10 March 2008

Lenin Replies

Lenin’s account of the 2nd Congress of the RSDLP, called “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”, is the work that stimulated Rosa Luxemburg to write “Organizational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy”, also known as “Leninism or Marxism”, which we discussed last week.

We meet this evening (Tuesday) at 17h00 in the SACP boardroom, 3rd floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, to discuss Lenin’s Reply to Rosa Luxemburg. Lenin gets down to business in the second sentence: “Rosa Luxemburg's …article does not acquaint the reader with my book, but with something else,” he says.

We can say that this text falls into four parts. The first is Lenin’s statements of the ways in which Luxemburg has misunderstood the situation, by ignoring the very nature of his book and its content. The second is a focus on the core meaning of Lenin’s work, which we can come back to, below. The third is a typically short and clear summary by Lenin of the 2nd Congress, compressing into three pages (4-6) the prior history of the RSDLP and the machinations during the months-long Congress itself. The fourth is a short summary of the desperate condition of the post-Congress RSDLP. By the time of writing, all the positions won by democracy appeared to have been lost and doubly lost, to bureaucracy and to opportunism. Hence the meaning of the title, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.”

Lenin is polite in this reply to Rosa Luxemburg. Yet he does not mince his words. By blurring the faction struggles described by Lenin, and ignoring the essential narrative of Lenin’s book, Luxemburg has made a nonsense of the whole matter. Lenin writes: “Comrade Luxemburg leaves completely out of sight the factual analysis of the different trends in our Party. Yet the greater half of my book is devoted precisely to this analysis, based on the minutes of our Party Congress, and in the preface I call special attention to the fact. Rosa Luxemburg sets out to talk about the present position in our Party while totally ignoring our Congress, which was what really laid our Party's foundation”.

“…there is no such thing as abstract truth, truth is always concrete."

Lenin goes on to call Luxemburg (twice) a “supporter of the minority”, or in other words a Menshevik, because the arguments she repeats (as well as being disconnected from the concrete situation) are also the favourite themes of the Mensheviks. Actually, Luxemburg has at this stage not yet realised that the Bolshevik/Menshevik split has taken place!

The matter that Lenin regards as most central also happens to be the matter that is most central to the 52nd ANC National Conference of December 2007 (Polokwane), namely that the assembled delegates constitute the highest structure of the organisation, resolve its policies and its rules, and appoint a high Committee to carry out its decisions, until the next Congress (or Conference). Here are some quotes:

“Comrade Luxemburg …supposes that I defend one system of organisation against another. But actually that is not so. From the first to the last page of my book, I defend the elementary principles of any conceivable system of party organisation: My book is not concerned with the difference between one system of organisation and another, but with how any system is to be maintained, criticised, and rectified in a manner consistent with the party idea.

“…Rules adopted by a Party congress must be adhered to until amended by a subsequent congress.

“…our controversy has principally been over whether the Central Committee and Central Organ should represent the trend of the majority of the Party Congress, or whether they should not."

Finally, Lenin reports: “The latest phase in our Party struggle is marked by the fact that the majority members have in part been ousted from the Central Committee, in part rendered useless, reduced to nonentities.” The Congress has been stolen, and its decisions have been ignored, or falsified.

Next week we discuss Rosa Luxemburg’s great revolutionary manual, “The Mass Strike” (linked below).

Click on these links:

Luxemburg, 1906, The Mass Strike, Compilation (13893 words)

Coming Events

1 comment:

  1. Nice Blog!!!

    I believe in communism

    if you want to see un blog of art


    thank you!!!


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