The primary obstacle to the development of a mass movement
focused on the overthrow of
and its replacement with a system of
is the complete
all conceptions of workers' rule.
In the wake of the degeneration of Lenin's October 1917 revolution into a
in which a single party exercised a
monopoly of power and
controlled the political ideas
that could be openly fought for, expressed or even known about--there
are essentially no widely known conceptions of workers' rule that can
pass the "stupid test" (ie: are suitable for people who have not had
a lobotomy and are not in denial).
Workers' militia defending the barricades--Paris, May 1871
In order to clear the ground for a
aimed at the overthrow of bourgeois rule
we must start by smashing
three myths, or common
misconceptions. These myths grew out of the experience
of the October revolution and are tied, inaccurately, to the name
The first myth we must smash is that, during the period of
workers' rule the workers' party and the workers' state are
together or, equivalently, that one is a branch of or controlled
completely by the other. The second myth is that there will be a
single workers' party.
The third myth is that the suppression of the aspirations
of the defeated bourgeoisie to restore their former power
will require the
suppression of the
right of workers
(a) create independent political organizations and |
(b) fight to influence the consciousness of the masses
and mobilize mass support for their views.
competition of multiple workers' parties
From the point of view of scientific theory
the functions of the
state are completely different.
The party mobilizes people on a
While the state, by its nature, is based on
coercion, on force.
Working class political
organization will not assume the form of a monolithic party that
stands united against the rest of society. On the contrary, the
workers' political organization (whether we call it a system of
parties or a party composed of a system of trends) will
concentrate the contradictions within the working class and will
serve as an arena of open struggle in which all sides seek to
influence the consciousness of the masses and mobilize their
Poster honoring the Paris Commune--April 1871
Once we grasp that the interests of the working class will be
represented by a system of parties (or, equivalently, by
interdependent trends within an umbrella organization) then the
correct relationship between these parties and the workers' state
becomes more clear. The parties
will engage in open struggle to
win the support of the masses
for their principles and for positions within the workers' state.
The competition of multiple workers' parties
for positions of leadership within the state machine is consistent with the
experience of the world's first dictatorship of the proletariat:
the Paris Commune of 1871. It is also consistent with the
experience of the October 1917 revolution before the civil war,
which began in the summer of 1918, shattered the economy and made
necessary a serious of extremely harsh measures.
We must understand that a complex political struggle will
continue after the initial defeat of the bourgeoisie. Having
this struggle in the open, in the full view of the masses, in
conditions where the various contending forces are engaged in
open competition for the support of the masses--allows for
the maximum mobilization of the energy of the masses to help
sort out who are (and who are not) the genuine friends of the
Other than my own efforts I am only aware of one political trend
that has undertaken serious work on this theoretical question.
The PDP (based in Samara, Russia), has not only carried out valuable
(if controversial) theoretical work--but
has faced arrest and
imprisonment for leading strikes and other militant actions
of workers under both Brezhnev and Yeltsin.
My theoretical work is focused on conditions as they will exist
in the context of a
stable, modern society after bourgeois
rule has been broken and the proletariat has emerged victorious.
Interestingly enough, the idea of workers running a stable, modern society is
rarely given serious thought
in the left--even though this is the supposed goal of
the most serious section of the left--and is certainly the
most important theoretical question of our time.
Until this question is decisively resolved--until revolutionary theoreticians
can develop a set of principles that can be defended in
scientific debate--there can never be a mass consensus
that a world without wage slaves is
(much less would be an improvement over ordinary bourgeois rule) and
there can be no central unifying idea around which a
mass movement for the
overthrow of bourgeois rule can be built.
But it is precisely this
shift in focus
from the context of Lenin's Russia
(a desperate, backward peasant country with a shattered economy
that the imperialist countries were determined to strangle)
to the context of modern, stable countries
(with advanced, complex economies and infrastructure
and a working class majority)
that allows us to clearly see what today's
cargo cult Leninists
(whether Stalinists, Trotskyists, denizens of deep denial or
simply sectarians with their heads up their butts) cannot see:
The methods used by a revolutionary
government in the 21st century to defend its existence--will have as
little in common with the extreme methods that Lenin's Bolsheviks
found necessary--as the conditions
of modern first-world countries have in common with the extreme
conditions of Lenin's Russia.
The most interesting question, therefore, is as follows:
Without the use of obnoxious
will workers (in the era of the internet and the revolution in
digital communications) prevent
bourgeois views and ideology from
dominating the mass media and culture?
There will undoubtedly be many difficulties in the period
after bourgeois rule is overthrown
and the working class struggles to create a new society.
profound economic reasons
(mostly relating to the fact that it will take workers a fair amount
of time to learn how to run the economy better than the bourgeoisie)
the bourgeoise (as individuals and even, to a certain extent, as a class)
will still exist for a considerable period, will have
considerable resources, influence and leverage--and will attempt to
of every concievable sort to convince the masses that they were better off
under bourgeois rule and should hope for and struggle for a
return to bourgeois rule.
Furthermore, strong residuals of the bourgeois worldview and prejudices
which so saturate society will continue to exist for a long time
So how will the working class, after the overthrow of bourgeois rule,
combat the influence of the organized remnants of the bourgeoisie
and the omnipresent bourgeois ideology?
Revolutionary activists who give serious thought to these questions
usually find themselves in a
"left ecosystem" in which they are left with a desperate choice
between one or another kind of extreme denial and stupidity:
"socialist" police state|
or eternal bourgeois rule?
a theoretically degenerate "left ecosystem"|
- On the one hand, the
cargo cult Leninists
promote a view of workers rule that makes no sense--in which a
feudal-like political regime (impossible under modern conditions)
maintains a monopoly on the political ideas that circulate in
society--even if this requires a system of censorship and spying to
monitor and control every word
that people read--or even dare to speak in public, and
- On the other hand, the overwhelmingly more numerous
reformists make use of
the cargo cultist view as an excuse to
never even think
(much less speak) of a world without bourgeois rule.
How long must humanity be held hostage to this paralyzing theoretical bankruptcy?
What is the way out from these demoralizing and incapacitating perspectives?
The emerging revolution in communications
will lead to the working class
organizing itself and thinking for itself. And questions such as these
will attract the attention they deserve and be solved.
And even today we can put together a
sketch or an outline of a solution.
Individuals, I have concluded, will have the "free speech" right
to say anything they damn well please--to organize groups to
promote their views and, in particular, to criticize and
mobilize popular opposition against what they consider to be
incompetence, hypocrisy and corruption
of government officials or government policy.
Individuals as well as organizations will also have the right
to promote views that are wrong, unhealthy, harmful or reactionary.
But corporations and people with money and resources (which will
continue to exist for a considerable period) will not be allowed to
buy position or influence within the
sphere of media.
(ie: media created by hired labor or commercial resources)
will be subject to control.
The creation and promotion of slick campaigns, prepared by armies
of paid media workers, that saturate
the airwaves and magazine covers to promote or advertise
unhealthy or obnoxious food, politics, attitudes or worldviews--will
be effectively opposed and shut down by the masses and their state.
The bourgeois ideologues will be:
- Cut down to size
by the principle of
separation of speech and property
(ie: they will not be allowed to use hired labor or commercial resources to
amplify their voice)
- Drowned out
by the combined anger, determination and
class consciousness reflected in the innumerable voices
of the masses.
On the other hand,
(ie: media created by unpaid, volunteer labor) will be
neither controlled nor regulated by the workers' state.
On the contrary, the self-expression of the masses,
and their myriad independent organizations,
will be given the maximum possible support and encouragement,
technical and otherwise, from a workers' revolutionary state
that will have no need for
on the contrary will rely on
mass-based information war--and
will open the floodgates for the maximum release of mass
revolutionary initiative and energy.
----//-// 10.May.2001 (Version 1.2 of this essay)
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