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Monday, 3 September 2012

How Lenin looked to deal with bureaucracy

"In the last period of his life Lenin was desperately concerned about the growth of bureaucracy in the Soviet state and in the Party." Lenin feared for the party and the Russian state and could sense Stalin’s rise and him concentrating more and more power in his hands. Many people understand wrong the definition of bureaucracy today many believe bureaucracy" as if it were simply a matter of "bureaucratic behavior", excessive red-tape, officialdom, etc. Such an approach has nothing in common with the Marxist method, which explains bureaucracy as a social phenomenon, which arises for definite reasons. Lenin, approaching the question as a Marxist, explained the rise of bureaucracy as a parasitic, capitalist growth on the organism of the workers' state, which arose out of the isolation of the revolution in a backward, illiterate peasant country. Lenin’s ideas did not grow into Stalinism as many opponents of socialism tell us. Stalinism was a rise of the bureaucracy which h fed off of the degeneration of the Russian workers state. In one of his last articles, Better Fewer but Better, Lenin wrote: "Our state apparatus is so deplorable, not to say wretched, that we must first think very carefully how to combat its defects, bearing in mind that these defects are rooted in the past, which, although it has been overthrown, has not yet been overcome, not yet reached the stage of a culture that has receded into the past." (Works, vol. 33, page 487) The October revolution had overthrown the old order, ruthlessly suppressed and purged the Tsarist state; but in conditions of chronic economic and cultural backwardness, the elements of the old order were everywhere creeping back into positions of privilege and power in the measure that the revolutionary wave ebbed back with the defeats of the international revolution. Engels explained that in every society where art, science and government are the exclusive of a privileged minority, then that minority will always use and abuse its positions in its own interests. And this state of affairs is inevitable, so long as the vast majority of the people are forced to toil for long hours in industry and agriculture for the bare necessities of life. After the revolution, with the ruined condition of industry, the working day was not reduced, but lengthened. Workers toiled ten, twelve hours and more a day on subsistence rations; many worked weekends without pay voluntarily. But, as Trotsky explained, the masses can only sacrifice their "today" for their "tomorrow" up to a very definite limit. Inevitably, the strain of war, of revolution, of four years of bloody Civil War, of a famine in which five million perished, all served to undermine the working class in terms of both numbers and morale. The NEP stabilized the economy, but created new dangers by encouraging the growth of small capitalism, especially in the countryside where the rich "kulaks" gained ground at the expense of the poor peasants. Industry revived, but, being tied to the demand of the peasantry, especially the rich peasants, the revival was confined almost entirely to light industry (consumer goods). Heavy industry, the key to socialist construction, stagnated. By 1922 there were two million unemployed m the towns. Immediately after the seizure of power, the only political party which was suppressed by the Bolsheviks was the fascist Black Hundreds. Even the bourgeois Cadet Party was not immediately illegalized. The government itself was a coalition of Bolsheviks and Left Social-Revolutionaries. But, under the pressure of the Civil War, a sharp polarization of class forces took place in which the Mensheviks, SRs and "Left SRs" came out on the side of the counter-revolution. Contrary to their own intention, the Bolsheviks were forced to introduce a monopoly of political power. This monopoly, which was regarded as an extraordinary and temporary state of affairs, created enormous dangers in the situation where the proletarian vanguard was coming under increasing pressure from alien classes. In relation to Stalin, Lenin writes that "Comrade Stalin having become General Secretary has concentrated enormous power in his hands, and I am not sure that he always knows how to use that power with sufficient caution." Repeatedly, Lenin characterized the bureaucracy as a parasitic, bourgeois growth on the workers' state, and an expression of the petty-bourgeois outlook - which penetrated the State and even the Party. The petty-bourgeois reaction against October was all the more difficult to combat because of the exhausted state of the proletariat, sections of which were also becoming demoralized. Nonetheless, Lenin and Trotsky saw the working class as the only basis for a struggle against bureaucracy, and the maintenance of a healthy workers' democracy as the only check on it. Thus, in one article Purging the Party Lenin wrote: "Naturally, we shall not submit to everything the masses say because the masses, too, sometimes - particularly in time of exceptional weariness and exhaustion resulting from excessive hardship and suffering - yield to sentiments that are in no way advanced. But in appraising persons, in the negative attitude to those who have "attached" themselves to us for selfish motives, to those who have become "puffed-up commissars" and "bureaucrats", the suggestions of the non-Party proletarian masses and, in many cases, of the non-Party peasant masses, are extremely valuable." (Works, vol. 33, page 39) As the bureaucracy became more remote from the working class within Russia, so it increasingly gave up confidence in the proletariat abroad. The Communist International was transformed into an agency of the bureaucracy's foreign policy. Searching for national security, the bureaucracy began to play a counter-revolutionary role on the world arena. The perspective for an independent struggle for socialism was abandoned. In an effort to provide theoretical, 'Leninist' justification, Stalin exhumed Lenin's old formula of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. In other words, they returned to the policy they had supported at the beginning of 1917 - before they had been defeated by Lenin in the struggle within the party. The revival of this discredited policy was applied with disastrous results to the Chinese revolution of 1925-26. Against the wished of the leadership of the Chinese Communists, the Stalinist bureaucracy imposed a policy of subordination to the Chinese bourgeoisie led by Chiang Kai-cheek and the Kuomintang. This led to the defeat of China's dynamic working class, with the massacre of thousands of Communists and militants. Since then, the same policy has been applied with the same disastrous results. In the post-Second World War period the ex-colonial lands have experienced a series of revolutionary upheavals. The communist party leaders, still dominated by Stalinist ideology, have invariably subordinated the workers' organizations to the interests of national-capitalist leaders. In many cases this has meant support for Bonapartist, including military bonapartist leaders. Sukharno in Indonesia, Kassim in Iraq, Gonclaves in Portugal - the list could be extended around the world many times. Lenin stood for all workers officials to only receive the wage of a skilled worker, an immediate right to recall, a rotation of tasks to not get too bogged down in one position for too long and for all officials to be accountable to their members. These policies we still stand by today in the socialist party and look to popularise them in our fight against bureaucracy and for the most open democracy at all times with thin the labour movement. With extracts taken from Lynn walsh’s introduction to Lenin’s April thesis and Ted Grant and Alan woods lenin’s fight against bureaucracy

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