Skip to main content

The Power Question

The Spanish and Russian Revolutions

When I first got involved in "radical" politics, I quickly learned that the Spanish Revolution was the "good" revolution and the Russian Revolution was the "bad" one. While the big names of the "anti-authoritarian" left do a wonderful job of explaining the positive gains in social and property relations during the Spanish Revolution, as well as putting the acts of violence in context, they seem to agree with the Capitalists' version of history regarding the Russian Revolution.

Yes, it is easy to write off such a monumental event if Stalinism is a direct result of "Lenin's vision" and the conflict between Trotsky and Stalin was essentially a conflict of individual personalities. Only understanding the "anti-authoritarian" and Capitalist version of the events, I tended to romanticize the Spanish Revolution (which failed) and had no interest in the Russian Revolution (which succeeded). This didn't allow me to put the our historical situation in its proper context. I, no doubt along with a countless number of others, was setting myself up to expect failure. It is true that both Revolutions were extremely complicated, messy, violent, and full of contradictions; but after reading several accounts of both it is clear the class independent leadership of Lenin and Trotsky, along with the Bolsheviks' willingness to take power, pushed the Russian Revolution forward to success while the class collaborationist leadership during the Spanish Revolution, and their outright refusal to take power, led to its failure.

The "anti-authoritarian" left rightfully wants to distance themselves from the awful degeneration of Stalinism, but in doing so they forfeit the legacy of the greatest event in the history of humanity. This isn't to say the Russian Revolution is a template all subsequent Revolutions must fit into (the Revolution in Venezuela, a Revolution which I fully support, doesn't exactly fit this format), but it does mean that we can learn both positive and negative lessons from the way it was carried out, and it's eventual betrayal.


Power, Leadership, and the Working Class

Power isn't bad. Leadership isn't bad. Although both can be bad, they aren't inherently bad. Like other tools that can be used to restrict the actions of another, they need to be held directly accountable by those who they could potentially affect. Despite the hundreds of essays and books deconstructing both words to the point of them meaning whatever the so-called "expert" desires, the concepts of leadership and power are easily grasped by the average worker. There is no controversy here.

Many also recognize there is a politically advanced layer of the working class. This is an objective fact. For whatever reason, certain people have drawn certain conclusions while others haven't. This doesn't mean the advanced group is better, smarter, or anything of the sort. They do, however, have a more defined role to play. They must be on the front lines making demands Capitalism can't fulfill and simultaneously explain why these demands are only "unrealistic" within the confines of a system that allows a few people dictatorial control over all of industry. It is not their job to "make a revolution." As factory occupations, "bossnappings," and Soviets (worker councils) have shown, workers come up with all sorts of ingenious solutions for their situations. In order to coordinate and best implement these revolutionary changes, the working class needs leaders who are willing and able to take power. Again, despite the babble so many intellectuals have made a career out of spewing, this is common sense to many working people.

It appears for many on the left, largely because of the Stalinist caricature of Socialism, power and leadership have become taboo, something to be avoided. This is a recipe for failure. If our leaders aren't one hundred percent ready to take power, and use that power to implement Socialism, we are forever doomed to activist groups and autonomous movements that offer little more than book opportunities for the usual suspects within leftist circles.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hanging from a cliff

The day after Obama won his second term the markets took a bit of a tumble. The Dow dipped below 13,000 for the first time in a few months. US Congressional gridlock and the ongoing crisis in Europe are mostly to blame. What is more interesting, even if it's unsurprising, is the rush to bonds- US government bonds to be exact. Indeed, the yield on ten-year treasury notes dipped as low as it has since May. Even with our ratings downgrade (which no one now cares about in the slightest) and huge debt, it is cheaper than ever for us to borrow money. We are still the safest piggy bank out there. 

With the "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and automatic spending cuts looming, the spirit of compromise is being sprayed into the air like a bottle of Glade mountain berry. Democrats are fond of saying we need a "balanced" approach to reducing the deficit. Nominally this means some tax increases along with spending cuts. Republicans are now, apparently, open to some sort…

Austerity Ecology and The Collapse-Porn Addicts

I just finished Leigh Phillip’s left defense of humanity, “Austerity Ecology And The Collapse-Porn Addicts.” I think it’s important to frame it that way, as one of the main point he makes (and I fully agree) is that the earth doesn’t need us to survive. What we should focus on is our species. And not just surviving, but prospering, even conquering (I know people don’t like that word, but we ought not be scared of power). Phillips goes through every argument that I grew up with, from green austerity to that overpopulation nonsense, and convincingly does away with them. (I read Derrick Jensen was I was younger and had completely spaced out how truly terrible his arguments are. Embarrassingly bad. When I tried John Bellamy Foster I luckily found him too dense to get through. Just like George Ciccariello-Maher is a caricature of your “edgy” left wing professor, Foster is a caricature of what a Marxist is, tough to understand but you should know what he’s saying is super important!) 

Phill…

Hollywood Award Shows are Basically Advertisements for Trump

Given the “resistance” has grounded itself in moralism, it’s perfect Oprah Winfrey is the latest hope. She has trash politics, but gave a speech that sounded wonderful but would have only really mattered before #metoo had “startup” potential. Oprah Winfrey is a retired billionaire in charge of a media empire. She surely could have revealed that Weinstein was a predator, an open secret within Hollywood, without losing her livelihood. Instead she was giving him kisses on another one of those fancy Trump ads. Do we still wonder why calling Trump a hypocrite isn’t the devastating political argument many liberals imagine it to be?