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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
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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 ]
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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 08:33:01 AM EST
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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
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