What is to be done ?

6:56 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Demonstration Pietarsaari 1905 - flickr

Excuse me for such obvious plagiarism. Not from any current blog or diary but from a pamphlet put out by Vladimir Lenin  in the early 1900s. For this question is pertinent now as then. Even more so as Andrew Levine proposes here when  he references Lenin’s work.

Nearly eleven decades have passed since the publication of V.I. Lenin’s “What Is To Be Done?”  This remarkable pamphlet – actually, a short book — was a political intervention focused on issues confronting the Russian Social Democratic movement at the dawn of the twentieth century.  Much or its content is peculiar to the time and place of its composition.

There is therefore a sense in which, with each passing year, it becomes increasingly anachronistic.  Even so, it is not just the pamphlet’s title question that remains timely.  For although it was not intended as a theoretical treatise, it was evident from the beginning that it can be read as one and that, in that capacity, it can be enormously enlightening.

Indeed for even Lenin had said years afterward that all his previous writings have to be taken in the context of the times and places and events in which they were written. This of course goes for nearly all such prose.  This does not mean to disregard it entirely. Au contraire, one needs to read such works to get the broad picture. To learn what was faced and how to deal with it. I do this myself even with technology. Read about what has gone before. Because these people may have faced the same or similar problems and learn how they solved them and if now with our current abilities, maybe could be solved better or the ideas applied in a different manner.

For as Levine point out “Revolts and rebellions have always been with us, and will be so long as injustice and oppression endure.”

And goes on to quote Lenin that “…….without a revolutionary organization, shaped and informed by revolutionary theory, there can be no successful revolutionary practice.  This goes for peaceful but nevertheless fundamental transformations of basic institutional arrangements, as much as for the kinds of upheavals for which “revolutionary moments” like the storming of the Bastille or the Winter Palace are emblematic.”

Organization is the key word here because make no mistake the right is already organized and they have a clear agenda.  The left needs to have a message and agenda that is just as clear. We also have to stop hemming ourselves in by rejecting methods and tactics that the right has no problem with.   They are actively now trying to re-implement Jim Crow laws and use police terror tactics and will do what ever they can to keep cooperatives from forming and anything else.

And we have additional problems that Lenin and later revolutionaries did not face. Especially in the size and diversity of this country. 

But most of all we need to have a clear and easy to understand and relate to voice.  Huey Long had such a voice. A very left wing politician that all could relate to.  Messages such as economic justice  are too vague for most and intellectual rants just go over peoples heads.  

We need to identify the problems in a clear, simple and concise manner and then have equally clear agenda as to how we will carry them out.

But all this leaves us with other dilemmas. How to deal with and convince those that Chris Hedges refers to as The Careerists.

They collect and read the personal data gathered on tens of millions of us by the security and surveillance state. They keep the accounts of ExxonMobil, BP and Goldman Sachs. They build or pilot aerial drones. They work in corporate advertising and public relations. They issue the forms. They process the papers. They deny food stamps to some and unemployment benefits or medical coverage to others. They enforce the laws and the regulations. And they do not ask questions. Good. Evil. These words do not mean anything to them. They are beyond morality. They are there to make corporate systems function.

Or the psychopaths that use any opportunity to advance themselves to disregard of other people. And even see this as a game. They will not go silently or quietly into their good night, rest assured.  And to think that the rich and powerful will let anyone vote them out of power, is pure fantasy.   

OWS not with standing, to even begin to accomplish any of this will require some form of leadership and organization and planning. Which brings up another situation, that leaders by their vary nature have a tendency toward authoritarianism. It must there fore be organized in such a way as to be able to remove anyone who gets “too big for their britches”.

All of this must be considered. I would also then recommend reading all that one can from the union, socialist and anarchists movements of the early 1900s through the 1940s. People such as Lucy Parsons and Eugene V. Debs and Eric Fromm and others.

And do not shy away from Lenin. If only to piss people off.