Friday, April 15, 2011

From The Archives Of The Spartacist League (U.S.)-"Lenin And The Vanguard Party"- Part Seven-"Toward The Communist International"

Lenin And The Vanguard Party-Part Seven-Toward The Communist International

Markin comment on this series of articles:

Oddly enough, when I first became serious about making a revolution in the early 1970s, a socialist working class-led revolution, in the eternal quest for a more just and equitable society, there were plenty (no enough, there are never enough, but plenty) of kindred spirits who were also finding out that it was not enough to “pray” such a revolution into existence but that one had to build a party, a vanguard party in order to do so. The name "Lenin," the designation "Bolshevik," and the term "world socialist revolution" flowed easily from the tongue in the circles that I began to hang around in. As I write this general introduction, right this minute in 2011, to an important series of historical articles about the actual creation, in real time, of a Leninist vanguard working class party (and International, as well) there are few kindred, fewer still in America, maybe, fewest still, and this is not good, among the youth, to carry the message forward. Nevertheless, whatever future form the next stage in the struggle for the socialist revolution takes the question of the party, the vanguard party really, will still press upon the heads of those who wish to make it.

Although today there is no mass Bolshevik-style vanguard party (or International)-anywhere-there are groups, grouplets, leagues, tendencies, and ad hoc committees that have cadre from which the nucleus for such a formation could be formed-if we can keep it. And part of the process of being able to “keep it” is to understand what Lenin was trying to do back in the early 1900s (yes, 1900s) in Russia that is applicable today. Quite a bit, actually, as it turns out. And for all those think that the Leninist process, and as the writer of these articles is at pains to point it was an unfolding process, was simple and the cadre that had to be worked with was as pure as the driven snow I would suggest this thought. No less an august revolutionary figure that Leon Trotsky, once he got “religion” on the Bolshevik organizational question (in many ways the question of the success of the revolution), did not, try might and main, have success in forming such a mass organization. We can fight out the details from that perspective learning from the successes and failures, and fight to get many more kindred.
Markin comment used from the anniversary of the Communist International series:

Some anniversaries, like those marking the publication of a book, play or poem, are worthy of remembrance every five, ten, or twenty-five years. Other more world historic events like the remembrance of the Paris Commune of 1871, the Bolshevik Russian Revolution of 1917, and, as here, the founding of the Communist International (also known as the Third International, Comintern, and CI) in 1919 are worthy of yearly attention. Why is that so in the case of the long departed (1943, by Stalin fiat) and, at the end unlamented, Comintern? That is what this year’s remembrance, through CI documentation and other commentary, will attempt to impart on those leftist militants who are serious about studying the lessons of our revolutionary, our communist revolutionary past.

No question that the old injunction of Marx and Engels as early as the Communist Manifesto that the workers of the world needed to unite would have been hollow, and reduced to hortatory holiday speechifying (there was enough of that, as it was) without an organization expression. And they, Marx and Engels, fitfully made their efforts with the all-encompassing pan-working class First International. Later the less all encompassing but still party of the whole class-oriented socialist Second International made important, if limited, contributions to fulfilling that slogan before the advent of world imperialism left its outlook wanting, very wanting.

The Third International thus was created, as mentioned in one of the commentaries in this series, to pick up the fallen banner of international socialism after the betrayals of the Second International. More importantly, it was the first international organization that took upon itself in its early, heroic revolutionary days, at least, the strategic question of how to make, and win, a revolution in the age of world imperialism. The Trotsky-led effort of creating a Fourth International in the 1930s, somewhat stillborn as it turned out to be, nevertheless based itself, correctly, on those early days of the Comintern. So in some of the specific details of the posts in this year’s series, highlighting the 90th anniversary of the Third World Congress this is “just” history, but right underneath, and not far underneath at that, are rich lessons for us to ponder today.
To read about the overall purpose of this pamphlet series and other information about the history of the document go the the American Left History Archives From-Lenin and The Vanguard Party-Preface To The Second Edition And Part One, dated March 15, 2011.

The event which transformed Lenin from a Russian revolutionary social democrat into the founding leader of the world communist movement can be precisely dated—4 August 1914. With the start of World War I the parliamentary fraction of the German SPD voted unanimously in favor of war credits for the Reich. Having now experienced more than 60 years of later social-democratic and then Stalinist betrayals of socialist principle, it is difficult today for us to appreciate the absolutely shocking impact of August 4th upon the revolutionaries in the Second International. Luxemburg suffered a nervous collapse in reaction to the wave of national chauvinism which swept the German social-democratic movement. Lenin at first refused to believe the report of the Reichstag vote in the SPD's organ, Vorwarts, dismissing that issue as a forgery by the Kaiser's government.

For revolutionary social democrats, August 4th did not simply destroy their illusions in a particular party and its leadership but challenged their entire political worldview. For Marxists of Lenin's and Luxemburg's generation, the progress of Social Democracy, best represented in Germany, had seemed steady, irreversible and inexorable.

The Historic Significance of the Second International

The era of the Socialist (Second) International (1889-1914) represented the extraordinarily rapid growth of the European labor movement and of the Marxist current within it. Except for the British trade unions (which supported the bourgeois liberals), the organizations making up the First International (1864-74) were propaganda groups numbering at most in the thousands. By 1914, the parties of the Socialist International were mass parties with millions of supporters throughout Europe.

In the period of the First International, there were perhaps a thousand Marxists on the face of the globe, overwhelmingly concentrated in Germany. Significantly, there were no French Marxists in the Paris Commune of 1871, only the Hungarian Leo Franckel. By 1914, Marxism was the most important ten¬dency in the international workers movement, the official doc¬trine of mass proletarian parties in Central and East Europe. It is understandable therefore that Kautsky and the social democrats should regard Marxism as the natural, inevitable political expression of the modern labor movement.
Britain, it is true, had a mass labor movement which was politically liberal and openly class-collaborationist. However, Marx and Engels themselves had explained the political backwardness of the British labor movement as the product of particular historic circumstances (e.g., Britain's dominance in the world economy, English-Irish national antagonism, the Empire). Furthermore, Marxists in the Second International, including Lenin, regarded the founding of the Labour Party in 1905 as a significant progressive step toward a mass proletarian socialist party in Britain. Thus the relative political backwardness of the British workers movement did not fundamentally challenge the orthodox social-democratic (i.e., Kautskyan) worldview.

To be sure, the pre-1914 Marxist movement was familiar with renegades and revisionists—the Bernsteinians in Germany, Struve and the "legal Marxists" in Russia. Lenin would have added Plekhanov and the Mensheviks to this list. But these retrogressions toward liberal reformism appeared to affect only the intellectual elements in the social-democratic movement. The SPD as a whole seemed solidly Marxist in its policies, while Marxism gained against old-fashioned socialist radicalism (e.g., Jauresism) in other sections of the International (e.g., the French, Italian).

August 4th was the first great internal counterrevolution in the workers movement, and all the more destructive because it was so unexpected. The triumph of chauvinism and class collaborationism in the major parties of the Socialist International shattered the shallow, passive optimism of Kaut-skyanized Marxism. After the SPD's great betrayal, going over to the side of its "own" bourgeoisie, revolutionary Marxists could no longer regard opportunism in the workers movement as a marginal or episodic phenomenon or as a product of particular historic political backwardness (e.g., Britain).
The established leaderships of most mass socialist parties could hardly be dismissed as unstable, petty-bourgeois democratic intellectuals, as fellow-travelers of Social Democracy. This is how Kautsky had characterized the Bernsteinian revisionists and how Lenin had dismissed the Mensheviks. But the chauvinist leaders of the SPD in 1914—Friedrich Ebert, Gus-tav Noske, Philipp Scheidemann—had worked their way up from the party's ranks beginning as young men. All three had been workers: Ebert had been a saddler, Noske a butcher and Scheidemann a typesetter. Ebert and Noske began their SPD careers as local trade-union functionaries, Scheidemann as a journalist for a local party paper. The leading chauvinists and opportunists were thus very much of the flesh and blood of the German Social Democracy.

Nor could the actions of the SPD leadership be explained as a reflection of the historic political backwardness of the German working class. Ebert, Noske and Scheidemann had been trained as Marxists by the personal followers of Marx and Engels. They had voted time and time again for revolutionary socialist resolutions. In supporting the war, the SPD leaders knew they were violating their party's longstanding socialist principles.
Right up to the fateful Reichstag vote, the SPD engaged in mass antiwar agitation. On 25 July 1914 the party execu¬tive issued a proclamation which concluded:

"Comrades, we appeal to you to express at mass meetings without delay the German proletariat's firm determination to maintain peace.... The ruling classes who in time of peace gag you, despise you and exploit you, would misuse you as food for cannon. Everywhere there must sound in the ears of those in power: 'We will have no war! Down with war! Long live the international brotherhood of peoples!'"
—reproduced in William English Walling, ed., The Socialists and the War (1915)

In considering the social-chauvinist betrayal of the German Social Democracy, Lenin came to realize that the Bolsheviks were not simply a Russian counterpart of the SPD with a principled revolutionary leadership. The selection, testing and training of cadre in Lenin's party were fundamentally different from Bebel's and Kautsky's party. And in that difference lay the reason why in August 1914 the parliamentary repre¬sentatives of the SPD supported "their" Kaiser, while their counterparts in the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (Bolsheviks) were instead clapped in the tsar's prisons.

Lenin Breaks with Social Democracy

Lenin's basic policy toward the war and the international socialist movement was developed within a few weeks after the outbreak of hostilities. This policy had three main elements. One, socialists must stand for the defeat, above all of their "own" bourgeois state. Two, the war demonstrated that capitalism in the imperialist epoch threatened to destroy civilization. Socialists must therefore work to transform the imperialist war into civil war, into proletarian revolution And three, the Second International had been destroyed by social-chauvinism. A new, revolutionary international must be built through a complete split with the opportunists in the social-democratic movement.

These policies, which remained central to Lenin's activities right up to the October Revolution, were clearly ex¬pressed in his very first articles on the war:

"It is the duty of every socialist to conduct propaganda of the class struggle... work directed towards turning a war of nations into a civil war is the only socialist activity in an era of an imperialist armed conflict of the bourgeoisie of all nations Let us raise high the banner of civil war! Imperialism sets at hazard the fate of European culture: this war will be followed by others unless there are a series of successful revolutions... "The Second International is dead, overcome by opportunism Down with opportunism, and long live the Third International purged not only of 'turncoats'...but of opportunists as well. "The Second International did its share of useful preparatory work in preliminarily organizing the proletarian masses during the long, 'peaceful' period of the most brutal capitalist slavery and most rapid capitalist progress in the last third of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. To the Inird International falls the task of organizing the proletarian forces for a revolutionary onslaught against the capitalist governments, for civil war against the bourgeoisie of all coun¬tries for the capture of political power, for the triumph of socialism!"
—"The Position and Tasks of the Socialist
International" (November 1914)

While Lenin was optimistic about winning over the mass base of the official social-democratic parties, he understood that he was advocating splitting the workers movement into two antagonistic parties, the one revolutionary, the other reformist. Thus Lenin's demand for a Third International encoun¬tered far more opposition among antiwar social democrats than his impassioned denunciation of social-chauvinism. In fact, most of Lenin's polemics in this period (1914-16) were not directed at the outright social-chauvinists (Scheidemann Vandervelde, Plekhanov), but rather at the centrists who apologized for the social-chauvinists (Kautsky) or refused to split with them (Martov).

Thus Lenin was forced to confront and explicitly reject the orthodox social-democratic position on the party ques¬tion, the Kautskyan "party of the whole class":

"The crisis created by the great war has torn away all coverings, swept away all conventions, exposed an abscess that has long come to a head, and revealed opportunism in its true role ot ally of the bourgeoisie. The complete organisational sever¬ance of this element from the workers' parties has become imperative.... The old theory that opportunism is a 'legitiiEato shade' in a single party that knows no 'extremes' has now turned into a tremendous deception of the workers and a tremendous hindrance to the working-class movement. Undisguised opportunism, which immediately repels the working masses, is not so frightful and injurious as this theory of the golden mean.... Kautsky, the most outstanding spokesman of this theory, and also the leading authority in the Second Inter¬national, has shown himself a consummate hypocrite and a past master in the art of prostituting Marxism."
—"The Collapse of the Second International"
(May-June 1915) .

In considering the growth of opportunism in the West European social-democratic parties, Lenin naturally reviewed the history of the Russian movement and of Bolshevism. He realized that the Bolshevik organization had not, in fact, been built according to the Kautskyan formula. It had completely organizationally separated formally from the Russian opportunists, the Mensheviks, two and a half years before the outbreak of war and in practice long before 1912. Lenin now took the Bolshevik Party as a model for a new, revolutionary international: "The Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party has long parted company with its opportunists. Besides, the Russian opportunists have now become chauvinists. This only fortifies us in our opinion that a split with them is essential in the interests ot socialism.... We are firmly convinced that, in the present state of affairs, a split with the opportunists and chauvinists is the prime duty of revolutionaries, just as a split with the yellow trade unions, the anti-Semites, the liberal workers' unions, was essential in helping speed the enlightenment of backward workers and draw them into the ranks of the Social-Democratic Party.

"In our opinion, the Third International should be built up on that kind of revolutionary basis. To our Party, the question of the expediency of a break with the social-chauvinists does not exist, it has been answered with finality. The only question that exists for our Party is whether this can be achieved on an international scale in the immediate future."
—V. I. Lenin and G. Zinoviev, Socialism and War (July-August 1915)

We have maintained in this series that Leninism as a qualitative extension of Marxism arose in 1914-17, when Lenin responded in a revolutionary manner to the imperialist war and the collapse of the Second International into hostile social-chauvinist parties. This view has been contested, on the one hand, by Stalinists who project the cult of the infallibly clairvoyant revolutionary leader back to the beginning ofLenin's political career and, on the other, by various centrist and left-reformists who want to eradicate or blur the line between Leninism and pre-1914 orthodox Social Democracy

Among the Bolsheviks, however, it was generally recognized that Leninism originated in 1914 and not before. In a commemorative article following Lenin's death, Evgenyi Preobrazhensky, one of the leading Bolshevik intellectuals, wrote:

"In Bolshevism or Leninism we must make a strict distinction between two periods—the period roughly before the world war and the period ushered in by the world war. Before the world war, Comrade Lenin, although he held to the real, genuine, undistorted, revolutionary Marxism,*did not yet consider the social-democrats to be the agents of capital in the ranks of the proletariat. During this period, you will find more than one article by Comrade Lenin in which he defends this German social-democracy in the face of those accusations and reproaches which it received, for instance, from the camp of the populists, syndicalists, etc., for unrevolutionary opportunism, for betrayal of the revolutionary spirit of Marxism.... "If, to our misfortune, Comrade Lenin had died before the world war, it would never have entered anyone's head to speak of 'Leninism,' as some kind of special version of Marxism, as it was subsequently to become. Lenin was the most consistent revolutionary Marxist.... But there was nothing specific in our Bolshevism in the realm of distinguish it in any way from the traditional, but truly revolutionary, Marxism.... "If Comrade Lenin had not lived to see this [post-1914] period, he would have entered history as the most eminent leader of the left wing of the Russian social-democracy.... Only the year 1914 transformed him into an international leader. He was the first to pose the basic question: what in a broad sense does this war mean? He replied: this war signifies the beginning of the crash of capitalism and thus the tactics of the workers' move¬ment must be directed towards turning the imperialist war into a civil war."
—"Marxism and Leninism," Molodoya Gvardiya, 1924 [our translation]

What Did Social-Chauvinism Signify?

Within a few weeks after the outbreak of war, Lenin determined to split with the social-chauvinists and to work for a new, revolutionary international. But he did not immediately present a theoretical (i.e., historical and sociological) explanation as to why and how the mass parties of the West European proletariat had succumbed to opportunism.
Here one might contrast Marx and Lenin as revolutionary politicians. Marx often arrived at theoretical generalizations well in advance of the immediate programmatic, tactical and organizational conclusions which flowed from his new socio-historical premises. Thus in late 1848, after nine months of revolution, Marx concluded that the German bourgeoisie was incapable of overthrowing absolutism. However, it was only a year later in exile that Marx developed a new strategy corresponding to his changed view of German society. In contrast, Lenin's revolutionary thrust frequently led him to break with opportunism and false policies well before he attained corresponding theoretical generalizations.

1914-16 was a period when Lenin's theoretical analysis lagged behind his political conclusions and actions. Lenin's earliest writings on war and the International identified social-democratic opportunism only as a political-ideological current. The only attempt to relate the growth of opportunism to objective historical conditions was the observation that the West European socialist parties functioned under a long period of bourgeois legality.The absence of a sociological and historical explanation for
social-democratic opportunism was a serious weakness in Lenin's campaign for a Third International. For it had to be demonstrated that August 4th was not an opportunist episode or a reversible false policy to fully justify splitting interna¬tional Social Democracy. Lenin's fight with the centrists— Kautsky/Haase/Ledebour in Germany, Martov/Axelrod in Russia, the leadership of the Italian Socialist Party—focused on the historic significance of national defensism in the world war and on the depth of opportunism in the social-democratic movement. The centrists maintained that "defense of the fatherland" was a monumental opportunist error, but nothing more. The policy of national defensism could be reversed, the Second International reformed (literally as well as figuratively). Some of the extreme chauvinists would probably have to go, but basically the "good old International" could be restored as of July 1914. Lenin regarded the pre-1914 International as diseased with opportunism; with the war the dis¬ease worsened into social-chauvinism and became fatal. For the centrists, the pre-war International was basically a healthy body. It was now passing through the sickness of social-chauvinism. The task of socialists was to cure the sickness and save the patient.

The main spokesman for amnestying the social-chauvinists and minimizing the problem of opportunism was, of course, Kautsky. In Neue Zeit (15 February 1915) he advocated an attitude of comradely tolerance for those who "erred" in defending German imperialism:

"It is true I saw since the 4th of August that a number of members of the party were continuously evolving more and more in the direction of imperialism, but I believed these were only exceptions and took an optimistic view. I did this in order to give the comrades confidence and to work against pessimism. And it was equally important to urge the comrades to tolerance, following the example of [Wilhelm] Liebknecht in 1870."
—William English Walling, ed., The Socialists and the War (1915)

Centrist softness toward the Second International also expressed itself within the Bolshevik Party early in the war. The head of the Bolshevik group in Switzerland, V.A. Karpinsky, objected to Lenin's position that the Second International had collapsed and a new, revolutionary interna¬tional must be built. In a letter (27 September 1914) to Lenin he wrote:

"We believe that it would be an exaggeration to define all that happened within the International as its 'ideological-political collapse.' Neither by volume or content would this definition correspond to the real happenings. The International...has suffered an ideological-political collapse, if you like, but on one question only, the military question. With regard to the rest there is no reason to consider that the ideological-political position of the International has wavered or, moreover, that it has been completely destroyed. This would mean that after los¬ing only one redoubt we are unnecessarily surrendering all forts."
—Olga Hess Gankin and H.H. Fisher, eds., The Bolsheviks and the World War (1940)

To overcome such centrist attitudes, Lenin had to demonstrate that August 4th was the culmination of opportunist tendencies profoundly rooted in the nature and history of West European Social Democracy.

Imperialism, Social-Chauvinism and the Labor Bureaucracy

Lenin's analysis of the social bases of opportunism in the Second International was first presented in a resolution ("Opportunism and the Collapse of the Second International") for a Bolshevik conference in Berne, Switzerland in March 1915:

"Certain strata of the working class (the bureaucracy of the labor movement and the labor aristocracy, who get a fraction of the profits from the exploitation of the colonies and from the privileged position of their 'fatherlands' in the world market), as well as petty-bourgeois sympathizers within the socialist parties, have proved the social mainstay of these [opportunist] tendencies, and channels of bourgeois influence over the proletariat."

This capsule analysis was not developed in any theoretical or empirical depth until the following year, principally in Lenin's pamphlet, Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism (written in early 1916), and his article, "Imperialism and the Split in Socialism" (October 1916), and in Zinoviev's book, The War and the Crisis of Socialism (August 1916).
Given the Stalinist cult of Lenin and the individualistic interpretations of bourgeois historiography, it is not generally recognized that Lenin worked as part of a collective. During the war years, he had a literary division of labor with Zinoviev in which the latter concentrated on the German movement. Reading only Lenin's writings of this period, one gets a seriously incomplete picture of the Bolshevik position on the imperialist war and international socialist movement. That is why in 1916 both Lenin's and Zinoviev's war writings were collected in a single volume published in German, entitled Against the Stream. The principal Leninist analysis of opportunism in the German Social Democracy is Zinoviev's The War and the Crisis of Socialism, which contains a long section titled "The Social Roots of Opportunism." This key section of Zinoviev's important work was reproduced in English in the American Shachtmanite jour¬nal, New International (March-June 1942).

Marxists had long recognized the existence of a pro-bourgeois, pro-imperialist labor bureaucracy in Britain. Engels had condemned the bourgeoisified leaders of the British trade unions more than a little, relating this phenomenon to Britain's world dominance economically. However, Marxists in the Second International regarded the class-collaborationist British labor movement as a historic anomaly, a stage which European Social Democracy had happily skipped over. In beginning his section on the labor bureaucracy in Germany, Zinoviev states that Marxists had regarded Social Democracy as immune from this corrupt social caste:

"When we spoke of labor bureaucracy before the war we understood by that almost exclusively the British trade unions. We had in mind the fundamental work of the Webbs, the caste spirit, the reactionary role of the bureaucracy in the old British trade unionism, and we said to ourselves: how fortunate that we have not been created in that image, how fortunate that this cup of grief has been spared our labor movement on the continent.
"But we have been drinking for a long time out of this very cup. In the labor movement of Germany—a movement which served as a model for socialists of all countries before the war—there has arisen just as numerous and just as reactionary a cast of labor bureaucrats." [our emphasis]

The triumph of social-chauvinism in the Second International caused Lenin to reconsider the historic significance of the pro-imperialist British Labour leadership. He came to the conclusion that the class-collaborationist trade unionism of Victorian England anticipated tendencies that would come to the fore when other countries, above all Germany, caught up with Britain economically and became competing imperialist powers.
Germany's very rapid industrial growth, following its victorious war in 1870, simultaneously created a powerful mass social-democratic labor movement and transformed the country into an aggressive imperialist world power. Germany's expansionist goals could only be realized through a major war. And Germany could not win a major war if faced with the active opposition of its powerful labor movement. Thus the objective needs of German imperialism required the cooperation of the social-democratic leadership. The defeat of the German bourgeois-democratic revolution in 1848 and the resulting semi-autocratic class-political struc¬ture made a rapprochement between the ruling circles and labor bureaucracy more difficult, less evolutionary than in Britain. Hence the shock effect of August 4th.

But Lenin recognized that the underlying historical process which led in 1914 to the SPD's vote for war credits and to British Labour Party cabinet ministers was similar. In Imperialism he wrote:

"It must be observed that in Great Britain the tendency of imperialism to split the workers, to strengthen opportunism among them and to cause temporary decay in the working-class movement, revealed itself much earlier than the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries.... "The distinctive feature of the present situation is the preva¬lence of such economic and political conditions that are bound to increase the irreconcilability between opportunism and the general and vital interests of the working-class movement.... "Opportunism cannot now be completely triumphant in the working-class movement of one country for decades as it was in Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century; but in a number of countries it has grown ripe, overripe and rotten, and has become completely merged with bourgeois policy in the form of 'social-chauvinism'." [our emphasis]

Lenin's Imperialism deals with those changes in the world capitalist system which strengthened opportunist forces in the workers movement internationally. It is Zinoviev's 1916 work that concretely analyzes the forces of opportunism in the German Social Democracy.

Zinoviev showed that the SPD's huge treasury supported a vast number of functionaries who led comfortable petty-bourgeois lives far removed from the workers they supposedly represented. In addition to a relatively high standard of living, the social-democratic officialdom had begun to enjoy a priviliged social status. The German ruling elite began to treat the SPD and trade-union leaders with respect, differentiating etween the "moderates" and radicals like Karl Liebknecht. The corrupting effect on an ex-printer or an ex-saddler of being treated as an important personage by the Junker aris¬tocracy was considerable. Referring to Scheidemann's memoirs of the war period, Carl Schorske in his excellent German Social Democracy 1905-1917 (1955) comments: "No reader of Scheidemann can miss the genuine pleasure which he felt in being invited to discuss matters on an equal footing with the ministers of state." The German Social Democracy had become an institution through which able, ambitious young workers could reach the top of a highly class- and caste-stratified society.
Zinoviev's major 1916 work corrects the emphasis on ideological revisionism as the cause of opportunism which is found in Lenin's earliest war writings. In fact, the SPD's official doctrine and program failed to reflect its increasingly reformist practice. Many of the social-democratic leaders, overwhelmingly of working-class background, retained a sentimental attachment to the socialist cause long after they ceased believing in it as practical politics. Only the war forced the SPD to break openly with socialist principle.

Zinoviev recognized that social-chauvinist ideology was false consciousness arising from the SPD officialdom's actual role in Wilhelminian German society:

"When we speak of the 'treachery of the leaders' we do not say by this that it was a deep-laid plot, that it was a con¬sciously perpetrated sell-out of the workers' interests. Far from it. But consciousness is conditioned by existence, not vice versa. The entire social essence of this caste of labor bureaucrats led inevitably, through the outmoded pace set for the movement in the 'peaceful' pre-war period, to complete bourgeoisification of their 'consciousness.' The entire social position into which this numerically strong caste of leaders had climbed over the backs of the working class made them a social group which objectively must be regarded as an agency of the imperialist bourgeoisie." [emphasis in original] The anarcho-syndicalists applauded the revolutionary Marxists' attack on the social-democratic bureaucracy and proclaimed: we told you so. Thus the Bolsheviks in attacking official Social Democracy carefully distinguished their posi¬tion from the anarcho-syndicalists. Zinoviev pointed out that the existence of a powerful reformist bureaucracy was, in one sense, a product of the development and strength of the mass labor movement. The anarcho-syndicalists' answer to bureaucratism amounted to self-liquidation of the workers movement as an organized force objectively capable of over¬throwing capitalism. If the reformist bureaucracy suppressed the revolutionary potential of the workers movement, the anarcho-syndicalists proposed to disorganize that movement into impotence.

Zinoviev maintained that a bureaucracy was not identical with a large organization of party and trade-union functionaries. On the contrary, such an apparatus was necessary to lead the working class to power. The decisive task was the subor¬dination of the leaders and functionaries of the labor move¬ment to the historic interests of the international proletariat: "At the time of the crisis over the war, the labor bureaucracy played the role of a reactionary factor. That is undoubtedly correct. But that does not mean the labor movement will be able to get along without a big organizational apparatus, without an entire spectrum of people devoted especially to service the proletarian organization. We do not want to go back to the time when the labor movement was so weak that it could get along without its own employees and functionaries, but to go forward to the time when the labor movement will be something different, in which the strong movement of the proletariat will subordinate the stratum of functionaries to itself, in which routine will be destroyed, bureaucratic corrosion wiped out; which will bring new men to the surface, infuse them with fighting courage, fill them with a new spirit." There is no mechanical organizational solution to bureaucratism in the workers movement or even in its vanguard party. Combatting bureaucratism and reformism involves continual political struggle against the many-sided influences and pressures bourgeois society brings to bear upon the workers movement, its various strata and its vanguard.

The Leninist Position on the Labor Aristocracy

The Marxists of the Second International were fully aware that the entire working class did not support socialism. Many workers adhered to bourgeois ideology (e.g., religion) and supported the capitalist parties. Pre-1914 social democrats generally associated political backwardness with social backwardness. In particular, they saw that workers newly drawn from the peasantry and other small proprietors tended to retain the outlook of their former class. Thus Kautsky in his 1909 The Road to Power wrote:
"To a large degree hatched out of the small capitalist and small farmer class, many proletarians long carry the shells of these classes around with them. They do not feel themselves proletarians, but as would-be property owners." In other words, the classic social-democratic position was that those workers who had a low cultural level, were unskilled, unorganized, came from a rural background, etc., would be most submissive toward bourgeois authority. In the context of late 19th-century Germany and France, this political-sociological generalization was valid.

However, with the development of a strong trade-union movement, social and political conservatism appeared at the top of the working class and not only at the bottom. Skilled workers in strong craft unions insulated themselves to a certain degree from the labor market and cyclical unemployment and tended to express a narrow corporate outlook.
The phenomenon of a labor aristocratic caste, like that of the labor bureaucracy, first manifested itself in Victorian England. The narrow corporate spirit of the British craft unions was well known. Furthermore, the upper stratum of the British working class was almost exclusively English and Scotish, while the Irish were a significant part of the unskilled labor force.

The composition of pre-war German Social Democracy consisted largely of skilled, better-off workers. Zinoviev saw in this sociological composition an important source of reformism:

"The predominant mass of the membership of the Berlin social-democratic organization is composed of trained, of skilled workers. In other words, the predominant mass of the membership of the social-democratic organization consists of the better-paid strata of labor—of those strata from which the greatest section of the labor aristocracy arises, [emphasis in original]
—The War and the Crisis of Socialism

Zinoviev makes no attempt to demonstrate empirically that the labor aristocracy provided the base for the SPD right wing; he merely asserts it. He can therefore be criticized for mechanically transposing the political sociology of Edwardian Britain onto the very different terrain of Wilhelminian Germany. Craft unionism never played as important a role in Germany as in Britain. On the other hand, rural backwardness loomed large in the political life of Germany right up until the war. The rock-solid base of the SPD right wing was the party's provincial organizations. Right-wing bureaucrats tried to counter the radicals, who were always concentrated in the big cities, by gerrymandering the party's electoral dis¬tricts in favor of the small towns. A farmer's son working as an unskilled laborer in a South German town was more likely to support the SPD right, represented by Bernstein and Eduard David, than was a Berlin master machinist.

However, if Zinoviev was too mechanical in imposing a British model of the sociological bases of opportunism on the SPD, the basic Leninist position on the stratification of the working class in the imperialist epoch remains valid. In advanced capitalist countries with a large, well-established labor movement, the upper strata of the working class will frequently tend toward social and political conservatism relative to the mass of the proletariat. Moreover, within certain economic limits, the bourgeoisie and labor bureaucracy can widen the gap between the labor aristocracy and the class as a whole. Zinoviev is certainly correct when he writes:

"To foster splits between the various strata of the working class, to promote competition among them, to segregate the upper stratum from the rest of the proletariat by corrupting it and making it an agency for bourgeois 'respectability'—that is entirely in the interests of the bourgeoisie.... They [the social-chauvinists] split the working class inside of every country and thereby intensify and aggravate the split between the working classes of various countries." —Zinoviev (op. cit.)

The uppermost stratum of the working class is not always and everywhere politically to the right of the mass of the proletariat. Sometimes the greater economic security of highly skilled workers produces a situation where they main¬tain a more radical political attitude than the mass of organ¬ized workers, who are more concerned with their day-to-day material needs. Thus in Weimar Germany in the 1920s, Communist support among skilled workers was relatively greater than among the basic factory labor force, which looked to the Social Democrats for immediate reforms. Franz Borkenau wrote of the German Communist Party membership in 1927:

"Skilled workers and people who have been skilled workers make up two-fifths of the party membership; if their womenfolk were added they would probably make up nearly half.... If there is any such thing as a worker's aristocracy, here it is." —World Communism (1939)

Lenin's position on the labor aristocracy was an important corrective to the traditional, positive social-democratic orien¬tation to that stratum, an orientation which was in part a con¬servative reaction to the rapid growth of the unskilled labor force from among a politically conservative and socially back¬ward peasantry. While workers from a rural background can be extremely militant, they are highly volatile and difficult to organize on a stable basis. For example, migrant farm labor and similar groups (e.g., lumberjacks) drawn into the syndicalist American Industrial Workers of the World before World War I demonstrated great combativity, but also great organizational instability.

No self-professed Marxist today maintains as positive an orientation to the highly skilled, well-paid sections of the working class as did the Social Democracy. On the contrary, during the past period New Left "Marxism" has gone to the opposite extreme, dismissing the entire organized proletariat in the advanced capitalist countries as a "labor aristocracy" bought off by the spoils of imperialism. Just as at one time the revolutionary Marxists' attack on the social-democratic bureaucracy was exploited by the anarcho-syndicalists, so in our day Lenin's critical analysis of the role of the labor aristocracy is distorted and exploited in the service of anti-proletarian petty-bourgeois radicalism, particularly nationalism.

A leading intellectual inspirer of New Left Third. World-ism (more or less associated with Maoism) has been Paul Sweezy of Monthly Review. His revisionist distortion of Lenin's analysis of the labor aristocracy is presented with especial angularity in a centenary article on the publication of ic first volume of Capital, "Marx and the Proletariat"
Monthly Review, December 1967). Here Sweezy claims
Benin's Imperialism for the proposition that the principal
social force for revolution in our epoch has shifted to the
rural masses in the backward countries:

"His [Lenin's] major contribution was his little book Imperial¬ism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism which, having been published in 1917, is exactly half as old as the first volume of Capital. There he argued that 'Capitalism has grown into a world system of colonial oppression and of the financial stran¬gulation of the overwhelming majority of the people of the world by a handful of "advanced" countries....' He also argued that the capitalists of the imperialist countries could and do use part of their 'booty' to bribe and win over to their side an aris¬tocracy of labor. As far as the logic of the argument is concerned, it could be extended to a majority or even all the workers in the industrialized countries. In any case it is clear that taking into account the global character of the capitalist system provides strong additional reasons for believing that the tendency in this stage of capitalist development will be to gen¬erate a less rather than a more revolutionary proletariat." [our emphasis]

The New Left is quite wrong in simply identifying the labor aristocracy with the better-paid sectors of the proletariat. In the first place, many of the relatively higher-paid workers (e.g., auto workers or truckers in the U.S.) are members of industrial unions of the unskilled and semi-skilled, who won their wage levels through militant struggle against the bosses rather than imperialist bribery or job-trusting. Nor can all craft unions be counted among the labor aristocracy. The needle trades, organized along craft lines, are among the lowest-paid unionized workers in the U.S.
In Imperialism and related writings, Lenin emphasized again and again that the labor aristocracy represented a small minority of the proletariat. And this was not an empirical estimate but a basic sociological proposition. A group can occupy a privileged social position only in relation to the working masses of the society of which it is a part. The New Left Third Worldist notion that the proletariat in the imperialist centers is a labor aristocracy in relation to the impoverished colonial masses denies that the European and North American working class is centrally defined by its exploita¬tion at the hands of "its" bourgeoisie. It is methodologically similar to the argument of apologists for apartheid in South Africa that black workers in that country are better off than those in the rest of Africa.

However, Sweezy's revisionism is not limited to extending the category of labor aristocracy to the majority of workers in the advanced capitalist countries. He also distorts Lenin's attitude toward the actual labor aristocracy, which is a sociological not a political category. For the uppermost stratum of the working class, defense of its petty privileges often dominates its consciousness and action. It is thus a culture medium for the false consciousness which sees the workers' interests as tied to those of "their" bourgeoisie (support for imperialist war, protectionism, "profit-sharing" schemes, etc.). But the labor aristocracy is also a part of the working class, sharing common class interests with the rest of the proletariat, and thus cannot be considered as ultimately inherently pro-imperialist. Under normal capitalist conditions, the labor aristocracy may well seek short-term economic advantages at the expense of the class as a whole. However, under the impact of a major depression, a devastating war, etc., the long-term interests of this stratum as a section of the proletariat will tend to come to the fore. Leninists even seek to win over exploited sectors of the petty bourgeoisie proper (e.g., teachers, small farmers) to the cause of revolutionary socialism. Therefore they can scarcely consign a section of the working class, albeit a relatively privileged, petty-bourgeoisified section, to the camp of bourgeois counterrevolution. Labor aristocratic groups can end up on the wrong side of the barricades in a revolutionary situation. In the October Revolution, the relatively privileged railway workers provided a base for the Mensheviks' counterrevolutionary activities. However, the oil workers in Mexico, likewise an elite proletarian group in a backward country, have long been among the most advanced sections of that country's labor movement.

In an important article written shortly after Imperialism, Lenin explicitly states that what fraction of the proletariat will eventually side with the bourgeoisie can only be determined through political struggle:

"Neither we nor anyone else can calculate precisely what portion of the proletariat is following and will follow the social-chauvinists and opportunists. This will be revealed only by the struggle, it will definitely be decided only by the socialist revolution."
—"Imperialism and the Split in Socialism" (October 1916)

The Leninist attitude toward the labor aristocracy is significantly different than toward its leadership, the labor bureaucracy. In the imperialist epoch, the age of capitalist decay, successful reformism is impossible. Thus whatever their background and original motivation, unless they explic¬itly adopt a revolutionary course the leaders of the labor movement are forced by their social role to subordinate the workers' interests to the bourgeoisie. As Lenin later wrote of the "labor lieutenants of the bourgeoisie":

"Present-day (twentieth-century) imperialism has given a few advanced countries an exceptionally privileged position, which, everywhere in the Second International, has produced a certain type of traitor, opportunist, and social-chauvinist leaders, who champion the interests of their own craft, their own section of the labour aristocracy.... The revolutionary pro¬letariat cannot be victorious unless this evil is combated, unless the opportunist, social-traitor leaders are exposed, discredited and expelled."
—"Left Wing" Communism, An Infantile Disorder (1920)

In contrast, skilled, well-paid workers, while more susceptible to conservative bourgeois ideology, are not "agents of the bourgeoisie in the workers movement" (Ibid.). Like the rest of the proletariat, they must be won away from their treach¬erous misleaders.

Classic Marxism and the Leninist Vanguard Party

By 1916, Lenin had developed both the programmatic and theoretical basis for a split with official social democracy and the creation of an international vanguard party modeled on the Bolsheviks. The actual formation of the Communist International in 1919 was, of course, decisively affected by the Bolshevik Revolution and establishment of the Soviet state. However, this series concerns the evolution of Lenin's position on the organizational question away from traditional revolutionary Social Democracy. And that process was essentially completed before the Russian Revolution. We therefore conclude with a discussion of the relationship of the Leninist vanguard party to the previous Marxist experi¬ence around the organizational question.

With respect to the vanguard party, the history of the Marxist movement appears paradoxical. The first Marxist organization, the Communist League of 1847-52, was a vanguard propaganda group which clearly demarcated itself from all other tendencies in the socialist and workers movements (e.g., from Blan-quism, Cabet's Icarians, German "true" socialism, British Chartism). By contrast, the International Work-ingmen's Association (First Interna¬tional), established a generation later, sought to be an inclusive body embracing all working-class organi¬zations. A central pillar of the First International was the British trade-union movement, which politically supported the bourgeois liberals. The Socialist (Second) International, although its dominant section was the Marxist German Social Democracy, sought to be inclusive of all proletar¬ian socialist parties. In 1908, the Second International even admitted the newly formed British Labour Party which did not claim to be socialist.Thus the Communist International of 1919 was in a sense a resurrection of the Communist League of 1848 on a mass foundation.

How does one account for the absence of the vanguard party principle in classic, late 19th-century Marxism? Stalinist writers sometimes deny this fact, distorting history so as to make Marx/Engels out as advocates of Leninist organizational prin¬ciples. On the other hand, it would be a historic idealism to criticize Marx/Engels for their organizational policies and to maintain that the equivalent of the Communist International could and should have been established in the 1860s-90s.

The formation of the Communist League of 1847 was predicated on an imminent bourgeois-democratic revolution. The task of organizing the people, including the urban artisan-proletariat, was being accomplished by the broader revolu¬tionary democratic movement. The task of the Communist League was to vie for leadership of an existing revolutionary movement against the bourgeois democrats (as well as Utopian socialists). The Communist League thus defined itself as the proletarian socialist vanguard of the revolutionary bourgeois-democratic movement. With the definitive end of the 1848 revolutionary period (signaled by the 1852 Cologne Communist trial), Marx's strategy and its organizational component became unviable.
Between the revolutions of 1848 and the Russian Revolution of 1905, the possibilities of a successful bourgeois-democratic revolution had been exhausted while the economic bases for a proletarian-socialist revolution were still immature in the principal countries of West Europe. (Britain presented its own exceptional problems in this regard. However, even though Britain was far more advanced than France or Germany, in the 1850s house servants still outnumbered industrial workers.) The task of socialists was to create the precondition for a socialist revolution through the organization of the pro¬letariat from an atomized condition. Furthermore, in the decades immediately following the defeat of 1848, mass, stable working-class organizations in Germany and France were impeded by effective state repression.

A Leninist-type vanguard party in Germany or France in the 1860s-90s would have existed in a political vacuum unrelated to any broader potentially revolutionary movement. Thus in the period following the dissolution of the First International, Marx opposed the re-establishment of an international center as a diversion from the task of building a workers movement actually capable of overthrowing capital¬ism. In a letter (22 February 1881) to the Dutch anarchist Ferdinand Domela-Nieuwenhuis, he wrote:

"It is my conviction that the critical juncture for a new International Working Men's Association has not yet arrived and for that reason I regard all workers' congresses or socialist congresses, in so far as they are not directly related to the conditions existing in this or that particular nation, as not merely useless but actually harmful. They will always ineffectually end in endlessly repeated general banalities."
— Marx/Engels, Selected Correspondence (1975)

In West Europe, the transition from the revolutionary bourgeois-democratic movement to mass proletarian socialist parties required an entire epoch involving decades of preparatory activity.

The situation facing Marxists in tsarist Russia was fundamentally different. There a bourgeois-democratic revolution appeared a short-term prospect. A revolutionary bourgeois-democratic movement existed in the form of radical (socialistic) populism with broad support among the intelligentsia. In important respects, the conditions facing Plekhanov's Emancipation of Labor group in the 1880s paralleled those facing the Communist League before the revolution of 1848. Plekhanov projected a proletarian party (initiated by the socialist intelligentsia) which would act as a vanguard in the bourgeois-democratic revolution, while sharply demarcating itself from all petty-bourgeois radical currents. This vanguardist conception is clearly stated in the 1883 program of the Emancipation of Labor group:

"One of the most harmful consequences of the backward state of production was and still is the underdevelopment of the middle class, which, in our country, is incapable of taking the initiative in the struggle against absolutism. "That is why our socialist intelligentsia has been obliged to head the present-day emancipation movement, whose direct task must be to set up free political institutions in our country, the socialists on their side being under the obligation to provide the working class with the possibility to take an active and fruitful part in the future political life of Russia." [empha¬sis in original]
—G. Plekhanov, Selected Philosophical Works, Volume 1 (1961)

In Bismarckian and Wilhelminian Germany, all bourgeois parties were hostile to Social Democracy, which represented both the totality of the workers movement and by far the most significant force for democratic political change. The Catholic Center Party, National-Liberals and Progressives were only episodically viewed as a challenge to the semi-autocratic government. By contrast, Russian social democrats had to compete for cadre and for popular influence, including among the industrial proletariat, with the radical populists and at times even with the liberals. Moreover, since Russia was a multinational state, the social democrats also had to compete with left nationalist parties like the Ukrainian Radical Democratic Party and the Polish Socialist Party, and similar parties in the Baltic region and Transcaucasus.

The organizational principles of Plekhanovite Social Democracy thus had a dual character. With respect to the proletariat, early Russian social democrats sought to become "the party of the whole class" emulating the SPD. But they also sought to become the vanguard of all the diverse anti-tsarist forces in the Russian empire.

From Plekhanovite Social Democracy Lenin inherited vanguardist conceptions absent in the West European socialist parties. The significance of the fight against Economism, which was initiated by Plekhanov not Lenin, was in preserving the vanguard role of Social Democracy in relation to the broad, heterogeneous bourgeois-democratic forces. Because Lenin split Russian Social Democracy (in 1903) before it achieved a mass base, he did not fully recognize the significance of what he had done. He regarded the split with the Mensheviks as a legitimate continuation of the struggle to separate proletarian socialism from petty-bourgeois democracy. In reality, he had separated the revolutionary socialists from the reformists, both seeking a working-class base.

The world-historic significance of pre-1914 Bolshevism was that it anticipated the organizational principles required for victory in the epoch of imperialist capitalism and of proletarian revolution. As the epoch of capitalist degeneration opened up with World War I, the principal obstacle to proletarian revolution was no longer the underdevelopment of bourgeois society and of the workers movement. It was now the reactionary labor bureaucracy, resting upon a powerful workers movement, which preserved an obsolete social system. The first task of revolutionary socialists was henceforth defeating and replacing the reformists as the leadership of the mass workers movement, the precondition to leading that movement to victory over capitalism and laying the basis for a socialist society. This task has a dual character. The establishment of a revolutionary vanguard party splits the working class politically. However, a vanguard party seeks to lead the mass of the proletariat through united economic organizations of class struggle, the trade unions. In a revolutionary situation, a vanguard party seeks to lead a united working class to power through Soviets, the organizational basis of a workers government.

Bibliography for this series of articles.

Baron, Samuel H., Plekhanov, Father of Russian Marxism
(Stanford, 1963) Cliff, Tony, Lenin, Volume 1: Building the Party (London,
Dan, Theodore, The Origins of Bolshevism (New York, 1970) G., Barbara, Democratic Centralism (Chicago, 1972) Gankin, Olga Hess and Fisher, H.H., eds., The Bolsheviks
and the World War (Stanford, 1940) Getzler, Israel, Martov: Political Biography of a Russian
Social Democrat (London, 1967) Geyer, Dietrich, "Die russische Parteispaltung im Urteil der
deutschen Sozialdemokratie 1903-1905," International
Review of Social History, 1958 Haimson, Leopold H., The Russian Marxists and the Origins
of Bolshevism (Cambridge, 1955) Kautsky, Karl, The Road to Power (New York, 1909) Keep, J.L.H., The Rise of Social Democracy in Russia
(London, 1963)
Lenin, V.I., Collected Works (Moscow, 1960) Luxemburg, Rosa, Leninism or Marxism? (Ann Arbor, 1961) McNeal, Robert H., ed., Resolutions and Decisions of
the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Volume 1:
The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Toronto,
Marie, Jean-Jacques, introduction to Quefaire? (Paris, 1966) Marks, Harry J., "The Sources of Reformism in the German
Social-Democratic Party, 1890-1914," Journal of Modern
History, 1939

Nettl, J.P., Rosa Luxemburg (New York, 1966)
Piatnitsky, Osip, Memoirs of a Bolshevik (Westport, Con¬necticut, 1973)
Plekhanov, G.V., Selected Philosophical Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, 1961)
Preobrazhensky, Evgenyi, "Marxism and Leninism," Molo-doya Gvardiya (Moscow), 1924, special commemorative issue
Red Weekly (London), 11 November 1976, "The Bolshevik Faction and the Fight for the Party"
Schapiro, Leonard, The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (New York, 1971)
Schorske, Carl, German Social Democracy 1905-1917 (Cambridge, 1955)
Slaughter, Cliff, Lenin on Dialectics (New York, 1971)
Trotsky, Leon, In Defense of Marxism (New York, 1973); My Life (New York, 1970); Stalin: An Appraisal of the Man and His Influences (New York, 1970); "Unsere politis-chen Aufgaben," Schriften zur revolutionaren Organisa¬tion (Hamburg, 1970)
Walling, William English, ed., The Socialists and the War (New York, 1915)
Wolfe, Bertram, Three Who Made a Revolution (New York, 1948)
Zinoviev, Gregori, History of the Bolshevik Party: From th'e Beginnings to February 1917 (London, 1973); Der Krieg unddie Krise des Sozialismus (Vienna, 1924); [excerpted in the New International (New York) 1939-1942]

Part Eight Of This Series Will Be Dated April 20, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

From The Bob Feldman 68 Blog- They Sentenced Lynne Stewart- Free Class-War Prisoner Lynne Stewart Now!

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Bob Feldman performing his They Sentenced Lynne Stewart in honor of class-war prisoner Attorney Lynne Stewart.

From The Bob Feldman 68 Blog-ROTC Must Still Be Banned At Columbia University In 2011: Excerpt from a Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Interview

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

ROTC Must Still Be Banned At Columbia University In 2011: Excerpt from a Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Interview

In a recent interview with a journalism student at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, I indicated why the Columbia University Administration should not bring ROTC or NROTC back to Columbia University's campus in 2011:

What objections, if any, do you have regarding the return of the ROTC today?

Bob Feldman [BF]:The return of a ROTC program to Columbia’s campus would represent a decision by the Columbia Administration to, on an institutional level, contribute to the Pentagon’s military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2011. If you think it’s moral for the U.S. government to continue waging war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, then it probably would seem o.k. morally to you for Columbia University to start training U.S. military officers on its campus.

But what if, like me, you think that it’s immoral for the U.S. government to continue waging war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan? Then wouldn’t it also be then immoral for Columbia University to contribute to prolonging this U.S. military intervention by training U.S. military officers who will be participating in this unjust and endless war?

In recent years, for example, 80 percent of all students who were trained on Cornell University’s campus by that Ivy League School’s ROTC program have served as U.S. military officers in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, if you check out the Wikipedia entry for “Reserve Officers Training Corps,” it seems to indicate that in recent years U.S. university ROTC programs have been producing 39 percent of all active-duty officers for the Pentagon—20 percent of all active duty U.S. Navy officers, 41 percent of all officers for the U.S. Air Force which has dropped bombs that kill civilians on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and 56 percent of all active duty U.S. Army officers (many of whom have—after being trained by U.S. universities—been involved in the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, for example).

Or to put my objections another way. Imagine that you were a German student at a German university in late 1940 and you were examining the ways that German universities were contributing to the German war effort and occupation in Poland and France, for example. One way might be that science professors at German universities were doing research for the German Ministry of Defense. And another way might be that German universities were training some of their students to serve as German military officers in the German war machine that bombed and occupied Poland, France and other countries.

And imagine that you had discovered in 1940 that thousands of civilians had been killed in Poland and elsewhere by the same German military that the science professors at the German university you attended were doing research for; and that the German university you attended was training some of its students to be military officers for the German military? Wouldn’t you then feel that you had an internationalist moral and humanitarian obligation to do all that you could to stop the German university that you attended from training officers for the German military on your campus?

In addition, even if you don’t object to what’s been done overseas to foreign civilians and to the foreign soldiers, foreign insurgents and U.S. soldiers who have been casualties of the endless Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan military intervention by the U.S. government, an objection to the return of ROTC can be made on the philosophical basis that U.S. universities should be in the business of the pursuit of knowledge and the promotion of humanism and pacifism; and not be involved in training its students in ROTC courses like “the art of war” and the killing of the people that the U.S. government decides is now “the enemy.”

Before the DADT law was in place, what were the guidelines barring ROTC from being a campus activity: in other words, what do you see was the reason for its absence in the 1970s and 1980s?

BF:The official grounds for barring ROTC from being a campus activity before the DADT by most of the Ivy League administrations and their faculty committees may sometimes have been that the ROTC courses may not have conformed to the academic course accreditation criteria required by some of these Ivy League schools. But I think the real reason for ROTC’s absence in the 1970s and 1980s from places like Columbia was because anti-militarist student and faculty sentiment was still high, due to the campus political consciousness that had developed during the Vietnam War Era. And administrators at places like Columbia probably felt it made no political sense to disturb the relative campus calm of the post-1973 era by provoking its by then generally politically passive anti-war student body and politically passive anti-war professors into a potential new wave of campus protest--comparable to what happened in the 1960s—by trying to push ROTC back onto their campuses.

What do you think would happen if the ROTC was allowed to return to campus—at Columbia and elsewhere?

BF: Both the Pentagon and the U.S. corporate media—including the New York Times—would probably highlight it as an historical reversal of one of the legacies of the Vietnam War Era and the 1968 Columbia Anti-War Student Strike fall-out and the Sixties Anti-War Movement. And it would probably be utilized by the U.S. government as evidence that—under the Democratic Obama Administration—the alienation of U.S. college students from the U.S. military has decreased and that current U.S. college students—even at a bastion of anti-war sentiment historically like Columbia and Barnard—now have less objection to the continued endless U.S. military intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan than did U.S. college students during the Republican Bush Administration.

The folks on the U.S. right-wing who don’t see anything morally questionable about the militarism of U.S. foreign policy will probably also feel more emboldened about bringing their pro-militarist agenda onto Columbia’s campus and re-militarizing Columbia to the point where they would eventually demand that the ban on secret military research on Columbia’s campus also be lifted.

And I suspect that some more juicy, lucrative Department of Defense research contracts would tend to get thrown Columbia’s way much more, if ROTC were now allowed to return to Columbia’s campus. So Columbia might once again, eventually, become “The MIT of West Harlem”—in terms of the degree to which it once again started to become dependent on Pentagon contracts for nearly half its budget, like it was in the mid-1960s.

Of course, once students wearing ROTC uniforms started marching around on campus and holding military-oriented ceremonies again on Columbia’s campus, it’s also possible that eventually—if the endless U.S. military intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan isn’t ended or if an additional U.S. military intervention in Iran, North Korea or Venezuela is eventually started over the next few years—some anti-war students at Barnard College and Columbia College might mobilize eventually in larger numbers to again demand that Columbia stop training U.S. military officers for the U.S. power elite’s endless wars abroad.

What is your perspective on the acceptance, with faculty, alumni and current students?

BF: If you check out the chapter, titled “The Military Ascendancy,” in former Columbia University Professor C. Wright Mills’ book The Power Elite, J.W. Fulbright’s The Pentagon Propaganda Machine book or the CBS documentary The Selling of the Pentagon from the 1970s—and also Al Jazeera TV’s recent documentary on YouTube on the way the Pentagon uses Hollywood to promote support for U.S. military adventurism around the globe—you’ll see that since World War II there’s always been a big public relations effort by the Pentagon and the U.S. military-industrial-university-media complex to get people in the USA to feel that it’s “unpatriotic” to be opposed to the militarization of U.S. society and a U.S. foreign policy that is militaristic or to call for huge cuts in the Pentagon’s defense budget. And U.S. supporters of a pacifist U.S. foreign policy and the demilitarization of U.S. society and of U.S. universities like Columbia generally don’t get much mass media TV exposure—except when anti-war and anti-racist students occupy buildings in large numbers at places like Columbia in 1968 or when anti-war activists—like the Chicago 8—went on trial in Chicago during the 1969-1970 academic year.

So it wouldn’t be unexpected if current Barnard College, Columbia College students and faculty—as well as current Columbia Journalism School students and faculty—end up accepting passively the return of ROTC to places like Columbia in 2011. Especially if it’s marketed as “a way to influence the U.S. military in a more humanitarian direction”; or as something that only students and professors who are “soft on terrorism” or “stuck in a 1960s mentality,” or “politically na├»ve pacifists” would have moral objections about.

On the other hand it could be that the now-imprisoned Private Manning’s morally courageous de-classification of those Wikileaks cables and documents have revealed to enough people on campuses like Columbia that what the U.S. military is doing around the world contradicts the humanistic values and democratic moral values that most students and professors and workers at Columbia and Barnard have, historically, been brought up to adhere to. And that, therefore, the U.S. military still does not belong on Columbia University’s campus in 2011

Posted by b.f. at 10:51 AM
Labels: Columbiagate Scandal, ROTC, university complicity, university complicity-ida

From Cindy Sheehan's Soap Box Blog- Cindy Sheehan's Speech At The April 9th New York City Anti-War Rally

Click on the headline to link to the Cindy Sheehan's Soap Box blog entry- Cindy Sheehan's Speech At The April 9th New York City Anti-War Rally

On The 150th Anniversary Of The Beginning Of The American Civil War – Karl Marx On The American Civil War-In Honor Of The Union Side

Markin comment:

I am always amazed when I run into some younger leftists, or even older radicals who may have not read much Marx and Engels, and find that they are surprised, very surprised to see that Marx and Engels were avid partisans of the Abraham Lincoln-led Union side in the American Civil War. In the age of advanced imperialism, of which the United States is currently the prime example, and villain, we are almost always negative about capitalism’s role in world politics. And are always harping on the need to overthrow the system in order to bring forth a new socialist reconstruction of society. Thus one could be excused for forgetting that at earlier points in history capitalism played a progressive role. A role that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and other leading Marxists, if not applauded, then at least understood represented human progress. Of course, one does not expect everyone to be a historical materialist and therefore know that in the Marxist scheme of things both the struggle to bring America under a unitary state that would create a national capitalist market by virtue of a Union victory and the historically more important struggle to abolish slavery that turned out to a necessary outcome of that Union struggle were progressive in our eyes. Read on.
Works of Frederick Engels 1861

Lessons of the American War

Written: November, 1861;
Source: Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 19;
Publisher: Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964;
First Published: The Volunteer Journal, for Lancashire and Cheshire No. 66, December 6, 1861;
Online Version: 1999;
Transcribed: S. Ryan;
HTML Markup: Tim Delaney.


When, a few weeks back, we drew attention to the process of weeding which had become necessary in the American volunteer army, we were far from exhausting the valuable lessons this war is continually giving to the volunteers on this side of the Atlantic. We therefore beg leave again to revert to the subject.

The kind of warfare which is now carried on in America is really without precedent. From the Missouri to Chesapeake Bay, a million of men, nearly equally divided into two hostile camps, have now been facing each other for some six months without coming to a single general action. In Missouri, the two armies advance, retire, give battle, advance, and retire again in turns, without any visible result; even now, after seven months of marching and counter-marching, which must have laid the country waste to a considerable degree, things appear as far from any decision as ever. In Kentucky, after a lengthened period of apparent neutrality, but real preparation, a similar state of things appears to be impending; in Western Virginia, constant minor actions occur without any apparent result; and on the Potomac, where the greatest masses on both sides are concentrated, almost within sight of each other, neither party cares to attack, proving that, as matters stand, even a victory would be of no use at all. And unless circumstances foreign to this state of things cause a great change, this barren system of warfare may be continued for months to come.

How are we to account for this?

The Americans have, on either side, almost nothing but volunteers. The little nucleus of the former United States' regular army has either dissolved, or it is too weak to leaven the enormous mass of raw recruits which have accumulated at the seat of war. To shape all these men into soldiers, there are not even drill-sergeants enough. Teaching, consequently, must go on very slow, and there is really no telling how long it may take until the fine material of men collected on both shores of the Potomac will be fit to be moved about in large masses, and to give or accept battle with its combined forces.

But even if the men could be taught their drill in some reasonable time, there are not enough officers to lead them. Not to speak of the company officers -- who necessarily cannot be taken from among civilians -- there are not enough officers to make commanders of battalions even if every lieutenant and ensign of the regulars were appointed to such a post. A considerable number of civilian colonels are therefore unavoidable; and nobody who knows our own volunteers will think either McClellan or Beauregard over timid if they decline entering upon aggressive action or complicated strategical manoeuvres with civilian colonels of six months' standing to execute their orders.

We will suppose, however, that this difficulty was, upon the whole, overcome; that the civilian colonels, with their uniforms, had also acquired the knowledge, experience, and tact required in the performance of their duties -- at least, as far as the infantry is concerned. But how will it be for the cavalry? To train a regiment of cavalry, requires more time, and more experience in the training officers, than to get a regiment of infantry into shape. Suppose the men join their corps, all of them, with a sufficient knowledge of horsemanship -- that is to say, they can stick on their horses, have command over them, and know how to groom and feed them -- this will scarcely shorten the time required for training. Military riding, that control over your horse by which you make him go through all the movements necessary in cavalry evolutions, is a very different thing from the riding commonly practised by civilians. Napoleon's cavalry, which Sir William Napier (History of the Peninsular War) considered almost better than the English cavalry of the time, notoriously consisted of the very worst riders that ever graced a saddle; and many of our best cross-country riders found, on entering mounted volunteer corps, that they had a deal to learn yet. We need not be astonished, then, to find that the Americans are very deficient in cavalry, and that what little they have consists of a kind of Cossacks or Indian irregulars (rangers), unfit for a charge in a body.

For artillery, they must be worse off still; and equally so for engineers. Both these are highly scientific arms, and require a long and careful training in both officers and non-commissioned officers, and certainly more training in the men too, than infantry does. Artillery, moreover, is a more complicated arm than even cavalry; you require guns, horses broken in for this kind of driving, and two classes of trained men -- gunners and drivers; you require, besides, numerous ammunition-waggons, and large laboratories for the ammunition, forges, workshops, &c.; the whole provided with complicated machinery. The Federals are stated to have, altogether, 600 guns in the field; but how these may be served, we can easily imagine, knowing that it is utterly impossible to turn out 100 complete, well-appointed, and well-served batteries out of nothing in six months.

But suppose, again, that all these difficulties had been overcome, and that the fighting portion of the two hostile sections of Americans was in fair condition for their work, could they move even then? Certainly not. An army must be fed; and a large army in a comparatively thinly-populated country such as Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri, must be chiefly fed from magazines. Its supply of ammunition has to be replenished; it must be followed by gunsmiths, saddlers, joiners, and other artisans, to keep its fighting tackle in good order. All these requisites shone by their absence in America; they had to be organised out of almost nothing; and we have no evidence whatever to show that even now the commissariat and transport of either army has emerged from babyhood.

America, both North and South, Federal and Confederate, had no military organisation, so to speak. The army of the line was totally inadequate, by its numbers, for service against any respectable enemy; the militia was almost non-existent. The former wars of the Union never put the military strength of the country on its mettle; England, between 1812 and 1814, had not many men to spare, and Mexico defended herself chiefly by the merest rabble. The fact is, from her geographical position, America had no enemies who could anywhere attack her with more than 30,000 or 40,000 regulars at the very worst; and to such numbers the immense extent of the country would soon prove a more formidable obstacle than any troops America could bring against them; while her army was sufficient to form a nucleus for some 100,000 volunteers, and to train them in reasonable time. But when a civil war called forth more than a million of fighting men, the whole system broke down, and everything had to be begun at the beginning. The results are before us. Two immense, unwieldy bodies of men, each afraid of the other, and almost as afraid of victory as of defeat, are facing each other, trying, at an immense cost, to settle down into something like a regular organisation. The waste of money, frightful as it is, is quite unavoidable, from the total absence of that organised groundwork upon which the structure could have been built. With ignorance and inexperience ruling supreme in every department, how could it be otherwise? On the other hand, the return for the outlay, in efficiency and organisation, is extremely poor; and could that be otherwise?

The British volunteers may thank their stars that they found, on starting, a numerous, well-disciplined, and experienced army to take them under its wings. Allowing for the prejudices inherent to all trades, that army has received and treated them well. It is to be hoped that neither the volunteers nor the public will ever think that the new service can ever supersede, in any degree, the old one. If there are any such, a glance at the state of the two American volunteer armies ought to prove to them their own ignorance and folly. No army newly formed out of civilians can ever subsist in an efficient state unless it is trained and supported by the immense intellectual and material resources which are deposited at the hands of a proportionately strong regular army, and principally by that organisation which forms the chief strength of the regulars. Suppose an invasion to threaten England, and compare what would be then done with what is unavoidably done in America. In England, the War-office, with the assistance of a few more clerks, easily to be found among trained military men, would be up to the transaction of all the additional labour an army of 300,000 volunteers would entail; there are half-pay officers enough to take, say three or four battalions of volunteers each under their special inspection, and, with some effort, every battalion might be provided with a line-officer as adjutant and one as colonel. Cavalry, of course, could not be improvised; but a resolute reorganisation of the artillery volunteers -- with officers and drivers from the Royal Artillery -- would help to man many a field-battery. The civil engineers in the country only wait for an opportunity to receive that training in the military side of their profession which would at once turn them into first-rate engineer officers. The commissariat and transport services are organised, and may soon be made to supply the wants of 400,000 men quite as easily as those of 100,000. Nothing would be disorganised, nothing upset; everywhere there would be aid and assistance for the volunteers, who would nowhere have to grope in the dark; and -- barring some of those blunders which England cannot do without when first she plunges into a war -- we can see no reason why in six weeks everything should not work pretty smoothly.

Now, look to America, and then say what a regular army is worth to a rising army of volunteers

On The 150th Anniversary Of The Beginning Of The American Civil War – Karl Marx On The American Civil War-In Honor Of The Union Side

Markin comment:

I am always amazed when I run into some younger leftists, or even older radicals who may have not read much Marx and Engels, and find that they are surprised, very surprised to see that Marx and Engels were avid partisans of the Abraham Lincoln-led Union side in the American Civil War. In the age of advanced imperialism, of which the United States is currently the prime example, and villain, we are almost always negative about capitalism’s role in world politics. And are always harping on the need to overthrow the system in order to bring forth a new socialist reconstruction of society. Thus one could be excused for forgetting that at earlier points in history capitalism played a progressive role. A role that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and other leading Marxists, if not applauded, then at least understood represented human progress. Of course, one does not expect everyone to be a historical materialist and therefore know that in the Marxist scheme of things both the struggle to bring America under a unitary state that would create a national capitalist market by virtue of a Union victory and the historically more important struggle to abolish slavery that turned out to a necessary outcome of that Union struggle were progressive in our eyes. Read on.
Articles by Karl Marx in Die Presse 1861

The Anglo-American Conflict


Written: November, 1861
Source: Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 19;
Publisher: Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964;
First Published: Die Presse No. 332, December 3, 1861;
Online Version: 1999;
Transcribed: S. Ryan;
HTML Markup: Tim Delaney.


London, November 29, 1861
The law officers of the Crown had yesterday to give their opinion on the naval incident in the Bahama Channel. Their records of the case consisted of the written reports of the British officers who have remained on board the Trent and of the oral testimony of Commodore Williams, who was on board the Trent as Admiralty agent, but disembarked from the La Plata on November 27 at Southampton, whence he was immediately summoned by telegraph to London. The law officers of the Crown acknowledged the right of the San Jacinto to visit and search the Trent. Since Queen Victoria's proclamation of neutrality on the outbreak of the American Civil War expressly lists dispatches among articles of contraband, there could be no doubt on this point either. There remained, then, the question whether Messrs. Mason, Slidell and Co. were themselves contraband and therefore confiscable. The law officers of the Crown appear to hold this view, for they have dropped the material legal question entirely. According to the report of The Times, their opinion blames the commander of the San Jacinto only for an error in procedure. Instead of Messrs. Mason, Slidell and Co., he should have taken the Trent herself in tow as a prize, brought her to the nearest American port and there submitted her to the judgment of a North American prize court. This is incontestably the procedure corresponding to British and therefore to North American maritime law.

It is equally incontestable that the British frequently violated this rule during the anti-Jacobin war and proceeded in the summary fashion of the San Jacinto. However that may be, the whole conflict is reduced by this opinion of the law officers of the Crown to a technical error and consequently deprived of any immediate import. Two circumstances make it easy for the Union government to accept this point of view and therefore to afford formal satisfaction. In the first place, Captain Wilkes, the commander of the San Jacinto, could have received no direct instructions from Washington. On the voyage home from Africa to New York, he called on November 2 at Havana, which he left again on November 4, whilst his encounter with the Trent took place on the high seas on November 8. Captain Wilkes's stay of only two days in Havana did not permit any exchange of notes between him and his government. The consul of the Union was the only American authority with whom he could deal. In the second place, however, he had obviously lost his head, as his failure to insist on the surrender of the dispatches proves.

The importance of the incident lies in its moral effect on the English people and in the political capital that can easily be made out of it by the British cotton friends of secession. Characteristic of the latter is the Liverpool protest meeting organised by them and previously mentioned by me. The meeting took place on November 27 at three in the afternoon, in the cotton auction-rooms of the Liverpool Exchange, an hour after the alarming telegram from Southampton had arrived.

After vain attempts to press the chairmanship on Mr. Cunard, the owner of the Cunard steamships plying between Liverpool and New York, and other high trade officials, a young merchant named Spence, notorious for a work he wrote in support of the slave republic, took the chair. Contrary to the rules of English meetings, he, the chairman, himself proposed the motion to call on "the government to preserve the dignity of the British flag by demanding prompt satisfaction for this affront." Tremendous applause, clapping and cheers upon cheers! The main argument of the opening speaker for the slave republic was that slave ships had hitherto been protected by the American flag from the right of search claimed by Britain. And then this philanthropist launched a furious attack on the slave trade! He admitted that England had brought about the war of 1812-14 with the United States by insisting on searching for deserters from the British Navy on Union warships.

"But," he continued with wonderful dialectic, "but there is a difference between the right of search to recover deserters from the British Navy and the right to seize passengers, like Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell, men of the highest respectability, regardless of the fact that they were protected by the British flag!"

He played his highest trump, however, at the close of his diatribe.

"The other day," he bellowed, "while I was on the European Continent, I heard an observation made as to the course of our conduct in regard to the United States, and I was unable to reply to the allusion without a blush -- that the feeling of every intelligent man upon the Continent was that we would submit to any outrage and suffer every indignity offered to us by the Government of the United States. But the pitcher goes so often to the well that it is broken at last. Our patience had been exercised long enough! At last we have arrived at facts: this is a very hard and startling fact [!] and it is the duty of every Englishman to apprise the Government of how strong and unanimous is the feeling of this great community of the outrage offered to our flag."

This senseless rigamarole was greeted with a peal of applause. Opposing voices were howled down and hissed down and stamped down. To the remark of a Mr. Campbell that the whole meeting was irregular, the inexorable Spence replied: "I perfectly agree with you that it is a little irregular but at the same time the fact that we have met to consider is rather an irregular fact." To the proposal of a Mr. Turner to adjourn the meeting to the following day, in order that "the city of Liverpool can have its say and not a clique of cotton brokers usurp its name", cries of "Collar him, throw him out!" resounded from all sides. Unperturbed, Mr. Turner repeated his motion, which, however, was not put to the vote, again contrary to all the rules of English meetings. Spence triumphed. But, as a matter of fact, nothing has done more to cool London's temper than the news of Mr. Spence's triumph.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

From The Bob Feldman 68 Blog- "Ben Davis" (Black Communist Councilman From New York City)

Click on the headline to link to a Bob Feldman 68 post for his protest song, Ben Davis

Ben Davis

My name it is Ben Davis and I’m in a prison cell
In Terre Haute, Indiana, that’s where I’m forced to dwell
In a segregated section of the penitentiary
And while I’m locked in solitary, I write my life story.

“I grew up in Jim Crow, Georgia and became a people’s lawyer
I defended Angelo Herndon when he organized workers
They wished to execute him for uniting Black and white
To march to the county courthouse and demand `jobs or relief.’

“For defending the free speech rights of a 19-year-old communist
They threatened me with `contempt of court’ and to lynch me by the neck
Inspired by Angelo’s testimony, his Party I did join
And four years after his rigged trial, the verdict was overturned.

“I worked to build the Party and moved up to Harlem
I rented an apartment and owned no stocks and bonds
I found myself elected in 1943
To serve the working people in the Council of New York City.

“I fought discrimination by Metropolitan Life
And demanded that the major leagues cease to be lily-white
I fought against the fare increase and protected rent control
And denounced police brutality and applied the housing code.

“They could not defeat me at the polls in two elections
So they spent a lot of money to change the regulations
Then in July of 1948, while writing in my home,
Six FBI agents did appear and dragged me from Harlem.

“Although I was elected by the people of New York
They threw me in a prison and charged me in their court
An unconstitutional Smith Act, they used to imprison me
And expelled me from the Council in the name of `democracy.’

“Locked inside this prison by Truman, the `Democrat',
I received a 5-year sentence, just because I’m a communist
Along with other comrades, I’m jailed for my beliefs
And this book I write in prison, they vow they won’t release.

“Yes, my name it is Ben Davis and I’m in a prison cell
In Terre Haute, Indiana, that’s where I’m forced to dwell
In a segregated section of the penitentiary
And while I’m locked in solitary, I write my life story.”

To listen to this song, you can go to following music site link:

The Ben Davis biographical protest folk song lyrics were written a few years ago, after I read the book Communist Councilman From Harlem: Autobiographical Notes Written in a Federal Penitentiary by Benjamin Davis, and are sung to the traditional Scottish folk song tune of “Come, All Ye Tramps and Hawkers”. Prior to Ben Davis’s release from prison the manuscript of his autobiography was seized by U.S. prison authorities and kept by the Bureau of Prisons until after Ben Davis’s death in 1964—before the autobiographical manuscript was finally allowed by U.S. government officials to be published in 1969 by International Publishers.

To listen to some of the other protest folk songs that I’ve written since the late 1960s, you can check out the “Columbia Songs for a Democratic Society” music site at the following link:

From The Bob Feldman 68 Blog -"Chuck Turner" (Boston)Protest Folk Song

"Chuck Turner" Protest Folk Song
by bobf

(No verified email address) 28 Mar 2011

Modified: 11:47:01 AM

"Chuck Turner" public domain protest folk song tells story of the recent illegal expulsion from Boston's City Council and imprisonment of Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner

Chuck Turner (sung to the tune of traditional Scottish folk song, "Come All Ye Tramps and Hawkers")

"Oh, my name it is Chuck Turner
And I'm in a prison cell
Far away in West Virginia
That's where I'm forced to dwell
In a lonely section
Of the penitentiary
And while I'm locked behind the wall,
I recall what they did to me.

"I grew up in Cincinnati
Then attended Harvard U.
I became an organizer
And to Roxbury I did move
To the Boston City Council
The people did vote me
And as their representative
I served diligently

"I fought discrimination
By the universities
And demanded that developers
Cease to be greedy
I fought to regulate their rents
And for Boston tenants' rights
And denounced police brutality
And the wars Bush launched at night.

"They could not defeat me at the polls
In six elections
So Ashcroft's partner and the FBI
Began a collaboration
They paid an informant thirty grand
To tape me secretly
And illegally tried to entrap me
For proposing a public hearing.

"Although I was elected
By the people of Roxbury
A corrupt U.S. Attorney
Charged me with `bribe-taking'
To cover-up his misconduct
The Feds arrested me
And from Boston's City Council
I was expelled illegally.

"Then after a press-rigged trial
The biased judge sentenced me
And because I pleaded innocent
He accused me of `perjury'
And added more months in prison
`Cause I spoke at some meetings
And imprisoned me for three long years
`Though my age is seventy.

Yes, my name is Chuck Turner
And I'm in a prison cell
Far away in West Virginia
That's where I'm forced to dwell
In a lonely section
Of the penitentiary
And although I'm locked behind the wall
Boston now wants me FREE!"
See also:

On The 150th Anniversary Of The Beginning Of The American Civil War – Karl Marx On The American Civil War-In Honor Of The Union Side

Markin comment:

I am always amazed when I run into some younger leftists, or even older radicals who may have not read much Marx and Engels, and find that they are surprised, very surprised to see that Marx and Engels were avid partisans of the Abraham Lincoln-led Union side in the American Civil War. In the age of advanced imperialism, of which the United States is currently the prime example, and villain, we are almost always negative about capitalism’s role in world politics. And are always harping on the need to overthrow the system in order to bring forth a new socialist reconstruction of society. Thus one could be excused for forgetting that at earlier points in history capitalism played a progressive role. A role that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and other leading Marxists, if not applauded, then at least understood represented human progress. Of course, one does not expect everyone to be a historical materialist and therefore know that in the Marxist scheme of things both the struggle to bring America under a unitary state that would create a national capitalist market by virtue of a Union victory and the historically more important struggle to abolish slavery that turned out to a necessary outcome of that Union struggle were progressive in our eyes. Read on.
Articles by Karl Marx in Die Presse 1861

The Trent Case

Written: November, 1861;
Source: Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 19;
Publisher: Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964;
First Published: Die Presse No. 331, December 2, 1861;
Online Version:, 1999;
Transcribed: S. Ryan;
HTML Markup: Tim Delaney 1999.


London, November 28, 1861
The conflict of the English mail ship Trent with the North American warship San Jacinto in the narrow passage of the Old Bahama Channel is the lion among the events of the day. In the afternoon of November 27 the mail ship La Plata brought the news of the incident to Southampton, where the electric telegraph at once flashed it to all parts of Great Britain. The same evening the London Stock Exchange was the stage of stormy scenes similar to those at the time of the announcement of the Italian war. Quotations for government stock sank three-quarters to one per cent. The wildest rumours circulated in London. The American Ambassador, Adams, was said to have been given his passport, an embargo to have been imposed on all American ships in the Thames, etc. At the same time a protest meeting of merchants was held at the Stock Exchange in Liverpool, to demand measures from the British Government for the satisfaction of the violated honour of the British flag. Every sound-minded Englishman went to bed with the conviction that he would go to sleep in a state of peace but wake up in a state of war.

Nevertheless, the fact is well-nigh categorically established that the conflict between the Trent and the San Jacinto brings no war in its train. The semi-official press, like The Times and The Morning Post, strikes a peaceful note and pours juridically cool deductions on the flickerings of passion. Papers like the Daily Telegraph, which at the faintest mot d'ordre roar for the British lion, are true models of moderation. Only the Tory opposition press, The Morning Herald and The Standard, hits out. These facts force every expert to conclude that the ministry has already decided not to make a casus belli out of the untoward event.

It must be added that the event, if not the details of its enactment, was anticipated. On October 12, Messrs. Slidell, Confederacy emissary to France, and Mason, Confederacy emissary to England, together with their secretaries Eustis and MacFarland, had run the blockade of Charleston on the steamship Theodora and sailed for Havana, there to seek the opportunity of a passage under the British flag. In England their arrival was expected daily. North American warships had set out from Liverpool to intercept the gentlemen, with their dispatches, on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. The British ministry had already submitted the question whether the North Americans were entitled to take such a step to its official jurisconsults for their opinion. Their answer is said to have been in the affirmative.

The legal question turns in a narrow circle. Since the foundation of the United States, North America has adopted British maritime law in all its rigour. A major principle of this maritime law is that all neutral merchantmen are subject to search by the belligerent parties.

"This right, " said Lord Stowell in a judgment which has become famous, "offers the sole security that no contraband is carried on neutral ships."

The greatest American authority, Kent, states in the same sense:

"The right of self-preservation gives belligerent nations this right. The doctrine of the British admiralty on the right of visitation and search ... has been recognised in its fullest extent by the courts of justice in our country."

It was not opposition to the right of search, as is sometimes erroneously suggested, that brought about the Anglo-American War of 1812 to 1814. Rather, America declared war because England unlawfully presumed to search even American warships, on the pretext of catching deserters from the British Navy.

The San Jacinto, therefore, had the right to search the Trent and to confiscate any contraband stowed aboard her. That dispatches in the possession of Mason, Slidell and Co. come under the category of contraband even The Times, The Morning Post, etc., admit. There remains the question whether Messrs. Mason, Slidell and Co. were themselves contraband and might consequently be confiscated! The point is a ticklish one and differences of opinion prevail among the doctors of law. Pratt, the most distinguished British authority on "Contraband", in the section on "Quasi-Contraband, Dispatches, Passengers" specifically refers to "communication of information and orders from a belligerent government to its officers abroad, or the conveyance of military passengers". Messrs. Mason and Slidell, if not officers, were just as little ambassadors, since their governments are recognised neither by Britain nor by France. What are they, then? In justification of the very broad conceptions of contraband asserted by Britain in the Anglo-French wars, Jefferson already remarks in his memoirs that contraband, by its nature, precludes any exhaustive definition and necessarily leaves great scope for arbitrariness. In any event, however, one sees that from the standpoint of English law the legal question dwindles to a Duns Scotus controversy, the explosive force of which will not go beyond exchange of diplomatic notes.

The political aspect of the North American procedure was estimated quite correctly by The Times in these words:

"Even Mr. Seward himself must know that the voices of the Southern commissioners, sounding from their captivity, are a thousand times more eloquent in London and in Paris than they would have been if they had been heard in St. James's and the Tuileries."

And is not the Confederacy already represented in London by Messrs. Yancey and Mann?

We regard this latest operation of Mr. Seward as a characteristic act of tactlessnesses by self-conscious weakness simulating strength. If the naval incident hastens Seward's removal from the Washington Cabinet, the United States will have no reason to record it as an "untoward event" in the annals of its Civil War.