Ben Seattle
June 30, 2007
"Cargo-Cult Leninism" vs. Political Transparency:
What principles of organization will serve the antiwar and revolutionary movements?

Our weapon is mass democracy
The revolutionary mass organization that we need
will rely on the energy and experience of activists in open struggle to resolve
-- in full view of friend and foe alike -- opposing views on the way forward
Contents:
Part 1   • Introduction   •   "Information War" Program for SAIC   •   Where is my organization?
            • Is helping to distribute SAIC’s agitation parasitism – or principled cooperation?   •   Is Ben sufficiently "political"?
Part 2   • What is political transparency?  
(It means that activists can see what goes on behind the curtain)
            • The opposite of transparency  
(Stonewalling: the easy answer to all criticism)
            • The relationship of the revolutionary mass organization to the mass of activists
Part 3   • The problem with pragmatism   •   Is Ben a "black hat" ?   •   What is the “rate of information metabolism” ?
Part 4   • Cargo cults and cargo-cult Leninism
            • Join our group – We can do your thinking for you  
(Why do supporters of left-wing groups so often drink the kool-aid ?)
Part 5   • What is revolutionary theory?  
(GLUE to hold us together? – a STICK to beat heretics? – or a LIGHT that helps us see?)
            • The Spectre of Endless Discussion  
(We don’t need to live in fear of talking about our goal)
            • What is Ben’s idea of a “trend of trends”?
Part 6   • Is Ben an anarchist ?  
(Watch out for his Trojan Horse!)
Part 7   • Did Ben attempt to bury debate?  
(The showdown at the final congress of the MLP)
            • Right-wing demagoguery – or materialism?   •   Ben corrects himself
Part 8   • Confronting a refugee from the theoretical needs of the class struggle  
(Ben Seattle talks to Joseph Green)
Part 9   • The foundations of modern revisionism  
(“Marxism-Leninism” is anti-Marxist, anti-Leninist and revisionist)
Part 10   • Proletarism is anti-revisionist Marxism for the 21st century
Part 9 • The foundations of modern revisionism
• “Marxism-Leninism” is anti-Marxist, anti-Leninist and revisionist
The foundations of modern revisionism
“Marxism-Leninism” is anti-Marxist, anti-Leninist and revisionist
 
Frank says that I have abandoned “Marxism-Leninism”. This is true. But what does the phrase “Marxism-Leninism” really mean? This term was never used by Marx or Lenin – it was coined by Stalin after Lenin’s death in order to oppose the principles for which Marx and Lenin fought.

Stalin argued, in his book “Foundations of Leninism” (1924) that the "unity of will" of workers' parties everywhere required "iron discipline" to prevent "the existence of a number of centers" and "division of authority".

In this case "number of centers" and "division of authority" are code phrases for democratic norms of open struggle between groups within the party that have opposing views on important questions.

Unlike Lenin – who had argued that various restrictions on democracy (both within the party and in society as a whole) were temporary emergency measures in a truly desperate situation – Stalin proclaimed that all workers' parties (in all times, places and conditions) must speak with a single voice and, under Stalin, the merged party-state ruthlessly suppressed the independent political voice and independent political life of the working class.

As a result, the concept of rule by the working class (ie: the "dictatorship of the proletariat" and "socialism") has since become identified with a police state – the rule of a corrupt minority which falsely claims to represent the interest of the workers and which suppresses the voice of all opposition.

The Marxist-Leninist Party (which both Frank and I supported until its dissolution in 1993) did extensive theoretical work which exposed Stalin's capitulation to international capitalism in the mid-1930’s when (frightened by Hitler’s 1933 seizure of power in Germany and desperate to make a deal with the west in the hopes that they would put a leash on Hitler instead of financing the build-up of the nazi war machine) Stalin liquidated the International Communist Movement and led it into the social-democratic sewer.

While the MLP repudiated the Stalin of the 1930’s – it never repudiated the early Stalin who turned Lenin's temporary emergency restrictions on democratic rights into supposedly essential and eternal principles of working class rule. The MLP paid dearly for failing to pursue the vital theoretical questions involved in how democratic rights were necessary to (and inseparable from) the stability of workers’ rule.


The concept of rule
by the working class
has become identified
with a police state
which suppresses the
voice of all opposition
The resulting crisis of confidence led to a meltdown which destroyed the organization. The leftover religious orientation (see sidebar on “cargo-cult Leninism”) resulted in great bitterness between the majority (who concluded that banging one’s head against a brick wall would accomplish very little and who therefore became demoralized and politically passive) and the minority (who concluded that banging one’s head against a brick wall would eventually produce results as long as one did not lose faith).

The Communist Voice Organization originated from the wreckage of the MLP, as did my own work. But while the CVO has never confronted any of the key theoretical questions (ie: the inseparability of democratic rights from workers' rule, the incompatibility of workers' rule with the dictatorship of a single party or organization, etc) – I have seen the consequences of ignoring the vital questions of theory and have pursued the decisive theoretical struggle.

This has led me to repudiate the revisionist orientation and religious methods which were part of “Marxism-Leninism” since its birth in 1924. This has led me to look again at the profoundly democratic principles of Lenin which Stalin worked to bury. As a result I have supported the proposal advanced by Russian worker comrades such as Gregory Isayev (arrested for organizing workers under the rule of both Brezhnev and Yeltsin) that the movement for workers’ rule abandon the name “communism” in order to signal a clear and decisive break with the treachery of the "communist" leaders who have betrayed the working class.

The precedent for this is the decisive break that was made against the treacherous parties of the Second International which, in 1914, supported the mutual slaughter of worker against worker that has become known as the first world war. At that time Lenin argued that the name “social-democracy” was hopelessly discredited in the eyes of workers and that a new name for the workers’ movement was necessary. Lenin proposed using the name “communism” (as had originally been used by Marx at the time of the Manifesto). Isayev has proposed that the new name be “proletarism”. That sounds just fine to me.

Stalin's argument against "the existence of a number of centers" and the need to speak with a single voice appears to me to represent the real basis of Frank's argument that SAIC would be "disorganized" if its website featured a diversity of voices. Frank has attempted to support his position with a variety of arguments – but none of these arguments seem very solid to me.

Contents:
Part 1   • Introduction   •   "Information War" Program for SAIC   •   Where is my organization?
            • Is helping to distribute SAIC’s agitation parasitism – or principled cooperation?   •   Is Ben sufficiently "political"?
Part 2   • What is political transparency?  
(It means that activists can see what goes on behind the curtain)
            • The opposite of transparency  
(Stonewalling: the easy answer to all criticism)
            • The relationship of the revolutionary mass organization to the mass of activists
Part 3   • The problem with pragmatism   •   Is Ben a "black hat" ?   •   What is the “rate of information metabolism” ?
Part 4   • Cargo cults and cargo-cult Leninism
            • Join our group – We can do your thinking for you  
(Why do supporters of left-wing groups so often drink the kool-aid ?)
Part 5   • What is revolutionary theory?  
(GLUE to hold us together? – a STICK to beat heretics? – or a LIGHT that helps us see?)
            • The Spectre of Endless Discussion  
(We don’t need to live in fear of talking about our goal)
            • What is Ben’s idea of a “trend of trends”?
Part 6   • Is Ben an anarchist ?  
(Watch out for his Trojan Horse!)
Part 7   • Did Ben attempt to bury debate?  
(The showdown at the final congress of the MLP)
            • Right-wing demagoguery – or materialism?   •   Ben corrects himself
Part 8   • Confronting a refugee from the theoretical needs of the class struggle  
(Ben Seattle talks to Joseph Green)
Part 9   • The foundations of modern revisionism  
(“Marxism-Leninism” is anti-Marxist, anti-Leninist and revisionist)
Part 10   • Proletarism is anti-revisionist Marxism for the 21st century