[Marxism] Back in the USSR

Ken Hiebert knhiebert at shaw.ca
Tue Feb 5 10:25:37 MST 2013

From LP February 5/13

On 2/5/13 11:16 AM, Ben Campbell wrote:

by Corey Ansel

... "What is at stake is the very cohesion of Leninist theory. Marxism is
not a family tree. It is most certainly not the ideology of all of those
who claim to hold up its banner. In fact, it is consistent with Marx’s
fight for the “ruthless criticism of all that exists”, which in this case
is the need to criticize the notion that all ostensible “Marxists,” from
the International Socialists to the Spartacists, are bearers of Marxist
thought. The left, in fact, has struggled to defend the legacy of Lenin
because it has failed to properly investigate what that legacy is! The
origins of the crisis within the SWP, thus, rest with their faulty
understanding of Leninist democratic centralism and its relevance in the
present." ...

Corey Ansel:
Instead of swimming against the current to build a party of educated cadres united under a program of unconditionally opposing all bourgeois parties in the interests of smashing the capitalist system, Binh and others instead seek to loosen up the restraints. 


My (LP) comment:
I will be working on a longer article on this but this excerpt from a resolution from the 1921 Comintern approved by Lenin and the assembled delegates should give you an idea of how problematic the idea of forming “revolutionary” parties could be: 

“In the struggle against the social-democratic and other petty-bourgeois leaders of the trade unions and the various workers’ parties there is no hope of achieving anything by persuasion. The struggle against them has to be organised with great persistence. It can only be waged successfully by depriving the leaders of their followers and by showing the workers the real role the social-traitor leaders play at the beck and call of the capitalists. Therefore, when the opportunity arises, these leaders should be put in a position where they have to show their true nature; then a vigorous attack can be launched against them. 

“It is by no means sufficient just to label the Amsterdam leaders ‘scabs’. Practical examples of how they sell out the workers must constantly be found. Their activity in the trade unions, in the International Labour Organisation of the League of Nations, in the bourgeois ministries and administrations, their right-wing speeches at conferences and in parliament, the attitudes expressed in their numerous lulling articles in hundreds of papers and, in particular, the hesitancy and reluctance they show in preparing and conducting even the smallest campaigns for wage increases and improvements in working conditions – all this provides the Communist with daily opportunities to expose in simply formulated proposals and resolutions and in clear speeches the unreliable and right-wing activity of the Amsterdam leaders, who do indeed deserve to be called ‘scab’ leaders.” 

The practical implementation of this was set down in the 10th of the 21 Conditions that had to be met to become part of the Comintern: 

“Every party belonging to the Communist International has the obligation to wage a stubborn struggle against the Amsterdam ‘International’ of yellow trade union organisations. It must expound as forcefully as possible among trades unionists the idea of the necessity of the break with the yellow Amsterdam International. It must support the International Association of Red Trades Unions affiliated to the Communist International, at present in the process of formation, with every means at its disposal.” 

To get straight to the point, the International Association of Red Trades Unions was a disaster. When Jack Tanner of the British Shop Stewards Movement objected to the ultraleft “dual unionism” of this measure, his objection was dismissed by Zinoviev who refused to allow him to speak to the gathering. This is where the crisis of the SWP stems from, as well as every other group that has tried to build Leninist parties on the basis of the “heroic days of the Comintern”. 

* * * * * *

Ken Hiebert responds:
If I am reading you correctly, the problem with Leninist groups has been not simply that they have tried to apply a political strategy that they misunderstood.  In some instances it is because they have tried to apply a mistaken strategy that was advocated by the leaders of the Russian revolution .

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