[Marxism] Fwd: Before Lenin: Bolshevik Theory and Practice in February 1917 Revisited | Historical Materialism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Feb 28 05:24:56 MST 2017

On 2/28/17 4:02 AM, Joseph Green via Marxism wrote:
> So what does history show? The theory of permanent revolution was completely
> bankrupt with respect to the Arab Spring.

To some extent, the Khiyana article that makes this point reflected the 
influence of Sam Hamad who viewed any opposition to the Morsi government 
as coinciding with the al-Sisi. It is the same logic that led him to 
become a vehement supporter of Hillary Clinton even though that support 
was expressed much more as virulent attacks on Jill Stein.

If being a supporter of the "democratic revolution" means functioning as 
an ideological handmaiden to the Muslim Brotherhood, I'll stick with 
"permanent revolution" even if all that means is having a consistent 
orientation to the working class. I deal with some of these questions in 
a review of Gilbert Achcar's latest:


In the immediate aftermath of the al-Sisi coup in Egypt, there were 
bitter recriminations over the role of the left with some making 
analogies between the ousted Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi 
and Alexander Kerensky. For example, John Rees wrote:

But when the threat of Kerensky being overthrown by a 
counter-revolutionary coup led by General Kornilov became real, the 
Bolsheviks defended Kerensky’s government from the threat from the 
right. Trotsky helped organise the defence of Kerensky from the prison 
cell in which the very same Kerensky had put him.

Considering John Rees’s regrettable tendency to demonize Syrian rebels 
as threats to secularism and democracy, one might accuse him of using a 
double standard. Perhaps if al-Sisi had a background as an 
“anti-imperialist” in the Gaddafi and al-Assad mold, there would have 
been greater readiness to back the coup. That being said, it is entirely 
conceivable that before very long, he will be seen as part of the 
anti-imperialist camp given the reports from as early as mid-2015 that 
Egypt and Russia would be strengthening their ties through the creation 
of a free trade zone and Egypt becoming part of the Eurasian Economic 
Union, the Kremlin’s competition to the EU.

In my view, the Kerensky analogy has limited value. The Russian Social 
Democracy always considered the Social Revolutionary Party as part of 
the democratic revolution against Czarism even though it vacillated 
toward the Cadets. Lenin thought that a vote for SR’s was tactically 
permissible but never for the Cadets. In 1909 he wrote an article titled 
“How the Socialist-Revolutionaries Sum Up the Revolution and How the 
Revolution has Summed Them Up” that defended the Bolsheviks against 
Menshevik charges that they were adapting to the SR’s:

	Now that is where your mistake begins, we say to the Mensheviks. True, 
the Socialist-Revolutionary doctrine is pernicious, fallacious, 
reactionary, adventurist and petty-bourgeois. But these vices do not 
prevent this quasi-socialist doctrine from being the ideological 
vestments of a really revolutionary—and not compromising—bourgeoisie and 
petty bourgeoisie in Russia.

Based on this criterion, the Muslim Brotherhood could hardly be put in 
the same category as the SR’s. Their commitment to democracy was always 
on a tactical basis, namely whether it could advance their own goal of 
creating an Islamic state. That being said, the best approach to 
Egyptian politics is not through the prism of Russian history but class 
relations within the most populous Arab nation that has historically 
played a key role in setting a pattern for other nations. To understand 
what political options the left was forced to make three years ago 
requires an analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood itself. For this, 
citations from either Lenin or Trotsky have limited value except as a 
reminder that the SR’s emerged out of the Russian revolutionary 
experience. After all, Lenin’s brother was a Narodnik.

More information about the Marxism mailing list