[Marxism] RE: USSR, Democracy, and the Environment

Nestor Gorojovsky nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar
Mon May 17 08:00:46 MDT 2004

Respuesta a: Re: [Marxism] RE: USSR, Democracy, 
Remitido por: stolz at left.ru
Fecha: Lunes 17 de Mayo de 2004 
Hora: 1:39

> >
> Let us recall Lenin's formulation of the central 
> contradiction of the October Revolution: the contradiction between
> its world-historical goals and its material and cultural poverty.  
> One  can get a better feel of how this contradiction worked itself 
> on the bodies and souls of early Soviet workers from _The 
> Foundation Pit_, a  short novel by the great proletarian writer 
> Andrei Platonov, written in  1930 and published in the USSR only 
> under Gorbachev. 

[Remaining part of the posting, omitted. Most interesting, however, 
and with many lessons to be learnt.]

It looks like Platonov followed the great line of Russian novelists.

All these horror stories that have spurt out from the former Soviet 
Union _after its demise_, and the faces made by those "progressives' 
(among which, many who only a few years earlier sobbed in myrth at 
the large amounts of steel produced in the Urals) not only tell us a 
lot about those who _tell_ them, but also fail to see the essential 
hardships to which the Soviet Union peoples were forced to give an 
answer, while threatened from outside.

I have always been strongly anti-Stalinist.  But not in the sense 
these critics are.  In a sense, we must deal the old and particularly 
the early Soviet Union in the same way we deal with Cuba: an 
isolated, menaced, backwards, country desperately trying to survive 
and make its own path.  

What I blame on Stalinism is not the path of development that 
Stalinism chose (could it choose otherwise? Hmmmm).  But what cannot 
be forgiven is the fact that the novel by Platonov was not published 
in the fSU when it was written.  Had this novel (and probably many 
other art forms) been published there, had the actual and serious 
problems of the revolution been debated by the rank and file, had the 
garrison organized itself on the active consciousness of the masses 
(this is probably the great difference with Cuba), then the 
consciousness of the laborers at the Pit would have been greater than 
it was, and same would have happened with that of the laborers 
outside the frontiers of the fSU.  And the leadership would have 
learnt from those below.  When, on his "Will", Lenin warned against 
the "administrative tendencies"  of Trotsky, he was thinking, 
perhaps, in this possibility: that Trotsky would not listen to the 
sounds from below.

But what he would not conceive was that any Bolshevik would put a gag 
on those sounds.  When he realized that Stalin _would_ (and this was 
the lesson from Transcaucasia, 1923), then he sided with Trotsky.  
The greatest danger was the bureaucratic gag.  Lenin _never_ forgot 
that the Western working class _had_ an eye on the fSU.  Neither did 
Trotsky.  It took people that size to lead the efforts: people who 
would be able to give form to the aspirations of the peoples of the 
fSU without losing sight of the aspirations of the workers in the 

That is, people who could grasp the "world-historical goals" in their 
full concreteness, which in those times was still embodied in the 
proletarians of the central countries of the Empire.  The possibility 
that these proletarians would ultimately fail to their historic 
mission was still an open issue (I think that, for a whole historical 
period, this failure cannot be questioned _now_, but it could,. it 
certainly could, 80 years ago).  In a sense, the bureaucratic layer 
that expelled Trotsky and so many others made their mind too easily 
on this issue, thus helping to shape the final result.
Thus, the responsibilities of the Soviet bureaucrats must not be 
placed on the so to say "administrative measures" they took to solve 
the immediate problems they had at hand.  This is, in fact, what one 
_expects_ from a bureaucrat.  The responsibilities lie, IMHO, in 
their limited ability to grasp the deep human movement of things.

This is what made Lenin, or Trotsky, greater than those who took 
their place after 1923-25.  Organizative solutions to political 
problems were, probably, the curse of the October revolution.  If we 
are to talk about "guilt", let us say that the guilt for the failure 
of the Western working class to understand their role in the 
attainment of the "global-historical goals" must be placed, in the 
first place, at this working class's doorstep (I would perhaps make a 
distinction with the German working class), but in the second place 
in the absolute lack of interest of the Soviet bureaucrats towards 
the philosophical, human and political (that is, in the end, the 
dynamical and revolutionary) side of politics.

Take the Spanish War example.  It may be argued whether Stalin was 
right or wrong in his idea that an agreement with the Spanish 
bourgeoisie was necessary or not.  This kind of argument is, and for 
good reasons, banned on Marxmail.  But allow me to advance a 
different issue:  what cannot be argued is that the bureaucratic 
imposition (shooting of militant fighters on one's own camp included) 
of the line that came to Spain together with Soviet weaponry would 
only demoralize the Republican ranks.  Which happened.

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 
"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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