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Abolish all exploitation, completely eliminate the division of society into classes, mercilessly crush the resistance of the exploiters, establish a socialist organization of society, and achieve the victory of socialism in all countries were declared as the fundamental aim of the newly established Soviet Russia, a Republic of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies. And, the Declaration of Rights of the Working and Exploited People proclaimed this. (Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 26, Progress Publishers, Moscow, erstwhile USSR, 1972, henceforth LCW, and, all references to the declaration are LCW: 26)

The Declaration, one of the unique achievements the proletariat made immediately after seizure of political power through the Great October Revolution, is the yearning of the exploited people all over the world. The declaration, a significant political measure by the revolutionary proletariat, said:

“All power, centrally and locally, is vested in [the] Soviets.”

The Soviet was a new form of political power the working people organized in Russia. It had no precedent in the world history. The bourgeois political scientists and a group of “progressive/Marxist” theoreticians miss this new form of democracy. Both of the groups compare it with different forms of bourgeois democracy, as they consider bourgeois democracy is the “only” form of democracy.

The political document declared sovereign power of the working people. To ensure the working people’s sovereign power, and to eliminate all possibilities of the restoration of the exploiters’ power, it declared arming of the working people, organizing of the Red Army of workers and peasants, and the complete disarming of the propertied classes.

At the All-Russia Central Executive Committee on January 16, 1918, the draft of the Declaration was tabled; was adopted by a majority while two votes went against and one vote abstained, and was referred to a Coordinating Commission for final drafting. The All-Russia Central Executive Committee adopted the Declaration. It was published in Izvestia on January 17, 1918. On January 18, 1918, Sverdlov, on behalf of the Committee, read out the Declaration at the first sitting of the Constituent Assembly (CA), and motioned for approval. Nevertheless, the counter-revolutionary majority of the CA rejected the motion to discuss it. As a further effort to move with the Declaration, the Bolshevik and Left SR groups in the CA demanded an adjournment to allow the groups to confer. Lenin, in a short speech at the meeting of the Bolshevik group, proposed that the declaration of the Bolshevik group should be read out in the CA, after which the Bolsheviks would walk out. The group adopted his proposal. After the Bolsheviks left, the Left SRs motioned an immediate vote on the attitude to the policy of peace conducted by the Soviet power. However, the Left SRs had to walk out as the right wing rejected the proposal. Nevertheless, the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets approved the Declaration on January 25, 1918, and it formed the basis of the Soviet Constitution. (LCW: 26, notes 154 and 156) On Lenin’s proposal, the Declaration was incorporated as the first section of the Constitution of the Soviet Russia, adopted July 10, 1918 at the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. (Presidential Library, “Declaration of rights of working and exploited people adopted”)

The Declaration said: The Republic, established on the principle of a free union of free nations, is a federation of Soviet national republics.

The historic document declared:

the abolishing of private ownership of all land, and parasitic sections of society;

the power of the working people over the exploiters; and,

the complete conversion of all banks, factories, mines, railways, and other means of production and transport into the property of the workers’ and peasants’ state.

 

The conversion, it said, is “one of the conditions for the emancipation of the working people from the yoke of capital.”

The Declaration said:

“[T]here can be no place for exploiters in any government body. Power must be vested wholly and entirely in the working people and their authorised representatives – the Soviets of Workers’ Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.”

Referring to the Soviet law on cancellation of the loans contracted by the governments of the tsar, the landowners and the bourgeoisie as a first blow struck at international banking and finance capital the Declaration expressed its conviction: “[F]irmly pursue this path until workers’ uprising against the yoke of capital has completely triumphed.”

It declared:

“complete break with the barbarous policy of bourgeois civilization, which has built the prosperity of the exploiters”;

wrest humanity from the clutches of finance capital and imperialism;

democratic peace between nations on the basis of free self-determination of nations; and

complete independence of Finland, evacuation of troops from Persia, and freedom of self-determination of Armenia.

It should be mentioned that on December 19, 1917, the Finnish Diet adopted a declaration of Finland’s independence; on December 31, the Council of People’s Commissars of Soviet Russia issued a decree of Finland’s independence; Lenin personally handed the text of the decree to Svinhufvud, prime minister of Finland; on January 1, 1918, the Soviet government proposed to the Persian government to elaborate a common plan for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Persia; on January 11, 1918, the Soviet government issued the Decree on Turkish Armenia. (LCW: 26, note 155)

The Declaration, drafted by Lenin, identified tasks of the CA: “[E]stablishing the fundamental principles of the socialist reconstruction of society”; “setting up the fundamental principles of a federation of Soviet Republics of Russia, while leaving it to the workers and peasants of each nation to decide independently at their own authoritative Congress of Soviets whether they wish to participate in the federal government and in other federal Soviet institutions, and on what terms.”

However, the CA, controlled by representatives of the exploiting classes rejected the document. Thus, it left no option for the political power of the proletariat to take further move instead of relying on the CA. Rightist theoreticians, and a section among the left regularly deny this fact of the revolutionary developments, which engulfed Russia of 1917.

The Declaration is fundamentally different from all declarations of rights the bourgeois and feudal political systems, compromises between them issued until today. It directly and unequivocally stood for rights of the exploited, and retained nothing for compromise with the exploiters as it defined rights based on hostile interests of the contending exploited and exploiting classes. The declaration made assault on exploitative property relations and private property, cancelled rights of the exploiting classes and parasitic elements in the society, and declared measures for empowering the working people to resist the exploiting classes. The Declaration’s stand against finance capital and imperialism makes the working classes’ position on the world stage singular and leading as no other class and no other declaration took such a stand.

Adopting the Declaration would have been impossible for the proletariat and the political leadership at the helm of the revolution had the proletariat and its leadership no support and following among the masses of people as they were spearing the heart of the opponent classes, the classes owning the most powerful base of the time – private property. The exploiting classes had an efficient exploitation mechanism. They were in control of finance capital. Imperialism was standing by the classes. This makes the Declaration a heroic document unparallel in the world history.

The mass base was result of a long political work within a socio-political reality, a fact ignored by a group of mainstream historians, political scientists, so-called “Marxologists” and theoreticians upholding Menshevik views. “Indeed, if the revolution is not misleadingly framed as an overnight upheaval, its popular, mass character is apparent even in its preparation, in the many millions of people organizing themselves, who were later ready to follow the Bolsheviks even through the period of Civil War. Without this mass movement, they would have hardly stood a chance of defeating the White counterrevolution — supported financially and militarily by the West — not to mention the international imperialist intervention against Soviet Russia. (Tamás Krausz, “One Hundred Years, One Hundred Messages”, Monthly Review, July 1, 2017)

These “Marxologists”, and others in their band deny the fact: “The epic sweep of those days that carried millions of people along can be seen from several angles. The Western European press of the time had no idea what was going on. Painting nightmarish visions of rioting drunken sailors and marauders thirsty for revenge descending on the rich, the November 10 issue of the Paris Journal de Débats reported the ‘rampage of the defeatists, the traitorous cosmopolites,’ who ‘do not represent the public opinion prevalent in the country,’ and call for a repetition of the Kornilov putsch, but on ‘even grander scale.’ However, the Times of London gave a more objective overview on November 19, citing the restoration of public order, the reinstitution of tram traffic in Petersburg, and the merry crowds attending the movies and theatres: ‘If food supplies are sufficient, the city will remain calm. Food stocks are enough for 10 days. Crime has virtually stopped under the oversight of the radicals.’ John Reed’s account — in his magnificent Ten Days that Shook the World — does not continue in the spirit of the bourgeois papers, but evokes the mood of the revolutionary masses, becoming, in its reflection of that radical fervor, a kind of folk artwork, a primary historical source.” (ibid.)

The reality empowering the revolutionary proletariat and its leadership – the Bolsheviks – had its background, which is reflected in the following observation by the British ambassador, obviously a credible source to those “Marxologists” and their ideological friends, of the time in Russia: “[I]f Russia was still united as a nation it was in opposing his [the tsar’s] present policy. The people […] had seen how hundreds of thousands of lives had been sacrificed on account of the lack of rifles and munitions; how, owing to the incompetence of the administration there had been a severe food crisis. [….T]he people and the army are but one, and that in the event of revolution only a small portion of army can be counted on to defend the dynasty. ” (George Buchanan, My Mission to Russia and Other Diplomatic Memories, vol. II, Cassell and Company, Limited, London, New York, Toronto, Melbourne, 1923) The “Marxologists” and the owners of the Menshevik view forget the fact: “[O]nly a small portion of army can be counted on to defend the dynasty”.

The Declaration pronounced justice and rights for the exploited people by relating it to private property, to the means of production. It considered the question of rights dialectically: the power of private property violates rights of the classes exploited by private property.

To the Declaration, the act of exploitation had no legal right, and thus, it nullified legal “equality” of the exploited and the exploiter, which the bourgeois theoreticians write only on paper to confuse the commoners.

Many persons/politicians/theoreticians discussed the property-question for centuries. Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison in 1785 [the editor, in a note, mentions the year although the letter is dated 1795], wrote: “[T]he property of this country [France] is absolutely concentrated in a very few hands.” (The Works of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 8, Correspondence 1793-1798, Cosimo, New York, 2009) He mentions “very considerable proportion of uncultivable lands […] undisturbed only for the sake of game. […] [I]t must be because of the enormous wealth of the proprietors […]” Then, he adds: “[A]n equal division of property is impracticable.” However, in the letter, he mentions “the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind”, and says: “[I]t is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right.” The debt-ridden farmers’ rebellion led by Daniel Shay in 1786-1787-western Massachusetts claimed: The state legislature was in the hands of the wealthy and it was used for their benefit. Upper classes in other states turned worried with the growing support for the rebellion. Authorities crushed the rebellion. (Micheline R. Ishay, The History of Human Rights, From Ancient Times to the Globalization Era, University of California Press, Berkley, Los Angeles, London, 2004) Robespierre wrote in 1793: “[I]t took a revolution to teach the world that extreme disparities in wealth lie at the roots of many ills and crimes […] For myself, I think it to be less necessary to private happiness than to public welfare.” (“On property rights”) He gladly preferred to be “one of the sons of Aristides, reared in the Prytaneum at the cost of the Republic, than to be the heir presumptive of Xerxes, born in the filth of courts and destined to occupy a throne draped in the degradation of peoples and dazzling against the public misery.” (ibid.) Despising property, cursing its evil effects on commoners, opposing it and dreaming its dissolution are found in rebellions by masses of the poor in countries, in their proclamations and demands. However, no political power overthrew it or promised bringing it down. The Declaration fulfilled the historic task ignored/not recognized by the mainstream as the Declaration proclaimed rights of the exploited, and laid legal ground for the rights.

The Declaration’s significance in the perspective of the world proletariat’s fight against capital is also immense. The Declaration’s position on arming of the working people is far advanced than the English Bill of Rights (An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown (1689)), which, with a sectarian view, allowed arming of a section of citizens only in self-defense.

The Declaration did not stand on the bourgeois view of equality and equal rights of capital and labor, which exists only on paper. The bourgeois view ignores unequal opportunity/access of rights based on unequal and antagonistic class relationship. All declarations of rights that the bourgeoisie and their political apparatus proclaim ignore this unequal and antagonistic class relationship although all the areas that these declarations act in are characterized by this class antagonism. “The control exercised by the capitalist is not only a special function, […] but it is, at the same time, a function of exploitation of a social labor-process, and is consequently rooted in the unavoidable antagonism between the exploiter and the living and laboring raw material he exploits.” (Marx, Capital, vol. 1, Progress Publishers, 1977) Marx describes laborer chained by capital as “like one who is bringing his own hide to market and has nothing to expect but – a hiding.” (ibid.) In this relationship, rights of capital and labor are not equal. Struggle between the capitalist class (collective capital) and the working class (collective labor), Marx writes in Capital (vol. 1), decides the working day; and, ultimately, it is force that decides the extent of rights of collective capital and collective labor. The Declaration inactivated the force of collective capital by taking away private property. No other declaration of rights plays the same role – abolish exploitation. Rather, those declarations treat collective capital and collective labor equally, which is possible only on paper, not in real life.

All mainstream declarations pronounce “rights” – rights/entitlements to foods, well being, equality, justice, and many other human rights, but those do not look at the roots of inequality, injustice and violation and power of violation of rights: private property, unequal distribution of property, capitalist production. The declarations deny looking at exploitation, which gets life from private ownership of means of production.

Contrary to the position of these declarations, the Declaration of Rights of the Working and Exploited People decimated the material basis of inequality and absence of rights in the life of the working people. The act is the reason behind the capitalists’ and their theoreticians’ continuous condemnation of the Great October Revolution, continuous condemnation of Lenin and his comrades, the leaders of the revolution.

Note: The article is the 2nd section of part 7 of a series commemorating the Great October Revolution Centenary. Countercurrents.org and Frontier, Kolkata originally carried parts 1-6 and 8, and 1st section of part 7 of the series.

Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka.

14 Comments

  1. “Power must be vested wholly and entirely in the working people and their authorised representatives—the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.”

    This proved to be not true.

    “No social order ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room within it have been developed; and new higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society” – Marx

    The Bolsheviks thought it possible for an active minority, representing the aspirations of the workers, to gain political power before the capitalist revolution itself had been completed. There are two views of the Bolshevik revolution and regime. One is that Lenin and his party were genuine socialists who were inevitably bound to fail to introduce socialism because the conditions weren’t there for this and that their method of minority dictatorship was wrong. The other is that they were elitists (Jacobinists or Blanquists) from the start who were always going to establish the rule of a new elite even though they labelled themselves socialists.

    Russia could not escape its destiny. Socialism can only be achieved by a politically conscious working class. Dictatorial power wielded by a vanguard minority, no matter how sincere its intentions, can never act as a substitute. Party power is not people power.

    Lenin favoured the soviet rather than the CA because he knew that he could get a majority under the former but not the latter. The soviets as they really existed in revolutionary Russia were loose makeshift bodies easily manipulable by a well-organised group such as were the professional revolutionaries of the Bolshevik Party under Lenin’s leadership. They came to power by successfully manipulating the soviets. The soviet system served the Bolsheviks’ purpose because elections to the All-Russia Congress of Soviets were neither universal nor direct nor secret. The Congress was composed of delegates from local soviets who were in their turn delegates from local factories. Its members were thus only indirectly elected. Urban areas were over-represented. There were no set procedures for the election of the delegates to the local soviets; in most cases they would have been chosen by a show of hands at a general assembly of the workforce of a factory, with all the drawbacks of this method of election. The soviet system was far from being the highest form of political democracy. The soviets were only makeshift representative organisations which had come into being precisely because working class opinion had been denied expression under the Tsarist regime. They thus played a useful role, filling a void until such time as a more permanent, and structured, system of representation could be set up. To praise their unstructured character as being a sign of their ultra-democratic nature is to make a virtue out of necessity and to forget that this made not just for flexibility but also meant that it was easier for a determined minority to manipulate them.

    The case put forward by yourself in favour of the soviet system was that it gave power to the more determined revolutionary elements in Russia whereas to have let power pass into the hands of a parliamentary government responsible to a Constituent Assembly elected by universal suffrage would have led to a slowing-down of the revolutionary process. The socialist revolution can only be a revolution carried out consciously by the immense working-class majority acting in their own interests. In these circumstances any system of representation – whether soviets or parliament – would give a majority for the revolution. This is not necessarily the case during a bourgeois revolution, however, where the revolutionaries find themselves impeded by the lack of revolutionary will and votes of the masses. An enlightened minority of revolutionists justified in ignoring the views of the unenlightened majority in order to carry through the revolution was an idea that had first made its appearance, in the form of Jacobinism. As i argue, the Bolsheviks supported the soviet system because it enabled them, as a determined revolutionary minority, to come to power, not the people.

    Lenin condemned what he termed “bourgeois moralism” and concepts such as “democracy”. His was a moralism that meant anything could be done to preserve Bolshevik power and it found its final expression in the gulags of Stalin. Once the Bolsheviks possessed themselves of the government apparatus, all power to the soviets became One-Party-Rule, and one-man management of industry.

    • Farooque Chowdhury says:

      These issues, raised by friend alanjjohnstone, have already been answered in other parts of the series, and in replies to alanjjohnstone’s earlier comments on other parts of the series/articles, which makes it unnecessary to repeat the same arguments. Even, the present section provides answers to the issues. I’ll request to kindly go through those parts/replies to comments.

    • Farooque Chowdhury says:

      Now, your position is clear, dear alanjjohnstone: you are in favor of the rightist-filled Constituent Assembly, which was against Soviet’s position on land, bread and peace. The CA opposed this very declaration, dear. The CA was willing to carry on the imperialist war. The CA was not willing to give lands to the farmers. Your position is understood: You are against this declaration, mentioned in this article. That’s the reason you have so much hatred to Lenin and his comrades. You have not said a single word in favor of the declaration. Isn’t it friend alanjjohnstone? To present arguments you sometimes recall Mensheviks, sometimes SRs, sometimes Kerensky, sometimes imperialists. Have not changed your position and broadly agreed with me in your earlier comments? I’m sorry to bring to your notice that the present articles, and other parts of the series answer the issues you have raised. A few of the issues have been answered more than once. My request: Please, carefully go through the articles.

  2. And your position is also clear, Farooque. You appear to ignore the basic tenets of Marxism – historical materialism and that the emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class themselves. Our differences are not as simplistic as you represent, Farooque.

    In essence our debate is simple. Did the Bolsheviks desire the working class to control its own destiny or did it merely use the working class as stepping stones to political power and a totally different agenda from one of workers self-management despite the lip-service to the soviets? From Feb to Oct 1917, there were cross-roads and choices to be made and different roads to travel down. It came to 3 routes to pick from.

    (1) To share power with bourgeois parties
    (2) to entrench themselves in intransigent opposition and decline the responsibilities of power
    (3) to try to seize power by force.

    The last option was the Bolshevik solution (even though elements within the Bolshevik Party supported the other choices) and you defend the turning that Lenin took, but ask yourself this, where did the destination end up?

    Lenin had got into an impossible position. Having seized power as a minority in a country where socialism was not possible for all sorts of reasons (economic backwardness, isolation from the rest of the world, lack of a majority understanding for socialism), the Bolsheviks had no alternative but to do the only thing that was possible: to continue to develop capitalism. Lenin found himself in the position of having to preside over — and, in fact, to organise — the accumulation of capital. But, as capital is accumulated out of surplus value and surplus value is obtained by exploiting wage-labour, this inevitably brought them into conflict with the workers who, equally inevitably, sought to limit their exploitation. Lenin justified opposing and suppressing these workers’ struggles on the ground that the Bolsheviks represented the longer-term interests of the workers. The course of history has answered and it is a negative.

    The Marxist principle that yo ignore is that no force can cut short the natural development of society until it is ready for change. The Russian Revolution failed to produce socialism and necessarily failed to do so because even in power and ruling by dictat, the Commissars of the people, still found themselves face-to-face with hard economic reality.

    I am not endorsing any rightist CA as you claim but i argue that the point of a revolutionary movement in a PRE-revolutionary situation is to ensure the growth of proletarian power and the defence of the class. The Bolsheviks failed to do so, emasculating what workers organisations and democratic processes that existed.

    I will end with two quotes

    ‘Soviet socialist democracy and individual management and dictatorship are in no way contradictory, and that the will of a class may sometimes be carried out by a dictator.”- Lenin

    “The Bible tells us that God created the heavens and the earth from nothing . The Bolsheviks are capable of no lesser miracles, out of nothing, they create legitimate credentials.” a Left SR

  3. Farooque Chowdhury says:

    Thanks, alanjjohnstone, that my position is clear to you. It’s for the Soviet, for the exploited.

    Is there anyone to disagree with “the emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class themselves”?

    I’m confused as you write: “Our differences are not as simplistic as you represent” and “In essence our debate is simple.” Which one? Is your position clear to you?

    You are correct as you write the third road “seize power by force” was chosen by the Bolsheviks. Was there any other option? The other option was to surrender power to the bourgeoisie. Do you suggest that option?

    Other points raised by you have already been addressed.

    Thanks that, as you write, “I am not endorsing any rightist CA”. Then, please, suggest the path, which is neither bourgeois nor proletarian. Is it something “middle” serving the bourgeoisie?.

    Please, specify sources of the quotes, and contexts. Otherwise, meaningless, which you know.

  4. “Was there any other option? The other option was to surrender power to the bourgeoisie. Do you suggest that option?”

    You appear to ignore that the Bolshevik revolution did surrender power to a party and bureaucratic elite that did not represent the interests of the working class and performed the role and function of the bourgeoisie as both Marx and Engels explained would happen in a premature revolution and i have already cited those observations of them. No-where in the Bolshevik take-over is there any similarity to the principles of self-emancipation that Marx and Engels recognised in the Paris Commune. I am sure you have read the description that the Russian revolution was a capitalist revolution without the capitalists.

    My option is clearly stated

    “…the point of a revolutionary movement in a PRE-revolutionary situation is to ensure the growth of proletarian power and the defence of the class….” by assuming Position Two.

    This was the option exercised by the Bolsheviks from February until Lenin’s U-turn on the accepted stagist theory prevailed with his threats of resignation etc. but is also the policy which was reflected by the Martov’s Internationalist group.

    There was indeed a possibility a coalition government of Bolsheviks, Left Mensheviks and Left SRs but representing a broader base which may have reduced the extremities of the Civil War but on the long-term economically state capitalism would still have arose

    • Farooque Chowdhury says:

      Thanks, alanjjohnstone, for your effort to clarify your position. To present my arguments, I understand that identifying your position is required as you are regularly changing your position. So, I like to tell the way I understand your position: “…the point of a revolutionary movement in a PRE-revolutionary situation is to ensure the growth of proletarian power and the defence of the class….” by assuming Position Two.” And, position two is, I quote from your earlier comment: “(2) to entrench themselves in intransigent opposition and decline the responsibilities of power.”
      Please, help me dear alanjjohnstone by confirming your position, which I have gathered from your comments. I’ll present my arguments after getting confirmation of your position.

  5. Perhaps i should add the qualifier – “the responsibilities of STATE power” ie government office.

    My apologies if i have not coherently presented a cohesive case,(mostly by citing evidence from different sources) but my argument has been trying to consistently argue the rejection of the view that socialism can be introduced for the working class or that the working class can be led to socialism by some enlightened minority. In order to function, socialism requires the voluntary co-operation and conscious participation of the majority of the population. It is a society which simply cannot be established by a minority, no matter enlightened, determined or benevolent. I do not question Lenin’s personal qualities or sincerity as some do but i do challenge his judgement. His assumption was that capitalism war-weary was internationally in terminal crisis. You can say such criticism is based on 20/20 hindsight but there were contemporary Marxists who doubted such interpretations.

    You have centred much of your case upon the “illegitimacy” of the CA. Of course it contained many errors and faults. I have countered that so did the soviets – even more so. Lenin gave a number of reasons why the CA had had to be dissolved such as out-of-date electoral lists and a split in the Social Revolutionary party between the presentation of candidates and the election. But all these could have been remedied by fresh elections. This the Bolsheviks wished to avoid since they were fully aware that the result would be more or less the same. They determined to hold on to power, while still wishing to be regarded as democrats. Hence Lenin proclaimed that the soviet system was a higher form of democracy than the “bourgeois” parliamentary system. Lenin favoured the soviet rather than the parliamentary system because he knew that he could get a majority under the former but not the latter because of a number of inherent weaknesses in the structure of the soviets that the Bolsheviks for a time could manipulate. Later when they lost their dominance in certain soviets, these were simply disbanded. It is a lie that the Bolsheviks had no other choices to make but to impose party control over the State. The soviets were neutered of any power simply because they often reflected the wishes of the working class and not those of the Bolshevik Party.

    Could anything have been worse than that which actually occurred following October 1917; the Civil War, the Cheka terror, the gulags, the forced collectivisations, the deportations, the famines, the Stalinist purges – ultimately ending in the collapse back into mafia-capitalism of a Russia, controlled by oligarchs?

    The unforgiveable crime of doing this in the name of socialism and thus discrediting the very idea of socialism, itself.

    Indeed, it would have been better if the “Great October Revolution” had never occurred – And that is my position clearly spelled out for you, Farooque

    • Farooque Chowdhury says:

      Thanks a lot, alanjjohnstone, for telling, as you write in your response above, in clear terms: “Indeed, it would have been better if the ‘Great October Revolution’ had never occurred – And that is my position clearly spelled out for you, Farooque”

      Now, the reason for your repeated and vehement condemnation of Lenin and his comrades comes to light without any cloud of confusion: “it would have been better if the ‘Great October Revolution’ had never occurred”. Really you are really “concerned” for socialism! This is the reason, dear, I tried to know your position in your words. Don’t you make the same sound that the “great” tsar & co, the “noble” bourgeoisie, the “humanist” imperialist forces have the same view? According to you, “it would have been better if the ‘Great October Revolution’ had never occurred”, because, that would have allowed the exploiters runs there happy maximizing profit business run unchallenged, because, that would have allowed the exploiters to proclaim “ours is the truth”, that would have allowed the exploiters to show the exploited “chaining the exploited is the eternal fact”. Isn’t it, dear friend alanjjohnstone?

      With such a position, you are talking in favor of socialism? Which socialism, dear? Is it exploiters’-“socialism”?

      With such a position, you are trying to evaluate Lenin and the October Revolution? Do you think any bourgeois will stand for the October Revolution? It’s the difference between two world views, dear.

      So, now, you are free to condemn Lenin, the October Revolution, Bolsheviks as many times as possible.

      So, tomorrow, you will condemn the exploited, the political acts of the exploited.

      And, you will openly stand for the exploiters in near-future after opposing the political acts of the exploited.

      Is there any need for debate as our respective positions are basically opposite, and irreconcilable, you for the exploiters and me for the exploited?

      • Farooque Chowdhury says:

        Sorry, the sentence in para 2 should be “… that would have allowed the exploiters run their happy, maximizing-profit business unchallenged,…” instead of “… that would have allowed the exploiters runs there happy maximizing profit business run unchallenged, …”

  6. Perhaps you missed the Marxist analysis that i offered, Farooque, when i explained that the accumulation of capital is extracted out of surplus value and surplus value which is obtained by exploiting wage-labour. The State/Party imposed not the often misunderstood Dictatorship of the Proletariat but the Dictatorship over the Proletariat (and peasants).

    Chapter and verse can be offered to the truth of this statement by citing the evidence of the policies and decrees of the Bolsheviks.

    It is you, Farooque, who justify this exploitation and apologise for the exploiters. You assume that all the opposition to the Bolsheviks was bourgeois – a smear that Lenin used, himself. Those socialists such as Martov were correct oppose the October Revolution from the start, as an attempt prematurely to go beyond the ‘bourgeois’ stage of the Russian revolution. Backward Russia meant that it was doomed to failure because the conditions for socialism were not ripe – both as regards the economic base and the social and cultural level of the working class. As i say, subsequent history substantiates that conclusion.

    And also as implied the real seriousness of the crime is that Leninism infected the working-class movement globally and became an additional obstacle for the achievement of socialism.

    In February, the Petrograd proletariat had carried out a “bourgeois revolution”. Now that the bourgeois republic was in place, the next stage was not the immediate struggle for working-class power, but a relatively prolonged period of bourgeois democracy. Revolutionaries as i said had to strengthen the working class organisations and institutions, ensuring their independence.

    “No less than mystic is the concept of a political form that, by virtue of its particular character, can surmount all economic social and national conditions” – Martov

    Capitalism in Russia had its own special features. The capitalists there were weak and dependent on both the Tsarist government and on foreign investors. As a result they were politically isolated and incapable of leading the revolution against Tsarism which was necessary for the full development of capitalism in Russia. The task of overthrowing the Tsar — Russia’s bourgeois or capitalist revolution — thus fell into other hands, those of the intelligentsia, a social group peculiar to the Russia of that time made up of university-trained people employed in various professional capacities by the government. Lenin’s theory of the vanguard party , which says that the revolution can only be achieved by a party of professional revolutionaries leading the discontented masses was taken from the Russian revolutionary tradition. It can be traced back through Tkachev and Ogarev to Western European thinkers like Babeuf whose idea of revolution was coloured by the French Bourgeois Revolution. Lenin never really advanced much beyond the idea of self-appointed liberators leading the mass of ignorant people to freedom. He remained, in his theory as well as his practice, essentially a bourgeois or capitalist revolutionary. In fact it was because Russia in the opening decades of this century was ripe for such a revolution that his ideas had any social or political significance. Stalin did twist Marxism into the conservative ideology of a state capitalist ruling class, but he was merely building on Lenin’s previous distortion of Marxism into the ideology of that same class while it was struggling for power.

    As i said, there are only one lesson the “Great October Revolution” has – and is one of not what to do.

    • Farooque Chowdhury says:

      Is there any reason to carry on our debate while you take the following position by saying:

      1. “Those socialists such as Martov were correct oppose the October Revolution from the start”;

      2. “the real seriousness of the crime is that Leninism infected the working-class movement globally and became an additional obstacle for the achievement of socialism”;

      3. “Now that the bourgeois republic was in place, the next stage was not the immediate struggle for working-class power, but a relatively prolonged period of bourgeois democracy”‘

      4. “Lenin’s previous distortion of Marxism”?

      Your position takes away all spaces for debate. Otherwise I would have argued from different angles including historical perspective, society, capacity of different classes, re-mentioning the debates already concluded as most of your arguments were from those debates that were nullified much earlier, and, possible alternatives, if any. Possibly, we’ll have opportunity to have another debate as you’ll keep your position open. I’m hopeful that next time you’ll not take away space for debate. Thanks.

  7. I have appreciated your civility, Farooque, in our exchanges, rare on the internet.

    But as you explain our positions are irreconcilable.

    I consider myself a Marxist and you, i believe, can be described as a Leninist. The term “Marxist-Leninist” is an oxymoron in my opinion.

    My position has been consistent despite you saying they have not – a class analysis. I don’t recall where but i once read Marx saying – you don’t go by what people say about themselves but by what they do (i paraphrase, of course).

    Any examination of what the Bolsheviks did demonstrate that they were effectively anti-working class.

    We can indeed have a bourgeois revolution without the bourgeoisie and a class society and class exploitation without individual capitalists and instead a bureaucracy of apparatchiks and nomenklatura functioning as the capitalist class.

    Until another time, as you say

    • Farooque Chowdhury says:

      Thanks, dear friend alanjjohnstone, for your kind words. We’ll again talk and debate, someday.