[Marxism] My toes are spreading/Reinventing the wheel

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Nov 30 14:21:32 MST 2004


Bill Hutton wrote:
> 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.

Well, not exactly. Until the rise of Stalin, the Bolsheviks were 
extremely lenient in many ways. Although I have never made a bet on 
this, I am quite sure that the only expulsion in the party's history was 
Bogdanov. Even after Kamenev and other members of the Central Committee 
broke discipline and publicly opposed the seizure of power in 1917, 
there were no reprisals. As soon as I find some time, I plan to read and 
report on Alexander Rabinowitch's "The Bolsheviks Come to Power". Here's 
something from a review that should indicate the importance of this history:

 >>Although Rabinowitch acknowledges Lenin's strategic brilliance and 
"the sometimes decisive role of an individual in historical events," (p. 
208) he also recounts in vivid detail the plethora of party 
disagreements, showing that on many occasions Lenin found himself in a 
distinct minority. Rabinowitch demonstrates that "within the Bolshevik 
Petrograd organization at all levels in 1917 there was continuing and 
lively discussion and debate over the most basic theoretical and 
tactical issues." He draws a startling conclusion about the party's rise 
to power: "the phenomenal success of the Bolsheviks can be attributed in 
no small measure to the nature of the party in 1917," and above all to 
"the party's internally relatively democratic, tolerant, and 
decentralized structure and method of operation, as well as its 
essentially open and mass character--in striking contrast to the 
traditional Leninist model" (p. 311).<<

full: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=40011098042753

This, by the way, is consistent with the picture of Bolshevism put 
forward by John Reed in "10 Days that Shook the World". There are 
numerous instances recorded by Reed of public and *sharp* debates 
between Lenin and other party members. This was the norm. It was only 
with the introduction of Zinoviev's schematic conceptions that it 
stopped being a norm.


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