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 Post subject: Re: What is meant by The Party.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 6:08 pm 
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S.Artesian wrote:
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I would suggest that there is a bidirectional dialectical relationship between the vanguard and the rest of the proletariat.


Great. So tell us, what exactly constitutes the "dialectical" in this relationship, and exactly how was it manifested, dialectically of course, during the period leading up to October 1917. and then the period afterward, which certainly marks a period of decline-- and tell us exactly the responsibilities that your "leadership" bears for that decline, because if the problem is one of leadership, then the very least we can say is that Trotsky and the Left Opposition demonstrated a colossal failure of leadership, and the "betrayal of the revolution" is certainly a product of their failure, their neglect, not to mention their actions.

Take your time.

The dialectical relationship between the party and the proletarian masses, particularly in petrograd consisted of the dynamic that sometimes the party was leading, and sometimes the masses got ahead of them. The July Days is an example of this. Throughout the period between February and October there was a struggle within the Bolshevik party between elements that wanted to conciliate with the Mensheviks and the Provisional Government and those that did not. I think the masses put pressure on the party, that influenced the internal struggles, that influenced the role the Bolsheviks played that, in turn influenced the masses and led to the proletariat seizing power.

Obviously the LO failed in its primary tasks. To be fair, the conditions were extremely difficult, and the social composition of the USSR was a huge obstacle. That and the failure of the German Revolution were objective circumstances that they could not overcome. Although I am sure they made some mistakes, I think the objective situation is what led to their failure in the USSR. So I think this was far more a failure of circumstances than leadership. Internationally, it is a much longer and complex discussion that perhaps we can discuss another time.

I think to call the Stalinist betrayal of the revolution the "fault" of the LO makes little sense. They fought against this and lost. The were sent to Siberia and later shot for their troubles. They were brave revolutionaries fighting to preserve and extend the gains of the Russian Revolution.


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 Post subject: Re: What is meant by The Party.
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:36 am 
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Given my fundamental disagreements with almost everything else you've posted in the thread, I thought I'd emphasise my absolute agreement with everything in that last post.


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 Post subject: Re: What is meant by The Party.
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:27 am 
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Blake's Baby wrote:
Given my fundamental disagreements with almost everything else you've posted in the thread, I thought I'd emphasise my absolute agreement with everything in that last post.


TFM wrote:
I was under the impression that the disagreement between us ITT was a result of misinterpretation, but I'm prepared to be proven otherwise.

How would you define a 'communist', the 'Party', and—if you're willing to make the distinction—a 'vanguard'?


Oooh, I like the new quotes. That's much easier.

How to answer? Not deliberately trying to over-clever or sarcastic here, but I would define them from the point of view of having a fundamentally different conception of the natures of, and relationships between, individual consciousness, class consciousness, material conditions and historical development, I think.

I think there is a dialectical relationship between consciousness and conditions. Therefore, I don't hold that activity is pointless outside of periods of intense class struggle, and therefore I believe it is possible to be a 'communist' even if there are no significant movements locally to intervene in at the moment. Which is why, earlier in the thread, when you claimed that all that was possible was to be one of the 'people who understand communism's orientation and prospects from a scientific socialist perspective', I said that I thought the word for that was 'communist'. Sure, 'understanding' isn't enough if that understanding is not put into practice - whatever the historical circumstances, because circumstances determine what behaviour is appropriate, so if there is no class struggle to intervene in, attempting to intervene in it does not make sense - but then again, I'm not good at thinking that 'academic marxists' (who may 'understand' but don't do anything) are Marxists at all.

So; different material/historical conditions demand different responses from what I will call 'communists', but you may call 'people who understand communism's orientation and prospects from a scientific socialist perspective'; in periods when the working class is not massively asserting its own interests, I think the role of 'communists' is to attempt, through propaganda, to make individuals aware of 'communism's orientation and prospects from a scientific socialist perspective' - to 'increase the number of communists'; while being fully aware that the numbers involved will be small, because it is primarily (not totally) in times of increased class conflict that large numbers of workers become class conscious, which again is a dialectical process. I agree with what I think is your proposition that 'revolutions make communists' rather than 'communists make revolutions', but the formulation isn't exact because it is struggle, and reflection on struggle, that makes communists. I'm from Britain andd old enough to remember the struggles of the working class in Britain and Europe (though honestly at that stage I didn't know so much about the rest of the world) in the '70s and '80s. Those struggles 'made me a communist', they were the material circumstances in which my consciousness developed (through experiencing them - though I was too young to be a miner or power worker at that point, they were struggles happening around me that produced a lot of questioning of society - and reflecting on them) to the point where I identified with 'communism's orientation and prospects from a scientific socialist perspective' (however confused those reflections may have been, whatever errors I may have believed about process, and indeed whatever my subsequent confusions and errors - consciousness can only ever be a work in progress).

The 'party' and the 'vanguard'... given everything above about 'communists', then to me the 'party' and the 'vanguard' mean the same as 'communists' - if it is in the interests of the working class, and indeed the whole of humanity, to overthrow capitalism and establish communist society, then those that come to that realisation earlier than the generality, the earliest 'people who understand communism's orientation and prospects from a scientific socialist perspective' (and are prepared to let that 'understanding' guide practice), are the 'vanguard'. They are the vanguard because they are 'the first'. The are 'the party' because they are are a 'part' or 'portion' of the working class that has come to realisation of the necessity of communist society before the rest of the working class - and who work together to best expedite the realisation of the generality of the working class of its own interests.
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 Post subject: Re: What is meant by The Party.
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:47 am 
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I would feel a whole lot better, not that it matters a bit how I feel, if people would stop throwing the word "dialectical" around as if simply using the word demonstrates some knowledge of dialectic, of Marx's use, and intention, in his specific explication of dialectic... all that stuff that provides actual content to a word that is being used as a presumption of content.

LB says there's a dialectical relation between party and class, and tells us that means sometimes the party leads the class, sometimes the class leads the party. I have a dog. I walk my dog. Sometimes I lead the dog. Sometimes the dog leads me. Do I have a dialectical relationship with the dog?

BB says there's a dialectical relation between consciousness and conditions. What does that mean? Conditions change, and consciousness changes? Consciousness changes and conditions change? That's not dialectic, that's "on the one hand....while on the other hand."

The sad truth is that, as is the case in those examples, people using the word "dialectic" as an adjective or an adverb are only announcing their own ignorance-- which is OK with me, but doesn't get us any further down the road.

LB goes on to claim, after claiming there's a dialectical relationship between party and class and that the failure of revolution can be telescoped, compressed into a failure of leadership, that the left opposition cannot be faulted for the triumph of Stalinism, because it "fought against it." That doesn't correspond to the "dialectic" between party and class. The POUM, the FAI, the friends of Durruti all fought against the PSUC, the Stalinists etc. So was the failure of the Spanish Revolution a failure a failure of that leadership?

Does the critique of leadership, the so-called dialectic between party and class exist only outside the former Soviet Union? Me? I think this failure to apply the self-proclaimed dialectic to the "primary case" used as an example, the Bolsheviks and the Russian workers, is indeed a reflection of something that some call a dialectic between conditions and consciousness-- in that this blindspot in the analysis of revolutionary struggle is a direct result of the attachment to, the romance with, the power of centralized state property; actually the fetishism of the property relation, abstracted from the distorted, devastated conditions of its emergence after the Russian civil war and the defeat of the international revolution. To me, this fetish of "leadership" is but the reflected identity of the other fetish that proclaims the fSU, at any point after the suppression of the soviets, a "deformed" or "degenerated" workers' state, with a "healthy economic base."

That is not to say that the RR produces state capitalism, but is saying that the property form established was unstable, decidedly not "healthy" and incapable of developing in any direction except in opposition to the proletarian revolution. The fSU stands as an analogue to capitalism-- different origin, similar function.

But that's for those who think dialectic is better of applied as a critical tool of analysis, and not as a "credential" a talisman, a magic forumla.... a fetish.

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 Post subject: Re: What is meant by The Party.
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:46 pm 
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I'm hoping for your sake that your relationship with your dog is a little less symmetrical than you suggest. Hmm so you believe that the relationship of the Bolshevik Party to the Russian/Soviet proletariat was some kind of linear static arrangement? I doubt you do -- you just want to get in a few digs about my daring to use the word "dialectical."

BB was describing a dialectic which you then turn into a talmudic argument. Of course the consciousness of the working class and conditions at a given point in time have a dialectical relationship. Each interacts and changes the other.

I guess I need to clarify my comments about the LO, versus say POUM. I think there is only a small likelihood that the LO could have done things differently and prevailed. The made no huge errors or betrayals of revolutionary principles IMO. POUM on the otherhand was an unprincipled lashup of elements of the LO and RO in Spain. They fought bravely but made critical fundamental errors by participating in the popular front government. I think the errors they made possibly lost the Spanish Revolution. So I view that differently than the LO in the USSR. The Anarchists in Spain also gave support to the pop front government. As I recall, the FOD did not play a similar role (I'm sure you will correct me if I am wrong).


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 Post subject: Re: What is meant by The Party.
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:31 pm 
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[quote="Lev Bronsteinovich"]I'm hoping for your sake that your relationship with your dog is a little less symmetrical than you suggest. Hmm so you believe that the relationship of the Bolshevik Party to the Russian/Soviet proletariat was some kind of linear static arrangement? I doubt you do -- you just want to get in a few digs about my daring to use the word "dialectical."

BB was describing a dialectic which you then turn into a talmudic argument. Of course the consciousness of the working class and conditions at a given point in time have a dialectical relationship. Each interacts and changes the other.

I guess I need to clarify my comments about the LO, versus say POUM. I think there is only a small likelihood that the LO could have done things differently and prevailed. The made no huge errors or betrayals of revolutionary principles IMO. POUM on the otherhand was an unprincipled lashup of elements of the LO and RO in Spain. They fought bravely but made critical fundamental errors by participating in the popular front government. I think the errors they made possibly lost the Spanish Revolution. So I view that differently than the LO in the USSR. The Anarchists in Spain also gave support to the pop front government. As I recall, the FOD did not play a similar role (I'm sure you will correct me if I am wrong).


Trotskyists who talk about dialectics really fucking **** me off, to be honest. In quite the amusing course of contradictory events, I've never actually come across a single trot to use the term in anything worthy of the method present to, well, the term. It's always some ******** about how reformism and opportunism are justified by changing 'dialects' in the 'material' conditions.

Either way, I'll stop this mode of 'dialectical' thought here; your understanding of your beloved material conditions is purely formalistic, the revolutionary consciousness has long since departed from the range of the purely material, the relation between the two is entirely asymmetrical. Material conditions exist in speculation, representation, all of which are fully in tune with the continuity of the spectacular, or of the economy of the spectacle having since reached a point where it has begun to develop with independent disregard for the material constraints which it once found itself beholden to. "Once, society was dependent on the economy, but today, the economy is dependent on society". If you try to explain every revolution within the range of a castrated 'dialect' of 'revolutionary' thought, you're going to turn up with ****. Many a fine instance of modern revolution has occurred in the utmost calm, while many a proper economic collapse has seen the paper-selling goon without any willing suckers to buy their modernist **** up. Revolutionary consciousness must be created and lived, it won't be brought to the masses in whatever **** is being peddled by the modern party cadre, and it will be created and lived quite separate of the 'objective conditions' of capital, all of which have long since ceased to be purely objective in any significant way. Your idea of revolution has no bearing on anything pertaining to revolt today, it's a poorly constructed selection of amorphous historical images made to appear relevant only with a rather healthy degree of escapist mentality. We don't have a revolution today, but boy was 1917 fun for us, so on. When Lenin spoke of dialectics, he at least made a half-decent go of it, speaking to the significance of Hegel to understanding Marx to some rather decent extent in his notebooks, but you've departed quite thoroughly from even this. Dialectics is a buzzword to you, nothing more.
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 Post subject: Re: What is meant by The Party.
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:00 pm 
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Quote:
Dialectics is a buzzword to you, nothing more.


Word.

Dear Lev,

neither you nor BB know jack **** about "dialectics," that much is painfully clear to the most casual observer. I doubt if either one of you have ever read a word of Hegel, not that that's the issue. The issue is that you have no idea how Marx deployed "dialectic"-- how his materialist dialectic relates directly to the social organization of labor, which is to say the conflict between labor and the conditions of labor; or more simply, between the labor process and the valuation process.

So you spray the word dialectic around like cat spray's his ****, marking a territory that you think you control.

You have yet to explain what the so-called dialectic in the "dialectical relationship" between party and class; what are its determinations, what are its negations, what are its mediations.

No, I don't think the relationship between party and class is linear and static, a relationship between master and dog. edit: You're the one who thinks that. Hence the nonsense about the failure of the proletarian revolution is the failure of leadership.

But please, try answering a direct question, for once. What are the determinants in the relations between party and class. What are the negations in those relations. What are the mediations.

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 Post subject: Re: What is meant by The Party.
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:09 pm 
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Well the line about the crisis in revolutionary leadership is Trotsky's. I know, he was a piker about dialectics -- both he and Lenin lacked your depth of understanding of these things. You are correct about Hegel -- I have never read the man's writings, just secondary sources about him and his works. Based on what Engels had to say about the dialectic -- it would seem fairly obvious that the Party and working class are in an ever-changing, mutually influencing dynamic relationship. If that doesn't meet your criteria I will try to better next time.
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 Post subject: Re: What is meant by The Party.
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:36 pm 
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Lev Bronsteinovich wrote:
Well the line about the crisis in revolutionary leadership is Trotsky's. I know, he was a piker about dialectics -- both he and Lenin lacked your depth of understanding of these things. You are correct about Hegel -- I have never read the man's writings, just secondary sources about him and his works. Based on what Engels had to say about the dialectic -- it would seem fairly obvious that the Party and working class are in an ever-changing, mutually influencing dynamic relationship. If that doesn't meet your criteria I will try to better next time.



You didn't answer the question. What is dialectical in the relationship. What are the determinations? The negations? The mediations? What makes it a dialectical relationship? That they influence each other? WTF? The US government and the AFL-CIO influence each other. Is that a dialectical relationship?

Not all mutually influencing, ever-changing, dynamic relationships are "dialectic" or "dialectical." What distinguishes the "dialectical" from the non-dialectical?

If you can't answer the question, that's OK, but just stop using the word.

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 Post subject: Re: What is meant by The Party.
PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:16 pm 
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This is by far the best thread on "the Party" on any forum. If more ***** who think "the party" means their precious sectlet could understand this, it'd be awesome. Still have tools like the self-proclaimed Bordigist/Leninist Remus... who thinks it means a literal party in the form of the KPD, SPD, KAPD, SWP, RSLDP, SLP, etc.

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