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    Lenin or Luxemburg: Alternative Views of the Party

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    lucien

    Number of posts : 118
    Registration date : 2008-05-18

    Lenin or Luxemburg: Alternative Views of the Party

    Post  lucien on Sat Jul 05, 2008 2:19 pm

    By Henry Topper, from PRAXIS International (1/1982):
    http://bataillesocialiste.wordpress.com/2008/07/05/lenin-or-luxemburg-alternative-views-of-the-party/
    (pdf in english after a short summary in french)

    mondialiste

    Number of posts : 120
    Registration date : 2008-06-01

    Re: Lenin or Luxemburg: Alternative Views of the Party

    Post  mondialiste on Sun Jul 06, 2008 1:09 am

    In its September-October 1936 issue the International Review of New York published the extract below from an article by Rosa Luxemburg that had appeared in the Neue Zeit, year XII (1903-1904), Nº 2, under the title “Deceived Hopes” from which the difference between her view of the role of a socialist party and that of Lenin can be seen.
    Unfortunately the whole article (about the place of bourgeois intellectuals in the socialist movement) has not yet been translated into English, but it has been into French and can be found at http://www.marxists.org/francais/luxembur/m_et_c/m_et_c.htm.


    Leaders and the led

    Goethe’s “odious majority”, composed of several vigorous spellbinders, a few scoundrels ready to adapt themselves to any cause or program, a number of weak souls ever ready to be assimilated, and the great mass “trotting behind without having the least idea of what it wants” – the characterization that the bourgeois pen-pushers would like to fasten to the socialist mass – is no more or less than the classic formula for “majorities” of the parties of the bourgeoisie.

    In all the class struggles of the past, waged in the interest of minorities and in which, as Marx said, “development was brought about in opposition to the great mass of the people”, an essential condition of action was the ignorance of the mass concerning the real aim, the material content and the limits of the movement. This difference between the “leaders” and the “led” was the specific historical basis underlying the “directing role” assumed by the “educated bourgeoisie”. a natural complement to the role played by the bourgeois “leaders” was the part of “followers” left to the mass.

    But already in 1845 Marx noted that “with the increasing depth of historic action grows the volume of the mass engaged in this action”. The class struggle waged by the proletariat is the “deepest” of all historic actions that have taken place up to now. It takes in all the lower sections of the people. For the first time since the beginning of class society, it corresponds to the interests of the people itself.

    That is why the understanding by the mass of its tasks and instruments is an indispensable condition for socialist revolutionary action – just as formerly the ignorance of the mass was an indispensable condition for the revolutionary action of the ruling classes.

    As a result, the difference between “leaders” and the “majority trotting along behind” is abolished (in the socialist movement). The relation between the mass and the leaders is destroyed. The only function left to the supposed “guides” of the social-democracy is that of explaining to the mass the historic mission of the latter. The authority and influence of such “leaders” grows in proportion to the work of education of this kind accomplished by them. Their prestige and influence increases only in the measure that they, the so-called leaders, destroy the condition that was formerly the basis for every function of leaders: the blindness of the mass. Their influence grows in the measure that they strip themselves of their role as leaders, in the measure that they make the mass self-directing and they themselves become no more than the executive organs of the self-conscious action of the mass.

    Undoubtedly, the transformation of the mass into a sure conscious, lucid “self-leader” – the fusion of science and the working class dreamt of by Lassalle – can only be a dialectic process, as the working class movement absorbs uninterruptedly new proletarian elements as well as fugitives from other sections of society.

    Nevertheless such is and such will be the dominant tendency of the socialist movement: the abolition of the relation of “leaders” and “led” in the bourgeois sense of the word, the abolition of the relation that is the historic basis of all class domination.
    http://www.marxists.org/francais/luxembur/m_et_c/m_et_c.htm

    lucien

    Number of posts : 118
    Registration date : 2008-05-18

    Re: Lenin or Luxemburg: Alternative Views of the Party

    Post  lucien on Sun Jul 06, 2008 1:54 am

    Masse et chefs doesn't exist in english ??

    mondialiste

    Number of posts : 120
    Registration date : 2008-06-01

    Re: Lenin or Luxemburg: Alternative Views of the Party

    Post  mondialiste on Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:01 am

    Masse et chefs doesn't exist in english ??
    I don't think so. I checked when I first came across this extract a few years ago. I even thought of translating the rest from the French translation, but ideally it should be translated from the original German which can now be found at http://www.marxists.org/deutsch/archiv/luxemburg/1903/xx/geknickt.html
    What I found interesting about the article was that Luxemburg was arguing that the role of Social Democrats (socialists) was essentially educational: to get the workers to see the necessity to get rid of capitalism and establish socialism and then leave it up to them to organise themselves democratically, without leaders, to do this.

    Cesco

    Number of posts : 50
    Group : Movimento Socialista Mondiale
    Location : Wales
    Website : http://worldsocialism.blog.excite.it/
    Registration date : 2008-05-20

    Re: Lenin or Luxemburg: Alternative Views of the Party

    Post  Cesco on Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:58 am

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/mattick-paul/1935/luxemburg-lenin.htm

    A marxist point of view.

    Cesco

    Number of posts : 50
    Group : Movimento Socialista Mondiale
    Location : Wales
    Website : http://worldsocialism.blog.excite.it/
    Registration date : 2008-05-20

    Re: Lenin or Luxemburg: Alternative Views of the Party

    Post  Cesco on Thu Apr 23, 2009 1:28 am

    Dear All

    I have been discussing with a comrade from Socialist Party (Iain) about Leninism and Luxemburgism.
    I think it can be interesting to have also other points of view on this important matter, in order to improve our understanding of it. I must thank Iain for agreeing on posting his views on this forum.

    I here have copied and pasted the discussion we had so far.




    Dear Iain

    For my personal experience Lotta was how I got to know that parliamentary parties, even when they call themselves communist or socialist, are just part of the bourgeois political power and therefore anti-revolutionaries. For the rest as you said, Lotta has a very static and hierarchic centralised structure.
    For them Leninsm is the ultimate applied Marxism. And they do not admit that Stalinsm is a direct creature of Lenin.

    About Rosa Luxemburg I think that her main contribution (and not addition) to Marxism is to make clear that a socialist revolution has to come from the people (masses), in clear opposition with Lenin who strongly believed that an elite of professional revolutionaries will guide the human society to a better system. Moreover she fought against Bernstein's reformism, which tried to make Marx a bourgeois current. She had a central role in the German revolution.

    Politically Luxmburg's approach was the starting point for a complex movement nowadays known as ultra-left, to which I politically belong.

    Many of the so called neo-luxemburgists are in complete agreement with her view on the economic crisis (see Luxembug's "The accumulation of capital"), I personally do not agree with it , I am more for an orthodox Marxian approach about this matter. If you want we can continue this discussion in future.

    Although I do not agree with Luxemburg's theories on accumulation I still think that her contribution to the Marxist thought was and is fundamental.

    Unfortunately my first language is Italian and I don't know German so I cannot fill the gap in the literature.


    Marxist greetings

    Cesco



    Dear Cesco,


    Personally, I suppose I'm a Trotskyist although i prefer the term Marxist as I've read a fair few stuff by different Marxists. I do know quite a bit about Rosa Luxemburg and have quite a lot of respect for her - she was pivotal to the German Revolution and to my mind her murder robbed the German workers of their most capabale leader.

    As for Rosa's contributions - I actually think her main contributions were as you mention, spear-heading the opposition to Bernstein - but also her opposition to Kautsky i think was important. I haven't read Rosa's work on the accumulation of capital although i've picked up that it seems to be a debated topic on the strengths of her views on that.

    Personally, I don't think her and Lenin's views on how a socialist revolution would come about aren't quite as disimmilar as you suggest, especially in practice. The Spartacists League to my mind was a similar kind of organisation to the Bolsheviks. I know there's a suggestion in Lenin's 'What is to be Done' that a socialist 'consciousness' can only be brought to the people from the intellectuals, but you do know he changed his mind on that? In my opinion, organisation - including the dissemination through leaflets, newspapers etc. of socialist ideas are vital, but a revolution is 'where the masses enter the scene of history' and the role of socialists then is in particular to use our experience to strengthen the movement of the masses.

    Also I don't think Stalinism is a direct creature of Leninism - i don't think there is a continuation there but a break. For my Stalinism came about due to the isolation of the revolution in Russia (due both to setbacks outside of Russia [ie. defeat of revolutions in europe, especially Germany] as well as foreign military intervention in Russia itself - btw I don't just mean Russia when i say Russia if you get what I mean).
    However, to my mind I think what also needs to be done is a detailed study of the Bolsheviks in power before the rise of Stalin (about 1917-23) - I have read some stuff on this, but it's mostly stuff that attempts to clarify the position of Stalin, Lenin and Trotsky on key 'debates', rather than a broad look at the challenges faced and how they attempted to overcome them - i think such a thing would be very valuable to any Marxist regardless of his views of the Bolsheviks, as they are problems any socialist regime would have to face up to, in my opinion.

    I believe the latest edition of Revolutionary History journal is a special edition about Rosa Luxemburg to mark 90 years since her death adn features lots of new translations of her work.


    cheers

    Iain


    Dear Iain,

    I must clarify some aspects of the discussion on Lenin and Luxemburg we are having.

    When you say that Lenin's views on socialist revolution in practise aren't much different from Luxemburg's. I feel the necessity to go more in depth. Anyway, I apologies for the lengh of my reply!

    "Though Luxemburg and Lenin had set themselves the same task the revolutionary revival of the labour movement sunk in the swamps of reformism, and the overthrow of capitalist society on a world-wide scale - still in their striving toward this goal their ways diverged...
    All attempts of inconsistent Leninists, from political considerations, to reconcile Lenin with Luxemburg now that both are dead and to erase the opposition between them, in order to derive advantage from both of them, is merely a silly falsification of history which serves no one but the falsifiers and them only temporarily." (from P Mattick, Luxemburg vs Lenin, 1935).

    Summarising:
    The only thing which united Lenin and Luxemburg was their battle against revisionism and reformism (Bernstein and Kaustky of course).
    Their views diverged on the national question.
    On collapse of capitalism their opinions diverged, (Luxemburg opinion is quite far from Marx's too).
    On the spontaneity and the role of organisation, which is the point you are referring to, "She does not confuse revolutionary consciousness with the intellect-consciousness of the Leninist professional revolutionists, but for her it is the act - consciousness of the masses themselves, growing from the constraint of necessity." (from P Mattick, Luxemburg vs Lenin, 1935).

    In coherence with Luxemburg's ideas the Spartacists League wasn't like the Bolshevik Party.
    Just to quote Rosa herself on Bolshevik dictatorship.

    "Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule.
    Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously - at bottom, then, a clique affair - a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins..."
    (R Luxemburg, The Russian Revolution, Chapter 6, 1918).

    The Party lead by professional revolutionaries was not only a "suggestion" in Lenin's "What is to be Done". The Social Democratic Labour Party split in two factions Bolsheviks and Mensheviks in 1903 on this major organisational matter.

    The concept that "intellectuals would play an active role in social development and moral regeneration" (M R Katz and W G Wagner, Introduction to Chernyshevsky 's What is to be done ?, 1989) comes not even form Lenin himself, but from his utopian socialist master Chernyshevsky and importantly not from Marx either.
    Lenin did not change his mind about this point at all. This is clear just remembering that the Bolsheviks disbanded the Constituent Assembly won by the Socialist-Revolutionaries with 38% of the votes against the 23.7% of the Bolsheviks.

    And again about Stalinism coming from Lenin, Anton Pannekoek clearly gives to Lenin the responsibility of building a state-capitalism in Russia and rightly so.

    "In Russia a system of state-capitalism consolidated itself, not by deviating from but following Lenin's ideas" (from Lenin as Philosopher by A Pannekoek, 1938).

    Pannekoek does not accept Leninist's groups version that everything went wrong since Stalin took control of the Soviet Union. Chapter 8 (the proletariat revolution). Lenin "intends to instruct the reader that the Party is right, and that he has to trust and follow the party leaders." (Lenin as Philosopher by A Pannekoek, 1938).

    "There is a widespread opinion that the bolshevist party was marxist, and that it was only for practical reasons that Lenin, the great scholar and leader of Marxism, gave to the revolution another direction than what Western workers called communism -- thereby showing his realistic marxian insight. The critical opposition to the Russian and C.P. politics tries indeed to oppose the despotic practice of the present Russian government -- termed Stalinism -- to the "true" Marxist principles of Lenin and old bolshevism. Wrongly so. Not only because in practice these politics were inaugurated already by Lenin. But also because the alleged Marxism of Lenin and the bolshevist party is nothing but a legend. Lenin never knew real Marxism. Whence should he have taken it? Capitalism he knew only as colonial capitalism; social revolution he knew only as the annihilation of big land ownership and Czarist despotism. Russian bolshevism cannot be reproached for having abandoned the way of Marxism: for it was never on that way. Every page of Lenin's philosophical work is there to prove it; and Marxism itself, by its thesis that theoretical opinions are determined by social relations and necessities, makes clear that it could not be otherwise. Marxism, however, at the same time shows the necessity of the legend; every middle-class revolution, requiring working-class and peasant support, needs the illusion that it is something different, larger, more universal. Here it was the illusion that the Russian revolution was the first step of world revolution liberating the entire proletarian class from capitalism; its theoretical expression was the legend of Marxism." (A Pannekoek, Lenin as Philosopher by, 1938).


    Regards
    Cesco


    Hi Cesco,


    I guess the first thing I ought to point out is in realtion to Rosa's article on the Russian Revolution she deliberatly never published it in her lifetime - it was actually published by Paul Levi several years later for his own personal political gain. She also wrote it from prison where her information about the Russian Revolution - and despite the criticisms contained within it praises Lenin and Trotsky at the end of it.

    Next, the split in the RSDLP - this wasn't a split over the question of professional revolutionaries (in the sense of full-time revolutionaries) it was a split over whether it is possible to consider people members who do not agree with the programme advocated by that party. People who help and organistion but don't fully agree with its programme should quite correctly be called supporters of that organisation and not full members. This wasn't a split over centralism either - that had been agreed to earlier in the congress. The point I was trying to make about intellectuals as there was a part of 'What is to be done?' where Lenin suggests that a socialistic consciousness has to be brought to the workers from outside as workers couldn;'t go further than a trade union consciousness. He later rejected this as incorrect - that is what i was referring to. Anyway, going back to the 1903 congress - one of the things that Lenin praised about it was bringing minor points up for clarification and debate as it signalled that on most major points agreement had been reached. The point being that freedom of discussion was of vital importance - unlike under Stalin.

    The two main organisations that Rosa helped form, the SDKPiL and the Spartacists, both were centralist. In fact the Spartacists adopted a transitional programme (that term was coined fully by Trotsky in the 1930's of course) just like the Bolsheviks did after Lenin's return in 1917 (the period after Lenin's return to the October revolution is worth a lot of study - it again throws spanners in the works of arguements that Lenin

    On the constituent assembly - Rosa wasn't opposed to its dissolution - it was more of how it was done - she favoured annulling the elections that had already taken place and calling fresh ones that represented the chenged political atmosphere in that country, rather than simply dispersing it. Her reasoning was that the newly elected constituent assembly would then hand power to the soviets - to Lenin and Trotsky this was squaring the circle, power was already in the hands of the Soviets.

    One of the main similarities between Rosa and Lenin and difference between them and Stalin was on the question of internationalism - Rosa and Lenin understood that the Russian Revolution was the first step of the world revolution (indeed both said success in Russia depended upon the German Revolution). Lenin called what was occuring in Russia State Capitalism (one of several terms he tried using) as correctly he recognised that socialism cannot be built in one isolated country alone (especially a fairly undeveloped one like Russia) and thus whilst necessary to move as far as possible in that direction whilst capiatlism existed worldwide they couldn';t escape its grip. Stalin on the otherhand was the champion of the idea of socialism in one country.

    And finally - yes you are completely correct about the national question - I stand for Lenin's position on this - in actual fact Stalin's position is similar to Rosa's (although for different reasons) - I don't suppose you've actually read Lenin's last writings where he was in a struggle against Stalin have you?


    Iain


    Last edited by Cesco on Thu Apr 23, 2009 1:04 pm; edited 3 times in total

    Cesco

    Number of posts : 50
    Group : Movimento Socialista Mondiale
    Location : Wales
    Website : http://worldsocialism.blog.excite.it/
    Registration date : 2008-05-20

    Re: Lenin or Luxemburg: Alternative Views of the Party

    Post  Cesco on Thu Apr 23, 2009 1:28 am

    Dear Iain,


    For Ultra-left Marxists as well as for Luxemburgists, the leadership matter is of crucial importance.

    In your first e-mail you say that "there is a suggestion in Lenin's 'What is to be Done' that a socialist 'consciousness' can only be brought to the people from the intellectuals".
    My point was and strongly is that this is not only a suggestion, but conversely this is a central point of Leninism.

    My example about 1903 Russina Social Democratic Party split, not only is appropriate to show that in Lenin the professional revolutionary idea was present, but also to prove that it was one of the points on which the Party split.

    To disprove your statement "this wasn't a split over the question of professional revolutionaries".

    I translated a part from lucid review on Lenin.

    "The first paragraph of the statutes defined indeed the condition of adhesion to the Party. Two views were opposed irreversibly: Lenin's and Martov's. For the first the adhesion supposed a personal engagement in the organization of the Party, which meant not only agreement on the platform of the Party, but also an active participation to the life (activities) of the Party itself. Martov, whom instead prepared a second text, insisted strongly his version to undergo the delegates, he proposed a much more elastic definition of -member of the Party-. To Martov, a member, was "whomever give their contribution to the Party under the authority of one of its organs". In other terms, for Lenin, a member of the Party was only whom had a precise position in it, carrying on an active role within the hierarchic and centralised organization, whereas, for Martov, whomever was near the Party's ideas could have been considered member. This dispute, apparently abstract, concealed indeed two extremely concrete aspects: on the one hand, the view defended by Lenin in his preparatory text implying his idea of a rigorous revolutionary organisation disciplined by professional revolutionaries, subjected to a constant inner control..."
    (Hélène Carrère D'Encausse, Lenin, 2003)
    So behind the membership matter there is the professional revolutionary matter.

    You are reffering to Lenin's What is to be done, 1902.

    "The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labour legislation, etc
    ...Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from without, that is, only from outside the economic struggle, from outside the sphere of relations between workers and employers."

    Than you say that anyhow Lenin rejected this idea.

    If he did it, well, he must have done it when he was at the end of his life, probably around 1923.
    It would be interesting to see when and in which terms he did it.

    Anyway, in 1920 Lenin's view was unchanged:

    "absolute centralisation and rigorous discipline of the proletariat are an essential condition of victory over the bourgeoisie...how is the discipline of the proletariat's revolutionary party maintained?...by the class-consciousness of the proletarian vanguard and by its devotion to the revolution..."
    (Lenin, Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder, 1920)

    On the the Split Among the German Communists, he goes:

    "Let the "Lefts" put themselves to a practical test on a national and international scale. Let them try to prepare for (and then implement) the dictatorship of the proletariat, without a rigorously centralised party with iron discipline, without the ability to become masters of every sphere, every branch, and every variety of political and cultural work. Practical experience will soon teach them"
    (Lenin, Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder, 1920)

    The idea of proletarian vanguard is, at the end of the day, another aspect of the professional revolutionaries idea.

    The leadership question was an important one and Rosa Luxemburg did publish, in the 1904 in Iskra and Neue Zeit, her opinion on it well before her death:

    She was referring exactly to the professional revolutionaries, or proletarian vanguard and centralism:

    "One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward, written by Lenin... is a methodical exposition of the ideas of the ultra-centralist tendency in the Russian movement.... Laid down as principles are: 1. The necessity of selecting, and constituting as a separate corps, all the active revolutionists, as distinguished from the unorganized, though revolutionary, mass surrounding this elite...

    ...Now the two principles on which Lenin's centralism rests are precisely these:
    The blind subordination, in the smallest detail, of all party organs to the party centre which alone thinks, guides, and decides for all. The rigorous separation of the organized nucleus of revolutionaries from its social-revolutionary surroundings.
    Such centralism is a mechanical transposition of the organizational principles of Blanquism into the mass movement of the socialist working class.
    In accordance with this view, Lenin defines his "revolutionary Social Democrat" as a "Jacobin joined to the organization of the proletariat, which has become conscious of its class interests."

    ...The fact is that the Social Democracy is not joined to the organization of the proletariat. It is itself the proletariat. And because of this, Social Democratic centralism is essentially different from Blanquist centralism. It can only be the concentrated will of the individuals and groups representative of the working class. It is, so to speak, the "self-centralism" of the advanced sectors of the proletariat. It is the rule of the majority within its own party.
    The indispensable conditions for the realization of Social Democratic centralism are:
    The existence of a large contingent of workers educated in the class struggle.
    The possibility for the workers to develop their own political activity through direct influence on public life, in a party press, and public congresses, etc...

    ...In Lenin's overanxious desire to establish the guardianship of an omniscient and omnipotent Central Committee in order to protect so promising and vigorous a labour movement against any misstep, we recognize the symptoms of the same subjectivism that has already played more than one trick on socialist thinking in Russia."

    (R Luxemburg, Organizational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy [Leninism or Marxism?], 1904)

    You also say that Rosa Luxemburg agreed with the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, but she actually agrees on the fact that the assembly was voted before the revolution therefore it was not reflecting the mood of the people after. On this she agrees that the elections were no longer valid and they must have been repeated. Actually she was mistaken on the dates. The elections took place after the October Revolution therefore following her logic there were valid.

    Most importantly, as you mentioned, she did not agree at all with Lenin and Trotsky solution to "eliminate democracy":

    "To be sure, every democratic institution has its limits and shortcomings, things which it doubtless shares with all other human institutions. But the remedy which Trotsky and Lenin have found, the elimination of democracy as such, is worse than the disease it is supposed to cure; for it stops up the very living source from which alone can come correction of all the innate shortcomings of social institutions. That source is the active, untrammeled, energetic political life of the broadest masses of the people."
    (Rosa Luxemburg, The Russian Revolution, Chapter 4, The Constituent Assembly, 1920)

    About Luxemburgism and Leninism on national question

    I leave you to read Mattick's clear analysis:

    "The 'liberated' nations form a fascist ring around Russia. 'Liberated' Turkey shoots down the communists with arms supplied to her by Russia. China, supported in its national struggle for freedom by Russia and the Third International, throttles its labour movement in a manner reminiscent of the Paris Commune. Thousands and thousands of workers' corpses are testimony of the correctness of Rosa Luxemburg's view that the phrase about the right of self-determination of nations is nothing but "petty-bourgeois humbug." The extent to which the "struggle for national liberation is a struggle for democracy" is surely revealed by the nationalistic adventures of the Third International in Germany, adventures which contributed their share to the preconditions for the victory of fascism. Ten years of competition with Hitler for the title to real nationalism turned the workers themselves into fascists"
    (Paul Mattick Luxemburg versus Lenin, 1935)

    In conclusion, this is not a strenuous defence of Rosa Luxemburg or Luxemburgism. This is just to make clear that Luxemburgism is far from Leninism in theory and practice.

    I personally do not have any problem to agree with Luxemburg's views on leadership and national question than with Lenin's Jacobinism.

    "A...new movement of the workers with its inseparable nucleus of conscious revolutionists can do more with Luxemburg's revolutionary theory, in spite of its many weaknesses, and derive from it more hope, than from the total accomplishment of the Leninist International"
    (Paul Mattick Luxemburg versus Lenin, 1935)
    Thank you for giving me the stimulus to go back to the old literature.
    Regards
    Cesco


    Hi Cesco

    I am at a little bit of a loss how to reply to you - the main problem for me is that I simply do not have the time to read through volumes of literature. I deeply apologise for this, it is a bit of a cop out. Instead what I offer is my impressions upon the topics you have raised based on what knowledge i already have.

    I want to start by talking about what do you mean by a 'professional revolutionary' - does it mean, as I believe you are implying, that we are talking about people who work full-time for an organisation drawn from the intelligentsia. I think this is a wrong categorisation in terms of what is needed for a revolutionary party and I also believe it isn't what is meant by Lenin. (I come onto the point about the intelligentsia in a moment)

    What I believe Lenin was getting at by professional revolutionary (and even if you don't agree that this is what Lenin was saying - i think this is what we should mean by the term) is of someone who plays, as your D'Encasse quote says, an active role in the life of the party as well as agreeing with its programme. To my mind for a party to be worth having there must be a certain commitment of its members to trying to get its programme into action. By including people as full members of the party who are not doing that you allow in all sorts of chancers and armchair marxists who may not do a damn to move the struggle forward. That I believe is the danger of what Martov argued at the congress.
    Now obviously there is the issue of what to do about people who agree with the programme or want to be active with you but don't fully agree with the programme - in my opinion you should work with these people still, but they do not have a right to be called a member of a party with the rights that flow from that. Ideally parties should work in united fronts where there is the freedom to debate the differences between individuals and organisations involved whilst uniting in campaigning for things that they are agreed upon. The Socialist Student society at the university is an example of this amongst many other things.

    I next want to move onto the question of leadership you quote Rosa Luxemburg from 1904 - what you do not mention is that the SDKPiL, the party she helped found was rather centralised. Furthermore as a result of WW1 she did in fact organise the revolutionary wing of the SPD into a distinct tendency - the Spartacists.
    That is the question of the vanguard - it is not about guaranteeing the rule of a central committee - far from it - if that committee turns out to be useless as a leadership then the masses (and the party itself) will ignore it. The question of the vanguard is in uniting the workers who agree on a specific programme for acheiving a socialist transformation of society (socialist revolution) who are then able to work together to argue for this.

    As for the whole party leaders needing to be drawn from the intelligentsia (thats a loose way of putting it but you get my point), I believe Lenin changed his mind on this after the experience of the 1905 Russian Revolution - i will try to track this down for you. (or so I've been told - unfortunately I've not had the chance to read either Lenin, Trotsky or Luxemburg's material on 1905 which are all supposed to be excellent.) I'm not saying he changed his mind on the need for centralism

    As for the right of nations to self-determine - what about the Spanish Revolution? The rejection of self-determination for the people of Morocco created a (btw saying people have a right to self-determination doesn't mean you actually advocate it in the concrete circumstances of a given country - ie the Socialist Party would say Wales has a right if it so wished to self determination from the UK, however whilst we uphold that right we would be opposed to that in the present circumstances). As for self-determination in Russia - the quotation from Mattick doesn't cut it to my mind - it confuses the period from the Chinese revolution (1925-27) onwards (til the 'third period') of cross-class fronts with the period prior to that of an independent class policy. Feel free to criticise Lenin's policy on the right to self-determination of nations but don't conflate it the Stalinist bureaucracy. Btw in the case of Stalin's position on the national question being similar to Lenin I am referring to the Caucuses just prior to Lenin's death. If you study Stalinism (and not just Stalin) then you will know its policy flip-flops from one position to another.

    And finally on the constituent assembly - the reason the elections weren't valid was not due to the voting, but that the electoral lists were drawn up prior to the Socialist Revolutionaries splitting which gave a predominance to the right Socialist Revolutionaries despite people (mostly peasants) voting for that list on the basis of supporting the left socialist revolutionaries. Both Lenin and Rosa believed the Soviets to be a superior form of democracy to the constituent assembly, the question was how to resolve the balance of power in the favour of the Soviets.

    Iain

    ps. if you feel it will be beneficial to repost this on that forum that is your choice, all i say is that these are my own personal views and reflect my own shortcomings - I think they are broadly the socialist party's views as a whole too but i may be mistaken on a point or two.

    ElIndio

    Number of posts : 341
    Group : Réseau Luxemburgiste International/International Luxemburgit Network
    Website : luxemburgism.lautre.net
    Registration date : 2008-04-16

    Re: Lenin or Luxemburg: Alternative Views of the Party

    Post  ElIndio on Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:07 pm

    The International Luxemburgist Network has published an article on the difference between Lenin and Luxemburg in regards to the party. It discusses such differences in regards to the NPA foundation in France : On the Question of Revolutionary Organization: the Case of the NPA in France

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    Re: Lenin or Luxemburg: Alternative Views of the Party

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