[Marxism] My toes are spreading/Reinventing the wheel

Bill Hutton wsh291 at bellsouth.net
Tue Nov 30 14:07:19 MST 2004

> Unfortunately we have tended to exaggerate our differences with other 
> small groups in such a way as to suggest we had a different product. 
> This goes back for many years as indicated in this quote from a James 
> P. Cannon speech to the SWP convention nearly 25 years ago. "We are 
> monopolists in the field of politics. We can't stand any competition. 
> We can tolerate no rivals. The working class, to make the revolution 
> can do it only through one party and one program. This is the lesson 
> of the Russian Revolution. That is the lesson of all history since the 
> October Revolution. Isn't that a fact? This is why we are out to 
> destroy every single party in the field that makes any pretense of 
> being a working-class revolutionary party. Ours is the only correct 
> program that can lead to revolution. Everything else is deception, 
> treachery We are monopolists in politics and we operate like 
> monopolists."
This is an excellent quote by Cannon.  It concisely states the 
conception of the "Leninist Party" that came out of the Russian 
Revolution.  "One party and one program."  Excellent!  That is why there 
are so many "vanguard" parties around.  Who knows what the one program 
is - the political leader or chairman with some of his close 
collaborators in the political committee.  Anyone who disagrees with the 
One Program is anti-party, anti-revolution.  The fact that the One 
Program can only be divined from the top leads to the formation of cults 
each formed around the new Lenin.  The polemical style of Lenin is 
copied and used against any opponent.  Opportunists, renegades, 
petit-bourgeois, etc.  Of course the One Party cannot collaborate with 
such heretics.

The success of the Bolsheviks was as much the result of the weakness of 
the capitalists and the decrepitude of the autocracy after three years 
of world war as to the correctness of the One Program One Party 
example.  The political acumen and will of Lenin at the right time 
allowed the Bolshevik party of about 25,000 to seize power in the name 
of the Soviets.

The "Russian Example" included:
- the imprisonment and eventual liquidation of Mensheviks, Socialist 
Revolutionaries, anarchists.
- the command economy of war communism, the split with the Left 
Socialist Revolutionaries and thus the peasantry with the formation of 
the Poor Peasant Committees which intensified the civil war leading to 
the destruction of the working class.
- the invasion of Poland in 1921 seeking to extent the revolution on the 
bayonets of the Red Army.
- the split with the second international and the intervention by the 
Russian Communist party into the leaderships of the other parties of the 
Third International.
- the banning of factions in the Russian Communist Party.
- the assault on Kronstadt.
- the identification of the Party with the Revolution.
- the unprincipled combinations and blocs in the leadership centered 
around the figures of Stalin, Zinoviev and Trotsky.

And all of this before the defeat of the Joint and Left oppositions.  Of 
course later there was forced collectivization, punitive famines, show 
trials, the Great Terror, the Stalin-Hitler pact, etc.

I would argue that the Russian Example is not the one to emulate.  
Perhaps other examples would be better such as the Cuban or even 
Nicaraguan where differences were subordinated the needs of the 
struggle.  Agreement on goals and means of struggle were paramount.  
Perhaps we need to develop our own methods.

Bill Hutton

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