Socialist heads of state and what they say
LouPaulsen at attbi.com
Sun Mar 9 12:28:46 MST 2003
Socialists are under an obligation to tell the unvarnished truth to the
workers and oppressed, and to foment, to the extent possible, revolution on
a global scale. Heads of state are under an obligation to represent the
interests of their countries (that is, of their ruling classes); to
maneuver, to make agreements, to negotiate, even to be diplomatic; bearing
in mind that, as Lenin correctly said, "diplomacy is perjury".
I have been a socialist for a while, but have never been a socialist head of
state. I suppose that if I were, there would be a tension between those
roles. Furthermore, I would know that in the age of the internet nothing
you say publicly can be kept secret at all. I would be expected to speak in
my capacity as revolutionary leader, to comrades, to workers, to the people
of my country; these words would be instantly transcribed and placed in the
hands of the imperialist enemy and might turn up on the front page of the
New York Post the following morning.
Frankly, I would hate it.
I would hate both sides of it. I would hate having to shake hands with
imperialist pigs and be civil to them, all the time having to resist the
temptation to tell them that "your days are numbered, you murdering
beasts!". And I would hate having to carefully word my talks to workers,
trying to get in as much truth as possible while using what Lenin called
"Aesopian language", now as then sneaking under the radar of the imperialist
My fantasy is that I would write the carefully worded, incomplete,
maneuvering public statements during normal working hours, then get on the
Internet in the dead of night and fill in the gaps under a pseudonym. It's
only a fantasy. The CIA would catch on to who I was.
Lenin managed to avoid this during the 1917-1923 period. He was able to
make scathing speeches about the imperialist pirates to workers' meetings
and party conferences, while the diplomacy and statespersonship and perjury
were being handled by other people. In this, he was aided by the
circumstances that (a) he was not the head of state of the USSR; (b)
communications were more difficult than they are today, particularly under
Civil War conditions, so speeches in Russia didn't immediately get
publicized in Washington or London; (c) the imperialists had less experience
in dealing with socialist states than they do today.
State-to-state politics in which bourgeois governments are involved reminds
me a little bit of the board game "Risk", the way we used to play it in
college. Everyone knew that only one player could win. Everyone knew that
everyone was out to destroy everyone else. Notwithstanding that, one had to
be able to make agreements, non-aggression pacts, schemes to destroy other
players, etc., bearing in mind at all times that eventually the opportunity
would arise of destroying one's 'temporary ally' and that one would
necessarily have to take advantage of it, ripping up all previous promises,
'scraps of paper' and diplomatic restraints.
I don't know how socialist countries in this era are best advised to deal
with the problem. One solution would be to divide the responsibilities of
head of state and political leader among different people, so that the head
of state has the thankless job of making agreements while the party head has
the pleasure of freely denouncing the capitalists. But the imperialists
would catch on. Combining the jobs has its drawbacks too. I suppose one
could claim that socialist heads of state are -obliged- to speak the
unvarnished truth at all times, thus ensuring that one never makes
agreements with the capitalists and is in a permanent state of war crisis
with them. I think it would be ultraleft lunacy to claim that, but one
could. (I'm not saying it would be lunacy for the socialist head of state
to act that way, but I'm saying it would be lunacy to try to oblige all
socialist heads of state to act that way regardless of circumstances.)
In any case, the practical implications for those of us who are NOT
socialist heads of state is that we have to think and analyze for ourselves
at all times, and make our own revolutions as quickly as ever we can. As,
I'm sure, all socialist heads of state would desire us to do.
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