SV: [OPE] Marta Harnecker's Ideas - dem.sentr.

From: Anders Ekeland <>
Date: Mon Dec 07 2009 - 04:13:28 EST

Hi Alejandro,

It was invented by Marxists OK - first used by the Mensheviks (1906?) if my memory does not fail me completely - and certainly not to justify communist dictatorships - which were unknown at that time.

Democratic centralism exists in one form of another - as "majority rule" - since without some "discipline" no party can work. The devil here sticks - not in the details - but the fact that this concept - as "democracy" needs to be more precisely defined, not the least historically situated/contextualised. Not to create a relativistic notion, since there are very general democratic (sentralististic) principles that apply to may situations - and that are not respected in most of them.

That is why very general statements on the nature of DC is mostly misleading/confusing.


> From: Alejandro Agafonow []
> Sent: 2009-12-07 09:09:37 CET
> To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list []
> Subject: Re: [OPE] Marta Harnecker's Ideas
> Democratic centralism is ?Jerry and Anders? an oxymoron invented by Marxists to justify communist dictatorships. This is the rhetoric devise which hides the contradiction in Harneckers position respect to Cuba and Venezuela, and her calls for vague democratic principles. This is also one of the rhetoric figures in Helen Yaffe?s account of Cuba.
>  A. Agafonow
> ________________________________
> Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <>
> Enviado: lun,7 diciembre, 2009 03:47
> Asunto: RE: [OPE] Marta Harnecker's Ideas
> > Historical experience - very indirectly - and that's the problem. Any
> > discussion of the ban on factions in the Bolshevik party? Not a word.
> > How can you use/discuss the concept of democratic centralism without
> > relating it to the existence in the Bolshevik faction (1903-1018)
> > later in the Bolshevik party (1918 - 1921).
> <LOL>
> Anders:
> You remind me of many conversations which I had with
> anarchists back in the 1970s who, whenever socialism
> was discussed, insisted on raising the topic of the
> Kronstadt rebellion.
> Although I have worked with many anarchists in the
> period from 1990 to the present day, I can never
> think of a single instance in which when discussing
> something akin to "ideas for struggle" the subject of
> Kronstadt came up. And why should it?  We can go
> over ad nauseum our interpretations of past political
> struggles or we can map out a strategy forward
> which takes into account *in a general way*
> historical experiences. Had Harnecker gone into an
> in-depth discussion of debates among the Bolsheviks
> I would have put her article down and forgotten about it.
> Had she done what you ask then it would never have
> had the capacity of making an impact on current
> struggles because workers and communities in struggle
> would have dismissed it with a yawn.
> There are parallels in political economy: had Sraffa's
> _PCBMC_ been 900 pages long , do you think it would have
> had more of an impact? I think not. Would Lenin's
> _Imperialism_ have had more of an impact if it was 3
> volumes long and was a similar size as _Capital_? I think
> not. Lenin understood well the advantages of a "popular
> outline". So should we. This is not to say that extensive
> historical analyses don't have a place. They do. But, it's
> a matter of different horses for different courses. I
> think Harnecker chose the right horse for the course that
> she wanted to follow. Whether there are failings with
> her paper is an open question but what you suggest as
> a failing is rather a failing on your part to appreciate
> the intended purpose of the article, imo.
> In solidarity, Jerry                         _______________________________________________
> ope mailing list

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Received on Mon Dec 7 04:15:49 2009

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