The "State" Can be Revolutionary

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by Robinn
Published: 2023-09-13 (last update: 2023-10-06)
15-25 minutes

Anark has no understanding of the class character of the state, does not even mean to address it, this “class” has no features other than its oppression, so that we may arrive at Bakunin’s nonsense of a “new proletariat” suppressed by the DOTP. The state is an apparatus for the suppression of one class by another, of, in orthodox, the suppression of the majority by the minority, for the reconciliation of irreconcilable contradictions, although in the national sense the proletarian state (which Lenin clarifies in this sense is no longer a state proper) may through the masses suppress the bourgeoisie whose power is supported internationally, as seen from the counterrevolutionary movement against the Bolsheviks supported by the imperialist powers.

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Refutation of “The State is Counterrevolutionary” Video Series by Anark [video] [text]

"Part 1: What is the State?"

Every power presupposes some form of human slavery, for the division of society into higher and lower classes is one of the first conditions of its existence. The separation of men into castes, orders and classes occurring in every power structure corresponds to an inner necessity for the separation of the possessors of privilege from the people.

This is the anarchist variation of class analysis, that, like Nietzche’s “new slavery”, proceeds from the superficial observation that certain sections of the population are oppressed whilst others are privileged with oppression. Without historical materialism, classes are forgotten, the nature of the state is unknown, and we are met with this childish argument:

The only conceivable counter-argument, that a benevolent leadership which does not act in their own self-interest may sit in the seats of power, neglects a simple reality: all humans die eventually. And once those benevolent dictators die, the reins will be handed back over to a new group of human beings, turning the state, on a long enough timeline, into a game of Russian Roulette with the future of the masses lying in the balance.

This passes as anarchist “theory”! With no attempt to grapple with Engels’ Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, or any Marxist analysis of the class character of the state, it may be ignored, and these self-assuming superficial definitions of the state are proven by their very existence. Then the state is ruled by “good people” and “bad people”, this is its motive force (don’t laugh).

A whole mechanism of legislation and of policing has to be developed in order to subject some classes to the domination of others.

This is basically correct, but since Anark has no understanding of the class character of the state, does not even mean to address it, this “class” has no features other than its oppression, so that we may arrive at Bakunin’s nonsense of a “new proletariat” suppressed by the DOTP (we might also note how Bakunin “forgets” of the remnant bourgeoisie and counterrevolutionary petty-bourgeoisie to dishonestly manufacture a “paradox” within the workers’ state).[1] The state is an apparatus for the suppression of one class by another, or, in orthodox, the suppression of the majority by the minority, for the reconciliation of irreconcilable contradictions, although in the national sense the proletarian state (which Lenin clarifies in this sense is no longer a state proper)[2] may through the masses suppress the bourgeoisie whose power is supported internationally, as seen from the counterrevolutionary movement against the Bolsheviks supported by the imperialist powers.

Regardless of the temporary existence of selfless leaders, self-interested people will exist within the state.

This is childish drivel. The DOTP does not rely on selfless leaders, but those elected by and derived from the masses, whose power is enforced through the masses as led by the proletariat (naturally the tendency towards this as elaborated in historimat will not be discussed). The nature of the bourgeois state is not merely the result of corrupted people but its very life essence, just as the nature of the proletarian state is not a matter of selfless people. This is a fundamentally absurd misunderstanding. Self-interested people may exist, but if the nature of the state remains in the hands of the masses, they will be driven out, as seen in Xi’s corruption drive, or in repeated purges, of which anarchists would of course decry “infighting”, despite no understanding of these matters.

The power of the state is what allows those people to act in their self-interest.

It allows classes to act in their self interests, but individual state actors are subordinated to the nature of the state. What is the proof of this “self interest” nonsense?

Therefore it is in the interest of all people that operate the state, to perpetuate the power of the state.

From a bad tree descends bad fruit; the state is not a result of “self interested people” but the definite relations between classes. Here Anark puts up an image of the Tiananmen Square riots as well, despite the fact that these protests were organized by the U.S. (with the implication that an anarchist “organization” would have allowed this to occur), that the protests were not a genuine mass movement, and that the state allowed the protests for a long time until riots broke out elsewhere (as well as the fact that a protest leader admitted their intent was to create a “massacre”).[3][4] This is not mentioned, however, because Anark is not intending to disclose the truth, but rather to place these images on the screen (with implied correlation) and create a skewed narrative.

The very act of centralizing power is thus an act of violence against the workers. So long as the state is allowed to exist, worker emancipation is impossible [...] Class abolition can then only ever hope to succeed if it corresponds to an abolition of centralized power. Such a statement is not a preference, it is a foundational requirement for the next phase of human development, and all attempts to make the state into a vehicle for liberation are misguided negotiations with a potent counter-revolutionary force.

Material conditions determine tactics, not ideology. Capitalism relies inherently on decentralization, while the tendency in production skews it towards centralization under socialism:

“The essential conditions for the existence and for the sway of the bourgeois class is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage-labor. Wage-labor rests exclusively on competition between the laborers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the laborers, due to competition, by the revolutionary combination, due to association. The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers” — Karl Marx, Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848

So on the one hand preference is denied, and on the other it is asserted as the motive force of worker suppression. So long as the state exists, total emancipation is impossible, this is quite correct, but this in no way negates the temporary revolutionary character of the DOTP, which is configured to: reconcile the birthmarks of capitalism, including the existence of a remnant bourgeoisie and of bourgeois relations; defend against bourgeois/reactionary counterrevolution, which would have overtaken the Soviets in a day, as Lenin remarks; in the case of underdeveloped nations, to organize and put into practice the development of the productive forces under the leadership of the proletariat and oriented towards their betterment. This leads the way for the abolition of classes, a task which may not be completed by slogans or utopian dreams but by real means, that the proletarian state will by its design be the last. The state may not be “abolished”, it will exist so long as classes exist, and will wither away only through real struggle to remove its life essence.

lying at the center of the authoritarian left conceptualization is the notion that any socialist project managed by the people is too weak and too aimless to defend itself from sabotage and that, instead of the people governing themselves in the interim, the state will need to rapidly centralize power, then wield that power benevolently in the interests of the masses

Wonderful sophism, but “managed by the people” means nothing. What does this entail? The people must delegate a certain group of themselves to be armed and fight off counterrevolution, the people must delegate a committee to handle economic organization, and the people must elect representatives from their communities to handle the affairs of the country. “The state” is given supernatural powers for rhetorical purposes; this power will not be wielded “benevolently”, because the state does not exist above society but derives its power from it, through the dominant relations it serves. *Anark quotes Marx to disprove that he supported a “paternalistic state”, but it is only the anarchist thesis that a state of this form is demanded by the “authoritarian left.”*

This quote from Lenin’s work What Is To Be Done? is quite instructive of the attitude he takes toward revolutionary organization: “Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from without, that is, only from outside the economic struggle, from outside the sphere of relations between workers and employers.” Leninism is predicated on a fundamental lack of faith in the workers to organize themselves and to arrive upon a coherent conception of their class position without a party to lead them. To Lenin, the vanguard, occupied by enlightened socialist thinkers, was a representative body of proletarian class consciousness. Thus it was the job of the revolutionary party to tutor the masses on their liberation ‘from without.’ Wherein the workers lacked such a guiding hand, Lenin took a dim view of their mass potential, believing that the highest state that they could achieve on their own was what he called trade union consciousness; that is to say, the ability to band together into trade unions.

Should all workers attain class consciousness at once? Even the real means of material liberation will be distributed unequally or in separate intervals. Why, then, should a worker’s vanguard be opposed? Leadership is absolutely necessary. In fact, the theoretically advanced and devoted, as in those making up the vanguard, are derived from the workers themselves. The quote from What is to Be Done is so deliberately misconstrued as to invoke a great suspicion of dishonesty. We will begin from where Anark left off:

“The sphere from which alone it is possible to obtain this knowledge is the sphere of relationships of all classes and strata to the state and the government, the sphere of the interrelations between all classes. For that reason, the reply to the question as to what must be done to bring political knowledge to the workers cannot be merely the answer with which, in the majority of cases, the practical workers, especially those inclined towards Economism, mostly content themselves, namely: ‘To go among the workers.’ To bring political knowledge to the workers the Social Democrats must go among all classes of the population; they must dispatch units of their army in all directions.”

Either Anark read, “We therefore beg the reader not to get wrought up, but to hear us patiently to the end" and ignored this warning, or neglected to read the work entirely. In any case, this will not do. “From without” refers to “from outside the proletarian class”, but the reference to trade unions means only within the proletarian class, that without considering all classes they cannot enter the total political struggle. Many Social Democrats were workers themselves, and yet in typical anarchist fashion (the complete ignorance of the nature of class), any distinction at all negates this.

In 1904, Rosa Luxemburg, after reading Lenin’s One Step Forward, Two Steps Back wrote a response called Organizational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy to criticize this attitude, in it she said: “...the two principles on which Lenin’s centralism rests are precisely these: 1. The blind subordination, in the smallest detail, of all party organs to the party center which alone thinks, guides, and decides for all. 2. The rigorous separation of the organized nucleus of revolutionaries from its social-revolutionary surroundings.”

The principle of democratic centralism is “from the bottom up, and the top down”, forgetting the former is not “analysis.” From the bottom up means that all decisions by a certain strata and promotions from that strata must be agreed upon by all members within, and from the top down (the “top” which from the bottom up had been configured), all decisions must be carried out and modified thereafter according to the mass line. The vanguard party is made up of and adapts to the proletariat. Blind subordination is an inaccurate description, nor is it correct that the party center alone makes/criticizes policies at all levels (regardless, the party center is dictated by the masses).

There is something perverse in this conception, wherein Lenin does not seem to want to change the relations of the workers to the means of production, but instead to simply refocus proletarian obedience to the capitalists with proletarian obedience to vanguard authority.

This is “proven” from a single vague quote from Luxembourg which misrepresents democratic centralism.

Notes on "Part 2: The USSR"

Remarkably lacking in sources, simplistic in its explanations, beginning with the most brazen assumptions, questioning, before any “investigation” (hardly), “How is it, given the evolution we discussed in Marx’s ideology over the course of his life, that Bakunin was able to foresee this threat so clearly?” Rather than asking this at the end of the section, Anark places the question at the fore, assumes its legitimacy from the outset, then asks one to await “vindication” whilst demanding these predictions be “kept in mind.” Citations are only reserved for quotes (and even then this is not universal), interspersed throughout to grant an air of legitimacy, all the while merely interrupting the steady stream of conjecture.

By next year, Lenin produced an article outlining the intentions of the Bolsheviks proceeding forward. In this article he explained a need for “raising labor discipline,” by which he meant that there should be an emulation of the American capitalist form of labor control called Taylorism. In fact, he said it plainly: “...we must raise the question of applying much of what is scientific and progressive in the Taylor system...the Soviet Republic must at all costs adopt all that is valuable in the achievements of science and technology in this field...we must organize in Russia the study and teaching of the Taylor system.”

There are already hints of the truth in what Anark has offered us (ex. “what is scientific and progressive”, i.e. what corresponds to higher development of industry), and yet he stops short (some suspicion is reasonable given that, despite repeated citations, there is none for this text). Between the first intermediary ellipses, Lenin clarifies the progressive aspect of this system: “we must make wages correspond to the total amount of goods turned out.”[5] This is clarified furthermore in the note: “the possibility of building socialism depends exactly upon our success in combining the Soviet power and the Soviet organization of administration with the up-to-date achievements of capitalism.” Now Anark includes a period at the end of his selected quote, but this is not the end of the sentence. Whereas Anark implies a mechanistic recreation (“emulation”) of the Taylor system, the sentence actually follows: “…of the Taylor system and systematically try it out and adapt it to our own ends.” To this effect, Lenin actually addresses the concerns of emulating a capitalist framework:

“The Taylor system, the last word of capitalism in this respect, like all capitalist progress, is a combination of the refined brutality of bourgeois exploitation and a number of the greatest scientific achievements in the field of analyzing mechanical motions during work, the elimination of superfluous and awkward motions, the elaboration of correct methods of work, the introduction of the best system of accounting and control, etc. The Soviet Republic must at all costs adopt all that is valuable in the achievements of science and technology in this field.”

Here we have a clear dichotomy between what is valuable and what is not, as seen earlier in the singling out of “what is scientific and progressive”, but more fully, and with clear continuity with regards to the question of development (principally underdevelopment in Russia).

These Kronstadt sailors… issued a statement outlining their demands, in solidarity with the strikers… Lenin and Trotsky and declare[d] Kronstadt guilty of mutiny. The demand of the sailors for free Soviets is denounced as ‘a counter-revolutionary conspiracy against the proletarian Republic.’ Members of the Communist Party are ordered into the mills and factories to ‘rally the workers to the support of the Government against the traitors.’ Kronstadt is to be suppressed. Correspondence shows that Kronstadt sent word that “we want no bloodshed [...] Not a single Communist has been harmed by us.”

The Kronstadt mutiny has already been discussed in much detail, and it is not worth one second to attempt to renew this, especially since Anark’s summary is unspecific and offers nothing apart from what has been said before and addressed.[6]

“To this day, anarchists cite the old accounts of the uprising by Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Voline in which the reactionary sides of this revolt are largely ignored or downplayed. The work of Paul Avrich is an exception. In broad terms, the anarchist view is based on the idea that anything that comes ‘from below,’ opposes central political power, and is apparently spontaneous, and on those merits alone stands for a better and more correct socialism.”[7]

By 1923, even Lenin recognized that the dream of socialism had died in Russia and that it was the fault of the bureaucratic domination of the workers. Maurice Meisner, in a work which we will use extensively in the next part of this essay, recounts this story: “Less than five years after the Russian Revolution, Lenin pondered why the new Soviet order had quickly become so bureaucratic and oppressive. On his deathbed he somberly concluded that he had witnessed the resurrection of the old czarist bureaucracy to which the Bolsheviks ‘had given only a Soviet veneer.’ Lenin’s worst fears were soon realized with the massive bureaucratization of the Soviet state and society during the Stalinist era, and the unleashing of what Isaac Deutscher called ‘an almost permanent orgy of bureaucratic violence.’” In these same deathbed reflections, Lenin said he was “guilty before the workers of Russia” for having not warned them about the ruthless concentration of power sooner. Of course, it would not have mattered if he had told them or not. As soon as the first decrees by Lenin had been issued which allowed the state to nationalize anything which could be deemed pertinent to the state, he had, himself, set the stage to destroy the revolution. It is cold comfort to the martyred workers that he lamented those mistakes.

Here Maurice Meisner’s Mao’s China and After (pg. 253), cites page 201 of Isaac Deutscher’s Marxism in Our Time, of which we will merely find Deutscher’s comment on “bureaucratic violence”, but nothing of Lenin’s note. Alas, apart from its “flare” in conveying the information, Meisner’s quote is not worthy of a citation, practically useless. We might be astonished, then, to find on the other hand a lack of any direct source for Lenin’s “deathbed reflections”, especially since Anark takes it upon themself to refer to them a second time. Deutscher again repeats the story in “Lenin’s Last Dilemma”,[8] and yet again there is no source. We are left with the question: from where did this quote originate? We find the answer in Deutscher’s Prophet Unarmed,[9] that both Meisner and Anark have engaged in a plain distortion (Deutscher exaggerates as well, but in keeping strictly to references to actual quotes we may avoid falling into this) . Lenin’s notes in actuality were mainly on the national question, that Russia had not adequately granted sovereignty and autonomy to smaller nations. Lenin never apologized to the “martyred workers”, as Anark implies (nor asserted that “the dream of socialism had died in Russia”), and in fact their quote is incomplete; in full, it reads: “strongly guilty before the workers of Russia for not having intervened vigorously and drastically enough in this notorious issue”, of which this issue is clarified by Deutscher as “[the USSR’s] policy towards the small nations”, and Lenin in clarifying writes that “it is better to show too much conciliation… towards national minorities, rather than too little.” The “integrated apparatus”/bureaucracy note is linked to addressing the national question as well, of which the “Soviet veneer” comment is in regards to Soviet policy on sovereignty, adding that statements demanding a revocation of national autonomy “emanate[d] from” the apparatus “borrowed from Tsardom.”

Note on "Part 3: Maoist China"

It’s not difficult to hear echoes of Mao’s early foray with anarchism in these words. But we should not get too carried away, as Mao never conceived of the possibility that the state could be abolished.

“‘Don't you want to abolish state power?’ Yes, we do, but not right now; we cannot do it yet. Why? Because imperialism still exists, because domestic reaction still exists, because classes still exist in our country... China can develop steadily, under the leadership of the working class and the Communist Party, from an agricultural into an industrial country and from a new-democratic into a socialist and communist society, can abolish classes and realize the Great Harmony” — Mao Zedong, On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, 1949

  1. “Let us ask, if the proletariat is to be the ruling class, over whom is it to rule? In short, there will remain another proletariat which will be subdued to this new rule, to this new state”

    Mikhail Bakunin (1873). Statism and Anarchy.
  2. “The Commune was no longer a state in the proper sense of the word’—this is the most theoretically important statement Engels makes... The Commune was ceasing to be a state since it had to suppress, not the majority of the population, but a minority (the exploiters). It had smashed the bourgeois state machine. In place of a special coercive force the population itself came on the scene. All this was a departure from the state in the proper sense of the word”

    Vladimir Lenin (1917). The State and Revolution: 'Supplementary Explanations by Engels; Letter to Bebel' (p. 46). [PDF]
  3. "CIA Man Misread Reaction, Sources Say" (1992-09-17). Vancouver Sun.
  4. Sun Feiyang and Roderic Day (2021-03-03). "Another View of Tiananmen" Red Sails.
  5. V.I. Lenin (1918-04-28). "The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government"
  6. "Truth About the Kronstadt Mutiny" (2021-05-29). Poder Obrero. Archived from the original.
  7. Marcus Hesse (2021-05-24). "1921: The Kronstadt Revolt — an anti-Bolshevik myth turns 100" China Worker.
  8. Isaac Deutscher. "Lenin’s Last Dilemma"
  9. Isaac Deutscher (1959). The Prophet Unarmed, Trotsky: 1921-1929 (p. 59). Digitalized by RevSocialist.