Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ten Days That Shook The World

Ninety years ago today, Bolshevik revolutionaries seized power in Russia. NPR chose to commemorate the event by broadcasting a story on the murderous excesses of Josef Stalin and the heavy handed tactics of the Soviet government. As usual, Soviet rule was equated with communism and dismissed as an anachronistic philosophy with no modern appeal. The USSR was clearly not a communist state, at least not in any way that Marx would recognize. As I understand the term, communism is an ideology that seeks to establish a classless, stateless social organization based on common ownership of the means of production.

Under Stalin, the Communist Party of the USSR adopted the theory of "socialism in one country" and claimed that, due to the "aggravation of class struggle under socialism", it was necessary, to build socialism alone in one country, the USSR. This line was challenged by Leon Trotsky, whose theory of "permanent revolution" stressed the necessity of world revolution. (For his defense of the revolution, Trotsky ended up being murdered with an ice pick while in Mexican exile in the late 1930s).

Marxist critics of the Soviet Union, most notably Trotsky, referred to the Soviet system, as "degenerated" or "deformed workers' states," arguing that the Soviet system fell far short of Marx's communist ideal. They called for a political revolution in the USSR and defended the country against capitalist restoration. Others, like Tony Cliff, advocated the theory of state capitalism, which asserts that the bureaucratic elite acted as a surrogate capitalist class in the heavily centralized and repressive political apparatus.

Wow, the Patriot is getting bored. This reminds him of interminable political lectures by the League for The Revolutionary Party that he sat through in college. Anyway, the October Revolution (November in the Gregorian calendar) overthrew the Russian Provisional Government and gave the power to the Bolsheviks. It was followed by the Russian Civil War (1917–1922) and the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922.
The revolution was led by the Bolsheviks with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and anarchists coming along for the ride. The Bolsheviks viewed themselves as representing an alliance of workers and peasants and memorialized that understanding with the Hammer and Sickle on the flag and coat of arms of the Soviet Union. The rest, as they say, his somewhat distorted history.


Toe_Jam said...

Dude!! You're just asking for trouble with this post. What's next? A sympathetic portrayal of the Wobblies, a demand for Presidential Pardon's for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg??? If you go missing we'll kidknapp agent 99 and demand a prisoner exchange. We got your back.

Anonymous said...

Red Army soldier: You are now on German soil. The hour of revenge has struck!

Anna Akhmatova, February 1945

Queeny said...

I enjoyed the post. Marx, himself, attended a meeting of "communists" and declared himself -- not a Marxist. Marx never clearly defines what Communism looks like and part of what he does say is that the state will wither away. so, we're left not knowing what the structure of the new system will be. He dies before he finishes Das Capital. The strength of Marxist theory lies in his critique of capitalism, although most economist would say that his labor theory of value is inaccurate. I'll protect you from 99.

toe_jam said...

Queeny, I Like your moxie, be forewarned though, "99" knows of 38 different ways to kill a person without using a weapon. She should approached with the utmost caution.

Anonymous said...

Here's a good article on how the neo-conservatives are direct descendents of Trotsky, also advocating a permanent revolution, but welfare/warfare 1984 state.

Anonymous said...

In honor of both November 11, the anniversary of the end of the Great War (in many ways the stillpoint historical event of all our trouble), I offer Ezra Pound. These words could have been written yesterday, instead of almost 90 years ago:

These fought in any case,

and some believing,

pro domo, in any case . . .

Some quick to arm,

some for adventure,

some from fear of weakness,

some from fear of censure,

some for love of slaughter, in imagination,

learning later . . .

some in fear, learning love of slaughter;

Died some, pro patria,

non "dulce" non "et decor" . . .

walked eye-deep in hell

believing in old men's lies, then unbelieving

came home, home to a lie,

home to many deceits,

home to old lies and new infamy;

usury age-old and age-thick

and liars in public places.

Daring as never before, wastage as never before.

Young blood and high blood,

fair cheeks, and fine bodies;

fortitude as never before

frankness as never before,

disillusions as never told in the old days,

hysterias, trench confessions,

laughter out of dead bellies.

There died a myriad,

And of the best, among them,

For an old bitch gone in the teeth,

For a botched civilization,

Charm, smiling at the good mouth,

Quick eyes gone under earth's lid,

For two gross of broken statues,

For a few thousand battered books.

crackass said...

are you people for real. Wake up and smell the toe jam