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If we think a collapse is coming, it's time to get together the avant-garde party that will take over power. There certainly isn't the beginnings of the makings of one, is there?

This said, I don't think Lenin really won, do you? Or, by "the worst", did he mean Stalin? (And he never saw Hitler [Godwin - yikes!] coming, did he?)

It is not in our interest -- not in the interest of the majority of people who are not engaged in being or becoming high net worth individuals -- that things really go sick and bad. There's enough of a struggle ahead without it.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 4th, 2012 at 04:26:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think Lenin really won, do you?

Well, Lenin and Trotsky effectively destroyed The House of Romanov, broke the power of the Russian Orthodox Chruch and transformed, or set into motion the process that transformed the nature of Russian society from feudal agrarian to socialist industrial. This did not result in greater freedom for individual Russians for seven decades or so, but that had never really existed on any significant level in Russia. The accomplishments were not trivial.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 4th, 2012 at 04:58:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The achievements were there, and they weren't trivial at all, but the concept of a small avantgarde party that knows better than the majority of the population automatically produces some Stalins, and that's too high a price for the achievements.
by Katrin on Sat Aug 4th, 2012 at 05:09:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole idea and tradition of 'avant-garde party that will take over power' is a first half of the 20th century cliche and has proven to be pernicious. It was not without reason that OWS disavowed formal leadership structure. Anything that is worth having will not likely occur in that manner.

The central problem we face is being able to have a state and state institutions while retaining accountability to the electorate in a meaningful way. We have the forms of such institutions but they have been and are being repeatedly shown to be hollow mockeries of the ideals on which they are based.

Beginnings are important. Nothing that begins in such a discredited manner and in a manner that has repeatedly shown itself highly vulnerable to usurpation of power by the 'avant garde' is likely to be of enduring value. There are likely tacit and informally organized competing 'avant gardes' for competing authoritarian takeovers waiting for a propitious moment, each with a sizable list of potential useful idiots. And the intentions of those who are most powerful in each are likely very closely held.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 4th, 2012 at 08:20:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You need Boris and Doris

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They surrounded us just right of the marquee. At that point we were well and truly sorted. As I say, they had these mega bloody riot sticks, and wagons chasing through the site running into benders. Now they didn't know whether there was anybody in these benders, and they'd run into them at high speed, just loving the way that they exploded. The tarp and all the poles would blow out, scattering the contents all over the place. And they did several of these. One of the lads managed to fire up his truck and chase after this thing, and, of course, a few more riot wagons came in then, and they eventually stopped him by ramming him from either side.

The main Super Duper comes over when they've actually surrounded us, and he's asking for Boris and Doris, who are the ring-leaders as far as he's concerned, because we'd billed ourselves as, `The Peace Convoy, backed by Boris and Doris' -- who were two geese that we had on site. So on all the fly-posters it was `Boris and Doris proudly presents...' sort of thing. So they wanted to arrest Boris and Doris. And of course, your arse is tweeting like nobody's business because there's all this thing going on. Your gaffs are being wrecked right before you, and you're surrounded by all this police, and then the Chief Super Duper marches up and says, `Right, I want Boris and Doris to step out here now!' as all 200 of us fell about guffawing. I mean, you couldn't do anything else. Your arse is tweeting away one moment, and then there's this loony toon asking for two geese to step forward. It was the funny moment of it all. Wicked!



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Aug 4th, 2012 at 09:59:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the USA, were the police to harm or kill the geese, that might get them more grief than bashing heads of demonstrators. But then I have been told by LAPD officers that, if they enter a home of a suspect and feel at all threatened by a dog, they are trained to shoot the dog. If they can pass them off as 'crack dogs' then they might get away with it.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 4th, 2012 at 11:29:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Where is Russia at today? (Orthodox Church for example)?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 5th, 2012 at 03:31:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where would Russia have been without the Bolshevik revolution?

Counterfactuals are always slippery, but I'm not convinced the death toll over the course of a century would have been any lower.

But over and over I keep coming back to the same key point - bad things happen when sociopaths end up in power.

Overt politics are irrelevant. It doesn't matter if a sociopath pretends to be a fascist, a communist, a libertarian, a Christian fundamentalist, an Islamic fundamentalist, a corporate executive or a social democrat.

Sociopaths cause poverty, death, and destruction.

We have limited experience of cultures and corporations which aren't run by sociopaths. I'd suggest getting more experience would be a good start.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Aug 6th, 2012 at 07:28:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Where would Russia have been without the Bolshevik revolution?

Fair question.

It's a commonplace to say that Tsarist Russia was as overdue for change as the ancien régime was in 1789. The collapse that took place was on the cards, and it's reasonable to suppose it would have happened without the Bolsheviks. What the result would have been is hard to say.

I'm certainly not making out the Bolshevik Revolution was a Bad Thing. I do think that Lenin had a successful revolutionary strategy but that, in terms of his own long-term goals, the revolution was not a success.

As to your second point, how to take over the political institutions of a country in such a way as not to open the field to sociopaths?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 03:07:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to start an argument of the benefits and viability of the options, but the Bolshevik Revolution did not overthrow Tsarist Russia. It was a revolution that grabbed power within the power-structure established after the Tsarist regime had been overthrown.

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by A swedish kind of death on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 08:20:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can call that the radical phase of the revolution.
The radicals triumph because:
  • they are "better organized, better staffed, better obeyed,"
  • they have "relatively few responsibilities, while the legal government "has to shoulder some of the unpopularity of the government of the old regime" with "the worn-out machinery, the institutions of the old regime."
  • the moderates are hindered by their hesitancy to change direction and fight back against the radical revolutionaries, "with whom they recently stood united," in favor of conservatives, "against whom they have so recently risen." They are drawn to the slogan `no enemies to the Left.`
  • the moderates are attacked on one side by "disgruntled but not yet silenced conservatives, and the confident, aggressive extremists," on the other. The moderate revolutionary policies can please neither side. An example is the Root and Brand Bill in the English Revolution which abolished the episcopacy, angering conservatives and established institutions without earning the loyalty of radicals.
  • they are the "poor" leaders of the wars which accompany the revolutions, unable to "provide the discipline, the enthusiasm," needed.


If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 08:33:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
James C Scott, in "Seeing like a state", describes the "official" strategy of the Bolsheviks as Taylorism applied to revolution... No suprise the success of that party ends up with a centralised oligarchic state.

And the October revolution didn't happen at all according to the Bolshevik strategy...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Aug 8th, 2012 at 10:29:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If we think a collapse is coming...

I think a collapse of the existing system of financial capitalism is more likely than that it will survive for another decade or two, and, should it manage to survive more than two more decades, it will, more likely than not, have ensured environmental collapse by preventing effective response to ongoing damage. I am not likely to live much longer than that. But we all should have a concern for future generations.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 4th, 2012 at 05:08:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think you understand my point. It is that, if you have no strategy at all for revolution, then don't quote Lenin saying "the worse the better".
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 5th, 2012 at 03:36:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which comes off as: "If you don't have a complete plan to bring off a revolution don't even discuss the possibility or likelihood of one." But there are many reasons for such a discussion, not least to guard against just that sort of revolution. With Lenin the dictum was both an observation and a strategy. Whatever the merits and consequences of such a strategy the observation had merit.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 5th, 2012 at 10:09:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
Which comes off as: "If you don't have a complete plan to bring off a revolution don't even discuss the possibility or likelihood of one."

No, it doesn't. What I said has nothing to do with your straw-built extension of it.

You were not discussing revolution. You just made a throwaway comment about Lenin's "worse is better". To which I objected, as I explained, because the worst is not to be wished.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 5th, 2012 at 12:26:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was commenting on the present prospects for meaningful change, which I see as pretty bleak, as would be the case were the only hope to lie in 'the worse, the better'. But that is apparently not what you read, even after I explicitly agreed that there was not much hope in that statement.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 6th, 2012 at 08:26:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is not in our interest -- not in the interest of the majority of people who are not engaged in being or becoming high net worth individuals -- that things really go sick and bad. There's enough of a struggle ahead without it.

This is where Europe and the US don't match-up.

In Europe there are political parties and organizations that, at a minimum, pretend to be Left Wing.  There ain't none in the US as exhibited by the position of the two 2012 US presidential nominees on the Political Compass:



She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Aug 5th, 2012 at 12:52:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 03:27:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So Romney and Obama are about where Portugal's government is...

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 03:38:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I find that very surprising. I once calibrated the compass using Bayrou's 2007 program (to see where what I could have called centre would be) and ended in the green square.

I know I find Hollande much too far to the right, and indeed Manuel Valls makes a few unwanted noises, but I would not have expected the current French government to be much to the right of the 2007 Bayrou.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Aug 8th, 2012 at 03:58:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The calibration is iffy. I think they'd get a better scale if they only had "agree/disagree," and then required you to assign a weight to your answer.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 8th, 2012 at 05:22:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another thing might be that if Hollande believes something but is required to do otherwise by EU treaties, they would count what was actually done.
And since the treaties are top right corner...

Anyway, my impression from my attempt was that the conservative end of mere reasonableness would get you slightly to the top right of the green square.

Which makes it frightening to see such a cluster in the deranged region.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Aug 8th, 2012 at 08:08:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is what you "would have called the centre" in 2007 "the conservative end of mere reasonableness"?

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 8th, 2012 at 08:40:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From memory, pretty much, yes. It seemed that anything to the right of that required that you absolutely had to either want to prevent consenting adults from engaging in consensual sex (if such consensual sex was not the kind you approved of), or to hold that any redistribution was inherently evil, or that taxation reduced government revenue, or that human rights should only be guidelines...

It certainly seemed to me that the blue corner was beyond reasonableness on at least some issues. But maybe part of it might be that some questions could have been interpreted differently.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Aug 8th, 2012 at 08:55:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(I also think you have shifted a bit to the left since you joined ET...)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Aug 8th, 2012 at 10:31:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I did not calibrate with my exact opinions but with the Modem program (with the exception that I extended the idea of gay partnership with all the rights off marriage but not its name to actually being marriage).

So I "calibrated" slightly to the top right of myself.

I'm not that sure that I shifted to the left much, other than being more vocal about it.
I still think that we should have balanced the budgets better in 2007, while trying to change the treaties to something more reasonable of course. What I cannot accept is trying austerity in the current predicament (my main qualm with the Bayrou program this time round was his accepting the golden rule. Alas, Hollande will probably pass it too).
One area maybe: I probably now see more fields where having State companies (or even monopoly) seems a very reasonable proposition, or even the best one.

It seems to me that the world shifted a lot to the right, though. Dismantling the NHS used to be considered unthinkable.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Aug 8th, 2012 at 11:43:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There was already a failure to articulate an ideological alternative, even as an object of ridicule, prior to the Global Financial CrisisGreat Clusterfuck, which is part of the reason the crisis has been mismanaged as it has. But I think the crisis itself is providing the ferment and the space for alternatives to be thought out. When the next round of crisis comes, one can hope that at least some people in a position of influence will be willing to try something different from the old neoliberal consensus. Otherwise the next phase of the crisis (which may feel like collapse but won't be it) will have to provide the ferment for your "avant-garde party". And then will come a third fit of crisis, and so on.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 6th, 2012 at 04:32:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not actually arguing for an "avant-garde party". I'm saying that was Lenin's revolutionary strategy, in the context of which he could "objectively" wish for conditions for the down-trodden to get worse.

Migeru:

When the next round of crisis comes, one can hope that at least some people in a position of influence will be willing to try something different from the old neoliberal consensus.

What I think is that we should be doing our best to bring that about. The death of neoliberalism is the watchword.

The development of a new left movement, including a party or loose international grouping of parties but far from limited to this, would surely be a useful element of that effort.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 03:16:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think one of the most significant things to happen since the crisis is the creation of the Institute for New Economic Thinking by George Soros.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 03:19:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. Most of all, we need to take back the intellectual/ideological hegemony from the neolibs.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 03:38:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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