Cargo-Cult Leninism vs. Information War
Workers' Rule:
Is it Dead or Alive?

The question that we cannot escape concerns the degeneration of the Soviet and Chinese revolutions of 1917 and 1949.
If these revolutions appeared to be successful and then degenerated -- does this mean that future attempts at establishing workers' rule will inevitably suffer the same fate?
Appendix A:

Comments from
readers
Alex and Paul
Appendix B:
What Does Victory
Look Like?

A chart comparing the "dictatorship of the proletariat" (embryonic vs. with immune system)
across 8 dimensions
Appendix C:
Who will control the gift economy? Does planning require a central authority? Do we need a single plan for the entire economy? Will we use carrots and sticks -- or our internal compass? Who is the ultimate authority?
Appendix D:
Ben answers three of Eric's questions
Finding Marx's endorsement on a piece of toast One party to rule them all?
How to Build the Party of
the Working Class

We need mass democracy
Real organization cannot be built
on a foundation of sand

The Media Weapon community (and POF email lists)
more from Ben Seattle

Appendix B:

What Does Victory Look Like?


(modified from Appendix A of "the theoretical front of struggle"
posted at: http://struggle.net/Ben/2007/909-Ben.htm )

I have prepared a chart (see the table underneath the large graphic below) 
comparing what I call the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (in Embryo) 
to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (with Immune System) 
across 8 major dimensions:

----------------------------------------------------------
The DP (in Embryo) vs. the DP (with Immune System)
----------------------------------------------------------

1. Who rules?
2. Majority support?
3. Weak or strong?
4. Democratic rights of speech and organization?
5. Multiple organizations?
6. Separation of party and state?
7. Development of immune system against corruption?
8. Relationship to our goal?

1. Who Rules ?
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(in Embryo)
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(with Immune System)
society is ruled by a single organization society is ruled by the working class as a class
2. Majority support?
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(in Embryo)
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(with Immune System)
sometimes supported by a majority,
sometimes opposed by a majority
supported by a stable majority of the population
3. Weak or strong?
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(in Embryo)
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(with Immune System)
fragile, weak (ie: relatively easy to overthrow when opposed by the majority of the population) and inherently unstable robust, powerful, strong, stable
4. Democratic rights of speech and organization?
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(in Embryo)
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(with Immune System)
compelled to suppress all organized opposition and exercise a monopoly of political power in order to survive not threatened by opposition,

extends democratic rights of speech and organization to those who advocate the overthrow of workers' rule and a return to bourgeois rule.

The state will regulate and restrict only "commercial speech" (ie: media created by wage labor as opposed to volunteer labor) which will not be allowed to drown out, in political, cultural or economic arenas, the voices of the non-commercial speech of the masses.

5. Multiple organizations?
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(in Embryo)
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(with Immune System)
Political organizations will not be able to exist and carry out work independent of the ruling party/state without permission of the ruling party/state Political organizations will not need permission from anyone to exist or carry out independent work
6. Separation of party and state?
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(in Embryo)
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(with Immune System)
The Party and State are essentially merged. Only party members may have positions of authority in the state.

Elections, if they exist at all, are pro forma. There is no real opposition nor real campaigns and the real issues are buried and kept secret.

Party and state are separate.

Many party members will be in the state, but the state will also include non-party people and members of different parties.

Elections of one or another kind will take place in which candidates from different parties (or individuals not associated with a party) will campaign and be elected to positions of authority

The state will rule (ie: have the power of coercion: police and prison)

The party will not rule (ie: its influence will be based on voluntary actions)

7. Development of immune system against corruption?
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(in Embryo)
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(with Immune System)
effective criticism from outside the ruling party/state can easily be shut down by the ruling party/state

If the ruling party/state feels itself to be threatened, then external criticism will be shut down and critics will face threats of job loss, imprisonment and execution

organizations outside the ruling state will openly criticize and organize the masses against the inevitable incompetence, hypocrisy and corruption which will emerge in the people and policies of the state
8. Relationship to our goal?
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(in Embryo)
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(with Immune System)
This is not our goal. This is a form of martial law -- representing a transition period extending from the aftermath of possible civil war to the period in which the economy is restored and society can function in a stable way where everyone has enough food to eat, etc.

During this period, being crushed from outside (ie: by the external military or economic forces of imperialism) or suffocated from within (ie: by the corrupt internal elements which emerge and thrive when there is a lack of internal democracy) is an extreme danger (resulting in a return to bourgeois rule, or the rule of a new exploiting class) and this is what has happened, historically, in every case without exception.

In modern conditions, any workers' revolution that found itself to be so weak and to have such little popular support that it was compelled to suppress democratic rights and retreat to conditions of DP-Embryo for a lengthy period (ie: much longer than a year or so) would probably be doomed (ie: would be likely to be crushed from outside or suffocated from within).

The period of DP-embryo would not be necessary if working class forces can come to power in a scenario where there is no external war or civil war of the kind which destroys much of the basic infrastructure needed for the economy to function.

The working class has never come to power in such a scenario.

This is what victory looks like!

No revolution in human history has reached this stage. But this is highly likely to happen in the 21st century.

There is little danger that the DP will return to bourgeois rule (or the rule of a new exploiting class) because the masses are armed with democratic rights and will be able to effectively oppose all corruption.

If the leading workers' party becomes corrupt, the masses will be able create other parties to take its place.

The DP will itself be a transition period in which, over several decades, the moneyless gift economy gradually replaces the economy based on commodity production and exchange (ie: the capitalist and state-capitalist sectors)

The principles in this chart above must eventually be known (in one or another form) to hundreds of thousands of activists in order to rescue the concept of workers' rule from the ocean of shit in which it has been buried for more than 80 years. Cargo Cult Leninists (such as X9) with whom I have discussed these principles often resort to a verbal argument that is rarely made public. "We cannot guarantee", this argument goes, "that we will not need to pass through a period of DP-embryo". "And we must tell people the truth or they will, when the going gets tough, conclude that we deceived them." But this is a bankrupt argument. It is true that no one can predict the circumstances by which the working class can come to power. And it is possible that a short period of DP-embryo may be necessary in any country in which a civil war effectively destroys the economy. But, I have argued that, first, if conditions of DP-embryo (ie: suspension of democratic rights) were required for a lengthy period--then the revolution would probably be doomed: it would not be able to defend itself against both external threat and internal threat at the same time for more than a short period. And I have made a second argument that is far more important. We must be able to talk to people about our goal. Our goal is not the DP-in-embryo. Our goal is the full DP (with a functioning immune system). Our goal is workers' rule. If a period of hardship and emergency measures may become necessary to get there--that does not make this period of hardship and emergency our goal. The cargo-cultists oppose making our goal clear because they are not clear themselves on the distinction between the DP-in-embryo and the full DP (with an immune system). For example, if your son is being bullied at school and you tell him that he should stand up for himself and defend himself against bullies and offer to teach him how to fight: you don't tell your son that his goal is to get a bloody nose (even if that is a possibility). Instead, you motivate your son with the goal that bullies will learn that he is too much trouble to mess with. Or consider another example: In 1917 Lenin and the Bolsheviks promoted the slogan: "Peace, Bread and Land" to sum up the program of the Bolshevik party to the workers and peasants. Do our champions of "telling people the truth" believe that Lenin should have instead promoted the slogan: "Civil war, famine and typhoid"? No. We must be honest with everyone about the difficulties we may face. But it is also our responsibility to make clear to everyone that victory is possible and necessary--and to show what victory looks like. We do not need to know all the details of victory to know that it involves a situation where the working class rules as a _class_ and uses the full range of _democratic rights_ to do so and to prevent the emergence of a new class of exploiters. This is something that Frank and the cargo-cultists cannot see. They can see only the past--not the future. Humanity has never gone beyond the stage of DP-embryo and this is why our cargo-cultists denounce discussion of the genuine rule of the working class as "utopian" and are fundamentally conservative on this topic. Our cargo cultists do not want to talk about workers' rule because they consider the entire topic to be a "bummer". It will "turn people off", they think. And it is true that the goal of a police state is a pretty dismal goal and hardly one to inspire a lifetime of sacrifice from potential revolutionaries. So our cargo-cultists shut their mouths about the most important question of our time--the need to create a society that is not run by the bourgeoisie--because they see this issue as a liability rather than an asset--because they understand so little about this topic that they cannot see that this goal is the most powerful unifying concept of the 21st century--capable, once it is understood by hundreds of thousands of activists, of giving life to a revolutionary movement deserving of the respect, admiration and loyalty of the working class.

Cargo-Cult Leninism vs. Information War
Workers' Rule:
Is it Dead or Alive?

The question that we cannot escape concerns the degeneration of the Soviet and Chinese revolutions of 1917 and 1949.
If these revolutions appeared to be successful and then degenerated -- does this mean that future attempts at establishing workers' rule will inevitably suffer the same fate?
Appendix A:

Comments from
readers
Alex and Paul
Appendix B:
What Does Victory
Look Like?

A chart comparing the "dictatorship of the proletariat" (embryonic vs. with immune system)
across 8 dimensions
Appendix C:
Who will control the gift economy? Does planning require a central authority? Do we need a single plan for the entire economy? Will we use carrots and sticks -- or our internal compass? Who is the ultimate authority?
Appendix D:
Ben answers three of Eric's questions
Finding Marx's endorsement on a piece of toast One party to rule them all?
How to Build the Party of
the Working Class

We need mass democracy
Real organization cannot be built
on a foundation of sand

The Media Weapon community (and POF email lists)
more from Ben Seattle