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Book Review: 'The Seeds of Evil - Lenin & the Origins of Bolshevik Elitism'

Trotskyist Zealots & Stalinist Neanderthals

'The Seeds of Evil: Lenin & the Origins of Bolshevik Elitism,' by Robin Blick, Ferrington Press. 31-35 Gt. Ormond Street, London WC1. £5.

The front cover of this book shows a Russian doll. The top one is Stalin, underneath is Lenin and underneath Lenin is Robespierre, the Jacobin dictator who ruled France briefly in 1794. The theme of the book is that Lenin's elitist view that the workers needed to be led, and then ruled, by a vanguard party of professional revolutionaries had nothing in common with Marx's theory of the democratic self-emancipation of the working class, but derived ultimately from an organisational form developed to further the bourgeois minority revolution in France.

I. S. Stand For ... Confusion

“Socialist Worker”, the weekly paper of the International Socialists, regularly publishes a statement of their main principles called “What We Stand For”.(1) We would expect this organization to stand for Socialism. Surprisingly, Socialism is nowhere defined in the statement and it only appears as a word upon which various people and organizations have placed many different interpretations. Still it is possible to get some idea of what IS stand for by a careful reading of their statement. It is also possible to get very confused. For instance, the statement starts off:

    "We believe that socialism can only be achieved by the independent action of the working class."

Whereas, the last part says they are

    "For the building of a mass workers’ revolutionary party . . . which can lead the working class to power . . ."

    (our emphasis both times)

Lenin and the State

In one of the many disputes between revolutionaries in Russia before 1917, Trotsky, before he himself became a Bolshevik, likened Lenin to Robespierre, a comparison which was to be borne out after the October Revolution. Trotsky, as leader of the Red Army, became the potential Bonaparte in the eyes of the Bolshevik Party bureaucrats.

The similarities between the French and Russian revolutions have not escaped anti-Marxist writers. For example, Carew Hunt in his book The Theory and Practice of Communism comments:

    "We find such men as Robespierre and St. Just using the same arguments to defend their actions as Lenin and Stalin were to employ a century and a quarter later."

Bolshevism and the Third International

By no means unanimous will be the interpretations placed on the programmes formed at the recent seventh World Congress of the Communist International. The official Communist Parties, of course, hail these programmes as the highest expression of revolutionary political wisdom, calculated to promote the best interests of the world proletariat, at the same time aiding the "Socialist Fatherland" in its unparalleled task of building up Socialism within its borders. The Communist opposition parties, with Trotsky as their moving spirit, see in these programmes full justification for their claim that as a force making for world revolution the Communist International is utterly dead. Groups like the Proletarian Party of America will no doubt continue in their role of reluctant apologists for the rank opportunism of the Communist International. Socialists, however, will content themselves with pointing out the non-Socialist character of these programmes.

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