This is a useful and relevant take on the question of leninism and the current left. The claim for the democratic focus of the early bolsheviks is important.
But in the end one has to ask if the left doesn’t need to abandon its past and start over. Is there a serious hope of getting the history of lenin right? I have studied all this for decades but am unable to get the tale right. Let me note therefore in this regard the near impossibility of getting the history straight: If the whole spectrum of ‘sects’ has gotten the history wrong, and/or is pervaded with crypto-stalinism, then the public will itself prove incapable of following the logic of reform/revolution, and we can see that that is the case.
The left expends immense energy trying explicate lenin and yet noone can get it right.
An exist strategy is needed: the left as a spectrum of socialists/communists must redefine all its terms and write off the second international and the lenin phase.
Part of the problem is obsessive abstraction without any practical platform. It is all blah blah about reform versus revolution. But if we choose the revolution slant then we are all back invoking lenin etc..If reform, the kautsky, etc…
There is a need to propose the revolutionary path beyond lenin, and a reformist path beyond kautsky, as if we had a blank history and a fresh potential for the future.
Moral: we can invoke revolution but we must redefine it beyond leninism.
In the midst of all this is the incessant chatter about a working class control of government. What on earth does that mean? It is a slogan inherited from the legacy that that itself refused to define what it intended beyond such a slogan. There are all sorts of ways to reify that perhaps but what government is going to match that? A democracy must include all sectors and not that phantom, the dictatorship of the proletariat, a fiction that addles brains routinely. Why is working class domination going to be better than any other domination? And in practice the obvious lesson of the bolshevik era, it seems, is that at the crucial moment a vanguard ended up speaking for the working class. Etc..
There is a way past this. Specify the nature of the system proposed whether by revolution or reform, and in advance. Our democratic market neo-communism sets a specific series of goals to be achieved in a new society. It should be even more detailed and invoke everything from a parliament, to a presidential system to ecological courts under a commons achieved by (revolutionary) expropriation, etc… Once the plan is specific the reign of abstractions ceases and much of the useless effort to explicate the legacy including that of leninism fades away.
This proposal breaks with the legacy and yet fulfills it as it demonstrates something practical, wastes zero time on lenin, or even marxism, and achieves an outcome that must reconcile in a platform in advance the issues of democracy, markets, planning, and a Commons behind neo-communism.
Trying to get the right interpretation of bolshevism and lenin is a futile procedure. At no point has the confusion lifted with the ‘right’ interpretation.
Here is still another take on lenin:
I don’t agree: we need less lenin. Who can get him right? We need to start over and think for ourselves
Source: The Retrograde Left – COSMONAUT