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Violence and Liberation Poli 110DA 07

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1 Violence and Liberation Poli 110DA 07
The theory of the class struggle

2 V.I. Lenin Born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov 1870-1924
Lawyer, theorist, revolutionary leader Split from Russian Social Democratic Labor Party Bolsheviks vs. Mensheviks Professional revolutionaries, alliance of workers w/peasants vs. alliance w/liberal bourgeosie Vanguard Leap over bourgeois to socialist revolution “Marxist-Leninism”

3 Revolutionary timeline
Some liberalizing reforms, mass repression 1917 Costs of war February Revolution Sporadic, chaotic Tsar Nicholas II abdicates Provisional Government (liberal) in tension w/Soviets (workers councils), “dual power” October Revolution Bolsheviks seize power in coordinated uprising Soviet membership originally open to election, but purged when election of anarchists, others show Bolsheviks have little national support Imperial family killed : Russian civil war Reds vs. Whites (vs. Greens vs. Blacks)

4 An entirely oversimplified summary of Marxist theory
All history is the history of class conflict Control of the means of production Aristocrats, bourgeois, proletarians Dialectical materialism Teleological concept of history Ultimately, the interests of the proletariat are the interests of all history Scientific truth-claims

5 “freedom of criticism”
Scientific character of marxist theory questioned “Denied was the antithesis in principle between liberalism and socialism, denied was the theory of the class struggle, on the alleged grounds that it could not be applied to a strictly democratic society governed according to the will of the majority” (2)

6 If the class struggle can be contained, then Marx is fundamentally wrong
If class conflict can be resolved, revolution is unnecessary “If Social-Democracy, in essence, is merely a party of reform and must be bold enough to admit this openly, then not only has a socialist the right to join a bourgeois cabinet, but he must always strive to do so.” (2) Democracy

7 “the new ‘critical’ trend is nothing more nor less than a new variety of opportunism... ‘freedom of criticism is means freedom for an opportunist trend in Social-Democracy, freedom to convert Social-Democracy into a democratic party of reform, freedom to introduce bourgeois ideas and bourgeois elements into socialism.” (3) Freedom is not doing whatever you like. Freedom is to think and act in accordance with truth.

8 “’Freedom’ is a grand word, but under the banner of freedom for industry the most predatory wars were waged, under the banner of freedom for labour, the working people were robbed.” (3) False freedoms

9 “The modern use of the term ‘freedom of criticism’ contains the same inherent falsehood. Those who are really convinced that they have made progress in science would not demand freedom for the new views to continue side by side with the old, but the substitution of new views for the old.” (3)

10 Lenin sees the Critics and Economists as being threats to the Social-Democratic movement’s hopes for fundamental social & political change. Criticism undermines theory, diminishing possibility of revolution Economism perverts theory, actively working against revolution

11 Critics The critical trend deprived socialists of “the opportunity to reveal to the working class that its interests are diametrically opposed to the interests of the bourgeoisie” even when allied w/bourgeois parties for tactical reasons. (8) These tactical alliances are fine so long as Marxist theory is preserved (7)

12 The critics do this “by vulgarizing Marxism, by advocating the theory of the blunting of social contradictions, by declaring the idea of the social revolution and of the dictatorship of the proletariat to be absurd, by reducing the working-class movement and the class struggle to narrow trade-unionism and to a ‘realistic’ struggle for petty, gradual reforms.” (8)

13 “This was synonymous with bourgeois democracy’s denial of socialism’s right to independence and, consequently, of its right to existence; in practice it meant a striving to convert the nascent working-class movement into an appendage of the liberals.” (8) Actively counter-revolutionary

14 Economists say, “That struggle is desirable which is possible, and the struggle which is possible is that which is going on at the given moment.” (28) Opportunism Counter-revolutionary

15 Economists are like trade-unionists:
“formulated the immediate demands of the proletariat and indicated the means by which they can be achieved” “submit to the government concrete demands promising certain palpable results” (50-51) Concentrate solely on economic & factory conditions, not on revolutionary politics

16 Both critics and economists hostile to Marxist theory (9-10)
But the struggle is waged not just on the political & economic, but also in theory (13) Theory should have equal priority Cites Engels as authority

17 “If you must unite, Marx wrote to the party leaders, then enter into agreements to satisfy the practical aims of the movement, but do not allow any bargaining over principles, do not make theoretical ‘concessions’. This was Marx’s idea, and yet there are people among us who seek—in his name—to belittle the significance of theory!” (12)

18 “The role of the vanguard fighter can be fulfilled only by a party that is guided by the most advanced theory.” (13)

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