The Third International after Lenin

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ukraine and the petty bourgeois left: Reading notes


This week I have been reading the 1946 document "Revolutionary Marxism or Petty Bourgeois Revisionism? A Demarcation of the Programs of the Socialist Workers Party and the Workers Party. Statement by the Political Committee of the Socialist Workers Party."

The document can be read here.

While reading, I was also following events in Ukraine, and commenting on them on Facebook.

Notes I made turned out to be clarification of issues relating to Ukraine today as they are misinterpreted and obscured by the petty bourgeois left.  


To borrow a phrase from the 1946 SWP document, "along with abstentionism.... [they have] raised eclecticism and inconsistency to the level of guiding principles.  Nor is this an accidental phenomenon.  There is one class in modern society that cannot be consistent in its politics.  This is the petty bourgeoisie."





Who wants a 'man on horseback'?



Petty bourgeois left today internationally: a miasma of capitulation to Putin concerning Ukraine.

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"Popular Front" today? Defense of capitalist regimes that are supposedly objectively anti-US.  But such regimes are unwilling and incapable of organizing the working class in their own countries to fight Washington.  They fear calling masses together for any reason.

*

It is true that the US today is trying to encircle Russia [and China.]

Must the working class in Russia and Ukraine subordinate all to Putin's pragmatic and supposedly consistent anti-Americanism?

Should workers in Russia, Ukraine, [and the US, for that matter] be told [in the name of communism or radicalism or "anti-capitalism"]  that Putin is their ally?

*

European Union is not a "capitalist United States of Europe" with one nefarious program orchestrated by Washington.

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Presenting Russia today as objectively anti-imperialist and anti-fascist is dishonest to the point of treachery.  The line breeds demobilization and defeatist consciousness. 

Some workers and middle class elements taught to look to Russia as a progressive anti-US pole in [bourgeois politics] will [in the absence of a growing communist movement] be attracted to rightist solutions out of demoralization and concomitant cynicism.

*

Petty bourgeois left and Stalinist organizations and individuals today dishonestly present Putin as [albeit an inconsistent] fighter against US imperialism who must be defended.  They present social explosions that oppose interests of the Russian ruling class as nefarious conspiracies organized by Republican politicians and the CIA.

This endorsement of Putin can mislead and divert initial motion toward independent working class political action and class consciousness.

*

The "lesser evil international" - anti-US "coalition" of bourgeois states [Russia, Iran, Syria, Venezuela] must be defended [so the middle class left declaims].

For the middle class left, Putin must be defended at all costs. Russian workers and farmers, it is assumed, have interests in complete consonance with Putin's regime. 

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Workers in Ukraine are told to wait to defend their living standards and democratic rights because these actions supposedly coincide with Washington's "anti-Moscow" line.  It is "too dangerous" now to begin the slow and contradictory awakening political life and class consciousness.]  Hence the fascist-baiting of inevitable capitalist-bred social explosions.

[n.b.: Imagine telling Fannie Lou Hamer not to oppose LBJ in 1964 because the most important issue was "defeating Goldwater at all costs"?]

[n.b.: Must workers at VW or Walmart wait until they have Simon-pure class consciousness before they begin their struggle?]

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The "Russian Question today"

Organizations like Workers World Party [which I take to be emblematic of this international trend - JR] enjoy the luxury of condemning the "dictatorship of capital" in Russia in the abstract, while providing left-cover [and disorienting the working class internationally in the process] with concrete rationalizations for specific Russian policies.  They slur-over and obscure the class line when it suits them.

[n.b.: supporting Russia and its Ukrainian cats-paws like Yanukovych today in the name of defeating "US/EU-backed Ukrainian fascism."]

*

Ukraine - workers and middle class elements in the streets fought [using their own mass methods] austerity, the growing capitalist social crisis [an international phenomenon], the Kiev government's anti-democratic and oppressive laws, and the Kiev government's latest capitulation to Moscow [yet another chapter in 300 years of national oppression by Russia in Ukraine.] 

This mass action was not a de facto endorsement of any program or banners or slogans of any self-identified "leaders" of the Maidan protests.

*

There is no "third way" between the dictatorship of capital and the Leninist strategy of building proletarian communist parties, the "road to workers power."

[n.b. Germany and Spain in the 1930s, Indonesia in 1965 are tragic confirmation of this.]

Capitalist Putin is not a stand-in for working class leadership today because the Russian bourgeoisie finds itself cross-wise to Washington  today.

*

n.b.: Mass action opposing austerity, national oppression, capitulation to Russian suzerainty, and attacks on democratic rights
is progressive.

*

As a friend on Facebook summed up:

For the defeat of U.S. imperialism everywhere! And Stalinist and proto-Stalinist great nation chauvinism and national oppression as well!

Jay
3 March 2014

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