The Mother of all Questions

Nestor Gorojovsky nestorgoro at
Sun Sep 28 22:25:30 MDT 2003

El Domingo 28 de Septiembre de 2003 a las 9:56,
Lueko Willms dijo sobre Re: The Mother of all Questions que:

> in reply to:
> # Subject: Let us not get astray, please
> # From: "Nestor Gorojovsky" <nestorgoro at>
> # Date: Sun, 28 Sep 2003 01:44:25 -0300
> #
> > I am not placing "blames" on anyone. I am just trying to debate,
> > together with all the cdes., up to which point the conservatism of
> > the metropolitan working classes is a form of "false consciousness"
> > or is simply the reflection of their privileged situation as regards
> > the mass of the population on Planet Earth.
>    Yeah, it is a false consciousness borne out of that priviledged
> situation. Do we agree on that?

Maybe we do. Why my reluctance? Because the whole issue we are
debating turns around the ways to destroy that false consciousness,
which is IMHO the first truly political (as opposed to economic in
the Leninist sense, _What is to be done_ and all that) task of
revolutionaries in the West.

While we don't have clear signs that this task becomes the central
task, and that there is some kind of positive answer to this task,
then we cannot exactly talk of false consciousness but, on the
contrary, of strong realism and completely self-conscious selfishness
("What me worry").


>    The point I want to drive home is that the October revolution
> opened an era of proletarian revolutions, and there is neither a
> reason for fatalism, nor a possibility for voluntarism.

On this we agree. If I did not agree on this, I would not even try to
debate these things with you. The single serious point I can't share
with Vadim Stoltz is his general conclusion in the sense that there
would seem to exist no possibility of political action for us in the
metropolitan West, something I -by definition- reject. We should be
able to devise plans for any situation, and act accordingly. Maybe we
can win, maybe we can lose. But we must never relapse into fatalism
or voluntarism, those dialectic Siamese twins. I am completely in
agreement with what follows, only that it somehow tends to sound
apologetic when heard from the South:

>    Defeat or victory are not inevitable, but they also cannot be
> forced when the objective conditions are not ripe for it, and one of
> the consciousness and readyness for action of millions of people can
> be part of those objective factors.
>    It is also not inevitable that the weight of the "Labor
> aristocracy" prevents the working people of the imperialist countries
> from acquiring the consciousness of their real interests which do not
> coincide with those of their imperialist masters, on the contrary.

Allow me to contradict you. It is not a matter of their "real" as
opposed to "unreal" interests. It is a matter of taking profit of the
exceptional conditions in which they live to think about their
_strategic, long term_ as opposed to their _tactic, short lived_

Let us face it: in the short term, it is completely understandable
that -as I could witness myself- two electrical engineering workers
from Northern Italy deride their Argentinean counterparts and their
Southern fellow countrypeople. The imperialist bourgeoisie lives on
this strong alliance today much in the same way it did in England on
the alliance against the Irish during the 19th. Century. It is
precisely the difficulty in overriding this strong alliance which
explains, IMHO, the conservatism of the working classes. The problem
does not lay in _real_/_unreal_ interests, I repeat. It lies in
something deeper, and more difficult to grasp.

> Do we agree on that, Nestor?

With qualifiers, as you see. But in general, we do.

>    And lets bear in mind that when discussing the history of
> revolutionary victories and defeats of the 20th century, we are
> discussing history; the events have passed, the decisions had been
> taken, and we can't turn back the history and opt for a different
> course back in 1933, e.g.

No, we can't. But this is not material. One of my teachers of History
in the University liked to say that it is historic an event in the
past which bites our present and thus has to do with our future. I
like that definition. History does not deal with the past. History
deals, _at the same time_ with past, present and future. Thus, what
interests us of events in 1933 is that which is alive today of those
events. It is the "weight of dead generations which oppresses like a
nightmare the brain of the living".  Nightmares aren't the less real
because they cannot be weighed with a dynamometer. So that I
understand it when you look back into 1933 and try to answer that:

>   [History] also helps to emphasize the fact that the crisis of
> humanity boils down to the crisis of the proletarian leadership, when
> we review that history and ascertain that it was not inevitable that
> the communist leadership in the USSR was replaced and exterminated by
> a social layer which preferred to find a peace with imperialism
> rather than extending the revolution, that the devastating defeat of
> the German working class in 1933 was not inevitable, neither the
> defeat of the Spanish brothers several years later, which means that
> the World War II was not inevitable and so on and so on. It's history,
> but we can draw lessons from it.

As you see, I think that there is much more than "lessons" in
history. However, I don't agree with you because, sorry to be so
rude, I somehow think that your way to pose the issue acts as an
opiate.  It is hard to place the whole blame on "leadership" when we
are witnessing similar patterns, once and again, since at least 1870
or 1880. Why not to try to think about what underlies those "crisis
of leaderships", don't we believe that revolutionary moments in
history bring about revolutionary leaderships?

I am not interested in "blaming" classes, I repeat. I am interested
in understanding them. And if I have to admit, for example, that the
Argentinean working class is very slow in its reactions, I will do
it. "Too much steak in their diet", told us a Guatemalan exile during
the early 50s, "they are slow to think".  If I can do it with my own
working class, and understand that, if you can do it with your own
working class, and understand that, why can't you understand that
maybe the classic Trotskyist explanation of bureaucratic power in the
fSU left something unexplained? Not that it was wrong, but that it is
the task of those cdes. in the fSU to find out what went wrong there
while it is ours to understand what went wrong among us, if anything
went _really_ wrong.

For instance, when you answer to my

> > In order to understand what happened in the East, it is essential to
> > keep always in mind that the lever was in the West, not in the East.
> > That lever failed to move.


>   Sure, the weight of the world situation was the decisive factor.
> But your statement would mean that the defeat of the communists by
> Stalin was inevitable, and that the revolutionists in the Soviet
> Union didn't have a chance to defend October.

I feel as if you are running sideways instead of tackling the issue
(which, of course, is not easy to tackle). My statement does not mean
that the defeat of the communists by Stalin was inevitable. My
statement only says that -best with Lenin, better with Trotsky, less
so with others, like Stalin- once the Russian Revolution discovered
it was isolated it had to step back (the NEP being the first step
back) several thousands of miles. I agree with you when you state
that in order to save what could be saved of the revolution a battle
was needed, where "a very important part [...] was to help the
revolutionary leaderships of other countries to advance, and this,
too, was a struggle against the conservative layer within the Soviet
Union who worked for the opposite, up to the point of murdering
revolutionists in the Spanish Civil war and ordering the Communist
parties all over the world to give up the colonial revolution in
order to save the "unity of the democracies". Argentina is a telling
example, isn't it?"

However, Argentina is a telling example in a different sense than you
mean: the Argentinean working class turned its back on the
proimperialist Communist and Socialist Parties in 1945, while the
French and Italian ones did not do the same thing. Oh, yes, I know
that there were lots of objective conditions. But the struggle
against conservatism in the West was not only (and, have you ever
thought of it, perhaps not _primarily_) a matter of the "conservative
fraction of the fSU".  French workers, Italian workers, were armed
workers in 1945. The French Communist Party even got to power.
However, the _class_ did not force them into political irrelevance,
such as the Argentinean workers did by the same time. They followed
their leaderships in sheepishly surrendering to the bourgeoisies
under "orders from Moscow". Did they do it _only_ because of the
orders from Moscow? I believe that _this question, thus posed_ is the
"mother of all questions" Vadim spoke about.

Other Communists made their own choice: the Yugoslavs, partly the
Greek. I am not asking the German workers, after their tremendous
fate after 1933, to rise against the bourgeoisie. But I do seriously
contest the "orders from Moscow" argument when it comes to the
Italian, and particularly the French workers. And all this,
precisely, because yes, as you say, Lüko, it"is all intertwined,
there is no safe boundary for the class struggle."


Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
nestorgoro at

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"Sí, una sola debe ser la patria de los sudamericanos".
Simón Bolívar al gobierno secesionista y disgregador de
Buenos Aires, 1822
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