Saturday, August 03, 2013

From The Marxist Archives- For the Dictatorship of the Proletariat!

Workers Vanguard No. 907
1 February 2008


For the Dictatorship of the Proletariat!
(Quote of the Week)

The “socialist” betrayers in the Second International who had lined up behind their respective bourgeoisies in the interimperialist slaughter of World War I denounced the 1917 Russian Revolution in the name of “democracy.” In a document presented to the First Congress of the Communist International, Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin exposed the lie of a “third way” between bourgeois democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The main thing that socialists fail to understand and that constitutes their short-sightedness in matters of theory, their subservience to bourgeois prejudices and their political betrayal of the proletariat is that in capitalist society, whenever there is any serious aggravation of the class struggle intrinsic to that society, there can be no alternative but the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie or the dictatorship of the proletariat. Dreams of some third way are reactionary, petty-bourgeois lamentations. That is borne out by more than a century of development of bourgeois democracy and the working-class movement in all the advanced countries, and notably by the experience of the past five years. This is also borne out by the whole science of political economy, by the entire content of Marxism, which reveals the economic inevitability, wherever commodity economy prevails, of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie that can only be replaced by the class which the very growth of capitalism develops, multiplies, welds together and strengthens, that is, the proletarian class....
Proletarian dictatorship is similar to the dictatorship of other classes in that it arises out of the need, as every other dictatorship does, to forcibly suppress the resistance of the class that is losing its political sway. The fundamental distinction between the dictatorship of the proletariat and the dictatorship of other classes—landlord dictatorship in the Middle Ages and bourgeois dictatorship in all the civilised capitalist countries—consists in the fact that the dictatorship of the landowners and bourgeoisie was the forcible suppression of the resistance offered by the vast majority of the population, namely, the working people. In contrast, proletarian dictatorship is the forcible suppression of the resistance of the exploiters, i.e., an insignificant minority of the population, the landowners and capitalists.
It follows that proletarian dictatorship must inevitably entail not only a change in democratic forms and institutions, generally speaking, but precisely such a change as provides an unparalleled extension of the actual enjoyment of democracy by those oppressed by capitalism—the toiling classes.
—V.I. Lenin, “Theses and Report on Bourgeois Democracy and the Dictatorship
of the Proletariat” (March 1919)

Thesis and Report on Bourgeois Democracy and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat
March 4
1. Faced with the growth of the revolutionary workers’ movement in every country, the bourgeoisie and their agents in the workers’ organizations are making desperate attempts to find ideological and political arguments in defense of the rule of the exploiters. Condemnation of dictatorship and a sense of democracy are particularly prominent among these arguments. The falsity and hypocrisy of this argument, repeated in a thousand strains by the capitalist press and at the Berne yellow International Conference in February 1919, are obvious to all who refuse to betray the fundamental principles of socialism.

2. Firstly, this argument employs the concepts of “democracy in general” and “dictatorship in general “, without posing the question of the class concerned. This nonclass or above class presentation, which supposedly is popular, is an outright travesty of the basic tenet of socialism, namely, its theory of class struggle, which Socialists who have sided with the bourgeoisie recognize in words but disregard in practice. For in no civilized capitalist country does “democracy in general” exist; all that exists is bourgeois democracy, and it is not a question of “dictatorship in general", but of the dictatorship of the oppressed class, i.e., the proletariat, over its oppressors and exploiters, i.e., the bourgeoisie, in order to overcome the resistance offered by the exploiters in their fight to maintain their domination.
3. History teaches us that no oppressed class ever did, or could, achieve power without going through a period of dictatorship, i.e., the conquest of political power and forceable suppression of the resistance always offered by the exploiters—the resistance that is most desperate, most furious, and that stops at nothing. The bourgeoisie, whose domination is now defended by the Socialists who denounce “dictatorship in general” and extol “democracy in general", won power in the advanced countries through a series of insurrections, civil wars, and the forcible suppression of kings, feudal lords, slaveowners and their attempts at restoration. In books, pamphlets, Congress resolutions, and propaganda speeches, Socialists have everywhere thousands and millions of times explained to people the class nature of these bourgeois revolutions and this bourgeois dictatorship. That is why the present defense of bourgeois democracy under the cover of talk about “democracy in general", and the present howls and shouts against proletarian dictatorship under the cover of shouts about “dictatorship in general", are an outright betrayal of socialism. They are, in fact, desertion to the bourgeoisie, denial of the proletariat’s right to its own, proletarian revolution, and a defense of bourgeois reformism at the very historical juncture when bourgeois reformism throughout the world has collapsed and the war has created a revolutionary situation.
4. In explaining the class nature of bourgeois civilization, bourgeois democracy and the bourgeois parliamentary system, all Socialists have expressed the idea formulated with the greatest scientific precision by Marx and Engels [Engels Introduction to the The Civil War in France], namely, that the most democratic bourgeois republic is no more than a machine for the suppression of the working class by the bourgeoisie, for the suppression of the working people by a handful of capitalists. There is not a single revolutionary, not a single Marxist among those now shouting against dictatorship and for democracy, who has not sworn and vowed to the workers that he excepts this basic truth of socialism. But now, when the revolutionary proletariat is in a fighting mood and taking action to destroy this machine of oppression and to establish proletarian dictatorship, these traitors to socialism claim that the bourgeoisie have granted the working people “pure democracy", have abandoned resistance and are prepared to yield to the majority of the working people. They assert that in a democratic republic there is not, and never has been, any such thing as a state machine for the suppression of labor by capital.
5. The Paris Commune —to which all who parade as Socialists pay lip service (for they know that the workers ardently and sincerely sympathize with though Commune) —showed very clearly the historically conventional nature and limited value of the bourgeois parliamentary system and bourgeois democracy; institutions which, though highly progressive compared with medieval times, inevitably require a radical alteration in the era of proletarian revolution. It was Marx who best appraised the historical significance of the Commune. In his analysis, he revealed the exploiting nature of bourgeois democracy in the bourgeois parliamentary system under which the oppressed classes enjoy the right to decide once in several years which representative of the propertied classes shall “represent and suppress” ( ver- und zertreten ) the people in parliament. And it is now, when the Soviet movement is embracing the entire world and continuing the work of the Commune for all to see, that the traitors to socialism are forgetting the concrete experience and concrete lessons of the Paris Commune and repeating the old bourgeois rubbish about “democracy in general”. The Commune was not a parliamentary institution.
6. The significance of the commune, furthermore, lies in the fact that it endeavored to crush, to smash to its very foundations, the bourgeois state apparatus, the bureaucratic, judicial, military and police machine, and to replace it by a self-governing, mass workers’ organization in which there was no division between legislative and executive power. All contemporary bourgeois-democratic republic’s, including the German republic—which the traitors to socialism, in mockery of the truth, describe as a proletarian republic—retain this state apparatus. We therefore again get quite clear confirmation of the point that shouting in defense of “democracy in general” is actually defense of the bourgeoisie and their privileges as exploiters.
7. “Freedom of assembly” can be taken as a sample of the requisites of “pure democracy”. Every class conscience worker who has not broken with his class will readily appreciate the absurdity of promising freedom of assembly to the exploiters at a time and in a situation when the exploiters are resisting the overthrow of their rule and are fighting to retain their privileges. When the bourgeoisie were revolutionary, they did not, neither in England in 1649 nor in France in 1793, grant “freedom of assembly” to the monarchists and nobles, who summoned foreign troops and “assembled” to organize attempts at restoration. If the present day bourgeoisie, who have long since become reactionary, demand from proletariat advance guarantees of “freedom of assembly” for the exploiters, whatever the resistance offered by the capitalists to being expropriated, the workers will only laugh at their hypocrisy.
The workers know perfectly well, too, that even in the most democratic bourgeois republic “freedom of assembly” is a hollow phrase, for the rich have the best public and private buildings at their disposal, and enough leisure to assemble at meetings, which are protected by the bourgeois machine of power. The rural and urban workers and small peasants—the overwhelming majority of the population—are denied all these things. As long as that state of affairs prevails, “equality", i.e., “pure democracy", is a fraud. The first thing to do to win genuine equality and enable the working people to enjoy democracy in practice is to deprive the exploiters of all the public and sumptuous private buildings, to give to the working people leisure and to see to it that their freedom of assembly is protected by armed workers, not by heirs of the nobility or capitalist officers in command of downtrodden soldiers.
Only when that change is affected can we speak of freedom of assembly and of equality without mocking at the workers, at working people in general, at the poor. And this change can be affected only by the vanguard of the working people, the proletariat, which overthrows the exploiters, the bourgeoisie.
8. “Freedom of the press” is another of the principal slogans of “pure democracy”. And here, too, the workers know — and Socialists everywhere have explained millions of times —that this freedom is a deception because the best printing presses and the biggest stocks of paper are appropriated by the capitalists, and while capitalist rule over the press remains—a rule that is manifested throughout the whole world all the more strikingly, sharply and cynically—the more democracy and the republican system are developed, as in America for example. The first thing to do to win really equality and genuine democracy for the working people, for the workers and peasants, is to deprive capital of the possibility of hiring writers, buying publishing houses and bribing newspapers. And to do that the capitalists and exploiters have to be overthrown and their resistance oppressed. The capitalists have always use the term “freedom” to mean freedom for the rich to get richer and for the workers to starve to death. And capitalist usage, freedom of the press means freedom of the rich to bribe the press, freedom to use their wealth to shape and fabricate so-called public opinion. In this respect, too, the defenders of “pure democracy” prove to be defenders of an utterly foul and venal system that gives the rich control over the mass media. They prove to be deceivers of the people, who, with the aid of plausible, fine-sounding, but thoroughly false phrases, divert them from the concrete historical task of liberating the press from capitalist enslavement. Genuine freedom and equality will be embodied in the system which the Communists are building, and in which there will be no opportunity for massing wealth at the expense of others, no objective opportunities for putting the press under the direct or indirect power of money, and no impediments in the way of any workingman (or groups of workingman, in any numbers) for enjoying and practicing equal rights in the use of public printing presses and public stocks of paper.
9. The history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries demonstrated, even before the war, what this celebrated “pure democracy” really is under capitalism. Marxists have always maintained that the more developed, the “purer" democracy is, the more naked, acute and merciless the class struggle becomes, and the “purer” the capitalist oppression and bourgeois dictatorship. The Dreyfus case in republican France, the massacre of strikers by hired bands armed by the capitalists in the free and democratic American republic—these and thousands of similar facts illustrate the truth which the bourgeoisie are mainly seeking to conceal, namely, that actually terror and bourgeois dictatorship prevail in the most democratic of republics and are openly displayed every time the exploiters think the power of capital is being shaken.
10. The imperialist war of 1914-18 conclusively revealed even to backward workers the true nature of bourgeois democracy, even in the freest republics, as being a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Tens of millions were killed for the sake of enriching the German or the British group of millionaires and multimillionaires, and bourgeois military dictatorships were established in the freest republics. This military dictatorship continues to exist in the Allied countries even after Germany’s defeat. It was mostly the war that opened the eyes of the working people, that striped bourgeois democracy of its camouflage and showed the people the abyss of speculation and profiteering that existed during because of the war. It was in the name of “freedom and equality” that the bourgeoisie wage the war, in the name of “freedom and equailty” that the munitions manufacturers piled up fabulous fortunes. Nothing that the yellow Berne International does can conceal from the people the now thoroughly exposed exploiting character of bourgeois freedom, bourgeois equality and bourgeois democracy.
11. In Germany, the most developed capitalist country of Continental Europe, the very first months of full Republican freedom, establish as a result of imperialist Germany’s defeat, have shown the German workers and the whole world the true class substance of the bourgeois-democratic republic. The murder of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg is an event of epoch-making significance not only because of the tragic death of these finest people and leaders of the truly proletarian, Communist International, but also because the class nature of an advanced European state—it can be said without exaggeration, of an advanced state, on a worldwide scale —has been conclusively exposed. If those arrested, i.e., those placed under state protection, could be assassinated by officers and capitalists with impunity, and this under the government headed by social patriots, in the democratic republic where such a thing was possible is a bourgeois dictatorship. Those who voice their indignation at the murder of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg but fail to understand this fact are only demonstrating their stupidity, or hypocrisy. “Freedom” in the German republic, one of the freest and advanced republics of the world, is freedom to murder arrested leaders of the proletariat with impunity. Nor can it be otherwise as long as capitalism remains, for the development of democracy sharpens rather than dampens the class struggle which, by virtue of all the results and influences of the war and of its consequences, has been brought to boiling point.
Throughout the civilized world we see Bolsheviks being exiled, persecuted and thrown into prison. This is the case, for example, in Switzerland, one of the freest bourgeois republics, and in America, where there has been anti-Bolshevik pogroms, etc. . From the standpoint of “democracy in general", or “pure democracy", it is really ridiculous that advanced, civilized, and democratic countries, which are armed to the teeth, should fear the presence of a few score men from backward, famine stricken and ruined Russia, which the bourgeois papers, in tens of millions of copies, described as savage, criminal, etc.. Clearly, the social situation that could produce this crying contradiction is in fact a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
12. In these circumstances, proletarian dictatorship is not only an absolutely legitimate means of overthrowing exploiters and suppressing the resistance, but also absolutely necessary to the entire mass of working people, being their only defense against the bourgeois dictatorship which led to the war and is preparing new wars.
The main thing that Socialists fail to understand—which constitutes their shortsightedness in matters of theory, their subservience to bourgeois prejudices, and their political betrayal of the proletariat—is that in capitalist society, whenever there is any serious aggravation of the class struggle intrinsic to that society, there can be no alternative but the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie or the dictatorship of the proletariat. Dreams of some third way are reactionary, petty-bourgeois limitations. That is borne out by more than a century of development of bourgeois democracy in the working-class movement in all the advanced countries, and notably by the experience of the past five years. This is also borne out by the whole science of political economy, by the entire content of Marxism, which reveals the economic inevitability, wherever commodity economy prevails, of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie that can only be replaced by the class which the very growth of capitalism develops, multiplies, welds together and strengthens; that is, the proletarian class.
13. Another theoretical and political error of the Socialists is their failure to understand that ever since the rudiments of democracy first appeared in antiquity, its forms notably changed over the centuries as one ruling class replaced another. Democracy assumed different forms and was applied in different degrees in the ancient republics of Greece, the medieval cities and the advanced capitalist countries. It would be sheer nonsense to think that the most profound revolution in human history, the first case in the world of power being transferred from the exploiting minority to the exploited majority, could take place within the time-worn framework of the old, bourgeois, parliamentary democracy, without drastic changes, without the creation of new forms of democracy, new institutions that embody the new conditions for applying democracy, etc.
14. Proletarian dictatorship is similar to dictatorship of other classes in that it arises out of the need, as every other dictatorship does, to forcibly suppresses the resistance of the class that is losing its political sway. The fundamental distinction between the dictatorship of the proletariat and a dictatorship of the other classes — landlord dictatorship in the Middle Ages and bourgeois dictatorship in all civilized capitalist countries — consists in the fact that the dictatorship of landowners and bourgeoisie was a forcible suppression of the resistance offered by the vast majority of the population, namely, the working people. In contrast, proletarian dictatorship is a forcible suppression of the resistance of the exploiters, i.e., of an insignificant minority the population, the landlords and capitalists.
It follows that proletarian dictatorship must inevitably entail not only a change in the democratic forms and institutions, generally speaking, but precisely such change as provides an unparalleled extension of the actual enjoyment of democracy by those oppressed by capitalism—the toiling classes.
And indeed, the form of proletarian dictatorship that has already taken shape, i.e., Soviet power in Russia, the Räte-System in Germany, the Shop Stewards Committees in Britain and similar Soviet institutions in other countries, all this implies and presents to the toiling classes, i.e., the vast majority of the population, greater practical opportunities for enjoying democratic rights and liberties than ever existed before, even approximately, in the best and the most democratic bourgeois republics.
The substance of Soviet government is that the permanent and only foundation of state power, the entire machinery of state, is the mass scale organization of the classes oppressed by capitalism, i.e., the workers and semi-proletarians (peasants who do not exploit the labor of others and regularly resort to the sale of at least a part of their own labor power). It is the people, who even in the most democratic bourgeois republics, while possessing equal rights by law, have in fact been debarred by thousands of devices and subterfuges from participation in political life and enjoyment of democratic rights and liberties, that are now drawn into constant and unfailing, moreover, decisive, participation in the democratic administration of the state.
15. The equality of citizens, irrespective of sex, religion, race, or nationality, which bourgeois democracy everywhere has always promised but never affected, and never could affect because of the domination of capital, is given immediate and full effect by the Soviet system, or dictatorship of the proletariat. The fact is that this can only be done by a government of the workers, who are not interested in the means of production being privately owned and in the fight for their division and redivision.
16. The old, i.e., bourgeois, democracy and the parliamentary system were so organized that it was the mass of working people who were kept farthest away from a machinery of government. Soviet power, i.e., the dictatorship of the proletariat, on the other hand, is so organized as to bring the working people close to the machinery of government. That, too, is the purpose of combining the legislative and executive authority under the Soviet organization of the state and of replacing territorial constituencies by production units—the factory.
17. The Army was a machine of oppression not only under the monarchy. It remains as such in all bourgeois republics, even the most democratic ones. Only the Soviets, the permanent organizations of government authority of the classes that were oppressed by capitalism, are in a position to destroy the Army’s subordination to bourgeois commanders and really merge the proletariat with the Army; only the Soviets can effectively arm the proletariat and disarm the bourgeoisie. Unless this is done, the victory of socialism is impossible.
18. The Soviet organization of the state is suited to the leading role of the proletariat as a class most concentrated and enlightened by capitalism. The experience of all revolutions and all movements of the oppressed classes, the experience of the world Socialist movement teaches us that only the proletariat is in a position to unite and lead the scattered and backward sections of the working and exploited population.
19. Only the Soviet government of the state can really affect the immediate breakup and total destruction of the old, i.e., bourgeois, bureaucratic and judicial machinery, which has been, and has inevitably had to be, retained under capitalism even in the most democratic republics, and which is, in actual fact, the greatest obstacle to the practical implementation of democracy for the workers and working people generally. The Paris Commune took the first epoch making step along this path. The Soviet system has taken the second.
20. Destruction of state power is the aim set by all Socialists, including Marx above all. Genuine democracy, i.e., Liberty and equality, is unrealizable unless this aim is achieved. But it’s practical achievement as possible only through Soviet, or proletarian, democracy, for by enlisting the mass organizations of the working people in constant and unfailing participation in the administration of the state, it immediately begins to prepare the complete withering away of any state.
21. The complete bankruptcy of the Socialists who assembled in Berne, their complete failure to understand the new, i.e., proletarian, democracy, is especially apparent from the following. On February 10, 1919, Branting delivered the concluding speech at the International Conference of the yellow International in Berne. In Berlin, on February 11, 1919, Die Freiheit, the paper of the International’s affiliates, published an appeal from the party of “Independence” to the proletariat. The appeal acknowledged the bourgeois character of the Scheidemann government, rebuked it for wanting to abolish the Soviets, which are described as Träger und Schutzer der Revolution — vehicles and guardians of the revolution—and proposed that the Soviets be legalized, invested with government authority and given the right to suspend the operation of National Assembly decisions pending a popular referendum.
That proposal indicates the complete ideological bankruptcy of the theorists who defend democracy and failed to see its bourgeois character. This ludicrous attempt to combine the Soviet system, i.e., proletarian dictatorship, with the National Assembly, i.e. bourgeois dictatorship, utterly exposes the paucity of thought of the yellow Socialists and Social-Democrats, their reactionary petty-bourgeois political outlook, and their cowardly concessions to the irresistible growing strength of the new, proletarian democracy.
22. From a class standpoint, the Berne yellow International majority, which did not dare to adopt a formal resolution out of fear of the mass of workers, was right in condemning Bolshevism. This majority is in full agreement with the Russian Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, and the Sheidemanns in Germany. In complaining of persecution by the Bolsheviks, the Russian Mensheviks and Socialist revolutionaries try to conceal the fact that they are persecuted for participating in the Civil War on the side of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat. Similarly, the Sheidemanns and their party have already demonstrated in Germany that they, too, are participating in the Civil War on the side of the bourgeoisie against the workers.
It is therefore quite natural that the Berne yellow International majority should be in favor of condemning the Bolsheviks. This was not an expression of defense of “pure democracy", but of the self defense of people who know and feel that in the Civil War they stand with the bourgeoisie against the proletariat.
That is why, from the class point of view, the decision of the yellow International majority must be considered correct. The proletariat must not fear the truth, it must face it squarely and draw all the necessary political conclusions.
Comrades, I would like to add a word or two to the last two points. I think that the comrades who are to report to us on the burn Conference will deal with it in greater detail.
Not a word was said at the Berne Conference about the significance of Soviet power. We in Russia have been discussing this question for two years now. At our Party Conference in April 1917, we raised the following question, theoretically and politically: “What is Soviet power, what is its substance and what is its historical significance?” We have been discussing it for almost two years. And at our [Seventh] Party Congress we adopted a resolution on it.
On February 11 the Berlin Die Freiheit published an appeal to the German proletariat signed not only by the leaders of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany, but also by all members of the Independent Social Democratic group in the Reichstag. In August 1918, Kautsky, one of the leading theorists of these Independents, wrote a pamphlet entitled The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, in which he declared that he was a supporter of democracy and of Soviet bodies, but that the Soviets must be bodies merely of an economic character and that they must not by any means be recognized as state organizations. Kautsky says the same thing in Die Freiheit of November 11 and January 12. On February 9, an article appeared by Rudolf Hilferding, who is also regarded as one of the leading and authoritative theorists of the Second International, in which he proposed that the Soviet system be united with the National Assembly juridically, by state legislation. That was on February 9. On February 11 this proposal was adopted by the whole of the Independent Party and published in the form of an appeal.
There is vacillation again, despite the fact that the National Assembly already exists, even after “pure democracy” has been embodied in reality, after the leading theorists of the Independent Social Democratic Party have declared that the Soviet organizations must not be state organizations! This proves that these gentlemen really understand nothing about the new movement and about its conditions of struggle. But it goes to prove something else, namely, that there must be conditions, causes, for this vacillation! When, after all these events, after nearly two years of victorious revolution in Russia, we are offered resolutions like those adopted at the Berne Conference, which say nothing about the Soviets and their significance, about which not a single delegate uttered a single word, we have a perfect right to say that all these gentlemen are dead to us as Socialists and theorists.
However, comrades, from the practical side, from the political point of view, the fact that these Independents, who in theory and on principle have been opposed to these state organizations, suddenly making the stupid proposal to “peacefully” unite the National Assembly with the Soviet system, i.e., to unite the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie with the dictatorship of the proletariat, shows that a great change is taking place among the masses. We see that the Independents are all bankrupt in the Socialist and theoretical sense and that an enormous change is taking place among the masses. The backward masses among the German workers are coming to us, have come to us! So, the significance of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany, the best section of the Berne Conference, is nil from the theoretical and Socialist standpoint. Still, it has some significance, which is that these waverers serve as an index to us of the mood of the backward sections of the proletariat. This, in my opinion, is a great historical significance of this Conference. We experienced something of the kind in our own revolution. Our Mensheviks traversed almost exactly the same path as that of the theorists of the Independents in Germany. At first, when they had a majority in the Soviets, they were in favor of the Soviets. All we heard then was: “Long live the Soviets!", “For the Soviets!", “The Soviets are revolutionary democracy!” When, however, we Bolsheviks secured a majority in the Soviets, they changed their tune; they said: the Soviets must not exist side-by-side with the Constituent Assembly. And various Mensheviks theorists made practically the same proposals, like the one to unite the Soviet system with the Constituent Assembly and to incorporate the Soviets into the state structure. Once again it is here revealed that the general course of the proletarian revolution is the same throughout the world. First the spontaneous formation of Soviets, then their spread and development, and then the appearance of the practical problem: Soviets, or National Assembly, or Constituent Assembly, or the bourgeois parliamentary system; utter confusion among the leaders, and finally—the proletarian revolution. But I think we should not present the problem in this way after nearly two years of revolution; we should rather adopt concrete decisions because for us, and particularly for the majority of the West European countries, spreading of the Soviet system is a most important task.
I would like to quote here just one Mensheviks resolution. I asked Comrade Obolensky to translate it into German. He promised to do so but, unfortunately, he is not here. I shall try to render it from memory, as I have not the full text of it with me.
It is very difficult for a foreigner who has not heard anything about Bolshevism to arrive at an independent opinion about our controversial questions. Everything the Bolsheviks assert is challenged by the Mensheviks, and vice versa. Of course, it cannot be otherwise in the middle of the struggle, and that is why it is so important that the last Menshevik Party conference, held in December 1918, adopted the long and detailed resolution published in full in the Menshevik Gazeta Pechatnikov . In this resolution the Mensheviks themselves briefly outline the history of the class struggle and of the Civil War. The resolution states that they condemn those groups in their Party which rallied with the propertied classes in the Urals, in the South, in the Crimea and in Georgia—all these regions are enumerated. Those groups of the Menshevik party which, in alliance with the propertied classes, fought against the Soviets are now condemned in the resolution; but the last point of the resolution also condemns those who joined the Communists. It follows that the Mensheviks were compelled to admit that there was no unity in their party, and that its members were either on the side of the bourgeoisie or on the side of the proletariat. The majority of the Mensheviks went over to the bourgeoisie and fought against us during the Civil War. We, of course, persecute Mensheviks, we even shoot them, when they wage war against us, fight against our Red Army and shoot our Red commanders. We responded to the bourgeois war with the proletarian war—there can be no other way. Therefore, from the political point of view, all this is sheer Menshevik hypocrisy. Historically, it is incomprehensible how people who have not been officially certified as mad could talk at the Berne Conference, on the instructions of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, about the Bolsheviks fighting the latter, yet keep silent about their own struggle, in alliance with the bourgeoisie, against the proletariat.
All of them furiously attack us for persecuting them. This is true. But they do not say a word about the part they themselves have taken in the Civil War! I think that I shall have to provide the full text of the resolution to be recorded in the minutes, and I shall ask the foreign comrades to study it because it is a historical document in which the issue is raised correctly and which provides excellent material for appraising the controversy between the “socialist” trends in Russia. In between the proletariat and bourgeoisie there is another class of people, who incline first this way and then the other. This has always been the case in all revolutions, and it is absolutely impossible in capitalist society, in which the proletariat and bourgeoisie formed to hostile camps, for intermediary sections not to exist between them. The existence of these waverers is historically inevitable, and, unfortunately, these elements, who do not know themselves on whose side they will fight tomorrow, will exist for quite some time.
I want to make the practical proposal that a resolution be adopted in the which three points shall be specifically mentioned.
First: one of the most important tasks confronting the West European comrades is to explain to the people the meaning, importance and necessity of the Soviet system. There is a sort of misunderstanding on this question. Although Kautsky and Hilferding are bankrupt as theorists, their recent articles in Die Freiheit show that they correctly reflect the mood of the backward sections of the German proletariat. The same thing took place in our country: during the first eight months of the Russian Revolution the question of the Soviet organization was very much discussed, and the workers did not understand what the new system was and whether the Soviets could be transformed into a state machine. In our revolution we advanced along the path of practice, and not of theory. For example, formally we did not raise the question of the Constituent Assembly from the theoretical side, and we did not say we did not recognize the Constituent Assembly. It was only later, when the Soviet organizations had spread throughout the country and had captured political power, that we decided to dissolve the Constituent Assembly. Now we see that in Hungary and Switzerland the question is much more acute. On the one hand, this is very good: it gives us the firm conviction that in the West European states the revolution is advancing more quickly and will yield great victories. On the other hand, a danger is concealed in it, namely, that the struggle will be so precipitous that the minds of the mass of workers will not keep pace with this development. Even now the significance of the Soviet system is not clear to a large mass on the politically educated German workers, because they have been trained in the spirit of the parliamentary system and ingrained with bourgeois prejudices.
Second: About the spread of the Soviet system. When we hear how quickly the idea of Soviets is spreading in Germany, and even in Britain, it is very important evidence that the proletarian revolution will be victorious. Its progress can only be retarded for a short time. It is quite another thing, however, when Comrades Albert and Platten tell us that in the rural districts in their countries there are hardly any Soviets among the farm laborers and small peasants. In Die Rote Fahne I read in article opposing peasant Soviets, but quite properly supporting Soviets of farm laborers and of poor peasants. [C] The bourgeoisie and their lackeys, like Sheidemann and company, have already issued the slogan of peasant Soviets. All we need, however, is Soviets of farm laborers and poor peasants. Unfortunately, from the reports of Comrades Albert, Platten and others, we see that, with the exception of Hungary, very little is being done to spread the Soviet system in the countryside. In this, perhaps, lies the real and quite serious danger threatening the achievement of certain victory by the German proletariat. Victory can only be considered assured when not only the German workers, but also the rural proletarians are organized, and organized not as before—in trade unions and cooperative societies — but in Soviets. Our victory was made much easier by the fact that in October 1917 we marched with the peasants, with all the peasants. In that sense, our revolution at that time was a bourgeois revolution. The first step taken by our proletarian government was to embody in a law promulgated on October 26 (old-style), 1917, on the next day after the revolution, the old demands of all the peasants which peasant Soviets and village assemblies had put forward under Kerensky. That is where our strength lay; that is why we were able to win the overwhelming majority so easily. As far as the countryside was concerned, our revolution continued to be a bourgeois revolution, and only later, after a lapse of six months, were we compelled within the framework of the state organization to start the class struggle in the countryside, to establish Committees of Poor Peasants, of semi-proletarians, in every village, and to carry on a methodical fight against the rural bourgeoisie. This was inevitable in Russia owing to the backwardness of the country. In Western Europe things will proceed differently, and that is why we must emphasize the absolute necessity of spreading the Soviet system also to the rural population in proper, perhaps new, forms.
Third: we must say that winning a Communist majority in the Soviets is the principal task in all countries in which Soviet government is not yet victorious. Our Resolutions’ Commission discussed this question yesterday. Perhaps other comrades will express their opinion on it; but I would like to propose that these three points be adopted as a special resolution. Of course, we are not in a position to prescribe the path of development. It is quite likely that the revolution will come very soon in many West-European countries, but we, as the organized section of the working-class, as a party, strive and must strive to gain majority in the Soviets. Then our victory will be assured and no power on Earth will be able to do anything against the Communist revolution. If we do not, victory will not be secured so easily, and it will not be durable. And so, I would like to propose that these three points be adopted as a special resolution.
Thesis published March 6, 1919 in Pravda No. 51; report first published in 1920 in the German and in 1921 in the Russian additions of the minutes of the First Congress of the Communist International.

Resolution to the Thesis on Bourgeois Democracy and the Dictatorship of the Proletarian

On the basis of these thesis and the reports made by the delegates from the different countries, the Congress of the Communist International declares that the chief task of the Communist Parties in all countries where Soviet government has not yet been established, is as follows:
1) to explain to the broad mass of the workers the historic significance and the political and historical necessity of the new, proletarian, democracy which must replace bourgeois democracy and the parliamentary system;
2) to extend the organization of Soviets among the workers in all branches of industry, among the soldiers in the Army and the sailors in the Navy and also among farm laborers and poor peasants;
3) to build a stable Communist majority inside the Soviets.
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On Wed., August 28, after we’ve marched in Washington on Aug. 24 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the great march against racism in Washington, D.C., led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the People’s Power Assembly Movement calls on activists across the U.S. to hold local JUSTICE FOR TRAYVON MARTIN ASSEMBLIES, including rallies, speak-outs, marches in public squares or in front of federal buildings or local police headquarters.
One of the most memorable lines of Dr. King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech, delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Monument to over a quarter of a million freedom marchers, was, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” The Trayvon Martin verdict is only the most recent sign that Dr. King’s dream is still a nightmare for Black and Brown youth.

There is a racist war against Black & Brown youth

Youth of color are routinely profiled by the police, security personnel and self-appointed vigilantes like George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin has become the face of the many young people who have been stopped-and-frisked and sometimes beaten and killed by the police. The police and the courts have created racially motivated drug laws that have been used as an excuse to incarcerate a huge percentage of young generations of Black and Brown youth. These same youth have the highest unemployment rate, and the jobs they are forced to take are low-wage jobs without benefits, rights or union representation. The anti-youth war also includes massive cuts in education, including school closings in Black and Brown communities. We must turn our anger over the lynching of Trayvon Martin into a new nationwide struggle to stop the war against Black and Brown youth. This is the best way to honor the legacy of the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Issued by the People’s Power Assembly Movement 212.633.6646
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Free Bradley Manning Now!

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Massachusetts Peace Action

Remembering Hiroshima

More Hiroshima Week Events

Sunday, August 4, Watertown: Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Build a Non-Violent World. Watertown Square. Vigil 7:15 pm; Music, Reflections, Candle Boat Launch, Charles River Dock, 8:00 pm. More info
Sunday, August 4, George's Island: Hiroshima/Nagasaki Commemoration. Meet at 10:30 am at Long Wharf North Pier. Community Church of Boston. More info
Monday, August 5, Boston: Choosing Peace. A community gathering and prayer service to clarify the call to recommit ourselves to choosing peace and building human community across all lines of potential division. Old South Church, 6pm. More info
Tuesday, August 6, Andover: Hiroshima Commemoration. Merrimack Valley People for Peace vigil, Andover Old Town Hall, 20 Main St., 7:00 pm.

August 6, 2013, 3:30 pm - Cambridge

68 years later, it’s time!
President Obama, let’s join international efforts to eliminate the danger of nuclear weapons!

Memorial Procession, Music, Talks, and Film

3:30 Gather at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave. Japanese dancers (invited), antiwar singer Pat Scanlon, welcome by Mayor of Cambridge, Reading of Proclamation.
4:15 Memorial Procession down Mass. Ave. via Harvard Sq. to Brattle Sq., led by the drummers of The New England Peace Pagoda.
4:45 Memorial speakers, music and meditation at Brattle Square. Brian Corr, Peace Commissioner of Cambridge; Ira Helfand, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War; Pat Scanlon.
7:00 Film "Hibakusha, Our Life To Live" at Brattle Theater, followed by a panel discussion with filmmaker David Rothauser and professor Akihiko Kimijima.
This day reminds us that only through remembrance and action can we build a non-violent world free of the atrocities of nuclear weapons.

The Dancer –With Eli Wallach’s The Line-Up In Mind


 From The Pen Of Frank Jackman 

The Dancer was a craftsman alright, a perfect artist just like you see at the ballet or in the art galleries, places like that. He had beautiful moves, knew how to do his work right, once I broke his flame temper and got him to see each action as something to be thought through, planned, and then executed. Incidentally, in case you might have heard otherwise, I was the one who gave him the name Dancer after bringing him around, bringing him around from a rough-hewn kid, a punk maybe if left to his own devises,  a punk with no sense to that perfect artist that I knew he had in him.

See we were partners for about a decade, actually maybe more like twelve years, but that decade is what counts because it probably took me two years to cut off those rough edges, so let’s call it a decade. I was his coach, at least that is the way I looked at it and after a while that was the way he looked at it too. See Dancer, and me too, were professional “hit men,” guys who big- time guys, guys with no names, no public names,  but plenty of dough for what they wanted done, would  hire to do what had to be done. And we were good, known far and wide in the right circles as being good, and so there you have it. Here’s the funny thing, funny in a way, I never fired a gun on a job, not in anger anyway, hated the damn things, hated the sight of blood, hated when the job called for a rub-out and nothing else. After a while though I got less squeamish, maybe more indifferent, but I never really liked it. So like I say the Dancer did his part, and I did mine and for that decade we were the walking daddies of the hired killer night.          

Let me tell you a little about how Dancer and me met, how we moved up the food chain in our chosen profession, and then maybe you will see how an artist was created out of pure rough stuff. The Dancer grew up, or at least he told me he grew up and I had no reason to not believe him, in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, a rough place all the way around. Before we met he was maybe jack-rolling drunks, maybe pimping a couple of whores, maybe an off-hand armed robbery, or a low level hit from some third-rate hood with a grudge.

It went something like this, something like some guy needed dough bad, real bad, maybe was into the wise guys way too deep, gambling, drugs, an overdue loan,  and so he would hire the Dancer to off his wife, or his partner, someone worth something, insurance something and he would do the deed. See rough stuff, kid’s stuff really. Wasting his talent on low-rent outings like that. I could hardly believe he never got caught working off some ten percent commission stuff. Jesus.

And the Dancer might have stayed there, stayed doing nickel and dime stuff, working hard, too hard for cheap dough, except Big Chief, that is the only name you need to know, the wise guy of wise guys had hired me to take care of some business, some business having to do with an underling of his in the drug trade, in the heroin trade to be exact, who was skimming way too much off the top in their international operations. So he had to fall, fall hard to be made an n example of for other punks who might get too greedy as the money from the drug trade exploded.

Now I had regular guys who I worked with, who I coached and planned with, but just that moment they were all either in stir or working some other job. So I asked Soldier McGee, one of the low-rider chieftains of the New York City bike crowd and a middle-level distributor of goods, whether he knew somebody who needed dough, and was not afraid to get his hair all mushed up. Oh yah, and who did not, I repeat, did not have a criminal record, nothing. Soldier thought about it, about the requirements and came up with Sid Lorraine, the Dancer.         

I almost didn’t take him on, his idea of a plan was all wild, all shoot ‘em up, bang-bang and collect the dough. Yah, and then walk right up to Sing-Sing. So on that caper I showed him how to really do the thing right, how to do the thing with style, no muss, no fuss and gone. My idea was to get the underling’s confidence, play to his weak side, the side that was all wreck-less skim. So the deal was that Dancer was going to be a Big Chief “mule,” a rogue mule looking to go independent, and contact the underling about moving the material cutting himself in for a large slice of the proceeds for his efforts. He went for it, went like a lemming to the sea. So when the meet occurred over in the Jersey marshes the Dancer had no problem with the problem guy. The cops as usual never ever found the guy, if they were ever looking for him once he wasn’t around anymore. That job was our ticket up the food chain, and the Dancer started taking my instructions more seriously, although like I said it wasn’t  all a bed of roses because there was always a little bang-bang and done in him. 

Once we moved up as far as we could go in our profession we were given nothing but high-end assignments. All strictly high-end drug deals. This is how it worked (the cops even if they saw this wouldn’t believe it anyway, or would take their cut and look the other way like usual). The Big Chief had agents all over the world, but with the heroin trade mainly in the Far East, places like the Golden Triangle, or South Asia, like maybe Afghanistan. Those agents would procure the stuff (cheap too, cheap to our eyes anyway), and then use “marks,” mostly unknowing people, tourists, businessmen, people like that, who purchased something, a vase, a doll, a figurine, for whatever reason and they would “carry” the stuff through customs. Beautiful right. Then when the dope got state-side we went to work. We went to “collect” the dope. Anyway we could.        

That, after a while, was how the Dancer became a perfect artist. See, he would know who he would have to “hit” and who he wouldn’t. Say some sailor brought the stuff in. Dancer knew, knew deep in his bones, that there was no other way than a hit to get the merchandise. So we planned accordingly, set the bait, did the deed, got the merchandise then vanished, no trace. Other times, with the tourists though, he could almost just con his way into letting him have the carrier object and be done with it. And it worked like clockwork for that decade I mentioned before like all things it went off the tracks.

We had a job set-up in Frisco, a town neither of us knew, but which looked like an average job. The China Star out of Hong Kong was coming in with three marks, all tourists, all carrying heroin in respectively, a horse figurine, a rag doll, and an intricate jade necklace. We had to kill the first guy because he just wasn’t going to give up the damn figurine. The second guy, or really his daughter, gave it up with, well, a little struggle. The third, a woman, we had to waste since she would not take off the necklace, no way, but we kind of figured that the way dames are about jewelry. So that part was no big deal. But this is where some guys get kind of squirrely no matter how much training they get. The Dancer decided, decided all by himself, that he was keeping this stash, was going into business for himself (or we, for us, the way he figured it at first). That was a problem a big problem, a Big Chief big problem.

I tried to talk him out of it, tried to say it couldn’t work out right no matter how it was cut up, that we had a our place in the food chain, a pretty good place. Naturally he would not listen and naturally I had to “hit” him when Big Chief sent the word. My first kill. I still didn’t like it, still didn’t, don’t, like guns, still don’t like the sight of blood, still didn’t like sending him out with the Japan Current like some easy mark. But I did it. And now these many years later all I have is the memory of the Dancer, the perfect artist.                        


Free Bradley Manning Now!

Update 8/2/13: Colbert Report’s great segment on Bradley, “my view from inside the courtroom”, Berlin rally pics

Bradley Manning: my view from inside the Fort Meade courtroom

The media loves to argue whether Manning is a hero or a traitor, but that is beside the point. This is about truth
Bradley_Manning___drawingMolly Crabapple, The Guardian. July 31, 2013
On a delicious July afternoon, US army private Bradley Manning sat in a Fort Meade, Maryland courtroom and waited to hear if he’d be declared guilty of treason…. Only the guards hint that the proceedings are special. They carried enough ammo to turn every Manning supporter present into a fine red mist. Read the article at
Sketches by New York-based writer and artist Molly Crabapple

Photos from the ‘Stop Watching Us’ rally in Berlin, Germany

View more photos, along with a few videos, here.

Free Bradley Manning Now !

Govt. wants to blame Manning for harm yet to come from WikiLeaks releases: trial report, day 26

By Nathan Fuller, BMSN. August 2, 2013.
Susan Swart, formerly of the State Dept., drawn by Debra Van Poolen
Susan Swart, formerly of the State Dept., drawn by Debra Van Poolen
Today the government called former State Department Chief Information Officer Susan Swart to testify about how the State Dept. responded to WikiLeaks’ release of diplomatic cables. Swart testified that the Net-Centric Diplomacy (NCD) database, which housed the records that Pfc. Bradley Manning downloaded and sent to WikiLeaks, was first implemented to give those on classified networks greater ease of access to those cables. No technical limitations were in place, so those with access could simply search for and find any cable they needed, as opposed to waiting for it to be pushed out through various channels as it had before.
After WikiLeaks’ releases, the State Dept. pulled the database from the Secret-level network and kept it only in the Top Secret network, and Swart reviewed possibilities for furthering limiting access to the NCD.
The government started to ask about what the State Department did to prevent future conduct similar to Manning’s, and the defense objected that this type of “aggravating evidence” was outside the scope of what should be legally allowed.
After Swart’s testimony, the parties argued the defense’s motion to limit that very scope, under Rule for Court Martial 1001(b)(4), which says (emphasis mine),
The trial counsel may present evidence as to any aggravating circumstances directly relating to or resulting from the offenses of which the accused has been found guilty. Evidence in aggravation includes, but is not limited to, evidence of financial, social, psychological, and medical impact on or cost to any person or entity who was the victim of an offense committed by the accused and evidence of significant adverse impact on the mission, discipline, or efficiency of the command directly and immediately resulting from the accused’s offense.
Defense lawyer David Coombs explained that while the merits (guilt v. innocence) phase of the trial dealt with “potential damage” (Manning was convicted on six Espionage counts for disclosing information he should have known “could” harm the United States or aid a foreign nation), the sentencing phase is supposed to deal with “actual damage.” Yet the government is trying to extend that out as far as possible, calling witnesses to speculate about how limited actual damage could have a domino effect down the line.
Yesterday in a classified session, John Feeley testified about (it was suggested, we can’t know because the court was closed to the press) how WikiLeaks’ release of the cables caused diplomatic relationships with some Latin American countries to erode. In open court, Feeley discussed estranged ties with countries like Venezuela and Nicaragua, whom he admitted have had longstanding ideological differences with the United States. But Coombs says that Feeley made few specific points about actual harm caused, and could have testified in about ten minutes instead of the hours they took yesterday. The government, he said, was attempting to lay the “many so-called ills of world” at Bradley Manning’s feet.
Furthermore, Coombs argued that if the government is allowed to present evidence of events not directly related to WikiLeaks releases, the defense should be allowed to present evidence of indirectly related events that were beneficial:
Moreover, if the Government were to be permitted to advance an attenuated chain of events that seek to place many of the ills of the world at PFC Manning’s feet, then the Court would have to allow the Defense to rebut this with evidence that PFC Manning’s disclosures actually effected meaningful change in the world. For instance, PFC Manning’s disclosures have been credited with empowering people in the Middle East and with precipitating “Arab Spring.” See (“Some commentators have credited Manning’s leak with providing a spark for the revolutions that toppled the governments of Egypt and Tunisia and triggered uprisings in Bahrain, Libya, and Yemen, collectively known as the Arab Spring. Files leaked by Manning disclosed a secret relationship between the U.S. government and President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, to allow drone strikes inside the country where the United States was not in a declared war. Another cable detailed the private investments and holdings of the Tunisian ruling family.”) The Defense submits that allowing the Government or the Defense to go down this road would be improper aggravation or mitigation and would run afoul of R.C.M. 1001(b)(4) and R.C.M. 1001(c)(1)(B) respectively.
The prosecution defended its approach, contending that the testimony it elicited was “directed related to or resulted from” Manning’s disclosures. It didn’t go into specifics about yesterday’s testimony.
But prosecutor Maj. Ashden Fein admitted that the government did intend to elicit information regarding future harm. He said he would call terrorism experts (likely to include Youssef Aboul-Enein) to discuss information that terrorists now have due to WikiLeaks’ releases, but also to opine on what they will do with that information in the future.
Military judge Col. Denise Lind is taking the matter under advisement, and will rule on the defense motion on Monday.
This afternoon, the government will call Ambassador Michael Kosack (profiled here) from the Persons-At-Risk Working Group, which attempted to identify people vulnerable due to WikiLeaks’ releases and mitigate potential harm.
Amb. Kozak on “chilling effect” and protecting sources
Ambassador Michael Kozak, from the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, led the Persons-At-Risk Working Group, which around Christmas of 2011 branched off from the broader 24/7 WikiLeaks response group. The Persons-At-Risk group reviewed the WikiLeaks-released diplomatic cables and determined if some people identified by name were at risk of death, violence, or incarceration. These people were largely human rights and democracy activists who could be vulnerable to retribution if their government or nonstate actors discovered they’d cooperated with the United States. The group determined that if the State Dept. could do something about it, it would offer to assist that person discretely, he testified. Kozak testified the group felt a “moral obligation” to mitigate potential harm to people who trusted the State Dept. to keep their work secret, but also said that the State Dept. didn’t always commit to helping out, at first merely determining what was needed. Prosecutors asked him to give a general approximation of how many such sources needed help, but Kozak said he’d have to answer that in a classified session.
This assistance sometimes involved paying airfare for the activist to relocate and then helping him or her “regularize” (meaning help with immigration paperwork and then gain employment) in the new country.
But asked about the “greatest damage” that resulted from WikiLeaks’ Cablegate release, Kozak discussed the “chilling effect” it instilled in these activists, who then felt they might not be able to trust the State Dept. to keep their work secret. He compared diplomacy to journalism, in that a newspaper similarly wants to protect its credibility: if it outs a source, he or she will probably stop talking.
Kozak said that while members of the Persons-At-Risk team have resumed their previous duties, they are still in the process of assisting some people (one of whom had slipped through the cracks in 2010-11, and a few of whom have simply needed more assistance “regularizing” in their new countries). He couldn’t say when the group would ever be done, because journalists continue to cite cables in new reporting, and so new sources and cooperative activists could be at risk in the future. Referring back to its motion and this morning’s argument over aggravating damage, the defense objected to the judge considering this speculative damage that has not occurred.
Ambassador Patrick Kennedy is expected to testify all day on Monday, beginning at 10:00am.