2 March 2008

Luxemburg Lashes Lenin

[Posted in advance for Tuesday, 4 March 2008]

Communist University meets Tuesday afternoon in the SACP boardroom, 3rd floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein.

We meet to discuss Rosa Luxemburg’s criticism of V I Lenin, published after Lenin’s “
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”, in 1904. The text of this reply is widely known under the name “Leninism or Marxism”, but properly called “Organizational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy”.

Luxemburg wrote that “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” “is a methodical exposition of the ideas of the ultra-centralist tendency in the Russian movement. The viewpoint presented with incomparable vigor and logic in this book, is that of pitiless centralism.”

Luxemburg insisted that: “The Social Democratic movement is the first in the history of class societies which reckons, in all its phases and through its entire course, on the organization and the direct, independent action of the masses.”

Rosa continued: “… we can conceive of no greater danger to the Russian party than Lenin’s plan of organization. Nothing will more surely enslave a young labor movement to an intellectual elite hungry for power than this bureaucratic straightjacket, which will immobilize the movement and turn it into an automaton manipulated by a Central Committee. On the other hand there is no more effective guarantee against opportunist intrigue and personal ambition than the independent revolutionary action of the proletariat, as a result of which the workers acquire the sense of political responsibility and self-reliance.”

Lenin respected Rosa Luxemburg, and replied to all her criticisms. See the first text linked below, which we will take for our discussion next week.

The SACP held a Central Committee meeting between 29 February and 2 March 2008. Among other things the SACP media release (linked below) says:

“This [Polokwane] democratic wave must be seen against the backdrop of a decade in which the ANC and its alliance partners have been subjected to attempts at marginalization in the interests of using the state to drive through a pro-big business policy package characterized by a blend of neo-liberalism and a subordinate, paternalistic, top-down welfarism directed to the poor. This welfarism has resulted in many important ameliorative changes but without fundamentally transforming the crisis of underdevelopment afflicting the majority of our people.”

“The SACP calls on the government to move rapidly to suspend and charge those revealed to have been engaged in illegal activities in the DSO.”

“The SACP will also fully support COSATU struggles in defence of jobs.”

Concerning the DSO (Scorpions) and related matters, the former head of the National Prosecutions Authority, Bulelani Ngcuka, soon after being dismissed, by some mysterious process became a millionaire businessperson. But lately he has been finding it a little more difficult to "make deals". See the linked Sunday Times article below. Another Sunday paper, the City Press, alleged that the YCL is promoting a slate in the elections for ANCYL national office bearers. The SACP declined to recommend individuals for ANC positions at Polokwane. So now does the YCL decline to do so in the ANCYL. See the fourth linked item below.

Still with the Sunday papers, it is clear that Karen Bliksem of the Sunday Independent knows about problems of publishing and in particular “…the central difficulty of publishing in a capitalist environment: if you're going to be really iconoclastic, there ain't going to be too much advertising revenue. So your product has to be a strange mixture of the cutesy-provocative and the sycophantic - with lots of lekker, glossy pictures.”

This was about the launch of “Empire”, a new South African art magazine. David Bullard made the launch speech. Why the name “Empire”? It is to annoy people, especially black people and communists. That’s bad marketing. Let’s hope the magazine dies quickly and loses lots of money so that the yahoos who produced it will never be tempted to make another insult of this kind.

Click on these links:

Reply to Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin, 1904, (4618 words)

SACP Central Committee Press Statement, 2 March 2008 (2230 words)

Vodacom cuts off Ngcuka, Simpiwe Piliso, Sunday Times Business (973 words)

Article in City Press, YCL Media Release, 2 March 2008 (130 words)

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