Friday, May 9, 2014

Long Live Victory Day [День Победы] May 9!

Gus Hall, Marxist-Leninist fighter extraordinaire, hailed the Soviet Union's lead role in the war against "Hitler fascism, the most brutal and bloodiest capitalist dictatorship!" This post is dedicated to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation КПРФ. 

May 9 is Victory Day День Победы, a holiday marking the USSR's heroism in smashing imperialist Hitler Germany in WWII!

Henry Winston, stellar late CPUSA chair, put it squarely: "the Soviet Union played the decisive role in saving the world from the racist, genocidal consequences of anti-Sovietism and anti-Communism." William Z. Foster wrote that "had Hitler been able to demolish the Red Army that would have been the end of democracy for an indefinite period. The US, though not falling an immediate victim, could not have long withstood the tremendous power Hitler would then have had at his disposal." (Winston, Race, Class and Black Liberation, 1977, International Publishers; Foster, History of the Communist Party of the United States, 1952, I.P.)

"The Soviet people won their historic victory in the Great Patriotic War because of the socialist social and state system." (B. Ponomarev, Short History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 1970, Progress Publishers, Moscow)

The Communist Party, the party of Lenin, was "the great organizer and inspirer of the national resistance". It "set an example in both battle and labor and greatly strengthened morale. The Party transformed the country into a vast military camp. Hundreds of thousands of Communists went to the front, and their selfless valor and devotion to their socialist homeland, their implacable hatred for the fascist invaders, served as an inspiring example for millions of Soviet soldiers." (Liberation, Progress Publishers, 1974)

[William Z. Foster: "the great offensive of the Soviet people and their Red Army against the Nazi hordes was guided daily by Generalissimo Stalin."]

Stalin roused the Red Army and the guerrilla detachments: "May you be inspired by the victorious banner of Lenin!" (1941)

The American Marxist-Leninist William Z. Foster chronicles the past: "When Hitler’s armies swept across the Soviet border in June 1941, the bourgeois military experts of the West were unanimous in prophesying that it would only be a few weeks until Hitler would crush the USSR completely. In fact, Hitler’s ’blitz’ did carry him fast and far, to the very gates of Leningrad by September, a city he was never to capture. On October 3, the vainglorious Hitler blared out to the world that the Soviet Union was crushed and would never rise again.

"But he counted his chickens before they were hatched. Hitler vastly underestimated the fighting power of the Soviet people, their Red Army and socialist system. The Wehrmacht had been made to pay a terrible price in its drive across Russia. It was battered again in its fruitless attempt to take either Moscow or Leningrad.

"And in January 1943, the fascist’s back was broken at Stalingrad, the most decisive battle in the history of the world. Then began, for the Nazis, their terrible 1, 500 mile retreat, with the Red Army slashing them to pieces all the way, while the United States and Britain kept their enormous armies idling in Britain." Foster declared: "The Communists were wonderful people while they were saving the world from the criminal follies of the capitalist system." The Allies launched the western front "after the European war was basically decided and Hitler licked." (Foster, History of the Three Internationals, 1955, International Publishers)

"The Red Army carried out Stalin’s order: the flag of victory was hoisted over Berlin!" (Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute, Joseph Stalin, 1949)

"The memory of the undying exploits of the peoples of the Soviet Union in the Great Patriotic War will live through the ages." (Ponomarev, Short History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 1970, Progress Publishers)

Enjoy this stunning video with a beautiful song by Joseph Kobzon Иосиф Кобзон:

Bow to Those Great Years 

Read Georgi Dimitrov's The United Front: The Struggle Against Fascism & War. [1938]

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Long Live Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto!

Circulate International Publishers' edition of Marx & Engels’ Communist Manifesto to workers at picket lines, protests and online!

(They can be purchased in the Twin Cities from Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55454. Phone #: 612-333-4719)

Henry Winston spoke out eloquently: "in the opening lines of the Communist Manifesto, authored in 1848 when the modern working class was emerging, Karl Marx & Frederick Engels noted that Communist influence on the laborers was already a 'specter haunting' the exploiters and oppressors!" (Henry Winston, Class, Race & Black Liberation, 1977, International Publishers)

Gus Hall, stellar past Marxist-Leninist warrior with the Communist Party of the United States, author of Working Class USA: The Power and the Movement & a founder of the United Steelworkers union, frequently hailed one of the Manifesto's crucial lessons: "of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class." (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Communist Manifesto, 1848, Int'l Publishers)

Karl Marx & Frederick Engels: 'Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of its future.'

William Z. Foster of the CPUSA once wrote that: "the Communist Manifesto was the first revolutionary program of the world’s workers. It laid down the solid foundations of proletarian thought and action for the workers thenceforth on their road to socialism. It showed them how to protect themselves under capitalism, how to abolish the capitalist system, and how to build the structure of the new socialist society. Marx, Engels, V.I. Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and others were to write many books on Marxism in the ensuing decades, and their writings served to elaborate and to buttress the basic propositions of the Manifesto. Today, (more than 160) years after the great document was written, the Communist Manifesto stands as firm as a rock, a clear guide for the international working class, justified by generations of revolutionary experience, and altogether impervious to the attacks of capitalist enemies." (William Z. Foster, History of the Three Internationals, 1955, International Publishers)

Lenin, the great successor of Marx & Engels, summed up the significance of the Communist Manifesto:

"With the clarity and brilliance of genius, this work outlines a new world-conception, consistent materialism, which also embraces the realm of social life; dialectics, as the most comprehensive and profound doctrine of development; the theory of the class struggle and the world-historic revolutionary role of the proletariat--the creator of a new, communist society." (Lenin, Karl Marx, 1914)

And Lenin could add, with every justification: "This little booklet is worth whole volumes!" (Lenin, Frederick Engels, 1895)

Read Karl Marx and Frederick Engels' epic classic online at this socialist link:

Manifesto of the Communist Party.

Order the Manifesto in print from International Publishers.

(Fellow Workers! "Like" the International Publishers page on Facebook!)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Les Misérables Storms the Barricades at Washburn High School in MN!

(FYI: I'll do a future Les Misérables piece with Frederick Engels on the 1832 Paris uprising & the Soviet Union's appreciation of Victor Hugo's book. It will include a link to The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte by Karl Marx.)

I'm fired up about Washburn High School's upcoming production of Les Misérables, Fellow Workers! The epic musical adapted from Victor Hugo' s fighting novel storms Minneapolis barricades February 20 to March 2. Vive la Révolution! ― Washburn High SCH, 201 W. 49th St. , Mpls.

Comrades, Come Rally! Forward this post, share the schedule & ticket info and get out the word! ― Michael 

The leader in red by SallyGipsyPunk

(Enjolras of Les Misérables : "The Leader in Red." Created by SallyGipsyPunk (Sabrina) on DeviantART with "watercolors, ink, black pen, acrylic & pastel.")

(FYI II: The Minneapolis Teachers Union MFT Local 59 FB page "liked" this public school event on their wall. Ura!)

Dig this Daily Planet article about the Les Mis performances.

Washburn High School to Present Les Misérables® School Edition

02/20/2014 - 7:00pm - 02/23/2014 - 2:00pm

02/27/2014 - 7:00pm - 03/02/2014 - 2:00pm

Washburn High School presents eight performances of Les Misérables® School Edition on February 20, 21, 22 at 7:00 p.m., February 23 at 2:00 p.m., February 27, 28, March 1 at 7:00 p.m. and March 2 at 2:00 p.m.

 Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and $15 for VIP seating (online sale only). Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at the Washburn Arts Council Facebook page events section. The performance on February 20 will be “pay as you can” night.

 Adapted from Victor Hugo’s epic novel, Les Misérables is a passionate tale of crime and punishment, justice and redemption. After being imprisoned 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread, ex-convict Jean Valjean builds a new life, becoming mayor of a prosperous town and adopting a young daughter. However, he violates his parole, and is pursued for decades by the relentless Inspector Javert. Ultimately, Valjean proves his mettle during a bloody student uprising in Paris, saving the young man who loves his daughter. As his life comes to a close, Valjean finds peace at last.

 Nancy Lee, Co-Director and Production Lead, explains why the timing was right for Washburn to take on this demanding production. “The number of significant roles in Les Misérables allows us to feature upperclassmen who are dedicated, hard working and well trained. The production challenges our advanced instrumentalists and experienced senior tech crew as well.”

 Co-Director John Lynn adds, “Don’t let the title ‘School Edition” fool you. The difference between our production and the Broadway show is some careful editing of the songs, which shortens the run time without taking away the difficulty or the beauty of this epic production.”

 Karen Reisch and Deb Keefe, Co-Chairs of the Washburn Arts Council, emphasize, “We are tremendously proud of our musicians, performers, and crew, and look forward to sharing this outstanding production with the entire community.”

201 W. 49th St.
Minneapolis, MN

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

William Z. Foster: "Lenin Cleared the Road for Socialism in America!"

Reprinted from Starry Messenger

Comrade Lenin of Russia
Rises in the marble tomb
On guard with the fighters forever -
The world is our room!

- Langston Hughes, Ballad of Lenin

Lenin put American Communism on a rock hard scientific footing.  Daniel Mason reports that "The interplay between Lenin and the United States was very extensive. Lenin had learned the English language early in his career and became an avid student of US economics, politics, education and social life." (He Changed The World! foreword to Lenin's Impact on the United States, edited by Daniel Mason and Jessica Smith, New World Review, NY, 1970)

Confusion and utopian schemes ruled during the wilderness years of the American Left.  Lenin's writings and warm personal contact with US comrades swept away this discord.  Early Party luminary William Z. Foster evokes the bombshell effect of Leninism on the course of his own political maturity:   "after more than 20 years of intellectual groping about, I was at last, thanks to Lenin, getting my feet on firm revolutionary ground."  (William Z, Foster, Pages from a Worker's Life, 1939, International Publishers)

(Lenin, author of Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder  & other titles for workers.) 

William Z. Foster, yesteryear's fighting CPUSA National Chairman and lead organizer of 1919's Great Steel Strike, wrote eloquently in History of the Communist Party of the United States:

"Marxism-Leninism made its impact upon the American left Socialist movement not only by means of the practical example of the Russian Revolution and Lenin's major writings, but also by direct counsel from Lenin himself. Lenin knew the American situation profoundly and was deeply interested in it. He wrote a basic work on American agriculture, and twice he sent major political letters directly to the American working class - once, in 1916, in answer to a manifesto of the Socialist Propaganda League, and the second time in 1918, in his famous Letter to American Workers. Also, during the early years of the Communist International, Lenin often spoke about the 'American question.'

"The initial influence of Marxism-Leninism on American Marxist thinking was tremendous. Lenin provided the basic answers to many complicated problems of theory and practice which for decades past had confused and crippled the American Socialist movement. This clarification, besides acting with crushing effect upon the right-wing sophistries, also tended to liquidate the traditional sectarian errors of the left wing. Lenin exposed the De Leonite theories, syndicalist and sectarian, which had plagued and dominated the left wing ever since the death of Engels almost a quarter of a century earlier. Lenin provided a solid theoretical basis for the left's fight against Gompersism in the trade unions, and he also refuted the pseudo-Socialist pretenses of all sections of right-wing Social-Democracy - including its Bernsteinian and Kautskyan varieties. This had a clarifying and strengthening effect upon the American Marxist movement.

"Highly important from the American standpoint was Lenin's scientific analysis of imperialism. With powerful emphasis, Lenin pointed out the qualitative differences that develop within the whole structure of capitalism with the growth of monopoly. Previously, without clearly differentiating itself from the right wing on this question, the left wing had tended to consider the growth of monopoly as merely a quantitative development of capitalism, and it's 'expansionism' (imperialism) as simply a secondary policy manifestation, instead of a basic expression of monopoly capitalism. This error led to a profound underestimation of the aggressive character, reactionary aims, and war making potentialities of imperialism. Lenin cleared up this confusion.

"Lenin also made clear the road of all-out political mass struggle to socialism. In so doing, he annihilated for Americans the prevalent De Leonite, syndicalist ideas that the workers would win their way to power by 'locking out the capitalists' or by means of simply a general strike and other kindred illusions.

"He also smashed the syndicalist conception, previously held almost unanimously by all sections of the American left wing, to the effect that after the workers had secured political power, the Party would dissolve itself and the unions would take over the management both of the industries and of society as a whole. Lenin, with the reality of the Russian Revolution to back up his words, clearly outlined the Soviet form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, pointed out that it is incomparably more democratic than the bourgeois dictatorship, and stressed the decisively leading role of the Party in every stage of the struggle, both before and during the existence of socialism. Lenin also, in his masterly analysis of the national question, with the able co-operation of Stalin, laid the basis for a fundamental understanding of the Negro question in the United States, a problem that had baffled left-wing thinking up to that time. With his historic doctrine that 'without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement', Lenin struck hard, too, at the traditional American tendency to minimize theory.

"Among his other contributions to the American revolutionary movement, Lenin clarified the question of the role of the farmers, which had always been a weak spot in Socialist Labor Party and Socialist Party policy, especially after the advent of De Leon. Lenin stressed the vital necessity of labor co-operating with the oppressed and exploited strata of these toilers, and he indicated the basic conditions under which such co-operation , with working class leadership, should be carried out. Lenin also, with his strong anti-sectarian position and his supreme genius for mobilizing all the potential strength of the anti-capitalist forces, laid the basis for a clarification of the question of the labor party.

"Smashing through the crippling De Leonite policy of non-participation in the broad, elemental mass movements of struggle, Lenin categorically, like Engels long before him, supported participation is such movements. Lenin likewise clarified the knotty question of partial political demands, which had also been a bone of contention in left-wing ranks for many years, especially under De Leon's intellectual tutelage. Indeed, Lenin had made this question quite clear in Russian practice, long before the Bolshevik Revolution. He showed that partial demands are an integral part of the workers' whole struggle. And Stalin, in his Foundations of Leninism, points out that reforms are by-products of revolutionary struggle and reforms can and must be used in the fight for socialism.

(William Z. Foster, past fighting Marxist leader of the Communist Party USA. Read his History of the Communist Party of the United States.)

"Lenin also clarified American Marxists on the question of religion. The Socialist Party, from its inception, had a confusion of policy on the matter, ranging from a cultivation of petty-bourgeois 'Christian socialism' to the placing of 'God-killing' as the main task of the Party. Lenin, reiterating Marx's statement that 'Religion is the opium of the people', stressed its class role in the exploitation of the workers, and declared: 'We demand that religion be regarded as a private matter so far as the state is concerned, but under no circumstances can we regard it as a private matter in our own party.' Lenin insisted, on the one hand, upon the complete separation of Church and State, and on the other, on an educational campaign by the Party. However, 'the propaganda of atheism by the Social Democracy must be subordinated to a more basic task - the development of the class struggle of the exploited masses against the exploiters.' The Party should not write atheism into its program. It should, however, freely admit religious minded workers to membership and then educate them to a scientific outlook on life.

"The writings of Lenin, the master Party builder, clarified the American left wing movement about the structure, practice and role of the Communist Party. In this respect he also made crystal-clear many problems which had worried and handicapped the left for many years. Lenin's basic teachings on the Party were especially needed in the United States, because of the long prevalence of syndicalist and semi-syndicalist ideas, the heart of which was a belittlement of the Party and an underestimation of political action.

"To all these great contributions of Lenin to the American movement must be added at least another. It was Lenin, above all others, who finally knocked on the head that chronic American sectarian disease, the dual union illusion. Ever since the days of Debs' American Railway Union in 1894 and De Leon's Socialist Trades and Labor Alliance in 1895, American left-wingers had been obsessed with the idea that the way to revolutionize the labor movement was to withdraw from the conservative trade unions and to organize independent, theoretically perfect industrial unions. The general effect of this policy had been to leave the Gompers machine in virtually unchallenged control of the basic mass organizations of the working class and to waste the strength of the dynamic left-wing fighting trade unionists in innumerable utopian industrial union projects.

"Lenin had encountered the problem of such abstention from the unions in Russia in 1908, on the part of the Otzovists, a group among the Bolsheviks. These elements, among other wrong tendencies, refused to work in the trade unions and other legally existing societies. Lenin, with his keen ability to go straight to the heart of a problem, and thus with a penetrating analysis to settle it once and for all, sailed into the Otzovists and destroyed their position completely.

"Lenin dealt again and crushingly with this particular sectarian abstentionist tendency shortly after the beginning of the Russian Revolution, when 'ultra-lefts' in Germany, Holland, England and other European countries, in the exuberance of their revolutionary spirit, had no patience for work in the old trade unions, but sought short cuts by setting up new revolutionary labor organizations. Lenin sharply denounced this practice as a serious form of sectarianism. He declared that 'to refuse to work within reactionary trade unions means leaving the insufficiently developed or backward working masses under the influence of reactionary leaders, agents of the bourgeoisie, labor aristocrats or 'bourgeoisified' workers.' This criticism applied with triple force to the United States, where the dual union fallacy had reigned almost unchallengeable in left circles for many years, thereby doing incalculable damage to the revolutionary movement.

"Lenin, in fighting for a correct political line, fought on two fronts. That is, he combated both the right danger and all forms of pseudo-leftism. This two front fight was particularly necessary in the United States, with its ingrained historical right weaknesses of American exceptionalism and its long affliction of 'left' sectarianism.

"The long-continued sectarianism of the left wing was basically an immature political reaction against the extreme opportunism of the Socialist Party and A.F. of L. leaders, which was bred of the especially corrupting influences of American political life. The left's dual unionism, anti-labor party, anti-farmer, anti-immediate demands, anti-parliamentary and other ultra-revolutionary policies and attitudes were short-cut methods aimed to create powerful trade unions, a militant workers' party and a mass Socialist ideology. A historical influence, too, producing left sectarianism was the pressure of the vast body of foreign-born workers, who were as yet little integrated into American economic, political and social life.

"Important also in this general respect was the fact that the American Marxist movement, in the imperialist epoch, had produced no outstanding Marxist theoretician, capable of immediately and basically solving the many complex problems faced by the working class. During many years, from the 1890s on, the great Lenin was developing Marxism into Marxism-Leninism and building the core of the eventual powerful Bolshevik Party. At this time, the American Socialists, in an extremely difficult objective situation, were being gravely hindered in their development by the powerful but revisionist influence of the ultra-left sectarian and semi-syndicalist theoretician, De Leon.

"The sudden impact of Lenin's profound and comprehensive writings, supported as they were by the tremendous reality of the Russian Revolution, revolutionized the thinking of the Marxist forces in the United States. The left moved rapidly toward a position of scientific communism. As Alexander Bittelman put it: 'The formation period in the history of our Party appears as a development from Left Socialism to Communism. The essence of this development consisted in this, that the Left Wing of the Socialist Party (1918-1919) was gradually freeing itself from vacillation between reformism and ultra-Left radicalism by means of an ever closer approach to the positions of Marxism-Leninism.'"

- William Z. Foster,  History of the Communist Party of the United States, 1952, International Publishers)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Soviet Union: Where Workers Had Power

FYI: Republished from a couple years ago, this piece will be updated.

Gus Hall, the former Marxist-Leninist leader of the Communist Party USA, said that the former Soviet Union was a society where workers had power. Gus Hall considered the USSR to be "the most powerful, successful and influential socialist society." He explained the Great October Socialist Revolution in a few words. "In 1917," Hall writes, "the working class of the Soviet Union decided they didn't need the owners who were getting richer while the people got poorer. In fact it was just this class of leeches that held back all social advances for working people. So the working people took over." (Gus Hall, "Where Workers Have Power," Working Class USA, 1987, International Publishers)

William Z. Foster, the Marxist-Leninist leader of the CPUSA preceding Hall, pointed out that "the Communist Party (was) the brain and heart and nerves of the Russian Revolution, and so it must be in any proletarian revolution." (William Z. Foster, Toward Soviet America, 1932, International Publishers)

And the ruling capitalist classes of the world freaked out! V.I. Lenin, stellar head of the 1917 revolution, answered their capitalist slanders of the Soviet Union eloquently. Lenin said: "for every hundred mistakes which we commit and which the bourgeoisie and their lackeys are dinning into the ears of the world, ten thousand great and heroic deeds are performed." (Lenin, Letter to American Workers, 1918)

In his book, Working Class USA, Gus Hall exposes the capitalist lies about the Soviet Union. The USSR was a society where, as Gus Hall put it, "workers (had) power." John Eaton, in Political Economy, notes that: "Socialism is planned production for use on the basis of public ownership of the means of production." Leontyev said that "the building of socialism begins only after state power passes from the hands of the bourgeoisie into the hands of the working class." And socialism in the Soviet Union, Gus Hall wrote, brought free education, medical and dental care. Employment was guaranteed and workers were the majority on all government bodies. The socialist economy guaranteed that there was no economic crisis or corporate capitalist profit. Racism and discrimination were outlawed as criminal offenses. Unions were a valued part of socialist society. There had been no unemployment in the Soviet Union since 1930. And all profits from production went to funds to provide for the mass welfare, paid vacations and housing for the Soviet people. (Gus Hall, "Where Workers Have Power," Working Class USA, 1987, International Publishers)

(V.I. Lenin: 'for every hundred mistakes which we commit and which the bourgeoisie and their lackeys are dinning into the ears of the world, ten thousand great and heroic deeds are performed.')

Karl Marx & Frederick Engels taught that communist society had two phases. Socialism, which Karl Marx referred to as "the first phase of communist society" is a transitional stage to highly developed communism, "a higher phase of communist society," where there is a classless social system and full social equality of all members of society. (Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, 1875)

And socialism, "the first phase of communist society," in the former Soviet Union brought enormous gains to the working class. Gus Hall explained that the working class and unions, not the capitalists, called the shots in the former Soviet Union. "In the socialist countries," Gus Hall said, "workers are their own bosses.
They are the real economic and political power. There is no drive for maximum private profits, there are no privately-owned corporations, and no tax shelters inducing companies to close plants and move to more profitable locations leaving human devastation in their wake...

"The basic truth is that it is only in a socialist society that trade unions acquire real political and economic power because they work, speak and act for the class in power--the working class...Under socialism people come first and profits are made to serve them." (Gus Hall, "Where Workers Have Power," Working Class USA, 1987, International Publishers)

William Z. Foster correctly penned that "In a world thrown into deepening disorder and demoralization caused by the growing general crisis (of capitalism), the superiority of the system of planned socialist economy stands out like a great mountain!" (William Z. Foster, Toward Soviet America, 1932, International Publishers)

And V.I. Lenin was absolutely right that, with the birth of the Soviet Union, "a new era in world history has begun!" (Lenin, The Third International and It's Place In History, 1919)

Superb Books:

Daily Worker Labor Editor and Moscow Correspondent, George Morris, wrote Where Human Rights are Real.

Victor Perlo's excellent text Dynamic Stability: the Soviet Economy Today cited the 1977 Soviet Constitution.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Trotsky is NOT a Communist Hero

FYI: We urge workers to study M. J. Olgin's Trotskyism: Counter-Revolution in Disguise
Gus Hall, past US Communist Party warrior and a United Steelworkers founder, wrote eloquently: "Trotskyites, followers of Leon Trotsky, habitually employ splitting tactics in people's movements & promote anti-Communism in pseudo-radical guise!" (Fighting Racism, 1984)

Brothers and Sisters,

The influence of bourgeois propaganda, the lack of availability of authentic Marxist-Leninist books and the influence of revisionism in the Communist movement (see previous posts for a definition of revisionism) has produced a situation where some folks mistakenly believe that Trotsky was a Communist hero. It ain't so. "(Trotsky's) policies," William Z. Foster, former leader of the Communist Party USA, said "would have been fatal to the Russian Revolution and would have brought about the restoration of capitalism in Russia." William Z. Foster explains, in History of the Three Internationals, that:

"Trotsky, whose whole history stamped him as an unstable petty-bourgeois radical and who did not join up with the Bolsheviks until 1917, was a confirmed factionalist and opportunist. Even after he joined the party he continued his opposition to Lenin on many points. When Lenin was in his final illness, during the autumn of 1923, Trotsky made a bid to capture the leadership of the Communist Party. He gathered together the several small opposition groups than in the party and issued an oppositional program, the 'Declaration of the Forty-Six.' The substance of this was to accuse the party leadership of gross bureaucracy, to instigate the youth against the party, to pronounce the N.E.P. a complete retreat, to demand freedom to build factional groupings, to condemn the party for the defeat of the German and Hungarian revolutions, to blame the many economic difficulties upon party mismanagement, and to pronounce the Russian Revolution itself in a state of 'Thermidorian degeneration.'

"It devolved upon Stalin to lead the party fight against this disruptive opposition, and he was to prove brilliantly capable of the task...Stalin, a profound Marxist and a relentless fighter, ideologically shattered the Trotsky case, and at the 13th conference of the party in January 1924, the opposition was condemned overwhelmingly as a 'petty-bourgeois deviation from Marxism.' During this fight Stalin produced his great book, The Foundations of Leninism, which played a big part in the controversy.

Lenin: "The dialectics of history were such that the theoretical victory of Marxism compelled its enemies to disguise themselves as Marxists." (The Historical Destiny of the Doctrine of Karl Marx, 1913)

"The defeated Trotsky, tongue-in-cheek, pledged himself to abide by the party decision, a pledge which, however, he immediately began to violate.

"Shortly afterward, the party...was confronted with the basic problem of defining its perspective. Stalin, in early 1925, met this tremendous theoretical task magnificently. He declared, and the Central Committee backed him up, that Soviet Russia possessed all the requirements for the building of socialism. Lenin had previously indicated the possibility, if need be, of building socialism in one country, Russia. Stalin's formulation was a bold departure from commonly held Marxist opinion, which was that in order to make the construction of socialism possible it would be necessary for the workers simultaneously to gain political power in several countries.

"Stalin's basic statement immediately drew fire from the adventurer Trotsky, who came forth with what he called the theory of 'permanent revolution.' Trotsky categorically denied the possibility of constructing socialism in Russia alone. He proposed, instead, an intensification of revolutionary struggle at home against the peasantry (all categories) and war abroad against the bourgeois governments. The fate of the Russian Revolution was at stake in this historic discussion. Stalin succeeded in making the party understand that Trotsky's line would have meant the overthrow of the Soviet government and the end of the Revolution. As a result, at the 14th party conference, April 1925, Trotsky's policy was defeated and Stalin's overwhelmingly endorsed. Again Trotsky agreed to abide by the party decision, but did not." (William Z. Foster, History of the Three Internationals, 1955)

William Z. Foster points out that Trotsky and his friend Zinoviev and their handful of supporters, held "a street demonstration against the party on November 7," 1927.

(William Z. Foster, former leader of the Communist Party USA)

In another book, History of the Communist Party of the United States, Foster says that:

"For several years prior to the sixth Comintern congress Trotskyism, which Lenin had long fought, had become a malignant pest in the Soviet Union. Leon Trotsky, always an opportunist and adventurer, made a reckless grab for the leadership of the Communist Party after the death of Lenin in 1924. The substance of his 'ultra-revolutionary' program was the provocation of civil war against the peasantry as a whole and the unfolding of aggressive foreign policy that could have only resulted in bringing about a war between the capitalist powers and the Soviet Union. His policies to force such an artificial revolution would have been fatal to the Russian Revolution and would have brought about the restoration of capitalism in Russia.

"The Soviet people wanted none of Trotsky's destructive program...At the time of the sixth congress of the Comintern, Trotsky was in exile, as a criminal against the Revolution." (William Z. Foster, History of the Communist Party of the United States, 1952)

And Trotsky became anti-Soviet to the core. "Trotsky, who had been expelled from the Soviet Union in 1929, organized abroad the 'Fourth International' in 1933, which was composed of skeleton groups in many countries. Among its other counter-revolutionary activities, it openly advocated the violent overthrow of the Russian Communist Party leadership and of the Soviet government." (William Z. Foster, History of the Three Internationals, 1955)

We urge workers to study M. J. Olgin's Trotskyism: Counter-Revolution in Disguise.

(Note the section on "the expulsion of the Trotskyites" in Chapter Nineteen.)

Enjoy the 1939 book authorized by the Central Committee of the CPSU: History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Marxism for the 99% : Philosophy is Stamped with the Brand of a Class

"Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it!" - Marx, Theses on Feuerbach

This blog piece includes the first few pages of the 1953 edition of Maurice Cornforth's Materialism and the Dialectical Method, written while he was a Marxist-Leninist. I have also woven in quotes by Howard Selsam, Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, V.I. Lenin, William Z. Foster and Gus Hall, former leaders of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA).

Cornforth's Materialism and the Dialectical Method is part of a three volume series on Dialectical Materialism (which includes the books Historical Materialism and the Theory of Knowledge) and is based on his 1950 lectures for the Communist Party of Great Britain. These works were long-appreciated by the socialist movement around the world.

This post is warmly dedicated to our friends in the Labor movement & Occupy Minneapolis:

"Every philosophy expresses a class outlook. But in contrast to the exploiting classes, which have always sought to uphold and justify their class position by various disguises and falsifications, the working class, from its very class position and aims, is concerned to know and understand things just as they are, without disguise or falsification.

"The party of the working class needs a philosophy which expresses a revolutionary class outlook. The alternative is to embrace ideas hostile to the working class and to socialism.

"This determines the materialist character of our philosophy."
(Maurice Cornforth, Materialism and the Dialectical Method, 1953)

(V.I. Lenin: ’the Marxist doctrine is omnipotent because it is true! It is complete and harmonious, and provides men with an integral world conception which is irreconcilable with any form of superstition, reaction or defense of bourgeois oppression’)

Party Philosophy and Class Philosophy

"A revolutionary working-class party needs a revolutionary working class philosophy, " Maurice Cornforth begins, "and that philosophy is dialectical materialism. Dialectical materialism has been defined by Stalin as: ’The world outlook of the Marxist-Leninist Party.’ (Joseph Stalin, Dialectical and Historical Materialism)

"This definition must appear a strange one, both to many politicians and to many philosophers. But we will not begin to understand dialectical materialism unless we can grasp the thought which lies behind this definition. Let us ask, first of all, what conception of philosophy lies behind the idea expressed in this definition of party or--since a party is always the political representative of a class--class philosophy.

"By philosophy is usually meant our most general account of the nature of the world and of mankind’s place and destiny in it--our world outlook." (Maurice Cornforth, Materialism and the Dialectical Method, 1953)

In other words, philosophy is "the whole body of thought concerning the kind of world we live in, the kind of beings we are, and our relation to the world." (Howard Selsam, editor, Handbook of Philosophy, 1949, International Publishers)

Cornforth continues: "that being understood, it is evident that everybody has some kind of philosophy, even though he has never learned to discuss it. Everybody is influenced by philosophical views, even though he has not thought them out for himself and cannot formulate them.

"Some people, for example, think that this world is nothing but ’a vale of tears’ and that our life in it is the preparation for a better life in another and better world. They accordingly believe that we should suffer whatever befalls us with fortitude, not struggling against it, but trying to do whatever good we can do to our fellow creatures. This is one kind of philosophy, one kind of world outlook. Other people think that the world is a place to grow rich in, and that each should look out for himself. This is another kind of philosophy.

"But granted that our philosophy is our world outlook, the task arises of working out this world outlook systematically and in detail, turning it into a well-formulated and coherent theory, turning vaguely held popular beliefs and attitudes into more or less systematic doctrines. This is what the philosophers do.

"By the time the philosophers have worked out their theories, they have often produced something very complicated, very abstract and very hard to understand. But even though only a comparatively few people may read and digest the actual productions of philosophers, these productions may and do have a very wide influence. For the fact that philosophers have systematized certain beliefs reinforces those beliefs, and helps to impose them upon wide masses of ordinary people. Hence, everyone is influenced in one way or another by philosophers, even though they have never read the works of those philosophers.

"And if this is the case, then we cannot regard the systems of the philosophers as being wholly original, as being wholly the products of the brain-work of the individual philosophers. Of course, the formulations of views, the peculiar ways in which they are worked out and written down, is the work of the particular philosopher. But the views themselves, in their most general aspect, have a social basis in ideas which reflect the social activities and social relations of the time, and which, therefore, do not spring ready-made out of the heads of philosophers.

"From this we may proceed a step further.

"When society is divided into classes--and society always has been divided into classes ever since the dissolution of the primitive communes, that is to say, throughout the entire historical period to which the history of philosophy belongs--then the various views which are current in society always express the outlook of various classes. We may conclude, therefore, that the various systems of the philosophers also always express a class outlook. They are, in fact, nothing but the systematic working out and theoretical formulation of a class outlook, or, if you prefer, of the ideology of definite classes.

"Philosophy is and always has been class philosophy. Philosophers may pretend it is not, but that does not alter the fact.

"For people do not and cannot think in isolation from society, and therefore from the class interests and class struggles which pervade society, any more than they can live and act in such isolation. A philosophy is a world outlook, an attempt to understand the world, mankind and man’s place in the world. Such an outlook cannot be anything but the outlook of a class, and the philosophers function as the thinking representatives of a class.

"How can it be otherwise? Philosophies are not imported from some other planet, but are produced here on earth, by people involved, whether they like it or not, in existing class relations and class struggles. Therefore, whatever philosophers say about themselves, there is no philosophy which does not embody a class outlook, or which is impartial, as opposed to partisan, in relation to class struggles. Search as we may, we shall not find any impartial, non-partisan, non-class philosophy.

"Bearing this in mind, then, we shall find that the philosophies of the past have all, in one way or another, expressed the outlook of the so-called ’educated’ classes, that is to say, of the exploiting classes. In general, it is the leaders of society who express and propagate their ideas in the form of systematic philosophies. And up to the appearance of the modern working class, which is the peculiar product of capitalism, these leaders have always been the exploiting classes. It is their outlook which has dominated philosophy, just as they have dominated society." (Maurice Cornforth, Materialism and the Dialectical Method, 1953)

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, great Communist pioneers, exposed the fact that "the class which is the ruling material force in society is at the same time its ruling intellectual force." For "the class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that, thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it." (Marx and Engels, German Ideology)

Thus Marx and Engels declared in the Communist Manifesto: "the ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class."

"We can only conclude from this that the working class, if today it intends to take over leadership of society, needs to express its own class outlook in philosophical form, and to oppose this philosophy to the philosophies which express the outlook and defend the interests of the exploiters." (Maurice Cornforth, Materialism and the Dialectical Method, 1953)

(Gus Hall: ’Marxism-Leninism is the philosophy and world outlook of the working class because it is a philosophy of social progress.’)

Marxism is a revolution in philosophy. V.I. Lenin, the outstanding head of Russia’s proletarian revolution, hit the nail on the head: "the Marxist doctrine is omnipotent because it is true! It is complete and harmonious, and provides men with an integral world conception which is irreconcilable with any form of superstition, reaction or defense of bourgeois oppression." (Lenin, Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism, 1913)

Maurice Cornforth cites Lenin and draws some lessons: "’the services rendered by Marx and Engels to the working class may be expressed in a few words thus: they taught the working class to know itself and be conscious of itself, and they substituted science for dreams, ’ wrote Lenin.

"The great world-wide historical service of Marx and Engels lies in the fact that they proved by scientific analysis the inevitability of the collapse of capitalism and its transition to communism, under which there will be no more exploitation of man by man...that they indicated to the proletarians of all countries their role, their task, their mission: to be the first to rise in the revolutionary fight against capital and to rally around themselves in this struggle all the toilers and exploited.’ (Lenin, Speech at the Unveiling of a Monument to Marx and Engels, 1918)

"Teaching the working class ’to know itself and be conscious of itself, ’ and to rally around itself ’all the toilers and exploited, ’ Marx and Engels founded and established the revolutionary theory of working-class struggle, which illumines the road by which the working class can throw off capitalist exploitation, can take the leadership of all the masses of the people, and so free the whole of society once and for all of all oppression and exploitation of man by man.

"Marx and Engels taught that without its own party, the working class certainly could not win victory over capitalism, could not lead the whole of society forward to the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism. The working class must have its own party, independent of all bourgeois parties. Further developing the Marxist teachings about the party, Lenin showed that the party must act as the vanguard of its class, the most conscious section of its class, and that it is the instrument for winning and wielding political power." (Maurice Cornforth, Materialism and the Dialectical Method, 1953)

From capitalism to socialism, the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party must be the vanguard of the working class. "By educating the workers’ party, " V.I. Lenin said, "Marxism educates the vanguard of the proletariat which is capable of assuming power and of leading the whole people to socialism, of directing and organizing the new order, of being the teacher, the guide, the leader of all toilers and exploited in the task of building up their social life without the bourgeoisie and against the bourgeoisie.’ (Lenin, State and Revolution, 1917)

After the victory of socialism, as the great Communist William Z. Foster pointed out, "the leader and organizer of the proletarian dictatorship is the Communist Party." (William Z. Foster, Toward Soviet America, 1932)

"To fulfill such a role, " Maurice Cornforth concludes, "the party must evidently have knowledge, understanding and vision; in other words, it must be equipped with revolutionary theory, on which its policies are based and by which its activities are guided.

"This theory is the theory of Marxism-Leninism. And it is not just an economic theory, nor yet exclusively a political theory, but a world outlook--a philosophy. Economic and political views are not and never can be independent of a general world outlook. Specific economic and political views express the world outlook of those who hold such views, and conversely, philosophical views find expression in views on economics and politics.

"Recognizing all this, the revolutionary party of the working class cannot but formulate, and having formulated, hold fast to, develop and treasure its party philosophy. In this philosophy--dialectical materialism--are embodied the general ideas by means of which the party understands the world which it is seeking to change and in terms of which it defines its aims and works out how to fight for them.

"In this philosophy are embodied the general ideas by means of which the party seeks to enlighten and organize the whole class, and to influence, guide and win over all the masses of working people, showing the conclusions which must be drawn from each stage of the struggle, helping people to learn from their own experience how to go forward towards socialism.

"And so we see why it is that in our times a philosophy has arisen which expresses the revolutionary world outlook of the working class, and that this philosophy--dialectical materialism--is defined as ’the world outlook of the Marxist-Leninist Party.’

"Experience itself has taught the party the need for philosophy. For experience shows that if we do not have our own revolutionary socialist philosophy, then inevitably we borrow our ideas from hostile, anti-socialist sources. If we do not adopt today the outlook of the working class and of the struggle for socialism, then we adopt--or slip into, without meaning to do so--that of the capitalists and of the struggle against socialism.

"This is why the working class party--if it is to be the genuine revolutionary leadership of its class, and is not to mislead its class by the importation of hostile capitalist ideas, and of policies corresponding to such ideas--must be concerned to formulate, defend and propagate its own revolutionary philosophy." (Maurice Cornforth, Materialism and the Dialectical Method, 1953)

Gus Hall, a Communist founder of the United Steelworkers, was right: "Marxism-Leninism is the philosophy and world outlook of the working class because it is a philosophy of social progress!" The future belongs to the scientific, Marxist-Leninist world outlook! (Gus Hall, Karl Marx: Beacon for Our Times, 1983)

Read Howard Selsam & Harry Martel's stellar book Reader in Marxist Philosophy. This text with excerpts from Marx, Engels and Lenin is available from International Publishers.

Dig these sections from Marx, Engels, Lenin For a Better World: Excerpts from the Classics : Historical Materialism & Dialectical Materialism.