RE: [OPE] One party state?

From: Anders Ekeland <>
Date: Wed Jun 10 2009 - 09:24:04 EDT

Hi Paul B,

I do not have - and I guess that goes for you too - time just now to
have a long exchange on these important issues. I just wondered if
you had any real, documentar basis for saying that Lenin waged
"ideological struggles" against Stalin/Trotsky which all interested
in these issues had overlooked, but as expected - you offered nothing

On the contrary - and as usual - Kremlological anecdotes - this time
on the Irish Easter Rising - being "patronising". It is IMO a bit sad
that you do not realise how far from a real debate putting such type
of arguments forward is.

On the more fundamental issues I am convinced that it was the
Bolshevik faction that contained antagonistic differences, between a
mainly democratic, and a mainly authoritarian/sectarian/terrorist
wing (Bogdanov, Stalin), cfr. the continual problems Lenin had with
the "committee men" and their "sectarianism" (other currents,
parlamentary work, methods of work, view of workers councils etc. etc.).

Just take the the fact that Lenin's lieu-tenant Bogdanov demanded
that the Petrograd Soviet (lead by Trotsky!) should plead loyalty to
the Bolsh. faction etc.

The fact that Stalin&Co without much pity exterminated Lenin's
closest comrades IMHO - shows where the real antagonisms were, but of
course he story is much more complicated/dynamic.

But in a way Stalin was the "Rote Arme Fraktion" of his day - very
antagonistic of the rest of the democratic, normal, common sense
left. Of course, conditions were dramatically different in Russia
then and the "West" in the seventies, so the analogy is just meant to
say that Stalin actually was politically very far from teh
"democratic bolshevism" of Voronsky, Lunacharsky. The critique of the
mjezdu-raiontsy (Trotskys group, rings regrattably very true
regarding the "leninistic" practices of SWP-UK. Lenin had one foot in
both camps - just as contradictory (and correct!) as he was on the
nature of the revolution before the April-theses.

I think that the democratic wing of the B-faction should have allied
itself with Martov's left Mensheviks. It isolated the revolution that
they did not. Zinovjev and Kamenjev - and a majority of the party,
but the lack of vision/understanding of Martov, and the consequent
impatience of Lenin&Trotsky made this alliance (and workers
democracy) impossible.

But this whole story is so loaded with myths, distortion of facts
that it takes a weeks seminar only to agree on the most elementary
facts, to have a common basis for analysis. Just to take one example
- how to explain that in many (most?) industrial cities in Russia,
the RSDLP first split in 1917, in some instances first after October?

I disagree with the negative evaluation of Trotsky's "theory" of the
party, f.ex. leading FI member Francois Vercammen, that the theory of
the party was Trotsky's weakest point. I am "shocking" my FI comrades
by my radical reinterpretation of the Russian revolution (and the
Chinese, Cuban etc.). My views are clearly marginal, but after having
studied the literature (f.ex. LeBlanc, Cliff ....) I do not find any
interpretation that really gives a good explanation. LeBlanc cannot
finish his very well intended project of portraying Lenin as a
fundamental democrat, neither can Cliff. IMO they both bring very
interesting material - that cannot be contained in their explanatory

Regarding the link between New York intellectual circles - influenced
to some degree of "trotskyism" and the present day neo-cons ...
bringing in such "evidence" just confirms my opinion that this is not
*yet* a serious debate, based on a willingness to look at the lessons
of October with an open mind, but just another attempt to "defend"
ones political identity. I hope - when we have time - that the debate
can start from "scratch". We all know that many "Stalinists" from the
thirties became neo-cons, that many ultra-left -68 left-wingers
became neo-cons, are we going to base our judgement on regression
analysis of the number of neo-cons to the number of intellectuals "at
risk" of becoming neo-cons? Or maybe "Event history analysis" would
be more appropriate, since this really is "career" analysis? ;-)

Since I in my youth was a Maoist I know such political
identity-protective mechanisms in and out, from myself and from my comrades.

So unless you have anything substantial to offer as a proof of
Lenin's "ideological struggles" - let's just stop here.

But let's also return to these issues when you have learned some
lessons (from life, from books) and is more open to real debate. The
issues really merit discussion, but not the myths, not cheap
arguments like the Irish Easter rising or the trotskyism => neo-con.
There will be no hard feelings or "patronising" from my side - I also
had to learn some lessons - so I hope "you come through, too".

Anders E

At 13:55 10.06.2009, you wrote:
>That was an interesting map of the development of the neo-cons as an
>offshoot of Trotskyism
>[] On Behalf Of Paul Bullock
>Sent: Tuesday, June 09, 2009 2:17 PM
>To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
>Subject: Re: [OPE] One party state?
>this is surprising.. surely you must be aware of Trotsky's early centrism,
>and what I think was an invidious role for many years with respect to
>Bolshevism. He tried to reconcile parties/ sections of the movement that
>were clearly impossibly at odds. His early judgements eg on the Irish Easter
>Rising are shockingly patronising compared to Lenin's astute judgements.
>This doesn't meean to say lenin wouldn't talk to him of course! Trotsky
>himself relates ( in his rather self satisfied 'My Life',) the dressing down
>he got from Lenin in a railway station about his attitude to 'fund raising'
>and the 'respectibility' of the opposition/revolutionary trends/ movement.
>Once reconciled to Bolshevism there is no doubt he played a first class
>role, but as soon as we get to the question of the organisation of labour
>after the revolution he still doesn't seem to get it. The debates, the real
>struggles for party policy demonstrate, as any historical period will, real
>futility in the simplistic views about individuals.
>But the main issue is why TODAY, NOW, the modern Trotskyists label
>themselves such. In my opinion, because they took a systematically anti
>Soviet position and tioday usually an anti communist position, and have
>sought (ironically for them exactly like the neo-cons by the way
>) to link themselves to Trotsky's positions in later life. In general they
>are radical petty bourgeoise socialists who draw the line at actually
>confronting their domestic imperialism (its ok to attack other imperialisms,
>indeed the further away from home the more radical they will sound -
>although their attacks on Chavez or Cuba are solid instances of this role.)
>as such. eg Look at their support for Polish 'Solidarity' and how history
>has already revealed its reactionary role to the lay observer. But that is a
>completely different story.
>Paul B
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Anders Ekeland" <>
>To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
>Sent: Monday, June 08, 2009 12:36 PM
>Subject: Re: [OPE] One party state?
> > David Yaffe wrote:
> >>Your resort to slogans when your back is against the wall. I am a Marxist
> >>and a Leninist. I believe Lenin was correct in his ideological struggle
> >>against Stalin and Trotsky.
> >
> > The idea that Lenin waged an "ideological struggle" against both Stalin
> > and Trotsky sees strange to me. Where in Lenin's writings do you find such
> > struggles, and to do regard Lenin to always have been correct in these
> > struggles in the light of historical experience, i.e. with the benefit of
> > hindsight.
> >
> > Regards
> > Anders
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > ope mailing list
> >
> >
> >
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Received on Wed Jun 10 09:31:30 2009

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