RF wrote:As usual with marxist polemics we get bogged down with semantics.
Discussion over whether a person is a ''worker'' or ''intellectual'' is frankly pointless. And no I am not attacking Vic, I am criticising the polemic he offers.
Marxist theory was constantly revised by its adherents over the decades to suit them. So I don't see any point in discussing whether Castro was a true revolutionary.
As for freedom of expression in a workers state - I don't think so. The marxist-leninist concept of the ''dictatorship of the proletariat'' says it all. And it is the proletariat that is dictated to in reality.
It is precisely revisionism which has caused most of the trouble and that is down to intellectuals trying for example to find a gap between Marx and Lenin to further their literary careers. These people were not adherents of Marxism, they were antagonistic to it and it was the likes of Lenin and Trotsky who flushed them out. Many members of the Bolshevik's central commitee got their arses booted by an irate Lenin, who on returning to Russia found that they had failed to apply the marxists method of analysis to the then current situation and could not find a way of opposing Kerensky.
The old works are just fine, as long as it is understood that they were written during and for a particular time. The polemics against the mensheviks (the minority who would not accept the policy of the bolsheviks - the majority) would not apply in Britain and they would not apply today, though certain characteristics of the menshevik can be seen in many modern politicians.
"Das Kapital" by Karl marx is the most vigorously attacked of his works and it is usually attacked by those who have never read it - or more correctly - studied it. It is not "a good read", but it is a valuable text book for the understanding of exactly how the capitalist economy works. It cannot be faulted and especially by buffoons such as Harold Wilson, who confessed that he could never stay awake past the footnote on page one!!! If he never read it how can he criticise?
If "Das Kapital" is studied and understood, the current economic crisis holds no mystery, since it's roots are founded in the same clay as the economic rises of the past;
The creation of value is soley the result of labour time, spent in efficient production. Price can fluctuate above and below value, according to market forces which are governed by supply and demand. In taking profit from the sale of the finished goods the capitalist has failed to pay the worker for the value he has created. If the capitalist did pay the worker the full value of what he created, there would be nothing in it for the capitalist and he would be unikely to repeat the exercise.
In the world economy the mass consumer on which trade relies is the worker, the capitalist class actually consumes very little of the wealth of society even though they dispose of most of it in the form of capital. So if trade relies on the worker for it's market and he has not been paid the true value of his labour, he can never buy the product at it's value. It is here that the banks step in and advance the capitalist money to tide him over until the product has sold, so that he does not have to drop the price. The worker buys the product with next week's money, or perhaps on credit so the whole thing keeps rolling, with credit oiling the wheels.
Now, if the banks gave credit without charging interest there would be no problem, but sadly they don't and it is this credit bubble which keeps growing and which ultimately causes the ensuing crisis. Credit builds up to the point that some industrialists can no longer service the debt and they go bankrupt. Of course if a bank allows their debtors to go bankrupt they lose their investment, so to prevent this the banks may ease things for a time and perhaps they may be able to cover the delay by encouraging others to borrow. The risk then is the banker may go bust if he does not have the assets to back the loans.
It is important to realise that language has moved on since Lenin's time when the word "dictatorship" meant simply "sovereign rule" Hilter and Mussolini had not shown at that time and it is their examples of government as ruthless "Dictators" which have altered the perception of what dictatorship means. Lenin then, spoke of the "Sovereign rule of the proletariat." In other words it is the proletariat who would be the sovereign rulers, not as has been suggested "the proletariat under the rule of a dictator."
Lenin's formulation meant that the whole of the proletariat would be the sovereign rulers and that their leaders would be democratically elected and subject to short term recall (they could be got out quickly if they were no good).
If the whole fo the proletariat was to be the soverign ruler, what then was the point of this postulation? If everyone is a ruler, then no one is a ruler.
Russia at the time of the revolution had a population of some 180 million people, the vast majority of whom were peasants. The proletariat are the industrial workers and they numbered just 2 million. The experience of the 1905 and the two 1917 revolutions (February and October)showed that it was the industrial workers alone - the proletariat - who had the organisation to remove the old order and it was also seen that the peasants could only follow. The reason for this is the heterogeneous nature of the peasantry, in that it comprised rich and poor peasants, landed and landless. Because of this rich and poor mix the peasantry could not move in a uniform manner as a classs and would remain paralysed in the face of crushing social pressure.
The division of labour necessary for industrial production created uniformity for the proletariat and from which the workers councils readily sprang (the Russian word is Soviet) they would be like trade unions in Europe and the USA today. The organisation for industrial production is the model for trade union organisation and their work in cooperation meant a very strong bond between workers who lived under uniform conditions regardless of where they worked.
Prior to 1905 Lenin postulated the movement of revolutionary workers and peasants, but the experience of the 1905 revolution which ended in failure showed that the peasants themselves could play no leadership role in the revolution, but that they would follow the lead given by the proletariat. Revolution then, would depend on the class consciousness of the proletariat - the industrial working class.
At the time of the Russian revolution the classes were established thus; a "ruling class" of aristocracy and capitalists, the "peasantry" who worked the land, the "middle class" who owned the shops, farriers laundries etc and the "proletariat" who worked in industry. In Britain during the early part of the century the peasantry had withered to very small numbers and was eventually wiped out completely. Britain still relied of agriculture for a portion of it's wealth, but it's farms were now run on the basis of industrial production. The peasaant had become a proletarian. The same has occurred in the USA.
Along with the dissolution of the peasantry went the bankruptcy of the middle class. As wealth was concentrated in fewer and fewer hands the middle class as a mass-force were swallowed up by large corporations. So, as Lenin would have said that the middle class should be on the side of the Proletariat in the heat of the revolution or at least unbiased, in Britain today it would be true to say it does not matter what they do, though as they are at the mercy of the monopolies for their supplies and the banks for their credit, it is likely that they would be against the capitalists during an unsurrection.
The class forces in Britain today which will play the major roles in reshaping society or maintaining the status quo are the proletariat and the bourgeoise - the workers and the capitalists. There is little else of consequence to consider.
The economic crisis will lay bare the basic and time-honoured antagonsim between worker and boss, the question of wages and profit. In the selling price of any commodity, after the cost of raw materials, machinery and other consumables have been accounted for, we are left with the workers wages and the boss's profit. The boss wants to maximise his profits and as the market governs selling price, he can only do so by cutting the workers wages. The worker on the other hand cannot better himself, except by pushing for a bigger share of the selling price and there lies the basic antagonism and the means by which the class struggle will sharpen and become more clearly defined as the crisis worsens.