[Marxism] Back in the USSR

Shane Mage shmage at pipeline.com
Tue Feb 5 20:06:15 MST 2013

On Feb 5, 2013, at 9:43 PM, Ken Hiebert wrote:
> No one suggests that the leaders of the Russian Revolution were out  
> of touch with reality when it came to Russia itself.  They  
> demonstrated their political capacity by making a revolution.  So  
> how could they have so wildly misread the situation in the more  
> advanced capitalist countries?  Remember that some of them had lived  
> abroad in Europe. In Trotsky's case in the U. S. as well.
> Surely no one is suggesting that they set out to weaken the  
> socialist movement in the advanced capitalist countries.  I raise  
> this because later, under Stalin, the bureaucracy did pursue  
> policies that were damaging to the workers movement elsewhere.   
> Their policy choices were based on their self-interest as a  
> bureaucracy in Russia.  But should we extend that to the original  
> leaders of the Russian Revolution?

It is a universal human fault to seek to justify past behaviors by  
continuing to believe the rationale you had for them even in the face  
of facts.  The Bolshevik revolution, absolutely correctly, was  
premised on the imminence of proletarian revolution in Europe or at  
least Germany.  The defeats of 1919 refuted that perspective but it  
was not abandoned. It lay behind, for instance, Lenin's (not  
Trotsky's) colossal blunder in ordering the Red Army to advance to the  
gates of Warsaw. It continued up to the adventurist "Marx Aktion"  
designed by Zinoviev (not in fact a leader of the October Revolution,  
which he advised against). The expulsion of Paul Levi summed the whole  
thing up.  Trotsky felt himself trapped by his past "nonbolshevism"  
into embracing what passed as Leninist democratic centralism.  That  
was his fatal flaw in the struggle of the 1920's, what led to such an  
abysmal blunder as obeying the Stalinist politbureau's order to  
condemn Max Eastman for publishing the real text of Lenin's "Testament."

Shane Mage

"Thunderbolt steers all things." Herakleitos of Ephesos, fr. 64

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