17 October 2007

Better Fewer, But Better

Yesterday’s session was well attended and lively. The CU is back in full force!

We asked, among other things: If an alliance is an alliance, and a pact is a pact, then what is an alliance pact? Is it an alliance of classes, at a mass level, or is it a pact of leaders, at a boardroom level?

We asked: If “swelling the ranks” has failed, then how is binding the leadership expected to succeed?

We asked: How can a democratic state which is in fact a bourgeois state become a state that goes beyond bourgeois democracy, without a revolution first?

Our next session will take place on Tuesday 23 October 2007 at 17h00 in the SACP boardroom, 3rd floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein.

Our “codification” for this session is Lenin’s “Better Fewer, But Better”, one of the last things he wrote, done in the last full year of his life (he died in January, 1924), and six years after the Great October Soviet Socialist Revolution, as the Soviets used to call it, otherwise called the Russian Revolution. The 90th Anniversary of that Revolution is to be celebrated in a few days time on 7 November 2007.

“Better Fewer, But Better” is quite famous, and its title has been invoked by ANC President, Thabo Mbeki, particularly at the
ANC Policy Conference of 2002, eight years after the South African “democratic breakthrough” of 1994.

On that occasion Mbeki was trying to explain how all cadres were to be allowed at the same time “to express themselves freely”, while they would nevertheless strictly “work to defend and implement all agreed policies”. Those who could not manage both these contradictory things at once would be removed or perhaps suspended - better fewer but better! This was not exactly what Lenin had in mind.

But read the text for yourself. Is there any similarity between the situation faced by Lenin and his Party, as compared to that faced by Mbeki and the ANC in 2002, or even now?

Lenin talks about management, and about bureaucracy, and about the merger of Party and State. This was at the time of the New Economic Policy, or “NEP”, when landowning peasants and urban small and medium-sized businesspeople had freedom to produce and sell in the Soviet Union.

The NEP policy was scrapped after Lenin’s death in favour of the three five-year plans, starting from 1928, that made the Soviet Union into a “super-power”, and gave the country the industrial strength with which to defeat the German Nazi fascist invaders in the Second World War.

On the final page, Lenin talks about things that most closely resemble our own situation, such as the survival of a revolution in one country, the prospects of a move towards socialism, and the leadership of the peasants by the workers.

Perhaps somebody else can tell us: What happened to the “Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection”? If you don’t know what that means, read the text!
Dennis Brutus plays Karl Marx at UKZN in the Howard College Theatre, 17h00, 25 October 2007.
The picture above is of V I Lenin.

Click on this link:

Lenin, 1923, Better Fewer But Better (5634 words)


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