Monday, January 01, 2007

Local vigils today marking 3000th GI death in Iraq

Unfortunately more American (and Iraqi) deaths are ringing in the New Year.  There will be protests January 1st in Raleigh and Chapel Hill.  Below is a message with details posted on the NC Peace and Justice Coalition's listserve.  May the anti-war movement have many successes this year, so that there is peace, or at least improvement, in Iraq and around the world by this time next winter. 
Fw: The US military death total in Iraq has reached 3000, according to
A Raleigh vigil will be held at the United Community Church, corner of Wade Avenue and Dixie
Trail, tomorrow, Monday, January 1, 2007, from 6 to 7 pm.
Please bring any old pairs of shoes you may have for the program. We need to be together and
gather strength to fight this illegal occupation and bring our troops home. If  you need to contact
me before the vigil my cell is [ ].
A total of 918 US troops died this year so far.
Orange County: Let's gather at Peace and Justice Plaza, corner of East Franklin and Henderson
Streets, 5 to 6 PM, January 1, 2007.  Take a candle and/or signs. [ ]

Discussion of national self-determination, nationalism, and solidarity, January 13th

What are nations (as opposed to states, empires, and other social entities)?
Can nationalism be progressive?  How can people in imperialist or multinational countries
stand in solidarity with oppressed minorities and
national liberation movements?  Is internationalism
necessary for our own freedom?  Join the discussion,
Saturday, January 13th, at 4:30pm in the downstairs
conference room at the Chapel Hill Public Library.  A
short background reading is Lenin's 1920 Draft Theses on
the National and Colonial Questions (online at  
Organized by the Triangle Socialist Forum, which is also
organizing an event on the Iraqi resistance in
I wrote summaries of the readings for the November and
December meetings, which I am including below.

Synopsis of Ch. 1, Class, Society, and the State, of
VI Lenin's The State and Revolution

Lenin wrote The State and Revolution in August 1917,
after the Russian Revolution was well underway and had
overthrown the Tsar.  At the time a bourgeois
democratic coalition Provisional Government was in
officially power, in favor of continuing Russia's
participation in World War I and forming some kind of
democratic republic.  At the same time a parallel
popular government of councils (soviets) existed and
eventually replaced the Provisional Government in the
October Revolution later that year. Lenin was writing
in part to oppose the view of Opportunists who glossed
over the need for a revolution to replace the
institutions of capitalist states, not just replace
the leadership of those states.  Chapters 2 and 3
discuss the lessons of the European Revolutions of
1848 and the Paris Commune in 1871, a short-lived
workers' government created at the end of the
Franco-Prussian War and brutally crushed by the
Versailles government, working with the German

1.  The State as the Product of the Irreconcilability
of Class Antagonisms

"the bourgeoisie and opportunists" "omit, obliterate
and distort the revolutionary side of [Marxism], its
revolutionary soul, and push to the foreground and
extol what it is, or seems, acceptable to the
bourgeoisie," thus the need for the book.

"The State is the product and the manifestation of the
irreconcilability of class antagonisms.  When, where,
and to what extent the State arises, depends directly
on when, where, and to what extent the class
antagonisms of a given society cannot be objectively
reconciled.  And, conversely, the existence of the
State proves that the class antagonisms are
irreconcilable." [Lenin paraphrasing Friedrich Engels]

The State does not reconcile the classes, but enforces
the domination of one class over the others.  "Its aim
is the creation of order which legalizes and
perpetuates this oppression by moderating the
collisions between the classes."

Lenin asserts that "lower middle-class democracy is
never able to understand" this fact.

"liberation of the oppressed class is impossible
without violent revolution, and without the
destruction of the machinery of State power, which has
been created by the governing class and in which this
'separation' [of the State from the society it
regulates] is embodied."

2.  The Special Bodies of Armed Men, Prisons, Etc.

According to Engels' The Origin of the Family, Private
Property, and the State, originally humans lived in
tribal societies, and "the State is distinguished,
first of all, by the grouping of the subjects of the
State according to territorial divisions."

"The second distinguishing feature is the
establishment of a public power which is no longer
identical with the population and which is organized
as an armed force."  This is required "because a
self-acting armed organization of the population has
become impossible with the break up of Society into

The "public power" generally becomes stronger and more
independent of society over time.

This was a 'theoretical' question for Engels, but a
very practical one for the Bolsheviks -  "the question
of the relations between 'special bodies of armed men'
[the State] and the 'self-acting armed organization of
the population' [the Soviets]"

3.  The State as the Instrument of Exploitation of the
Oppressed Class

As the State becomes more complex it requires taxation
and loans to support itself, and requires law, instead
of the ancient "free, voluntary respect" [Engels] for
moral authority.

"Since the State arose out of the need of keeping in
check the antagonisms of classes; since at that time
it arose as a result of the collisions of those
classes, it is, as a general rule, the State of the
most powerful and economically predominant class,
which by means of the State also becomes the
predominant class politically, thereby obtaining new
means for the oppression and exploitation of the
oppressed class" [Engels]

During times of "equilibrium" the State can appear as
"independent" and a "mediator,"  such as the
government of Napoleon Bonaparte (and Franklin

Note Engels' words (with Lenin's brackets) on our form
of government:  "In a democratic Republic wealth uses
its power indirectly, but so much more effectively,
first, by means of direct bribery [as in America];
second, by means of an alliance between the Government
and the Stock Exchange [as in France and America]."

"Engels quite definitely views universal suffrage as a
means of capitalist domination," even though he saw it
as a valuable tool of the working class, which should
be defended.

The State did not exist at one time and soon it will
be an exhibit in the "museum of antiquities."

4.  The Withering Away of the State and Violent

Lenin quotes a long and useful passage by Engels.
Part of it says "The firs act of the [revolutionary]
State, in which it really acts as the representative
of the whole Society, namely, the assumption of
control over the means of production on behalf of
Society, is also its last independent act as a State.
The interference of the authority of the State with
social relations will then become superfluous in one
field after another, and finally will cease of itself.
 The authority of the Government over persons will be
replaced by the administration of things and the
direction of the processes of production.  The State
will not be "abolished" [the Anarchist view]; it will
wither away."

Lenin:  "The capitalist State does not wither away,
according to Engels, but is destroyed by the
proletariat in the course of the revolution.  Only the
proletarian State or semi-State withers away after the

Suppression of the "handful" of bourgeoisie by the
"millions of workers" (a reversal of the capitalist
order), the dictatorship of the proletariat, is "the
destruction of the State as such" and the
expropriation "of the means of production by Society."

After the revolution is over the State, "an absolutely
complete democracy" according to Lenin, withers away.
"Democracy is also a State and"…"consequently,
Democracy will also disappear when the State
disappears," it will wither away.  This does not mean
that democratic decisionmaking disappears, only that
the final democratic State will gradually wither away
after the socialist revolution.

Outline of Stalin's The Foundations of Leninism,
sections 7 – 9 (end)
(online at

The Foundations of Leninism is based on lectures by
J.V. Stalin at the USSR's Sverdlov University,
following Lenin's death earlier that year.  They were
published in the party paper, Pravda, April-May 1924.
To the Marxist school of thought that is pro-Stalin,
Foundations is a classic summary of Lenin's, and the
CPSU's, contributions to Marxist theory and practice.

Section 7 - Strategy and Tactics

1.  "Strategy and tactics as the science of leading
the class struggle of the proletariat"

Contrasting the strategy and tactics of Marxists
during the time of the Second International ("mainly a
period of the formation and training of the
proletarian political armies under conditions of more
or less peaceful development.") with the following,
revolutionary period ("when the question of
overthrowing the bourgeoisie became a question of
immediate practical action").  Stalin asserts that
"The strategy and tactics of Leninism constitute the
science of leading the revolutionary struggle of the

2.  "Strategy and stages of the revolution"

"Strategy is the determination of the direction of the
main blow of the proletariat at a given stage of the
revolution, the elaboration of a corresponding plan
for the disposition of the revolutionary forces (main
and secondary reserves), the fight to carry out this
plan throughout the given stage of revolution."
Stalin illustrates this by analyzing the tasks,
allies, and opponents of the working class in Russia
in three stages of the revolutionary struggle from
1903 to the period after 1917.

3.  "Tactics and the ebb and flow of the movement"

"Tactics are the determination of the line of conduct
of the proletariat in the comparatively short period
of the flow or ebb of the movement, the rise or
decline of the revolution, the fight to carry out this
line by replacing old forms of struggle by new ones,
old slogans by new ones, by combing these forms, etc."
 Stalin illustrates this speaking of the Bolsheviks'

4.  "Strategic leadership"

The allies of the proletariat in the Soviet
experience:  the closest are "the peasantry and in
general the intermediate strata of the population,"
workers in nearby countries, "the revolutionary
movement in the colonies and dependent countries," and
"the conquests and gains of the dictatorship of the
proletariat – part of which the proletariat may give
up temporarily, while retaining a superiority of
forces, in order to buy off a more powerful enemy and
gain a respite"

"Indirect" aids are the divisions in the classes
besides the proletariat and divisions among the
imperialist states.

The task of strategic leadership is to make proper use
of these reserves for the achievement of the main
object of the revolution at the given stage of its

a.  "concentration of the main forces of the
revolution at the enemy's most vulnerable spot at the
decisive moment,…."when insurrection is knocking at
the door, and when bringing the reserves up to the
vanguard is the decisive condition of success."
Stalin quotes Lenin on further considerations on the
tactics of a revolutionary uprising to seize political

b.  The "decisive blow" must be timed when conditions
are ripe.

c.  "Undeviating pursuit of the course adopted, no
matter what difficulties and complications are
encountered on the road to the goal" to prevent
"'losing one's bearings'" and setting back the
progress of the struggle.

5.  "Tactical leadership"

a.  "The task of tactical leadership is to master all
forms of struggle and organization of the proletariat
and to ensure that they are used properly so as to
achieve, with the given relations of forces, the
maximum results necessary for strategic success."

This means matching the tactics with the situation,
"to enable the vast masses to realize from their own
experience the inevitability of the overthrow of the
old regime" and "to realize from experience the
correctness of the revolutionary slogans."

b.  "To locate, at any given moment, the particular
link in the chain of processes which, if grasped, will
enable us to keep hold of the whole chain and to
prepare the conditions for achieving strategic
success."  What is needed to master our situation, and
what is the most pressing demand or issue at the

6.  "Reformism and revolutionism"

The difference between reformist and revolutionary
tactics, why reformist tactics uphold the system and
put off revolution, and the use of reforms after the

Section 8.  "The Party"

During the time of the Second International,
parliamentary (electoral) tactics were primary and
"under these conditions the Party neither had nor
could have had that great and decisive importance
which it acquired afterwards, under conditions of open
revolutionary clashes."

Stalin asserts that the "new party, a militant party,
a revolutionary party," with boldness, experience, and
enough "flexibility" is a must to end imperialism and
put the working class in charge of society, instead of
the capitalists.  The new type of workers' party, the
Leninist model, has several features.

1.  "The party as the advanced detachment of the
working class"

Stalin argues against 'tailing' the working class and
events, and says that a party is the "General Staff of
the proletariat," and must be "closely bound up with
all the fibers of its being" with the working class.

2.  "The party as the organized detachment of the
working class"

Members of the party should belong to party groups and
the party is a "single system of these organizations,
their formal union into a single whole," with
democratic centralism, so the party can provide
"systematic and organized leadership of the
working-class struggle."

3.  "The party as the highest form of class
organization of the preoletariat"

The party should provide "the general line" and
leadership to the various organizations the working
class creates.  These groups should not be controlled
by the party, but "the members of the Party who belong
to these organizations and are doubtlessly influential
in them should do all they can to persuade these
non-Party organizations to draw nearer to the Party of
the proletariat in their work and voluntarily accept
its political leadership."

4.  "The party as an instrument of the dictatorship of
the proletariat"

The party is not "an end in itself" but "an instrument
in the hands of the proletariat for achieving the
dictatorship,…, and for consolidating and expanding
the dictatorship, when it has already been achieved."

Maintaining and expanding the hegemony of the working
class means providing a center and education for the
working class, which requires a party.

5.  "The party as the unity of will, unity
incompatible with the existence of factions"

Unity is necessary, but this unity is by "conscious
and voluntary submission," "after a conflict of
opinion has been closed, after criticism has been
exhausted and a decision has been arrived at," leading
to "solidarity and iron discipline."

6.  "The party becomes strong by purging itself of
opportunist [unprincipled or wavering] elements"

Stalin says that "The source of factionalism in the
Party is its opportunist elements," who must be
expelled so the party can be effective.

Section 9.  "Style in work"

"Leninism is a school of theory and practice which
trains a special type of Party and state worker,
creates a special Leninist style in work," which
Stalin calls a combination of "Russian revolutionary
sweep" with "American efficiency."

"Russian revolutionary sweep" is a progressive spirit,
but can lose touch with practical implementation and
become "fantastic scheme concocting."  "American
efficiency" is practical organization and efficiency,
but it needs the guidance of a revolutionary spirit,
or "vision," to stay on course.

What does all of this mean for Americans in December
2006, what of Leninism is relevant to the working
class struggle here and how do we put it into

Triangle Socialist Forum – December 9, 2006