☭ 100 YEARS AGO ☭: On The Great October Revolution

Lenin-Is-Alive_English.jpg

When speaking of the great October Revolution, I tend to draw a historical parallel that puts the revolution in historical context. Karl Marx and the early Vladimir Lenin believed, in accordance with the findings of Marx’s thorough scientific investigation of the capitalist system, that the first socialist revolutions would inevitably occur in the most advanced capitalist countries, at the end of capitalist development. The young Lenin believed that the first socialist revolution wouldn’t even happen in his lifetime. In 1917 the exact opposite happened due to both the internal peculiarities of early Russian development and the external imperialist war (World War 1). The first socialist revolution took place in one of the most backward country on earth, in a country that just had a long awaited bourgeois-democratic (capitalist) revolution.

For many reasons, it must be said that the Bolshevik experiment was doomed from the start, or at the very lest had a very slim chance of succeeding. Had it taken place 1 or 2 centuries later, in an advanced capitalist country, the prospects of success would have been 10:1 and not 1:10. I like to say when referring to October that it was as if the French or American revolutions took place in ~1570 and not ~1770. Without the enlightenment, without the birth pains of the industrial revolution, without the death agony of feudalism and the crowning of the head of capitalism, the prospects of a successful French or American Revolution would have been extremely grim. But even this is an understatement. The French and American revolutions took place in extremely advanced nations for their time, not in the most backward, as did October. It would suffice to say that October was as if the French revolution took place in India or China in the 1570’s. Not only were the prerequisites for capitalism non-existent, but the prerequisites for even basic bourgeois (and especially not proletarian) democracy as well.

Despite its failure, and later Stalinist degeneration that is in my view comparable to a Soviet Thermidor, it marked something that the world had hitherto not seen. In the past every democratic system was at once the democracy of a small property owning minority (Greek slave owners or American and European white, male capitalists and land-owners) and a class dictatorship over everyone else. Even today, as bourgeois democracy has evolved to edit out the ‘white’ and ‘male’ attributes of the ruling class, the government still remains under the firm iron grip of the capitalist class. For instance, in the United States, the House of Representatives and Senate are so wealthy that less than 10% of elected representatives are in the bottom 80% income bracket. Virtually all elected officials of any significance in both parties in out country are preselected and funded by capitalist corporations via Super-PACS, etc. to maintain and reinforce the capitalist order. ‘The people’ do not elect them, they are elected and chosen by the bourgeoisie, which owns the electoral process, the media, the means of producing wealth, etc.

This brings us back to Lenin’s time tested and true statement about bourgeois democracy, which he recognized as a historic advance beyond the barbarity of medievalism, “Even in the most democratic and freest republics, as long as capital rules the land and remains private property, the government will always be in the hands of a small minority, nine-tenths of which consist of capitalists, or rich men”. What the October revolution represented was the turning of this system on its head. The ‘democracy’ that was the de facto dictatorship of the 1% property owing class over the 99% property-less proletarians and peasantry was replaced with the genuine democracy of the 99%, of the proletarians and peasantry, and the class dictatorship over the former oppressors and exploiters, over the 1%.

It represented for the first time in human history, a genuinely democratic system that represented the interests of the overwhelming majority of society, and not the interests of the property owning ruling class, which owned the means of producing wealth in a particular epoch. Lenin was undeniably on the right side of history, even if he was admittedly in the wrong time, and in the wrong place. I will leave the final verdict, of course, to history. But I have zero doubt in my mind that history will absolve the Bolsheviks of any wrong doing on their part. The ends of genuine Bolshevism, and not Stalinism, undoubtedly justify the means.

Einstein_Lenin_Meme.jpg

“Does not caring about politics make me a bad person?” No, it does not.

A friend asked me “does not caring about politics make me a bad person, in your opinion?” I said no, for several reasons.

First let us look at Rousseau, in the ‘Social Contract’:
“If the sovereign (meaning the people) is free to oppose them and does not do so, we must take universal silence as evidence of popular consent”

But this only applies insofar as we take a bourgeois republic seriously, as the will of the people and not as the will of the bourgeoisie. Which any serious look at politics in the U.S. or Europe shows that these republics represent the will of the 1%, to put this in terms that most people can understand.

Plato once said that “The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men”. But we are still ignoring one of the key facets of modern politics: it is intentionally alienating.

Lenin once said in ‘The State and Revolution’ that “A democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism, and, therefore, once capital has gained possession of this very best shell (through the Palchinskys, Chernovs, Tseretelis and Co.), it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois-­democratic republic can shake it.”

Naturally it follows from this that the proletariat is alienated from politics. Why? Because as Lenin said, the bourgeoisie establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois-­democratic republic can shake it.

So why should anyone be interested in whether Clinton or Trump is elected? The fundamentally exploitative social system we live under will not change, the bombs will not stop falling from the skies, the proletariat will gain no meaningful concessions from the ruling class. Politics is designed to be this way. What difference will it make to someone working 50 hours a week and still living in poverty? Or someone who is unemployed? Why should they vote for a party that won’t even give the working class 15$ an hour?

On that age old question of existence, part 2

The formless static from which being emerges is called nothingness. The creation of nothingness separated by time (+1 and -1) is called being. The coming into being is called the birth of reality. The collision of +1 and -1 is called annihilation, or the end of being. 
Within the virtual particles, with their endless coming into being and annihilation without actually creating anything that adds up to more or less that zero, is the secret rational answer to that age old question: why does anything exist instead of nothing? For in fact, mathematically nothing does, or can exist. Everything adds up to nothing.

On existence, an answer to the question of “Why does something exist instead of nothing?”

What is said to be that which cannot be, yet is? It is existence, it is being, it is not however, nothingness. Why? There is no why, there simply is. Nothingness cannot simply be, it can only be the static from which being arises. How? Can something be created out of nothing? In principle, no, in actuality, yes. +1 and -1 can come into being simultaneously, and so long as they are separated by some variable (such as time), they can exist for a “time”. +1 and -1 can only come into being because they add up to zero, to nothingness. But time and space are relative. So, within +1 or -1, time can be infinite. +1 and -1 can infinitely approach one another without ever joining together and annihilating. It could be said that “the” universe undergoes endless cycles of deaths and rebirths, but insofar as time as relative, our universe can in essence be eternal. Does “time” exist in the void in which these infinite variables of equal but opposite values arise? In principle yes, in actuality no. Such is the answer to the grand question “Why does anything exist instead of nothing?” For nothing does exist, everything adds up to nothing! This is the answer which my existential crisis has brought me to.

On the attack today on Congress

Communism is irrevocably opposed to acts of individual terrorism. The attack this morning was done by a man who believed himself to be a patriot, however, divorced entirely from popular support of the masses and the will of the people, from a proper moral justification of such an act (a despotic government, a massive restriction on individual liberty, etc), it can hardly be said to truly be the case. Frustration at the nature of our body politic is understandably widespread, as it is now obvious that our government represents the will of a small, property owning minority. However, this is not a new phenomenon at all, this has always been the case. A significant majority of the population supports, even if hesitantly, the current government and the offices which representatives hold. An attack such as this, then, is an attack on the popular will of the people themselves. If the government is to be attacked in popular outrage, it would be for a much better reason, by the people themselves, and with widespread popular support. That is the only possible justification of an attack on elected representatives. That is why it is said by Marxists that communism is irrevocably opposed to individual acts of terrorism. The attack today was a despicable act, and carries with it no possible justification as such an act can only be justified by the popular will of the people.

The Mistake of Equating Even the Worst of Stalinism with Fascism (From a Trotskyist, Mind You)

There is a fundamental difference between ends and means which cannot be ignored by those who equate even the worst Stalinist states with fascism. Yes, they were both nightmarish 1984 style dystopias. But to equate the two would be folly. I am, of course, as the title suggests, a Trotskyist. I disdain Stalinism for it’s inherent lack of genuine democracy, authoritarianism after the fact, and lack of even formal liberties. However, the end goal of the fascist states had already been established in one sense. The end goal of fascism is a totalitarian state, one which, as Hitler put it, was to last ‘a thousand years’.
The state, being an inherently violent institution, is nothing but a weapon for the suppression of one class over another. The end goal of the fascists WAS an ‘eternal totalitarian state’. The end goal of the Stalinists, and indeed of all communists, myself included, is a communist society. What is a communist society? It is a society without social classes, money, private property, or the state. It has been said that the end goal of anarchists and marxists (yes, even Stalinists) is the same, and this is absolutely true. If you do not believe me, allow me to quote one of the most ardent anti-revisionist stalinists of the 20th century, Mao Zedong:
“Don’t you want to abolish state power?” Yes, we do, but not right now. We cannot do it yet. Why? Because imperialism still exists, because domestic reaction still exists, because classes still exist in our country. Our present task is to strengthen the people’s state apparatus – mainly the people’s army, the people’s police and the people’s courts – in order to consolidate national defense and protect the people’s interests.
“On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship” (June 30, 1949), Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 418.
There is also the infamous ‘horseshoe theory’ which alleges that far-right and far-left politics have more in common than apart, that they are really just two sides of the same coin. But this theory quickly falls apart when put into historical context. For instance, compare the far-left and far-right in times of slavery, in times of feudalism. In every instance the ‘centrists’ whom the horseshoe theory holds in the highest regard have been the ones to passively go along with the prevailing exploitative social system, even if they ‘see logic in both sides’. In every instance the far-left has been willing to use violence to end oppression and exploitation, and the far-right has been willing to use violence to systematically enforce and maintain said exploitative and oppressive social systems. Such a theory also negates that many on the far-left, and even the far-right, are anarchists almost as often as totalitarians. But if you compare a fascist to an anarcho-communist (far right vs. far left), or a Stalinist to an ‘anarcho’-capitalist (far left vs. far right), you will quickly see how easily such an absurd notion falls apart. Below is an image of the horseshoe theory put into historical context.
Horseshoe.jpg
If we hold all acts of political violence to a non-sensible Kantian standard of timeless morality, than perhaps the far-left and the far-right are the same. But this is to equate abolitionists with slave-owners, is to equate brutal capitalists with communists (even Trotskyists like myself). It also ignores the fact that political violence will always exist insofar as the state exists. A ‘pacifist’ that idly accepts a prevailing social order that kills hundreds of millions of people every decade has as much, if not more blood on their hands as does a revolutionary who is attempting to end said exploitation by direct force of arms. There is talk of ‘The Terror’ of the French Revolution which mercilessly killed the former oppressors and counter-revolutionaries as an example of the barbarity of the far-left. But there is less talk of, as Mark Twain put it, the second terror which the former sought to end:
“There were two ‘Reigns of Terror’, if we could but remember and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passions, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon a thousand persons, the other upon a hundred million; but our shudders are all for the horrors of the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty and heartbreak? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief terror that we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror – that unspeakable bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.”
With such a view, one can easily justify Robespierre’s ‘totalitarian excesses’, as the ends clearly justified the means. The far-right however, historically has used terror solely to maintain exploitative social systems, and in reaction to attempted liberation from such. It was the reaction to both the French and Bolshevik revolutions that sparked the necessity of the far-left to take such drastic actions in self-defense of the revolution. Both ‘Red Terrors’ were but responses to white (far-right) reactionary terror. In the words of Danton, the committee of public safety was compelled to “be terrible as to spare the people the need to be so”. It could be said that there is but one justification of violence: The greater, not individual, good. If that is the standard, then we should hold the far-left in far greater moral esteem than both centrists and far-rightists alike. It should also be noted that we are referring to revolutionary terror, as in, terror after a revolution, not terror as it is known today. Marxism is irrevocably opposed to individual terrorism.
If one equates the ends with the means then one makes a forgivable, yet foolish mistake. If one equates Robespierre’s ‘reign of terror’ (the means) with capitalism and a democratic republic as such (the ends), can it not be said that the person making such a judgement is in error? Can the same not also be said for one who equates the Stalinist states of the 20th century (a totalitarian means which many communists, myself included, disapprove of) with ‘communism’ and ‘socialism’ as such (the ends)? But one can certainly equate the ends and means of a fascist state as the two are one in the same, the goal of fascism is to establish a totalitarian state that lasts forever. In that light, we should hold the far-left in infinitely greater esteem than the far-right.

Critique on Bourgeois Notions of ‘Liberty, Democracy, Equality and Justice’

There is liberty alright, but certainly not “liberty for all”. It is difficult for me to imagine what “personal liberty” is enjoyed by an unemployed, hungry or homeless person. True freedom can only exist where there is no exploitation or oppression of one person by another; where there is no unemployment, no homelessness, and where a person is not living in fear of losing his/ her job or home, or going hungry. Only in such a society can personal, or any other freedom for that matter, exist for real and not merely on paper.

There is democracy alright, but democracy which serves a privileged, property owning class. Less than 7% of representatives in congress and senate are in the bottom 80% income bracket. 9/10 of our public representatives are capitalists, or rich men. Direct bribery of bureaucrats and the alliance between the state and wall street make a “democracy for all” impossible. Indeed the leftover surpluses produced by workers in a corporate model of enterprise are for a small group of men (board of directors) who are elected by top stock holders (60% of whom are in the top 1%, 1 stock meaning one vote) to have absolute power over what to do with. Such industrial tyranny is the very definition of capitalism. And worse still, most industries appropriate large portions of that surplus to candidates of, and to one of the two political parties in the United States. Both parties look after maintaining and reinforcing via ideology and force, this exploitative social system. The upper classes being powerful by money only, cannot acquire political power but by making money the only qualification for the legislative capacity of an individual, first in officially (the exclusion of the rich from running for office) and then de facto (the near impossibility of running for office without corporate money). Because there is no industrial democracy (socialism), there can be no true political democracy. It is at once democracy of the rich, and dictatorship over the propertyless masses. Whereas socialism is democracy of the 99%, and dictatorship over the overthrown exploiter classes.

There is equality and justice alright. But equality is set aside again by restraining it to a mere “equality before the law”, which means equality in spite of the inequality of rich and poor — equality within the limits of the chief inequality existing—which means, in short, nothing else but giving inequality the name of equality. Formal equality is an absurdity, it is not uncommon for a poor person to be sentenced to life in jail for what many would consider a petty crime, but a billionaire being sentenced to life in jail for ruining millions of lives- now that would be unheard of! African Americans make up 13% of the US population, yet account for 40% of the prison population. Even though cannabis use rates among black and white populations are virtually identical, black people are 4x as likely to be incarcerated for the same crime as their white counterparts. If the 400 years of oppression of black people is not enough to cry shame on the criminal ‘justice’ system, then I do not know what is.

 

Source: 1 (Note I am an Anti-Stalinist)

Source: (Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels Collected Works Volume 6, P. 28-29)