Saturday, September 15, 2012

From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin- Watch Your Back Brother This Dame Is Murder- “Impact” –A Film Noir Review

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the film noir Impact.

DVD Review

Impact, starring Brian Donlevy, Helen Walker, Charles Coburn, Ella Raines, United Artists, 1949

I am on record, maybe not a swear on the bible take it to court under oath type record but on record, as being very much enthralled by (from a safe cinematic distance ) the bad femme fatales of film noir. I have spent no little ink mooning over Jane Greer in Out Of The Past as she off-handedly shots a bullet or six in any stray guy like Robert Mitchum who thinks maybe he can help her or glamorous Rita Hayworth as she frames, frames big time, one Orson Welles in Lady From Shang-hai just because his was a little smitten with her after smelling that come hither fragrance. Yah, these guys had it coming because they went with their eyes open, took their chances and took the fall, took the fall big time. But what about a guy, a regular nine to five guy, a soft guy with eyes closed who gets waylaid by his femme wife. Well, said femme may just enter into the pantheon with Ms. Greer and Ms. Hayworth as Helen Walker does in this film noir Impact. While the story line is not nearly as riveting as the two films mentioned above low down Irene (Ms. Walker) saves the day.

Here is the beauty of this little noir. Walter (played by Brian Donlevy) a regular love-infected hard working executive ready to move might and main to keep his bosses happy and the nation productive is totally clueless that his wife, Irene, is two-timing him with some callow young guy, Jim. Moreover she has hatched a plan to cut Walter lose. Her lover-boy, if he is up to it is going to take down poor Walter and they will then go off into the sunset and spend Walter’s hard earned dough until she gets tired of him. Yah dames like Irene tire easily so watch your back if you happen to run across such a femme. As it turns out Jim is not up to the job or at least at up to having enough sense to keep his wits about him when he is doing murder. He leaves Walter for dead but in his rush has a rather nasty head on collision with a gas truck. So long Jim it probably wouldn’t have worked out with Irene any way.

But this is where our Irene really takes off. Naturally under the circumstances Walter, who was left for dead in some rotten ravine by the late unlamented Jim, starts to put two and two together to figure out that faithless Irene maybe doesn’t love him and if he heads back to hometown ‘Frisco he is liable to take another tumble from some new Jim before long. So he blows town, blows his whole upward mobile history and winds up in Podunk Idaho as a grease monkey where the air is pure, people are straight and off-hand war widow, Marsha (played by Ella Raines) is pining away to put some life back into our poor Walter Mitty.

Meanwhile back in ‘Frisco Irene is in some trouble, some jail trouble, since one very pesky police detective, played by Charles Coburn, has put two and two together and found that it comes out murder, the murder of her “undead husband. Here is where we get back to the beautiful part again though. Ms. Goody out in Podunk, after finding out who Walter really is, naturally makes him go back to face the music. And just as naturally old wifey Irene when he shows up undead starts to frame old regular guy Walter for her late boyfriend’ untimely demise.

And that is all that needs to be said. Sure Walter is going to beat the rap but isn’t it something that femme Irene, without batting an eye, is ready to send hubby to the chair to revenge her late lover. One of the great femme noir twists. Yes, Helen step right up with Jane and Rita they are waiting with open arms. This is one bad femme but I sure hope she beats that attempted murder rap they are going to hang on her.

From #Un-Occupied Boston (#Un-Tomemonos Boston)-What Happens When We Do Not Learn The Lessons Of History- The Pre-1848 Socialist Movement-Auguste Blanqui 1880-The Army Enslaved and Oppressed

Click on the headline to link to the Occupy Boston General Assembly Minutes website. Occupy Boston started at 6:00 PM, September 30, 2011.

Markin comment:

I will post any updates from that Occupy Boston site if there are any serious discussions of the way forward for the Occupy movement or, more importantly, any analysis of the now atrophied and dysfunctional General Assembly concept. In the meantime I will continue with the “Lessons From History ’’series started in the fall of 2011 with Karl Marx’s The Civil War In France-1871 (The defense of the Paris Commune). Right now this series is focused on the European socialist movement before the Revolutions of 1848.

An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!-Defend The Occupy Movement And All Occupiers! Drop All Charges Against All Occupy Protesters Everywhere!

Fight-Don’t Starve-We Created The Wealth, Let's Take It Back! Labor And The Oppressed Must Rule!
A Five-Point Program As Talking Points

*Jobs For All Now!-“30 For 40”- A historic demand of the labor movement. Thirty hours work for forty hours pay to spread the available work around. Organize the unorganized- Organize the South- Organize Wal-Mart- Defend the right for public and private workers to unionize.

* Defend the working classes! No union dues for Democratic (or the stray Republican) candidates. Spent the dough instead on organizing the unorganized and on other labor-specific causes (good example, the November, 2011 anti-union recall referendum in Ohio, bad example the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall race in June 2012).

*End the endless wars!- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops (And Mercenaries) From Afghanistan! Hands Off Pakistan! Hands Off Iran! U.S. Hands Off The World!

*Fight for a social agenda for working people!. Quality Healthcare For All! Nationalize the colleges and universities under student-teacher-campus worker control! Forgive student debt! Stop housing foreclosures!

*We created the wealth, let’s take it back. Take the struggle for our daily bread off the historic agenda. Build a workers party that fights for a workers government to unite all the oppressed.

Emblazon on our red banner-Labor and the oppressed must rule!

Auguste Blanqui 1880-The Army Enslaved and Oppressed


Source: L'armée esclave et opprimée. [n.p.] Paris 1880;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2004.


Following the hideous discoveries that are currently provoking public indignation, the guilty — supported by the usual traitors — have impudently taken the offensive and cry out with all their might: “All for the insulted army!” Which should be translated as: “All against the lack of respect for the big brass.”

The army! For the last eight years these same traitors have constantly nailed it to the pillory. For the last eight years all Frenchmen have been voters, except prisoners and soldiers. This is the real insult to the army!

The republic granted suffrage to those with no criminal record. Could it refuse it to the brave men who give the fatherland their blood and their freedom? As a reward for such a sacrifice, can it cross them off the list of citizens? The republic didn’t have the beautiful idea of assimilating men under to the flag to evildoers. Soldiers can vote.

But here’s the thing. Since the “bloody week,” when the men at headquarters (who are Jesuits) had the Parisians massacred by the Chouans, most of the non-commissioned officers and soldiers have given their votes to republican candidates. Every new election was a patriotic conquest. In certain garrisons the difference in the number of votes between the two military parties was as much as ten or eleven to one. If civilian voters had done the same, in just a little while the republic would have carried off the victory. The officers were furious, and the reactionaries concerned. This meant a farewell to their hopes to erect the throne with the help of the army. This meant a farewell to the perpetual refrain of conservatives: “the only resource left to us are the troops.”

This beautiful dream was going to fade away thanks to the votes in the cartridge bags of soldiers that turned against them. But those worthies preferred bullets to this fate. And in a gesture of high treason the so-called National Assembly improvised this evil metamorphosis. The free thinker prostrated himself before slavish thought.

This so-called National Assembly will answer to future legislatures of France. It will answer for having its power usurped in order to take — with the most perverse intentions- universal suffrage from the army, though they saw it as entirely favorable to the cause of progress and liberty.

Yes, to be sure it will have to render some serious accounts, at least if the executive and the legislative don’t enter into a coalition to cap off all the lies, violence, and evil doings that have unfurled over the last ten years with a final coup d'état.

Without a doubt in this case the nation will find a way, for the crime is obvious. It dates from the month of July 1872 and was accomplished with a mixture of hypocrisy and shamelessness that is beyond all measure.

The French will remember that as soldiers and citizens they have constantly shown loyalty, patience, moderation, in painful contrast with the perfidy and the ferocity of their rulers.

The following report on the creation of a sitting national army will prove what should be and what will be the surest safeguard against external aggression and internal Machiavellianism.




In the summer of 2006 I originally wrote the following commentary (used in subsequent election cycles and updated a little for today’s purpose) urging the recruitment of independent labor militants as write-in candidates for the mid-term 2006 congressional elections based on a workers party program. With the hoopla already in full gear for the 2012 election cycle I repost that commentary below with that same intention of getting thoughtful leftists to use the 2012 campaign to further our propagandistic fight for a workers’ party that fights for a workers government.

A Modest Proposal-Recruit, Run Independent Labor Militants In The 2012 Elections

All “anti-parliamentarian”, “anti-state”, “non-political” anarchist or anarcho-syndicalist brothers and sisters need read no further. This writer does not want to sully the purity of your politics with the taint of parliamentary electoral politics. Although I might remind you, as we remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Barcelona Uprising, that your political ancestors in Spain were more than willing to support the state and enter the government when they got the chance- the bourgeois government of a bourgeois state. But, we can fight that issue out later. We will, hopefully, see you on the barricades with us when the time comes.

As for other militants- here is my modest proposal. Either recruit fellow labor militants or present yourselves as candidates to run for public office, especially for Congress, during the 2012 election cycle. Why? Even a quick glance at the news of the day is calculated to send the most hardened politico screaming into the night. The quagmire in Afghanistan (and unfinished business in Iraq and threats to Iran), immigration walls, flag-burning amendments, anti -same-sex marriage amendments, the threat to separation of church state raised by those who would impose a fundamentalist Christian theocracy on the rest of us, and the attacks on the hard fought gains of the Enlightenment posed by bogus theories such as ‘intelligent design.’ And that is just an average day. Therefore, this election cycle provides militants, at a time when the dwindling electorate is focused on politics, a forum to raise our program and our ideas. We use this as a tool, like leaflets, petitions, meetings, demonstrations, etc. to get our message across. Why should the Donkeys, Elephants, and the other smaller bourgeois parties have a monopoly on the public square?

I mentioned in the last paragraph the idea of program. Let us face it if we do not have a program to run on then it makes no sense for militants to run for public office. Given the political climate our task at this time is to fight an exemplary propaganda campaign. Our program is our banner in that fight. The Democrats and Republicans DO NOT RUN on a program. The sum of their campaigns is to promise not to steal from the public treasury (or at least not too much), beat their husbands or wives, or grossly compromise themselves in any manner. On second thought, given today’s political climate, they may not promise not to beat their husbands or wives or not compromise themselves in any untoward manner. You, in any case, get the point. Damn, even the weakest neophyte labor militant can make a better presentation before working people that this crowd. This writer presents a five point program (you knew that was coming, right?) that labor militants can run on. As point five makes clear this is not a ‘minimum’ program but a program based on our need to fight for power.


The quagmire in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East (Iraq, Syria, Libya, Palestine, Iran) is the fault line of American politics today. Every bourgeois politician has to have his or her feet put to the fire on this one. Not on some flimsy ‘sense of the Congress’ softball motion for withdrawal next, year, in two years, or (my favorite) when the situation is stable. Moreover, on the parliamentary level the only real vote that matters is the vote on the war budget. All the rest is fluff. Militants should make a point of trying to enter Congressional contests where there are so-called anti-war Democrats or Republicans (an oxymoron, I believe) running to make that programmatic contrast vivid.

But, one might argue, that would split the ‘progressive’ forces. Grow up, please! That argument has grown stale since it was first put forth in the “popular front” days of the 1930’s. If you want to end the wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere fight for this position on the war budget. Otherwise the same people (yes, those 'progressive Democrats') who almost unanimously voted for the last war budget get a free ride on the cheap. War President Barack Obama desperately needs to be opposed by labor militants. By rights this is our issue. Let us take it back.


It is a ‘no-brainer’ that no individual, much less a family can live on the minimum wage (now $7/hr. or so). What planet do these politicians live on? We need an immediate fight for a living wage, full employment and decent working conditions. We need universal free health care for all. End of story. The organized labor movement must get off its knees and fight to organize Wal-Mart and the South. A boycott of Wal-Mart is not enough. A successful organizing drive will, like in the 1930’s; go a long way to turning the conditions of labor around.


Down with the Death Penalty! Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants who make it here! Stop the Deportations! For the Separation of Church and State! Defend abortion rights! Down with anti-same sex marriage legislation! Full public funding of education! Stop the ‘war on drugs’, basically a war on blacks and minority youth-decriminalize drugs! Defend political prisoners! This list of demands hardly exhausts the “culture war” issues we defend. It is hard to believe that in the year 2012 over 200 years after the American Revolution and the French Revolution we are fighting desperately to preserve many of the same principles that militants fought for in those revolutions. But so be it.


The Donkeys, Elephants and other smaller bourgeois parties have had their chance. Now is the time to fight for our own party and for the interests of our own class, the working class. Any campaigns by independent labor militants must highlight this point. And any campaigns can also become the nucleus of a workers’ party network until we get strong enough to form at least a small party. None of these other parties, and I mean none, are working in the interests of working people and their allies. The following great lesson of politic today must be hammered home. Break with the Democrats, Republicans!


We need our own form of government. In the old days the bourgeois republic was a progressive form of government. Not so any more. That form of government ran out of steam about one hundred years ago. We need a Workers Republic. We need a government based on workers councils with a ministry (I do not dare say commissariat in case any stray anarchists are still reading this) responsible to it. Let us face it if we really want to get any of the good and necessary things listed above accomplished we are not going to get it with the current form of government.

Why the XYZ part? What does that mean? No, it is not part of an algebra lesson. What it reflects is that while society is made up mainly of workers (of one sort or another) there are other classes (and parts of classes) in society that we seek as allies and could benefit from a workers government. Examples- small independent contractors, intellectuals, the dwindling number of small farmers, and some professionals like dentists. Yes, with my tongue in my cheek after all my dental bills, I like the idea of a workers and dentists government. The point is however you formulate it you have got to fight for it.

Obviously any campaign based on this program will be an exemplary propaganda campaign for the foreseeable future. But we have to start now. Continuing to support or not challenging the bourgeois parties does us no good. That is for sure. While bourgeois electoral laws do not favor independent candidacies write-in campaigns are possible. ROLL UP YOUR SHEEVES! GET THOSE PETITIONS SIGNED! PRINT OUT THE LEAFLETS! PAINT THOSE BANNERS! GET READY TO SHAKE HANDS AND KISS BABIES.

From The Pens Of Karl Marx And Friedrich Engels-Their Struggles To Build Communist Organizations-The Early Days- Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League-June 1850

Click on the headline to link to the Marx-Engels Internet Archives for an online copy of the article mentioned in the headline.

Markin comment:

The foundation article by Marx or Engels listed in the headline goes along with the propaganda points in the fight for our communist future mentioned in other posts in this space. Just below is a thumbnail sketch of the first tentative proceedings to form a communist organization that would become a way-station on the road to building a Bolshevik-type organization in order fight for the socialist revolution we so desperately need and have since Marx and Engels first put pen to ink.
Marx/Engels Internet Archive-The Communist League

A congress of the League of the Just opened in London on June 2, 1847. Engels was in attendance as delegate for the League's Paris communities. (Marx couldn't attend for financial reasons.)

Engels had a significant impact throughout the congress -- which, as it turned out, was really the "inaugural Congress" of what became known as the Communist League. This organization stands as the first international proletarian organization. With the influence of Marx and Engels anti-utopian socialism, the League's motto changed from "All Men are Brothers" to "Working Men of All Countries, Unite!"

Engels: "In the summer of 1847, the first league congress took place in London, at which W. Wolff represented the Brussels and I the Paris communities. At this congress the reorganization of the League was carried through first of all. ...the League now consisted of communities, circles, leading circles, a central committee and a congress, and henceforth called itself the 'Communist League'."

The Rules were drawn up with the participation of Marx and Engels, examined at the First Congress of the Communist League, and approved at the League's Second Congress in December 1847.

Article 1 of the Rules of the Communist League: "The aim of the league is the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the rule of the proletariat, the abolition of the old bourgeois society which rests on the antagonism of classes, and the foundation of a new society without classes and without private property."

The first draft of the Communist League Programme was styled as a catechism -- in the form of questions and answers. Essentially, the draft was authored by Engels. The original manuscript is in Engels's hand.

The League's official paper was to be the Kommunistische Zeitschrift, but the only issue produced was in September 1847 by a resolution of the League's First Congress. It was First Congress prepared by the Central Authority of the Communist League based in London. Karl Schapper was its editor.

The Second Congress of the Communist League was held at the end of November 1847 at London's Red Lion Hotel. Marx attended as delegate of the Brussels Circle. He went to London in the company of Victor Tedesco, member of the Communist League and also a delegate to the Second Congress. Engels again represented the Paris communities. Schapper was elected chairman of the congress, and Engels its secretary.

Friedrich Lessner: "I was working in London then and was a member of the communist Workers' Educational Society at 191 Drury Lane. There, at the end of November and the beginning of December 1847, members of the Central Committee of the Communist League held a congress. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels came there from Brussels to present their views on modern communism and to speak about the Communists' attitude to the political and workers' movement. The meetings, which, naturally, were held in the evenings, were attended by delegates only... Soon we learned that after long debates, the congress had unanimously backed the principles of Marx and Engels..."

The Rules were officially adopted December 8, 1847.

Engels: "All contradiction and doubt were finally set at rest, the new basic principles were unanimously adopted, and Marx and I were commissioned to draw up the Manifesto." This would, of course, become the Communist Manifesto.
Markin comment on this series:

No question that today at least the figures of 19th century communist revolutionaries, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, are honored more for their “academic” work than their efforts to build political organizations to fight for democratic and socialist revolutions, respectively, as part of their new worldview. Titles like Communist Manifesto, Das Kapital, The Peasants Wars In Germany, and the like are more likely to be linked to their names than Cologne Communist League or Workingmen’s International (First International). While the theoretical and historical materialist works have their honored place in the pantheon of revolutionary literature it would be wrong to neglect that hard fact that both Marx and Engels for most of their lives were not “arm chair" revolutionaries or, in Engels case, smitten by fox hunts. These men were revolutionary politicians who worked at revolution in high times and low. Those of us who follow their traditions can, or should, understand that sometimes, a frustratingly long sometimes, the objective circumstances do not allow for fruitful revolutionary work. We push on as we can. Part of that pushing on is to become immersed in the work of our predecessors and in this series the work of Marx and Engels to create a new form of revolutionary organization to fight the fights of their time, the time from about the Revolutions of 1848 to the founding of various socialist parties in Europe in the latter part of the 19th century.
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels

Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League-June 1850


In our last circular, delivered to you by the League’s emissary, we discussed the position of the workers’ party and, in particular, of the League, both at the present moment and in the event of revolution.

The main purpose of this letter is to present a report on the state of the League.

For a while, following the defeats sustained by the revolutionary party last summer, the League’s organization almost completely disintegrated. The most active League members involved in the various movements were dispersed, contacts were broken off and addresses could no longer be used; because of this and because of the danger of letters being opened, correspondence became temporarily impossible. The Central Committee was thus condemned to complete inactivity until around the end of last year.

As the immediate after-effects of our defeats gradually passed, it became clear that the revolutionary party needed a strong secret organization throughout Germany. The need for this organization, which led the Central Committee to decide to send an emissary to Germany and Switzerland, also led to an attempt by the Cologne commune to organize the League in Germany itself.

Around the beginning of the year several more or less well-known refugees from the various movements formed an organization in Switzerland which intended to overthrow the governments at the right moment and to keep men at the ready to take over the leadership of the movement and even the government itself. This association did not possess any particular party character; the motley elements which it comprised made this impossible. The members consisted of people from all groups within the movement, from resolute Communists and even former League members to the most faint-hearted petty-bourgeois democrats and former members of the Palatinate government.

In the eyes of the Baden-Palatinate careerists and lesser ambitious figures who were so numerous in Switzerland at this time, this association presented an ideal opportunity for them to advance themselves.

The instructions which this association sent to its agents — and which the Central Committee has in its possession — give just as little cause for confidence. The lack of a definite party standpoint and the attempt to bring all available opposition elements together in a sham association is only badly disguised by a mass of detailed questions concerning the industrial, agricultural, political and military situations in each locality. Numerically, too, the association was extremely weak; according to the complete list of members which we possess, the whole society in Switzerland consisted, at the height of its strength, of barely thirty members. It is significant that workers are hardly represented at all among the membership. From its very beginning, it was an army of officers and N.C.O.’s without any soldiers. Its members include A. Fries and Greiner from the Palatinate, Korner from Elberfeld, Sigel, etc.

They sent two agents to Germany. The first agent, Bruhn, a member of the League, managed by false pretences to persuade certain League members and communes to join the new association for the time being, as they believed it to be the resurrected League. While reporting on the League to the Swiss Central Committee in Zurich, he simultaneously sent us reports on the Swiss association. He cannot have been content with his role as an informer, for while he was still corresponding with us, he wrote outright slanders to the people in Frankfurt, who had been won over to the Swiss association, and he ordered them not to enter into any contacts whatsoever with London. For this he was immediately expelled from the League. Matters in Frankfurt were settled by an emissary from the League. It may be added that Bruhn’s activities on behalf of the Swiss Central Committee remained fruitless. The second agent, the student Schurz from Bonn, achieved nothing because, as he wrote to Zurich, he found that all the people of any use were already in the hands of the League. He then suddenly left Germany and is now hanging around Brussels and Paris, where he is being watched by the League. The Central Committee does not see this new association as a danger, particularly as a completely reliable member of the League is on the committee, with instructions to observe and report on the actions and plans of these people, in so far as they operate against the League. Furthermore, we have sent an emissary to Switzerland in order to recruit the people who will be of value to the League, with the help of the aforementioned League member, and in order to organize the League in Switzerland in general. This information is based on fully authentic documents.

Another attempt of a similar nature had already been made earlier by Struve, Sigel and others, at the time that they joined forces in Geneva. These people had no compunction about claiming quite flatly that the association they were attempting to found was the League, nor about using the names of League members for precisely this end. Of course, they deceived nobody with this lie. Their attempt was so fruitless in every respect that the few members of this abortive association who stayed in Switzerland eventually had to join the organization previously mentioned. But the more impotent this coterie became, the more it showed off with pretentious titles like the ‘Central Committee of European Democracy’ etc. Struve, together with a few other disappointed great men, has continued these attempts here in London. Manifestoes and appeals to join the ‘Central Bureau of German Refugees’ and the ‘Central Committee of European Democracy’ have been sent to all parts of Germany, but this time, too, without the least success.

The contacts which this coterie claims to have made with French and other non-German revolutionaries do not exist. Their whole activity is limited to a few petty intrigues among the German refugees here in London, which do not affect the League directly and which are harmless and easy to keep under surveillance. All these attempts have either the same purpose as the League, namely the revolutionary organization of the workers’ party, in which case they are undermining the centralization and strength of the party by fragmenting it and are therefore of a decidedly harmful, separatist character, or else they can only serve to misuse the workers’ party for purposes which are foreign or straightforwardly hostile to it. Under certain circumstances the workers’ party can profitably use other parties and groups for its own purposes, but it must not subordinate itself to any other party. Those people who were in government during the last movement, and used their position only to betray the movement and to crush the workers’ party were it tried to operate independently, must be kept at a distance at all costs.

The following is a report on the state of the League:

i. Belgium
The League’s organization among the Belgian workers, as it existed in 1846 and 1847, has naturally come to an end, since the leading members were arrested in 1848 and condemned to death, having their sentences commuted to life imprisonment with hard labour. In general, the League in Belgium has lost strength since the February revolution and since most of the members of the German Workers Association were driven out of Brussels. The police measures which have been introduced have prevented its reorganization. Nevertheless one commune in Brussels has carried on throughout; it is still in existence today and is functioning to the best of its ability.

ii. Germany
In this circular the Central Committee intended to submit a special report on the state of the League in Germany. However, this report can not be made at the present time, as the Prussian police are even now investigating an extensive network of contacts in the revolutionary party. This circular, which will reach Germany safely but which, of course, may here and there fall into the hands of the police while being distributed within Germany, must therefore be written so that its contents do not provide them with weapons which could be used against the League. The Central Committee will therefore confine itself, for the time being, to the following remarks:

In Germany the league has its main centres in Cologne, Frankfurt am Main, Hanau, Mainz, Wiesbaden, Hamburg, Schwerin, Berlin, Breslau, Liegnitz, Glogau, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Munich, Bamberg, Wurzburg, Stuttgart and Baden.

The following towns have been chosen as central districts: Hamburg for Schleswig-Holstein; Schwerin for Mecklenburg; Breslau for Silesia; Leipzig for Saxony and Berlin; Nuremberg for Bavaria, Cologne for the Rhineland and Westphalia. The communes in Gottingen, Stuttgart and Brussels will remain in direct contact with the Central Committee for the time being, until they have succeeded in widening their influence to the extent necessary to form new central districts.

A decision will not be made on the position of the League in Baden until the report has been received from the emissary sent there and to Switzerland.

Wherever peasant and agricultural workers’ association exist, as in Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg, members of the League have succeeded in exercising a direct influence upon them and, in some cases, in gaining complete control. For the most part, the workers and agricultural workers’ associations in Saxony, Franconia, Hesse and Nassau are also under the leadership of the League. The most influential members of the Workers Brotherhood also belong to the League. The Central Committee wishes to point out to all communes and League members that it is of the utmost importance to win influence in the workers’, sports, peasants’ and agricultural workers’ associations, etc. everywhere. It requests the central districts and the communes corresponding directly with the Central Committee to give a special report in their subsequent letters on what has been achieved in this connection.

The emissary to Germany, who as received a vote of commendation from the Central Committee for his activities, has everywhere recruited only the most reliable people into the League and left the expansion of the League to their greater local knowledge. It will depend upon the local situation whether convinced revolutionaries can be enlisted. Where this is not possible a second class of League members must be created for those people who are reliable and make useful revolutionaries but who do not yet understand the full communist implications of the present movement. This second class, to whom the association must be represented as a merely local or regional affair, must remain under the continuous leadership of actual League members and committees. With the help of these further contacts the League’s influence on the peasants’ and sports associations in particular can be very firmly organized. Detailed arrangements are left to the central districts; the Central Committee hopes to receive their reports on these matters, too, as soon as possible.

One commune has proposed to the Central Committee that a Congress of the League be convened, indeed in German itself. The communes and districts will certainly appreciate that under the present circumstances even regional congresses of the central districts are not everywhere advisable, and that a general Congress of the League at this moment is a sheer impossibility. However, the Central Committee will convene a Congress of the Communist League in a suitable place just as soon as circumstances allow. Prussian Rhineland and Westphalia recently received a visit from an emissary of the Cologne central district. The report on the result of this trip has not yet reached Cologne. We request all central districts to send similar emissaries round their regions and to report on their success as soon as possible. Finally we should like to report that in Schleswig-Holstein, contacts have been established with the army: we are still awaiting the more detailed report on the influence which the League can hope to gain here.

iii. Switzerland
The report of the emissary is still being awaited. it will therefore not be possible to provide more exact information until the next circular.

iv. France
Contacts with the German workers in Besancon and other places in the Jura will be re-established from Switzerland. In Paris Ewerbeck, the League member who has been up till now at the head of the commune there, has announced his resignation from the League, as he considers his literary activities to be more important. Contact has therefore been interrupted for the present and must be resumed with particular caution, as the Parisians have enlisted a large number of people who are absolutely unfitted for the League and who were formerly even directly opposed to it.

v. England
The London district is the strongest in the whole League. It has earned particular credit by covering single-handedly the League’s expenses for several years — in particular those for the journeys of the League’s emissaries. It has been strengthened recently by the recruitment of new elements and it continues to lead the German Workers Educational Association here, as well as the more resolute section of the German refugees in England.

The Central Committee is in touch with the decisively revolutionary parties of the French, English and Hungarians by way of members delegated for this purpose.

Of all the parties involved in the French revolution it is in particular the genuine proletarian party headed by Blanqui which has joined us. The delegates of the Blanquist secret society are in regular and official contact with the delegates of the League, to whom they have entrusted important preparatory work for the next revolution.

The leaders of the revolutionary wing of the Chartists are also in regular and close contact with the delegates of the Central Committee. Their journals are being made available to us. The break between this revolutionary, independent workers’ party and the faction headed by O'Connor, which tends more towards a policy of reconciliation, has been considerably accelerated by the delegates of the League.

The Central Committee is similarly in contact with the most progressive section of the Hungarian refugees. This party is important because it includes many excellent military experts, who would be at the League’s disposal in the event of revolution.

The Central Committee requests the central districts to distribute this letter among their members as soon as possible and to submit their own reports soon. It urges all League members to the most intense activity, especially now that the situation has become so critical that it cannot be long before another revolution breaks out.

transcribed by

Friday, September 14, 2012

From The Archives Of The International Communist League Press-CAPITALIST EUROPE’S WAR ON IMMIGRANTS IS A WAR ON ALL WORKERS (2002)

Click on the headline to link to the International Communist League website.

Markin comment:

I place some material in this space which may be of interest to the radical public that I do not necessarily agree with or support. Off hand, as I have mentioned before, I think it would be easier, infinitely easier, to fight for the socialist revolution straight up than some of the “remedies” provided by the commentators in these entries. But part of that struggle for the socialist revolution is to sort out the “real” stuff from the fluff as we struggle for that more just world that animates our efforts.


JULY 12, 2002

One day after a powerful general strike paralyzed Spain on June 20, 2002, Europe’s capitalist rulers met in Seville to ratchet up the war against immigrants as the spearhead of an attack against the proletariat as a whole. The competition between the dominant nations of the European Union (EU) for economic advantage in the midst of a recession meant that the summit fell short of its stated goal of establishing supranational police-state measures, such as joint border patrols on land and sea, but all that and more is promised by the guardians of Fortress Europe. In the meantime, each capitalist ruling class is trying to outdo the next in raising the bar to immigration and enhancing police-state measures against immigrants with the aim of regimenting the entire population, driving down wages and slashing social gains which were wrested through decades of class struggle.
The Seville EU summit seized on the recent electoral gains by fascists like Le Pen and the British National Party to pander to their anti-immigrant demagoguery. Anti-immigrant racism is the time-worn method to divide the proletariat and deflect class struggle, but fundamentally the anti-immigrant campaign is drive not by “bad ideas” but by the workings of the capitalist economy and is enforced by bourgeois politicians from the left and the right. Large numbers of immigrants were brought into West Europe when their labor was needed, due in part to the low birthrate; now that Europe is in recession, the bourgeoisie does not need more immigrants as a source of cheap labor or even as a “ reserve army of labor.” It would be an embellishment of bourgeosis democracy to believe that it would require fascism to have mass deportations of immigrants. Such in fact happened during the 1930’s Great Depression in France, when numbers of foreign workers were reduced by one half million through mass expulsions. And these workers were mainly European and Roman Catholic, much easier to assimilate than the forcibly segregated North Africans and black Africans. In the same period, there were mass deportations of Mexican immigrants from the United States.
A decade ago the Soviet Union was destroyed through capitalist counter-revolution. This monumental defeat for the international working class and the ensuing bourgeois triumphism and lie that “communism is dead” has thrown back the consciousness of the proletariat and the youth who misidentify the Stalinist sellouts with communism. Capitalist rule in Europe is not challenged by a revolutionary-minded and insurrectionary proletariat today, and correspondingly the working class and dark-skinned minorities and immigrant populations in Europe are repressed mainly through the “normal” workings of the whole capitalist system, from the cops in the ghettos to the capitalist courts, and the prisons which are disproportionately filled with minorities and immigrants. In this context, parties that are by history, outlook and intent fascist, from Haider’s Freedom Party (FPO) in Austria to LePen’s Nation Front in France, have mainly advanced as electoral phenomena and pressure groups on more mainstream bourgeois parties.
The “normal” ebbs and flows of the world capitalist economy. Which produce such vast human misery, cannot be eliminated short of replacement of capitalism THROUGH PROLETARIAN SOCIALIST REVOLUTION. Those, like the social-democratic leaders and their “left” tails, who accept the capitalist framework necessarily become complicit in implementing and even spearheading anti-immigrant racism. The machinery of state repression has been augmented since 9/11, but most of the anti-immigrant and anti-“terrorist” laws and policies were enacted years earlier by the “left” governments. The now-ousted French Socialist Party, which ruled France in a popular-front coalition with the Communist Party and the Greens, burns with anger that the new right-wing Chirac government claims credit for the racist “security” campaign which was in fact masterminded by the “left”! in order to rule of behalf of capital, the historic parties of the French working class, the Communists and the Socialists and their analogues in the trade-union bureaucracies, poison class-consciousness and solidarity among workers by fomenting religious, national and ethnic divisions. Thus the popular-front government paved the way for LePen’s big score in the 2002 French presidential elections and the election of a more right-wing government.
The so-called “far Left” bears large responsibility too. Groups like the United Secretariat’s Ligue Communiste Revolutionaire (LCR) began the recent popular-front years with a vote for the Socialist Party’s Jospin… and ended with a call to “bar the road to LePen”- i.e., vote Chirac! This is such a low, even for the LCR, which has long had the posture and backbone of a snake, that they feel compelled to publicly molt rather than defend their crime. The LCR were aggressive and energetic activists who channeled the massive youth demonstrations which shook France in the Spring of 2002 with justified outrage at the racism of lepton’s National front in reactionary “Republican unity” with Chirac. Similarly, in Britain, the Socialist Workers Party directed opposition to the BNP fascists into a call to vote for “anyone else”- i.e., even bourgeois parties, but especially Blair’s New Labor Party. Each falsely proclaimed that there was an imminent danger of fascism, the better to corral support for Labor and even Chirac. Moreover, in situations where fascist gangs do pose an immediate threat, they cannot be stopped by parlimentarist means but only by mobilizing the proletariat to crush them.
In Italy, the new arsenal of repression includes roundups of immigrants for fingerprinting, as if being non-European makes one “criminal.” With the Vatican railing against marriages between Christians and Muslims, the Italian police launched “Operation Just Married” to snoop into mixed marriages. Residency permits will be limited to the duration of a work contract, so that seasonal agricultural workers will become “illegal” the moment a crop has been harvested, and Italian employers will be compelled to pay the state in advance for the deportation of any immigrant who overstays the work contract! This is not even particularly rational from the standpoint of the bourgeoisie, which needs a source of cheap agricultural labor.
The right of asylum is under intensified attack everywhere: Blair’s Britain promises immediate deportations without right of appeal for rejected asylum-seekers, while Denmark claims the right to revoke asylum for refugees when the new right-wing government decides that any given country an immigrant fled has become sufficiently “democratic.”
In stilling racial hatred at an early age to inculcate patriotism and loyalty to the crown, rotting Britain threatens to forcibly segregate the children of asylum-seekers from other schoolchildren. In Germany, we have been actively protesting against the computer-aided racist roundups of students. In this reactionary climate, immigrant workers and foreign students face not only persecution at the hands of the capitalist state but also stepped-up racist violence on the streets. In Ireland the murder of a Chinese student in 2002 can be laid directly at the feet of the policy of the Irish government.
Everywhere, families are being ripped apart through restrictions on “family reunion.” Women suffer the brunt of this. If they mange to join their husbands in Europe, they are often deprived of the right to work and so are forced into low-wage and dangerous black market jobs. In France, apace with anti-immigrant laws, a veritable “marriage market” has spread like cancer in immigrant communities where an arranged marriage with a young women possessing citizenship is now the last best hope of escaping poverty and political repression elsewhere. The slamming shut of doors to immigration and the segregation of oppressed communities tend to increase and help perpetuate arranged marriages, kidnappings, female genital mutilations, wife-beatings and “honor killings,” all of which are on the rise in Europe. These facts show that even a minimal democratic demand, like full citizenship rights for everyone, who has managed to make it to a European country, is literally a question of life and death, especially for women.
The squalid war between Blair’s Britain and Chirac’s France to close a refugee camp exposes the hoax of the ‘free world” and the direct link between capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the rise of economic misery, imperialist war and political repression. The Red Cross refugee camp is filled with refugees from the bloody wars waged by U.S. imperialism and its NATO allies. Murderous nationalism, whipped up as a vehicle for capitalist counterrevolution to destroy the bureaucratically deformed workers states of East Europe, uprooted minority populations including the Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) in an orgy of “ethnic cleansing” a decade ago. Another flood of refugees was triggered by the U.S./NATO ravaging of what was left of the former Yugoslavia in the 1999 Balkans War. Today the Sangrette camp is filled with Iraqis fleeing ten years of the starvation blockade imposed by the United Nations.
Thousands of Afghans fled the hell created by U.S. imperialism’s support to the women-hating mujahedin, When Soviet forces entered Afghanistan in 1979 after repeated requests by the left-nationalist PDPA government, we of the ICL straightforwardly said, “Hail Red Army IN Afghanistan! Extend the Social Gains of the October Revolution to the Afghan peoples!” Gorbachev’s treacherous withdrawal in 1988-89 culminated in the victory of the Islamic fundamentalists and eventually the rule of the Taliban- truly a Frankenstein’s monster created by U.S. imperialists with the help of their Pakistani allies. Now the terror bombing of Afghanistan by Bush, Blair and Co. in the name of the “war on terror” has created new thousands of refugees.
Borrowing from LePen’s campaign promise to close the Sangrette camp and deport the refugees, Chirac has announced plans to close the camp and in the meantime plans to build an enormous fence around the rail yard and install high-tech scanners to detect heartbeats in the tunnel. Not to be outdone, Blair is mobilizing the navy to turn back (read: fire on and sink) ships of refugees and plans to cage asylum-seekers in militarized detention camps, and to beach England through airlift deportations of dark-skinned immigrants and blatant racial exclusion of people trying to get into the country from airports elsewhere in Europe.
Meanwhile, anyone who does make it into Britain will be compelled to carry a national identity card. These police-state measures are intended to regiment and accustom the entire population to restrictions on democratic rights, to accept police identity checks as “normal,” to chill free speech and impede politically organizing against the government and the ruling class. To this end, the whole spectrum of capitalist politicians from left to right is whipping up hysteria over immigrants as an alleged “enemy within.” The model for police-state control of Arab, Asian, African and Turkish populations in West Europe is the French state’s “Vigipirate.” The large population of North African descent, particularly the youth are systemically brutalized by the French police, subject to identity checks even in the hallways of their own apartment buildings, and treated as “criminal” and “surplus” population. Changes in the French nationality code, whereby children born in France of Immigrant parents no longer automatically gain French citizenship, prepare the ground for possible mass deportation. A look at history renders that prospect not unreal as you will find such mass deportations whenever politically or economically advantageous to France’s capitalist rulers, from the Polish and Italian immigrants deported em masse between the two World Wars to the Jews stripped of French citizenship and deported to Nazi death camps under Vichy.
Capitalism needs a bogey man. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, the “ red menace” has been largely replaced with orchestrated hysteria against the “green menace” of Islamic fundamentalism. This has reached fever pitch since 9/11and a new word “Islamophobia,” has entered the lexicon to “explain” racist assaults on women in veils, men in turbans, and anyone suspected of being of Arab origin. The restrictions on civil liberties and the patriotic fervor have also been used to criminals political dissent and outlaw parties and national liberation movements, from the Kurdish PKK and Palestinian PFLP to the Turkisk Guevarist DHKC and the Basque Batasuna organization in Spain. Meanwhile, the biggest state terrorist rain bombs on Iraq and threaten invasion, continue to pound Afghanistan and arm the Zionist state of Israel in its war against the Palestinian people. Now the leader of the “free world” has the gal to tell the Palestinian people who they can and cannot elect to represent them in the Occupied Territories and “homeland” overrun by Zionist stormtroopers. ISRAEL OUT OF THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES! DEFEND THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE!
The “maximum” program” of social-democratic reformism and the so-called “left” groups who function as its apologists is to restore the “welfare state” and paint a “human face” on capitalist austerity. Contrary to the myths of reformists such as Lutte Ouvriere, who campaign to “ban layoffs” and demand that the cops fight “real crime” instead of bashing immigrants, the truth is that under capitalism the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, a d racial oppression in intrinsic to the whole rotten domestic and world system. Whether the government is dominated by social-democrats or ultrarightists, the laws of capitalist work the same way: the harder you work, the more wealth you produce for others, and the more precarious your existence becomes as you are at risk of being laid off. According to its economic needs, capitalism brings into the proletariat at its bottom new sources of cheaper labor, principally immigrants from poorer countries who are deemed disposable in times of economic contraction. As Karl Marx wrote in Capital (Volume I): “The degree of the intensity of the competition among themselves [the workers] depends wholly on the pressure of the relative surplus population; as soon as, by Trades Unions, &c., they try to organize a regular co-operation between employed and unemployed in order to destroy or to weaken the ruinous effects of the natural law of capitalistic production on their class, so soon capital and its sycophant, political economy, cry out at the infringement of the ‘eternal” and so to say ‘sacred’ law of supply and demand. Every combination of employed and unemployed disturbs the ‘harmonious’ action of this law.”
That is why we in the ICL fight for the unity and integrity of the working class against chauvinism and racism. The struggle in defense of immigrant labor today is a vital task for the working class as a whole. We fight for FULL CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS FOR ALL IMMIGRANTS! NO DEPORTATIONS! FREE ALL DETAINEES! ORGANIZE THE UNORGANIZED! COPS, PRISON GUARDS AND SECURITY GUARDS OUT OF THE UNIONS! FOR LABOR IMMIGRANT MOBILIZATIONS AGAINST FASCIST ATTACKS! JOBS FOR ALL-FOR A SLIDING SCALE OF WAGES AND HOURS AT NO LOSS IN PAY! EXPROPRIATE THE CAPITALIST CLASS-FOR A PLANNED SOCIALIST ECONOMY ORGANIZED INTERNATIONALLY! In every country where we exist, the ICL has fought to expose the; lie of “national unity” between workers and bosses and to rally the proletariat in class solidarity with immigrants and minorities. As an example of this perspective, on 9 February 2002 in the San Francisco Bay are our American comrades mobilized a labor-based united front rally around the slogans: “Anti-Terrorist Laws Target Immigrants, Blacks< Labor-No to the USA-Patriot Act and the Maritime Security Act! Down with the Anti-Immigrant Witchhunt!
There are important developments in Europe that point the way to a class- struggle road to unite the proletariat in defense of its own interests against attacks by capital. From Turkish/Kurdish metal workers in Germany to black and Asian transport workers in London, immigrants and their children are a key component of strategic, unionized sectors of the proletariat. In Italy and Germany, there have been important breaks with the narrow economism and national chauvinism pushed by the trade-union bureaucrats in their role as “labor: lieutenants of capital.” Thus in Italy, the CGIL trade union federation and COBAS have called general strikes by labor and immigrants against the Bossi/Fini anti-immigrant law and also against the government’s attempt to make the labor market “flexible” for increased exploitation by shedding union gains won through several decades of hard fought battles! In response to the popular outrage, Rifondazione Comunista (RC) is now obliged to call protests calling for closing down the detention centers which RC itself had earlier voted for setting up. In Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz on 20 June 2002, a mass picket of German construction worker spiked an attempt to manipulate Portuguese immigrants as strikebreakers, by appealing to them to fight along side the union in struggling for the rights of all labor, including foreign workers. As the Portuguese workers applauded and refused to cross the picket lines, the strikers yelled, “Long live international solidarity!” This shows, as our comrades in Germany said in their leaflet to these strikers, “German, foreign and immigrant workers can only push forward their interests together, or they will be beaten back separately.”
Advancement along this class struggle road is obstructed by reformists and trade union misleaders who deploy strikes not to combat capitalist rule but as pressure tactics on capitalist politicians to whom they are ultimately beholden. Thus the IG Metall strike, which united German, Turkish and Kurdish workers in struggle in May 2002, was called off by the SPD [Social Democratic Party] union tops as soon as SPD party leader Schroder warned that a long strike would cost the German capitalist money (isn’t that the point of strikes, to hit the bosses in their pocketbooks?) and so threaten the SPD’s standing in the then upcoming parliamentary elections. Similarly, Italy’s RC leader Bertinotti supports strike action against the Berlusconi government explicitly to put a center-left coalition back in power to better manage capitalist rule. RC’s left wing, the “Proposta” group now admits that RC shares responsibility for anti-immigrant laws during its support the Prodi government, but their role is to keep leftist militants within the fold of RC reformism. As our Italian comrades have noted of Proposta, “Their perspective is not to build a Leninist vanguard party to lead the workers to power, but a ‘left pole” that puts pressure on the reformist leaders and contributes to bringing them back to the helm of capitalism” (Spartaco No. 60, May 2002).
The rise of racist demagogy, government attacks on immigrants and the threat of fascist terror bands can only be eradicated through a victorious struggle against the capitalist system. This perspective is the fundamental point of departure separating the ICL from all of our competitors in the workers movement. The anarchist milieu, while often admirably audacious in militant protests against the powers that be, lacks a program to effectively combat much less replace the rule of capital. At bottom, their worldview is that of streetfighting liberals: pressure politics expressing justified outrage outside meetings of the capitalist rulers, rather than loathsome suit-and-tie parliamentary reformism. It’s not enough to protest, it is necessary to have a perspective to fight to transform society, to topple the rapacious imperialist system and create a workers state as the necessary first step on the road to a classless society. The former Stalinist parties and the social democrats long ago made their peace with capitalist rule; indeed, across Europe they administered it and augmented the attacks on the working class and immigrants. Our psuedo-Trotskysist competitors peddle their wares in the shadow of the social democracy because their aim is not to forge an authentic Leninist party by splitting the proletarian base of the reformist parties from their pro-capitalist tops but to pressure these misleaders.
On the question of immigration, groups like Workers Power promote the call to “open the borders.” It’s a catchy slogan, but what it would mean for “Third World” countries is an open door for imperialist investors. More generally, ii is a utopian and reactionary demand for an egalitarian world within the framework of capitalism. It is retrograde to promote the notion that somehow capitalism can be rational or humane. Unlike groups such as Workers Power, which spout rhetoric against racism and slogans like “open the borders” but politically support the chauvinist social democrats, we seek urgently to mobilize the working class to take up the fight for full citizenship rights for all who manage to cross the borders and drive home the understanding that the source of exploitation of all labor is the capitalist system of production, which is defended to the bitter end by the capitalist state. Until we achieve an internationally planned, socialist economy based on collectivized property, it will not be possible to abolish the state or national borders. The nation-state is the basis of the organization of the capitalist economy, and to deny that is to capitulate to muddle-headed bourgeois “democrats.” As Lenin said in his April 1917 speech on the national question, “What does ‘Down with frontiers’ mean? It is the beginning of anarchy…. Only when the socialist revolution has become a reality, and not a method, will the slogan ‘Down with frontiers’ be a correct slogan.”
Against capitalist Fortress Europe, our perspective is the fight for the SOCIALIST UNITED STATES OF EUROPE as a vital step in the world socialist revolution. The necessary instruments to bring the working class to power are Leninist parties, politically guided with a program that is proletarian, revolutionary and internationalist. We fight to reforge the Fourth International founded by Leon Trotsky. Despite the regression in political consciousness today and the huge gulf between our purpose and present means, it is evident that there is no shortage of combativity and desire on the part of the working people, oppressed minorities and youth to fight. For their struggles to be successful and not derailed into the trap of reformist pressure politics, it is urgent to construct a revolutionary leadership. This is what we fight for. Nothing more nothing less.

Out In The Be-Bop 2000s Night- A Class Website Of One's Own, For The Class Of 1964 Wherever You Are

Markin, North Adamsville (MA) Class Of 1964, comment:

Although these blog sites that I have established tend to reflect old time, be-bop night, hard times, beat times, beat down times, beat down, beatified schoolboy concerns and memories I am not adverse to coming into the new millennium to try, try hard by the way, to deal with the implication of the new technologies like the Internet, Facebook, Twitter and whatever comes up next as the “new” mode of so-called social networking in order to get that “message” out. That said, I was surfing the one such social networking site looking at the class message boards of the classes at North Adamsville just before and after my class, the Class of 1964, and found that Rodger Goldman had made an announcement that the Class of 1965 has its own website hosted by its own webmaster. Correct me if I am wrong but didn't the Class of 1964 have several members who went to MIT or other scientific or technically- oriented schools who could take on such a task?

Actually, these days doesn't someone have an eight-year-old grandchild who could serve in that Webmaster capacity? In either case, isn't there someone who can take on this chore so that we get to see all the photos of children and grandchildren, the family dogs and cats, the aging children of the Class of 1964, and whatever else cyberspace will accept. I am on a crusade, fellow classmates.

Now I have not always been a techie fan. In fact in the past I have been something of a technological Luddite (if you do not know who a Luddite is go to Wikipedia). During most of my life I have consciously kept a few too many steps behind the latest technology, at times from a political prospective and at others from a desire not to get too much clutter in my space. Now, however, although cyberspace does not necessarily bring us the golden age of the global community that I have long hankered for, it does permit those of us from the Class of 1964 to take a stroll down memory lane.

I know there is someone out there who, with evil intent in his or her heart, someone like Frankie, Francis Xavier Riley, king hell king of the be-bop early 1960s schoolboy night, says " Well, why doesn't old Markin take on this task?" Fair enough. However, as this is a confessional age, I must come clean here. While I appreciate and can certainly use the Internet when the deal goes down and I get into technological trouble or have to upgrade, etc. I must call in my "significant other" to rescues me. When I say,” Cindy, the #*& computer just went kaput” she comes to the rescue. Moreover, if the truth were known I also still use a CD player when I go for my walks. In the age of the iPod how yesterday, right? I, however, would be more than happy to write a little something for our website. But we need a Webmaster extraordinaire to get us up and running. And I know it will not be old Frankie and his progeny because, king of the night he might have been but he was (and is) a techno-no. His thing was pitter-patter, and girls. Where is there room for techno-competence in that world? So, as this is also an age that is addicted to sports metaphors- who will step up to the plate?

The Latest From The Lynne Stewart Defense Committee- Free Lynne Stewart And Her Co-Workers Now!

Click on the headline to link to the Justice For Lynn Stewart Defense Committee for the latest in her case.

Markin comment:

Free Lynne Stewart and her co-workers! Free Grandma Now!

What Happens When We Do Not Learn The Lessons Of History-The Demise Of The Occupy General Assembly Idea

Click on the headline to link to the Occupy Boston General Assembly Minutes website. Occupy Boston started at 6:00 PM, September 30, 2011.

Markin comment:

I will post any updates from that Occupy Boston site if there are any serious discussions of the way forward for the Occupy movement or, more importantly, any analysis of the now atrophied and dysfunctional General Assembly concept. In the meantime I will continue with the “Lessons From History ’’series started in the fall of 2011 with Karl Marx’s The Civil War In France-1871 (The defense of the Paris Commune). Right now this series is focused on the European socialist movement before the Revolutions of 1848.

An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!-Defend The Occupy Movement And All Occupiers! Drop All Charges Against All Occupy Protesters Everywhere!

Fight-Don’t Starve-We Created The Wealth, Let's Take It Back! Labor And The Oppressed Must Rule!
A Five-Point Program As Talking Points

*Jobs For All Now!-“30 For 40”- A historic demand of the labor movement. Thirty hours work for forty hours pay to spread the available work around. Organize the unorganized- Organize the South- Organize Wal-Mart- Defend the right for public and private workers to unionize.

* Defend the working classes! No union dues for Democratic (or the stray Republican) candidates. Spent the dough instead on organizing the unorganized and on other labor-specific causes (good example, the November, 2011 anti-union recall referendum in Ohio, bad example the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall race in June 2012).

*End the endless wars!- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops (And Mercenaries) From Afghanistan! Hands Off Pakistan! Hands Off Iran! U.S. Hands Off The World!

*Fight for a social agenda for working people!. Quality Healthcare For All! Nationalize the colleges and universities under student-teacher-campus worker control! Forgive student debt! Stop housing foreclosures!

*We created the wealth, let’s take it back. Take the struggle for our daily bread off the historic agenda. Build a workers party that fights for a workers government to unite all the oppressed.

Emblazon on our red banner-Labor and the oppressed must rule!

From The Pen Of Leon Trotsky-The Soviet and the Revolution (1907)

Click on the headline to link to the Leon Trotsky Internet Archives.

Markin comment from the American Left History blog (2006):


Isaac Deutscher’s three-volume biography of the great Russian Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky although written over one half century ago remains the standard biography of the man. Although this writer disagrees , as I believe that Trotsky himself would have, about the appropriateness of the title of prophet and its underlying premise that a tragic hero had fallen defeated in a worthy cause, the vast sum of work produced and researched makes up for those basically literary differences. Deutscher, himself, became in the end an adversary of Trotsky’s politics around his differing interpretation of the historic role of Stalinism and the fate of the Fourth International but he makes those differences clear and in general they do not mar the work. I do not believe even with the eventual full opening of all the old Soviet-era files any future biographer will dramatically increase our knowledge about Trotsky and his revolutionary struggles. Moreover, as I have mentioned elsewhere in other reviews, while he has not been historically fully vindicated he is in no need of any certificate of revolutionary good conduct.

At the beginning of the 21st century when the validity of socialist political programs as tools for change is in apparent decline or disregarded as utopian it may be hard to imagine the spirit that drove Trotsky to dedicate his whole life to the fight for a socialist society. However, at the beginning of the 20th century he represented only the most consistent and audacious of a revolutionary generation of mainly Eastern Europeans and Russians who set out to change the history of the 20th century. It was as if the best and brightest of that generation were afraid, for better or worse, not to take part in the political struggles that would shape the modern world. As Trotsky noted elsewhere this element was missing, with the exceptions of Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and precious few others, in the Western labor movement. Here are some highlights of Trotsky's life and politics culled from Deutscher's works that militant leftists should think about.

On the face of it Trotsky’s personal profile does not stand out as that of a born revolutionary. Born of a hard working, eventually prosperous, Jewish farming family in the Ukraine (of all places) there is something anomalous about his eventual political occupation. Always a vociferous reader, good writer and top student under other circumstances he would have found easy success, as others did, in the bourgeois academy, if not in Russia then in Western Europe. But there is the rub; it was the intolerable and personally repellant political and cultural conditions of Czarist Russia in the late 19th century that eventually drove Trotsky to the revolutionary movement- first as a ‘ragtag’ populist and then to his life long dedication to orthodox Marxism. As noted above, a glance at the biographies of Eastern European revolutionary leaders such as Lenin, Martov, Christian Rakovsky, Bukharin and others shows that Trotsky was hardly alone in his anger at the status quo. And the determination to something about it.

For those who argue, as many did in the New Left in the 1960’s, that the most oppressed are the most revolutionary the lives of the Russian and Eastern European revolutionaries provide a cautionary note. The most oppressed, those most in need of the benefits of socialist revolution, are mainly wrapped up in the sheer struggle for survival and do not enter the political arena until late, if at all. Even a quick glance at the biographies of the secondary leadership of various revolutionary movements, actual revolutionary workers who formed the links to the working class , generally show skilled or semi-skilled workers striving to better themselves rather than the most downtrodden lumpenproletarian elements. The sailors of Kronstadt and the Putilov workers in Saint Petersburg come to mind. The point is that ‘the wild boys and girls’ of the street do not lead revolutions; they simply do not have the staying power. On this point, militants can also take Trotsky’s biography as a case study of what it takes to stay the course in the difficult struggle to create a new social order. While the Russian revolutionary movement, like the later New Left mentioned above, had more than its share of dropouts, especially after the failure of the 1905 revolution, it is notably how many stayed with the movement under much more difficult circumstances than we ever faced. For better or worst, and I think for the better, that is how revolutions are made.

Once Trotsky made the transition to Marxism he became embroiled in the struggles to create a unity Russian Social Democratic Party, a party of the whole class, or at least a party representing the historic interests of that class. This led him to participate in the famous Bolshevik/Menshevik struggle in 1903 which defined what the party would be, its program, its methods of work and who would qualify for membership. The shorthand for this fight can be stated as the battle between the ‘hards’ (Bolsheviks, who stood for a party of professional revolutionaries) and the ‘softs’ (Mensheviks, who stood for a looser conception of party membership) although those terms do not do full justice to these fights. Strangely, given his later attitudes, Trotsky stood with the ‘softs’, the Mensheviks, in the initial fight in 1903. Although Trotsky almost immediately afterward broke from that faction I do not believe that his position in the 1903 fight contradicted the impulses he exhibited throughout his career- personally ‘libertarian’, for lack of a better word , and politically hard in the clutch.

Even a cursory glance at most of Trotsky’s career indicates that it was not spent in organizational in-fighting, or at least not successfully. Trotsky stands out as the consummate free-lancer. More than one biographer has noted this condition, including his definitive biographer Isaac Deutscher. Let me make a couple of points to take the edge off this characterization though. In that 1903 fight mentioned above Trotsky did fight against Economism (the tendency to only fight over trade union issues and not fight overtly political struggles against the Czarist regime) and he did fight against Bundism (the tendency for one group, in this case the Jewish workers, to set the political agenda for that particular group). Moreover, he most certainly favored a centralized organization. These were the key issues at that time.

Furthermore, the controversial organizational question did not preclude the very strong notion that a ‘big tent’ unitary party was necessary. The ‘big tent’ German Social Democratic model held very strong sway among the Russian revolutionaries for a long time, including Lenin’s Bolsheviks. The long and short of it was that Trotsky was not an organization man, per se. He knew how to organize revolutions, armies, Internationals, economies and so on when he needed to but on a day to day basis no. Thus, to compare or contrast him to Lenin and his very different successes is unfair. Both have an honorable place in the revolutionary movement; it is just a different place.

That said, Trotsky really comes into his own as a revolutionary leader in the Revolution of 1905 not only as a publicist but as the central leader of the Soviets (workers councils) which made their first appearance at that time. In a sense it is because he was a freelancer that he was able to lead the Petrograd Soviet during its short existence and etch upon the working class of Russia (and in a more limited way, internationally) the need for its own organizations to seize state power. All revolutionaries honor this experience, as we do the Paris Commune, as the harbingers of October, 1917. As Lenin and Trotsky both confirm, it was truly a ‘dress rehearsal’ for that event. It is in 1905 that Trotsky first wins his stars by directing the struggle against the Czar at close quarters, in the streets and working class meeting halls. And later in his eloquent and ‘hard’ defense of the experiment after it was crushed by the Czarism reaction. I believe that it was here in the heat of the struggle in 1905 where the contradiction between Trotsky’s ‘soft’ position in 1903 and his future ‘hard’ Bolshevik position of 1917 and thereafter is resolved. Here was a professional revolutionary who one could depend on when the deal went down. (A future blog will review the 1905 revolution in more detail).

No discussion of this period of Trotsky’s life is complete without mentioning his very real contribution to Marxist theory- that is, the theory of Permanent Revolution. Although the theory is over one hundred years old it still retains its validity today in those countries that still have not had their bourgeois revolutions, or completed them. This rather simple straightforward theory about the direction of the Russian revolution (and which Trotsky later in the 1920’s, after the debacle of the Chinese Revolution, made applicable to what today are called 'third world’ countries) has been covered with so many falsehoods, epithets, and misconceptions that it deserves further explanation. Why?

Militants today must address the ramifications of the question what kind of revolution is necessary as a matter of international revolutionary strategy. Trotsky, taking the specific historical development and the peculiarities of Russian economic development as part of the international capitalist order as a starting point argued that there was no ‘Chinese wall’ between the bourgeois revolution Russian was in desperate need of and the tasks of the socialist revolution. In short, in the 20th century ( and by extension, now) the traditional leadership role of the bourgeois in the bourgeois revolution in a economically backward country, due to its subservience to international capitalist powers and fear of its own working class and plebian masses, falls to the proletariat. The Russian Revolution of 1905 sharply demonstrated the outline of that tendency especially on the perfidious role of the Russian bourgeoisie. The unfolding of revolutionary events in 1917 graphically confirmed this. The history of revolutionary struggles since then, and not only in ‘third world’ countries, gives added, if negative, confirmation of that analysis. (A future blog will review this theory of permanent revolution in more detail).

World War I was a watershed for modern history in many ways. For the purposes of this review two points are important. First, the failure of the bulk of the European social democracy- representing the masses of their respective working classes- to not only not oppose their own ruling classes’ plunges into war, which would be a minimal practical expectation, but to go over and directly support their own respective ruling classes in that war. This position was most famously demonstrated when the entire parliamentary fraction of the German Social Democratic party voted for the war credits for the Kaiser on August 4, 1914. This initially left the anti-war elements of international social democracy, including Lenin and Trotsky, almost totally isolated. As the carnage of that war mounted in endless and senseless slaughter on both sides it became clear that a new political alignment in the labor movement was necessary.

The old, basically useless Second International, which in its time held some promise of bringing in the new socialist order, needed to give way to a new revolutionary International. That eventually occurred in 1919 with the foundation of the Communist International (also known as the Third International). (A future blog will review the first years of the Communist International). Horror of horrors, particularly for reformists of all stripes, this meant that the international labor movement, one way or another, had to split into its reformist and revolutionary components. It is during the war that Trotsky and Lenin, not without some lingering differences, draw closer and begin the process of several years, only ended by Lenin’s death, of close political collaboration.

Secondly, World War I marks the definite (at least for Europe) end of the progressive role of international capitalist development. The outlines of imperialist aggression previously noted had definitely taken center stage. This theory of imperialism was most closely associated with Lenin in his master work Imperialism-The Highest Stage of Capitalism but one should note that Trotsky in all his later work up until his death fully subscribed to the theory. Although Lenin’s work is in need of some updating, to account for various technological changes and the extensions of globalization, holds up for political purposes. This analysis meant that a fundamental shift in the relationship of the working class to the ruling class was necessary. A reformist perspective for social change, although not specific reforms, was no longer tenable. Politically, as a general proposition, socialist revolution was on the immediate agenda. This is when Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution meets the Leninist conception of revolutionary organization. It proved to be a successful formula in Russia in October, 1917. Unfortunately, those lessons were not learned (or at least learned in time) by those who followed and the events of October, 1917 stand today as the only ‘pure’ working class revolution in history.

An argument can, and has, been made that the October Revolution could only have occurred under the specific condition of decimated, devastated war-weary Russia of 1917. This argument is generally made by those who were not well-wishers of revolution in Russia (or anywhere else, for that matter). It is rather a truism, indulged in by Marxists as well as by others, that war is the mother of revolution. That said, the October revolution was made then and there but only because of the convergence of enough revolutionary forces led by the Bolsheviks and additionally the forces closest to the Bolsheviks (including Trotsky’s Inter-District Organization) had prepared for these events by its entire pre-history. This is the subjective factor in history. No, not substitutionalism-that was the program of the Social Revolutionary terrorists, and the like- but if you like, revolutionary opportunism. I would be much more impressed by an argument that stated that the revolution would not have occurred without the presence of Lenin and Trotsky. That would be a subjective argument, par excellent. But, they were there.

Again Trotsky in 1917, like in 1905, is in his element speaking seemingly everywhere, writing, organizing (when it counts, by the way). If not the brains of the revolution (that role is honorably conceded to Lenin) certainly the face of the Revolution. Here is a revolutionary moment in every great revolution when the fate of the revolution turned on a dime (the subjective factor). The dime turned. (See blog dated April 18, 2006 for a review of Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution).

One of the great lessons that militants can learn from all previous modern revolutions is that once the revolutionary forces seize power from the old regime an inevitable counterrevolutionary onslaught by elements of the old order (aided by some banished moderate but previously revolutionary elements, as a rule). The Russian revolution proved no exception. If anything the old regime, aided and abetted by numerous foreign powers and armies, was even more bloodthirsty. It fell to Trotsky to organize the defense of the revolution. Now, you might ask- What is a nice Jewish boy like Trotsky doing playing with guns? Fair enough. Well, Jewish or Gentile if you play the revolution game you better the hell be prepared to defend the revolution (and yourself), guns at the ready. Here, again Trotsky organized, essentially from scratch, a Red Army from a defeated, demoralized former peasant army under the Czar. The ensuing civil war was to leave the country devastated but the Red Army defeated the Whites. Why? In the final analysis it was not only the heroism of the working class defending its own but the peasant wanting to hold on to the newly acquired land he had just got and was in jeopardy of losing if the Whites won. But these masses needed to be organized. Trotsky was the man for the task.

Both Lenin’s and Trotsky’s calculation for the success of socialist revolution in Russia (and ultimately its fate) was its, more or less, immediate extension to the capitalist heartland of Europe, particularly Germany. While in 1917 that was probably not the controlling single factor for going forward in Russia it did have to come into play at some point. The founding of the Communist International makes no sense otherwise. Unfortunately, for many historical, national and leadership-related reasons no Bolshevik-styled socialist revolutions followed then, or ever. If the premise for socialism is for plenty, and ultimately as a result of plenty to take the struggle for existence off the human agenda and put other more creative pursues on the agenda, then Russia in the early 1920’s was not the land of plenty.

Neither Lenin, Trotsky nor Stalin, for that matter could wish that fact away. The ideological underpinnings of that fight center on the Stalinist concept of ‘socialism in one country’, that is Russia versus the Trostskyist position of the absolutely necessary extension of the international revolution. In short, this is the fights that historically happens in great revolutions- the fight against Thermidor (a term taken from the overthrow of Robespierre in 1794 by more moderate Jacobins). What counts, in the final analysis, are their respective responses to the crisis of the isolation of the revolution. The word isolation is the key. Do you turn the revolution inward or push forward? We all know the result, and it wasn’t pretty, then or now. That is the substance of the fight that Trotsky, if initially belatedly and hesitantly, led from about 1923 on under various conditions until the end of his life cut short by his assassination by a Stalinist agent in 1940.

Although there were earlier signs that the Russia revolution was going off course the long illness and death of Lenin in 1924, at the time the only truly authoritative leader the Bolshevik party, set off a power struggle in the leadership of the party. This fight had Trotsky and the ‘pretty boy’ intellectuals of the party on one side and Stalin, Zinoviev and Kamenev (the so-called triumvirate)backed by the ‘gray boys’ of the emerging bureaucracy on the other. This struggle occurred against the backdrop of the failed revolution in Germany in 1923 and which thereafter heralded the continued isolation, imperialist blockade and economic backwardness of the Soviet Union for the foreseeable future.

While the disputes in the Russian party eventually had international ramifications in the Communist International, they were at this time fought out almost solely within the Russian Party. Trotsky was slow, very slow to take up the battle for power that had become obvious to many elements in the party. He made many mistakes and granted too many concessions to the triumvirate. But he did fight. Although later (in 1935) Trotsky recognized that the 1923 fight represented a fight against the Russian Thermidor and thus a decisive turning point for the revolution that was not clear to him (or anyone else on either side) then. Whatever the appropriate analogy might have been Leon Trotsky was in fact fighting a last ditch effort to retard the further degeneration of the revolution. After that defeat, the way the Soviet Union was ruled, who ruled it and for what purposes all changed. And not for the better.

In a sense if the fight in 1923-24 is the decisive fight to save the Russian revolution (and ultimately a perspective of international revolution) then the 1926-27 fight which was a bloc between Trotsky’s forces and the just defeated forces of Zinoviev and Kamenev, Stalin’s previous allies was the last rearguard action to save that perspective. That it failed nevertheless does not deny the importance of the fight. Yes, it was a political bloc with some serious differences especially over China and the Anglo-Russian Committee. But two things are important here One- did a perspective of a new party make sense at the time of the clear waning of the revolutionary tide in the country. No. Besides the place to look was at the most politically conscious elements, granted against heavy odds, in the party where whatever was left of the class-conscious elements of the working class were. As I have noted elsewhere in discussing the 1923 fight- that “Lenin levy” of raw recruits, careerists and just plain thugs to fatten up the Stalin-controlled Soviet bureaucracy was the key element in any defeat.

Still that fight was necessary. Hey, that is why we talk about it now. That was a fight to the finish. After that the left opposition, or elements of it, were forever more outside the party- either in exile, prison or dead. As we know Trotsky went from expulsion from the party in 1927 to internal exile in Alma Ata in 1928 to external exile to Turkey in 1929. From there he underwent further exiles in France, Norway, and Mexico when he was finally felled by a Stalinist assassin. But no matter when he went he continued to struggle for his perspective. Not bad for a Jewish farmer’s son from the Ukraine.

The last period of Trotsky’s life spent in harrowing exiles and under constant threat from Stalinist and White Guard threats- in short, on the planet without a visa-was dedicated to the continued fight for the Leninist heritage. It was an unequal fight, to be sure, but he waged it and was able to form a core of revolutionaries to form a new international. That that effort was essentially militarily defeat by fascist or Stalinist forces during World War II does not take away from the grandeur of the attempt. He himself stated that he felt this was the most important work of his life- and who would challenge that assertion. But one could understand the frustrations, first the harsh truth of his analysis in the 1930's of the German debacle, then in France and Spain. Hell a lesser man would have given up. In fact, more than one biographer has argued that he should have retired from the political arena to, I assume, a comfortable country cottage to write I do not know what. But, please reader, have you been paying attention? Does this seem even remotely like the Trotsky career I have attempted to highlight here? Hell, no.

Many of the events such as the disputes within the Russian revolutionary movement, the attempts by the Western Powers to overthrow the Bolsheviks in the Civil War after their seizure of power and the struggle of the various tendencies inside the Russian Communist Party and in the Communist International discussed in the book may not be familiar to today's audience. Nevertheless one can still learn something from the strength of Trotsky's commitment to his cause and the fight to preserve his personal and political integrity against overwhelming odds. As the organizer of the October Revolution, creator of the Red Army in the Civil War, orator, writer and fighter Trotsky was one of the most feared men of the early 20th century to friend and foe alike. Nevertheless, I do not believe that he took his personal fall from power as a world historic tragedy. Read these volumes for more insights.

Leon Trotsky-OUR REVOLUTION-The Soviet and the Revolution(Fifty Days)



About two years after the arrest of the Soviet of 1905, a number of former leaders of that organization, among them Chrustalyov Nossar, the first chairman, and Trotsky, the second chairman, met abroad after having escaped from Siberian exile. They decided to sum up their Soviet experiences in a book which they called The History of the Council of Workinigmen’s Deputies. The book appeared ln 1908 In Petersburg, and was immediately suppressed. One of the essays of this book is here reprinted.

In his estimation of the role of the Soviet Trotzky undoubtedly exaggerates. Only by a flight of imagination can one see in the activities of the Soviet regarding the postal, telegraph and railroad strikers the beginnings of a Soviet control over postoffice, telegraph and railroads. It is also a serious question whether the Soviet was really a leading body, or whether it was led by the current of revolutionary events which it was unable to control. What makes this essay interesting and significant is Trotzky’s assertion that “the first new wave of the revolution will lead to the creation of Soviets all over the country.” This has actually happened. His predictions of the formation of an all-Russian Soviet, and of the program the Soviets would follow, have also been realized in the course of the present revolution.



The history of the Soviet is a history of fifty days. The Soviet was constituted on October 18th; its session was interrupted by a military detachment of the government on December 3rd. Between those two dates the Soviet lived and struggled.

What was the substance of this institution? What enabled it in this short period to take an honorable place in the history of the Russian proletariat, in the history of the Russian Revolution?

The Soviet organized the masses, conducted political strikes, led political demonstrations, tried to arm the workingmen. But other revolutionary organizations did the same things. The substance of the Soviet was its effort to become an organ of public authority. The proletariat on one hand, the reactionary press on the other, have called the Soviet “a labor government”; this only reflects the fact that the Soviet was in reality an embryo of a revolutionary government. In so far as the Soviet was in actual possession of authoritative power, it made use of it; in so far as the power was in the hands of the military and bureaucratic monarchy, the Soviet fought to obtain it.

Prior to the Soviet, there had been revolutionary organizations among the industrial workingmen, mostly of a Social-Democratic nature. But those were organizations among the proletariat; their immediate aim was to influence the masses. The Soviet is an organization of the proletariat; its aim is to fight for revolutionary power.

At the same time, the Soviet was an organized expression of the mill of the proletariat as a class. In its fight for power the Soviet applied such methods as were naturally determined by the character of the proletariat as a class: its part in production; its numerical strength; its social homogeneity. In its fight for power the Soviet has combined the direction of all the social activities of the working class, including decisions as to conflicts between individual representatives of capital and labor. This combination was by no means an artificial tactical attempt: it was a natural consequence of the situation of a class which, consciously developing and broadening its fight for its immediate interests, had been compelled by the logic of events to assume a leading position in the revolutionary struggle for power.

The main weapon of the Soviet was a political strike of the masses. The power of the strike lies in disorganizing the power of the government. The greater the “anarchy” created by a strike, the nearer its victory. This is true only where “anarchy” is not being created by anarchic actions. The class that puts into motion, day in and day out, the industrial apparatus and the governmental apparatus; the class that is able, by a sudden stoppage of work, to paralyze both industry and government, must be organized enough not to fall the first victim of the very “anarchy” it has created. The more effective the disorganization of government caused by a strike, the more the strike organization is compelled to assume governmental functions.

The Council of Workmen’s Delegates introduces a free press. It organizes street patrols to secure the safety of the citizens. It takes over, to a greater or less extent, the post office, the telegraph, and the railroads. It makes an effort to introduce the eight hour workday. Paralyzing the autocratic government by a strike, it brings its own democratic order into the life of the working city population.


After January 9th the revolution had shown its power over the minds of the working masses. On June 14th, through the revolt of the Potyom’kin Tavritchesky it had shown that it was able to become a material force. In the October strike it had shown that it could disorganize the enemy, paralyze his will and utterly humiliate him. By organizing Councils of Workmen’s Deputies all over the country, it showed that it was able to create authoritative power. Revolutionary authority can be based only on active revolutionary force. Whatever our view on the further development of the Russian revolution, it is a fact that so far no social class besides the proletariat has manifested readiness to uphold a revolutionary authoritative power. The first act of the revolution was an encounter in the streets of the proletariat with the monarchy; the first serious victory of the revolution was achieved through the class-weapon of the proletariat, the political strike; the first nucleus of a revolutionary government was a proletarian represent ation. The Soviet is the first democratic power in modern Russian history. The Soviet is the organized power of the masses themselves over their component parts. This is a true, unadulterated democracy, without a two-chamber system, without a professional bureaucracy, with the right of the voters to recall their deputy any moment and to substitute another for him. Through its members, through deputies elected by the workingmen, the Soviet directs all the social activities of the proletariat as a whole and of its various parts; it outlines the steps to be taken by the proletariat, it gives them a slogan and a banner. This art of directing the activities of the masses on the basis of organized self-government, is here applied for the first time on Russian soil. Absolutism ruled the masses, but it did not direct them. It put mechanical barriers against the living creative forces of the masses, and within those barriers it kept the restless elements of the nation in an iron bond of oppression. The only mass absolutism ever directed was the army. But that was not directing, it was merely commanding. In recent years, even the directing of this atomized and hypnotized military mass has been slipping out of the hands of absolutism. Liberalism never had power enough to command the masses, or initiative enough to direct them. Its attitude towards mass-movements, even if they helped liberalism directly, was the same as towards awe-inspiring natural phenomenan, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. The proletariat appeared on the battlefield of the revolution as a self-reliant aggregate, totally independent from bourgeois liberalism.

The Soviet was a class organization, this was the source of its fighting power. It was crushed in the first period of its existence not by lack of confidence on the part of the masses in the cities, but by the limitations of a purely urban revolution, by the relatively passive attitude of the village, by the backwardness of the peasant element of the army. The Soviet’s position among the city population was as strong as could be.

The Soviet was not an official representative of the entire half million of the working population in the capital; its organization embraced about two hundred thousand, chiefly industrial workers; and though its direct and indirect political influence was of a much wider range, there were thousands and thousands of proletarians (in the building trade, among domestic servants, day laborers, drivers) who were hardly, if at all, influenced by the Soviet. There is no doubt, however, that the Soviet represented, the interests of all these proletarian masses. There were but few adherents of the Black Hundred in the factories, and their number dwindled hour by hour. The proletarian masses of Petersburg were solidly behind the Soviet. Among the numerous intellectuals of Petersburg the Soviet had more friends than enemies. Thousands of students recognized the political leadership of the Soviet and ardently supported it in its decisions. Professional Petersburg was entirely on the side of the Soviet. The support by the Soviet of the postal and telegraph strike won it the sympathy of the lower governmental officials. All the oppressed, all the unfortunate, all honest elements of the city, all thbse who were striving towards a better life, were instinctively or consciously on the side of the Soviet. The Soviet was actually or potentially a representative of an overwhelming majority of the population. Its enemies in the capital would not have been dangerous had they not been protected by absolutism, which based its power on the most backward elements of an army recruited from peasants. The weakness of the Soviet was not its own weakness, it was the weakness of a purely urban revolution.

The fifty day period was the period of the greatest power of the revolution. The Soviet was it’s organ in the fight for public authority.

The class character of the Soviet was determined by the class differentiation of the city population and by the political antagonism between the proletariat and the capitalistic bourgeoisie. This antagonism manifested itself even in the historically limited field of a struggle against absolutism. After the October strike, the capitalistic bourgeoisie consciously blocked the progress of the revolution, the petty middle class turned out to be a nonentity, incapable of playing an independent role. The real leader of the urban revolution was the proletariat. Its class-organization was the organ of the revolution in its struggle for power.


The struggle for power, for public authority, this is the central aim of the revolution. The fifty days of the Soviet’s life and its bloody finale have shown that urban Russia is too narrow a basis for Such a struggle, and that even within the limits of the urban revolution, a local organization cannot be the central leading body. For a national task the proletariat required an organization on a national scale. The Petersburg Soviet was a local organization, yet the need of a central organization was so great that it had to assume leadership on a national scale. It did what it could, still it remained primarily the Petesrburg Council of Workmen’s Deputies. The urgency of an all-Russian labor congress which undoubtedly would have had authority to form a central leading organ, was emphasized even at the time of the first Soviet. The December collapse made its realization impossible. The idea remained, an inheritance of the Fifty Days.

The idea of a Soviet has become ingrained in the consciousness of the workingmen as the first prerequisite to revolutionary action of the masses. Experience has shown that a Soviet is not possible or desirable under all circumstances. The objective meaning of the Soviet organization is to create conditions for disorganizing the government, for “anarchy,” in other words for a revolutionary conflict. The present lull in the revolutionary movement, the mad triumph of reaction, make the existence of an open, elective, authoritative organization of the masses impossible. There is no doubt, however, that the first new Wave of the revolution Will lead to the creation of Soviets all over the country. An All-Russian Soviet, organized by an All-Russian Labor Congress, will assume leadership of the local elective organizations of the proletariat. Names, of course, are of no importance; so are details of organization; the main thing is: a centralized democratic leadership in the struggle of the proletariat for a popular government. History does not repeat itself, and the new Soviet will not have again to go through the experience of the Fifty Days. These, however, will furnish it a complete program of action.

This program is perfectly clear.

To establish revolutionary codperation with the army, the peasantry, and the plebeian lower strata of the urban bourgeoisie. To abolish absolutism. To destroy the material organization of absolutism by reconstructing and partly dismissing the army. To break up the entire bureaucratic apparatus. To introduce an eight hour workday. To arm the population, starting with the proletariat. To turn the Soviets into organs of revolutionary self-government in the cities. To create Councils of Peasants’ Delegates (Peasants’ Committees) as local organs of the agrarian revolution. To organize elections to the Constituent Assembly and to conduct a preelection campaign for a definite program on the part of the representatives of the people.

It is easier to formulate such a program than to carry it through. If, however, the revolution will ever win, the proletariat cannot choose another. The proletariat will unfold revolutionary accomplishment such as the world has never seen. The history of Fifty Days will be only a poor page in the great book of the proletariat’s struggle and ultimate triumph.