Monday, November 19, 2007

The total, amazing, non-comprehension of Cold War anti-Communist writers of even the basic facts of the Russian Revolution

going through the Seattle Public Library today I looked at the old friend of a Dewey Decimal number 335, dealing with all aspects of the Left, Communes, Communism, anti-Communism, etc... I found some of the "Communism: Threat or Menace?" type books and leafed through them, because of course there are things to criticize about the Russian Revolution, and certainly about the terrible state of things that came about when Stalin decisivly seized power. But the thing with these writers is that they don't offer any sort of an informed critique. Instead, their ignorance is absolute, embarassing.

They connect Marx to Lenin in a straight line, not realizing that there was a decisive break in the timeline between Marx and Lenin, and that Lenin came out of the socialist movement and its own history, not out of the tradition of Marxist philosophizing. No awareness of the events in Russian history that lead up to the Revolution, no awareness of the events that immediately proceded the Russian Revolution in any sort of in depth way, and no integration of a history of the socialist movement, a history of Marxism on its own terms.

No effort to come to terms with it. The feeling you get reading anti-communist writers is that they were the anti-terrorist propagandists of their day, justifying intervention against the evil foe subverting democracy from within without even knowing anything about their subject beyond what was popular in the elite circles of their time.

You can criticize Lenin and the Russian Revolution, which isn't reducable to the figure of Lenin anyways, in many ways, but its hard to assert that absolutely no progress towards human freedom came out of it. Unfortunately, Lenin's vanguard party and its later assumption of power, which actually happened several years after the Russian Revolution had already taken place, has obscured the fact that in their pronouncements and in their policy the Bolsheviks were actually located in the realm of Left wing revolutionary Marxism, close in spirit to the Council Communists and anti-state Marxists that Lenin himself eventually condemned. By eventually betraying the popular aspects of the revolution the Bolshevik party did a lot to discredit this same left wing Marxism, setting up obscure variants of the same and Anarchism as the only genuine revolutionary forces out there, something that didn't necessarily need to happen. The kind of communism based on workers and consumers collectives, with neighborhood collectives as well, and federations of the same cascading up, with some divisions of power based on need and geography, is still viable, just as the social experiments dealing with workers' culture and communes, as well as the practice established by the artistic avant-garde in all areas of media, is still vital and viable.

No comments: