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

Cargo-Cult Leninism vs. Information War

Workers' Rule: Is it Dead or Alive?

Ben Seattle replies to Eric Gordon

May 16, 2008

 

Hi Eric,

 

Thank for your reply [1].

 

Your reply is important for three reasons:

 

(1) Your reply is part of a fifteen-year dispute between Joseph Green and me.  Joseph is the leader of the Communist Voice Organization (CVO), which you support.

 

(2) Your reply is part of a discussion concerning the goals of the working class and progressive movements.  Specifically, the discussion concerns the fundamental nature of: (a) the dictatorship of the working class and (b) the economy of a classless society.  The discussion has potential to shed light and raise consciousness on these important topics.

 

(3) Your reply also represents your emergence on the public stage--in live polemical combat concerning important principles.  Yes, you have written publicly about the cultism of the Revolutionary Communist Party.  But that is not the same as engaging me.  Now you have an opportunity to demonstrate both your ability to think for yourself and the depth of your devotion to the principles that will lead the working class to victory.

 

Some readers may view the first reason above as the most important.  I hope you will agree with me that the second reason above is far more important.  This means that, to the extent possible, we should strive to keep our exchanges concise and with a clear focus on key principles--so that activists will not fall asleep while attempting to read these exchanges.

 

And I hope, also, that you recognize the significance of the third reason above.

 

I believe that, in a practical sense, activists cannot think clearly about the decisive principles of our movement if they do not discuss these principles with others.  And I believe that such discussion can only fulfill this potential when it takes the form of public discussion on open forums.

 

It appears to me that you are unaware of many of the arguments I have made over the years on the topics on which we disagree.  Now that you have stepped into the public arena you may find it necessary to deal with arguments to which you have never given consideration.

 

We are not hothouse flowers.  We are determined to overthrow US imperialism.  Our fundamental weapons, as individuals, consist of our ability to think, our conscience and loyalty to the working class, and our determination to win.  The 21st century will be characterized, more than any previous century, by the open struggle of ideas on a mass scale.  Our ability to think on our feet, in real time, and advance powerful arguments to win the masses to the principles of victory will prove to be decisive in our efforts to mobilize activists, and the working class, for struggle.

 

Three areas where we disagree

 

A survey of your letter reveals three principal areas of disagreement.  These areas concern:

 

(1) The nature of workers' rule

--and specifically, whether workers will have the fundamental democratic rights of speech and organization--which they will use to control the economy, culture and politics of the new society--and to oppose and defeat the incompetence, hypocrisy and corruption which will emerge within their own state.

 

A related question concerns whether workers will rule by means of a single party or a system of multiple parties.

 

(2) The nature of the economy of a classless society.

Will the many creators and distributors of goods and services plan and coordinate their actions by means of:

(a) a hierarchical system of centralized control that tells everyone what they must do or

(b) self-organizing and rapidly changing networks of distributed authority whereby the
     highest authority is the conscience and internal compass of each producing individual?

 

(3) The nature of the struggle for integrity in polemical exchanges such as ours.

Specifically--are there practical steps we can take to insure that we confront the issues and arguments that come up rather than evade them?  Are there practical measures by which our audience can help us to maintain a clean focus on the decisive principles and to avoid the temptation to bring up irrelevant issues or misrepresent of the views of our opponents?

 

I have responsed (below) in the main part of this article to the first and third areas (since they may be of greater interest to readers) and have responded to the second area in Appendix C (in order to keep the main part of this article from being too lengthy for many readers).

 

I have also created an Appendix B where I have reproduced a chart summarizing some of my theoretical conclusions concerning the distinction between the "dictatorship of the proletariat" (ie: the goal of the revolutionary movement) and the embryonic form of the same (ie: the stage which was reached by Lenin's 1917 revolution before it degenerated).

 

1. How will workers run the new society?

 

My criticism of Joseph Green and the CVO originated with the second issue above: the nature of the economy of a classless society.  However the first question is probably of greater immediate interest to most activists because it concerns the goal of the revolutionary movement.  So let's begin with this.

 

Eric -- April 14:

 

> You like to pretend that the CVO [...] would deny

> workers’ rights and suppress all organizations other

> than those completely controlled by the Party.

> Strangely enough, you never cite anything that the

> CVO actually says to support your assertion that

> the CVO supports the suppression of all organizations

> not controlled by the proletarian party

 

My criticism of the CVO is not that they would deny workers’ rights and suppress organizations.  That is how you see matters.  My criticism of the CVO is that:

 

(1) the CVO refuses to study or investigate this question and

(2) the articles in the CVO journal and agitation promote a misleading and deeply harmful view of these questions.

 

If the CVO would one day find itself "in power" then whether it would (or would not) deny democratic rights and suppress organizations would be an issue.  But the CVO will never be in power.  It would be lucky to maintain its existence as a very tiny organization ten years from now.

 

My criticism of the CVO concerns the views it promotes in the movement today.

 

My criticism is not centered on the ideas in the heads of the good comrades of the CVO.  Rather, my criticism targets the ideas which the CVO promotes in the movement.

 

An analogy--pouring toxic sludge into a river

 

I will illustrate this distinction with an analogy.  We often criticize the opportunist "socialists" or "revolutionaries" for promoting illusions about the Democratic Party (such as that it can be changed or moved to the left if we work diligently enough).  When we talk to activists who support these opportunist organizations we tell them that the Democratic Party is a die-hard imperialist party that will never change.  "Oh, yes" they will always say, "we know that, of course--we simply don't say it".

 

So the problem is not that the opportunists don't know the DP is an imperialist party that can never change--but that they promote wrong ideas that undermine the movement.  It is kind of like having the purist thoughts in your head while pouring a barrel of poisonous toxic waste into the living river that is the movement.  (I won't get into the reasons the leaderships of these opportunist organizations do what they do--that is another topic.)

 

I bring this up, Eric, because your defense of the CVO concerns what they really think.  But the problem here is not what they think--but that they don't think: they simply write in a way that promotes toxic ideas that undermine the revolutionary movement.

 

The opportunists who promote illusions in the Democratic Party often are careful not to directly claim that the imperialist Democratic Party can be transformed into a peoples' party of peace and prosperity.  Rather, they generally use a different method: they have articles which discuss the Democratic Party at length while refusing to directly confront the question of whether the Democratic Party can be transformed into a party of peace.  The opportunists, in the strictest technical sense, are neutral on this all-important question.  They allow other opportunists (to the right of them) to directly promote the most filthy illusions--and then simply refuse to challenge or confront the illusions which saturate in the movement.  (And sometimes they will simply quote without comment these other opportunists as if they are reporting the news.)  In any event they can then claim that their hands are clean.  After all (according to this corrupt opportunist logic) they can hardly be held responsible for mistaken conclusions that readers may draw from their article.  So the opportunists assert that the blame for mistaken conclusions is the fault of readers.

 

In a roughly analogous way, you are claiming that the CVO has clean hands in relation to promoting wrong ideas concerning the nature of workers' rule.

 

The CVO has never directly asserted that the democratic rights of workers must be suppressed.  So therefore, by your logic, it is unfair of me to claim that the CVO is promoting wrong and harmful views on this question.

 

But let's look at the record:

 

Joseph's "single party" formulation was misleading to readers

 

My November 18 criticism [2] of Joseph's August 2007 article [3] on "Socialist Health Care" originally caught Joseph in a relatively simple error.  In his article, Joseph describes a fairly advanced stage of workers' rule (which he calls "socialism") where (a) there will be no significant distinction between rich and poor or between exploiter and exploited and (b) there will be no major suppliers to the health care sector of the economy that will be based on profit.

 

In this same article Joseph also claimed that the working class would supposedly run this advanced society by means of a single political party [9].  In my November 18 criticism I noted that it was an error to claim that the working class would rule by means of a single party and advanced an argument that such an advanced society would not be run by a single party but rather by multiple parties.  I also argued that many readers would draw the conclusion (from Joseph's description of the rule of a single party) that Joseph was describing a society where workers do not have the fundamental democratic rights of speech and organization.  I made clear that we must approach questions like this from the perspective of how our words would be understood by readers:

 

> we must give readers the ammunition they need

> to stand up to the immense ideological pressure

> which the bourgeoisie directs against the concept

> of working class rule.

 

In Joseph's January 9 response [4] to my November 18 criticism Joseph admitted that it was possible that such an advanced society might be run by a system of multiple parties.

 

Before going any further--it should be clear that Joseph's admission validates my November 18 criticism that his single party formulation in his August article was misleading to readers.  In my January 26 reply [5] to Joseph's January 9 response I expanded on this point, saying:

 

> it would have been more accurate for Joseph to have

> added two words and write of the working class ruling

> through "its own political party or parties"

 

and I asked the question:

 

> why does Joseph not agree to present a more accurate

> formulation in future agitation?  I believe that Joseph

> should agree to do so.

 

Why not admit it?

 

So far Joseph has failed to agree to present a more accurate formulation in future agitation.  Your contribution on this point, Eric, is to avoid recognizing that Joseph's August formulation was misleading.  Instead, you note that you agree with Joseph's conclusion that, even in such an advanced society, the interests of the working class would be better served by a single party than by multiple parties.  Of course, Eric, you are entitled to your opinion on this related question--but you appear to be sidestepping the issue that launched this latest series of exchanges: Joseph's August formulations were and are misleading to readers--and better formulations should be used in the future.

 

Why not simply admit that Joseph made an error and recognize the need to have better formulations in the future?  Joseph is a human being and hopefully no one expects him to be infallible.  And the CVO is made up of human beings who, similarly, are not immune from making mistakes.  So why not simply recognize that you made a goof instead of throwing around so many "he said, she said" arguments which put readers to sleep (see my introduction above concerning why we want readers to stay awake) and appear to be aimed at showing that, on this topic, I supposedly "have nothing to contribute".

 

Will workers have the right to speech and organization?

 

In the course of these exchanges a long-standing theoretical weakness of the CVO on the nature of workers' rule has become more clear: the CVO does not recognize that the working class will need the democratic rights of speech and organization in order to rule the new society.  This does not, of course, mean that the CVO comrades are bad people.  But this makes clear that the CVO has failed to understand the most essential thing (ie: the principal principle) concerning how the working class will rule as a class.

 

The CVO's views are well represented by Eric.  Eric does not specifically claim that workers will not have the democratic rights of speech and organization--but two comments he makes have, so to speak, allowed the cat out of the bag.

 

The cat jumps
out of the bag

 

Here is Eric concerning the advanced stage of workers' rule that Joseph described in his August article about "socialist health care".

 

> Other parties, specifically parties
> representing other classes,

> may be allowed to operate if they
> don’t organize to violently overthrow
> the proletariat, sabotage production, or
> otherwise directly disrupt proletarian rule.

 

The key word above is "may".  Other parties may be allowed to exist.  But the word "may", by definition, also means "may not".

 

So other parties may (or may not) be allowed to exist.

 

But this also means that the democratic rights of speech and organization may (or may not) exist.

 

This follows from the simple fact that if there are democratic rights to speech and organization--then multiple parties will exist (ie: because there will be no way to suppress them).

 

This follows as day follows night.

 

So Eric is describing an advanced stage of workers' rule (ie: where exploitation no longer exists) but can only timidly venture the guess that in such an advanced society there is a possibility that the democratic rights to speech and organization _may_ exist.

 

And this explains why the CVO has failed to deal in any concrete way with the democratic rights which workers will need in order to make possible their rule as a class.

 

Eric appears irritated when I point this out:

 

> You assert that CVO “doesn’t say jack shit about the need

> of the working class for the fundamental democratic rights

> of speech and organization” under workers’ rule.

 

The absurdity of the CVO position

 

Eric then attempts to find some place where the CVO describes the need of the working class for the rights of speech and organization.  Unfortunately, Eric cannot find anything about the rights of speech and organization because (surprise!) the CVO has not said jack shit about these rights.

 

The best Eric can come up with is a formulation that workers will "step by step learn how to control the economy".  Such a formulation (according to Joseph Green and now also Eric) implies that democratic rights must exist.  Here is Joseph's and Eric's argument:

 

> It is absurd to
> think of a society
> in which workers'
> political rights are
> suppressed, but
> they are “step by
> step learning how
> to control the
> economy”

 

The problem is that this argument does not help the CVO even a tiny bit.  It actually highlights the absurdity of their position.

 

It is, of course, true that workers will never be able to step by step learn how to control the economy without the democratic rights of speech and organization.  But the CVO refuses to recognize that workers will need these rights.

 

This crystallizes the contradiction in the CVO position: they can imply until hell freezes over that workers will need the rights of speech and organization--but they refuse to explicitly recognize that workers will need these rights.

 

The theoretical articles of the CVO on the topic of workers' rule are crippled.  The CVO is paralyzed on this topic--unable to tell readers that workers' rule will see the fullest expression of popular democracy and democratic rights that has ever existed.  The CVO is paralyzed on this question because it cannot say jack shit about how the working class will need the rights of speech and organization in order to rule society and in order to prevent the (otherwise inevitable) corruption and degeneration of their own state.

 

To me this is irrefutable evidence that the CVO is not clear on these questions.

 

I should note again that if the CVO is confused on these questions--this does not make them bad people or bad comrades.  But it does highlight their dysfunctional attitude concerning the most important theoretical question of our time (ie: the need to understand the nature of workers' rule in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet and Chinese revolutions).  I have done work on these questions.  I have on countless occasions urged the CVO comrades to investigate these questions.  Their response to date is to claim that this is nothing but a "liberal shibboleth" [6] and that I supposedly "oppose party building" [7] and "have nothing to contribute but demagogy and anarcho-proto-capitalist ideology" [8].

 

Workers will need the democratic rights

of speech and organization

-- This issue will not go away

 

The need to give activists a clear understanding of the nature of workers' rule will not go away.  There is no way around this question.  Clarity on this question is decisive to the revolutionary movement in the same way as clarity on the imperialist nature of the Democratic Party is decisive to the antiwar movement.

 

We will never be able to create a revolutionary movement deserving of the attention, respect and loyalty of the working class until such time as, on questions like this, we can collectively pull our heads out of our rear ends.

 

Until we take this step, until we recognize the need for the democratic rights of speech and organization under workers' rule--then we will not have the ability to promote a view of our revolutionary goal that makes any sense.  Instead of a living idea with the power to illuminate the path forward--we will have a dead idea and darkness--we will have a vision of our goal that only makes sense in a world where everyone, at birth, is given a free lobotomy.

 

2. How can we maintain a clean focus?

 

Joseph Green -- Sept 1995:

 

> These articles from Ben show his view of eternal

> capitalism.  Oh yes, he talks about communism and

> the dictatorship of the proletariat and a future classless

> society, but he pictures the future as having such

> features of capitalism as separate enterprises in

> anarchic competition with one another.

 

Joseph's ideas concerning using the method of "material balances" (ie: the big spreadsheet with the origins and destinations of everything under the sun -- see Appendix C for more about this) as a method of running the entire economy in a centralized way most likely originated during the period when those of us in the MLP or its predecessors were certain that Stalin was a great leader of the working class.  Of course all of us have had pretty fucked up ideas at one time or another.  What counts is whether we handle our differences in a principled way.

 

My dispute with Joseph Green emerged as the Marxist-Leninist Party was collapsing in 1993.  By 1995 (see above) Joseph had irrevocably committed his prestige to the proposition that I was a neo-conservative promoting a view of eternal capitalism.  Once his prestige was committed--Joseph had dug himself into a hole: he could not escape without admitting that he had made a mistake.  But the demands of small group sectarianism make it difficult to admit a mistake: if you admit a mistake you lose lose prestige--and people around the group may become discouraged and demoralized--and the small group may lose them--and risk collapse.

 

It is a vicious dynamic that small sectarian groups can easily fall into: loss of prestige can be potentially destablizing--so the group's leadership acts to insulate itself from criticism by demonizing the critics (ie: shooting the messenger who delivers the bad news).  The problem is that this kind of cult behavior prevents the group making effective use of criticism to resolve problems.

 

The emerging revolution in communications will bring an end to this sectarian dynamic.  As a critical mass of dedicated and experienced activists gathers itself together the decisive questions will emerge again to engage the full attention of this critical mass.  The decisive questions will not go away: these questions block the forward progress of the revolutionary movement and they will remain in front of us, blocking our progress until we confront and resolve them.

 

It is as simple as that.

 

Joseph's efforts to shield himself from my criticism have led him to oppose the only possible resolution of the most important theoretical question of our time:

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?

 

The Usual Evasions

 

The attitude of the CVO (and countless similar groups) is to avoid confronting this question.  The CVO line on this is (essentially) the usual evasions:

 

(1) Mistakes were made

(2) Shit happens

(3) The leadership betrayed (see above: betrayal happens)

(4) We'll cross that bridge when we come to it

(5) Don't worry about that too much--focus instead

.... on how we can address current issues such as

.... the war in Iraq or the health care crisis

(6) We have a big pile of "theoretical" articles (with

.... lots of big words and longer than you will ever

.... want to read) on Preobrazhensky and things like

.... labor money--just so you will know that we are

.... working hard and doing important work on all

.... questions related to this

 

Confronting the Crisis of Theory

 

In contrast to this kind of pretending, my work has confronted this question.

 

I have concluded that Lenin's 1917 revolution never achieved the stable, secure stage that is deserving of the name "dictatorship of the proletariat".  Rather, the 1917 revolution only achieved an unstable and embryonic stage which we cannot regard as the goal of the revolutionary movement.  The stable stage at which workers' rule is secure is achieved when the workers' revolution has developed an immune system capable of preventing degeneration.  This immune system requires that the entire working class can make use of the fundamental democratic rights of speech and organization.

 

No organization which is committed to bringing about workers' rule can avoid confronting this issue.  The degeneration and collapse of the Soviet and Chinese revolutions has led to a theoretical crisis which has paralyzed the revolutionary movement and reduced the revolutionary movement to an impotent collection of squabbling sects.

 

This is what must change.  The crisis of theory must be confronted.  This is going to happen.  Those who stand in the way of this resolution can keep their heads shoved into their rear ends if they want.  We will march forward--with them or without them.

 

Joseph Green and the supporters of the CVO, in typical cargo-cult fashion, can call me names (ie: anarchist, neo-conservative, petty-bourgeois, promoter of liberalism and the capitalist ideology as well as of demagogy, strutting hysteria and lies) if they want.  But increasingly, activists who are becoming serious will see them for what they are: fellow activists who have good intentions--and who are also human and fallible and foolish.

 

As the movement grows and becomes more conscious, the cargo cults, in order to maintain their prestige, will increasing be forced to reply to criticism on public forums.   I believe this is why Eric has, after many years, responded to my request that he engage me in public.

 

I believe it is important that Eric understand that his emergence on the public stage is something that is useful: is something that can help to draw and focus the attention of activists to the issues which are decisive.

 

It is my intention to respond to Eric and to answer his many questions--but I must also keep in mind the nature of a public forum that includes readers who have limited time.  It is in the interest of the revolutionary movement that we all work together to develop exchanges that are clean and concise and which focus on important principles rather than word-twisting or name-calling.

 

Death by a thousand questions

 

Complicating the goal of developing exchanges which are clean and concise is a method that CVO supporters such as Joseph and Frank often use.  I call this method: "death by a thousand questions".

 

In their replies to me, Joseph and Frank will often ask me question after question and make one accusation after another.  No matter what I reply to they will always be able to find something which I was supposedly unable to deal with.  (In the meantime Joseph, in particular, is somewhat famous for refusing to answer or even acknowledge key questions for year after year.)

 

Joseph asked me so many questions (and made so many accusations against me) in his January 9 polemic that after replying to innumerable questions (and accusations) in my January 26 reply I simply gave a boilerplate response (point 7 in the section on the struggle for integrity) where I said:

 

> Joseph also makes many arguments (too numerous

> to list here) that simply do not stand up to critical

> examination or make a lot of sense.

 

Eric's response is to assert that I have failed to deal with many of the issues--and he asks me to address them.

 

The question which I (and hopefully readers who are following this) must tackle is this: how can we develop a tradition of revolutionary accountability (which includes such things as answering questions) which respects the limitations of our time (and the interests of readers--who do not want to read replies which are twenty thousand words long and contain little content)?

 

My proposal is that we develop the tradition of making our questions more explicit.

 

For example, if we number each question then a reply may contain a list of questions to which we would like answers.  The person putting together the list can then give thought to which questions are genuinely important--and prioritize them.  We can also develop an agreement to respond to one another's questions.

 

Three questions at a time

 

I will hereby agree to to respond to three questions per calendar quarter (for example: April-May-June is a calendar quarter) from any member or supporter of SAIC or the CVO.  I will reply within 90 days from the date the question is posted to the main "party of the future" public email list (ie: pof-200).  I will ask that the question be given a number and be specific (for example: "please reply to every question and accusation that Joseph asked or made in his recent twenty-thousand word essay" is not a specific question).

 

I make this offer unconditionally.  I do not require that Eric (or anyone else) reciprocate and agree to answer questions.  Rather--I wish to demonstrate my commitment to accountability and hope that, someday, others will join me.

 

Three Questions by Eric

 

In his reply to me, Eric asked me to answer a number of questions.  I have selected what might (possibly) be the three questions at the top of his list--and replied to them in Appendix D.  Readers who are already overwhelmed by the length of this reply can then skip the appendix.  And if Eric would sincerely like the answer to more questions--he can take me up on my offer.

 

(1) Eric asked me if Joseph distorted the meaning of some quotes from Marx which supposedly support Joseph's view on the need of the working class to rule by means of a single unified party in an advanced stage of workers' rule.

 

Yes, Eric.  Joseph distorted the meaning of these passages.  Marx does not say what you appear to think he says.  (For more--please see Appendix D.)

 

(2) Eric asserts that I would "forbid" the working class from uniting into a single party.

 

Actually, the first of four scenarios in my chart on this topic showed a single umbrella party with a commanding position within the workers' state.  (For more--please see Appendix D.)

 

(3) Eric challenged me to reply to Joseph's argument that a moneyless gift economy without a central authority would result in the denial of rights for most people.  Eric claims that I mocked Joseph's arguments but failed to actually answer them.

 

I replied to Joseph's argument in part 5 of my January 26 reply under the satirical subhead: "The gift economy will lead to fascism".  (For more--please see Appendix D.)

 

My three questions for Eric

 

Eric has made no agreement to answer any questions which I may ask him.  Nevertheless, I will post here the three questions to which I would most like to see Eric reply.  My hope is that Eric will think about these questions.  And, if Eric recognizes the importance of the principle of accountability for revolutionary activists--then maybe Eric may eventually reply.

 

Question # 1: Do we have a responsibility to reply to the concerns of activists?

 

Earlier, I described the most important concern that activists have concerning the movement for the overthrow of bourgeois rule:

 

Given that the Soviet and Chinese revolutions of 1917 and 1949 appeared at first to be successful and then degenerated and collapsed--does this mean that future attempts at establishing workers' rule will inevitably suffer the same fate? If not--then why not?  How can we be confident that future attempts will be more successful?

 

Eric: do we, as revolutionary activists, have a responsibility for answering this question?

 

If so--then how do you answer this question when (in one or another form) an activist asks you to do so?

 

What do you say that is different than the half dozen usual evasions that I listed above?

 

Do you believe that, as a supposedly committed revolutionary activist, you have a responsibility to deal with (ie: investigate and seriously confront) my assertion that workers' rule can only be secure when it reaches the stage whereby it has a functioning immune system on the basis of the democratic rights of speech and organization being extended to the entire working class?

 

If you believe that the working class can control the economy, culture and politics of the post-bourgeois society without the democratic rights of speech and organization--could you explain how this will happen?

 

Do activists who are considering devoting their lives to the cause of building a revolutionary movement deserve a real answer to this question?  Are you, personally, committed to seeing that they get one?

 

By the way--I would be willing to write on article on this topic for the CVO journal.  I doubt that Joseph would consider such an article (especially from me).  But I consider it my responsibility to make the offer.

 

Question # 2: Are you committed to the struggle for integrity?

 

You are writing, Eric, because my response to Joseph made him look foolish.  And also because I said that you were allowing Joseph to do your thinking for you.  This made the CVO look weak in the eyes of a growing and increasingly conscious audience.

 

So you come out swinging to defend your organization.

 

And this is what you should do.

 

This is your responsibility and your duty.

 

If you are really a revolutionary, this is your destiny.

 

But your destiny may unfold in a different direction than you imagined.

 

Sometimes our biggest enemy is within.

 

Sometimes we need all our courage to confront our internal contradictions.

 

I believe that Joseph has lost his way and fallen into a ditch.  He has taken Frank with him.  And Frank has taken you.

 

Now your appearance, Eric, on the field of open struggle, may signal that a lengthy contest is approaching a moment of truth.

 

We are all human.  No one is immune from opportunism.  Whatever has happened in the past is not important.  We pick ourselves up and we march forward.

 

I will say it again:

 

We pick ourselves up and we march forward.

 

I have been trying for a while to help get Joseph and Frank out of the ditch.   I want you to help with this effort.   There is no road forward except forward.   You can sit by the side of the road for a while.   But sooner or later I believe you will discover that, if you are sincere about serving your class, you will need to help with this effort.

 

Confronting Charlatanism

 

Joseph wrote the following introduction to Eric's reply to me:

 

> The following letter from Eric to Ben Seattle continues

> the controversy over Ben's opposition to Joseph Green's

> article "What would health care under socialism be like".

> Ben upholds his own theory of "cooperative anarchy", has

> yet to take a direct stand on national health care, proposes

> to replace the idea of "socialism" with "proletarism", and

> opposes party-building.

 

This short statement contains two acts of charlatanism.

 

(1) Joseph says I have yet to take a direct stand on national health care.

 

This is charlatanism because it is not relevant to my criticism of Joseph's article.  Joseph is afraid of my criticism and in his panic he attempts to turn readers against me with this non-issue.

 

(2) Joseph also says that I oppose party-building.  Again, such a statement is nothing but an attempt to turn readers against me (and wrap Joseph in the flag of party-building).

 

Where is the substance in Joseph's assertion?

 

What is true is that I refuse to go along with the feel-good self-deception that intoxicates you folks.

 

I have written about how revolutionary activists will build the party of the working class [10].  My article is undoubtedly a collection of strengths and weaknesses--but it is unlike anything that Joseph or you appear to be capable of writing--and it represents a step toward developing a common view of how revolutionary activists can work to forge organization that will have the ability to confront the immense challenges facing the U.S. working class.

 

Joseph has not made any public criticism of my article.  But if I were really opposed to building the party of the working class--then wouldn't it stand to reason that Joseph would be able to publicly explain where my article was mistaken and needed improvement--and give readers a better and deeper understanding of how the party of the working class will be forged?

 

Your hands are not clean

 

Eric, you are fully complicit in Joseph's acts of charlatanism.  They are part of the introduction to your article.  You are complicit because you allow this by your inaction.  If you publicly criticized Joseph's introduction (as is your right, by the way) Joseph would be compelled to remove his introduction or rewrite it in a more objective manner.

 

Hiding my response from readers

 

There is another way in which Joseph acts like a charlatan.  Your response to me, Eric, claims that a gift economy without a supreme central authority would inevitably degenerate into capitalism as its independent producers were overcome by corruption and asserted ownership over the goods and services they created and engaged in relations based on trade or barter (ie: leading to commodity production and exchange, money, capital and the class division of society).

 

I replied to this argument in September 1995 where I showed how the masses would beat into submission "Joseph's Islands" and all forms of stinking corruption.  A section of my reply is excerpted in Appendix C.

 

Joseph has attempted to hide my response from his readers for more than twelve years.

 

Readers of Joseph's journel or website have no way of knowing my response exists.  There is no mention of it (nor a link).

 

This is deception because it gives readers the impression that I have not responded.

 

This deception is particularly cowardly since it has become clear that neither Joseph nor you have the ability to respond to my September 1995 article other than to call me an anarchist (and other names) and confess your faith in a religious principle [11] which holds people will always need some form of external coercion (ie: a swift kick in the rear--or a carrot dangled in front of their nose) to make them do the right thing--until the end of time.

 

An exchange of views which is for the purpose of raising consciousness on a given topic would make it easy for readers to see for themselves the content of the views of all participants in the discussion--and to draw their own conclusions on the basis of access to all relevant articles.

 

I believe that Joseph's page on my supposed "anarchist" views at:

 

http://home.flash.net/~comvoice/00SeattleBen.html

 

should provide a link to my page at:

 

http://Leninism.org/some/

 

so that readers would have the choice of reading my arguments.

 

Adding such a link would have little practical effect--but it would signal recognition by Joseph that he must act to move away from (and, eventually, repudiate) methods which undermine the ability of the CVO to serve the working class.

 

And you, Eric, have the ability to start the ball rolling on this.  Joseph's page (above) also links to your article.  Your action, Eric, would probably be enough to persuade Joseph to take this small but significant step in the direction of openness and polemical decency.

 

I want to help Joseph once again be an honest man.  I want Joseph to once again be able to raise his head in a community of fellow revolutionary activists.

 

I need your help on this.

 

What do you say?

 

Question # 3: How will we build the party of the working class?

 

What do you think about my article "How to Build the Party of the Working Class"?

 

Could you post your opinions on what you consider to be some of its strong and weak points?

 

My guess, at this point, is that the CVO view on this question is either that:

 

(a) the party will grow out of some organization similar to the CVO or

(b) it is too soon to think about about questions like this.

 

But this is a very important question.  This question is at the center of the heart, mind and conscience of all genuine revolutionary activists.

 

So you may have some thoughts on the subject.  I would like to hear them.

 

Ben Seattle

May 16, 2008

 

 

Notes for main article

 

[1] Eric, April 14, 2008

Once again on Ben Seattle, planning, and the role of the proletarian party
http://home.flash.net/~comvoice/Ltr080414.html

 

[2] Ben, November 18, 2007

How the cargo-cult ideology cripples agitation:

A comment on the CVO's article on "socialist health care"

http://struggle.net/Ben/2007/1118-CVO-healthcare.htm

 

[3] Joseph, August 2007

What would socialist health care be like?

http://home.flash.net/~comvoice/40cCompare.html

 

[4] Joseph, January 9, 2008

Reply to Ben Seattle on health care, his proposal to replace "socialism" with "proletarism", and party-building

http://home.flash.net/~comvoice/Ltr080109.html

 

[5] Ben, January 26, 2008

Powerful Agitation Requires Confronting the Crisis of Theory

http://struggle.net/Ben/2008/126-agitation.htm

 

[6] "liberal shibboleth", see conclusion of Joseph's January 9 article

 

[7] "oppose party building", see: introduction to Eric's April 14 article

 

[8] "nothing to contribute but demagogy and anarcho-proto-capitalist ideology", see: conclusion to Eric's April 14 article

 

[9] "single political party", here is the key sentence:

 

> The government and politics won't be run

> by a rich elite, but by the working class,

> through its own political party

> and through mass organizations

> of the entire working population.

 

[10] "How to Build the Party of the Working Class"

http://struggle.net/Ben/2008/222-HowTo.htm

 

[11] This is likely related to the cargo-cult belief in a quasi-mystical concept they call "democratic centralism" (and which has little in common with the original meaning of this phrase--which emerged as a way to describe a practical method by which an organization could be controlled by its members--rather than being controlled by a small group at the center).

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