Thursday, January 29, 2009

Class independent leadership is key

Class collaboration doesn't favor the working class. It never has. No matter how practical it seems, the working class always ends up being subjugated.

This situation reminded me of something I read a couple days ago.

As in revolutionary Russia, the importance of class independence isn't recognized by many on the left today (even within the "radical" left). The result is an NDP coalition with Liberals in Canada and sizable left support for Obama here in the States. Unlike the US and Canada, however, revolutionary Russia also had a large group of people who understood class collaboration to be a mistake. Victor Serge wrote the following some eighty years ago in his account of the Bolshevik led Russian Revolution:

Nothing is more tragic at this juncture than the moral collapse of the two great parties of democratic socialism. The Socialist-Revolutionaries had carried considerable weight, through their distinguished record and their influence in the countryside, on the intellectuals and middle classes and, not so long ago, among powerful minorities of workers: they had enjoyed every opportunity of taking power without any transgression of the established legality and of governing as Socialists. The country would have followed them. At its Fourth Congress the majority of the party castigated the Central Committee for not having done so. But the SR leaders, ridden by a fetishism for formal democracy, fearing more than anything else the anarchy of the masses and peasant jacquerie, and dreaming of a parliamentary democracy where their eloquence would have held sway, rejected the arduous Socialist road in favour of collaboration with the liberal bourgeoisie.

Serge goes on to the Mensheviks:

The Mensheviks, a minority of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' party who had tussled over twenty years with the Bolsheviks (in factional struggles which were actually contests between revolutionary intransigence and Socialist opportunism), were influential in the industrial centres, among the intelligentsia, in the cooperatives, in the trade union leadership, and in the circles around the late government. They had contributed statesmen as remarkable, for their personal qualities and their revolutionary past, as Chkeidze and Tseretelli, and theoreticians and agitators as gifted as G. V. Plekhanov, the great founder of Russian Social-Democracy, Y. Martov, Dan and Abramovich. But the Mensheviks, with similar hesitations to those of the SRs, declared themselves on the side of class collaboration, 'democracy' and the Constituent Assembly, and against `anarchy', `premature socialism,' 'Bolshevik hysteria' and (even) civil war.

Compare the revolution in Russia to the revolution in Spain and we see how important class independent leadership is. The Russian Revolution would have no doubt failed had there been no answer to the policies of the SRs and Mensheviks.

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