Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Mon Jul 6 16:13:30 PDT 1998

[Mark Jones is having computer problems & asked me to forward this]


Re: Leninist-International


Mon, 06 Jul 1998 12:51:12 +0100


Mark Jones <Jones_M at netcomuk.co.uk>


rozov at nsu.ru

Nikolai S. Rozov wrote:

> my congratulations with the birth of a new brave list and some
> question from the country (Russia) that had major happiness of
> marriage with the proclaimed ideology


We have met before, virtually. But my attempts to engage you in debate on WSN were not very successful: you told me about the idiocies and criminality of the Brezhnev era, and considered this was sufficient argument. I see a certain movement in your thinking now. Perhaps life in Soros-funded Novosibirsk has not been the uplifting experience some Russian academics had hoped.

You still seem full of barely suppressed rage at the very idea that anyone with an IQ in double figures could continue to entertain delusions about 'leninism' etc; but now your rage has acquired a Lear- like, tragic quality: after all, Russian capitalism proved a shortlived utopia, did it not? Your thinking now appears confined to the proposition that, yes, OK, maybe the Russian population will decline to 60m or less and the Russian nation even become extinct, but even this seems more bearable than the alternative, if the alternative is the ending of all life everywhere. You argue that it is better to accept slavery than death, for we all know that behind the IMF (and Soros) is Nato, the Bomb, viruses, the Pentagon, the death squads, the torturers etc. This, if I may say so, is not quite the the ringing endorsement of the 'fresh air of freedom' which you were making a year ago.

Even if you're right, some may take the view that it is better to die on our feet than live on our knees. I presume we still have that choice. In the era of exterminism, under the rule of thanatocracy, at least the freedom to die honourably is still guaranteed.

But in any case, you know perfectly well that the essence of our argument (and of Lenin's) is that capitalism produces crises which tend to debouch in wars and revolutions (as well as recuperations). Mao wrote an essay called 'It's Terrible or It's Fine' in which he mocked the angst of well-meaning intellectuals who would love a revolution, but do not like the mess it brings. Who would love a revolution if it could be accomplished with flowers, mass choirs and Gandhiesque civility and cheek-turning and not by means of 'the criticism of arms'.

But you are a practical man of affairs, you know perfectly well, and it's the whole burden of your message, that revolutions do not happen this way. Therefore either the Russian people (for example) will continue to die like flies, or they will rise up in insurrectionary revolt. They won't, let's face it, impress Yeltsin's gang by linking arms and throwing posies at the Kremlin walls.

Either world capitalism is sinking into a quagmire -- a historical impasse just like the one the USSR sank into -- only much bigger, more dangerous, and just as impossibke to escape. Or the neoliberals and globalists are right, and everything will be for the best, in a month, a year, a decade; capitalism will bring its long-promised fruits and History will indeed come to a full-stop. In this case, we are wasting our time. In the first case, we are not.

In our theses and writings, Refoundation has tried and will continue to try to address your questions with due seriousness. On the question of why the USSR turned out the way it did, I have posted this on our website, and will post more: http://www.geocities.com/~comparty/sr1.htm

On the question of 'the worse the better', I think you are being unfair. You should not blame the messenger for the news, after all. The messenger is trying to be helpful in issuing due warnings; it is enough to prove that the message is ill-conceived and wrong without impugning our motives too. I do not believe in 'the worse the better' and as a matter of fact have just been arguing as much elsewhere.

Your idea that after the revolution we shall implement a ghastly Brezhnevite dystopia is also a rush to judgment. Someone else on another list said much the same thing (not as passionately as you) and my answer was:


I DO NOT BELIEVE IT IS WRONG TO WELCOME A PLURALITY OF SOCIALIST PARTIES AND I DO NOT THINK ANY PERSON OR PARTY HAS A MONOPOLY ON THE TRUTH so there (wouldn't be any point in hosting an elist if I did think that, would there?).

More: I do not believe in the appropriateness, relevance or correctness of the idea that there must be just one democratic centralist party per country and I do not believe in one-party states in any case.

Actually, I lived for a number of years in Moscow and travelled all over the USSR. I have been arrested by the KGB for the minor misdemeanour of attempting to marry a Russian, and seen the inside of a Russian cell. So I do know what it feels to live in a country where no-one has the right to leave (they cleverly took away my exit visa; thus, I became a non-person, with no right to stay and no right to go either. I became a wraith inside my own life.) Still, I understand how these things can happen.

You, I know, blame Lenin. I think the thing has something to do with capitalism. If Lenin's World Revolution had materialised at the time he was setting up his first (coalition, remember) government, everything would have been different, wouldn't it? Or do you think the world would have been overrun by Brezhnevs?

Nikolai Rozov also wrote:

> let us be 'optimistic' (in Leninist
> sense) for a moment and imagine that after all these disasters you or
> your followers manage to construct some new global non-capitalist,
> but Leninist regime. You are designers of this global happiness

Nah, come off it, Kolya. I wouldn't be bloody daft enough to try it. No, after all THAT unpleasantness, I'd go off on a long trip, somewhere even Makar couldn't herd his flocks.

Best wishes

Mark Jones http://www.geocities.com/~comparty

PS You mentioned Zhirinovsky. I once spent an hour or two socially with him. But I am not a fascist nor even a National Bolshevik for all that. Leninism is about internationalism, solidarity, freedom. Lenin lives and shall live.

PPS I shall be unable for technical reasons to answer email for the next few days.


More information about the lbo-talk mailing list