Planning; or marx versus lenin versus lenin

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Tue Aug 31 08:03:29 PDT 1999

>>> "rc-am" <rcollins at> 08/31/99 03:26AM >>

I agree. encompassed in the presentation of planning as the way out of capitalism are many things, including a privileging of theory, the party, state and politics, derived from the particularly cartesian dualisms theory/practice, party/masses, state/society, politics/economics, in which the revolutionary impulse and possibility for the future is always said to lie in the first terms.

it is Lenin who in _What is to be done?_ sets up the most decisive and influential version of this, claiming that socialism is _always_ brought to workers _from the outside_, that workers as workers are only capable of being trade unionists and economistic, that the party is a party of intellectuals whose development is autonomous from the development of the working class, that if workers join the party they thereby become intellectuals and are no longer workers, that the party is a state-in-waiting, and so on.

for Marx, on the other hand, communist theory is not an autonomous practice, any vision of the future remains utopian insofar as it is separated from the given state of class struggles, 'spontaneous' working class struggles are always both political and economic and more than capable of being revolutionary (eg, the Chartists, the Communards),


Charles: Assuming arguendo that Marx and Lenin are different as you say, in fact and life, Lenin's theory and practice seem more united than Marx's because Lenin's theory was coincident with a revolution and Marx's wasn't. Marx's theory fails his own primary test of practice, when separated from Lenin. You have to go through a lot of contortions to explain how Lenin completely changed his theory, but it seems simpler to say , as most people do, that the Russian Revolution took place because of Lenin's theoretical and practical approach.

Your argument here is Bernsteinist: "The movement is everything. The goal is nothing." This was a main target of Lenin's _What Is To Be Done ?_, where Lenin said "Without revolutionary theory, there can be no revolutionary movement, " demanding unity of theory and practice, contra your claim above.

Also, if theorists and intellectuals have no special role or unique contribution to make, why is Marx so special ? Why does the working class need Marxism , which is a theory developed by a petit bourgeois unemployed professor, when it can just proceed spontaneously ?

Part of the proof that you are wrong that Marx and Lenin differed on these issues is that the Marx wrote , with Engels, _The Manifesto of the Communist PARTY_. Marx thought there should be a working class party guided by the theory of Marxism. Marx's activities and arguments in the First International and relation to the Paris Commune comports more with Lenin's approach than yours, contra your claim below.


_What is to be done?_ is seen as the text of the Russian revolution, when in fact, everything about those events contradicts it. if Lenin were to have insisted on the theses of that work (a repetition of the 'Draft program of the social democratic party', 1895), as he for a brief moment did not, there would have been no involvement of Lenin in the revolution, and certainly no involvement by the Russian social democrats or bolsheviks.


Charles: Come on. It really takes contortions to try to make it seem that Mensheviks and Lenin's opponents understood the process that resulted in a Bolshevik led Revolution than Lenin did. Even bourgeois scholars don't try to claim that Lenin tailed events leading to the Russian Revolution.

Of course, Lenin's view of the role of the Party in leading and bringing theory to the masses was not as you portray it in this post. For example, the soviets or workers councils were a form spontaneously developed by the masses of workers that was championed by the Bolsheviks. Lenin was completely open to spontaneously developed forms that were truly worker based and in their interests. Lenin's idea was not planning or Party planning out every last detail of the fight to overthrow the government or the building of socialism. The planning Lenin champions is like any theory that must be tested in practice, and modified by that trial and error.

The most obvious problem with your description of Lenin's relation to the events leading to the Russian Revolution is that if Lenin was so off in relation to the true working class and mass activities leading to the overthrow, and had to keep contradicting himself (and events) and reversing himself, why would so many of those carrying out the "real" revolution have thought that Lenin was a leader of the revolution ? It's absurd to think that the revolutionary forces turned to someone who had been getting it wrong in print since 1903. The obvious answer is the exact opposite of the theme of your post. The Russian working class saw how Lenin had been the most correct of all the theoreticians in analyzing and anticipating developments all of those years, and therefore took leadership from the Bolsheviks.



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