[Marxism] Rescuing Lenin from Leninists

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at gmail.com
Tue Jul 8 22:15:11 MDT 2008

On Mon, Jul 7, 2008 at 12:47 PM, chegitz guevara <absynthe at gmail.com> wrote:
> chegitz guevara is my nom de plume, and old joke between me and some
> of my old comrades. My real life name is on my campaign website:
> www.luzietti.com....

> No one in my organization, and it's safe to say for SEP, SWP, and PSL,
> thinks that running candidates will bring about the revolution, any
> more than Lenin did when he urged the Bolsheviks to compete for
> elections in the Duma. Election time affords us a platform to take our
> message to a wider audience. The question isn't why do so many
> socialist groups run candidates, but rather, why so few do?

I want to express my complete and unbreakable Solidarity with our Che.
Guevara's point of view -- whatever it may be.

In addition to the arguments Comandante Güevara has already adduced
against ultraleft reformist Stalinoid Trotskyite wrecker and splitter
Mark Lause, who hides behind the FAKE name M.Lause (your mom didn't
name you "M," did she Lause! Confess!!!) instead of forthrightly
assuming political responsibility for what he says by using a handle
that no fewer than two if not three of his closest friends can
decipher, like our fearless Che. Güevara, there is also this:

By running AGAINST each other on the basis that five fingers are
better than one fist (if you don't believe me -- did you ever try to
pick your nose with a fist? -- or for the philosophically inclined,
you have heard the sound one two fingers snapping: what is the sound
of one finger snapping?) socialist groups give a living, dialectical
demonstration to the working class, should its attention stray in
their direction, of the importance of unity. Furthermore, the complete
impotence of these campaigns serves as a concrete illustration that,
whatever the road forward, "she's not there" (in the immortal words of
... was it the Beau Brummels)?

Cerealously folks (eat your Wheaties, Lause!) these groups all serve
to demonstrate that every step of real movement is worth more than ten
paper programs, even if each program has literally dozens of cadre
defending it.

Güevara seriously refer to Lenin and the Bolshevik deputies in the
Duma (one of whom -- the head of the fraction, if I remember right--
was a tsarist agent, but that's another story) and "forget" first,
that the Bolsheviks were a wing of the Russian Social Democratic Labor
Party, and second, that the RSDLP was a MASS WORKERS PARTY, rather
than an insignificant clique mostly drawn from elements of the
petty-bourgeois intelligentsia that radicalized some decades ago.

This idea that there is some positive value to "talking socialism" in
this way is pre-Marxian utopian socialism of the purest water.

It consists of PREACHING at the workers (or in reality, a few
students, in terms of who is listening) in a way that wasn't just
foreign to Marx and Engels, but anathema to them -- as their political
activity from the early 50's until the mid 60's showed. (In case
you're trying to remember just what it was that Marx and Engels did in
terms of what we call "activist politics" in between when they were
the young rebels of 1848 and before, and the greybeards of the First
International and afterwards, the answer is: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. They
wrote a fair amount for the bourgeois press, Engels exploited his
workers and (as some would have it) Marx exploited Engels. Apart from
that, Engels continued to accrue evidence for his reputation as a
somewhat scandalous bon vivant -- which came in handy when he took the
fall for the child Marx allegedly fathered with one of his maids --
and by writing a few letters and having bull sessions in in the
private room of a London pub (Dr. Marx's Circle, the publican called
it, and it is the only name that has survived to our day), and hanging
out in libraries, Marx (and it was mostly Marx in this stage) laid the
foundations for the first and second internationals, the Russian
Revolution and much else besides.

Of course, it was only a small part of the foundation -- the part of
the self-conscious element in the proletarian movement. The rest, the
overwhelming majority of it, the capitalists were laying without let
or hindrance from the Communists, and Marx and Engels quite wisely,
and with the patience of those that not only understand, but
understand that they understand, were quite happy to let the
capitalists go on their merry way.

The idea that it doesn't MATTER whether there is one or a dozen
different campaigns opposing the capitalist parties in the elections
in the name of opposing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, of demanding
the oil monopolies open their books on how they are creating or taking
advantage of the oil price spike to fleece the public, demanding
reconstruction of the areas hit by Katrina and the rest of Black
America, of demanding an end to the scapegoating and persecution of
Latinos generally and immigrants specifically, of insisting the hedge
funds, banks and real estate speculators PAY for the mess they have
made in the housing market, etc. etc. etc. is ridiculous.

It's as if it didn't matter whether there was ONE united protest
around the war, or Katrina, of freeing Mumia, or five different ones,
each one with slightly different slogans and emphasis.

As for the proposition that Nader or McKinney are running bourgeois
campaigns, because the magical incantation, "only socialism can ...."
never crosses the lips of these candidates,  this is PETTY BOURGEOIS
IDEALISM, quite TYPICAL of the radicalized intelligentsia. To our
"socialists," the idea that communism is not a theory but a MOVEMENT
-- remains an inscrutable cypher.

The McKinney and especially the Nader campaigns are a THOUSAND TIMES
more revolutionary and more communist than the campaigns of the
moth-eaten cliques of petty-bourgeois intelligentsia that go around
preaching socialism in sackcloth and overwhelmingly succeed only in
discrediting socialism -- and themselves.

They are a THOUSAND TIMES *more* communist because they challenge, in
the REAL world, for millions of working people, one of the MAIN
instruments through which the bourgeoisie maintains its
political-ideological hegemony -- the two party system. In McKinney's
case, due to the peculiar character of this year's election (with a
Black as a major party candidate for the first time) and various
subjective factors, among them sister Cynthia's own strengths and
weaknesses (she's never claimed to be in Ella Baker's league, or
anywhere near it, as an organizer) and those of her supporters in the
Green Party (some of whom seemed to have viewed her merely as an
anti-Nader, nothing more) her campaign doesn't yet seem to have taken
off as I would have hoped.

But in Nader's case, it is as clear as can be from the public opinion
polls and press coverage that he is once again serving as a vehicle
for literally MILLIONS of working and oppressed people to seriously
grapple with breaking with the two parties on a CLASS basis -- because
these two parties represent the rich and the corporations.

I, for one, will gratefully admit that I tremendously underestimated
Nader's potential appeal in this election cycle and the lasting power
of the Nader "brand" as a symbol our righteous opposition  to
corporate abuses and domination of society.

This idea that pronouncing the magic word "socialism" makes the pissel
or the swoop or the es pee or the es see pee more "radical" than Nader
is complete bunk. NADER is more radial, more revolutionary, because
even under current conditions of having NO working class movement
worthy of the name in this country, in what must be considered a
period of EXTREME, nay, medieval reaction, HE IS SUCCEEDING in drawing
the CLASS LINE in a way that makes sense to MILLIONS of people.

THAT -- and not all the hot air about revolution and socialism -- is
what is really laying the foundations and preparing the way for the
re-emergence of a radical and, yes, socialist movement in this country
when conditions become more favorable.

The ONLY contribution the onanistic "socialist" campaigns of the
sectlets make is to show what is NOT to be done.


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