bourgeois tasks/stages

Shane Hopkinson hopkins1 at janus.cqu.edu.au
Fri Jul 26 06:19:37 MDT 2002


Dear All

I have a question about the confusion between tasks and
stages.

I was wondering about this in relation to 2 stage theory
etc.  In general there is a set of historical tasks that
is associated with the rise of the bourgeoisie to power
(can someone clarify a precise list or is it more general?).
In the periphery though the debate was about which class
would carry them out.  In general it was assumed
that bourgeois tasks had to be carried out by a bourgeoisie
(hence a bourgeois stage).

The debate then emerges around this confusion. The reformist
Mensheviks advocate a bourgeois "stage", the revolutionaries
(Bolsheviks) advocating the bourgeois tasks needing to be
carried out by the proletariat, so there would be a period
of time when the proletarian revolution would carry out
bourgeois tasks before proceeding to socialist tasks. With
Trotsky arguing that the workers would be pushed into carrying
out socialist measures almost immediately so there would be
no bourgeois stage.

All this is then made awkward by the fact that in the pre-1917
debates Trotsky emphasises his differences from Lenin (permanent
rev. vs 2 stages) but after 1917 seeks to emphasise that he and
Lenin were close (and there was no 'Chinese wall' between the
stages). Finally with the counter revolution by Stalin who
promotes his version of "Leninism" arguing that Lenin saw 2
distinct "stages" (which was really Menshevism and which helped
sabotage the movement).  In combatting Stalin Trotsky sought
to emphasis his closeness to Lenin and emphasised that Lenin
was "really" talking about permanent revolution (hence the
importance of April and the shock of the Central Committee
at Lenin's conversion) which then became the central dogma
that distinguished Trotskyists from the rest.

Is this a fair picture or am I still more confused than I
thought? I would have thought it was orthodox to realise
that the bourgeoisie was not going to carry out the tasks
assigned to it by history (preferring to cut a deal with the
old ruling class rather than risk stirring up the masses) so
it would require a worker's revolution for these tasks to
be carried out. So that means I support permanent
revolution? or is there more to it?

In the core this is not so much an issue
as in the periphery but nowhere to my knowledge did we
even get 2 distinct stages.  In fact communists didn't
come to power anywhere where they hadn't won over revolutionry
forces to their side before the bourgeoisie made their move.
Even in Russia there was a provisional govt but it only ruled
with the tacit support of the soviets.

Over to you

Shane




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