the most tiresome
feature
of participating on listserves. There are no professional incentives for
participation on a listserve. Academics get no pay, no raises, no
acknowledgement, for their participation on listserves. The only thing that
counts is publications. So if I get in a big debate ... and "win" I still
lose."

At least this person was honest enough about his cynicism: there are no
career advantages in participating on listservs. There are plenty of
academic listservs which are very busy, but they are almost always in very
specialised areas and the discussions, however heated, tend not to spillover
into the public domain. Open lists like this one deeply irritate leftwing
academics because their very existence and the way they support and promote
debate, tends to challenges these salon-leftists, it undermines their star
status, and the monopoly of truth which tenured professors, broadcasters and
writers can exert, or imagine they exert, over their audience. Of course,
the salaries and status of acadmic staff, instructors, lecturers and all
kinds of non-tenured people, as well as tenured profs, has gone done a lot
(relative to other occupations) in the past 20 years and they are subject to
all kinds of corporate pressure, intense peer rivalry, the need to get
published and to satisfy the hierarchy, etc. This is why they are often so
full of self-pity and particularly resent being ALSO challenged by we
sans-culottes who are the one group who surely ought to still show respect.
In fact, the urge to be a star, a guru, the subject of mass fascination and
apostolic fervour, is the chief compensation these petit-bourgeois
intellectuals can hope for: especially those on the so-called left (or the
right, for that matter). But all of that has nothing whatever to do with the
creation of a true organic, marxist intelligentsia, consisting of people who
are worker-intellectuals and who seek to serve the movement and not to serve
themselves.

To be serious for a moment, this is the issue at the heart of not only the
creation, systematisation and trasnmission of knowledges, ie, the moment of
ideological reproduction in bourgeois society, but also the issue of how the
revolutioon must act to recreate the intelligentsia, and to construct wholly
new forms of science, and in the process to overcome the classbound division
of intellectual and manual labour which is the true source of these
problems..

As Michael Perelman put it: "Writing about the entertainment industry, Moshe
Adler has described a process whereby stars can emerge, even when they do
not significantly differ in talent from lesser lights.  According to Adler:
        [T]he phenomenon of stars exists where consumption requires
knowledge ....  As an example, consider listening to music.  Appreciation
increases with knowledge.  But how does one know about music?  By listening
to it, and by discussing it with other persons who know about it."  We are
"better off patronizing the same artist as others do. [Adler 1985, p. 208]
Adler concludes, "Stardom is a market device to economize on learning"
(Adler 1985, p. 208).
   Economists studying the selection of technologies have found a similar
phenomenon.  In the early stages of the development of a technology,
seemingly trivial accidents can determine which of several technological
paths is chosen.  Once industry becomes locked in to a particular
technological standard, it may continue to follow that line of development
even though hindsight shows that the neglected paths might have been
superior (see Arthur 1989).
   Without asserting that no significant variations exist in the talents of
early political economists, I believe that a similar process is at work in
the study of classical political economy.  Once the status of a book is
initially elevated, students are drawn into giving it a deeper
consideration.  A tradition gradually builds up around what become treated
as almost sacred texts.
   The reader of these works is brought into a multidimensional dialogue
that includes the authors under study, their times, and the collective
experience of earlier generations of readers of these texts.  In this sense,
"the real life of an author emanates from his readers, disciples,
commentators, opponents, critics.  An author has no other existence"
(Prezzolini 1967, p. 190; see also Latour 1987, p. 40)." [from the
Introduction  to The Invention of Capitalism: The Secret History of
Primitive Accumulation].


Lenin, of course, was not only certain that the intelligentsia must be
subordinated as a group to the working-class, he was also very keen to
specify in practical terms just how that ought to be done. We also ought to
think about the same issue, we ought to avoid hero-worshipping academic or
political "stars" and we ought to work to massify our revolutionary
intelligentsia, to create a real, organic marxist intellectual.

Here's what Lenin said on the subject:

Lenin on the role + work of Party media

 1. From WHAT IS TO BE DONE? Burning Questions of Our Movement

"We should dream!" I wrote these words and became alarmed. I imagined myself
sitting at a "unity conference" and opposite me were the Rabocheye Dyelo`
editors and contributors. Comrade Martynov rises and, turning to me, says
sternly: "Permit me to ask you, has an autonomous editorial board the right
to dream without first soliciting the opinion of the Party committees?"

He is followed by Comrade Krichevsky,  who  (philosophically  deepening
Comrade Martynov, who long ago rendered Comrade Plekhanov more profound)
continues even more sternly: "I go further. I ask, has a Marxist any right
at all to dream, knowing that according to Marx mankind always sets itself
the tasks it can solve and that tactics is a process of the growth of Party
tasks which grow together with the Party?" The very thought of these stern
questions sends a cold shiver down my spine and makes me wish for nothing
but a place to hide in. I shall try to hide behind the back of Pisarev.

 "There are rifts and rifts," wrote Pisarev of the rift between dreams and
reality. 'My dream may run ahead of the natural march of events or may fly
off at a tangent in a direction in which no natural march of events will
ever proceed. In the first case my dream will not cause any harm; it may
even support and augment the energy of the working men. . . . There is
nothing in such dreams that would distort or paralyse labour-power. On the
contrary, if man were completely deprived of the ability to dream in this
way, if he could not from time to time run ahead and mentally conceive, in
an entire and completed picture, the product to which his hands are only
just beginning to lend shape, then I cannot at all imagine what stimulus
there would be to induce men to undertake and complete extensive and
strenuous work in the sphere of art science and practical endeavour[0]. The
rift between dreams and reality causes no harm if only the person dreaming
believes seriously in his dream, if he attentively observes life, compares
his observations with his castles in the air and if generally speaking  he
works conscientiously for the achievement of his fantasies. If there is some
connection between dreams and life then all is well._ Of this kind of
dreaming there is unfortunately too little in our movement. And the people
most responsible for this are those who boast of their sober views, their
_closeness_ to the _concrete_,  the representatives of legal criticism and
of illegal _tailism_

Written between the autumn of 1901 and February 1902 Collected Works, Vol.
5, pp. 509-10

2. PARTY ORGANISATION AND PARTY LITERATURE

The new conditions for Social-Democratic work in Russia which have arisen
since the October revolution have brought the question of party literature
to the fore. The distinction between the illegal and the legal press, that
melancholy heritage of the epoch of feudal, autocratic Russia, is beginning
to disappear. It is not yet dead, by a long way. The hypocritical government
of our Prime Minister is still running amuck, so much so that Izvestia
Soveta Rabochikh Deputatov  is printed "illegally"; but apart from bringing
disgrace on he government, apart from striking further moral blows at it,
nothing comes of the stupid attempts to "prohibit" that which the government
is powerless to thwart. So long as there was a distinction between the
illegal and the legal press, the question of the party and non-party press
was decided extremely simply and in an extremely false and abnormal way.

The entire illegal press was a party press, being published by organisations
and run by groups which in one way or another were linked with groups of
practical party workers. The entire legal press was non-party-since parties
were banned-but it "gravitated" towards one party or another. Unnatural
alliances, strange "bed-fellows" and false cover-devices were inevitable.
The forced reserve of those who wished to express party views merged with
the immature thinking or mental cowardice of those who had not risen to
these views and who were not, in effect, party people. An accursed period of
Aesopian language, literary bondage, slavish speech, and ideological
serfdom! The proletariat has put an end to this foul atmosphere which
stifled everything living and fresh in Russia. But so far the proletariat
has won only half freedom for Russia. The revolution is not yet completed.

While tsarism is no longer strong enough to defeat the revolution the
revolution is not yet strong enough to defeat tsarism. And we are living in
times when everywhere and in everything there operates this unnatural
combination of open forthright, direct and consistent party spirit with an
underground, covert, ''diplomatic" and dodgy _legality_. This unnatural
combination makes itself felt even in our newspaper: for all Mr  Guchkov_s
witticisms about Social-Democratic tyranny forbidding the publication of
moderate liberal-bourgeois newspapers,  the  fact  remains  that Proletary,
the Central Organ of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party still
remains outside the locked doors of autocratic police-ridden Russia. Be that
as it may, the half way revolution compels all of us to set to work at once
organising the whole thing on new lines. Today literature, even that
published legally, can be nine-tenths party literature. It must become party
literature. In contradistinction to bourgeois customs, to the profit-making
commercialised bourgeois press, to bourgeois literary careerism and
individualism, "aristocratic anarchism" and drive for profit the socialist
proletariat must put forward the principle of party literature, must develop
this principle and put it into practice as fully and  completely as
possible. What is this principle of party literature? It is not simply that,
for the socialist proletariat, literature cannot be a means of enriching
individuals or groups  it cannot in fact, be an individual undertaking,
independent of the common cause of the proletariat. Down with non partisan
writers! Down with literary supermen! Literature must become part of the
common cause of the proletariat,  _a cog and a screw_  of one single great
Social-Democratic mechanism set in motion by the entire politically
conscious vanguard of the entire working class. Literature must become a
component of organised planned and integrated Social-Democratic Party work.
"All comparisons are lame"  says a German proverb.

So is my comparison of literature with a cog, of a living movement with a
mechanism. And I daresay there will ever be hysterical intellectuals to
raise a howl about such a comparison, which degrades, deadens,
"bureaucratises" the free battle of ideas, freedom of criticism, freedom of
literary creation, etc., etc. Such outcries, in point of fact, would be
nothing more than an expression of bourgeois-intellectual individualism.
There is no question that literature is least of all subject to mechanical
adjustment or levelling, to the rule of the majority over the minority.
There is no question, either, that in this field greater scope must
undoubtedly be allowed  for  personal  initiative, individual inclination,
thought and fantasy, form and content. All this is undeniable; but all this
simply shows that the literary side of the proletarian party cause cannot be
mechanically identified with its other sides. This, however, does not in the
least refute the proposition, alien and strange to the bourgeoisie and
bourgeois democracy, that literature must by all means and necessarily
become an element of Social-Democratic Party work, inseparably bound up with
the other elements. Newspapers must be-come the organs of the various party
organisations, and their writers must by all means become members of these
organisations. Publishing and distributing centres, book-shops and
reading-rooms, libraries and similar establishments-must all be under party
control.

The organised socialist proletariat must keep an eye on all this work,
supervise it in its entirety, and, from beginning to end, without any
exception, infuse into it the life-stream of the living proletarian cause,
thereby cutting the ground from under the old, semi-Oblomov, semi-shopkeeper
Russian principle: the writer does the writing, the reader does the reading.
We are not suggesting, of course, that this transformation of literary work,
which has been defiled by the Asiatic censorship and the European
bourgeoisie, can be accomplished all at once. Far be it from us to advocate
any kind of standardised system, or a solution by means of a few decrees.
Cut-and-dried schemes are least of all applicable here.

What is needed is that the whole of our Party, and the entire
politically-conscious Social-Democratic proletariat throughout Russia,
should become aware of this new problem, specify it clearly and everywhere
set about solving it. Emerging from the captivity of the feudal censorship,
we have ho desire to become, and shall not become, prisoners of'
bourgeois-shopkeeper literary relations. We want to establish, and we shall
establish, a free press, free not simply from the police, but also from
capital, from careerism, and what is more, free from bourgeois anarchist
individualism. These last words may sound paradoxical, or an affront to the
reader. What! some intellectual, an ardent champion of liberty, may shout.

What, you want to impose collective control on such a delicate, individual
matter as literary work! You want workmen to decide questions of science,
philosophy, or aesthetics by a majority of votes! You deny the absolute
freedom of absolutely individual ideological work!
Calm yourselves, gentlemen! First of all, we are discussing party literature
and its subordination to party control. Everyone is free to write and say
whatever he likes, without any restrictions. But every voluntary association
(including the party) is also free to expel members who use the name of the
party to advocate anti-party views. Freedom of speech and the press must be
complete. But then freedom of association must be complete too. I am bound
to accord you in the name of free speech, the full right to shout, lie and
write to your heart's content. But you are bound to grant me, in the name of
freedom of association, the right to enter into, or withdraw from,
association with people advocating this or that view. The party is a
voluntary association, which would inevitably break up, first ideologically
and then physically, if it did not cleanse itself of people advocating
anti-party views. And to define the border-line between party and anti-party
there is the party programme,  the  party's  resolutions  on  tactics  and
its rules and, lastly, the entire experience of international
Social-Democracy, the voluntary international associations of the
proletariat, which has constantly brought into its parties individual
elements and trends not fully consistent, not completely Marxist and not
altogether correct and which, on the other hand. has constantly conducted
periodical "cleansings" of its ranks. So it will be with us too, supporters
of bourgeois "freedom of criticism", within the Party. We are now becoming a
mass party all at once, changing abruptly to an open organisation, and it is
inevitable that we shall be joined by many who are inconsistent (from the
Marxist standpoint), perhaps we shall be joined even by some Christian
elements, and even by some mystics. We have sound stomachs and we are
rock-like Marxists. We shall digest those inconsistent elements.

Freedom of thought and freedom of criticism within the Party will never make
us forget about the freedom of organising people into those voluntary
associations known as parties.

Secondly, we must say to you bourgeois individualists that your talk about
absolute freedom is sheer hypocrisy. There can be no real and effective
"freedom" in a society based on the power of money, in a society in which
the masses of working people live in poverty and the handful of rich live
like parasites.

Are you free in relation to your bourgeois publisher, Mr. Writer, in
relation to your bourgeois public, which demands that you provide it with
pornography in novels and paintings, and prostitution as a "supplement" to
"sacred" scenic art? This absolute freedom is a bourgeois or an anarchist
phrase (since, as a world outlook, anarchism is bourgeois philosophy turned
inside out). One cannot live in society and be free from society. The
freedom of the bourgeois writer, artist or actress is simply masked (or
hypocritically masked) dependence on the money-bag, on corruption, on
prostitution. And we socialists expose this hypocrisy and rip off the false
labels, not in order to arrive at a non-class literature and art (that will
be possible only in a socialist extra-class society), but to contrast this
hypocritically free literature, which is in reality linked to the
bourgeoisie, with a really free one that will be openly linked to the
proletariat. It will be a free literature, because the idea of socialism and
sympathy with the working people, and not greed or careerism, will bring
ever new forces to its ranks. It will be a free literature, because it will
serve, not some satiated heroine, not the bored "upper ten thousand"
suffering from fatty degeneration, but the millions and tens of millions of
working people-the flower of the country, its strength and its future. It
will be a free literature, enriching the last word in the revolutionary
thought of mankind with the experience and living work of the socialist
proletariat bringing about permanent interaction between the experience of
the past (scientific socialism the completion of the development of
socialism from its primitive utopian forms) and the experience of the
present (the present struggle of the worker comrades) To work, then
comrades!  We are faced with a new and difficult task.  But it is a noble
and grateful one -  to organise a broad multiform and varied literature
inseparably linked  with the Social Democratic working class movement. All
Social Democratic literature must become Party literature. Every newspaper,
journal, publishing house, etc., must immediately set about reorganising its
work, leading up to a situation in which it will in one form or another, be
integrated into one Party organisation or another. Only then will  Social
Democratic  literature really become worthy of that name, only then will it
be able to fulfil its duty and even within the framework of bourgeois
society break out of bourgeois slavery and merge with the movement of the
really advanced and thoroughly revolutionary class.
Novaya Zhizn No. 12, November 13, 1905 Signed:	N. Lenin
Collected Works, Vol.10, pp.44-49 [from _Lenin on Literature and Art_ p22,
Moscow, 1967]

 3. TO A. V. LUNACHARSKY

Aren't you ashamed of yourself voting for the publication of Mayakovsky's
"150,000,000" in 5,000 copies? Nonsensical, stupid, sheer stupidity and
affectation 170 I think that only one out of ten such things should be
printed and in no more than 1,500 copies for libraries and cranks. And
Lunacharsky ought to be flogged for his futurism.

Written on May 6,1921 First published in 1957

Collected Works, Fifth Russian Edition, Vol.52, p.179
[ibid., p. 216]
4. TO G. MYASNIKOV
August 5, 1921 Comrade Myasnikov, I have only just managed to read both your
articles. I am unaware of the nature of the speeches you made in the Perm (I
think it was Perm) organisation and of your conflict with it. I can say
nothing about that; it will be dealt with by the Organisation Bureau, which,
I hear, has appointed a special commission. My object is a different one: it
is to appraise your articles as literary and political documents. They are
interesting documents. Your main mistake is, I think, most clearly revealed
in the article "Vexed Questions". And I consider it my duty to do all I can
to try to convince you. At the beginning of the article you make a correct
application of dialectics. Indeed whoever fails to understand the
substitution of the slogan of civil peace for the slogan of ' civil war
lays himself open to ridicule  if nothing worse. In this you are right. But
precisely because you are right on this point I am surprised that in drawing
your conclusions you should have forgotten the dialectics which you yourself
had properly applied. 'Freedom of the press, from the monarchists to the
anarchists, inclusively"[0]..  Very good! But just a minute: every Marxist
and every worker who ponders over the four years' experience of our
revolution will say, "Let's look into this--what sort of freedom of the
press? What for? For which class?" We do not believe in "absolutes". We
laugh at "pure democracy_. The "freedom of the press" slogan became a great
world slogan at the close of the Middle Ages and remained so up to the
nineteenth century. Why? Because it expressed the ideas of the progressive
bourgeoisie, i.e., its struggle against kings and priests, feudal lords and
landowners. No country in the world has done as much to liberate the masses
from the influence of priests and landowners as the R.S.F.S.R. has done, and
is doing. We have been performing this function of "freedom of the press"
better than anyone else in the world. All over the world, wherever there are
capitalists, freedom of the press means freedom to buy up newspapers, to buy
writers, to bribe, buy and fake "public opinion" for the benefit of the
bourgeoisie. This is a fact. No one will ever be able to refute it. And what
about us? Can anyone deny that the bourgeoisie in this country has been
defeated, but not destroyed? That it has gone into hiding? Nobody can deny
it. Freedom of the press in the R.S.F.S.R., which is surrounded by the
bourgeois enemies of the whole world, means freedom of political
organisation for the bourgeoisie and its most loyal servants, the Mensheviks
and Socialist-Revolutionaries. This is an irrefutable fact. The bourgeoisie
(all over the world) is still very much stronger than we are. To place in
its hands yet another weapon like freedom of political organisation
(=freedom of the press, for the press is the core and foundation of
political organisation) means facilitating the enemy's task, means helping
the class enemy. We have no wish to commit suicide, and therefore, we will
not do this. We clearly see this fact: "freedom of the press" means in
practice that the international bourgeoisie will immediately buy up hundreds
and thousands of Cadet, Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik writers, and
will organise their propaganda and fight against us. That is a fact. "They"
are richer than we are and will buy a "force'' ten times larger than we
have, to fight us. No, we will not do it; we will not help the international
bourgeoisie. How could you descend from a class appraisal -   from the
appraisal of the relations between all classes  - to the sentimental
philistine appraisal? This is a mystery to me. On the question of  _civil
peace or civil war_, on the question of how we have won over and will
continue to ''win over'', the peasantry (to the side of the proletariat) on
these two key world questions (=  questions that affect the very substance
of world politics), on these questions (which are dealt with in both your
articles) you were able to take the Marxist standpoint instead of the
philistine sentimental standpoint. You did take account of the relationships
of all classes in a practical, sober way.

And suddenly you  slide down  into   the  abyss  of sentimentalism! "Outrage
and abuses are rife in this country  freedom of the press will expose
them._ That, as far as I can judge from your two articles, is where you
slipped up. You have allowed yourself to be depressed by certain sad and
deplorable facts and lost the ability soberly to appraise the forces.
Freedom of the press will help the force of the world bourgeoisie. That is a
fact "Freedom of the press" will not help to purge the Communist Party in
Russia of a number of its weaknesses, mistakes misfortunes and maladies (it
cannot be denied that there is a spate of these maladies) because this is
not what the world bourgeoisie wants. But freedom of the press will be a
weapon in the hands of this world bourgeoisie. It is not dead; it is alive.
It is lurking nearby and watching it has already hired Milyukov, to whom
Chernov and Martov  (partly because of their stupidity, and partly because
of factional spleen against us, but mainly because of the objective logic of
their petty bourgeois-democratic position) are giving _faithful and loyal_
service. You took the wrong fork in the road. You wanted to cure the
Communist Party of its maladies and have snatched at a drug that will cause
certain death -- not at your hands, of course, but at the hands of the world
bourgeoisie (+Milyukov+Chernov+Martov). You forgot a minor point, a very
tiny point, namely: the world bourgeoisie and its "freedom" to buy up for
itself newspapers, and centres of political organisation. No, we will not
take this course. Nine hundred out of	every thousand politically-conscious
workers will refuse to take this course. We have many maladies.

Mistakes (our common mistakes, all of us have made mistakes, the Soviet of
Labour and Defence, the Soviet of People's Commissars and the Central
Committee) like those we made in distributing fuel and food in the autumn
and winter of 1920 (those were enormous mistakes!) have greatly aggravated
the maladies springing from our situation. Want and calamity abound. They
have been terribly intensified by the famine of 1921. It will cost us a
supreme effort to extricate ourselves, but we will get out, and have already
begun to do so.

We will extricate ourselves, for, in the main, our policy is a correct one,
and takes into account all the class forces on an international scale. We
will extricate ourselves because we do not try to make our position look
better than it is. We realise all the difficulties. We see all the maladies,
and are taking measures to cure them methodically, with  perseverance, and
without giving way to panic. You have allowed panic to get the better of
you; panic is a slope-once you stepped on it you slid down into a position
that looks very much as if you are forming a new party, or are about to
commit suicide. You must not give way to panic. Is there any isolation of
the Communist Party cells from the Party? There is. It is an evil, a
misfortune, a malaise. It is there. It is a severe ailment.

We can see it. It must be cured by proletarian and Party measures and not by
means of "freedom" (for the bourgeoisie). Much of what you say about
reviving the country's economy, about mechanical ploughs, etc., about
fighting for "influence" over the peasantry, etc., is true and useful. Why
not bring this out separately? We shall get together and work harmoniously
in one party.

The benefits will be great; they will not come all at once, but very slowly.
Revive the Soviets; secure the co-operation of non-Party people; let
non-Party people verify the work of Party members: this is absolutely right.
No end of work there, and it has hardly been started. Why not amplify this
in a practical way? In a pamphlet for the Congress? Why not take that up?
Why be afraid of spade work (denounce abuses through the Central Control
Commission, or the Party press, Pravda)? Misgivings about slow, difficult
and arduous spade work cause people to give way to panic and to seek an
"easy" way out: "freedom of the press" (for the bourgeoisie). Why should you
persist in your mistake-an obvious mistake-in your non-Party,
anti-proletarian slogan  of "freedom of the press"? Why not take up the less
"brilliant" (scintillating with bourgeois brilliance) spade work of driving
out abuses, combating them, and helping non-Party people in a practical and
business-like way?

Have you ever brought up any particular abuse to the notice of the C.C., and
suggested a definite means of -eradicating it? No, you have not. Not a
single time. You saw a spate of misfortunes and maladies, gave way to
despair and rushed into the arms of the enemy, the bourgeoisie ("freedom of
the press" for the bourgeoisie). My advice is: do not give way to despair
and panic. We, and those who sympathise with us, the workers and peasants,
still have an immense reservoir of strength. We still have plenty of health
and vigour. We are not doing enough to cure our ailments. We are not doing a
good job of practising the slogan: promote non-Party people let non Party
people verity the work of Party members. But we can, and w]ll, do a hundred
times more in this	field than we are doing. I hope that after thinking this
over carefully you will not, out of false pride persist in an obvious
political mistake ("freedom of the press' ), but, pulling yourself together
and overcoming the panic, will get down to practical work: help to establish
ties with non-Party people, and help non-Party people to verify the work of
Party members. There can be no end of work in this field. Doing this work
you can (and should) help to cure the disease, slowly but surely, instead of
chasing after will-o_-the-wisps like _freedom of the press_.
With communist greetings,
Lenin
Published in 1921 CW, Vol. 32, pp 504-09
[ibid., pp 215-220]

5. From SUMMING UP SPEECH AT THE THIRD ALL-RUSSIA CONGRESS OF SOVIETS OF
WORKERS', SOLDIERS' AND PEASANTS' DEPUTIES

January 18 (31), 1918
Of course, the working people had no experience in government but that does
not scare us. The victorious proletariat looks out on a land that has now
become a public good, and it will be quite able to organise the new
production and consumption on socialist lines. In the old days, human
genius, the brain of man, created only to give some the benefits of
technology and culture, and to deprive others of the bare necessities,
education and development. From now on all the marvels of science and the
gains of culture belong to the nation as a whole, and never again will man's
brain and human genius be used for oppression and exploitation. Of this we
are sure, so shall we not dedicate ourselves and work with abandon to fulfil
this greatest of all historical tasks? The working people will perform this
titanic historical feat, for in them lie dormant the great forces of
revolution, renaissance and renovation. Published in Izvestia No. 15,
Collected Works, January 20, 1918	VM. 26, pp.481-482 and Pravda No.15,
February 2 (January 20), 1918

6. THE CHARACTER OF OUR NEWSPAPERS

Far too much space is being allotted to political agitation on outdated
themes  to political ballyhoo  and far too little to the building of the new
life to the facts about it Why, instead of turning out 200 400 lines  don't
we write twenty -- even ten lines on such simple generally known, clear
topics with which the people die already fairly well acquainted like the
foul treachery of the Mensheviks-the lackeys of the bourgeoisie--the
Anglo-Japanese invasion forces that have imposed the right of capital--the
American multimillionaires baring their fangs against Germany, etc etc We
must bring out the whole thing and note every new fact in this sphere but ee
need not write long articles and repeat 100 arguments; what is needed is to
condemn in just a few lines "in telegraphic style" the latest manifestation
of the old known and already evaluated politics.

The bourgeois press in the  good old bourgeois times never mentioned the
holy of holies--the conditions in privately-owned factories in the private
enterprises, in the custom which fitted in with the interests of the
bourgeoisie. We must radically break with it. We have not broken with it. So
far our type of newspaper has not changed as it should in a society in
transition from capitalism to socialism. Less politics. Politics has been
elucidated fully and reduced to a struggle between the two camps--the
insurrectionary proletariat and the handful of capitalist slave owners (with
the whole gang, right down to the Mensheviks and others). We may, and I
repeat, we must, speak very briefly about these politics. More economics.
But not in the sense of "general" discussions, learned reviews, intellectual
plans and similar piffle, for, I regret to say, they are all too often just
piffle and nothing more. By economics we mean the gathering, careful
checking and study of the facts of the actual organisation of the new life.
Have real successes been achieved by big factories, agricultural communes,
the Poor Peasants' Committees, and local Economic Councils in building up
the new economy?

What, precisely, are these successes? Have they been verified? Are they not
fables, boasting, intellectual promises ("things are moving", "the plan has
been drawn up", "we are getting under way", "we now vouch for", "there is
undoubted improvement", and other charlatan phrases of which "we" are such
masters) ? How have the successes been achieved? What must be done to extend
them? Where is the black list with the names of the lagging factories  which
since nationalisation  have  remained models of disorder, disintegration,
dirt, hooliganism and parasitism? Nowhere to be found. But there are such
factories. We shall not be able to do our duty unless we wage war against
these "guardians of capitalist traditions". We shall be jellyfish, not
Communists, as long as we tolerate such factories. We have not learned to
wage the class struggle in the newspapers as skilfully as the bourgeoisie
did.

Remember the skill with which it hounded its class enemies in the press,
ridiculed them, disgraced them, and tried to sweep them away. And we?
Doesn't the class struggle in the epoch of the transition from capitalism to
socialism take the form of safeguarding the interests of the working class
against the few, the groups and sections of workers who stubbornly cling to
capitalist traditions and continue to regard the Soviet state iii the old
way: work as little and as badly as they can and grab as much money as
possible from the state. Aren't there many such scoundrels, even among the
compositors in Soviet printing works, among the Sormovo and Putilov workers,
etc.? How many of them have we found, how many have we exposed and how many
have we pilloried? The press is silent. And if it mentions the subject at
all it does so in a stereotyped, official way, not in the manner of a
revolutionary press, not as an organ of the dictator-ship of a class
demonstrating that the resistance of the capitalists and of the parasites
the custodians of capital traditions  will be crushed with an iron hand. The
same with the army. Do we harass cowardly or inefficient officers? Have we
denounced the really bad regiments to the whole of Russia? Have we  caught
enough of the bad types who should be removed from the army with the
greatest publicity for unsuitability, carelessness, procrastination etc? We
are not yet waging an effective ruthless and truly revolutionary war against
the specific wrongdoers.
We do very little to educate the people by living, concrete examples and
models taken from all spheres of life, although that is the chief task of
the press during the transition from capitalism to communism We give little
attention to that aspect of everyday life inside the factories, in the
villages and in the regiments where, more than anywhere else the new is
being built--where attention, publicity, public criticism condemnation of
what is bad and appeals to learn from the good are needed most Less
political ballyhoo.  Fewer highbrow discussions. Closer to life More
attention to the way in which the workers and peasants are actually building
the new in their everyday work, and more verification so as to ascertain the
extent to which the new is communistic.
September 20, 1918 N. Lenin




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