A Serious Discussion of Constructing Socialism Cannot Begin With the Falsification of History
Any Communist would have serious doubt about the various ideas expressed in the article A Multiple Socialist Administration Model and Enterprises of Social Property (ESP) in Venezuela - Success, Difficulties, Prospects by Rafael Enciso Patino on February 4th of 2012 in Venezuelanalysis. However, for the moment I will separate these remarks into two parts in this criticism: (1) The falsification of Marxist-Leninist history and (2) the tactical (or strategic depending on how one evaluates them) remarks on organizational bases for the Venezuelan Revolution.
(1) Marx, Engels and Lenin on the construction of Socialism once the working class is in power.
The idea that there existed a program developed by our founders for what Socialism should look like and that it was at odds with the program our Party and its leaders developed in the USSR after the January 1924th death of V. I. Lenin is absurd. Marxist scholars have long noted that it was precisely the lack of such a program which created the hard choices and uncertain path forward confronted by our Party after October 24-26, 1917.
There is in the Communist Manifesto only one page devoted to this topic (paragraph 22 Chapter 2). In retrospect it is so general it could be written today by any right wing social democrat. Subsequently, Karl Marx dealt with the questions of socialism in power in The Civil War in France when discussing the outcome of the Paris Commune. In summary, he found the most important great steps forward to have been (a) the workers creation of their own “State apparatus” (the armed militia of the Commune which replaced the army and police of the Old Regime for the few months of the commune’s existence) (b) the creation of their own bank (and the seizure of the bourgeois banking and finance industry) and (c) the adoption of working committees as the form of Government rather than a Parliament.
All of these things were done by the Bolsheviks when they seized state power and in the months immediately following. None of these things were negated in the years following Lenin’s January 21st death.
If one wanted to draw a historical contrast one could say that Marx also praised the idea of (d) the direct election and recall of representatives to the Governing bodies of the Commune and that this idea the Bolsheviks did away with. This would be true. However, the Bolsheviks did away with the idea of direct recall and direct popular appointment of State and Government leaders almost immediately (certainly with the beginning of the formation of the Red Army in 1918), and not after Lenin’s death, and for precisely the reason of wanting to win the Civil War. That is the class war which began to rage immediately upon our seizure of power and which we eventually won (by the end of 1920). The Communards lost their class war and were subsequently slaughtered precisely because they did not have time to develop a competent military machine! Such a competent military would feature ranks (albeit under new names) and iron discipline with appointments from the top (or from the center if you prefer) and the permanent elimination of silliness such as direct election and recall of officers, non-coms, and other Government and Party leaders. (Our Nomenklatura system.)
As for Lenin’s ideas about changing the Nomenklatura system I think I said it as well as I can toward the end of Chapter 13 of the ABC’s of Communism, Bolshevism 2011 (http://www.abcsofcommunism.info ) when I pointed out that at the 11th Party Congress, where the Leninists defeated the Trotskyists, Lenin said:
(7) “The command nature of Party operations that began with the seizure could not now be changed since the Party was running everything in the country. How this might be democratized to encourage maximum participation of the working masses in the future was something,”
(8) As Lenin said, “we don’t know how to do.” (11th Party Congress, 1922)
I am afraid what we have in the Patino article is an example of what sadly we must see as the New Trots not being any different than the Old Trots. A regurgitation of Trotskyist mythology does no service to the Venezuelan Revolution especially when taken as the starting point for a more specific discussion for programmatic approaches to the construction of Socialism in that country. What is required to begin with of anyone with pretensions of Marxist scholarship is to have at least a slight or vague idea of what you are talking about and not simply a “hack” acceptance of hackneyed Old Wives Tales of Leon Trotsky and the Latter Day Trotskyists.
(2) The Organizational Bases for the Construction of Socialism
I have no personal experience in Venezuela and inadequate knowledge of either the Party program in that country (the ruling Chavez Party) or of its Government. But I do know academic horseshit when I see it. So, let me say that what is written here may have some value although I doubt it. On the other hand these writers are a far removed from reality as their counterparts in my country who produce journals which are essentially unintelligible to me and therefore I suspect to working people who might be infected with Old Trot ideas under New Trot authorship if they could figure out what these ideas were.
I am reminded of Lenin’s attack on Trotsky as discussed in Chapter 13 of the ABC’s of Communism Bolshevism 2011 (http://www.abcsofcommunism.info ) as follows:
On December 30, 1920, Lenin kicked off the attack on Trotsky and his Trade Union thesis with a 27 page explanation of Trotsky’s mistakes in a paper by the same name: The Trade Unions, the Present Situation, and Trotsky’s Mistakes.” It began:
“My principle material is Comrade Trotsky’s pamphlet, The Role and Tasks of the Trade Unions. When I compare it with the theses he submitted to the Central Committee and go over it very carefully, I am amazed at the number of theoretical mistakes and glaring blunders it contains. How could anyone starting a big Party discussion on these questions produce such a sorry excuse for a careful thought out statement? Let me go over the main points which, I think, contain the original fundamental theoretical errors” (Lenin 1920 page 2 as above.)
Lenin goes on to say that what are needed are real discussions of facts and statistics and real problems and not a lot of ultra-left nonsense about Soviet style Trade Unions!
Whether the tactical approaches of Patino have any real world value I do not know, but I don’t think they are dangerous. For one (i) thing no real workers are interested in this Left Bourgeois nonsense and (ii) the world balance of class forces is now fundamentally different than it was in the 19 teens, twenties and thirties. This shift in global class forces made possible the liberation of Latin America which is reaching a peak under the leadership of Fidel and Raul Castro, Hugo Chavez, Ortega, Morales etc. It was our success not our failures under the post-Lenin leadership of the inheriting Leninist cadre of the CPSU (b) which made this possible. At any rate the only real danger posed by this kind of writing is that it may temporarily mislead a new generation of communists and revolutionaries and it is for that reason I have written this brief criticism. I have said my piece so make up your own minds. Let me point out that I have been taking too long to get the 2012 version of the ABC’s of Communism on the web but I expect it will be by the end of the month. It is now some 791 pp. which is long, but chapters 13 through 16 will be important to you cadre who need a short course introduction to our history in order to avoid being fooled by foolish writers. Good Luck.