From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Sun Dec 14 2003 - 21:50:54 EST

Apropos, here's the abstract for the paper that Paresh wrote for this 
year's Marx conference in Havana. You'll note his closing line re the 
Soviet experience--- "Marx, indeed, had the last laugh."

                                      Two Approaches to Socialist 
Revolution :Marx vs.Lenin-Trotsky

Following Marx,a society of free and associated producers---socialism---is 
a product of history,not of nature or arbitrary will.Individuals cannot 
bring their own social relations under their proper control before having 
created them.Indeed,new,hier relations of production do not appear  before 
its matériel conditions of existence have already been hatched within the 
womb of the old society itself.And if in the existing society we do not 
find in a latent form the matériel  conditions of production and 
corresponding relations of circulation for a classless soceity,all attempts 
at exploding the present society would be don Quixotism.These conditions 
are basically,first,the existence of the proletariat---« the greatest 
productive power »----occupying at least a significant position in 
society,and,secondly,the universal development of productive forces and 
socialization of labour and production.Given these conditions,socialist 
revolution begins when capital has reached a situation where the productive 
powers it has generated---including its « greatest productive power »---can 
no longer advance on the basis of the existing relations of 
production.Socialist revolution itself is seen as an immense emancipatory 
project---based on workers’ self-emacipation leading to the emancipation of 
the whole humanity---whose very first step is the « conquest of democracy »,
the rule of the immense majority in the inter est of the immense majority.
     Against this profound materialist perspective Lenin(and Trotsky) 
avanced the thesis that socialist revolution could(would) break out where 
the chain of world capitalism­subject to the law  of unevenand combined 
development­has its  weakestlink,that is,its productive powers  are least 
developed .This ‘weakest link’ thesis became a canon of the dominant Left 
as well as of those sympathetic to the Bolshevik regime. However,they were 
dismissing Marx too rapidly.Lenin soon real ized that a largely 
pre-capitalist country with a low level of productive forces and a backward 
working class required the development of capitalism­of course under a 
‘proletarian’ state­in order to reach socialism later.This is seen in 
Lenin’s own pronouncements of the post-1917 period as well as the 
corresponding measures undertaken by the new regime.It need not be stressed 
that the development of capitalism is not the task of a    SOCIALIST 
Similarly,far from inaugurating a socialist revolution as a 
self-emancipatory act of the toilers themselves,’conquering democracy’ as a 
‘first step’,October 1917 saw the seizure and monopolisation of power by a 
tiny minority in the name of the toilers independently of and,in 
fact,behind the back of their already established organs of self 
administrstion,putting a définite brake on the immense pluralist and 
democratic process started by the spontaneous revolutionary upheaval of the 
entire mass of the Russian toilers,,rapidly destroying in the process 
thetoilers own organsof self-rule.In the event,never able to 
suppresscommodity and wage relations,the regime,particularly after the 
civil war,took conscious measaures to widen them rapidly and in the process 
consummateda bourgeois non-democratic  revolution.Marx,indeed,had the last 
of Quebec at Montreal

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office Fax:   (604) 291-5944
Home:   Phone (604) 689-9510

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