FOR POLITICAL EQUALITY

All citizens vote on all policies

20th Century Power Politics and their 21st Century electronic alternative

By Aki  ORR

 

Purpose and Dedication

This book aims to motivate people to set up post-parliamentary direct democracy (DD) enabling all citizens to propose-debate-vote on all issues of society.  Every citizen – one vote – on every issue of society. This political equality abolishes Power – the role of deciding on behalf of others – the main cause of violence and corruption in society. 

This book is dedicated to those who have acted to promote an earlier version of this aim in the past. To Chris and Jeanne Pallis, Ken Weller, and all members of the British "Solidarity" group, to Cornelius Castoriadis and all members of the French "Socialism Ou Barbarie" group, to Henri Simon and all members of the ICO group, to Debrah Weil, Sally Bellfrage, Lafif El-Akhdar, Tamar Sneh, Vittorio Volterra,  Arna Mer-Khamis, Shimon Tzabar, Nissan Rilov, Tuli Kupferberg, Rachel Correy, Hal Draper, C.L.R. James, Rudi Dutschke, Erich Fried, Mario Savio, Abbie Hoffman, P.Grigorenko, Andrei Amalrik, Roddy Barry, Harriet and Colin Ward, Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, and all who support political equality, enabling all citizens to propose-debate-vote on every issue of society.

And last, but not least, to my grandsons Max and Theo, born in the 21st Century – and to their generation - who may wonder why did certain politicians in the 20th Century decide to start WW1 WW2 and many colonial wars killing 100 million people and may want to read a short book providing an answer.

 

ISBN  978-965-7484-00-5  (c) Aki  ORR

Copyright of books quoted are reserved for their authors and publishers.

See also :  www.abolish-power.org   and  www.akiorrbooks.com

 

“To be” is not merely “to exist” but to decide all issues of one's life. Denying citizens' right to decide all issues of society reduces them to mere political pawns. All citizens have the right to decide all policies.

 

Introduction

 

1.  Truth is not Reality

2.  Priority Principles

3.  Society creates individuality

4.  Processes produce events

5.  Means and Ends    

6.  Marx - right and wrong

7.  WW1 and Lenin's Revolution

 8. Stalin = industrialization + terror

 9. WW2,"Cold War", fall of Socialism

10 The May 1968 strike in France

11. Women's Liberation

12.  Imperialism transformed   

13.  Politics of Poisoning

14.  Big business or big government?

15.  Post parliamentary non-Party state

16.   Politics without Power?

17.   D.I.Y.  How to get DD

18.   Summing up

 

Appendices

Index  

 

Introduction

20th Century politics were efforts by Big Business (BB) and Big Government (BG) to shape all other societies in their own image.  BB won but most people resent it.  They also resent BG.  As a result politics today are at a dead-end as people resent both BB and BG but see no other system to replace them.    However, mobile phones, magnetic cards, TV and the Internet provide the technical means for a new system:  a post-parliamentary direct democracy where all citizens can debate and vote on all issues of their society - without any representatives.

* * *

As a non-parliamentary Left activist since 1952, I was inspired by seeing a new generation of activists continuing the struggles against BB and BG of my generation. However, listening to young activists revealed to me three major differences between their generation and mine. 

1) We knew philosophy and had a firm philosophical foundation for our activities.

The new generation reads no philosophy.Their politics lack a philosophical foundation.

2) We studied histories of past revolutions and saw ourselves as their continuation. Today's activists hardly know about the Kronstadt uprising (1921) against Lenin's BG or about the greatest general strike in history (France, 1968), or why a BG world superpower like USSR rose and fell. They don't see their activity as part of an ongoing historical process.

3) We had a clear political goal: to replace an economy run by private owners for private profits by an economy managed by all employees - not by the state - to serve all in society. Our goal inspired our initiative and motivated us to act independently of what our rulers did.  After USSR’s collapse (1991) all ideas on public ownership of the economy fell into disrepute. Left activists today have no new alternative to privatized - or nationalized - economy. While Capitalism (and Communist China) act, Left activists merely re-act. They protest against “outsourcing”, “privatizing”, or “globalizing” but Capitalism has the initiative. The reason? Today’s activists see no new alternative to Capitalism/Socialism/Rule by Representatives (RR).  They offer no new political system. People who have an alternative  act to achieve it, people who lack it - protest. My generation acted to achieve an egalitarian economy. Today's activists don't. This motivated me to write this book offering the new generation of activists three themes: 1) A philosophical foundation for their activity.  2) A brief history of 20th century politics. 3) A new political goal: to set up political equality, post-parliamentary direct-democracy so all citizens can propose-debate-vote all issues of society.

*  *  *

Some readers may find the book chaotic. They may wonder: Is this a book about Philosophy? about History? about Politics?  My answer: This book is a toolbox of ideas for direct-democracy activists. It provides ideas useful to those acting to create a post-parliamentary direct-democracy. Pick up any of its ideas - use it and develop it: at home, at work, in school, in politics, in everyday life. As I never have a final version of anything this book is not a Bible but a tool to inspire your innovative thinking on every issue of society.

   *  *  *

Chapters 1 to 6 provide philosophical ideas useful for changing societies, states, and politics.

Chapters 7 to 14 summarize 20th Century politics.

Chapters 15 and 16 describe direct democracy and answer common criticism.

Chapter 17 suggests how to promote direct democracy in today’s societies.

*  *  *

Thanks are due to A. Hallel and Prof. F. Pirani for correcting errors in the text, to Harriet Ward for her editing, to Ken Weller, Claude and Henri Simon, Prof.Y. Nitzan, Dr. S. Bichler, A. Neuman, H. Zucker, John Walsh, Sharon Orr and Jon Parish, for comments and criticism.  They are not responsible for the book’s ideas and errors.   I am responsible for both.    Aki  ORR.  2007

 

1.  Truth is not Reality

Anyone who has seen a detective film knows it is easy to decide whether the assertion "K is dead" is true, but not so easy to decide whether the assertion "K was murdered" is true, and quite difficult to decide whether the assertion "L murdered K" is true. 

The first assertion can be verified by just looking at K.  To assert the second requires some detective work. The third is usually decided in court after hearing witnesses, lawyers and consulting the law. What is easy when dealing with a single fact becomes difficult when dealing with history and politics consisting of many facts.

 At the time of writing this book (2006) the US Army still occupies Iraq so let us start by using as an example three TV teams coming to Iraq to film documentaries about the situation there. Suppose they come from three different countries. A CNN team from the USA, an Al-Jazeera team from Qatar, and a team from French state TV. 

Let us assume all teams do an honest job, which means that they do not stage any scene and do not film untypical scenes. Even so they will produce three different TV documentaries of the situation in Iraq.  CNN will produce a pro-US film. Al-Jazeera - a pro Iraqi film and French TV - a film critical of both US and the Iraqis.

Which film shows the truth about Iraq, and which films distort it?

As cameras do not lie and no scene was staged we must conclude that all films show true scenes.    Does this mean all three films show the truth? 

As they are all different we wonder - Can there be three different truths?    

If the answer is no then which one is the objective truth - not depending on people's bias - and why so?

If the answer is yes then which of the three truths should we prefer?

On receiving the Nobel Prize for literature in 2005 British playwright Harold Pinter, said:  "There never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other." 

This is also the case in politics and history.    But there is logic in this blindness. 

None of the three films is objectively true yet none is lying, as they are all made by subjects, by people, and whatever is made by people depends on those who made it.  All descriptions of historical or political events are subjective. This does not mean they distort reality and depend on one person’s bias.  Most people's belief for thousands of years that the sun moves around the earth did not depend on one person’s bias and was considered "Objective Truth". Today most people know this was never a truth, but not many realize it was never "Objective". It was a belief not of one “subject” but of many “subjects”. "Objective" means "not depending on subjects".

In courts we swear to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth". 

"The whole truth" is a description of total reality. Of reality in its entirety. To give a complete - unedited - description of reality one must document every detail of it including every atom and cell in every living organism.  Why?  Because they are all part of reality and any description omitting them is not all the truth. But most atoms are not relevant to the particular issue. Yes, but this means that someone must decide what is relevant and what is irrelevant. When someone edits out 'irrelevant” parts, the description depends also on the editing - not on facts alone.   Who edits?

 

Describing all details of historical reality is impossible. No one can document everything.  Some details, like deliberations of political decision-makers are usually secret.  Even if one could describe every detail, it would take many lifetimes to record - or view - all details.  So every description of Reality is - unavoidably - edited by someone.  No recording of reality is "ALL Reality".  It is an edited version of reality.

 

Every documentary film Director decides what will be filmed - and how; what will not be filmed, and what will be cut in the cutting room.  No documentary film is lying as it shows actual scenes but each is edited according to the priorities of its Director. Even if all recorded details are true none is a description of total reality, as they are all edited.   They differ in their editing.

The documentary "Weapons of mass-deception" on the Internet discusses this point. 

 

It is impossible to produce a complete, unedited, description of anything. 

All documentation is edited and every film-maker must decide which parts of reality are "relevant" and should be shown and which are irrelevant and can be omitted.  

"Relevance" is determined by an editor, not by reality.  Editors decide according to their priorities.  Deciding what is irrelevant, and how to join the relevant parts into a coherent whole picture determines the nature of the documentary. A TV documentary may be true, but it is not reality. "Truth" differs from "Reality" and "Historical Truth" differs from "Historical Reality". Historical Reality is the totality of what happened, not an edited description of this totality. "Historical Truth" is an edited description of historical reality and depends on its describer.  .  

Reality does not depend on its describers or its editors.  "Truth" - does. 

 

To reduce misunderstanding let me emphasize that there exists a historical reality that does not depend on its describers and can therefore be called "objective". The Universe is a reality that existed long before Life, let alone Consciousness, emerged.  It exists even if no one describes it. "Truth" is not "Reality" but an edited description of this reality and editing depends on editors and is therefore "Subjective"   We can describe only what we are aware of, and each description is edited by its describer.  Every description is by some "Subject" and is a particular interpretation of reality. Therefore no description is "Objective". There is an "Objective Reality" which does not depend on people, but there is no "Objective Truth" because Truth depends on its describers and is always subjective. This does not mean it depends on a single person. The belief that the sun moves around the earth was shared by millions. They were sure it is "Objective Truth" but it was an interpretation of millions of "subjects".  The fact that every "Truth" is subjective does not mean it is unreliable, or that "anything goes" or that all descriptions are equally unreliable.  It only means that "Truth" is never final.  It must be tested repeatedly and can always be disproved and improved.

 

There can be different versions of "Subjective Truth" even when their creators have the same priorities. Not all versions have the same validity. Some are valid while others are not.   Valid versions of "Historical Truth" must pass three tests:

1. Integration. Does the version integrate all known facts in its domain into a single, coherent, whole, like a completed jigsaw puzzle, giving a clear picture, or do some known facts fail to fit into the whole pattern in a coherent way?

           The more facts fit into the coherent pattern, the more valid the version.  

If even a single significant fact fails to fit the coherent pattern the version is invalid.

2. Prediction. Reality changes non-stop. A valid version of reality enables us to predict future events. A version whose predictions are confirmed has more validity than one that fails to predict future events or whose predictions are wrong. However, even a version whose predictions are confirmed must never be accepted as final since further events may refute some of its predictions. A version unable to predict anything is untrustworthy.  This is the case with many "Historical Truths" that are descriptive but not predictive. They face the past, not the future. They try to explain what happened, but are unable to predict what will happen. 

 

The two tests above are value-free and apply also to theories of Nature, like physics, astronomy, biology, geology.  Theories of human history must pass one more test.

 

3. Consequences. Versions of past history shape people’s responses to current reality and must be evaluated by what they motivate their believers to do.  For example: The Nazis saw human history as a struggle between races where the superior race dominates all others. This motivated them to try to eliminate races they considered inferior. They built death camps to exterminate "inferior" races. This was. a direct consequence of their version of history. Communists believed they posses the “Laws of History”. This justified their rule by “History experts”, the political bureaucracy. Theories of history must be evaluated by the consequences of the acts they motivate their believers to enact.   Likewise, all theories of society and of economics must be evaluated by what they motivate their believers to do and by the outcome of their acts.

 

There can be no "Objective truth" as all truth is subjective, but this does not mean all subjective truths have equal validity or that all are untrustworthy. Those that pass the Integration-Prediction-Consequence tests can be accepted as currently valid.

Current validity must be repeatedly tested and can always be disproved or improved.

 

All said above applies to sequences of related facts, to historical and social processes.

It applies also to TV documentaries and to all interpretations of historical reality - including all social and scientific theories, and also to our thinking.  Our mind (not our brain) edits the data it receives from our sense organs to prevent us from drowning in an ocean of data. A tiny part of sensory data becomes "information" and is shaped into "concepts".   Concepts must be tested repeatedly, and improved.

So much for descriptions of reality but what about reality itself? Contrary to uncritical impressions "Reality" is not a set of well defined, fixed, facts; it is more like an evolving cumulus cloud with new shapes appearing in it. The shapes allow us to impose various definitions on them but no shapes - or definition - is final. The "Reality Cumulus" itself evades final definition and constantly evolves in two ways: 

1. Our awareness of reality expands. Neutrinos and Antarctica were not shapes in the "Reality Cumulus" of the ancient Greeks/Egyptians/Chinese/Babylonians, who were unaware of their existence. What we are unaware of we cannot include in "Reality".   

2. We create new shapes in “Reality Cumulus” - mobile phones, Internet, States, Canals, satellites, birth-control pills, etc. Each creation becomes part of reality. Before the Suez and Panama Canals were built they were not part of reality. Mobile phones did not exist before 1970 so they did not appear in the 'Reality Cumulus'.  USA did not exist in 1775, so it wasn't part of the "Reality Cumulus" either. Constant growth of Reality invalidates "Absolute Truth" about reality. Our additions are innovations, not repetitions. What keeps growing in unpredictable ways cannot be "Absolute".

In the 19th Century most people believed "Absolute Truth" about Reality exists even though we can never reach it.  "Absolute" means eternal, complete, and final. A complete and final description of reality cannot change.  However, what evolves cannot be final, complete, or eternal, nor can a description or definition of it be eternal, complete or final.   "Absolute Truth" - being eternal and final - is a phantasm.

Religions - and some scientific theories - claim to be Absolute Truth. Believers of all faiths believe their faith is Absolute Truth, hence their belief in the infallibility of the central figure of their faith. They see their "Holy Book" as Absolute Truth. This belief is false - and harmful as the following bit of history illustrates:       

On June 22, 1633 the Catholic Church sentenced the father of modern science Galileo Galilei to imprisonment "For holding as true the false doctrine taught by some that the Sun is the center of the world and immovable and that the Earth moves, and also with a diurnal motion; for having disciples to whom you taught the same doctrine; for holding correspondence with certain mathematicians of Germany concerning the same; for having printed certain letters, entitled "On the Sunspots," wherein you developed the same doctrine as true … following the position of Copernicus, which are contrary to the true sense and authority of Holy Scripture"   

In 1600, Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake for similar charges.

However on 31/10/1992, Pope John Paul II published a pseudo-excuse for the Church's behaviour admitting indirectly that the Earth was neither stationary nor the centre of the universe.  Belief in "Absolute Truth" is shared by all religious believers. Many atheists who no longer believe in God still believe in "Absolute Truth". In the 19th Century most people, including scientists, believed that scientific theories verified by experiments are “Absolute Truth”.   This is a residue of religious belief.

An ever evolving reality can never fit a final and eternal description. 

As reality - and our knowledge of it - evolve non-stop, so do our descriptions of it. There can never be a final - Absolute - description of what evolves by new creations - and destructions. Creation is not reproduction of what already exists. It generates entirely new entities, qualities, rules and patterns, different from all existing ones.

Every description of reality must take into account constant creation and destruction.

Does this mean that our knowledge of reality is unreliable?   Not at all.

It means that our knowledge is relative, not Absolute, and transient - never final.

The validity of our empirical knowledge and our theories must be tested repeatedly.

If we use our knowledge to build a rocket to land people on the moon, and the people land on the moon, we prove the validity of our current knowledge of the moon, of space, of rockets, of Physics and Physiology. Our Knowledge is valid but never final.

If we predict a storm - and it occurs as predicted - we can trust the knowledge on which the prediction was based, even though it is not final and can always be disproved by predicting another storm/earthquake/war/revolution - that fails to occur.   Repeated testing enables us to improve truth.

Many believe that scientific research approaches ever closer some "Objective Truth".  By this they meant a description of the "Reality Cumulus" that does not depend on people. Testing a theory by repeatable experiments can produce results that do not depend on the experimenter, but the design of experiments and their interpretations always do.  Though experiments and their results are repeatable it does not mean they do not depend on people. For thousands of years all saw every day the sun rising in the east and setting in the west and interpreted this to mean the sun moves around earth. Neither the facts nor their interpretation depended on a particular individual. Their predictions were confirmed.  All believed it was ‘Objective Truth’.    It wasn't.

 

Different theories of reality are not constantly approaching "Objective Truth".  They originate from different interpretations of reality. When pro-Nazi and anti-Nazi photographers photographed Hitler they produced different portraits. Using different lighting, angles, and lenses, they created different images. None was "a lie" and none was "closer to reality".  They differed like portraits made by different painters, not like rungs on a ladder.     While "Absolute Truth" does not exist "Absolute Lies" do.  They describe occurrences that did not occur, and are invented by people trying to gain something by producing false descriptions of reality. 

Edited descriptions of reality do not necessarily mislead but false ones always do.

The critique of "Objective Truth" and "Absolute Reality" above is an example of what is known as "Philosophy".  In English-speaking societies "Philosophy" usually means "Overall View". This is not what "Philo-Sophia" ("Love of Wisdom" in Greek) meant in ancient Greece where it was invented.  In Academic circles today "Philosophy" is the study of what thinkers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, or Hegel wrote. I define philosophy as “Thinking about thinking” or” A creative critique of thinking eliminating misleading assumptions and inadequacies and improving thinking.”. I reject the finality of all interpretations of reality. This does not mean current interpretations are false. It means they can always be improved. Ordinary thinking investigates the world; philosophy investigates our thinking about the world, our concepts and reasoning. It liberates us from enslavement to all our mental creations revealing their limitations and creating better means for thinking. 

Examining the difference between "Truth" and "Reality" reveals errors in the concepts of "Objective Truth" and "Absolute Reality" but it does not invalidate the concepts of "Truth" and "Reality". It replaces "Objective Truth" by "Subjective Truth" and "Absolute Reality" by "Transient Reality". It reveals that truth is always subjective, and reality is ever evolving, never final. It reveals "Truth" as an edited interpretation of reality that changes when reality - or the interpreter - changes.       

Thinking shapes doing. Flawed thinking shapes flawed doing. In Politics flawed thinking shapes doing that often kills millions. In later chapters we shall see how belief in "Objective Truth" caused thinkers like Hegel and Marx, and leaders like Lenin and Trotsky, to make mistakes that ruined their projects. 

The illusion of "Objective Truth" is the most alluring trap for human thought.  It makes people believe they discovered - rather than constructed – “Truth”, This convinces them they are infallible and often leads to more killing than epidemics ending in disillusion and cynicism.  Reality is far more complex than any linguistic description but we try to understand it through words. Words and grammar contain implicit assumptions about reality. They bias our thinking. Language and logic are fixed yet reality evolves. Language represents - thought invents. Thinking must grope beyond language. Constant critique of assumptions embedded in words can reduce their grip on thinking but cannot liberate it.  In her fascinating book “Animals in translation” (Scribner 2006) Temple Grandin provides many examples of thinking in pictures rather than with words.  This reveals many limitations of verbal thinking.  However, pictorial thinking too has its limitations.  

 

2. Priority Principles

The Nazis began to rule Germany in 1933 and immediately passed new laws against Communists and Jews. Both were forbidden to teach Germans. Communists were imprisoned and all Jewish teachers in German schools were dismissed.  Jewish children had to sit on special "Jew benches" in German schools.   In 1934 the Nazi Minister of Education Bernhard Rust asked David Hilbert, the Head of the famous Mathematics department in Göttingen University: "How is mathematics in Göttingen now that it has been freed of the Jewish influence?"

 Hilbert replied: "Mathematics in Göttingen?  There is really none any more".

But the Nazis also persecuted homosexuals and the mentally ill.  Communists and homosexuals were sent to concentration camps. The mentally ill were killed.  Order T-4 signed by Hitler in 1939 caused the extermination of 100,000 mental patients in Germany. Most of them were Germans. This killing was described as "Euthanasia" ("Mercy killing"). The Nazis argued that as such people are incurable; keeping them alive is a constant burden on the state and on their families.  Their housing, upkeep, medication, and treatment, cost a lot yet they contribute nothing towards it.  Killing them will relieve their families and the state of a burden. Most mental patients were killed by gas - long before this method was used to kill Jews, Gypsies, and Slavs. 

In 1941 the Nazis began to kill millions of Jews, Gypsies, and Slavs by gas in special camps built for this purpose. Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland was the largest. The Nazis destroyed most of it before the "Red Army" liberated the inmates.  Camp ruins became a memorial to those killed there. People from all over the world visit Auschwitz every year to honour those killed there. Their conclusions differ according to their priority principles. A priority principle is a conviction that shapes preferences.

People have four different priority principles:

1.  Ego-centric.      2. Ethno-centric.     3. Theo-centric.     4. Anthropo-centric.

1) A visitor to Auschwitz with an egocentric priority principle concludes:  

My relatives did not put their own interests above all else.  I did.  I emigrated but they stayed behind and perished.  One must always give top priority to one's own interests.

2) A visitor to Auschwitz with an ethnocentric priority principle concludes: 

Jews died here because they had no State to protect them.  No state accepted immigration of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Existence of a Jewish State must be top priority for Jews. Only it can save them from a new Holocaust. Concern for the Jewish State - not for private interests - must be top priority for Jews.

3) A visitor to Auschwitz with a Theocentric priority principle concludes:

Everything - including the Holocaust - is due to God's will. God punished the Jews because they worshipped the Jewish State instead of worshipping Him. The Holocaust is God's punishment for the sin of Zionism, the sin of worshipping a State and a Nation instead of worshipping God.  State and nation are man-made and must not be worshipped.  Only when all Jews repent, abandon all false gods, and worship God alone, will God relent, forgive, send His Saviour to ingather all exiled Jews, re-build the Temple in Jerusalem and resurrect the Kingdom of God. Worship of God alone - not of Self, Nation or State - must be top priority for Jews.

4) A visitor to Auschwitz with an anthropocentric priority principle concludes: 

The Nazi killing of Jews, Gypsies, and Slavs was motivated by racism. The Nazis believed these groups are inferior races, while Arians are the Superior Race. Racism motivated the Nazis to enslave, and exterminate, millions of people.  To prevent recurrence of slavery and mass-murder one must abolish racism. Only when people's top priority is the welfare of all human beings, not of some particular group, will racism disappear.  Only concern for all human beings can prevent a new Holocaust.

Although most people are unaware of it, all have a priority principle motivating them. This principle enables us to choose.  Without it we cannot prefer, choose, or decide.  We can change our priority principle, but at any moment we have one.  To the four priority principles above a new one was added in the 1960s - Eco-centrism. It puts the welfare of all life on earth above that of any single species, including Humanity.   All decisions people make and all lessons they draw are shaped by their priority principle. Facts do not determine decisions, nor do they determine the lessons drawn from them. The same facts cause different people to make different decisions due to different priority principles. Priority principles are not "Natural" or "Self evident".  They are arbitrary. Without them we cannot prefer. Different priorities determine different preferences. To “prefer” is to choose one option from a number of options. Priority determines preference.   We can only prefer one option, never two. 

This means that each priority principle rules out all the others.

A chilling example of this fact is the following true story:

When Nazis began to rule Germany in 1933 they built the Dachau concentration camp for their main enemy - the German Communists.  Communist leaders and many rank-and-file communists were imprisoned in Dachau. In later years others, including Jews, were sent there. The US Army liberated Dachau on 29.4.1945. On the last roll-call before liberation (28.4.1945) the Nazi commander of Dachau called forward two prisoners: a young German communist and an old Jew, and said to the communist: 

"I give you a choice:  Kill this Jew and I'll let you go so tomorrow you'll be free.        If you refuse to kill the Jew, I'll kill you. What do you prefer? "

The communist preferred to be killed rather than kill the Jew and was shot in front of all prisoners. Some reported this later. Why did the communist refuse to kill the Jew? 

The communist priority is Anthropocentrism. Genuine Communists are committed to promote the welfare of Humanity, not their own, or that of their nation. This forbids killing an innocent person. Egocentric urge to survive required killing the Jew. But Anthropocentrism forbids this. The communist stuck to anthropocentrism knowing he would pay with his life. He was not different from those who prefer death to dishonour. Survival is not always top priority. Every suicide proves this. Millions who volunteered to die for "King and Country" in WW1 prove this.  So did the communist. 

Egocentrism is the source of capitalism.

Ethnocentrism is the source of nationalism. As they exclude each other private interest contradicts national interest. Egocentrism motivates people to pursue private interests even when this harms their society. It overrules Ethnocentrism (the interests of one's nation, tribe, or class) since "My life matters to me most" negates "to die for King and Country".      

Theocentrism is the source of theocracy. The suicide bombers who destroyed the World Trade Centre in New York in 9/11/2001 were motivated by Theocentrism.  

It overruled their Egocentrism. Leaders like Gandhi (India 1948) Sa'adat (Egypt 1981) and Rabin (Israel 1995) were assassinated. Their assassins were not ordinary criminals seeking personal gain, or revenge, but people whose priority was Theo-centrism. They believed they serve God by killing sinners, even if their act causes their own death. This demonstrates that Theocentrism overrules Ego- Anthropo- and Ethno- centrism.  

Each priority overrules all others.   This is the nature - and meaning -  of  “Priority”

The different conclusions drawn from the Holocaust raise the following question:  

Which priority should one prefer?   To answer this question we need to determine preference among priorities. This too must be justified by some priority. So choosing a priority depends on a priority. Suppose we decide which lesson to prefer by evaluating its consequences.  Evaluation too depends on a priority. Slaughtering animals for food is a crime for vegetarians but not for meat-eaters.  Positive or negative value is bestowed on slaughter by peoples' priorities. Slaughter itself has no inherent value.  Facts do not contain their own value.  Value is bestowed on facts by people according to their priorities. 

Many believe that sheer physical survival has a positive value independent of any priority. This is false for three reasons: 1) whose survival are we talking about?  One's own?  One's family?  One's species?  One's nation?  Humanity's?   Each choice implies a different priority. 2) All who commit suicide or who volunteered to die "For King and Country", or prefer "Death before dishonour", subordinate their survival to another priority. For them sheer physical survival is not an "Objective Priority".

3) Many religious believers are convinced that after death they will continue to exist in Heaven much better than they did on earth.  For them death is a door leading to better life in Heaven.   Nature does not define "Good" or "Bad", Society does.

Quest for physical survival motivates many creatures in nature (though some sacrifice themselves to save their offspring) but animals in groups often subordinate their own survival to a new priority - the survival of the group.  People today no longer act like animals. Our animal drives are restrained by society. Society was created by primates who are products of biology, but once it emerged its members' behaviour is no longer subordinated to biological drives. People today are biological systems produced by nature but run by programs produced by society.    Software dominates hardware.

A metaphor from physics can clarify this point.  Ice, water, and steam are different forms of existence of the same molecule – H2O (consisting of two atoms of hydrogen combined with one atom of oxygen). If we heat ice till it melts it turns into water. The molecules of ice and water are the same, but in water they do not behave according to the same rules as when they were in ice.  Ice can be cut with an ice pick but not water. Whirlpools and turbulences can form in water but not in ice.  If we heat the water till it becomes steam we meet again the same change of rules. H2O molecules in steam behave differently from the way they behaved in water. Steam can be easily compressed but water is almost incompressible. In steam they obey the rules of gases but in water they obey the rules of fluids. The fact that ice, water and steam consist of the same molecules does not imply that their molecules behave in the same way. This applies also to the difference between animals living in a group and animals living in isolation. Primates in society and in Nature have the same physiology, but their psychology, behaviour, and responses, are utterly different. 

Many explain Society as a means designed by nature to ensure survival of a species, but most species survived without forming any society.

Moreover, societies create wars that don't exist in nature and are harmful to survival. 

This indicates that society is not essential for physical survival and may even harm it. 

Society is not an instrument of biology designed to ensure the survival of a species. 

Many ignore this fact and try to explain human behaviour by biological drives. Such drives exist but they are harnessed by society. Behaviour of people in society is only partially motivated by biological drives. Behaviour of society - and in society - is determined by priorities created by society, not by nature.   Biological explanations of social behaviour assume our priorities are determined by Nature.  This is false and harmful.   Biology does not determine sociology or morality.

"Survival of the fittest" may be a rule in Nature, but it is not a rule of society.     

If society accepts this rule then woe to the unfit.  The Nazis believed history is ruled by "Survival of the superior race". They killed races and people they considered "inferior". Germany was defeated in WW2.   Does this mean the Germans are "inferior" or "unfit" -  as Hitler said before he committed suicide?

Society has emerged from nature but is not subordinated to "Laws of Nature".

Death is a fact of nature but nature does not bestow value on facts. There is no awareness of existence in Nature.   Nature is oblivious of existence and extinction, of life and death, of good and evil.  Nature is unaware and amoral. Society - not Nature - produces moral choices and priorities. Only socialized hominids create priorities, identities, theories, histories, and awareness of all these, and of existence itself.  

 

3. Society  creates  individuality

 

Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s Prime Minister during the 1980s, once said: “There is no such thing as society, there are only individuals and families.”   She said this to justify her policy of privatization, arguing that coal mines, railways, electricity plants, must be run exclusively for profit, not as a service to ‘Society’, which is - according to her - a fiction, not a reality.

 

At first it seems she is right.  We see no entity called ‘Society’. We see only people. But if she is right, then one can also say: “There is no such thing as an Army, there are only people wearing uniforms.” We know this is nonsense. An Army is more than people wearing uniforms. The difference between an Army and people wearing military uniforms is not in the way they look but in the way they behave. People wearing military uniforms as a fashion do not obey orders and do not act together according to a plan. They do not kill others or risk their lives, even if ordered to do so.   Only soldiers in an Army do so.

 

What makes “people” into “society” is behavior. ‘Society’ is not merely people living next to each other but people behaving according to rules accepted by most of them.  These rules - known as ‘laws’ - are made to resolve conflicts between people, and are accepted by most people in a society. Obedience to laws makes “people” into a ‘society’.  People valued the laws so much that they attributed their creation to God. Moses claimed he got the "Ten Commandments" from God on Mount Sinai.  Anyone claiming Muhammad created the Koran is denounced as a blasphemer by all Muslims.  They insist ALLAH created the Koran and dictated it to Muhammad.

 

Different societies invent different laws, but only when most people in a group accept the same laws do they become a society.  People obeying private laws, as in frontier towns in the ‘Wild West’ of the United States in the 19th Century, are not a society but a crowd without cohesion.  Such crowds lack stability and viability. Their members are in constant mutual strife, they lack communality, and tend to fall apart. American Indians used to say "The “Wild West” became ‘Wild’ only after the whites arrived."  It became wild because each white settler obeyed only his private laws.  When people obey only private laws they constantly fight each other and ‘society’ does not exist.   They become a society only when all obey the same laws

Before creating societies, hominids were just another species of apes lacking speech and thought. Life in society produced speech and thought thus ‘humanizing’ primates.  Speech and thought are produced by Society, not by Nature.  

If, as Margaret Thatcher said, Society does not exist, then speech, language, thinking, and - individuality, could not exist either.

                    

Ernst Hemingway's best selling novel "For whom the bell tolls" (1940) owes its title to an essay written by John Donne in 1623 where he wrote:

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were:  any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee" 

 

Despite reading Hemingway's novel most people in societies with Big Business economies are convinced that every individual is an isolated island. They draw this conclusion from the experience of competitive life in a BB economy not realizing that in different societies, with different economies, attitudes to life are very different. 

To Donne's assertion that each individual is a "piece" of a continent one can add, that each piece has the shape of its continent.  Every individual is unique but shares basic features with other individuals in the same society.

 

To clarify this idea let us consider the first English novel - "Robinson Crusoe", written by Daniel Defoe in 1719.   It is based on the real life of Alexander Selkirk who sailed from England in 1704 and lived five years on an uninhabited, isolated, island.  Defoe describes how Crusoe built himself "A Castle", tamed animals, and grew vegetables. When a savage appeared on the island Crusoe used him as "a slave".  It is a story of survival in the wild.  How did Crusoe survive on "his" island ?  He had with him a musket, gunpowder, carpenter's tools, a knife, a Bible, and his clothing. He used them and the knowledge he acquired in England. The story is about an individual but it implies an entire society since Crusoe's thinking, attitudes, responses – and tools are a product of - and represent - English society.  When Crusoe arrives on the island English society arrives with him programmed into his mind, shaping his behaviour.

 

Suppose a modern shipwreck survivor arrives today on a remote island with a laptop computer. A computer's hard-disk contains programs written by many programmers.  What a computer does, and how it does it, represents its programmers. The programs running the computer were not invented by its owner yet they shape the computer's behaviour. Crusoe's mind is like programs stored on a computer's hard disk. He did not invent the English language, the musket or his tools.  His society did.  His society - not he - programmed him. His behaviour is shaped by his society.  Crusoe is a miniaturized England, not a new continent.

To illustrate this idea I use the Hologram. This is a photo on glass made by Laser light. It cannot be seen in ordinary light but if illuminated by the same laser light that created it a 3D image appears in front of the glass. Every detail of the photographed object, as seen from every angle, appears.  More surprising, if the glass breaks, every little splinter reproduces - when illuminated by the laser light - the image of the entire photographed object. The smaller the splinter the more blurred the image, but it is an image of the entire object.   Each splinter represents the entire object. 

 

Using this as a metaphor for the relation between individuality and society makes sense. A newborn baby learns by imitating its parents. They "program" it consciously - and unconsciously. It imitates their behaviour, thus learning to walk, talk, eat, defecate, and behave. But parents' behaviour - and language - are creations of their society. Language is the substance of thinking but no individual created it. Our society, over its entire past, did. Thinking is silent speaking and we learn speaking by imitating our parents. Parental behaviour (walking on two legs. talking, controlled defecating) are not "natural", they are created by society.  Chinese parents do not behave like British parents.  Eskimo parents do not behave like Zulu parents. Each society invents its own language and behaviour. Societies "program" their newborn.   Individuals are miniaturized versions of the society in which they grew up.   

A newborn baby reared in total isolation - as happened by accident to babies snatched by animals and reared by them – will behave like the animal that reared it.  Two well documented cases are the Bengali sisters Amala and Kamala discovered in 1921 in Bengal and reported in the book "Wolf children of Midnapore" (see the Internet) and the boy in Morocco reared by gazelles, discovered in the 1950s and reported in the Penguin book "Gazelle boy". Even without reading these books it is clear that most human behaviour, including basic behaviour like walking and talking, depends on the presence of adults whom the newborn imitates. But these adults themselves became individuals only because they grew up in a society.  Without thinking, individuality is minimal, but thinking depends on language.   Language is created by society. 

Individuality is awareness of oneself as unique by comparison to others. It depends on the presence of others, on ability to compare oneself to others, and to recognize oneself as similar - but different. Whoever grows up isolated from all individuals cannot develop individuality. Individuality depends on society, on the presence of others who have already acquired it. Our individuality is not programmed in our genetic code.  It is programmed by society and learned anew by each new-born from other individuals around it.   It is not genetic hardware but social software.

 

A baby reared in total isolation will not become "an individual". This happened to Kaspar Hauser who was found in 1828 in Germany.  (For details see the Internet).  Such a creature does not know how to use its legs, how to walk, talk or think. Until it meets other individuals it will exist without being aware of its own existence.  Only after meeting other individuals did Kaspar acquire these abilities. Individuality is created by society and contains rules created society even when it does not obey them. Each society shapes individuals in its own image. “Individuals” ensure perpetuation of the society that created them. Many experience society like fish experience water - being constantly immersed in it from birth to death they are unaware of its existence. They believe, like Margaret Thatcher, that "There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families". But where do individuals come from? Is anyone born as “individual”? a simple, repeatable, experiment refutes this. Take any newborn baby and rear it in total isolation. It will not emerge “an individual”. It will not know how to walk, talk or think. It will not even know it exists. It is immoral to do such an experiment, but when it happened by accident the answer was clear: a newborn baby reared in total isolation does not become an individual. It grows up as any animal becoming a biological creature, not “an individual”.

 

Society creates individuality but there is often a conflict between society’s interests and those of individuals. The problem is not: “What to do?” but “Who will decide what to do?”. As society’s wellbeing and that of its members are interdependent any one-sided resolution of this conflict will harm both. Only participation of all members of society in resolving this conflict ensures acceptance - and a balanced solution. 

Different individuals wish to shape their society in different - even conflicting - ways, but the task stimulates all. This is no wonder as by shaping society individuals shape themselves. Self-shaping is more stimulating than any drug.  It fuses our awareness and our selfhood.  Instead of being shaped by outsiders the social self shapes itself. 

Most societies subordinate the individual to society. This curbs creativity. Conflict between society and individuality can be resolved by enabling all individuals to shape their society. This stimulates creativity and produces new insights, new ideas, new institutions. In Athens, when all free men participated in deciding policy, the conflicts  between them produced novelties like Theatre, Tragedy, Comedy, Logical thinking, Philosophy, Proof by reasoning. all still useful to us today. Nearby Sparta, where two Kings decided everything, lack of inner conflicts produced nothing useful to us today. 

Most societies exclude most citizens from shaping their society.  People prevented from participating in shaping their society become indifferent to their society. Indifference breeds boredom. To overcome boredom people seek distractions.  Eventually all distractions become boring. New distractions must constantly be produced. The media has become the provider of distraction.  BB owns it and uses it to divert attention from its power. A handful of BB or BG people decide what citizens will see, hear, do. Most citizens are excluded from shaping the media activity. This creates frustrated individuals infected by boredom, seeking distractions, exploited by a media that sensationalizes trivialities and trivializes the significant. All societies are infected by this malaise today. In all societies most people suffer mental misery and economic anxiety, boredom, indifference, frustration, depression, and loneliness. This is not caused by Nature, by History, or by Society but by excluding most citizens from taking part in shaping their society. Most misery can be avoided by enabling all citizens to participate in shaping their societies. Different views on what society should do will cause conflict, but it is a creative conflict stimulating creativity and alleviating mental misery, boredom, frustration, loneliness and depression. Participation of all citizens in deciding all policies is possible today by using electronic communication - mobile phones, the Internet, and TV. Participation of all citizens in policy-making will inspire and stimulate people, as by shaping their society they shape themselves. Shaping social reality rather than watching Reality shows on TV is the antidote to boredom, mental misery and frustration.   It will greatly reduce mental and material misery - and costs of governance.

4. Processes produce events  

Most people in the 20th Century were utterly surprised by four major political events:

1. The outbreak of WW1 in August 1914. 

2. The general Strike in France in May 1968,

3.  Khomeini's religious revolution in Iran in 1979.

4.  The collapse of the USSR (see p.69) in December 1991

 

These events were utterly unexpected - even by those who participated in them.

WW1 broke out at a time of unprecedented economic expansion. It occurred at the height of the industrial revolution. Motor cars and airplanes just appeared. Building the Panama Canal captured the imagination. Many diseases were eliminated. Science and technology flourished. Standards of living rose and people expected them to keep rising forever.  Then an accidental occurrence - the assassination of the Austrian Crown Prince - plunged Europe into the worst war the world has ever known.

WW1 hit people everywhere like a bolt out of the blue. They expected continuous economic progress, not war.  Many said "Until that war I understood the world. Since that war I don't understand the world and cannot resurrect my understanding".

 

When WW1 broke out in August 1914 all expected it to end by Christmas 1914. 

It lasted till November 1918.     Even today many do not understand its causes.

 

As for the general strike in France in May 1968.  On May 1st 1968 no one imagined that in two weeks France will be paralyzed by a General Strike of 10 million workers striking for 20 days. This was not a failure to predict a date but a failure to understand a social process. France was in a period of economic expansion after President De-Gaull extricated it from its last colonial war in Algeria (1954-1962).  No Strike was expected during an economic boom. However, after WW2 political frustrations of people in industrial societies differed from what they were before WW2.  Before WW2 peoples' politics were motivated by material misery.  After WW2 political frustration began to rival economic frustration. People no longer accepted “Historical circumstances” as something they could not change.  The spectacular explosions of Atom bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, convinced many that what was accepted in the past as constraints imposed by nature - or by history - can be changed.   Frustration caused by policies people oppose but lack means to change became a powerful political motivation.  The fall of the Iranian monarchy in 1979 demonstrated this. Frustration in Iran was mainly cultural. It was caused by the forcible repression of traditional Islamic culture by the Iranian Shah, and by flooding Iran with modern Western culture. Many Iranians felt their cultural identity eroding.  Many turned to religion to defend their traditional values. Political experts and analysts ignored cultural frustration. No expert on Iran imagined that an 80-year old obscure religious leader will overthrow the Shah's regime and create a religious State in Iran in 1979.

As in France, so in Iran, the slow process of accumulation of frustration in people was not driven by material misery. It was a process driven by political and cultural misery.


A process is a sequence of tiny - linked - changes.  Often the changes are so small that most people fail to notice them. In France and in Iran the process of accumulating frustration went on for a long time but all political experts ignored it.

 

This repeated itself in the 1991 collapse of BG in the USSR (see p.69).  The USSR was a superpower.  Its military might was second only to the USA. It had the world's largest land army. In 1957 it sent the first space satellite - "Sputnik" - into orbit around earth, years before the USA could do so.   In 1961 it sent the first astronaut -Yuri Gagarin - into space long before the USA. Yet to everybody's surprise this Superpower collapsed like a pack of cards - without civil war - in December 1991, giving rise to a new State that replaced its 74 year old state-owned, planned, economy by a Big Business economy. Citizens of Leningrad, the second largest city in the USSR, voted to restore their city's pre-revolutionary, name: Saint-Petersburg. This expressed their rejection of Lenin and his BG regime - in which they were born and educated for 74 years.  US experts and Intelligence officers studied every detail of the USSR for years but not one of them predicted its collapse. All experts, journalists, Marxists, and Communists everywhere were utterly surprised by it.  Only one Russian dissident - Andrei Amalrik - predicted it, (in his booklet: "Will the Soviet Union survive till 1984?" published in 1969)  but no one paid him any attention.

 

The fact that four major political events surprised all (including all experts) reveals a basic flaw in people's understanding of politics. As this flaw blinded all experts everywhere it cannot be attributed to personal - or local - causes, to individual psychology, or to lack of knowledge. Such factors cannot affect all experts everywhere. Such misunderstanding is caused not by lack of information but by faulty evaluation of information. The facts were known but their interpretation was wrong. Only material misery was seen as the main motivation in politics. Cultural and political miseries were marginalized. According to traditional thinking if the economy prospers no upheavals are expected. Most people ignored the process of accumulation of frustration.  They still do. They notice events but not the processes causing them.   Current education - at all levels - focuses on events not on processes.

 

Political misery - produced by policies people oppose while lacking means to change them - breeds political frustration in many individuals.  In all societies today accumulation of political frustration is widespread. It is driven by disgust inspired by all politicians and all political parties. Occasionally it erupts in spectacular events unexpected by those who ignore the accumulation of political frustration. People see events but not the processes that build them up. No wonder they are surprised when the accumulated frustration suddenly erupts in an upheaval they failed to foresee.

.

The first thinker to focus attention on processes was the Greek philosopher Heraclites who lived some 2500 year ago. Called "The Riddler" or "The Obscure" (because many considered his ideas "Obscure") he is the first thinker emphasizing the importance of underlying processes. His most famous saying was "Panta Rey" ("All flows" in Greek). This may seem odd as most of our surroundings seem fixed.  Our house does not flow, nor does the book we hold. However, if we use science to analyze appearances we come up with the following observations: Our house, together with the entire earth, circles the sun at the speed of 30 kilometres per second. So by the time you read this sentence your house moved more than 30 kilometres in space. The sun itself circles round the centre of our galaxy at a speed of 217 km per second.  So we certainly flow through space. This hardly affects us as we sit on earth like passengers in a plane. When all our surroundings move at the same speed we notice no movement.  Yet we move.    But there is more to Heraclites' idea.

Matter consists of atoms. In each atom electrons race around the nucleus at high speed. The nucleus itself rotates. At the atomic level all is in frantic, permanent, motion. Neutrons disintegrate; atoms are bombarded non-stop by millions of particles racing from outer space. On colliding with stable atoms they cause their disintegration. Molecules mutate by disintegrating. This change may be too slow - or too fast - for our senses to notice, but it happens all the time. In every leaf of a plant a process occurs every second - a photon of sunlight hits a water molecule and absorbing a carbon dioxide molecule converts them into sugar and oxygen. These two enable plants - and us - to live. This flow is invisible but it occurs non-stop. Heraclites may be obscure but he did not talk nonsense. Though he was unaware of the facts just mentioned, his point is valid. He said: "One cannot dip twice in the same river".  Why not? Because between two dips we - and the river - changed. We lost old cells and grew new ones. The water in the river changed, its banks eroded slightly, etc. The changes may be small but they exist - and accumulate. When we dip in the river the second time we are already slightly different and so is the river.   All we see as fixed is in a state of change.

 

The emphasis on process (i.e. a sequence of small changes linked to each other) rather than on events was ignored for some 2300 years.  It was revived in the early 19th century by the German philosopher Hegel (1770-1831) He was a Professor of Philosophy and wrote many books but what concerns us here are his views on the process of evolution of ideas.  He saw the evolution of ideas as a permanent process of conflicts between opposing ideas. It is a process driven from within, not from outside. It starts with an idea that dominates our thinking as we accept it uncritically. Gradually drawbacks of dominant ideas emerge and criticism starts. Criticism confronts the dominant idea. Confrontation with criticism modifies it. 

It is either replaced by a new idea or modified by its criticism. Later the new idea itself is confronted by new criticism and the process repeats itself.  This conflict never ends and forms the process of evolution of ideas - the history of ideas. 

 

Hegel called this type of process - "Dialectics", and its stages:  1) "Thesis".   2) "Anti-thesis" 3) "Syn-thesis".  The original Thesis is confronted by an anti-Thesis and the confrontation produces a Syn-thesis.   Hegel was convinced this is the Objective Truth about the way ideas develop.  He saw the history of ideas as a permanent process of dialectical change, of constant inner conflict.  It is a creative process.  It creates new ideas that are an improvement on the old ones.  Conflict of ideas creates innovation. 

Today we know that change can occur also in other - non dialectical - processes, but Hegel's emphasis on creativity of inner conflicts is still very useful. Karl Marx (see next chapter) admired - and criticized - Hegel.  Marx applied Hegel's idea of dialectical change (i.e. change by inner conflict) to society.  He argued that the history of society is the history of conflicts between classes within each society. The classes themselves originate from the technology the society uses.  Technology in antiquity was based on muscle power hence the confrontation was between slaves and slave owners. In the feudal era - when shipping and trade developed, the confrontation was between land-owning nobility and city merchants. In the industrial era - between owners and employees. In public-ownership - between managers and managed. These conflicts create revolutions that replace the current system of running society by a new system better adapted to the new technology. Revolution upgrades evolution. It increases freedom and affluence of most people in society. Revolution - like birth - may cause bloodshed and pain but gives birth to a new, improved, society.  Birth, despite all blood and pain, is a creative, not a destructive, process.  Obviously, rulers deposed by revolution see it as a collapse of law and order, as a conspiracy by criminals steeped in lawlessness and violence.   No wonder all rulers despised Marx.

 

Rulers reject the idea of a permanent process of political evolution. They see their own rule as final, and believe politics cannot evolve further. They see revolutions as criminal conspiracies causing chaos. All Kings were convinced Republics are "Rule of the rabble".  Actually a republic is not a dis-order but a new order where representatives elected by citizens decide policies. This replaced an antiquated order where hereditary Monarchy and Nobility decided policy. Throughout history, those who benefit from a particular political system refuse to see it as a phase in a permanent process of evolution of politics. They believe their system is the final - and best - of all possible systems. They believe attempts to replace their system are conspiracies to destroy all "Law and Order". Rulers cannot see that what they defend is a particular "Law and Order" favouring them. Every ruling class believes its demise will plunge society into chaos. This was the case with Roman Emperors, European Kings, and Communist General Secretaries. Rulers cannot accept that society can function without them. They cannot accept the idea of a new political order, run without them, where most citizens have more freedom. In Europe the Church legitimized Monarchy. Every coronation ceremony highlight was the moment the Head of the Church placed a crown on the head of the Monarch symbolizing that God chose this person to decide policy for the entire society.  The coronation ceremony signalled that whoever opposes the Monarch opposes God. In industrial societies the educational system performs the same task - it justifies the current system of ruling and legitimizes it historically and rationally. It creates the belief that whoever challenges the setup where a handful of representatives decide policies for millions of citizens, is behaving illogically, irrationally, and a-historically.

Educational systems legitimize existing political systems since they depend on them. Education is an essential component in every political system. It presents the current political system as an inevitable necessity, justifies it, and teaches skills required for its maintenance and continuation.   It presents a particular expediency as a necessity.

 

Reality is more like a video than like a sequence of stills. Experiencing reality as a process, focuses on emergence - not on existence. Nothing is final. But rulers want to remain rulers. They want their rule to be the final system. Seeing reality - including States - as stages in an ongoing process challenges the finality of everything, including every system of rule. No wonder rulers - and educators - do not focus on processes. They adore what exists not what emerges. Hence the thinking of those educated by a system focussed on existence marginalizes the primacy of processes.   

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The psychoanalyst Victor Frankl, imprisoned during WW2 in Nazi concentration camps, noticed that camp inmates who viewed WW2 as a process, retained hope of a Nazi defeat. This kept them optimistic and helped them survive. Others, overwhelmed by their situation, were unable to see beyond it, saw no process, despaired, and perished. Hope gives strength to survive. Hope depends on being able to see behind current situations the processes that create them. Reality is an ongoing process, not isolated events. Some events terminate a process, or occur by accident, but most events are phases in an ongoing process of change. Those who do not see process cannot foresee the events it may cause. Therefore they believe current situations cannot be changed.  Emerging events surprise them.

 

Processes have a quality that baffles many people, namely, they may give rise to new domains with new constraints, utterly different from those that produced them. 

For example, processes in molecules and atoms (which obey rules of physics and chemistry) create living cells which have a goal-seeking behaviour that cannot be explained by physics or chemistry.  Cell behaviour aims to achieve a goal, namely - to perpetuate the cell’s existence, to survive. No molecule or atom does this. Living cells originate from atoms and molecules, and consist of atoms and molecules, but their behaviour cannot be fully explained by the rules governing atoms and molecules.

Many find this odd, though no one expects a building to behave like its bricks. 

Likewise, processes in cells produce organisms, whose behaviour cannot be fully explained by rules governing cell behaviour. Organisms follow new rules of behaviour. This applies to human society - and to consciousness. Though processes in nerve cells produce consciousness no knowledge of nerve cells can explain consciousness.   Consciousness differs qualitatively from nerve-cell activity.

 

Observing the Grand Evolutionary Process - from Big Bang to Consciousness - from diffused energy to elementary particles, atoms, molecules, from molecules to living cells, from cells to organisms, from organisms to society, from society to language, from language to consciousness - we notice how tiny changes at one level cause - at certain points - leaps into new levels governed by new rules that cannot be explained by the rules of the previous level. Small changes can produce a leap into a new quality. Reality is divided into separate layers each obeying different rules. A monistic view of Reality assumes all reality obeys the same rules. This view has lost validity. Entities belonging to a particular layer obey the rules of that layer, but not the rules of other layers. Reality is divided into separate layers obeying separate rules.

 

Politics and Geology have something in common - both consist of slow, invisible, processes producing spectacular events. Geology produces earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, politics produce wars and revolutions. People notice earthquakes and volcanic eruptions but not the slow, invisible, processes producing them. Wars and revolutions draw attention, but not the slow, invisible, processes that produce them.  Those who cannot see the underlying processes cannot foresee the events they cause.

 

Predicting an earthquake requires an understanding of the process that produces it.    A variety of theories may explain this process. The theory predicting events that occur in reality becomes credible but it may fail to predict future earthquakes. So a new theory is required. This applies to Politics too. Most people see - and respond to - political events, not to political processes.  They see wars and revolutions but not the processes that cause them. It is not easy to see an underlying process in politics. In August 1914 most people were surprised when WW1 broke out. They were surprised again when the Russian Revolution broke out in 1917.  Very few saw the processes building up these events. Lenin and Trotsky were among the few who saw the process, predicted the events, prepared for them, and used them.   

In 1905 a revolution in Russia was put down by the Tsar. Those who focus on events believed this terminates all revolutions in Russia. Lenin and Trotsky disagreed. They learnt from Marx the process whereby BB industrial economies produce economic crises leading to wars and revolutions. Observing this process gave them an advantage over those observing events. Like experienced surfers who know - by observing sea swell - that big waves are coming, they expected the BB industrial economies of Britain and Germany to clash and produce war - and revolution. The war began in 1914.  Russia joined Britain. In 1914 millions volunteered to fight but in 1916 most soldiers were fed-up with war. Thousands of Russian soldiers began to desert. This caused the Tsar’s abdication.   The desertions - not Lenin - started the revolution. 

Political revolutions have two phases: 1) Collapse of the old order. 2) Setting up a new order. The first is caused by rulers. The second - by revolutionaries.  Lenin and Trotsky expected the collapse of Tsarist regime but most people were surprised by it.  When Tsarist Russia collapsed Lenin and Trotsky surfed the revolutionary wave to create the post-revolutionary regime they wanted. They did not cause the collapse. They were ready for it - and surfed it to set up their alternative regime. Russia’s revolutions - in 1905, in February 1917, and October 1917 - were like three eruptions of a volcano whose lava accumulated below the surface for years. Human intervention in processes can shape the events they produce.  Lenin did this in 1917 and shaped BG in Russia. Many supporters of socialized economy argued that a state-run economy in agricultural Russia with millions of illiterate peasants will produce a deformed regime giving socialized economy a bad name.  Were they wrong?

Revolutions are eruptions of accumulated frustration caused by rulers, not by revolutionaries. Accumulation of frustration is an invisible process. Few notice it. When frustration reaches saturation it can be ignited by any accident - and erupt. This baffles those who think the accident caused the eruption. They fail to notice the underlying process.  Understanding the processes producing events, not the accidental triggers setting them off, is crucial.  Triggers are accidental, processes are essential. To anticipate events one must see the processes that produce them. Focussing attention on the conduct of wars diverts attention from the processes that caused them.   Books, films, and TV focussing exclusively on soldiers’ conduct in wars or on wars’ accidental triggers conceal the process that caused them.  Presenting the assassination of the Austrian Crown Prince as the cause of WW1 conceals the process of rivalry between British and German big business that produced WW1. 

War - like disease - can be prevented only by eliminating the process that produces it.  All other responses treat symptoms but not causes, and will not stop the recurrence of war or disease.  To understand and anticipate events one must study the processes that produce them.    To shape events - one must intervene in these processes.


 

5. Means and Ends

 

The Cliché "The end justifies the means" is often invoked to justify the use of negative means to achieve a positive end.  It turns out that even when use of negative means achieves its short-term end it ruins its long-term end. The collapse of the socialized economy in Russia was caused by long use of negative means. Some were considered negative even by their users (p.75). Their use was justified by the cliché mentioned above. But ends and means are linked. Means influence ends.  If the nature of the means contradicts the nature of their ends they will, eventually, ruin their ends.

 

No positive end was ever served by use of negative means. Negative means ruin positive ends. They modify their ends - and their users. When supporters of a positive end use negative means their integrity cracks. This crack is irreparable. The first use of negative means transforms their user for good. Once their integrity is cracked they become cynical, depressed, indifferent, and remain so to the end of their life. 

Many became disillusioned yet lived to see their grand aim crack and crumble.

 

Another trap awaiting all users of means is the turning of means into ends. 

The classic example is money. Originally invented as a means to replace barter trade and facilitate economic exchange it became the aim of all economic activity. 

The Catholic Church is another example. Created as a means to spread the message of Jesus that religion must serve Humanity, not God, it became more important than Jesus' message. Loyalty to the Church replaced loyalty to Humanity. Loyalty to the Pope replaced loyalty to Jesus' message.

Means tend to become ends, and thus subvert their original aim.

 

All Communist Parties fell into this trap, Originally created as means to build a society of economic equality and social justice they soon put loyalty to the Party above loyalty to a just society. 

Later, loyalty to the leader of the Party replaced loyalty to the Party. 

For most politicians political power - the role of deciding for others what society will do - changed from a means to improve society into an independent - personal - end.  

This is a permanent, persistent, pitfall for anyone who decides for others. 

Means must never be allowed to become ends.   When they do they subvert their ends.  

 

6. Marx - right and wrong

About 12,000 years ago some primates began to bury seeds in the ground to grow plants they liked to eat. No other animal ever did this - before or after.

It was - unknowingly - a revolutionary act.

"Revolution" - in any domain - is a change of the foundations of that domain.

Originally hominids were nomadic hunters-gatherers searching food. Crop growing changed the foundations of nomadic life. Wandering to find food became unnecessary.  Living permanently near the fields to cultivate and guard them became necessary. This terminated nomadic life. Crop growers began to domesticate animals, so they no longer had to hunt for meat. They began to build houses.   Groups of houses became villages. Big villages became towns. Towns on rivers or crossroads became trade centres, and grew into cities.  Thus began citification - and civilization.

 

For thousands of years most people everywhere spent most of their lives cultivating plants and animals. A mere 200 years ago a new technology revolution began.  Steam driven machines were invented to perform tasks hitherto done by muscles, wind, or water. This became known as the "Industrial Revolution". Britain led this revolution. Although the Scotsman James Watt had already patented an improved version of the steam engine in 1769, use of steam power accelerated after 1830 with the invention of railways in Britain. Before the railway most people spent their entire lives near where they were born. Horse-drawn carts carried few people and goods. Railways carried a lot of people - and goods - over large distances in a short time. This boosted trade, travel, and production. It created a great demand for all kinds of steam-driven machines. Factories were built to construct boilers, steam engines, steam-driven looms, locomotives, rails, pumps, iron ships, iron bridges, iron tunnels, steam cranes and lifts, and machines to build all these.

People left work in fields and came to work in factories. This changed their mentality, their attitudes and expectations. In the field, before machines, one worked alone, but in a factory with machines many work together. Work with machines requires coordination and cooperation of many workers in the work process. Peasants worked alone. They depended on nature. Machines manipulate nature. Work with machines depends on people - not on nature. In agricultural societies work (and life) was determined by Nature. The annual cycle of agricultural work repeated itself year after year for thousands of years, hardly changing. This induced a submissive mentality accepting - and expecting - a fixed life.    Industrial societies invent new machines and products, constantly changing life.  Innovation replaced repetition.  This induced an assertive attitude to human life, accepting - and expecting - fundamental changes.

 

The industrial revolution reduced people’s dependence on Nature. From now on economics depended more on people, less on Nature. Coping with surpluses replaced coping with shortages. Crises of abundance replaced crises of scarcity.  New problems created new responsibilities. Pollution is just one of them.  Accumulated expertise and knowledge - hitherto revered - lost its value.  New machines create new crafts and skills, making old ones obsolete. Young people adapt faster to new technologies so older generations become redundant in production. Technological change produced a new domain of study - Sociology, the study of societies, their structure, their features, their changes, their dynamics, and their specific problems.

 

The most influential thinker on the effects of technology on society was Karl Marx. Born in Germany in 1818 he moved to London in 1848, living there till his death in 1883.  He studied Philosophy in Germany and wrote on history, society and politics in Germany, France, and Belgium. His closest friend was Fredrick Engels, who owned a textile factory in Manchester. At Marx's graveside Engels eulogized him saying: " Just as Darwin discovered the law of the evolution of organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of the evolution of human history".  He meant Marx's view of hominids as "tool-making animals" - the only animal inventing new tools - causing the creation of new mentalities, new social groups, new social confrontations and new societies.  Marx's major book is called "Capital".  It analyzes the BB economy. He invented ideas like "Surplus value" and "rate of exploitation". In 1848 he wrote "The Communist Manifesto" of which American economist Galbraith (1908-2006) said: “It is, incomparably, the most successful propaganda tract of all time… What before had been wordy and laboured was now succinct and arresting - a series of hammer blows”.  (“The essential Galbraith” Mariner Books, Boston 2001. p.182)

The "Manifesto" starts with the declaration:

“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open, fight that each time ended in either a revolutionary constitution of society at large, or in common ruin of the contending classes.  ….  The government of the modern state is merely a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie…."   

 

"….The Bourgeoisie, by rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communications, draws all, even the most barbarian nations, into civilization.  The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese Walls… It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life…during its rule of scarce one hundred years, it has created more massive, and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together.  "….

 

The manifesto ends with the words:

“…The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.  Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. 

The workers have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. 

Workers of all countries, unite! " 

 

In 1864 Marx founded the first international organization of workers. Addressing the 2000 workers, trade-unionists, and intellectuals, from all over Europe, he said:

  No improvement of machinery, no application of science to production, no contrivance of communication, no new colonies, no emigration, no opening of new markets, no free trade, nor all these things put together, will do away with the miseries of the industrial masses. Therefore to conquer political power has become the great duty of the working classes ”      A statement valid today as it was 143 years ago

 

Marx entitled his book “CAPITAL, a critique of political economy” because industrialization turned the economy from regional to national (and global) but private owners seeking short term profits ignored its long-term effects. Mass-production without social planning and control of the entire economy causes unemployment and war.  Marx’s ideas inspired many to introduce state-run economies.  He proposed to run the economy by the principle - “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.   As mass production in one country affected many countries this was a global project, not a local one.  

State-run economies were called "Social-ism" because they aimed to care for all in society, not just for a minority of private owners of lands, factories, finance and commerce. Socialism used the profits of the economy to provide all citizens with guaranteed employment, state-paid housing-healthcare-education, and decent pensions. Marx predicted that private owners striving to maximize their profits will create “bubbles” of unchecked growth in the economy that will “burst” causing economic crises. Private owners crave profits and ignore the effects of their activity on society, on its health and future, and on the environment. They’ll do anything to maximize profits. Burst “bubbles” reduce demand and cause unemployment. Reduced demand causes reduced production and unemployment which spiral out of control.

BB “solves” such crises by producing arms and wars - employing the unemployed as soldiers. Wars “solve” economic crises by destroying goods - and lives. BB regimes killed 100 Million people in WW1 and WW2. Hobson's book "Imperialism" (1902, see the Internet) shows in Book 1, Chapter 5, the following table: 

UK National Expenditure and Armaments

 

So already in 1900/1/2/  the very first BB industrial regime in history allocated two thirds of its budget to produce arms. The result of this budget was the "Boer War" (1899-1902) and WW1 (1914-1918).  After its wars BB economy thrives by repairing the damages caused by war.  BB economies of US, UK, France, Germany, and Japan - before - during - and after - WW1 and WW2 followed the cycle of: 1) economic crisis  2) re-armament  3) war  4) reconstruction.    BB still stumbles from one economic crisis to the next. It breeds economic crisis, unemployment, and often - war.

To overcome this absurd waste of life and resources Marx proposed that factories, lands, and Banks should be run by society in a planned way. This idea was accepted by many, but the powerful minority of BB supporters opposed it. 

Up to WW2 Marx's analysis of BB economies was confirmed repeatedly. All BB economies produced wealth for a few and constant crises of unemployment - "solved" by wars - for the masses. One crisis was "solved" by WW1. The worst crisis began with the collapse of the USA's share-market “bubble” in 1929. It was the worst world-wide economic crisis of BB.  In 1933 - the low point of this crisis - 25% of Americans seeking work could not find a job. In Germany 33% of the workforce could not find work either. Many firms went bankrupt. US President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” policy built projects financed by his government. Some called it "Socialism". It revived hope but not the economy. Only arms production for WW2 reduced USA's - and Germany's - unemployment below 10%, reviving their economies.

Rivalry between British and the German BBs was the main cause of WW1.  In 1900 Germany, the world's second industrial power, began to build a war navy to acquire colonies overseas as a source for cheap raw materials and as a protected market for its industrial goods.  British BB - world's leading industrial and colonial power - opposed this. Rivalry between British BB and German BB - not assassination of an Austrian Prince - caused WW1.  Germany was defeated but Britain was weakened and lost its leadership of world BB economy to the USA which became the world's richest BB regime by selling goods to Europe during WW1, (joining the war 32 months after it began and 18 before it ended). After WW1 the US Dollar replaced the British Pound as currency of international trade and US BB became leader of world BB.

Another outcome of WW1 was Lenin's revolution in Russia (October 1917). This war and revolution confirmed Marx's prediction that BB economies must lead to crises, wars and revolutions. This convinced many that only a State-owned, planned, economy can free humanity from economic chaos, and wars.

Marx saw society’s ownership of the economy as an inevitable phase in the evolution of humanity. Socialized economies would replace BB economies just as the city merchants' economy replaced the feudal landlords' economy 300 years earlier. Marx did not think that the BB State could control the chaos caused by BB. The first to propose this was British economist J.M. Keynes. In 1936 he suggested to start state-paid economic projects, and state-regulated Bank interest, to soften crises cause by BB greed. State created jobs and incomes boost demand, sales, business, and save BB economies from excessive unemployment and from Socialist revolutions .During the worst crisis of the US economy (1929-1942) US President Roosevelt introduced his “New Deal” policy (1933-1937) by state-paid projects providing work for the unemployed. The writer H.G. Wells said: “The ‘New Deal’ is plainly an attempt to achieve a working socialism and avert a social collapse in America. It is extraordinarily parallel to the successive 'policies' and 'Plans' of the Russian experiment.  Americans shirk the word 'socialism', but what else can one call it?”   Wells exaggerated. The "New Deal" did not aim to turn the US BB economy into a state-owned, planned, economy, let alone one based on economic equality.  

It created government-paid jobs, and incomes, to help the BB economy to recover. 

The "New Deal" did not end the 1930s "depression" but reduced misery of some unemployed by creating jobs in government-paid projects. This revived not the economy but the hope that the economy will recover. Paying unemployment benefits kept many unemployed from starvation - and revolution. After WW2 many BB economies accepted Keynes's ideas and introduced social-security schemes and control of competition and interest rates. After rebuilding Europe from destruction caused by WW2, BB economies invented consumerism:  consumption to satisfy invented needs rather than natural needs. New, artificial, needs are constantly created by a vast advertising industry to keep the economy going.  In 1940 few knew about TV but by the 1970s B/W TV sets could be picked up in garbage dumps as people craved Colour TV. This now happens to clothing, cars, computers, entertainment, food, medicines, and telephones. BB economy nowadays constantly invents new needs and its advertisers seduce the public to buy more and more. We live in the era of Invented Needs. We suddenly "need" things we never knew about a decade ago. Invented needs are satisfied by using goods with built-in obsolescence. This wasteful practice prolongs life of a chaotic economy created by BB to maximize private profits and power, even if this damages most people's health, future generations' health, and pollutes the planet.  Fighting wars to sell opium (see p. 153) and opposing the electric car (EV1) produced by GM in 1996  -  and scrapped in 2005  -  are typical examples..

Marx's prediction that a BB economy must cause economic chaos and crisis is confirmed daily but his belief that this must lead to a collapse of BB economy and hence to war and revolution, is dated. This scenario is possible but not inevitable. State intervention in the economy can prevent collapse of BB economies. It can create employment by state-paid projects. It can control finance.

Marx recommended socialized and planned economies, creating economic equality, benefiting all in society according to the principle: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. Marxists set up states with State-run economies providing guaranteed employment, state-paid housing, healthcare, education, and decent pensions to all. But they had flaws. It was difficult to foresee them but the Russian Anarchist Bakunin had already warned in 1872:  " In the People's State of Marx there will be, we are told, no privileged class at all.   All will be equal, not only from the judicial and political point of view but from the economic point of view. At least, that is what is promised. . . There will therefore be no longer any privileged class, but there will be a government and, note this well, an extremely complex government, which will not content itself with governing and administering the masses politically, as all governments do today, but which will also administer them economically, concentrating in its own hands the production and the just division of wealth, the cultivation of land, the establishment and development of factories, the organization and direction of commerce, finally the application of capital to production by the only banker, the State.   All this will demand an immense knowledge and many "heads overflowing with brains" in this government. It will be the reign of the scientific experts, the most aristocratic, despotic, arrogant and contemptuous of all regimes. There will be a new class, a new hierarchy of real and pretended scientists and scholars, and society will be divided into a minority ruling in the name of knowledge, and an immense, ignorant, majority.  And then, woe betide the mass of the ignorant ones. Such a regime will not fail to arouse very considerable discontent in this mass and in order to keep it in check the enlightened and liberating government of Marx will have need of a not less considerable armed force. For the government must be strong says Engels, to maintain order among these millions of illiterates whose brutal uprising would be capable of destroying and overthrowing everything, even a government directed by heads overflowing with brains…behind all the democratic and socialistic phrases and promises of Marx's programme, there is to be found in his State all that constitutes the true despotic and brutal nature of all States, whatever may be the form of their government ".   (See  the Anarchist Archive on the Internet)       Bakunin's prediction was confirmed in all BG states created by Marxists in different places and circumstances. All BG economies were run by Party-appointed officials.  Most citizens could not participate in shaping BG societies. Policies could not be criticized. Critics were seen as class-enemies. Rule by officials and oppression by BG state was not a deviation from Marx’s program but a structural feature. All BG states were run by Party appointed officials, all banned criticism. and all were backed by a secret police that was above the law. 

Marx's view that the economy must be run by society to benefit all remains valid, but how should this be done? His valid diagnosis prescribed a cure with side-effects worse than the disease. All societies created by Marxists were divided into three strata: 1) A few Party leaders who decide all policies. 2) Party-appointed officials running the State, the economy, and society.  3) 99.99% of all citizens with no right to decide - or criticize - any policy yet forced to obey all. All officials were appointed by the Party. It was a "Party-Officials state". Most BG states collapsed between 1989 and 1991. In all of them only one party ruled. Its leaders ran the state, the economy, and society. All criticism - even within the ruling party - was banned. In China the Party split into two groups fighting each other (1966-1976). Called "Cultural revolution" it was a campaign of dogmatists against pragmatists. In BG - Politics dominate economics. In BB - economics dominate politics. Both BB and BG dominate society. In BG Party leaders also decide what books, plays, films, paintings, and music citizens are allowed to see or hear.  All BG leaders and officials - are state employees. They do not own a factory, land, houses, shops, shares, or a bank account.  They can - and often are - dismissed. They are employees appointed by the Party. BG society was an owner-less society with conflicts about roles. This blinded Marxists since Marx defined “class” by what people own. His view that “politics are struggles between classes” was based on ownership, not on roles. He gave no hint how to resolve conflicts about roles in the family - or in the state. Instead of helping the masses oppressed by BG to fight oppression Marxists justified BG oppression as “class-struggle against class enemies”. This was valid before victory in civil war (1921) but not after. “Lenin, Trotsky and Bukharin, the three chief thinkers of the regime - when it was still allowed to think - could not agree as to its definition. Lenin preferred: “State Capitalism” the others -“State Socialism” (Souvarine, “Stalin” N.Y.1939, p. 673). Most Marxists defined BG as “Socialism”, a few - as "Degenerated Workers' State" or "Bureaucratic Collectivism". This reveals the Marxists’ inability to grasp the nature of BG societies. Their economy was run by a plan and not by a market so it was not Capitalism. BG inner conflicts were about power, not about profits, Calling BG a "Degenerated worker's State" ignores the fact that it never had a pre-degenerate phase. It was born “Degenerate” when Lenin wrested power from the Workers and Soldiers Councils in October 1917 (see p. 56-57) and banned all other revolutionary parties (and factions in his own party). He killed the Kronstadt sailors who protested and banned the "Workers opposition" (1921) (see p. 63-65). Trotskyites adored Lenin and blamed only Stalin for "degeneration". They too insisted on rule by Party officials, not by employees’ councils. They proposed to overcome “Degeneration” by replacing Stalinist leaders by Trotskyite ones. They rejected rule by employees’ councils, free unions and employees' management of industry. Lenin forbade criticism of his party’s policies and politicians. He insisted all managers be appointed by his Party. This caused workers’ apathy - and regime's coercion. After 1990 most BG states became BB states yet workers rejoiced. BG states like China, Cuba, Vietnam, and North-Korea, face a similar fate. Most former citizens of BG states refuse to resurrect them despite all economic benefits they conferred on them. Marxists see politics as motivated by economics. They were surprised by the General strike in France (1968), by "Women's Liberation" in the 1970s, by Iran’s Islamic revolution (1979) and by the collapse of the USSR (1991) which were not preceded by economic crises. Marx's view that technology revolutions produce political revolutions is valid but Marxists do not see that it applies to today’s electronic communications’ revolution. Industrialisation revolutionized manual work. It made public control of the economy plausible and economic equality possible. Lenin tried to implement it. He created a "Party Officials State" posing as a "Workers State" where all were employees. No one owned a business. Marxists thought this will abolish exploitation and oppression. It didn’t. Officials oppressed critics by labelling them “class-enemies”. In 1939 Trotsky wrote: "If the world proletariat should actually prove incapable of fulfilling the mission placed upon it by the course of history, nothing else would remain except openly to recognize that the socialist program based on the internal contradictions of capitalist society, ended as a Utopia.  It is self evident that a new “minimum” program would be required for defending the interests of the slaves of the totalitarian bureaucratic society". [see Trotsky Archive on the Internet]. BG bred oppression and corruption. In Europe it collapsed in 1991 causing many to believe there is no alternative to BB states. After BG’s failure as an alternative to BB many see no new alternative. Yet Electronic communications make rule by all citizens possible. Millions can vote and be counted in minutes. Mobile phones and the Internet simplify administration, make information available to all, unmask the mystique of management and de-legitimize division of society into managers and managed. They render rule by representatives obsolete and provide means to set up a post-parliamentary direct-democracy. Today’s "new minimum program" is the post-parliamentary direct-democracy where all citizens can propose, debate - and vote - on all issues of society. Only political equality can provide economic security, reduce social strife and introduce more freedom than did any other regime in history.

7. WW1 and Lenin's revolution

 

Anyone travelling through Britain or France will notice in the central square of every small town a monument commemorating the sons of this community killed in WW1 and WW2. Their names are listed. The list of WW1 is much longer than that of WW2.   Some 20 million soldiers died in WW1, this makes an average of 13,000 dead during every day of that war (from August 1914 to November 1918).

Britain and France lost many more soldiers in WW1 than in WW2.

In the battle of the Somme (July 1916)  the British alone had 57,470 casualties on the first day, of which 19,240 died.  The battle lasted 5 months and ended in a draw.

No side won.  The final count of British casualties in this battle amounted to 400,000.

This exceeds the total number of British casualties in WW2. 

 

In the battle of Chemin-Des-Dammes in April 1917, despite British and French artillery shelling German trenches non-stop a whole week before the attack, British casualties in the first day were 60,000.  One third died.  The battle ended in a draw..

 

In the battle of Verdun (1916) half a million French soldiers - and half a million Germans - died. All battles ended in a draw. The machine gun confounded all conservative generals - and tactics. Generals ordered thousands of soldiers to advance in open fields towards enemy machine-guns. Most soldiers were killed before they reached the enemy. The cavalry was annihilated. The war became static - in trenches.     

 

Most history books describe WW1, the worst war in history till 1914, as caused by the assassination of the Austrian Crown Prince in Sarajevo. This triggered off the war, but it was not what caused it. War is like a volcanic eruption. Any accidental factor can initiate it but without the accumulation of lava no accident will cause an eruption.  The 'lava' that caused WW1 was the rivalry between British and German BBs over war navies.  Britain, the world's first industrial power, built the world's largest Navy with steam-driven, steel-body, “Dread-nought” battleships. This enabled it to "Rule the waves", dominate world trade - and colonize a quarter of the planet.  Germany, the second largest industrial power, had no colonies so it began to build its own “Dread-noughts”. Kaiser Wilhelm II declared in 1892 “Our future lies on the water. The trident must be in our hands”. This challenged Britain's supremacy.  Bismarck, the Chancellor who united Germany feared war with Britain and desisted from building a modern Navy but in 1890 Kaiser Wilhelm sacked him. In 1898 Bismarck visited the new German battleships in the port of Kiel and said: "This will cause a war with Britain.  In 20 years time all I built will lie in ruins".    In 1918 he was proved right.

 

In the 19th century Britain was the world's first - and leading - industrial Power.  At that time - before airplanes were invented - battleships ruled the oceans - and world trade. Britain had the only steam driven, steel bodied,  modern, navy, and ruled the seas and colonies consisting of one quarter of the globe but "Germany was a rapidly growing industrial nation and her politicians began to talk the same way. If prosperity came from colonies and a Navy why shouldn't Germany have them too?    What about Germany's place in the sun?   The Kaiser had grandiose ideas of his own importance in the world as the head of a Great Power. Germany had defeated France in the 1870 war and the German military caste had immense power and prestige. In Germany there had been a good deal of sympathy with the Boers [defeated by the British in the 1899-1902 Boer war in South Africa .A.O.] The Kaiser was proud of his navy. A bigger navy was popular with shipbuilders and arms manufacturers and more ships for the German navy meant more profits for Krupps and the arms manufacturers. ("Winston Churchill in War and Peace" by Emrys Hughes, Unity publishing, Glasgow 1950. p. 57)

The man who pushed Germany's naval arms race was Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz.

". . . Tirpitz was bent on creating a Dreadnought battle fleet in the shortest time.  With three battleships and one battle cruiser to be laid down each year from 1908 to 1911, and four Dreadnought battleships already started - two in July, two in August, that year [1907.A.O.] he would have thirteen Dreadnought battleships by 1913 - or earlier if construction was pushed through fast. As British programs provided for only twelve Dreadnoughts by late 1912, the threat was clear.  What also became clear was that whereas Tirpitz's 1900 Navy Law had provided for a total of thirty-eight battleships and twenty large armoured cruisers, the Novelle translated this into fifty-eight Dreadnought, for the new battle cruisers were regarded as capital ships. . . . 'The dominant idea' the "Daily Mail" wrote (in 25.11.1907) 'is to build a fleet which shall fulfil the hopes and desires of the Pan-Germans and be mightier than the mightiest Navy in the world'. The Paris paper "Aurore" commented: "The announcement of the formidable increase of the fleet undertaken by the German Bundesrat is a curious commentary on the visit just paid by the Kaiser to his uncle King Edward VII . . .  the expose of the new naval programme of the Empire shows that the strength of the German Navy will be doubled between 1907 and 1914.  There can be no doubt that this formidable fleet, the construction of which is being pursued with a tenacity that one cannot help admiring, is directed mainly against England." ('The Times' 22.11.1907) (quoted in "The Great Naval race" [Anglo-German Naval Rivalry between 1900-1914]  by Peter Radfield, Birlinn, Edinburgh 2005 p. 173) What was Britain's response? Admiral Sir John Fisher, who modernized the British Navy, declared in 1907:”The only thing in the world Britain has to fear is Germany”.

 

"With Germany increasing her naval shipbuilding the (British) Admiralty was able to point this out as justification for more big ships. The Admirals wanted more Dreadnoughts so did the naval vested interests, the naval shipbuilders and the big armament firms. The tension between the two countries was reflected in the DAILY MAIL campaign on "The German Menace". In the cabinet McKenna pleaded for a big naval building campaign and more Dreadnoughts. Supporting him was the Liberal imperialist group. At the Foreign Office Sir Edward Grey was negotiating treaties and understandings with France and Tsarist Russia. Europe was being divided into two armed camps." ("Winston Churchill in War and Peace" by Emrys Hughes, Unity publishing, Glasgow 1950. p. 57)  Grey signed military treaties with Russia and France in 1907.  Their purpose was to threaten Germany with war on TWO fronts - against Russia in the east, and against France in the west - if she waged war against Britain. This did not deter Germany from building a huge navy.  It accelerated the process leading to war.

In his biography of Winston Churchill the historian Rene Kraus wrote:                       "late in October (1911) the Prime Minister invited his Home Secretary to a secret rendezvous "somewhere in Scotland". Asquith disclosed that war with Germany was inevitable. It was probable that the Kaiser would strike at England first, since the island had no strong army. "We have only the Navy" the Prime Minister concluded. "It is our only hope". "Then, after a short pause, he asked the best man in his cabinet "Would you like to go to the Admiralty?" "Indeed I would" Churchill replied quietly"   ("Winston Churchill in the mirror" by René Kraus, Dutton NY. 1944   p.72)

After 1911 Asquith's Liberal government embarked upon a process of rearming the Royal Navy, a task necessitated by Germany's big investment in its naval forces.       In order to finance this rearmament, Asquith - and his Chancellor, David Lloyd George - enacted a radical Budget that increased land taxes.

In August 13, 1911, Churchill sent the Cabinet a memorandum outlining his ideas on British strategy in a European war:  Its opening sentence said: "The following notes have been written on the assumption … that a decision has been arrived at to employ a British military force on the continent of Europe. It does not prejudge that decision in any way. It is assumed that an alliance exists between Great Britain, France, and Russia, and that these powers are attacked by Germany and Austria." ("Winston Churchill in war and Peace" by Emrys Hughes, Unity Press, Glasgow 1950. p.64)

The milestones of the process generating WW1 are:

1911   9 February - Churchill: "British fleet a necessity but German fleet a luxury"

1911   21 July - Lloyd George warns Germany in his "Mansion House speech" supporting France during the "Agadir crisis".  Britain starts preparations for war against Germany.   German public opinion becomes anti-British.

1913  23 August. Churchill plans to send troops to France in war against Germany

1913  30 August - Churchill writes Grey that Britain should aid Russia and France in a war with Germany

1913  1 October - Greatest German Army increase since 1871; peacetime strength increased by 136,000 to 760,908  NCOs and men.

1914  Spring; Anglo-French military arrangements are completed even to point of details on billeting arrangements for British troops

1914  May - Anglo-Russian naval talks determine co-operation between fleets

 

Colonel E.M. House, chief advisor to USA's President Woodrow Wilson, was sent by the President in the Spring of 1914 to evaluate the European situation. Part of his report says: "The situation is extraordinary. It is militarism run stark mad. Unless someone acting for you can bring about a different understanding, there is some day to be an awful cataclysm.  No one in Europe can do it. There is too much hatred, too many jealousies. Whenever England consents, France and Russia will close in on Germany and Austria. England does not want Germany wholly crushed, for she would then have to reckon alone with her ancient enemy, Russia; but if Germany insists upon an ever increasing navy, then England will have no choice. The best chance for peace is an understanding between England and Germany in regard to naval armaments and yet there is some disadvantage to us by these two getting too close.(see Brigham Young University Archive of documents on WW1 on the Internet)

The European Socialist parties' policy on a possible European war had been stated already in 1912.   In their International Congress in Basle, Switzerland they stated:

"…The most important task within the action of the International devolves upon the working class of Germany, France, and England . . .It is the task of the workers of these countries to demand of their governments that they refuse any support either to Austria-Hungary or Russia, that they abstain from any intervention in the Balkan troubles and maintain absolute neutrality. A war between the three great leading civilized peoples on account of the Serbo-Austrian dispute over a port would be criminal insanity … The Congress views as the greatest danger to the peace of Europe the artificially cultivated hostility between Great Britain and the German Empire. The Congress therefore greets the efforts of the working class of both countries to bridge this hostility. It considers the best means for this purpose to be the conclusion of an accord between Germany and England concerning the limitation of naval armaments and the abolition of the right of naval booty. The Congress calls upon the Socialists of England and Germany to continue their agitation for such an accord.   The overcoming of the antagonism between Germany on the one hand, and France and England on the other, would eliminate the greatest danger to the peace of the world, shake the power of Tzarism which exploits this antagonism, render an attack of Austria-Hungary upon Serbia impossible, and secure peace to the world. All the efforts of the International, therefore, are to be directed toward this goal."   

see : www.marxists.org/history/international/social-democracy/1912/basel-manifesto.htm

Yet instead of voting against war budgets in all Parliaments all Socialist Parties voted for them. This was "The betrayal of the 2nd Socialist International".    WW1 began in August 1914. All believed it will end by Christmas 1914 but it lasted to November 1918. In 1916 its central issue - the biggest naval battle in human history - took place off Jutland (west Denmark). 151 Britain's biggest warships stopped Germany's 99 biggest warships from entering the Atlantic from the North sea. 8000 men died in two hours. Like most WW1 battles it ended in a draw but the German navy never entered the Atlantic. Germany was not defeated militarily in WW1. It surrendered after USA joined WW1 in 1917 and German resources could never match USA’s. This created the Nazi myth that “The Left stabbed the Army in the back”. German seamen rebelled. The Kaiser fled. German Social-Democrats won power. After surrender all 74 German warships were taken to Scapa Flow north of Scotland: Capturing - or sinking – them was Britain’s WW1 aim, but their crews sank them there.

These facts refute all versions of WW1 history claiming WW1 had no specific cause, or had many causes, or was caused by the assassination of the Austrian Crown Prince.  WW1 was a power struggle of British BB against German BB caused by German BB efforts to become a naval - and colonial - power and Britain's BB opposition to this. 

 

After WW1 the Versailles Peace Treaty limited the number of warships Germany is allowed to build. This ended German BB hope to acquire colonies overseas - and motivated Hitler to colonize Russia. Britain lost its role of world BB leader to USA which became the world's richest economy by selling arms and food to Europe in the war.  WW1 was caused by British and German BB competing for power and profits.

 

An unexpected WW1 outcome was Lenin's revolution in Russia (October 1917).

Marx's theories became popular after WW1 as this war and revolution confirmed his prediction that BB economies must create economic crises, wars, revolutions.

When WW1 began in August 1914 everyone expected it to end by Christmas 1914. Most  people - on all sides - supported it. In 1914 all British soldiers were volunteers.  Conscription in Britain began only when volunteering stopped in 1916.  In 1914 very few people, among them Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, the philosopher Bertrand Russell, and Albert Einstein, opposed the war from the start.   Most people denounced them as traitors.  People reasoned that those who do not support their own nation support the enemy.  This was not the case.  Einstein and Russell were pacifists and opposed all wars. Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg argued the war was between ruling classes not between Nations. They declared that workers of all countries will only lose by supporting their rulers. This was considered treason by all ruling classes and leaders, and at first - also by ordinary people. However, by 1916, after millions died without victory in sight, most people (especially soldiers) got fed up with the war. Volunteering to the army stopped. Conscription had to be introduced. 

Most people everywhere began to crave Peace, but rulers everywhere craved victory.

 

In 1916 Russian soldiers began to desert. Thousands left the trenches and walked home - on foot. Lenin said: "The soldiers have voted (against the war) with their feet"

 

Most soldiers were former peasants. On joining the army work on their farms dropped sharply.  After two years of war food shortages started and people in cities began to suffer hunger.  All knew the food shortage was caused by the war.  On February 23rd, 1917, 90,000 women textile workers demonstrated in St. Petersburg, the capital of Russia, carrying banners saying "We want bread", "End the war".  The police fired on the demonstrators and killed some. Next day 180,000 demonstrators carried the same banners adding "Down with Autocracy", "Stop police brutality". The police shot more demonstrators but being outnumbered called the army for help. The soldiers came but refused to shoot demonstrators. Next day the number of demonstrators grew to 240,000. The soldiers sympathized with the demonstrators and joined them. On February 26, Michael Rodzianko, Chairman of the Duma (Russian parliament) sent a telegram to Tsar Nicolai II, saying:   

"The situation is serious. The capital is in a state of anarchy. The government is paralyzed; transport service has broken down; food and fuel supplies are completely disorganized. Discontent is general and on the increase. There is wild shooting in the streets; troops are firing at each other. It is urgent that someone enjoying the confidence of the country be entrusted with formation of a new government.  There must be no delay.   Hesitation is fatal." Next day Rodzianko sent another telegram to the Tsar saying:   "The situation is growing worse. Measures should be taken immediately as tomorrow will be too late. The last hour has struck, when the fate of the country and dynasty is being decided.    The government is powerless to stop the disorders. The troops of the garrison cannot be relied upon. The reserve battalions of the Guard regiments are in the grips of rebellion, their officers are being killed. Having joined the mobs and the revolt of the people, they are marching on the offices of the Ministry of the Interior and the Imperial Duma. Your Majesty, do not delay. Should the agitation reach the Army, Germany will triumph and the destruction of Russia along with the dynasty is inevitable."

On February 27th soldiers took over the city's arsenal, liberated political prisoners, and shot policemen. They set up a "Soldiers and Workers Committee". 

On March 1st  this committee published its "Order Number 1"  declaring:

" To the garrison of the Petrograd District.  To all the soldiers of the Guard, Infantry, Artillery and Navy for immediate and precise execution,  and to the workers of Petrograd for information.   The Committee of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies has decided:

1. All platoons, battalions, regiments, depots, gun batteries, naval squadrons and all various branches of military service of every kind and on warships must immediately set up councils of elected representatives of all soldiers and sailors in the above mentioned military units.

2. All military units which have still not elected their representatives in the Council of Workers' Deputies must elect one representative per company, who should appear with written credentials in the building of the State Duma at 10 a.m on March 2.

3. In all political demonstrations all military unit are subordinated to the Council of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies and its sub-committees.

4. Orders of the military commission of the State Duma are to be obeyed only if they  do not contradict orders and decisions of the Council of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies.

5. Arms of all kinds, as rifles, machine-guns, armored cars and others must be at the disposition and under the control of  platoon and battalion councils and are not in any case to be given out to officers, even upon their command.

6. In the ranks and in fulfilling service duties soldiers must observe strictest military discipline; but outside of service, in their political, civil and private life soldiers cannot be discriminated against as regards those rights which all citizens enjoy.

Standing to attention and compulsory saluting outside of service are abolished.

7.  Addressing officers with the titles: Your Excellency, Your Honor, etc., is abolished and is replaced by the forms of address: Mr. General, Mr. Colonel, etc.

Rude treatment of soldiers of all ranks, and especially addressing them as "you there" is forbidden; Soldiers are bound to bring to the attention of the company councils any violation of this rule and any misunderstandings between officers and soldiers.    This order is to be read out in all platoons, battalions, regiments, naval units, gun batteries and other front line and home military units. "                                                 

         

This order ended blind obedience of soldiers to officers in the Tsar's Army. Only orders authorized by soldiers’ councils were obeyed. The Tsar's authority vanished.

On March 1, the Tsar Nikolai II replied to Rodzianko:  "There is no sacrifice that I would not be willing to make for the welfare and salvation of Mother Russia. Therefore I am ready to abdicate in favour of my son, under the regency of my brother Mikhail Alexandrovich, with the understanding that my son is to remain with me until he becomes of age."   The Tsar's brother Michael took over on March 2nd.

 

As the demonstrations against the war continued unabated Tsar Michael abdicated on March 3. Next day the employers signed an agreement with the "Soldiers and workers Council" reducing the working day to 8 hours.  Prince Lvov replaced the Tsar and set up a temporary government with the Social-Revolutionary Kerensky at its head.  On March 20 it abolished all legal restrictions based on ethnic or religious grounds.  But it committed itself to continue the war. 

States depend on obedience of most citizens to the law, and of soldiers to their officers. When many soldiers disobey their officers the State collapses. Without reliable soldiers rulers cannot enforce their decisions. Mass disobedience had started in the Russian Army in 1916. Many soldiers deserted and walked home. Others stayed in their trenches but disobeyed orders to attack.   They all craved peace.  

Lenin, the leader of a small revolutionary party known as "Bolsheviks", later as "Communist Party" had called for many years to create a state-owned, planned, economy based on economic equality. He opposed WW1 from the start, calling on soldiers to turn their rifles against their rulers, not against workers of other nations. He was in exile in Switzerland during WW1. In January 1917 he spoke to young Swiss socialists about the 1905 revolution in Russia.   He ended by saying:

"We must not be deceived by the present grave-like stillness in Europe. Europe is pregnant with revolution. The monstrous horrors of the imperialist war, the suffering caused by the high cost of living everywhere engender a revolutionary mood; and the ruling classes, the bourgeoisie, and its servants, the governments, are more and more moving into a blind alley from which they can never extricate themselves without tremendous upheavals.

Just as in Russia in 1905 a popular uprising against the tsarist government began under the leadership of the industrial workers with the aim of achieving a democratic republic, so, in Europe, the coming years, precisely because of this predatory war, will lead to popular uprisings under the leadership of the industrial workers against the power of finance capital, against the big banks, against the capitalists; and these upheavals cannot end otherwise than with the expropriation of the bourgeoisie, with the victory of socialism.

We of the older generation may not live to see the decisive battles of this coming revolution. But I can, I believe, express the confident hope that the youth which is working so splendidly in the socialist movement of Switzerland, and of the whole world, will be fortunate enough not only to fight, but also to win, in the coming proletarian revolution. "    (see the Lenin Archive on the Internet)

Lenin believed that in industrial societies like Germany and Britain there would be a revolution transferring ownership of the economy to socialist governments but in Russia the revolution would transfer power from the autocratic Tsar to an elected Parliament. After the Tsar's abdication Lenin returned to Russia on April 3rd and saw that the new government insisted on continuing the war while most soldiers and civilians craved Peace.   He declared that his Party would make peace immediately. 

During February 1917, many workers went into the streets to demonstrate, demanding: 1) Peace, and 2) An 8 hour working day. When they demonstrated the factories were paralyzed.  Massive desertions of soldiers from the front meant that people no longer feared the law or the police. Many directors of factories, of municipalities, engineers, foremen, and policemen, feared reprisals by former subordinates so they fled. Workers in many factories had to act as managers to keep the factory going. They set up councils to do so. Workers, peasants, citizens, soldiers, had to work without administrative staff to guide them so they elected councils and established new authority relations. The councils had to find raw materials, organize work, and perform administrative duties. Employee’s councils emerged in factories, neighbourhoods, army camps and municipalities all over the country. They were not formed by Lenin's Party but by workers, peasants, soldiers, and citizens.

 

The network of councils ("Soviets") carried out all administrative tasks. They did not decide Foreign policy but they decided the operations of daily life in towns, factories, and in the army. They ran the transport and communication systems, and controlled commerce and supply. This created a "Dual Power" situation.  Foreign policy was decided by the government, but daily life was decided by workers’ councils. Government policies contradicted the councils' policies on every issue. It was clear that this situation cannot go on for long. Either the councils take over the role of the government or the government takes over the role of the councils. Every political party had to decide which of the two it prefers as ruler of the country.

 

Lenin declared: "All Power to the soldiers and workers councils", proposing a new type of a state run by councils elected by soldiers, workers, and peasants.  Many liked this idea so they supported Lenin. Russia's population was around 150 million, of which 140 million were illiterate peasants. About 8 million were industrial workers and the army numbered 2 million soldiers. Most of the land was owned by the Nobility. The peasant-soldiers deserting the army returned home and expropriated the lands from the nobility.  They asked Lenin what he intended to do with the land.  

He expressed his views in a leaflet a few days before the October revolution  saying:

".. Comrades!   Look around you, see what is happening in the countryside, see what is happening in the army, and you will realize that the peasants and the soldiers cannot tolerate it any longer. An uprising of the peasants from whom the land has hitherto been withheld by fraud is flooding like a broad river the whole of Russia.

The peasants cannot tolerate their situation any longer. Kerensky sends troops to suppress the peasants and to defend the landowners. Kerensky has again come to an agreement with Kornilov's generals and officers who stand for the landowners. Neither the workers in the cities nor the soldiers at the front can tolerate this military suppression of the just struggle of the peasants for the land.

And  what is going on in the army at the front?   Dubasov, a non-Party officer, has declared before all of Russia: "The soldiers will not fight any longer."   The soldiers are exhausted, they are barefooted and starving, they do not want to fight for the interests of the capitalists, they do not want to "be patient" when they are treated only to beautiful words about peace, while for months there has been a delay (as Kerensky is delaying it) in the peace proposal, the proposal for a just peace without annexations, to be offered to all the nations.

Comrades! Know that Kerensky is again negotiating with the Kornilov's generals and officers to lead troops against the Councils of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, to prevent the Councils from obtaining power! Kerensky "will under no circumstances submit" to the Councils, the paper Dyelo Naroda openly admits.  Go, then, to the barracks, go to the Cossack units, go to the working people and explain the truth to them.

If power is in the hands of the Councils, then not later than October 25 (if the Congress of Councils opens on October 20) a just peace will be offered to all the fighting nations. There will be a workers’ and peasants’ government in Russia; it will immediately, without losing a single day, offer a just peace to all the fighting nations. Then the people will learn who wants the unjust war. In the Constituent Assembly the people will decide. If power is in the hands of the Councils, the landowners' estates will immediately be declared the inalienable property of the whole people.

This is what Kerensky and his government fights against, relying on the village exploiters, capitalists and landowners!   This is for whom and for whose interests you are asked to "be patient".  Are you willing to "be patient" in order that Kerensky may use armed force to suppress the peasants who have risen for land?    Are you willing to "be patient" in order that the war may be dragged out longer, in order that the offer of peace and the annulling of the former tsar’s secret treaties with the Russian and Anglo-French capitalists may be postponed?

Comrades, remember that Kerensky deceived the people once when he promised to convene the Constituent Assembly! On July 8 he solemnly promised to convene it not later than September 17, and he has deceived the people. Comrades! Whoever believes in the Kerensky government is a traitor to his brothers, the peasants and soldiers!    No, not for one more day are the people willing to suffer postponement. Not for a single day longer can we suffer the peasants to be suppressed by armed force, thousands upon thousands to perish in the war, when a just peace can and must be offered at once.    Down with the government of Kerensky, who is conniving with the Kornilov's landowning generals to suppress the peasants, to shoot them, to drag out the war!    All power to the councils of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies! (October 12, 1917.   See the Lenin archive on the Internet)

Leaflets like this won Lenin the support of most peasants, soldiers, and workers.  The soldiers wanted Peace, the peasants wanted land, the city dwellers wanted bread, and workers wanted an 8-hour working day. Lenin's Party supported all these demands long before the war.  Therefore when Lenin ordered his men to arrest Kerensky's Cabinet in the Tsar's Winter Palace they met hardly any resistance.

Ten Years later, when film Director Sergei Eisenstein filmed his version of the revolutionaries attacking the Tsar’s Winter Palace, he asked the Palace caretaker if the film version resembled the real event. The Caretaker replied: "Last time fewer things were broken". Kerensky's refusal to end the war alienated most soldiers. They were unwilling to defend Kerensky's Cabinet so there was no fight and little was broken.

Lenin kept his promise to end the war.  Immediately after setting up his government he declared that Russia ends its war, and sent Trotsky (who joined Lenin's Party) to negotiate Peace with Germany. Even within his Party many opposed Peace with Germany. Trotsky used the negotiations (broadcast by radio to Germany) to incite German soldiers to start their revolution. Lenin gave Germany a quarter of Russia's territory for Peace. Lenin's Peace made an enormous impression all over the world. WW1 continued but most British, French, and German soldiers hated it.

They envied Russia.        Mutinies started in the French and British armies. 

When the USA joined the war against Germany in April 1917 Germany's defeat was inevitable.  In 1918 Trotsky's prediction was confirmed - German sailors disobeyed orders to sail into battle. This forced the German Kaiser to abdicate. The German Army surrendered and the war ended. People everywhere yearned for peace. Lenin was the first to achieve it. Moreover, he declared he will abolish economic inequality, create a state-owned economy, a state run by citizens' councils, not by Kings, Presidents, or Politicians. This made a tremendous impression everywhere.  Autocratic rule in Russia was over.   It seemed that "the meek shall inherit the Earth".  

 

Lenin's government took over ownership of all lands and factories and promised guaranteed employment, state-paid housing, education, and health-service to all. This was without precedent and impressed people all over the world. Rulers everywhere began to worry. So did BB. They hoped Lenin's regime would collapse soon, failing to overcome the immense difficulties facing it. When this did not happen the British, French, and US governments sent troops to topple Lenin's regime (1918). US troops invaded Murmansk, British and French troops invaded the Caucasus, and the Japanese invaded the East.  All failed to defeat Lenin's regime.  In many countries people created Lenin-type parties to promote a Lenin-type revolution in their own country.

 

The most vehement enemy of Lenin's revolution was Winston Churchill who lost his job as Lord of the Admiralty due to his disastrous invasion of Gallipoli in Turkey in 1916. At a luncheon in the Aldwych Club in London on January 11, 1919 he said:  "Of all tyrannies in history the Bolshevist tyranny is the worst. The most destructive, the most degrading. It is sheer humbug to pretend that it is not far worse than German militarism. The miseries of the Russian people under the Bolshevists far surpass anything they suffered even under the Tsar. The atrocities of Lenin and Trotsky are incomparably more hideous, on a larger scale and more numerous, than any for which the Kaiser is responsible.  The Germans at any rate have stuck to their allies. They misled them, they exploited them, but they did not desert or betray them. It may be honour among thieves, but that is better than dishonour among murderers."  

("Winston Churchill in war and peace" Emrys Hughes, Unity, London 1950. p. 88)

The last accusation refers to Lenin's peace with Germany which Churchill saw as a betrayal of Russia's pact with Britain signed by the Tsar. Was Lenin supposed to honour the Tsar's agreements?  Churchill predicted Lenin's regime will collapse soon.

A few years later Churchill supported Mussolini's dictatorship in Italy, which reveals his denunciation of Lenin's dictatorship as hypocrisy. Coming from a landowner's family Churchill was outraged by Lenin's nationalisation of all lands, not by his dictatorship.    After the failure of the foreign invasions, Britain and France sent money and weapons to former Generals of the Tsar to organize a Russian counter-revolutionary "White" army.  A British Government White Paper estimated the total financial support given by Britain to the Russian counter-revolutionary forces at 100 Million British Pounds.   According to Churchill this could arm 250,000 men. 

 

Sir Bruce Lockhart, a special agent sent by the British government to Russia to study the situation, wrote: "   The revolution took place because the patience of the Russian people broke down under a system of unparalleled inefficiency and corruption. No other nation would have stood the privations which Russia stood for anything like the same length of time. As instances of the inefficiency, I give the disgraceful mishandling of food-supplies, the complete break-down of transport, and the senseless mobilisation of millions of unwanted and unemployable troops. As an example of the corruption, I quote the shameless profiteering of nearly every one engaged in the giving and taking of war contracts. Obviously, the Emperor himself, as a supreme autocrat, must bear the responsibility for a system which failed mainly because of the men (Stürmer, Protopopoff, and Rasputin) whom he appointed to control it.  If he had acted differently, if he had been a different man . . . What it is important to realize is that from the first the revolution was a revolution of the people. From the first moment neither the Duma nor the intelligentsia had any control of the situation. Secondly, the revolution was a revolution for land, bread and peace - -but, above all, for peace. There was only one way to save Russia from going Bolshevik. That was to allow her to make peace. It was because he would not make peace that Kerensky went under. It was solely because he promised to stop the war that Lenin came to the top. It will be objected that Kerensky ought to have shot both Lenin and Trotsky . . . even if Kerensky had shot Lenin and Trotsky, some other anti-war leader would have taken their place and would have won through on his anti-war programme. "

("Memoirs of a British agent" by Sir Bruce Lockhart. Book 3  Ch..4, see the Internet)  

  

Supporters of the Tsar, called "Whites", started a civil war against the "Red" Army led by Trotsky. It lasted from 1919 to 1921 ending in defeat of the "Whites". Next Britain France and the US tried to destroy Lenin's BG by imposing an economic boycott on it. They refused to recognize it, and forbade all trade with it. This created great difficulties and a great challenge - to build a new economy without outside help.

 

Lenin's first aim was to industrialize Russia, to build electricity generating plants and heavy industry (to provide tools for light industry) in this vast agricultural country.  This required money which foreign Bankers refused to lend. Where could the new regime raise money to industrialize an agricultural economy ruined by three years of WW1 and four years of revolution and civil war? 

 

During the civil war Lenin introduced laws forcing peasants to sell their produce to the State at fixed prices. The State then sold it in the cities for fixed prices.  This provided all with basic food for reasonable prices. The peasants supported Lenin fearing that if the "Whites" win the civil war the nobility would repossess their farms. In 1921, when the civil war ended, Lenin introduced a "New Economic Policy" (NEP) proposed by his disciple Bukharin. It allowed peasants to sell part of their produce in the cities at their own prices, and to employ hired labour. Bukharin told the peasants: "Get rich".  The idea was to raise money for industrialization by taxing the enriched peasants. NEP worked. Peasants began to prosper, industrialization progressed, and in 1924 most people in the USSR were very enthusiastic about the new regime.

 

Lenin's revolution made great impression everywhere.  It achieved Peace, and  created   a State using the economy to provide guaranteed employment, state-paid housing, healthcare, education, and pensions, to all citizens. This impressed people everywhere. Why should the economy benefit a few and not all? Lenin's success inspired people everywhere to set up local Communist Parties to emulate Russia's example. This was not Lenin's initiative; he was too busy rebuilding Russia. He rejected any idea of exporting revolution. He firmly believed every society must make its own revolution.  He saw the Russian revolution as the first step in a process replacing BB economies all over the world by State-owned economies.  He had no intention - or means - to conquer countries by military force. He was sure every BB economy was heading for an economic crisis predicted by Marx and ending in war and revolution. He believed people everywhere, especially those suffering unemployment and poverty, would see the advantages of a State-owned, planned economy and strive to replace their BB economy by a state-owned economy caring for all. This change could not be introduced by elections as BB would resist by force, hence revolution was unavoidable. Lenin hoped that after WW1 there will be revolutions also in Germany, Britain, and France.  He sent Kamenev to check this out.

Kamenev returned early in 1918 and told Lenin "We are alone".

After Lenin's revolution people created revolutionary parties in many countries. To coordinate their activities Lenin founded in 1919 an organization called "The Communist International" ("Com-intern"). He wrote 21 conditions for membership and invited those who qualified to meet regularly for coordinating policies. The Comintern was the most powerful revolutionary organization in history. It aimed openly to set up socialized economies everywhere by local revolutions.

For states with BB economies Lenin's state, and the Comintern, were a major threat. They knew Russia would not attack them, but its state-owned economy, using the economy to provide guaranteed employment and state-paid housing, healthcare, and education to all citizens, attracted people everywhere. Many decided to create a socialized economy in their own country. The idea that the economy should be used to benefit all citizens rather than enrich a few was attractive to many people.

BB opposes a socialized economy caring for all citizens because its viability shows that sharing the benefits of the economy equally among all citizens is possible. So BB of Germany, Italy, Britain, France, and the USA was determined to destroy Lenin's state. BB presented this as a struggle against Dictatorship, but BB tolerated - and supported - dictators like Hitler and Mussolini until 1939, and Salazar in Portugal and Franco in Spain until 1976. In 1961 CIA agents, on orders of US President Eisenhower, assassinated Congo's elected PM Lumumba replacing him by the corrupt dictator Joseph Mobutu, who ruled Congo for 32 years. In 1973 the CIA overthrew elected President Allende in Chile replacing him the dictator Pinochet. CIA did the same to Mossadeq in Iran (1953), and to Arbenz in Guatemala (1954). This reveals the claim that the US anti-USSR campaign was a struggle of "Democracy against Dictatorship" as hypocrisy. US rulers prefer dictators protecting BB to democratic governments nationalizing part of the economy. BB matters to US rulers far more than democracy. International politics of the 20th Century were mostly efforts of states with Big Business economies to destroy states with nationalized economies.   

The latter did not try to destroy the former. Being Marxists they believed every BB economy must produce economic crises that will cause its own downfall.

When Lenin died in January 1924 millions in Russia and abroad mourned his death. His BG regime was at the peak of its popularity, but cracks had already appeared in it in 1921. Actually it was flawed from the start.  Its flaws grew over the years, eventually causing the regime's collapse in 1991.     What were these flaws?

The first - and most serious - flaw was Lenin's insistence that his Party alone should arrest Kerensky's cabinet and take over power.  Before the revolution Lenin supported the policy of: "All power to the Councils" (of delegates elected by soldiers, workers, and peasant). He proposed that the country should be run by local and general councils rather than by Parliament and Political Parties. The most important council was the one in St. Petersburg.  Its members were elected by the soldiers in the city, by its workers and citizens. All revolutionary parties, Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, Social-Revolutionaries, and the Anarchists, were represented in this council, which had more authority than Kerensky's government as most soldiers obeyed its orders.  On October 24 (by new Calendar - November 6, by the old) Lenin exhorted the leaders of his Party to arrest Kerensky's government immediately, before October 25.   He wrote to the leadership of his party:                                                                                            

"Comrades,   I am writing these lines on the evening of the 24th. The situation is critical in the extreme. In fact it is now absolutely clear that to delay the uprising would be fatal.  With all my might I urge comrades to realize that everything now hangs by a thread;  that we are confronted by problems which are not to be solved by conferences or congresses (even congresses of councils), but exclusively by peoples, by the masses, by the struggle of the armed people.

…We must not wait. We must at all costs, this very evening, this very night, arrest the government, having first disarmed the officer cadets (defeating them, if they resist), and so on.    We must not wait! We may lose everything!

The value of the immediate seizure of power will be the Defence of the people (not of the Congress, but of the people, the army and the peasants in the first place) from the Kornilovite government, which has driven out Verkhovsky and has hatched a second Kornilov plot.

Who must take power?   That is not important at present let the Revolutionary Military Committee (of the Bolsheviks. A.O.)  do it, or "some other institution" (of the Bolsheviks. A.O.)  which will declare that it will relinquish power only to the true representatives of the interests of the people (i.e. Lenin's party. A.O.)  the interests of the army (the immediate proposal of peace), the interests of the peasants (the land to be taken immediately and private property abolished), the interests of the starving.

All districts, all regiments, all forces must be mobilized at once and must immediately send their delegations to the Revolutionary Military Committee and to the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks with insistent demand that under no circumstances should power be left in the hands of Kerensky and Co. until the 25th; not under any circumstances; the matter must be decided this very evening, or this very night.

History will not forgive revolutionaries for procrastinating when they could be victorious today (and they certainly will be victorious today), while they risk losing much tomorrow, in fact, they risk losing everything.    If we seize power today, we seize it not in opposition to the Councils but on their behalf.

The seizure of power is the business of the uprising; its political purpose will become clear after the seizure.

It would be a disaster, or a sheer formality, to await the wavering vote of October 25. The people have the right and are in duty bound to decide such questions not by a vote, but by force; in critical moments of revolution, the people have the right and are in duty bound to give directions to their representatives, even their best representatives, and not to wait for them.

This is proved by the history of all revolutions; and it would be an infinite crime on the part of the revolutionaries were they to let the chance slip, knowing that the salvation of the revolution, the offer of peace, the salvation of Petrograd, salvation from famine, the transfer of the land to the peasants depend upon them.  The government is tottering.  It must be given the death blow at all costs.  To delay action is fatal.              (see the Lenin Archive on the Internet)

Why did Lenin insist on arresting Kerensky's government before October 25?

He knew that the Congress of Councils from all Russia was meeting on October 25. This Congress was the supreme political authority in the country.  It numbered 670 delegates, of which 390 (a majority) were Bolsheviks and 179 were Left Social-Revolutionaries who in the main supported the Bolsheviks.

Lenin knew this Congress would approve a Bolshevik proposal to arrest Kerensky's government; he also knew that an arrest made by order of the Congress would mean that this Congress - not Lenin's Party - is the supreme political authority in Russia.

He wanted to avoid this by arresting Kerensky's government before the Congress did it. By presenting the Congress with the accomplished fact of Kerensky's arrest he reduced the Congress status from a decision-maker to that of a decision-approver. The status of a decision-approver is inferior to that of a decision-maker.  What motivated Lenin was the prime issue of politics - WHO DECIDES?  Not the content of the political decision but the authority to make it.  He knew this Congress would order Kerensky's arrest. But this would establish the Congress as the supreme political authority in the country. He was determined to prevent this. He was not motivated by a quest for personal power.  For Lenin power was a means to carry out the Marxist revolution.  His goal was the revolution, not power.  As long as the Bolsheviks had a majority in the Councils the revolution was safe, but what if they lose their majority?

Lenin's 1917 coup-d'état was against the authority of the workers and soldiers Councils, not against Kerensky who was a dead duck anyway. Lenin set a pattern for future relations between his party and the Councils, namely, the Party - not the councils - decides policy, the councils then approve it.

Lenin's insurrection was planned by Trotsky to precede the opening of the second All-Russia Congress of Councils.  It was carried out during the night of October 24 to 25 by the Bolshevik Military Revolutionary Committee under the direction of Trotsky. Armed workers, soldiers, and sailors entered the Winter Palace, seat of Kerensky's Cabinet. Although seizure of power often costs many lives this one was bloodless as most people supported the arrest of the government that refused to end the war. Ironically in 1991 most citizens supported the demise of Lenin's one-party state, and it was carried out with less casualties than his revolution in October 1917.

On the afternoon of October 25, 1917, Trotsky announced the arrest of Kerensky's Cabinet to the All-Russia Congress of workers and soldiers councils. Some ministers were arrested later that day, but Kerensky managed to escape to exile.

On October 25 the 2nd Congress of Councils convened. The opening session, its speeches punctuated by rifle fire in the streets, was a stormy debate on the legality of Lenin's insurrection which challenged the authority of the Congress. Many Menshevik and Social-Revolutionary delegates accused Lenin of presenting them with a ‘fait accompli’, and - to Lenin's relief - walked out of the Congress.  Left Social Revolutionaries stayed and formed a short-lived coalition government with Lenin.

On October 26 Lenin addressed the Congress, declaring: "We shall now proceed to construct the socialist order". The Congress then voted on three resolutions proposed by Lenin: 1) on peace, 2) on land, and 3) on setting up a new government. The Congress unanimously approved Lenin's resolution calling for an end to WW1 by calling on "all warring nations and their governments to open immediate negotiations for a just, democratic peace" and proposing an immediate ceasefire for three months.

Decisions on the land question were made in the form of a decree: "The right to private property in the land is annulled forever …The landlord's property in the land is annulled immediately and without any indemnity whatever … " All landed estates and the holdings of monasteries and churches were made national property and were placed under the protection of local land councils and councils of peasants. The holdings of poor peasants and of the rank and file of the Cossacks were exempted from confiscation. Hired labour on the land was prohibited, and the right of all citizens to cultivate land by their own labour was affirmed.

The Congress set up a governmental structure in which supreme authority was vested in the Congress itself.   Implementing the decisions of the Congress was entrusted to a Committee of People's “Commissars”. Lenin was elected head of this committee. Other Bolsheviks elected to this committee were Trotsky and Stalin. With the establishment of the new government, the Congress of Councils adjourned.

The decisions of the All-Russia Congress of Councils on peace and land evoked widespread support for the new government, and were decisive in assuring victory to the Bolsheviks in other cities and in the provinces. In November the Committee of People's Commissars also proclaimed the right of self-determination, including voluntary separation from Russia of the nationalities forcibly included in the Tsarist empire, but made it clear that it hoped that the "toiling masses" of the various nationalities would decide to remain with Russia. It also nationalized all banks and proclaimed the workers' control of production.   Industry was nationalized gradually. 

These policies were supported by most people in Russia, and by millions everywhere.

What they did not know - and would not support if they’d known - was that Lenin changed his former policy of "All Power to the Councils" to a new policy of "All Power to my Party" without admitting it openly.   This was a fateful change which eventually caused the downfall of Lenin's state and a huge setback to the idea of the state-owned, planned, economy.  Why did Lenin change his policy?   He was not motivated by lust for power but by mistrust of anyone who disagreed with him. He was a Marxist intellectual, and like all Marxists in the 19th Century he believed that Marx's "Laws of History" were the "Objective Truth" about history and society, and he possessed it. Lenin was sure that those who disagreed with him were wrong and therefore a threat to the revolution even if they did not intend to harm it. Marxists everywhere shared this belief. They were not exceptional. Most 19th Century scientists thought that scientific theories are “Objective Truth”. Catholics have the same conviction and therefore accept the infallibility of the Pope. Marx's "Laws of History" became a new, secular, God. The Communist Party was a secular Church. Its leader was the secular Pope. Marxism was the secular religion. Most secular thinkers in the !9th century inherited from religion the belief in Objective Truth. They rejected a God whose existence could not be tested by experiments or predictions, but believed that a theory like Marxism, whose predictions of economic crisis, of war and of revolution, were confirmed, is “Objective Truth". This caused more deaths than belief in God did.

   

An early Italian Communist, Ignazio Silone (1900-1978), met Lenin and wrote

"Between 1921 and 1927, I had repeated occasion to go to Moscow, and take part, as member of Italian Communist delegations, in a number of Congresses and meetings of the Executive (The leadership of the Comintern.A.O.) What struck me most about the Russian Communists, even in such exceptional personalities as Lenin and Trotsky, was their utter incapacity to be fair in discussing opinions that conflicted with their own. Their adversary, simply for daring to contradict, at once became a traitor, an opportunist, a hireling. An adversary in good faith is inconceivable to the Russian Communists. . . . Just as I was leaving Moscow in 1922 Alexandra Kollontai (a veteran member of Lenin's Party. A.O.)  said to me: "If you read in the papers that Lenin has had me arrested for stealing the silver spoons in the Kremlin this simply means that I'm not entirely in agreement with him about some minor problem of agricultural or industrial policy."  Kollontai had acquired her sense of humour in the West and so only used it with people from the West. But even then, in those feverish years of building the new regime, when the new orthodoxy had not yet taken complete possession of cultural life, how difficult it was to reach an understanding with a Russian Communist on the simplest, and for us most obvious, questions. How difficult, I don't say to agree, but at least to understand each other, when talking what liberty means to a man of the West, even for a worker."

 ("The God that failed" Columbia University Press, 2001, p. 101)

The reason for this attitude was not Lenin's psychology but his philosophy. 

He believed in Objective Truth and was sure he possesses it so all views different from his are wrong. He believed that those who hold them harm - objectively - the revolution, even if subjectively they believe they are revolutionaries. Marxists and Catholics shared the belief in Objective Truth.  It is for this reason that Lenin changed his policy from "Power to the Councils" to "Power to my Party" even when the Bolsheviks had a majority in the councils. The Councils included members of other revolutionary parties. Lenin believed all other parties held wrong views that harm the revolution, so they had to be excluded. Actually, he didn't trust even his own Party but only its leaders, and not all of them, as Kollontai's joke clarifies.    

Lenin's mistrusted not only other revolutionaries but also the revolutionary class - the factory workers.  Marx saw that work in factories - unlike manual work on land - depends on cooperation of workers and creates attitudes of solidarity rather than selfishness. Such new attitudes make factory workers into a class capable of changing the social mentality from Egocentrism and Ethnocentrism to Anthropocentrism. Marx advocated "Proletarian Revolution" not because factory workers ("the Industrial Proletariat") were exploited (the Peasants were more exploited but Marx never considered them a revolutionary class) but because factory workers could create a society motivated by human solidarity rather than by private or ethnic selfishness. This could change peoples’ selfish attitudes created by the rule of city merchants.  No peasant uprising could do this.  But Lenin saw that most workers cared more about their daily needs (wages and working conditions), than about their historical role - to change societies created by city merchants and motivated by selfishness into societies motivated by human solidarity. 

Every ruling class shapes its society in its own image. Feudal landlords shaped a society (and mentality) motivated by obedience where "everybody knows his place" - and accepts it - believing it is imposed by God.   City merchants shaped a society (and a mentality) motivated by selfishness and rivalry of the "self-made man" who outwits others for profit and power. They believed it was imposed by Nature.  Industrial workers could shape a society motivated by human solidarity and cooperation, caring for humanity.   Marx believed this was bound to happen, due to "Laws of History".  

Lenin's mistrust of the industrial working class shaped his policy on Trade-Unions.    It was a sensitive issue. In BB economies workers need Unions to defend their daily interests against private employers. But do they need Unions to defend them when the employer is a "Workers' State" promoting their historical interests? 

Are workers' Unions needed in a "Workers' State"?    if so, what is their role?     

In 1920 Alexandra Kollontai and Alexander Shliapnikov formed a faction in Lenin's Party calling it "The workers opposition". It was opposition to Lenin.  Seven million workers (!) supported the "Workers Opposition". 

The Workers Opposition began to form in 1919, as a result of the policies of (Civil) War Communism, which created domination of the Central Committee (CC) of the Communist Party over local party branches and trade unions. At the end of the Civil War the Workers Opposition began agitating against the CC control of the workers, seeking to restore more power to local party branches and trade unions.

A sharp controversy over this issue began in the Ninth All-Russia Conference of the Communist Party in September, 1920. All sides recognized the danger of the growing bureaucracy and offered ways to defeat this bureaucracy.

Trotsky and Bukharin, suggested transforming trade unions into government organs, in this way giving unions some control over industrial management. Lenin and the right wing of the party, including Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rykov, and Stalin, opposed this, arguing that unions should not be a part of industrial management, but it was the role of the party to teach unionized workers how to manage the whole national economy. They explained that with workers’ control, the needs of the entire society would be ignored, that factories were the property of the entire society, and not only of those who worked in them. Lenin explained: "  What is the point of having a Party, if industrial management is to be appointed by the trade unions, 90% of whose members are not party members?"  (Lenin, Collected Works, V. 32, Page 50)    

 Lenin's slip about 90% of the workers not being members of his party reveals a lot about the nature of his party, its membership, and its State. 

The Workers' Opposition represented the left wing of the party, composed almost exclusively of unionized workers and veteran revolutionaries. It was led by A.G. Shliapnikov, S.P. Medvedev, and Alexandra Kollontai. The group demanded that industrial management be made the responsibility of unions, which would not only mean that workers of a particular factory would have control over that factory, but also that unions would control the national economy as a whole. Kollontai explained that only workers could decide what was best for workers - that it was not for party officials to decide what was needed for the whole society, but it was for workers themselves, the producers of the wealth of society. The Workers Opposition had substantial support among Communist Party rank and file; but Lenin opposed its views. Kollontai said:"The basis of the controversy is this: shall we implement communism through workers or over their heads by the orders of Soviet officials.... The solution of this problem as it is proposed by the industrial unions, consists in giving complete freedom to the workers as regards experimenting, class training, adjusting and feeling out the new forms of production, as well as expression and development of their creative abilities, by that class which alone can be the creator of communism.  There can be no self-activity without freedom of thought and opinion, for self-activity manifests itself not only in initiative, action, and work, but in independent thought as well. We are afraid of mass-activity. We are afraid to give freedom to class activity, we are afraid of criticism, we have ceased to rely on the masses, and hence, we have bureaucracy with us. That is why the Workers' Opposition considers that bureaucracy is our enemy, our scourge, and the greatest danger for the future existence of the Communist Party itself.   In order to do away with the bureaucracy that is finding its shelter in the Soviet institutions, we must first of all get rid of all bureaucracy in the party itself....  Wide publicity, freedom of opinion and discussion, right to criticize within the party and among the members of the trade unions -- such is the decisive step that can put an end to the prevailing system of bureaucracy. Freedom of criticism, right of different factions to freely present their views at party meetings, freedom of discussion - are no longer the demands of the Workers' Opposition alone". ("The Workers Opposition", Shliapnikov", and "Kollontai" on the Internet)

Kollontai wrote: "We believe that the question of reconstruction and development of the productive forces of our country can be solved only if the entire system of control over the people's economy is changed" (see Shliapnikov report, December 30). Take notice comrades: ' only if the entire system of control if changed.' What does this mean? The basis of the controversy [between the "Workers Opposition" and Lenin. A.O.] revolves around the question: by what means during this period of transformation can our Communist Party carry out its economic policy - shall it be by means of the workers organised into their class union, or - over the workers' heads - by bureaucratic means, through appointed officials of the State.'   The basis of the controversy is, therefore, this: shall we achieve Communism through the workers or over their heads, by the hands of Soviet officials? And let us, comrades, ponder whether it is possible to attain and build a Communist economy by the hands and creative abilities of the scions of the other class, who are imbued with their routine of the past.  If we begin to think as Marxists, as men of science, we shall answer categorically and explicitly: 'No !'

The root of the controversy and the cause of the crisis lies in the supposition that 'practical men', technicians, specialists, and managers of capitalist production can suddenly free themselves from the bonds of their traditional conceptions of ways and means of handling labour (which have been deeply ingrained into their very flesh through the years of their service to Capital) and acquire the ability to create new forms of production, of labour organization, and of incentives to work. To suppose that this is possible is to forget the incontestable truth that a system of production cannot be changed by a few individual geniuses, but through requirements of a class.       (see "Kollontai  Archive"  on the Internet, article written in 1921)

In her speech at the 10th Congress Kollontai warned the party:   "When you go to a factory of 900 workers, and during a meeting on a party resolution 22 workers vote, 4 abstain, and the rest simply do nothing, it shows inertia, a split, the dark side of party life we do not fight against".  To awaken workers’ support for the party the "Workers Opposition" proposed that Unions participate in managing the factories but Lenin's BG was running the economy by dictate and excluded Unions from all decision-making. The "Workers' Opposition" proposed that unionized workers (blue and white collar) should elect councils that would manage the economy at all levels. Delegates elected by workers, responsible only to those who had elected them - not to the Party or to management - should participate in deciding industrial policy. The "Workers' Opposition" proposed that Lenin's BG managers at all levels cease to interfere in the activities of trade unions. It was not opposed to Lenin's employment of "Bourgeois specialists" in the economy, but it opposed giving them administrative powers, unchecked from below. 

 

Lenin opposed this, and the 10th Party Congress in 1921 rejected all these proposals and banned the "Workers' Opposition". He then introduced new party rules banning all factions in the party. His party rules hold to this day (2007) in every communist party.  In the 11th Party Congress Lenin spoke against Kollontai for 45 minutes, and asked the Congress to expel her from the Party, but he lost the vote. It was one of the rare occasions where the majority of the delegates opposed him.  But they accepted his policy on Trade-Unions. They rejected the idea that workers in a "Workers State" need Unions to defend their daily interests against BG officials managing industry. They also forbade all strikes. This greatly contributed to the downfall of Lenin's BG state. All BG economies banned free Workers' Unions therefore many workers became indifferent - or hostile - to BG States.   Unions are safety valves for States. If a State bans them employees’ anger is directed against the State, not against management.  For a good description of workers’ life in a BG state (Hungary) in the 1950s see "Worker in a Workers' State" Miklos Haraszti, Pelican, London 1977)

 

In 1953 workers in East Germany’s BG economy demonstrated against their government and in 1956 Hungary's workers rose against their Party-appointed managers and set up workers’ councils to manage industry.  USSR tanks invaded Hungary and put down the workers.  The rulers of the USSR feared that success of the Hungarian workers would inspire workers in all BG economies to do the same. Polish workers demonstrated on this issue in 1970 and in 1980 they formed the Polish Trade-Union Federation in the Gdansk shipyards. Workers revolting against Lenin's type of "Workers State" damaged the socialist image of Lenin's state. The invasion of Hungary and use of tanks against workers there, and again, in 1968, in Czechoslovakia, shocked many communists, and turned many against the BG state.   

 

Lenin's change of policy from "All Power to the councils" to "All Power to my Party" did not pass without resistance.  The most famous was the uprising in March 1921 of the sailors in the naval fortress of Kronstadt (see the Internet), outside St. Petersburg harbour. It is described in many books and pamphlets. One good account is by the socialist-anarchist Emma Goldman in her autobiography "Living my Life".  She emigrated from Russia to the USA in 1886 but was deported back to Russia in 1919 for opposing US's participation in WW1.  She supported the Russian revolution and was in St. Petersburg during the Kronstadt uprising. She tried to mediate between Lenin's government and the sailors, but failed.  Another good account is by Ida Mett.

 

The uprising was started by a strike of St. Petersburg workers complaining about low food rations. Lenin's State saw itself as guardian of the historical interests of the working class and prohibited strikes by workers. Strikes did not endanger Lenin's state. They endangered its image as a “Workers State”. In the USSR all strikes were forbidden.  Strikes were put down immediately by the army, if need be - by force.

Lenin's Party chief in St. Petersburg, Zinoviev, sent troops against the strikers. The accumulated frustration of the strikers was caused by Lenin's one-party rule denying democratic rights to all other revolutionary parties.  The event that triggered off the strike was a dispute over food rations.  The sending of troops against striking workers shocked many - including the troops themselves, who desisted from shooting strikers.  Lenin's loyalists running St.Petersburg declared martial law in the city.

The sailors in Kronstadt fort who fought for the revolution in 1917 (Lenin and Trotsky called them "The flower of the Revolution") sent a delegation to St. Petersburg to investigate events there.  The delegation's report convinced the sailors to support the strikers.  They published a declaration supporting the revolution and calling for return to the policy of  "All Power to the workers and soldiers councils".  Lenin rejected this demand. He rejected all mediation attempts by Goldman and others. Lenin, Trotsky, and supporters of the one-Party State rejected any compromise with those demanding "All Power to the workers and soldiers councils". They wanted a total victory over them.  Victor Serge, a supporter of Lenin and Trotsky, wrote in his autobiography: "An ultimatum was published signed by Lenin and Trotsky and worded in disgusting terms: 'Surrender, or you will be shot down like rabbits'" ("Memoirs of a Revolutionary" by Victor Serge, p 129) Trotsky ordered a military attack on Kronstadt.  It was led by Tukhachevsky. The attackers killed 500 sailors and those imprisoned were later shot lest they tell others what happened. Many sailors were shot while shouting "Long live the world revolution".  In a speech three days later Lenin admitted: "The Kronstadt men did not really want the counter-revolutionists. But neither did they want us."  Actually, they were against One-Party rule. They wanted rule by workers’ councils in which all revolutionary Parties participate.  Later Trotsky and Tukhachevsky too were killed by the One-Party rule.

 

Until the 10th Party Congress - which took place during the Kronstadt uprising – in 1921 - members of Lenin's Party could form groups to promote a particular policy.  Such groups were known as "factions". In 1921 Lenin decided to stop this tradition.   He proposed to the 10th Congress of his Party the following resolutions: 

                  

"6. The Congress, therefore, hereby declares dissolved and orders the immediate dissolution of all groups without exception formed on the basis of one platform or another (such as the Workers’ Opposition group, the Democratic Centralism group, etc.). Non-observance of this decision of the Congress shall entail unconditional and instant expulsion from the Party.

 

7. In order to ensure strict discipline within the Party and in all Soviet work and to secure the maximum unanimity in eliminating all factionalism, the Congress authorizes the Central Committee, in cases of breach of discipline or of a revival or toleration of factionalism, to apply all Party penalties, including expulsion, and in regard to members of the Central Committee, demoting to the status of candidate members and, as an extreme measure, expulsion from the Party. A necessary condition for the application of such an extreme measure to members of the Central  Committee, candidate members of the Central Committee and members of the Control Committee is the convocation of a full Meeting of the Central Committee, to which all candidate members of the Central Committee and all members of the Control Committee shall be invited. If such a general assembly of the most responsible leaders of the Party deems it necessary by a two-thirds majority to reduce a member of the Central Committee to the status of candidate member, or to expel him from the Party, this measure shall be put into effect immediately." ("Lenin  Archive" on the Internet)  

The 10th Party Congress (1921) approved Lenin's proposals as standard practice in the Party. Approval of the principle of "maximum unanimity" in the Party abolished all opposition to every local leadership throughout the country. During the civil war (1919-1921) Party members were still allowed to criticize the Party's policy before it was approved by the majority, but once it was approved no criticism was allowed. After the civil war even this was forbidden. Critics of Party policy were labelled as "misguided" and although they were not punished they were denied influential jobs. Later they became labelled as "damaging the revolution" and were sent into exile. After Kirov's assassination in 1934 all criticism was forbidden and those who voiced it were labelled "enemies of revolution" (or "enemies of the people") and sentenced to death. This happened to leaders like Trotsky, Bukharin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, etc. This policy spread from the Party to all government departments, municipalities, Unions, and the Army. Acceptance of the principle of "maximum unanimity" abolished all opposition to every leadership throughout the country. Absence of opposition enabled harmful policies to persist long after their harm was recognized.  It left no way to change leaders and policies other than by conspiracy. No opposition could express its views openly before it became a majority. Opponents of a policy had to meet secretly to collect adherents until they had a majority, and then stage a coup.  After Lenin's death every change of leadership in his party was done by conspiracy. This became standard practice also in the Cabinet, in management of industry, and in the Army.

Everyone in the Party, State, Army, or Industry, had to pretend that he agrees with his superiors while secretly conspiring to depose them.   Conspiracy and Deceit became a way of life throughout society.

Rosa Luxemburg, founder of the Polish and German Communist Parties, lifelong ally of Lenin, criticized him in 1918 for abolishing the Russian Parliament.  Shortly before she was murdered in Berlin (1919) by nationalist Army officers, she evaluated Lenin's revolution, in an article entitled "The Russian Revolution”, where she warned:            "...Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, Without free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution and becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the officials remain as the active element.  Public life gradually falls asleep. A few dozen Party leaders of inexhaustible energy, and boundless experience, direct and rule. Among them, in reality, only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders. And to approve proposed resolutions unanimously.  At bottom then - a clique affair - a dictatorship to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat however, but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense. In the sense of the rule of the Jacobins, (the postponement of the Councils’ Congress from 3-months periods to 6-months periods!) Yes, we can go even further; such conditions must inevitably cause shooting of hostages, etc. a brutalization of public life, attempted assassinations, etc."   (see Rosa Luxemburg on the Internet) 

In 1950 Hanna Arendt - who admired Luxemburg - wrote “Origins of Totalitarianism” describing as “Totalitarianism” the system created by Lenin’s ban on opposition, factions, and criticism. The ban forced critics to conspire. In return leaders sacked - regularly - quotas of potential critics (many were imprisoned or shot). This created mutual mistrust, fear, and deceit. Open political cooperation became impossible. Political and Social cohesion evaporated. This was no ordinary dictatorship but a new political system - “Totalitarianism”. It pulverized social cohesion. People were pressurized indefinitely - like dust - offering no resistance. This confirmed Engels’s (Marx’s partner) observation that “History is the domain of intentional action and unintentional outcome”. Lenin intended to create a society based on economic equality but by using political inequality he created - unintentionally - Totalitarianism.  In 1925, Mussolini emulated Lenin’s anti-opposition rules and in 1933 Hitler emulated Mussolini’s.      

Lenin held General Elections in Russia on November 12, 1917. The results were: see Table 2

 

The low Total is probably due to the fact that the elections took place in cities and the peasants in the countryside had no facilities enabling them to vote.

On January 5, 1918. this all-Russian Parliament - with all parties present - met.   In this Parliament - unlike in the Workers and Soldiers Councils - Lenin's Party had only 25%. Most other Parties opposed Lenin's Peace with Germany. So Lenin dissolved this Parliament. He insisted on Peace at any cost. The leaders of all parties protested but the electorate craved Peace and did not oppose the dissolution of a Parliament that opposed it.  After this brief interlude with political freedom Lenin introduced his one-party State.  Very soon Luxemburg's prediction became reality with a vengeance. On August 30, 1918, Fanya Kaplan, member of the "Social Revolutionary Party" who spent 11 years in exile in Siberia for revolutionary activities against the Tsar, was so outraged by Lenin's dissolution of the Parliament that she shot Lenin.  He survived and responded by outlawing all other political Parties. Later he also banned all opposition within his own Party. He lived till 1924 and after the assassination attempt strengthened the secret police which eventually killed millions of innocents, including many of Lenin's comrades.  Lenin knew that his attempt to set up a state-owned economy in Russia with its 40 million illiterate peasants was a gamble. He pinned his hopes on revolutions in Germany, France, and Britain, with their big industrial working classes. A combined state-owned economy of Russia and Germany could set a model for the rest of the world. Germany had a revolution in 1918, but - unlike Russia its Social-Democrats wanted to reform Capitalism, not to replace it.  German workers, unlike Russian, had free Trade-Unions. They voted for the Social-Democrats who became a majority in Parliament and refused to nationalize the economy.

The German Communist Party delayed publication of Luxemburg's article till 1922. Most communists never heard of it. This was a grave error, since wide publicity of her article could have saved millions of lives.   If heeded it would have saved Socialism.

In December 1922,  2,215 delegates, from Communist Parties of Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, met in Moscow and declared the creation of the "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" (USSR). It was a State stretching from Finland to Alaska ruled by Lenin's Communist Party. A leading Party organizer named Joseph Stalin declared the creation of the new State, announcing:   

"   Let us hope, comrades, that by forming our Union Republic we shall create a reliable bulwark against international capitalism, and that the new Union State will be another decisive step towards the union of the working people of the whole world into a World Soviet Socialist Republic ".  (see "The  USSR"  on the Internet)

The anthem of the international revolutionary Left - "The International"- calling for worldwide workers' revolution, was declared as the anthem of the USSR.   

The delegates agreed, and the “Union of Soviet, Socialist, Republics” (USSR) was established.    Three of the four words describing the USSR were lies:

1) It was not a UNION but a strictly hierarchical Dictatorship.

2) It was not ruled by "Soviets" ("Councils") but by one political Party.

3) Its "REPUBLICS" were mere departments in the One-Party State.   The public had no say in any "re-public'" and no "re-public" ever held elections.

Nonetheless, the USSR abolished private ownership of lands, factories, banks. The State owned, and planned, the entire economy providing all with guaranteed employment, state-paid housing-healthcare-education-pensions. This was the core of Socialism; hence most Marxists everywhere supported the USSR despite all their criticism of it. The USSR lasted till 1991. Then it dismantled itself without violence or civil war. Nothing similar ever happened in history. Why did a world Super-power disappear without violence? Only because most of its citizens refused to defend it.    

 

What flaw in Marx's theory caused its inability to predict - or explain - such a major historical event as the USSR collapse? His theory of history sees struggles between social classes as the main drive in politics. In a State-owned economy no one owns machines/land/houses/shares. All economic decision-makers are paid employees. They can be dismissed. No one has a Bank account. They cannot pass their privileges to their children. So they are not a class. No classes - no class struggle. Hence Marxists were unable to understand social and political struggles in societies with state-owned economies. Marx's theory could neither predict, nor explain, social struggles in BG states. Why did a 70-year old State-owned, planned, economy, without a property-owning class, providing all citizens with full employment, state-paid housing, healthcare, education, and pensions, dissolve itself without even a minority of its citizens trying to defend it?  The history of the USSR shows that when people suffer acute material misery they will tolerate a tyranny that alleviates this misery. But when peoples' basic needs are satisfied they value their freedom more than economic benefits granted them by an oppressor. In a society where all are employees the conflicts are about power not about profits. In such a society political equality matters more than economic equality. If run directly by all citizens it can provide both freedom and affluence, but if run by Party-appointed officials it is oppressive. Lenin's state collapse was not caused by economic crisis, war, or foreign intervention but by frustration accumulating for decades in its citizens lacking political freedom.  The BG State failed, not the socialized economy.   In 1919 many in Russia fought a 2-year civil war trying to resurrect the Tsarist state. In 1991 no one in the USSR fought a civil war to resurrect Lenin's BG state.  Even today (2007), sixteen years after dissolving the USSR, with all the wisdom of hindsight, most former citizens of Lenin's state do not wish to resurrect it. They miss the benefits of a socialized economy but refuse to resurrect BG one-party State fearing it will abolish their political freedom. They want a socialized economy - without Big Government.

 

8. Stalin = industrialisation + terror

 

In 1922 Lenin created the post of "General Secretary" to handle his Party's administrative issues: to prepare inner party elections, to nominate people to party posts, to arrange congresses, to pay party officials.  He proposed Stalin for the job. Stalin was elected.  Shortly before his death in 1924 Lenin regretted his choice and sent brief notes to the small group leading his Party. The notes became known as "Lenin's Political Testament". (See the Internet).  Lenin feared that a split in the leadership between Stalin and Trotsky could divide the Party - and country - into two hostile camps and start a new civil war.

 

Shortly before his death Lenin wrote to the leadership of his Party:

"…Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealing among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General. That is why I suggest that the comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post and appointing another man in his stead who in all other respects differs from Comrade Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc. This circumstance may appear to be a negligible detail. But I think that from the standpoint of safeguards against a split and from the standpoint of what I wrote above about the relationship between Stalin and Trotsky it is not a [minor] detail, but it is a detail which can assume decisive importance. "   (see the Internet).

 

After Lenin's death the leaders of his Party met to discuss this note and voted on Lenin's proposal to remove Stalin from the post of "General Secretary". But the outcome of their vote - rejected Lenin's advice – and entrenched Stalin in his post.  Why did members of the leadership ignore Lenin's advice (a mistake for which they paid with their lives)?  They were divided on the "New Economic Policy".  Bukharin wanted to continue it, Trotsky opposed this.   Both were creative thinkers inventing new ideas. Stalin was a traditional thinker who used other people's ideas. Bukharin feared Trotsky's brilliance would win a majority for his policy, so he preferred Stalin. Trotsky preferred Stalin to Bukharin so he did not vote against him. Zinoviev, Kamenev and Rykov feared Trotsky. They valued Stalin's intellectual inferiority more than his rudeness. This cost them their lives. Stalin was a plotter, not a theorist. In inner-party struggles the best plotter - not the best political thinker - wins. In ALL political Parties the best plotter outplots rivals to win the leadership. Mutual mistrust among the leaders made Stalin Head of the CP - and of the world Communist movement.   Zinoviev and Kamenev supported him against Trotsky. A few years later he executed them, and assassinated Trotsky. In 1937 C.L.R James wrote: “What Zinoviev and Kamenev did not see [in 1924 A.O.] was that behind them in this quarrel the party bureaucracy would inevitable range itself; behind the Party bureaucracy was the State bureaucracy, and behind these were the Capitalist elements in the Soviet Union”  

(“Rise and fall of the Communist International”, Secker & Warburg, 1937, p. 149)

In 1991 the officials of BG Party and State turned most BG states into BB states.  

 

In 1924 Stalin became Head of the Party but many in the Party still opposed him. He used his role to gain total control. He expelled Trotsky and his supporters from the Party replacing them by his own loyalists. Then he used his men to expel Zinoviev's and Bukharin's supporters from the Party, replacing them with more of his own loyalists. By 1929 he was the undisputed leader of the Party, with no open opposition. Most biographers demonize him as a cold, cruel, killer. Demonization prevents understanding.  Stalin was a pragmatist, not a theorist. He concluded that in the near future there would be no more revolutions outside Russia.  He had no doubt BB states would strive to destroy Lenin’s BG state and its state-owned economy. Its sheer existence threatened theirs. Defending BG concerned Stalin far more than promoting new revolutions. His supporters were the officials who ran the Party and State. He appointed them. Their roles made them an elite. They acted to defend their roles - and the regime. So did he. They feared revolutionaries like Trotsky and Bukharin, who "rocked the boat" advocating revolutions in all domains and countries. Officials crave stability, detest revolutionaries, and mistrust the population. Their roles - and lives - depended on Stalin. His role - and life - depended on them.  Together they killed revolutionaries, imprisoned oppositionists and terrorized the population. Stalin - and the officials of BG State and Party he appointed - eliminated the Revolutionaries.

Stalin used his skill as a plotter to install his loyalists as leaders of the Comintern and most foreign Communist Parties. In the 1930s people loyal to his policy of "Defending the USSR" replaced most founders of Communist Parties dedicated to revolution. Stalinists replaced revolutionists. The world Communist movement became a church with Stalin its Pope. Doubting his infallibility meant that the CP - and Socialism - could be wrong. This was unacceptable. All Stalin's policies were accepted without hesitation or criticism by all CPs. Not out of fear but due to blind trust in the only Party that had carried out a successful revolution and set up a state-owned economy. This Party's leader - whoever he was - represented the first revolution that succeeded to set up a State-owned economy.

For most communists doubting Stalin's policy meant doubting the Revolution and the State-owned economy.    How could one fight for what one doubts?

Ignazio Silone, leader of the clandestine Italian Communist Party in Mussolini's Fascist Italy, attended meetings of the Comintern leadership, and described this attitude - and Stalin's plotting tactics - as he witnessed them:

"In May 1927, as a representative of the Italian Communist Party, I took part with Togliatti (leader of Italian Communist Party (ICP)   A.O.) in an extraordinary session of the enlarged Executive of the Comintern. Togliatti had come from Paris where he was running the political secretariat of the Party, and I from Italy, where I was in charge of the underground organization (in 1925 Mussolini established his Fascist dictatorship in Italy and declared the Communist Party illegal. Many Communists were killed and arrested and the ICP became a clandestine organization. A.O.) . We met in Berlin and went to Moscow together. The meeting - ostensibly summoned for an urgent discussion of what direction should be given to the Communist Parties in the struggle "against the imminent imperialist war", was actually designed to begin the "liquidation" of Trotsky and Zinoviev, who were still members of the Comintern's Executive. As usual, to avoid surprises, the full session had been preceded - and every detail prepared - by the so-called Senior-convener, consisting of the heads of the most important delegations. Togliatti on that occasion insisted, that I should accompany him to these restricted sittings. According to the rules, only he had a right to attend on behalf of the Italian delegation; but rightly foreseeing what complications were about to arise, he preferred to have the support of the representative of the clandestine organization. At the first sitting which we attended I had the impression that we had arrived too late. We were in a small office in the Comintern Headquarters. The German Thalemann was presiding and began reading out a proposed resolution against Trotsky, to be presented at the full session. This resolution condemned, in the most violent terms, a document which Trotsky had addressed to the Politburo of the Russian Communist Party. The Russian delegation at that day's session of the Senior-convener was an exceptional one - Stalin, Rykov, Bukharin, and Manuilsky.

At the end of the reading Thalemann asked if we were in agreement with the proposed resolution. The Finn Ottomar Kuusinen found that it was not strong enough. "It should be said openly" he suggested "that the document sent by Trotsky to the Politburo of the Russian Communist Party is of an entirely counter-revolutionary character and constitutes clear proof that the man who wrote it no longer has anything in common with the working class."   As no one else asked to speak, after consulting Togliatti, I made my apologies for having arrived late and so not having been able to see the document which was to be condemned. "To tell the truth" Thalemann declared candidly "we haven't seen the document either".

Preferring not to believe my ears I repeated my objection in other words: "It may very well be true" I said, "that Trotsky's document should be condemned, but obviously I cannot condemn it before I've read it". "Neither have we" repeated Thalemann, “neither have the majority of the delegations present here except for the Russians, read the document".  Thalemann spoke in German and his words were translated into Russian for Stalin and into French for two or three of us. The reply given to me was so incredible that I rounded on the translator. "It's impossible" I said "that Thalemann should have said that. I must ask you to repeat his answer word for word".   At this point Stalin intervened. He was standing over at one side of the room, and seemed the only person present who was calm and unruffled.  "The Political Office of the Party" said Stalin "has considered that it would not be expedient to translate and distribute Trotsky's document to the delegates of the International Executive, because there are various allusions in it to the policy of the Soviet State". (The mysterious document was later published abroad by Trotsky himself in a booklet entitled "Problems of the Chinese revolution" and as anyone can today see for himself it contains no mention of the policy of the Soviet State but a closely reasoned attack on the policy practiced in China by Stalin and the Comintern. In a speech of April 15 1927, in the presence of the Moscow Committees, Stalin had sung the praises of Chiang Kai-Shek and confirmed his personal confidence in the Kuomintang (Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Party. A.O.) . This was barely a week before the famous anti-Communist volte-face of the Chinese Nationalist leader and of his Party. The Communists were expelled from the Kuomintang overnight; tens of thousands of workers were massacred in Shanghai and, a month later, in Wuhan. It was natural therefore that Stalin should have been anxious to avoid a debate on these matters seeking to protect himself behind a screen of 'raison d'Etat.').  

Ernst Thalemann asked me if I was satisfied with Stalin's explanation. "I do not contest the right of the Politburo of the Russian Communist Party to keep any documents secret" I said "But I do not understand how others can be asked to condemn an unknown document". At this indignation against myself and Togliatti, who appeared to agree with what I had said, knew no bounds. It was especially violent on the part of the Finn, whom I have already mentioned, a Bulgarian and one or two Hungarians. "It is unheard of" cried Kuusinen, very red in the face, "that we still have such petty-bourgeois in the fortress of World Revolution. He pronounced the words "petty-bourgeois" with an extremely comical expression of contempt and disgust.  The only person who remained calm and imperturbable was Stalin.  He said: "If a single delegation is against the proposed resolution, it should not be presented." Then he added "Perhaps our Italian comrades are not fully aware of the internal situation. I propose that the sitting be suspended until tomorrow and that one of those present should be assigned the task of spending the evening with our Italian comrades and explain our internal situation to them"

 

The Bulgarian Vasil Kolarov was given this ungrateful task. He carried it out with tact and good humour. He invited us to have a glass of tea that evening in his room at the Hotel Lux. He faced up to the thorny subject without much preamble.

 "Let's be frank" he said to us with a smile "Do you think I've read the document? No I haven't. To tell you the whole truth I can add that that document doesn't even interest me.  Shall I go further?  If Trotsky had sent me a copy here secretly, I'd refuse to read it. My dear Italian friends this isn't a question of documents. I know that Italy is a classic country of academies, but we aren't in an academy here. Here we are in the thick of a struggle for power between two rival groups of the Russian Politburo. Which of the two groups do we want to line up with? That's the point. Documents don't come into it. It's not a question of finding the historic truth about an unsuccessful Chinese revolution. It’s a question of a struggle for power between two hostile - irreconcilable - groups. One's got to choose. I'm for the majority group. Whatever the minority says or does, whatever document it draws up against the majority, I repeat to you that I'm for the majority. Documents don't interest me. We aren't in an academy here."  He refilled our glasses with tea and scrutinized us with the air of a schoolmaster obliged to deal with two unruly youngsters. "Do I make myself clear?" he asked addressing me specifically.  "Certainly" I replied. "Very clear indeed".  "Have I persuaded you?" he asked again. "No" I said.  "And why not?" he wanted to know. "I should have to explain to you" I said "why I am against Fascism".  Kolarov pretended to be indignant, while Togliatti expressed his opinion in more moderate, but no less succinct, terms. "One can't just declare oneself for the majority or for the minority in advance" he said, "One can't ignore the political base of the question".  Kolarov listened to us with a benevolent smile of pity "You're still too young" he explained as he accompanied us to the door. "You haven't yet understood what politics are all about".

Next morning in the Senior-convent, the scene of the day before was repeated. An unusual atmosphere of nervousness pervaded the little room into which a dozen of us were packed. "Have you explained the situation to our Italian comrades?" Stalin asked Kolarov. "Fully" the Bulgarian assured him. "If a single delegate" Stalin repeated "is against the proposed resolution it cannot be presented in the full session. A resolution against Trotsky can only be taken unanimously. Are our Italian comrades" he added turning to us "favourable to the proposed resolution?"

After consulting Togliatti I declared: "Before taking the resolution into consideration we must see the document concerned" The Frenchman Albert Treint and the Swiss Jules Humbert-Droz made identical declarations (both of them, a few years later, also ended outside the Comintern).  "The proposed resolution is withdrawn" said Stalin. After which we had the same hysterical scene as the day before, with the indignant, angry, protests, of Kuusinen, Rakosi, Pepper, and the others. Thalemann argued from our "scandalous" attitude that the whole trend of our anti-Fascist activity in Italy was most probably wrong and that if fascism was still so firmly entrenched in Italy it must be our fault. He asked because of this that the policy of the Italian Communist Party should be subjected to a thorough sifting.

This was done and as a reprisal for our "impertinent" conduct those fanatical censors discovered that the fundamental guiding lines of our activity, traced in the course of the previous years by Antonio Gramsci, were seriously contaminated by a petty-bourgeois spirit. Togliatti decided that it would be prudent for us to address a letter to the Politburo of the Russian Communist Party explaining the reasons for our attitude at that meeting of the Executive. No communist, the letter said in effect would presume to question the historical pre-eminence of our Russian comrades in the leadership of the Comintern. But this pre-eminence imposed special duties on our Russian comrades. They could not apply the rights it gave them in a mechanical and authoritarian way.  This letter was received by Bukharin who sent for us at once and advised us to withdraw it so as not to worsen our already appalling political situation."   ("The God that failed" Columbia University Press. 2001 p 106)

But this wasn't the end of the affair.  "In Berlin, on my way back, I read in the paper that the Executive of the Comintern had severely rebuked Trotsky for a document he had prepared about recent events in China.  I went to the offices of the German Communist Party and asked Thalemann for an explanation. "This is untrue" I said to him sharply. But he explained that the statutes of the Comintern authorized the Presidium, in case of urgency, to adopt any resolution in the name of the Executive. During the few days I had to stay in Berlin, while waiting for my false documents to be put in order, I read in the papers that the American, Hungarian and Czechoslovak Communist Parties had energetically deplored Trotsky's letter. "Has the mysterious document finally been produced then?" "No" he answered me "But I hope the example set by the American, Hungarian, and Czechoslovak Communists has shown you what Communist discipline means. These things were said with no hint of irony but indeed with dismal seriousness that befitted the nightmare reality to which they referred."     ("The God that failed" p. 111)

Why did German, American, Hungarian, and Czechoslovak communists behave like this?  In 1927 communists outside the USSR did not fear reprisals by Stalin.  Togliatti remained leader of the Italian Communist Party till his death in 1964. Support for Stalin at that time was not due to fear. Fervent support for USSR was typical of most communists everywhere. Their sense of criticism - sharp and alert when dealing with BB economies - became paralyzed when dealing with Lenin’s BG state. Even leaders like Bill Haywood, founder of the American IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) suffered from this symptom.{see “Living my Life” by Emma Goldman, Vol.2 p..915). Later, in the 1930s, Stalin's response to dissidents changed and many feared to criticize him lest they - or their families - lose their jobs, freedom, or lives. But in the 1920's Communists did not fear Stalin, yet they adamantly refused to criticize him.   For two reasons:

1. Fear of disillusionment.

            Many feared that if the leader of the USSR was wrong then something could be wrong with a state-owned economy. Maybe even with Marx' theory. This would shatter their hope that a state-owned, planned, economy would solve all social ills.  If it doesn't, then why make a revolution?  They feared to lose hope.   For many people hope is more important than life, and loss of hope is worse than loss of life. 

2. Respect for the only party that succeeded to carry out a socialist revolution.

Any leader of that party (if Trotsky, Bukharin or Kirov, were leaders the attitude would have been the same) was not s person but a symbol, symbolizing - to most communists everywhere - the Party, and the Party symbolized the Revolution.  They believed - wrongly - that loyalty to the leader was loyalty to the revolution.

Ignazio Silone recounts an incident which illustrates the adoration of Lenin: 

" One of my best friends, the Head of the Russian Communist Youth, Lazar Schatzky, one evening confided to me how sad he was to have been born too late, and not to have taken part either in the 1905 or 1917 revolutions.  "But there'll still be revolutions", I said to console him, "There'll always be need of revolutions, even in Russia".   We were in the Red Square, not far from the tomb of Lenin.  "What kind?" he wanted to know, "And how long have we got to wait?"  Then I pointed to the tomb, which was still made of wood at that time, and before which we used to see everyday an interminable procession of poor ragged peasant slowly filing.  "I presume you love Lenin", I said to him "I knew him too and have a very vivid recollection of him. You must admit with me that this superstitious cult of his mummy is an insult to his memory and a disgrace to a revolutionary city like Moscow".  I suggested to him, in short, that we should get hold of a tin or two of petrol, and make "a little revolution" on our own by burning the totem hut. To be frank, I did not expect him to accept my proposal there and then, but at least I thought he would laugh about it. Instead of which my poor friend went very pale and began to tremble violently. Then he begged me not to say dreadful things of that kind, either to him or still less to others. (Ten years later, when he was being searched for as an accomplice of Zinoviev, he committed suicide by throwing himself from the fifth floor of the house he lived in).

I have been present at the marching-past of immense parades of people and armies at the Red-Square, but in my mind the recollection of that young friend's emotion and of his frightened and affectionate voice has remained stronger than any other image there.  It may be that that memory is "Objectively" more important". 

("The God that failed" Columbia University Press, 2001, p.102)

 

Not only Schatzky's adoration was genuine, so was that of the peasants filing past Lenin's tomb.  It wasn't a "superstitious cult of a mummy" but a voluntary gesture of respect for the man who gave them land. No one forced them to visit his grave, and to reach Moscow they had to overcome many difficulties. Yet they undertook these hardships to express their gratitude. When millions of mourners kept filing past Lenin's coffin after his death in 1924 the political leadership decided - against protests by  Lenin's widow - to embalm his body, and use the mourners as a symbol of support for the regime.  Mourners came to pay homage to the man, not to the regime.

 

The conflict between Stalin and Trotsky had its personal causes. Stalin was jealous and paranoid. He envied, hated and feared Trotsky's brilliance as thinker and orator, whose predictions were repeatedly confirmed while his own failed repeatedly. Trotsky's intellectual arrogance caused him to underestimate Stalin and to ignore his skill as a plotter. Trotsky despised Stalin as stupid, dishonest, and vulgar. Stalin knew Trotsky had the ability - and credentials - to replace him as leader of the USSR and of the world revolutionary movement. He knew that if he committed a big blunder Trotsky could replace him.  While Trotsky was alive Stalin was replaceable so he felt politically insecure.  This motivated him to kill Trotsky in Mexico even as late as 1940, though he knew Trotsky had neither men nor means to harm him.

 

However, the basic reason for the conflict between Stalin and Trotsky was not personal but political and would have surfaced anyway, even with different personalities. Its causes are rooted in Marx's theory. Marx believed that economic collapse of BB economies and the rise of State-owned, planned, economies is an inevitable phase in the evolution of all societies. However, this could not occur simultaneously all over the world but was bound to start in industrial societies and spread gradually to all others. How should a state with a state-owned economy relate to states with a BB economy which have not yet had a revolution?  Marx never considered this problem. Moreover, a socialized economy in an agricultural society of 140 million illiterate peasants contradicted his theory.  

After achieving power Lenin faced a new problem: What foreign policy to conduct? To act as a State or as a revolutionary?  To seek normal relations with BB states or to help their revolutionaries to overthrow them? (The same problem caused the split between Castro and Che Guevara in 1965). All BB states were hostile to Lenin's BG, so how ought the USSR to defend itself?  Two foreign-policy strategies were possible. 

1) To help revolutionaries in BB States to make more revolutions.  (As Ho-Chi-Min, leader of North Vietnam, used to say: "The best way to help Vietnam is to make a revolution in your own country").    This meant constant conflict with all BB states.

2) To establish normal relations with BB states and to try convincing them that the USSR has no intention to overthrow them, thus reducing their hostility to USSR.  This implied minimal support for other revolutionaries.  The first approach was called "Permanent Revolution" - the second "Socialism in One Country" (where revolution won - rather than everywhere). The two contradicted each other.  Lenin did not resolve this contradiction. He created the "Comintern" to promote revolutions in BB states and also embassies in BB states to promote normal relations with them.

Trotsky supported "Permanent Revolution".   Stalin - "Socialism in One country".

When Stalin won the power struggle in his Party he redefined "a revolutionary" as: "One who always defends the USSR". This changed the priorities of all communists - from making a revolution in their own country, to defending the USSR. Acceptance of this principle turned revolutionaries into Stalinists. Any revolution causing problems for the USSR had to be abandoned. In 1943 Stalin dismantled the Comintern and changed the anthem of the USSR from "The International" to a patriotic song praising the USSR  In its 1944 version the line "Long Live our Soviet Motherland" is repeated three times but revolution is not mentioned once. The original anthem calling for a revolution of workers all over the world ceased to be the USSR's anthem.  This expressed Stalin's home and foreign policies.

 

A Yugoslav communist leader (Milovan Djilas) who visited Stalin in 1943 recalled that Stalin said to him:"…The situation with the Comintern was becoming more and more abnormal. Molotov and I were racking our brains [how to improve relations with USA and UK during WW2. A.O] while the Comintern was pulling in its own direction and the discord grew. It is easy to work with Dimitrov [the Bulgarian leader of the Comintern. A.O.]  but with the others it was harder. Most important of all, there was something abnormal, something unnatural about the very existence of a general Communist forum when the Communist parties should have been searching for a national language and fight under the conditions prevailing in their own countries" ("Conversations with Stalin" by Milovan Djilas, Harcourt, Brace, New York 1962.p.80).  Djilas adds that Dimitrov himself told him: "It was apparent that the main power in the spread of Communism was the Soviet Union and that therefore all forces had to gather around it." [same book  p.33]

The original definition: "Revolutionaries are those who make revolutions" was denounced by Stalin as "irresponsible adventurism".  He replaced it by a new one:

 "Revolutionaries are those who always, and everywhere, defend the USSR"   .

Stalin feared that if the USSR supported revolutions in other countries their rulers would try to destroy the USSR.  Trotsky argued that this would be the case even if the USSR did not support revolutions. Anti USSR policies were not a response to USSR's foreign policy but to its socialized economy. States with BB economies - afflicted by unemployment - feared the attraction a socialized economy had on their own unemployed. Guaranteed employment, state-paid housing-healthcare-education were very attractive to unemployed, underpaid, and unpensioned workers in BB economies, who could not afford to send their children to college, or pay a doctor.

The sheer existence of a state-owned economy showed that it was a viable alternative. Women in the USSR had full equality in jobs and wages, and legalized abortions paid by the state, while in BB economies abortions were a crime or very expensive. Many unemployed saw the socialized economy as a desirable option. This scared all states with BB economies. They knew the USSR would not attack them as its leaders believed BB economies must collapse due to economic crises. They feared that BG’s social benefit will influence their own unemployed to act for a state-owned economy in their own country.   So they demonised the USSR regime and tried to topple it.

 

To reduce hostility to the USSR Stalin decided to restrain revolutions everywhere.   Trotsky argued that this would not reduce hostility to the USSR.  In 1927 Stalin supported the Chinese Nationalists led by Chiang-Kai-Shek while Trotsky argued against this.  Stalin ordered the Chinese communists to form an alliance with Chiang-Kai-Shek. This put them under Chiang's control who used the first opportunity to massacre them.  In 1937, when Japan invaded China and the USA gave Chiang arms to fight Japan, they asked him: "Why do you use our weapons against Chinese Communists rather than against the Japanese invaders?" He replied: "Because the Japanese are like a rash on the skin but the communists are a cancer".   He was right.

In 1945 Japan surrendered.  In 1949 Mao-Tse-Tung's Communists defeated Chiang-Kai-Shek's nationalists and set up a state-run economy in China. In a country of 400M people. Where millions died of hunger they saw to it that every citizen got one cup of rice per day. This alone was a major achievement. Since then China's population has increased to 1.5 billion all of whom eat, dress, and live, incomparably better than they did before Mao’s regime. The case for a state-owned economy gained more by Mao's victory than by Stalin's policy of curbing Mao's revolutionary zeal and alliance with the nationalists.    Trotsky predicted this and was proved right again.

 

In the 1950s and 1960s the USSR's foreign policy faced the same dilemma when struggles for independence started in British, French, Portuguese, Belgian, and Dutch colonies in Africa and Asia. Liberation struggles were led by two groups:  Nationalists and Marxists. The nationalists wanted independence, the Marxists - independence and a state-run economy. USSR rulers continued Stalin's policy by supporting mostly nationalists, not Marxists. They feared that support for a state-run economy would increase hostility to the USSR.  In Cuba, Fidel Castro - while fighting in the Cuban mountains (1957/8) against the corrupt Batista regime - was denounced by communists everywhere (including in Cuba) as a "petty bourgeois adventurer".

In addition to this dilemma in Foreign Policy, the USSR faced a dilemma in its agricultural economy. Its 140 Million Peasants with their privately run farms, who originally supported Lenin, were bound to come into conflict with the State-owned, planned, economy.  In 1921 Lenin approved the "New Economic Policy" allowing the peasants to sell part of their produce at their own prices (the other part was sold to the State at fixed price and ensured basic food rations to all citizens).  The taxes imposed on the peasants enabled the regime to pay for industrialization, to build dams, power stations, and heavy industry. But the pace of industrialization was slow, and the peasants found that their money could not buy much. The peasants' lack of motivation could slow down industrialization and cause food shortages. Food production was in the hands of the peasants, not of the state. In 1928 Stalin decided to take a drastic step by abolishing all private farms and setting up collective, state-owned, farms. 140 million peasants lost their farms overnight.  At a stroke he turned all peasants into enemies of the USSR.  From supporters of Lenin they turned overnight into enemies of Stalin. In 1929 he set up state-owned communal farms ("Kolkhozes") and forced the peasants into them. It was a fateful decision, causing a famine in which seven million peasants died.  To make the peasants work Stalin terrorized them by arresting 20 millions and sending them to forced-labour camps. A network of forced-labour camps ("Gulag") was set up all over the USSR and millions were forced to work in abysmal conditions. Experts estimate that introducing state-owned agriculture cost the lives of 20M peasants. In 1928 Stalin introduced his first "Five Year Plan" to accelerate industrialization. Its success was declared already in 1932 but Stalin said the USSR was 50 years behind the world's industrial powers, and must "industrialize or be crushed" by its enemies.  Starting in 1928, the first ‘Five-Year plans’ built the foundation for a heavy industry in Russia’s underdeveloped economy without waiting years for capital to accumulate through the expansion of light industry, and without reliance on foreign loans. The country was industrialized at an unbelievable pace, surpassing Germany’s pace of industrialization in the nineteenth century and Japan’s earlier in the twentieth. After reconstructing the economy, and after the initial plans of further industrialization were fulfilled, the rate of growth slowed down, but it still surpassed most other countries in terms of total material production (GDP).

Despite difficulties with the first plan, Stalin went ahead with the Second Five Year Plan in 1932. The Second Five-Year Plan (1932-1937) brought a spectacular rise in steel production, more than 17 million tons, placing the USSR close to Germany as one of the world’s major steel-producing countries. The second 5-year plan was not uniformly successful, failing to reach the recommended production levels in such crucial areas as coal and oil. However, industrialization progressed fast and by 1938 the USSR was an industrial power. In 1941 it produced 6590 tanks while Germany (whose “Blitzkrieg” war depended on tanks) produced only 5200. In 1942 (during WW2) USSR produced 24.446 tanks and Germany only 9300. In 1941 USSR produced 15,735 aircraft but Germany only 11,776.  In 1942 it produced 25,436 aircraft and Germany only 15,556. The industrial workforce in USSR was 11M in 1941 while the German was 16M.  Considering that USSR state-owned economy began to industrialize only in 1921 in a devastated backward country without experts or loans from abroad, its achievements were amazing. However, the hardships caused by industrialization initiated secret opposition to Stalin even within his party. Stalin worried he might be replaced by Kirov, the Party leader in Leningrad.

 

In the 17th Congress of the Party (January 1934) all delegates applauded Stalin's speech but in the secret ballot for membership of the Politburo 267 voted against Stalin and only 4 against Kirov. Delegates approached Kirov asking him to run for the post of General Secretary of the Party. Molotov falsified the election results announcing Stalin as the winner. The voting against him after the applause on his speech shocked Stalin and deepened his mistrust of the Party. .In December '34 Kirov was assassinated, probably by Stalin's instigation who accused Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, and their followers and rigged a series of show trials (1936/7/8) against them. All were framed on false charges. All trials consisted only of admissions by the accused who did not try to defend themselves after being tortured and their families threatened. They were shot as "Enemies of the Revolution". Thus Stalin "purged" the Party of all critics killing most delegates to the 1934 Congress and most leaders of the 1917 revolution who could replace him. From 1937 onwards the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was merely a rubber stamp for Stalin's decisions.

Stalin knew that four elites had motivation, ability and credibility to replace him:

1) Pre-1917 Revolutionary leaders. 2) Planners of the economy 3) The High Command of the Army, and 4) The Command of the secret service.  To pre-empt all

conspiracies against him he imprisoned prominent members of each elite forcing them by torture and threats to their families to admit false charges of treason and to denounce their friends. He then staged show-trials (1935-38) where the accused publicly admitted their - and their friends' -"guilt". All the accused and implicated were executed. Denunciation of friends served to destroy trust. Without trust no one could organize a conspiracy.   Thus Stalin pre-empted all conspiracies to depose him.

In 1956, Nikita Khrushchev, the new leader of the CPSU, gave a secret speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU where he told thousands of delegates:

"Having at its disposal numerous data showing brutal and arbitrary steps against Party officials, the present Central Committee set up a Party commission under the control of the Central Committee's Presidium. It has been charged with investigating what made possible mass repressions against the majority of the Central Committee members and candidates elected to the 17th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks).   This commission has become acquainted with a large quantity of materials in the NKVD archives and with other documents. It has established many facts pertaining to the fabrication of cases against Communists, to false accusations, [and] to glaring abuses of socialist legality, which resulted in the death of innocent people. It became apparent that many Party, Soviet and economic activists who in 1937-1938 were branded "enemies" were actually never enemies, spies, wreckers, etc., but were  honest Communists. They were merely stigmatized [as enemies].

Often, no longer able to bear barbaric tortures, they charged themselves (at the order of the investigative judges/falsifiers) with grave and unlikely crimes.

The commission has presented to the Central Committee's Presidium lengthy and documented materials pertaining to mass repressions against the delegates to the 17th Party Congress and against members of the Central Committee elected at that Congress.  These materials have been studied by the Presidium.

It was determined that of the 139 members and candidates of the Central Committee who were elected at the 17th Congress, 98 persons (i.e. 70%) were arrested and shot (mostly in 1937-1938).  What was the composition of the delegates to the 17th Congress? It is known that 80% of the voting participants of the 17th Congress joined the Party during the years before the Revolution and during the Civil War, i.e. before 1921.  By social origin the basic mass of the delegates to the Congress were workers (60% of the voting members). For this reason, it is inconceivable that a Congress so composed could have elected a Central Committee in which a majority would prove to be enemies of the Party. The only reasons why 70% of the Central Committee members and candidates elected at the 17th Congress were branded as enemies of the Party and of the people were because they were slandered, accusations against them were fabricated, and revolutionary legality was gravely undermined.

The same fate met not only Central Committee members but also the majority of the delegates to the 17th Party Congress. Of 1,966 delegates with either voting or advisory rights, 1,108 persons were arrested on charges of anti-revolutionary crimes, i.e., decidedly more than a majority. This very fact shows how absurd, wild and contrary to common sense were the charges of counterrevolutionary crimes made out, as we now see, against a majority of participants at the 17th Party Congress…" 

                                                                               (for the full speech see the Internet).

Khrushchev was a former Stalin loyalist.    In 1936 he participated in perpetrating the crimes he denounced in 1956. This was well known, so someone in the audience of the 20th Congress shouted "And what did you do comrade Khrushchev, when all these crimes were perpetrated?"     Khrushchev replied:  "Who asked this question?"

No one stood up.    Khrushchev then said:  "That's your answer"

 

All Communist parties in the 1930s defended Stalin's show trials. They argued that the accusations were valid, and the legal procedures were proper. In the trials the accused admitted their guilt and presented no defence. Some trials lasted a day or two from accusation to execution.  No wonder Khrushchev's speech caused a major crisis in every Communist Party.  It started the decline of the entire Communist movement.

Nothing like Khrushchev's revelations had ever happened in history. However, his speech was not due to a "troubled conscience". It was a calculated move to pre-empt attempts by Stalinists in the CPSU leadership to depose him.  He discredited Stalin's supporters by his revelations.  Outside the USSR he discredited all those who justified Stalin's show trials, or followed the USSR blindly, opposing any criticism of it. 

 

Stalin's apologists argue that despite his atrocities he changed the USSR from a backward agricultural society into a modern, industrialized, world power.  From a socialist point of view this is irrelevant since socialism aimed to liberate humanity from oppression, exploitation and social injustice through economic equality, not to modernize one country. Lenin's One-Party state killed socialism. Socialism is dead.  So too is the idea that a State-run economy will solve all social ills.  The alternative to Big Business is not Big Government but direct democracy - a society where any citizen can - at any time - propose, debate, and vote on any issue of society.

 

9. WW2, the "Cold War" and the fall of Socialism.

 

While Stalin was harassing USSR's citizens to "industrialize or be crushed", all privately run economies plunged into their worst economic crisis ever.  The collapse of the New York stock market on "Black Thursday", October 24, 1929, threw all BB economies into their worst economic crisis (dubbed "Depression" rather than "Crisis") Unemployment in all BB economies soared to an all time high. Many businessmen committed suicide. But in the USSR citizens enjoyed guaranteed employment (some of it forced), state-paid housing, state-paid healthcare, state-paid education and state-paid pensions. Communist Parties in BB economies gained popularity - and members. The advantage of BG economy over BB economy was never more glaring than during the 1930s.  The USSR state-owned economy expanded rapidly providing all citizens with jobs, incomes, state-paid housing, education, health services and pensions, while the BB economies created continuous unemployment for 25% of the workforce, causing many to lose their housing, healthcare, education, hope, and even their life.

 

Unemployment in Germany swelled the ranks of two Parties - Nazis and Communists. Each had its solution for the economic crisis. The Nazis - war. The Communists - a state-owned economy. The Nazis promised full employment and revival of National Pride, humiliated by defeat in WW1 and by the Versailles Peace treaty imposed on Germany. The Communists promised a State-owned economy with full employment, state-paid housing, healthcare, education and pensions. In the January 1933 elections the Nazis got 11.7M votes, the Socialists - 7.2M the Communists - 6M. A Socialist-Communists alliance with 13.2M votes could have stopped Hitler, but Stalin ordered the Comintern in its 10th congress in July 1929 to pass a resolution calling on all Communist parties "To conduct a determined struggle against the Social Democrats, especially their Left section, being the worst enemy. To sever all links with them and expose their social-fascist nature". This policy enabled Hitler to become ruler of Germany and to outlaw all other parties. He imprisoned all Communists and declared repeatedly he would destroy Communism. So did Mussolini, the Italian Dictator.  The British and French governments liked this. In 1933 Germany had no army, navy or air-force, but by 1938 it had all three - big and modernized. This was possible only because Britain and France allowed it. Shortly after Mussolini set up his fascist dictatorship in Italy (1925) Winston Churchill visited him in 1927 declaring:

" If I were an Italian I am sure that I would have been wholeheartedly with you from start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism. . . .  Your movement has rendered a service to the whole world. The great fear which has always beset every democratic leader or working-class leader has been that of being undermined or overbid by someone more extreme than he.  It seems that continuous progression to the Left, a sort of an inevitable landslide into the abyss, was the characteristic of all revolutions. Italy has shown that there is a way of fighting the subversive forces, which can rally the mass of the people, properly led, to value and wish to defend the honour and stability of civilized society. She has provided the necessary antidote to the Russian poison"    ("The Times" 21.1. 1927).

 

Shortly after WW1 (in March 1920) Churchill sent Prime Minster Lloyd-George a memorandum suggesting rebuilding Germany as a bulwark against Lenin's regime. 

In 1935 Churchill said: "One may dislike Hitler's system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated I hope we could find a champion as admirable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations". ("Winston Churchill in war and peace" Emrys Hughes, Glasgow 1959. p. 139)

 

Churchill's idea to use Hitler to destroy Communism had its consequences. The Versailles Treaty forbade Germany to build tanks, war planes, guns bigger than 150mm, or keep an army of more than 100,000 soldiers. Article 198 of the Treaty states: "The armed forces of Germany must not include any military or naval air forces."  On 13.10,1933 Germany left the League of Nations and the Disarmament Conference. On 16.3.1935 Hitler introduced universal military service. From August 2, 1934, German soldiers swore allegiance to Hitler, not to Germany or its constitution.   On 30.5.1937 German warships bombarded the port of Almeria in republican Spain.  By 1936 Hitler had a modern air force, tanks, navy, and a big army, This was a blatant violation of the Versailles treaty. Britain and France did nothing to stop any violation of the treaty. On April 26, 1937, Hitler's new air force, supporting the Fascist Franco rebellion against the elected government of Spain, bombed the Basque town of Guernica killing some 1700 people and wounding many more. It was the first planned bombing of civilian population in history. It caused world-wide protest. Many governments declared bombing of civilians a War Crime. Film newsreels all over the world showed bombers of Hitler's new air force dropping their bombs. Hitler's violations of the Versailles treaty were known. Why didn't Britain and France stop these violations? 

Former PM Lloyd George told Parliament (28.11.1934): “In a very short time, perhaps in a year or two, the Conservative elements in this country will be looking to Germany as the bulwark against Communism in Europe...Do not let us hurry to condemn Germany. We shall be welcoming Germany as our friend.”  (House of Commons Vol. 295 col. 905-922).

In 1936 Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, Chamberlain's predecessor, explained UK’s policy for the coming European war, to a group from the House of Lords.   Baldwin, a director of Lothian's Rhodes Trust, and  member of the inner circle known as 'Round Table', had told the Lords: "If any fighting is to be done in Europe, I should like to see the Bolsheviks and the Nazis doing it". 

In November 1936 Nazi-Germany and Japan concluded the 'Anti-Comintern Pact'. It was directed against the Communist International (Comintern) and the USSR. Germany and Japan agreed to co-operate "to safeguard their common interests" agreeing not to conclude any political treaties with the USSR.  Germany also agreed to recognize the Japanese puppet regime in Manchuria.   In 1937 Italy joined the Pact.  The three were called 'the anti-communist axis; and in WW2 - the 'Axis States'.  

In his speeches Hitler constantly attacked Communism. This convinced the British and French governments that he was not only a bulwark against the USSR but the force that will destroy it. Reviving the German army and arms industry enabled Hitler to abolish unemployment in Germany. British, French, and American Banks helped finance this. Hitler created the most powerful modern army by violating all clauses of the Versailles Treaty. Britain and France saw it and did nothing to stop him. Small countries bordering on Germany, like Poland and Czechoslovakia, became worried and signed treaties with Britain and France committing these powers to defend them if attacked.    Czechoslovakia also signed such a pact with the USSR. 

 

In March 1938 Hitler annexed Austria, claiming to unite all German-speaking people. Next he demanded part of Czechoslovakia inhabited by Germans - Sudetenland. Czech resistance to his demand presented him with a challenge - to invade or back down. He hinted he intends to invade. This posed a dilemma for Britain, France, and the USSR, who had treaties with Czechoslovakia committing them to defend it. USSR was ready to do so but the Prime Ministers of Britain and France flew to Munich (without telling Stalin) to tell Hitler they would not honour their treaties with Czechoslovakia if he annexed only Sudetenland. They signed the notorious Munich Agreement in September 1938. They hoped Stalin would honour his treaty with Czechoslovakia and war between Germany and the USSR would start. This would have suited them, but Czechoslovakia decided to hand Sudetenland to Hitler. As Britain and France did not tell Stalin about their intention to sign an agreement with Hitler he concluded they were plotting against him. Stalin saw their readiness to hand over Sudetenland to Hitler as a ploy to push the USSR to war against Germany, after which Britain and France would pick up the pieces of both.  

War between Germany and the USSR was imminent. However, in March 1939 Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia annexing all of it. He violated the Munich agreement where he promised to annex only Sudetenland but not Czechoslovakia. He thought Britain and France would acquiesce as they did over Sudetenland. But they realized he cannot be trusted and warned that if he invaded Poland (with whom they had mutual Defence treaties) they would declare war against him. To counter this possibility Hitler rushed to secure his eastern flank by signing a non-aggression pact with Stalin, who was delighted to turn tables on Britain and France by signing it. This pact divided northern Europe (and Poland) into two "Spheres of Influence" between Hitler and Stalin. The Hitler-Stalin pact (named "Molotov-Ribbentrop pact" after the Foreign Ministers who signed it) was signed on August 24th 1939.  A week later Hitler attacked Poland with 62 divisions. In 5 weeks he won that war. Britain and France declared war on Hitler on September 3rd.  They had 110 divisions and could have invaded Germany from the west to help Poland. They didn't. Hitler left only 23 divisions facing France. But Britain and France did not attack Germany to help Poland. Stalin annexed Poland's eastern half. The USA stayed neutral. Although Britain and France were now at war with Germany no fighting took place for the next 8 months. This was known as "The Phoney War". Hitler attacked in the west on May 19th 1940, conquering Holland and Belgium. British and French forces fought back but on June 15 - to everybody's surprise - France surrendered. The British army withdrew from the European continent to defend Britain against a Nazi invasion.

 

To fulfil his main aim of conquering the USSR Hitler needed to secure his rear and minimize the military threat of Britain and France. After France's surrender he prepared to invade Britain. He tried to win air superiority over it but failed.  He then turned to conquer the Balkan and Crete and moved into Africa to conquer Egypt.  He was winning on all fronts.  Only a weak Britain still fought him but it posed no threat.

The Stalin-Hitler pact caused a major crisis in every Communist Party. Before this pact communists everywhere fought Fascism and Nazism as their main enemies. Fascist and Nazi ideology flaunted racism and practised it.   When Mussolini became dictator in Italy (1925) and Hitler in Germany (1933) they declared the Communist Parties illegal, killed many communists, and imprisoned the rest. During General Franco's Fascist rebellion in Spain (1936-1939). Hitler and Mussolini openly supported him by sending arms. This enabled Franco to defeat the Spanish democracy and set up his Fascist dictatorship which lasted almost 40 years. Britain and France declared their commitment to democracy but refused to help the Spanish Republic. They imposed an arms embargo on it, damaging its efforts to defend itself against Franco's Fascist rebellion. They even recognized Franco's dictatorship (on 27.2.1939) while the Republic was still fighting against him. This convinced genuine democrats and communists everywhere to fight Nazism and Fascism.  However, when Stalin signed the pact with Hitler all Communist Parties ceased to fight Fascism. The word "Fascism" vanished from their vocabulary. They imitated USSR's foreign policy. This shocked many. Communist Parties lost members and credibility because of the Stalin-Hitler Pact. The Communist Party of USA, which gained influence and members during the "Depression" lost both after this pact. Former sympathizers began to deride communists by greeting them with the Nazi stretched arm salute shouting "Hail Hitler".   The CPUSA was wrecked by this treaty and never recovered.

Two points merit consideration in discussing the Stalin-Hitler Pact (of 24.8.39): 1.As a tactic to gain time to prepare USSR against a Nazi attack, it could be justified. This is disproved by the second pact (28.9.1939) and by Molotov’s third visit to Hitler (13.11.1940) when Hitler offered Stalin to divide the British Empire between Germany, Italy, USSR and Japan. Germany and Italy were to get Western Europe and Africa, Japan would get China, and Australia, and USSR - Persia, Afghanistan, and India.  Stalin accepted this offer on 26.11.1940 (see Bundesarchiv Koblenz RM 41/40). Hitler used this tactic to conceal his impending attack on Russia but Stalin’s acceptance was strategic. He desired a world-power-sharing agreement with Hitler. He industrialized USSR and strengthened its economy but his strategy of power-sharing with Hitler shows that such achievements can still serve racism. 

2. Even justification of the Hitler-Stalin pact as a tactical move designed to give the USSR time to prepare for an impending Nazi attack, does not absolve Communist Parties of continued anti-Nazi struggle. They all stopped it. They emulated USSR’s foreign policy. They forbade use of the term “anti-Fascism” in their vocabulary. Communist Parties linking their policies to the USSR's foreign policy ruined their revolutionary credibility.  Revolutionary Parties are not States and should not act like states. States are not revolutionary Parties. States seek stability but revolutionaries seek revolution. Stability contradicts revolution. Communist Parties should have conducted revolutionary policies irrespective of USSR foreign policy which alternated between Socialist principles and State interests. USSR policy towards Nazi Germany is a good example. From 1933 to 1939 it was guided by Socialist principles and denounced Nazi racism, dictatorship, and war mongering. But in 1939 Stalin signed two pacts with Hitler and forbade denouncing Fascism. Communist Parties obeyed and stopped denouncing Fascism. This ruined their revolutionary credibility. Communists became parrots of USSR's foreign policy. The USSR neither consulted them, nor informed them, before changing its foreign policy.      

Stalin turned the tables on Britain and France by signing his pacts with Hitler. Now Hitler, instead of declaring war on the USSR, invaded Poland. This time Britain and France honoured their treaties with Poland and on September 3 declared war on Germany (but did not attack Germany and sent no military aid to Poland).  Hitler conquered Poland in five weeks but did not immediately start a serious military campaign against Britain and France.  From September 1939 to April 1940 he waged a "Phoney War" against them. During this time efforts were made to reconcile Britain with Germany. Hitler believed this was possible as the King of England, Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 after Parliament opposed his marriage to the American divorcee Mrs. Wallis Simpson. The FBI believed she was pro-Nazi.  The ex-King visited Germany in 1937 as a personal guest of Hitler.   He - and his brother the Duke of Kent - sympathized with the Nazis.  The Nazi media publicized this. Some Lords sympathized with the Nazis.  Prince Philip Mountbatten's sister and brother-in-law were members of the Nazi Party. Oswald Moseley, 6th Baronet, and Lady Diana Mitford (and her sister Unity) were close friends of Hitler.   Joseph Kennedy (father of US President John Kennedy) was US Ambassador to the UK and pro-Nazi and claimed credit for having influenced Chamberlain to trust Hitler and sign the "Munich Agreement". His daughter Kathleen married the son of the Duke of Devonshire, head of one of England's grandest aristocratic families. Kennedy's aim was an Anglo-Nazi pact to protect Germany's rear when it invades USSR. Hitler was ready to let Britain keep its overseas empire if it lets him conquer the USSR. . On May 10th 1941, twelve days before Hitler's invasion into USSR, his deputy, Rudolf Hess, flew to Scotland, to meet the Duke of Hamilton, whom he had met at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Hess offered Britain peace and return of all west European countries conquered by Hitler to their former governments, and paying the costs of rebuilding these countries. In return, Britain would support Hitler’s war against USSR. After WW2 Albert Speer, Hitler's friend and Minister of War Production was imprisoned with Hess in Spandau Prison. Hess told him he took to England the message: "We will guarantee England her empire and in return she will give us a free hand in Europe". Speer adds "This had also been one of Hitler's recurrent formula before, and occasionally even during, the war" ("Inside the Third Reich" by Albert Speer, Macmillan 1970, p.176)

During WW2 Hess was imprisoned in Britain and committed no war crimes but in the Nuremberg war-crime trials in 1946 he got the longest prison sentence - solitary confinement for the rest of his life. No one was allowed to interview him during the 40 years in prison. He died in his cell in suspicious circumstances on 17th July 1987 aged 93. Later autopsies found strangulation marks on his neck. Someone didn't want anyone to know about any efforts to sign an Anglo-Nazi pact. When Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940 he dashed hopes to sign an Anglo-Nazi pact. He considered Hitler’s Germany far more dangerous to the UK than the USSR - but many in British BB - and nobility - disagreed with Churchill and agreed with Hess. 

Hitler started his "Battle of France" in May 1940. To everyone's surprise France surrendered on June 22, 1940 after fighting only six weeks.  French BB preferred to be dominated by Nazis than by the French Left.  Britain was left alone to fight Hitler.  He tried to win air superiority over Britain to enable his army to invade it. This started the aerial "Battle of Britain" which Hitler almost won by destroying most Royal Air Force airfields in the south of Britain. The Luftwaffe was winning the battle of the airfields. The RAF considered withdrawing its squadrons from the south of England. To prevent this Churchill ordered the RAF on August 25-26 to bomb Berlin to provoke Hitler to order the Luftwaffe to attack London rather than RAF airfields. The Berlin raid hurt Göring's pride as he had previously claimed the RAF would never be allowed to bomb Berlin. Hitler swallowed the bait. On September 4th he diverted the Luftwaffe to bomb London. This gave the RAF time to repair its airfields and continue fighting, causing Hitler to postpone his invasion of Britain. He did not covet tiny Britain.  He coveted the huge USSR and prepared to conquer it.  He wanted to destroy  Russia’s BG economy (that’s why all BBs supported him) and turn Russia into a German colony providing cheap grain, oil, gas, and minerals. The USSR population was to serve as slave labor.  Russia would become Germany's colony creating a Nazi Empire from the Baltic to the Pacific.  This would make Nazi Germany the most powerful state in Europe - and in the world.  This was Hitler's main purpose in WW2. 

On June 22, 1941 three million Nazi soldiers with 4000 tanks invaded the USSR. Stalin was stunned. He ignored repeated warnings about this invasion; being convinced they were a British ploy.  Stalin first thought some Nazi General had acted on his own initiative so he forbade his Army to fight back. When he realized it was an invasion on a vast scale he suffered a nervous breakdown and hid in his villa outside Moscow. It was Foreign Minister Molotov who had to inform the USSR's citizens they were at war. Ten days later, members of the Politburo came to ask Stalin to return to Moscow. He opened the door saying: "Have you come to execute me?" expecting them to behave as he would in such circumstances. He returned to Moscow to address the USSR's citizens on radio - for the first time since the war began - only on July 3.   Why was he silent during the first eleven crucial days?

In 1937 Stalin believed his Generals were plotting against him. He executed most Red Army Generals: Chief of Staff Tukhachevsky, and 3 out of 5 Marshals (equivalent to 6-star US Generals), 13 out of 15 army-commanders (equivalent to 5 and 4-star US Generals) 8 out of 9 admirals, 50 out of 57 army Corps Generals, 154 out of 186 Division Generals, all 16 Army Commissars, and 25 out of 28 army Corps Commissars. The executions turned the “Red Army” into Stalin’s army.  Hitler knew it.  When Hitler's 3 million soldiers and 4000 tanks invaded the USSR on 22.6.1941 Stalin’s Army was confused, unprepared, and lacked its experienced High Command.   Stalin's view that Hitler would not attack the USSR gravely damaged his Army. In the first week of war the Nazis had taken 750,000 of Stalin’s soldiers prisoner, and destroyed 1200 airplanes, 800 on the ground.   It was all Stalin's fault.

At first many USSR citizens welcomed the Nazi invaders as liberators. They hated Stalin and his terror believing the Nazi regime could not be worse.  Stalin knew it, so he called on the population to defend the Motherland - not the socialized economy.   He named the war "The Great Patriotic War" not "The great Socialist war".  This nationalistic title contradicted Marx's and Lenin's internationalism but Stalin saw no other way to induce USSR citizens to fight.    Nazi public mass-executions soon convinced USSR citizens that Hitler’s regime was worse than Stalin's.

In a mere 130 days Hitler’s Army reached Moscow taking two million of Stalin’s soldiers prisoner. The USSR looked defeated. Hitler expected the war to end any moment. However, Stalin was informed that Japan, Germany's ally, would not attack the USSR in the East.  Japan's BB - lacking oil and raw materials - fought to colonize China and India. It avoided war against USSR to dedicate all its resources to its colonial war. This enabled Stalin to move half a million soldiers prepared to repel a Japanese invasion - to Moscow. The winter of 1941 was severe. It paralyzed Hitler’s army. Hitler’s soldiers wore summer uniforms, expecting to conquer Moscow before winter. They began to freeze. So did the oil in the engines of tanks, cars, airplanes. Stalin’s Army launched a counter attack with fresh troops from the east equipped for winter. They threw Hitler’s army back and relieved the siege of Moscow.  It was never renewed.  In a series of battles, culminating in the Battle of Stalingrad (winter 1942) and Kursk (spring 1943) Stalin’s Army pushed Hitler’s Army back and conquered Berlin in May 1945. The turning point in WW2 was the battle of Stalingrad where 100,000 of Hitler’s soldiers, with their Generals, surrendered.

The battle of Stalingrad was the largest single battle in human history. It raged for 199 days. Numbers of casualties are difficult to compile owing to the vast scope of the battle and the fact that Stalin didn't allow estimates to be published for fear this might create opposition. In its initial phase, Hitler’s army conquered most of Stalingrad, but Stalin’s Army launched a pincer attack surrounding Hitler’s army in the city, cutting off its supplies. Starved and frozen 100,000 surrendered with their Generals. Scholars have estimated Hitler’s army had 850,000 casualties in all sectors of its - and its allies - forces:400,000 Germans, 200,000 Romanians, 130,000 Italians, 120,000 Hungarians were killed, wounded or captured. In addition, some 50,000 Russian "Whites" - allies of Hitler, were killed or captured by Stalin’s Army. It was the greatest military defeat in German history and the turning point in WW2.  Stalin’s Army suffered 478,741 men killed and 650,878 wounded (for a total of 1,129,619). Also, more than 40,000 Russian civilians died in Stalingrad and its suburbs during a single week of aerial bombing as Hitler’s 6th and 4th Tank (“Panzer”) armies approached the city. The total number of civilians killed in the regions outside the city is unknown. In all, a total of anywhere from 1.7 million to 2 million German and Russian casualties were caused by this one battle, making it the largest in human history. This battle was the turning point in WW2.  It transferred the initiative to Stalin’s Army enabling it to conquer Berlin and to dictate an unconditional surrender to Hitler’s army on May 8, 1945    

In the 1930s Hitler repeatedly declared his commitment to crush Communism but to everybody's surprise (including Stalin’s) WW2 turned the USSR into the world's most powerful State. No other State had an army as big.  Stalin's army numbered 4 Million experienced soldiers, equipped with 20,000 tanks, and 10,000 airplanes. The British and US armies together numbered less than one million soldiers. Stalin could conquer the whole of Europe within a month.  Many Europeans saw Stalin’s Army as liberator because it defeated their Nazi occupiers. Many wanted a state-owned economy. Some USSR Generals advised Stalin to conquer all of Europe. But he rejected this proposal, saying: "How shall we feed all these people?"  The war ruined Europe, fields lay in waste, farmers were killed, factories, roads, and railways were destroyed.  A ruler of Europe faced the immense task of re-building it. Stalin had to rebuild the USSR; he preferred that Britain and USA, who invaded Europe in June 1944, conquering half of Germany, should rebuild Europe.   They did.

President Roosevelt died a month before the end of WW2. George Marshall, the US Chief of Staff during WW2, warned the new US President Harry Truman, that most people in Europe might decide to set up BGs - state-run economies - as the best way to reconstruct their countries. Truman convinced US Congress to provide enormous economic aid to resurrect the European BB economies. This was later called "The Marshall Plan" and Marshall received the Nobel Peace Prize for it.  Marshall was named Secretary of State in 1947.  In this role, on June 5 1947 at a speech at Harvard University; he explained the U.S aid to European recovery:

"Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist."    

By "doctrine" he meant Communism and the term "Free institutions" is the American euphemism for "BB economy". The European Recovery Plan, known as the "Marshall Plan", helped rebuild Europe's BB economies.  What motivated the "Marshall Plan" was the US BB fear that Europeans would set up their own BG with socialized economies.  Marshall estimated that the hardships of WW2 caused by BB economies and people's mistrust of politicians and businessmen, who had caused it and exploited it, might motivate many Europeans to set up BGs with socialized economies. US foreign policy since Lenin's revolution was committed to prevent this. From 1917 onwards BB and all governments of USA, Britain, and France acted against Lenin's BG and its state-owned economy. In 1935 they allowed Hitler to resurrect the German army hoping he would use it against the USSR.  In 1938 they agreed to Hitler's annexation of part of Czechoslovakia hoping this would start a war between him and the USSR. They told Hitler they would not honour their pact with Czechoslovakia, but did not inform Stalin, hoping he would honour his pact with Czechoslovakia and get into war with Hitler.  After WW2 the US sent aid to war-ravaged Europe to prevent creation of socialized economies there. This was the continuation of BB's pre-WW2 policy to prevent the emergence of more BGs.

War in Europe ended on May 8, 1945 but war against Japan went on.  The US began to bomb Japan.   On March 9, 1945, the US bombed Tokyo killing 100,000 civilians.

In February 1945 Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill met in Yalta, in the Crimea, and agreed that the USSR would join the war against Japan on land in Manchuria three months after Germany’s defeat. This gave the USSR time to move troops from Germany to Japan. Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945, so the date for the USSR's entry to war against Japan was to be August 8, 1945, which it kept exactly to the day. Churchill called this:"...another example of the fidelity and punctuality with which Marshal Stalin and his valiant armies always kept their military engagements."        

                                                                    (Winston Churchill, House of Commons.)

Truman wanted Japan to surrender only to USA as surrender to the USSR would grant the USSR rights in Japan. US Generals wanted to see the damage nuclear bombs cause real cities. They needed a city that was not bombed by conventional bombs.  Hiroshima was such a city, so it was selected for the "experiment" on August 6, 1945.

Was the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan a military necessity?

" Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.."

(US Strategic Bombing Survey 4, "Summary Report on the Pacific War" (Washington D.C.  1.July 1946)      Thomas K. Finletter, Chairman of US Air Policy Council, said:

" There was not enough time between 16 July when we saw at New Mexico that the atom bomb works, and 8 August, the Russian deadline date, for us to have set up the very complicated machinery of a test atomic bombing involving time-consuming problems of area preparations, etc... No, any test would have been impossible if the purpose was to knock Japan out before Russia came in - or at least before Russia could do anything other than a token of participation prior to a Japanese collapse."                

 ("Saturday Review of Literature" 15.6.1946).

Leo Szilard, the physicist who discovered the nuclear chain-reaction that made the bomb possible and later drafted Einstein's letter to president Roosevelt that initiated work on the bomb, met with Secretary of State Byrnes in 1945.  In an interview with three of the top scientists in the Manhattan Project early in June, Mr. Byrnes did not, according to Leo Szilard, argue that the bomb was needed to defeat Japan, but rather that it should be dropped to "make Russia more manageable in Europe."

                                        (Szilard, "A personal history of the atomic bomb" p. 14-15)

 Japan was effectively defeated and had already offered to surrender. The Japanese had asked the Soviet Union to mediate in peace negotiations discussing surrender terms as early as March 1945. Truman decided at the beginning of July 1945 to drop the atom bomb on Japan and Japan's offer of surrender on July 22, 1945 was rejected.

British Prime Minister Clement Attlee said: "...The decision to use the atomic weapon against Japan was taken at the beginning of July, 1945. The first atomic bomb was dropped on August 6 and the offer of peace made by Japan on July 22 was not accepted till August 10.       ("News Chronicle", Dec 5, 1946.)

Why didn't the US respond to Japan's offer to surrender made on July 22?

The US was informed again, on July 28 at the Potsdam Conference, before the bomb was used, that Japan was prepared to surrender: Stalin: "I want to inform you that we, the Russian delegation, have received a new proposal from Japan - it is offering to cooperate with us. We intend to reply to them in the same spirit as last time."  Truman: "We do not object."  Attlee: "We agree."  (Protocol of the Potsdam Conference, July 28, 1945.)          But the US did not respond to this offer either.

Joseph Rotblat, A Physicist who worked on the nuclear bomb in the "Manhattan Project" in Los-Alamos, told the London "Times": "In March 1944 I experienced a disagreeable shock.   In a casual conversation, General Leslie Groves, the head of the Manhattan Project, said, "You realize, of course, that the real purpose of making the bomb is to subdue our chief enemy, the Russians!". Until then I thought that our work was to prevent a Nazi victory."   ("The Times" July 17 1985.)

Building A-bombs began in 1942 to face a possibility that Hitler might build them.   When Groves spoke, the USSR was an ally of USA fighting against Germany.

On hearing Groves’ comment Rotblat resigned from the "Manhattan Project".

Nobel Laureate Physicist Patrick Blackett, who was a President of the Royal Society (1965-1970) and member of the British Advisory Committee on Atomic Energy, wrote in his 1948 detailed study: "The dropping of the atomic bomb was not so much the last military act of WW2 as the first act of the cold war with the Russians."  ("Military and Political Consequences of Atomic Energy." P.M.S. Blackett, Turnstile Press, London 1948, p.127)

 

US apologists justify their dropping of Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki arguing that they did it to save the lives of American soldiers who would have died in a US invasion of Japan. They estimated US Army casualties would amount to at least 100,000. They fail to answer a simple question:  Why was it necessary to invade Japan at all?  The Japanese air-force and navy had been destroyed, and Japan lacked natural resources like fuel. A US naval blockade could starve the Japanese within weeks without loss of a single American soldier. Why didn't the US consider the possibility of blockading Japan?  No one asked this question and no one answered it.  But the answer is clear: USSR participation in this siege was inevitable, and this would grant USSR rights in Japan after its surrender. This contradicted US policy towards the USSR. General Leslie Groves had already stated it in 1944:"The real purpose of the A-bomb is to deter the USSR after the war". In WW2 Japan kept its peace with the USSR to concentrate its force on conquering Asia.  This saved the USSR in 1941 by allowing troops prepared against a Japanese invasion to fight Hitler's army besieging Moscow. In the Yalta Conference (February 1945) Stalin agreed to join the war against the Japan within 90 days of defeating Germany. Germany surrendered on May 8.  90 day later was August 8.   By dropping its A-bomb on Hiroshima on August 6 the USA forced Japan to surrender to USA alone, not to USSR.  This explains why the USA was unwilling to impose a naval blockade on Japan forcing it to surrender without loss of life of a single US soldier.  A blockade would have been a lengthy affair and the USSR would have joined it. Leaders of the USA wanted to avoid this.  The USA realized the USSR will emerge from WW2 with an army much bigger than the combined UK-USA armies. So it decided to use its Atomic-bombs to deter Stalin from using his army to conquer Europe. Actually, Stalin had no such plans.

After WW2 the USSR and the USA emerged as superpowers while former powers like Britain and France were much weakened, and Germany - and Japan - defeated.  In the Yalta Conference (February 1945) Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin divided the post-war world between them into spheres of influence.  Western Europe - half of Germany, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, France, Spain, Italy, and Greece - were to be in Roosevelt's and Churchill's  sphere, whereas Poland, the Baltic States, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, the Balkans except Greece, were to be in Stalin's sphere. Due to this division Britain did not intervene when local Communists took over Czechoslovakia and Poland, and Stalin did not intervene when the British Army defeated the Communist forces in Greece (1946). 

 

This started a tense period known as "The Cold War" (1947-1991) in which the USA tried to prevent the creation of new government owned economies and the USSR supported anti-colonial struggles in Asia and Africa. Both sides tried to avoid a hot war. USA's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) overthrew five democratically elected governments - of Mossadeq (Iran 1953) Arbenz (Guatemala 1954), Lumumba (Congo 1961) Sukarno (Indonesia 1965) and Allende in (Chile 1973) because they nationalized parts of their economy. In Chile the US helped assassinate the Chief of Staff who refused to overthrow President Allende. The CIA replaced governments, elected by a majority, by pro-BB dictators.  The CIA organized an invasion of Cuba to overthrow Castro ("Bay of pigs" 1961) and failed.  Cuba was no military threat to the USA. So why attack it, and why impose a permanent US economic boycott on it?  To undermine its state-owned economy whose  guaranteed employment, free health-care and education could motivate millions of unemployed and underfed in South - and Central - America to replace their own BB economies by a Cuban type economy.

 

US leaders knew the USSR would not invade the USA or Europe. No BG leader ever had such intention. BG leaders were Marxists who believed all BB economies must create economic crises - and collapse. They saw no point in attacking them.  But BB states tried non-stop, since 1917, to destroy BG's economy because they feared that its guaranteed employment and state-paid housing-healthcare-education-pensions demonstrates that an alternative to BB economy - with many benefits - is possible. 

After WW2 USA developed its nuclear bombs - and air force - to threaten the USSR.

Having used its only two A-bombs on Japan in 1945, the US began to mass-produce them. They were the main US weapon against the USSR.  Some 70,000 were built.  Most were Hydrogen bombs (1000 times stronger than the Hiroshima bomb). To deliver these bombs the US set up in 1946 a special air force ("Strategic Air Command" (SAC)) of 3000 long-range "Stratojet" bombers carrying atomic bombs, circling non-stop around the USSR.  In an hour they could destroy any - or all - major cities in the USSR. Its commander was Curtis Le-May (nicknamed "Bombs Away Le-May"). He proposed repeatedly to “bomb the USSR back into the stone age”. Stanley Kubrick’s film "Dr. Strangelove" parodied SAC and its strategy. SAC was dismantled only in 1992, many years after nuclear submarines carrying long-range nuclear missiles, took over its role.

 

After WW2 an immense arms industry grew in the USA to build nuclear bombs, airplanes, submarines and rockets. It craved ever larger Defence budgets and exerted ever more pressure on US politicians and politics.  The US Army, Navy and Air Force had powerful lobbies in Washington - backed by thousands of employees in arms factories. Their influence became so powerful that General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied forces in Europe in WW2, and President of the USA (1953-1961), warned in his famous farewell speech (17.1.1961): 

"….We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method . . . A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction."

"Until the latest of our world conflicts, the USA had no arms industry.   American makers of ploughshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national Defence; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the Defence establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all USA corporations. This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, and even spiritual - is felt in every city, every State house, and every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the committees of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.   We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of Defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. "(see the Internet)   

This speech coined the phrase "military-industrial complex" and warned against its immense influence on politics. Yet politicians (whose careers depend on voters) cannot oppose pressures of managers of big business whose jobs depend on profits and who hire - or fire - the employees who vote.  BB managers want profits to grow; employees want jobs and pay to grow.  Both pressurize every political representative to vote for "Defence" budgets and to increase their share in them. Most managers, employees, and politicians never read Marx, but behave exactly as he predicted.  When US President Bush declared war on Iraq in 2003 the silence in the Senate was such that one Senator said: "one could hear a needle drop on the floor". The reason?  An anti-war vote would reduce contracts with military-industrial plants thus causing unemployment. The unemployed would vote against those who opposed war.

One effect of the US military-industrial complex was to produce a military-industrial complex in the USSR.  Unlike in the US the USSR complex did not serve any economic purpose. It held back production of consumer goods. It too exerted pressure on politicians - and political decisions. In 1945 the US estimated it would take the USSR a decade to build its own nuclear bombs, but the USSR had one by 1949.   This caused panic in the US, which assumed that spies passed atomic science secrets to the USSR. A US witch-hunt began against anyone suspected of pro-communist leanings. It was led by Senator McCarthy and lasted till 1956.  Five spies were found but it seems their information was marginal rather than crucial.   One scientist commented:   "The main secret was the fact that an atomic bomb is possible. This secret was revealed by the explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki".    

USA's BB and USSR's BG were now locked in an arms race to produce ever more powerful weapons. In 1957 the USSR launched the first earth satellite, "Sputnik", into space. This meant it had powerful rockets capable of carrying nuclear bombs to the USA, or launch satellites with cameras to spy on the USA.  The USA began to develop its own space rockets. After early failures it managed to do so, in 1969 US sent the first men to land on the moon. The "Space Race" created a "space industry". Like all "Cold War" industries it provided jobs and incomes, preventing economic crises or a "Hot War". Whole generations of new bombs, airplanes, warships, submarines, were built, stockpiled - and scrapped - without being put into use. This served the political - and economic - needs of the BB economy. 

The USA surrounded  USSR with rocket-launching bases in states linked by anti-USSR military pacts like North-Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). USSR retaliated by setting up a missile base in Cuba. This also served to deter the US from invading Cuba to destroy its State-owned economy. When the USA discovered this it threatened the USSR with war unless it dismantled this base (October 1962). It was the peak of the “Cold War”. Nuclear war seemed imminent but both sides backed down. USSR dismantled its Cuban base, and USA agreed not to invade Cuba and dismantled its rocket bases in Turkey.   

During Cuban missile crisis the leaders of USA and USSR realized that nuclear war destroying all life on earth could start by a mistake of a soldier rather than by decision of political leaders. This motivated USA and USSR leaders to start talks on agreements to reduce nuclear weapons and ban their testing. As a result the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) was signed in 1972. A series of similar treaties followed in a "Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty" (CTBT) banning all nuclear explosions in all environments, for military or civilian purposes. Later a series of "Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties" (START) initiated the dismantling of thousands of nuclear bombs. START 3 will establish by December 31, 2007 a maximum of 2,000-2,500 strategic nuclear weapons for each of the parties, representing a 30-45 percent reduction in the number of strategic warheads permitted under START 2.  Most of these weapons are about 1000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 killing some 100,000 people. 

The "Cold War" arms race fed both BB and BG's State-owned, planned, economies. In BB economies it reduced the effects of repeated economic "recessions" by providing jobs paid for by government "Defence Budgets".  In State-owned, planned, economies it reduced the funds allocated to State-paid housing, healthcare and educational systems, and reduced production of consumer goods. 

Before WW1 Russia was a major grain exporter to Europe but 70 years later, between 1981 and 1985, it imported some 42 million tons annually, twice as much as during the years 1976-81 and three times as much as during 1971-1975.  In the one-party state agriculture malfunctioned, mainly due to bureaucratic rigidity. The bulk of this grain was bought from BB economies. In 1985, 94% of the USSR's grain imports came from BB economies, with the US selling 14.1 million tons.        

Until 1870 most people in the world worked in agriculture.   In 1970 a mere 5% of the workforce in the USA grew enough food to feed the entire world.  Industrialization of agriculture, and pesticides, made this possible.  Within a century food production problems changed from coping with shortages to coping with surpluses.

BB economies suffer repeated recessions. State-owned economies suffered from corruption, inefficiency and rigidity of party-nominated managers and indifference of disaffected workers, lacking basic conditions and independent Unions. This indifference contributed to the collapse of many State-owned economies in 1991.                                             

In 1956, a new leader of the Communist Party of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev, gave a secret speech to his Party's 20th Congress admitting that Stalin killed millions of innocent people, including dedicated revolutionaries, by accusing them of false charges.  This stunned the entire Communist movement. In Poland and Hungary workers rose against their Stalinist rulers. Many communists everywhere left their parties; others began to criticize their leaders and policies. A disintegration process of the entire communist movement started. In 1991 the USSR - and most one-party states - dismantled themselves by decrees of their own parliaments - without civil war. No regime in history had disappeared like this.  Citizens of one-party states refused to defend them despite the benefits their state-owned economy conferred on them.

After WW2 struggles for independence started in all British, French, Belgian, Portuguese and Dutch colonies in Asia and Africa. Some freedom fighters were nationalists, some were Marxists. Both wanted independence but the Marxists wanted a state-owned, planned, economy. Countries like Korea and Vietnam became divided into two, in the north - a state-owned economy. In the south - a BB economy. When supporters of state-owned economy in the South won elections their opponents set up a military dictatorship. War between North and South started. The North could have won easily but USA, Britain, and France, rushed to help the South. In the Korean War (1950-1953) they saved the south.  In the Vietnam War (1954-1975) they lost. Today state-owned economies exist in one-party states like China, Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea.   Most people there oppose the one-party system. 

Lenin’s ban on opposition in the party was duplicated in every department of his BG state, economy, municipalities, Army, and by all Communist parties everywhere. Lack of opposition increased inefficiency, corruption, conspiracy. Lenin banned opposition not as an emergency during the civil war (1919-1921) but after winning the civil war when his party began to set up its new BG state. He believed he possessed the 'Objective Truth' about history and that all other views of history were wrong - and harmful; hence those holding them must be excluded from politics. After Lenin's ban on opposition communists had to keep their real thoughts to themselves and became yes-men parroting their leaders, or conspirators plotting secretly to overthrow them - or both. Leaders and policies could not be criticized openly and replaced. Policies that failed persisted due to lack of criticism. Subordinates trying to please superiors fed them false reports. Dishonesty became standard practice. This caused damage, waste and accidents, like the worst nuclear accident in history at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. It emitted more radiation than the Hiroshima bomb. Shortly after the accident one worker told a foreign TV reporter:

" The work ethic in the USSR is based on lies. An employee of the State cares more about pleasing his superiors than about his actual work. He will report "as if" his work was fulfilled according to the plan. "As if'" is called in the USSR "Pakazukha".  This means that no Superior is interested in the real work of his subordinates. All he cares about is their written report about their work. He has no means to check their work.  A worker can check the work of another worker but the Director of a factory cannot check the work of his workers. What matters to him is that they provide him with a signed report saying they fulfilled their work according to the plan. This relieves him of responsibility. If charged with negligence he can blame his subordinates. It goes like this all the way to the top. Lower ranks write reports to higher ranks, and so on. There is no way superiors can check the veracity of the reports of their subordinates. The main aim is that the paperwork will be OK.  That the reports will show the plan was fulfilled.  Nobody is interested in what really goes on but even if someone were there is no way he could check it. "    

This practice originated in the Party, not in the economy. Appointing managers whose loyalty was to the Party rather to their job - and forbidding criticism - ruined the state-owned economy. It spread conspiracies, inefficiency, workers apathy, and hindered their elimination. When the BG States collapsed so did their economies. Many conclude this proves the non-viability of every socialized economy. This reasoning is flawed. What collapsed was one form of socialized economy namely - BG management by Party-appointed managers and ban on worker’s criticism.  Had the workers themselves managed their factories - as Kollontai and the "Workers Opposition” proposed in 1920 - "Pakazukha" would have been impossible.

Some people argue that even in a multi-party state like Britain the nationalized parts of the economy (railways, electricity, transport, coal, oil) were inefficient, lost money, and had to be sold to private owners to make them profitable. Analysis of this issue requires a detailed research.  Two points must be clarified:                                          1) which branches of a socialized economy should be run for profits and which       should be run as a public-service?                                                                                    2) As the Labour Party and the Conservatives Party alternated in power what damage did their conflicting policies inflict on the socialized part of the economy?

Political Parties care for their power far more than for the welfare of society.  The only way to ensure that power politics will not harm the welfare of society is to abolish power. This can be done by a non-party state, where political parties do not decide policy for the citizens. In such a state all citizens vote directly on all policies, not on politicians. This is direct democracy (DD).  Today this is feasible by using mobile phones and the Internet.  In DD no person or party has power because no one has authority to represent others. Every citizen represents herself only.  If the majority votes to run the economy - or part of it - for profits rather than as a public service - so be it.  If citizens later regret this decision they can always revoke it.  When all citizens shape all policies, and all employees shape the policies of their place of work, a socialized economy can be free from corruption, conspiracy, and inefficiency. Modern technology can provide all citizens with a much shorter working day, guaranteed employment, state-paid housing, healthcare, education, and pensions.       

Direct democracy can create a new mode of human existence by relieving all people of economic anxieties and of obsession with Power. It can create new attitudes, aspirations, expectations, and a new morality.  Preoccupation with economic issues, and obsession with personal power, are not necessary modes of human existence.   Humanity is not doomed to wallow in them forever.  Beyond them are other modes of human existence elevating "Homo-economicus" into "Homo-Universalis". 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. The May 1968 strike in France. 

 

Most people today are fed up with political parties and politicians but see no other way to run society.  The General Strike in France in May 1968 was the first attempt of people in a modern industrial society to try to run work and education themselves, without Politicians, Managers, and State or Union officials. It was a unique strike, unlike any other strike in history. Not only its demands were unique but also the way it was run. It did not demand higher wages and was not run by Unions.  Strikers demanded "Self-management" at work, in education, in neighbourhoods. "Action committees" any striker could join ran the strike. The strike was preceded by University students' strikes and demonstrations against authoritarian University regulations and education. Young workers joined the strike to support the students. The Unions and Political Parties opposed the strike. Only after realizing they would lose members if they did not support it did they join it, trying to control it.  The strike erupted like a volcano. Attempts by all political parties and Unions to control it failed.

 

Like WW1, the outbreak of this strike surprised everyone, including all Marxists and even the strikers themselves. As it was not motivated by material misery Marxists could not explain its outbreak even after the events.  It occurred during a period of economic expansion that began after France lost its final colonial war against the Algerian liberation struggle. Why did people strike?  They did not demand higher pay or better working conditions.  They demanded the right to decide how their work, their neighbourhoods, their education, and the entire country - should be run. This demand grew from frustration caused not by some policy but by the very structure of political system. People were fed up with Government officials, with Politicians and Political Parties, with Unions, and with all those who decide for them without even consulting them. They were fed up with rule by representatives (RR). based on electing representatives who elect their representatives to decide what society should do. Citizens can only decide which party will nominate those who decide policies for them. Parliament has become a barrier between the citizens and the political decisions that affect their lives. To call this system "Democracy" is dishonest and misleading. Original "Demos-Kratia" in ancient Athens meant that the "Demos" (in antiquity this meant all free men).voted directly on policies, not on politicians. A Parliamentary system contradicts democracy.  A Parliament is preferable to a Monarchy where a single unelected ruler decides policy for all, but Parliament is not democracy.  Democracy is policy-making by the Demos, i.e. by all citizens, not by representatives. In a democracy every citizen has at every moment the right to propose and vote on every policy.   Demos-Kratia means the demos - not politicians - decides all policies.   

 

The French strike had three stages:

1. The Student's revolt.      2. The General Strike.      3. The decline of the strike.

Since 1960 students everywhere had been demonstrating against the US war in Vietnam. The French Students' struggle peaked in March '68. Students revolted in Germany, Britain, and USA. A few political activists started it. Most students were busy with their studies and exams. They wanted to get jobs, and start their careers. The student activists expressed the disgust many citizens felt about US war against Vietnam and about French authoritarian society.   French Press and TV publicized it.    

In the USA students demonstrated against racial segregation of Blacks in the South. This gave rise to Freedom Marches led by Martin Luther King (see the Internet) and to the Free Speech Movement (FSM) in the University of California at Berkley, led by Mario Savio (see the Internet). German students protested against the murder of Iranian Students in Germany by the Iranian Secret Police (SAVAK) and against the attempt to assassinate Rudi Dutschke, leader of Left German students. French students demonstrated against authoritarian University rules and Police brutality. 

The birth-control pill freed women from fear of pregnancy. Students were the first to enjoy the sexual freedom granted by the pill but University authorities defended traditional morals and attitudes. When students ignored outdated University regulations the authorities called the police. Clashes between Police and Students started. Some students were expelled from University or arrested. Their friends demonstrated demanding their release. The police attacked student demonstrations violently. TV news showed it and this outraged many people. Eventually it drove young workers to join the students' confrontations with the police. This developed into the largest General Strike in History. 

A revolution in popular music added fuel to the flames.  Young people were fed up with banal tunes and lyrics like "I can't live without you". They preferred angry hits like Bob Dylan's grim "Desolation Row" or the "Rolling Stones" angry  "I can't get no satisfaction",   with lyrics saying:  

"When I'm drivin' in my car /And a man comes on the radio /He's telling me more and more /About some useless information /Supposed to fire my imagination/
I can't get no, oh no no no / Hey hey hey, that's what I say/ I can't get no satisfaction/ I can't get no satisfaction/ 'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try/
I can't get no, I can't get no, Satisfaction/

When I'm watchin' my TV /And a man comes on to tell me/ How white my shirts can be /But he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke /The same cigarettes as me/
I can't get no, oh no no no / Hey hey hey, that's what I say/ I can't get no satisfaction/ 'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try/ I can't get no, I can't get no/  I can't get no satisfaction/ No satisfaction, no satisfaction, no satisfaction /

Disgust with boring consumerism and authoritarian rule - not low wages - motivated most strikers in France in May '68.   The chronology of this strike was as follows:

March 22    At Nanterre University in Paris, 150 students occupy the administration                  offices.  The University authorities suspend all courses till April 1.

April 12     German Students’ leader Rudi Dutschke is shot in Berlin.  Students in        France and Germany demonstrate in protest against this assassination attempt and against incitement of the yellow press against students.

May 3     Anti-Demonstration Police (CRS) clears Students from Sorbonne courtyard.                  CRS clashes with Students in the Latin Quarter. 100 Students injured, 596 arrested.

May 4       Sorbonne authorities suspend all courses. The University Teachers Union  declares an unlimited strike.    

May 10     "The Night of the Barricades".  Massive battles between CRS and Students in Latin Quarter: 251 Police and 116 students hospitalized, 468 arrested, 720 hurt, 60 cars burnt, 188 damaged.

May 11    Workers Unions CGT, CFDT, and the National Union of Students call for a mass demonstration on May 13.

May 13   800,000 Students and workers demonstrate in Paris.   Union leaders were to march in front and Students' leaders in the rear, but students overturned this order and marched in front leaving Union leaders in the rear. The police leave the Sorbonne which is re-occupied by Students who start a non-stop free debate. Anyone - even non-students - can address the audience.

May 14     Workers at Sud-Aviation factory in St.Nazaire occupy their factory.  May 15     Workers at Renault factory in Cleon occupy their factory.  May 16     The wildcat strike movement accelerates, workers all over France join the strike, occupy factories.  So do workers in French railways and Paris Transport.  May 20   10 Million French workers are on strike.  France is paralyzed. May 25 French Radio and TV workers join the strike.  No Radio/TV News.

May 27     To end the strike the government signs "Grenelle Accord" with Unions   agreeing to raise basic wage by 15%, cut working hours, reduce retirement age.    CGT (Communist) Union leader Seguy announces this achievement to strikers at Renault in Billancourt (SW Paris).  The strikers reject it shouting: "We don't want a larger slice of the economic cake.  We want to run the bakery".                                                

May 29   President De Gaulle flees secretly to Germany to meet General Massu, Commander of French troops there, to plan use of French troops against strikers in Paris.   The Plan is dropped.                                                       

May 30   One million De Gaulle supporters demonstrate in Paris.   De Gaulle dissolves National Assembly and announces new elections.                                                                                  

June 10  French elections. The Right wins an overwhelming majority.  Left loses 61 seats, Communists lose 39.   Strike begins to decline.

 1969

April 4,   De Gaulle announces referendum to see if French want him as President.    April 27   Vote results:  "YES" - 10,901,753.      "NO" - 12,007,102 .

 June 10    De Gaulle resigns.  Georges Pompidou becomes President of France.

 

To give the reader an idea what this strike was like I shall quote passages from a book by two British Journalists who went to Paris to report for the British newspaper "The Observer".  Their book - "French Revolution 1968" (Penguin books" London, 1968) - is based on their reports. The journalists - Patrick Seale and Maureen McConville - were not members of the British Left. They had an Irish Catholic background yet were ready to learn from new facts rather than judge them by traditional standards.  

The following are some of their observations:

"What the strikers really wanted, although they did not put it in that way, was local autonomy, perhaps an essential precondition for a successful university. They wanted to devise their own methods of work and research, to revamp the curricula in the light of new knowledge, to specialize as they please." (p.31)

"The new militants were groping towards a far more ambitious programme inspired by the challenging belief that students have a role to play in the shaping of society as a whole.  But this function presupposes a radical transformation of the university itself.  . . .  a struggle against the authoritarian caste-ridden university, and  rejection of the university as a servant of a technocratic society"  (p45)

"In the week from Monday 6 May, to Monday 13 May, the students' revolt changed fundamentally in character. From pranking and street brawls it became a mass insurrection. In that week the revolutionary leaders first took command - however tenuously - of large-scale forces, and demonstrated their gift for mobile strategy , spreading disorder across the face of Paris and tying down tens of thousands of police. The revolutionaries set the pace. They seized the initiative, forcing a baffled government into error after error. Within 24 hours the movement spread to provincial universities, provoking a rash of demonstrations and strikes at Aix-en-Provence, Bordeaux, Caen, Cleremont-Ferrand, Dijon, Grenoble, Montpellier, Nantes, Rouen, and Toulouse. In that first unforgettable week the most striking quality of the student explosion was - Joy. . . .There was a spontaneous surge of the spirit expressed in the marvellous claim scrawled on the faculty wall: "Here Imagination Rules". The most cynical adults were moved. Public sympathy welled up enclosing the rebels in a protective cocoon so they became invulnerable. The authorities only blackened themselves by striking at them" (p 71/2)

"The immense demonstration, some 800,000 strong, on Monday, 13 May, was a landmark. By forcing the Unions to strike in their favour, by bringing such hordes into the streets, the student leaders demonstrated once and for all that they are no longer a lunatic fringe groupouscule but a national force. They managed to touch something very profound in the conscience of the country, and here, in the massed ranks of the workers and in the countless fluttering banners, was the proof of it.  They were proved right and those who sneered at them were proved wrong" (p. 92)

On this demonstration "The young revolutionaries wanted no one to muscle-in on their act, no political Party to take them over. As usual it was Cohn-Bendit who most pungently expressed their contempt for the official Left: "The Communist Party? Nothing gave me greater pleasure than to be at the head of a demonstration with all that Stalinist filth at the rear".  To the alarm of their Union leaders many young workers seemed thrilled by the students' slogans. The virus was spreading to the labour force eating away the Union leaders' authority… Cohn-Bendit called for action committees to be set up in every firm and in every area of Paris"  (p.93/4)

 

"Pompidou (French Prime Minister. A.O.) kept his promise: the imprisoned students had been released, the police had pulled back from the Latin Quarter, the gates of the Sorbonne stood open.  The students surged in and took possession.  That was the first night of the Student's Soviet - an extraordinary example of primitive communism in the heart of a Western industrial country - it did not end till their expulsion 34 days later, on June 16.  Fired by the students' example the workers too struck and occupied, first at an aircraft plant at Nantes on Tuesday, and then - like wildfire - throughout France. How were these Committees organized?  What was the mood of this novel experiment?  What has remained?  These are some of the questions which the following pages will seek to answer" (p. 93)

 

"To live through a revolution is a delirious experience. It is a little frightening, but also exhilarating, to see authority flouted and then routed. In the two or three weeks after the "Night of the Barricades" France was in a state of revolution. That is to say, the existing power structure - not only political power but every sort of power - was challenged and in some cases overthrown, and an attempt was made, however confused and disorderly, to put another in its stead. Students, workers, active citizens, joined together spontaneously in hundreds of insurrectional committees all over Paris but also in the provinces. This very widespread revolt against the old forms of established authority was accompanied by an acute, and profoundly enjoyable, sense of liberation. All sorts of people felt it in all walks of life. A great gust of fresh air blew through dusty minds and offices and bureaucratic structures. This throwing-off of constraint, this sense of relief was the authentic stamp of the Revolution, the proof that the changes being wrought were really of revolutionary proportions. Quite suddenly, and for a few precious days, the French, whose normal life is bound by many petty regulations, enjoyed the pleasures of a primitive anarchistic society.  It was a society without policemen, with everyone his own traffic cop.  In spite of the vexations of life, of the strike, and the drying up of petrol pumps, men will look back on that period and remember it with joy.  The most striking feature of these days was the sight of people talking to each other - not only casual exchanges but long intense conversations between total strangers, clustered at street corners, in cafés, in the Sorbonne of course. There was an explosion of talk, as if people had been saving up what they had to say for years.  And what was impressive was the tolerance with which they listened to each other, as if all those endless dialogues were a form of group-therapy.  Many French men and women woke up to the fact that their relations with each other had been far too stiff and suspicious, far too unfraternal.  It seemed as if the system were wrong: Children not speaking freely to their parents, employees touching their caps to their bosses,  the whole nation standing to attention before the General. …General De Gaulle's decade of rule is doubtless among the major causes of the May outburst. His paternalism, the control he has exerted over information, the cant and pomp of his style of government, irritate and do not impress the young … But De Gaulle is not alone to blame…Everywhere petty bureaucrats sit, passing up dossiers to hierarchical superiors, jealously exercising their limited authority according to the rule-book".  (p.94/5)

" The most original and creative phase of the Revolution was the last three weeks of May, from the Night of the Barricades, to De Gaulle's prodigious recovery on 30 May.  It was then that a new political vocabulary emerged, drawing the crowd into action as allies of the young revolutionary leaders.  It was then that the insurrectional committees sprang up, embodying the thirst for de-centralization as well as the urge to run one's own affairs, which lay at the root of the revolt. 

From the start of their protest movement, the revolutionaries preached 'direct action' as opposed to negotiations.  Now the slogan was 'direct democracy' as opposed to the classical delegation of powers within a Parliamentary system. Both in 'direct action' and 'direct democracy' was present the notion of 'permanent contestation' - the view that the bourgeois State and all its institutions must be subject to constant harassment and questioning. Nothing was taken for granted.  The 'contestation' could equally well take the form of mobbing a Professor, of 'occupying' a faculty, of defying the power of the State by a street demonstration, of locking a factory manager into his office.

Everywhere, from one end of France to another, 'action committees' were spontaneously formed at grassroots level, forums of debate as well as of decision.  They were the translation into practical (but often impractical) terms of the twin notions of 'direct action' and 'direct democracy'.  These action committees were conceived as the agents of revolutionary change.  They were to be the forerunners of a totally new type of society, in which everyone had the right to talk and the right to share in decision-making. These committees - of which 450 were set up in those three weeks of May, with widely different functions and memberships - were the most characteristic expression of the Revolution.  They justified the claim that new, and original 'power structures', new revolutionary channels of authority, were emerging. (p. 99)  

" For just over a month, from 13 May to 16 June,1968. the Sorbonne was the central fortress of the Students' Soviet. When it fell the heart was knocked out of this utopia. While it held it inspired the whole Latin Quarter to exultant insurrection, to become a free State within the Gaullist empire.  The Sorbonne under student management is perhaps the most eloquent symbol of the May Revolution. It was both a Political laboratory in which the students tested out their theories of direct democracy, and an example which fired the workers, if not to do likewise, at least to strike and occupy their factories." (p.101)

"Gradually, through trial and error, out of feverish debate, took shape a tentative command structure. Simply to describe it is to ignore the countless changes, accretions, squabbles of that hectic month. At the base, and in the theory the source of all sovereignty, was the General Assembly, a vast shapeless mob which nightly packed the Grand Amphitheatre.  This was direct democracy in action, a talking shop of infinite permissiveness.  One of the first acts of the first General Assembly on 13 May was to declare the Sorbonne an Autonomous Popular University, open day and night to all workers. In principle all decisions taken in the building had to be put to the Assembly for approval.  Each night the Assembly elected a 15-man Occupation Committee which was the seat of executive power.  Its mandate was limited to a single day and night on the theory that power corrupts and that every elected representative must constantly give an account of himself to his electors.  The bureaucracy must not be given time to ossify. The system did not last beyond the first few days." (p. 104)  

 

There were many different committees running various affairs, from recording every case of police brutality, to allocating rooms for activists visiting Paris:  "For the thousands of young people taking part (in running these committees. A.O.)  it was a delirious and unforgettable experience, one of the most formative they might ever live through.  If the May Revolution was anything at all, it was this roaring mass of spontaneous student committees and assemblies running its own affairs." (p105)

 

"The legacy of May is likely to be three-fold: A new and healthier student-teacher relationship.  A certain measure of local autonomy both at faculty and provincial university level.  A far greater share by the students in the planning and running of their studies.  In planning these reforms the State must – inevitably -  take into account the detailed proposals - some running to hundreds of pages long – which students and teachers drafted during the crisis." (p.106)

 

"The "Comite' d'action" was the vehicle chosen by the revolutionary leadership to mobilize mass-support for its aims…. They sprang up with incredible speed in schools, universities, government offices, professional organizations, and firms but also in residential areas on the basis of a network of streets. These committees were in many cases no more than groups of active citizens, usually between ten and fifty strong, unaffiliated for the most part to any particular political movement. What they had in common in those uncertain, delirious, May days, when the Gaullist State seemed to be melting away, was the idea that revolution is something you do yourself, not something you leave to others. They were the expression of a will for direct, extra-parliamentary, action. They declared themselves ready to pass from spontaneous violence to preparation of organized violence…. The movement reached its peak in the last week of May, when there were at least 450 action committees in Paris alone.  They formed a remarkably flexible and effective instrument in the hands of the revolutionary leaders who exerted some control over these far-flung cells through a Coordinating Committee. This met daily for two weeks in the Sorbonne after its occupation, then moved to the Institute of Psychology in the rue Serpente, where at the time of the writing it still was"(p. 122)

 

High school (Lycée) students were extremely active in the strike.  Their action committees were known as CAL ("Comité d'Action Lycéen"). At a meeting called as early as February 26 they supported secondary school teachers on strike. "That same night six hundred school boys and girls gathered to discuss what should be the future role of their embryonic organization.  It was an important meeting. For the first time school militancy was linked to left-wing political objectives.  The leaders presented a report claiming that education was a slave to the economic system. Words like 'capitalist' and 'socialist' were mentioned. It was suggested that the role of CAL was to denounce the education system as an instrument of social selection. The idea was to challenge society by challenging the school. This was as far as they got by April 1968, still a small movement in a handful of lycées, affecting about 500 school children.  The street fighting on 3 May, following the police invasion of the Sorbonne, had a shattering effect on adolescents. In many lycées there were immediate strikes. Classes were interrupted as young people abandoned their studies to discuss the situation. Many rushed to join the demonstrations, some were wounded. On 10 May CAL called an all-day strike in all Paris lycées and a teenage force of some 8000 to 9000 strong marched to join their seniors in the great demonstration which ended at the barricades. What propaganda had failed to do in a year, action did in three hours. A long tradition of schoolboy passivity was broken. The CAL preached that the pressures of home, school, and police, were all faces of the same repression.   At the barricades that night the lesson was rammed home: faced with the choice at midnight of going home to mummy or staying out all night to fight, many chose to stay.  From then on the lyce'ens were never absent from the front line. Once the Sorbonne was occupied the CAL took over the Grand Amphitheatre for their General Assembly on 19 May. It was then that they decided on the next crucial step - a general strike and the occupation of the schools. The next day the movement was widely followed with teachers in some cases joining in and spending the night on the premises. Committees were formed to discuss school and university problems, but also politics: subjects like students' struggles in Europe, the role of university in society, student-worker links, and so on. Here, as in other sectors of French life, the Revolution brought an extraordinary explosion of talk. Thousands of young people were drawn in who had never had a political idea in their lives.  Parents came to watch and wonder. Teachers found themselves arguing with their students with an interest they had never had in class. Workers were invited to see Russian films. The general tone was intensely serious, more so than at university level. There was none of the libertine anarchy of the Sorbonne. Instead earnest committees sat late and drafted reports, largely on school reform. No fewer than three hundred were produced in the last fortnight of May. The CAL emerged from the Revolution as a force in French national education…they are aiming for a share in decision-making inside the schools." (P.127-129)

"If proof were needed that the events of May amounted to a revolution the profound upheaval which took place in the liberal professions provides it.  Theirs was not a movement of a handful of enragés (small group of extremists in the 1789 French Revolution. A.O.). No sinister foreign hand could here be suspected.  The rebels were doctors, men of Law, churchmen, journalists, film makers, artists, musicians, painters, writers, social scientists and statisticians, archivists, librarians and astronomers, atomic scientists and museum directors. They were the intellectual backbone of the country, and in their thousands they rose to challenge the 'structures' which governed their work. They rebelled, that is, against excessive centralization, poor delegation of power, against the 'mandarins' 'satraps' and 'grand patrons' who until May ruled over French professional life. Inevitably the professions most immediately affected were those with close links with the university, but the virus soon spread very much further afield."  (p. 130).

 "The May Revolution set off an angry ferment in the arts which would need a book to do it justice.  We have space for only one or two points: this was not a limited phenomenon but one affecting musicians, painters, film-makers, actors, writers, and countless others, and it was not a revolt of the 'lunatic fringe' but of the best young men at work in France today. Thirty Directors of provincial theatres and Maisons de la Culture - Culture Minister Andre' Malraux's multi-purpose art centres - met for a whole week at the height of the crisis in May pondering what should be France's cultural policy of the future.  It is to Malraux's credit that these men are on the whole leftist non-Gaullist, but the joint statement they issued was a sharp indictment of the Minister's pet scheme of bringing the arts to the provinces. To a man they wanted a far more radical programme than the government’s highbrow cultural colonies provide. "We must get at the 'non-public', they declared, 'and draw it out of its ghetto'.  They made a bid for socially committed art - cultural action should give people a chance to discover their humanity repressed by the absurdity of the social system.  Painters, critics, and gallery directors formed an 'action committee for the plastic arts'. One day in May some of them decided to march to the National Museum of Modern Art and close it down in protest against its role of 'conservation rather than lively encounter'. They got there to find the doors locked so they pasted up a poster saying: "Closed because useless".  Artists met trade-Unionists to discuss exhibiting their  work in factories."  (p. 134)

"..About 1,300 people in the cinema industry met regularly in Paris for nearly a month from 17 May onwards in the so-called 'Parliament of the French Cinema'. They split into working parties, drafted reports, prepared 'a Charter' for the renovation of the whole industry. At the root of these ambitious plans was the feeling that the French cinema was cut off from the social and political realities of the country. . . .  The Parliament approved a programme of proposed reforms, of which perhaps the most important were the creation of a single national film distribution organization; the setting-up of autonomous production groups freed from the pressures of the profit motive, the doing away with censorship, and the merger of television and film production". (p.136)  

 

"Two hundred museum curators from all over France met to ponder the role of museums in society while their staffs 'at one with the great movement of renovation now sweeping the country', called for an overhaul of old-fashioned, sterile, over centralized, museum administration".  (p.138)

 

"Even footballers could not fail to be moved by the spirit of the time. About a hundred of them occupied the offices of the French Football Federation, on the Avenue D'Iena  on 22 May, hoisted the red flag from the balcony, locked up the Secretary General, and the national instructor, and flung a banner over the façade saying: "Le football aux footballeours". "(p. 139)

 

"No strike last spring caused the regime more fury, and in no sector was it more eager to reassert its authority than in the ORTF - Office de la Radio et Television Francaise. As in so many other sectors of intellectual life, this was not a strike about wages, working conditions, or trade union rights.  It was a strike for a complete overhaul of the ORTF 1964 statute and its replacement by a new charter guaranteeing internal autonomy, freedom from ministerial pressures, and an impartial news service to include freer access to radio and TV for opposition politicians.  What united all but 2000 of the 14000 employees was, in the words of one of them: "Shame. Shame that when the fighting broke out in the Latin Quarter, the State TV service, under government pressure, ignored it." (p. 140)

 

What role did industrial workers and office employees play in this strike?  All knew that only if this sector joined the strike would it be a force capable of changing society.

"From mid-May to mid-June 1968 France lay inert in the chains of a great strike. It was the biggest Labour revolt in French history (actually - in all history. A.O.) and it ended in a political fiasco. Why? Historians will long debate the paradox of how a movement involving nearly 10 million workers - politically roused and determined as never before - ended with an overwhelming Gaullist victory at the polls.  Was the Revolution bungled or betrayed?  Was it an illusion or did the advanced Western world miss by a hair's breadth its first successful proletarian uprising? … Had the workers not joined the nation-wide protest movement, the events of May would have had no more - and no less - significance than the student explosions of Berlin, Rome, or Buenos-Aires. What distinguished the French situation from that of other movements is that here the students' example was immediately and massively copied by the workers carrying the crisis to a new level of gravity. From one end of France to another men and women in key industries seized their places of work and closed the gates. For the first time in recent history intellectuals and manual workers seemed to be marching side by side to revolution. And yet President De Gaulle's regime survived. . . . We shall try in this chapter to reconstruct the way the French crisis, after the sombre Night Of the Barricades 10-11 May, entered a new phase, leaping like a spark from students to workers - and back again - setting off a chain-reaction of explosions, each nourished by the other.  No one is absolutely certain how the great strike started. There is no easy explanation why men, driven to the limits of exasperation, suddenly lay down their tools, like an act of war."(p.146)

On may 13 "some 800,000 students and workers had paraded through Paris in the biggest demonstration the capital had witnessed for years. To a generation which had not seen the Liberation (from Nazi occupation of France in WW2. A.O.) let alone the upheavals of 1936, Monday 13 May was a stupendous landmark, the sealing of a revolutionary alliance against the Gaullist State. That night the Sorbonne was occupied and the "Students Soviet" launched on its delirious course under the gaze of workers as well as students everywhere. The watertight compartments (separating workers from students. .A.O.) had been breached.  Within hours…workers in a small aircraft plant on the outskirts of Nantes struck and occupied their factory and locked up the manager in his office.

Quite independently that Tuesday some workshops at the Renault plant manufacturing gear-boxes at Cleon, near Rouen, downed tools. On Wednesday some 200 young strikers tried to get the night shift to join them but failed, so they barricaded themselves inside the works. When the morning shift arrived at 5 am on Tuesday 16 May they found the doors barred, the factory occupied, and the     manager locked up.  Two coach-loads of strikers set off immediately for the Renault plant at Flins in the Seine valley to bring them out as well - the red flag was hoisted at 2p.m.- and then on to the great Renault bastion in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billiancourt, the parent and pace-setter of the whole state-owned car industry. In the meantime, ever since the first spontaneous and disquieting outbreak at Nantes, the phones had been ringing in the Paris headquarters of France's two Trade-Union federations, the communist-led CGT and its social-democratic rival, the CFDT.  The Union bosses were caught off-guard by this extraordinary militant phenomenon.   What was' the base' up to?  To forestall any further surprises CGT headquarters acted swiftly. On Wednesday night it sent a hard-core commando to close down the Billiancourt works and occupy the factory, where 60% of the 25,000 workers are CGT loyalists. 4000 men spent that night in the factory sleeping on stretchers filched from the first-aid posts, or on bundles of rags, or on inflatable rubber mattresses, relics of last summer's holiday which their wives had brought to the works with packets of sandwiches and bottles of wine.  Within 48 hours, spreading with extraordinary speed, the strike-and-occupy movement paralyzed French industry across the country. Was this the concerted action of fully mobilized Unions?  Or was it a semi-spontaneous process, springing from a decade of unsatisfied grievances and triggered off in some mysterious way by the Students' example and the police repression? " (p. 148)

"In those first few days of the strike no one in France was quite certain what was happening. Attention was, if anything, focused on the more spectacular developments on the Students' front - on the Libertarian experiment played out at the Sorbonne, and, it soon appeared, in every university faculty in France. The Union high-command themselves did not know what to make of it, and met that week in anxious sessions to try and see what the future might hold. Neither the CGT nor the CFDT could fail to be struck by the governments' climb down in the faced of the students' violence, and particularly by the way the Students' leaders forced the government to release their imprisoned comrades. The government had also bowed to the 24-hour General Strike of 13 May even though it had been called without the statutory 5-day warning. These were signs of weakness which could surely be exploited. It was here that the two most powerful Union federations parted company. The Communist bosses of the CGT were obsessed by the threat on their flank represented by activist groupouscules such as the Trotskyite JCR and the pro-Chinese UJC(M-L). These were ideological enemies who could be given no quarter. They threatened to outflank the Party on its left and weaken its control over the working class. These considerations lie at the root of the CGT's attitude in the first week of the strike. It spared no effort to separate the workers from the students, issuing order to its branch-officials that no students were to be allowed inside factories under their control. It sought to limit the strike because it did not like its nature or its spontaneous genesis and yet it was driven to take the leadership of it to deny it to the uncontrolled 'Leftists'. CGT tactics therefore were to cold-shoulder the student revolutionaries and to advance on behalf of the working class purely economic claims. It wanted for its members a bigger share of the capitalist cake, not, it would appear, the change or overthrow of the capitalist system.  The CFDT in contrast hastened to declare their sympathy for the student movement. Several CFDT leaders went to the Sorbonne shortly after its 'occupation' to listen to the furious debates and ponder their meanings. 'The students are not only concerned with material considerations' the CFDT declared 'but seek to pose a fundamental challenge to the rigid and stifling class-structure of a society in which they can assume no responsibility. The students; struggle to democratize the universities is of the same nature as the workers' struggle to democratize the factories'.  The essential difference between the two Unions was this: the CGT saw the crisis as nothing but the work of 'Leftist adventurists' .  The CFDT, free from the bonds of Communist dogma, was more penetrating. It sensed that more and more young people found French society, as at present organized, intolerable. One of the CFDT's ablest leaders, Albert D'etraz, put it in this way:    "It is not an accident that black flags now challenge the monopoly of red flags in street demonstrations. There is here a rebirth of an ideal of Liberty. It is a timely reminder to some political and union leaders, that a society without real democracy is a barracks". (p. 149-150).

On Thursday, 16 May, a group of some 1000 students "… marched from the Sorbonne to the great Renault works on the Seine at Boulogne-Billiancourt which had struck that afternoon. They carried a banner saying: 'This flag of struggle will pass to the worker from our fragile hands'.  The workers thanked them courteously but would not let them into the factory so the students marched around the works singing the INTERNATIONALE.  Small groups of students and workers formed here and there in the street and talk continued late into the night. 'To begin with' one student said later 'we chose rather simple words and spoke slowly as if to foreigners. But we found they spoke the same language as we did'. The Communist Union bosses would have none of such fraternization… On 14 May 200 men were on strike.   On 19 May - 2,000,000.     On 22 May - over 9,000,000."  (p.152)

How did the ranks of the strikers swell at such a rate?    One student explained:

"Let me give you an example: on 3 May, one of my fellow students went to collect his car on the Boulevard St. Michel.    A group of riot police (CRS) fell on him, beat him up and called him "filthy student".  A day or two later, when he heard on the radio that fighting had flared up again, he leaped into his car, to go and take part. He remembered to take a screwdriver to dislodge the pavement stones.  I met him the next morning: he'd become an active rebel and was even quite articulate about why he was fighting.  This sudden political awareness came as a surprise to everybody" (p.115)

 

"The paralysis spread with incredible speed and spontaneity.  At no time did a General Strike order go out from the Paris headquarters of the Union federations, and yet all over the country, a calm irresistible wave of working-class power engulfed the commanding heights of the French economy. In thousands of plants the workers not only struck, but locked themselves in with their silent machines, turning the factories into fortified camps.  The revolutionary students cannot claim the credit for this vast resolute stoppage but they undoubtedly had something to do with it.  The analogy with the student 'Occupations' was too blatant. The student protest was steeped in the vocabulary of the workers' struggle and in the ideal of workers' brotherhood. From May 3 onwards the student leaders called persistently for a workers' revolt. It was as if they were trying to revive in the proletariat forgotten traditions of militancy. Who can tell what emotions they awakened?  Old workers with memories of past struggles may have been stirred by the combativity of these young intellectuals.  Young workers, not yet reconciled to the view that life is just the pay-packet may have thrilled in turn to the cry from the Sorbonne. In every University town across France workers and students met and fraternized in the streets.  Though it  cannot be proved it is hard to believe that the solidarity young people feel for each other did not play a role, or that workers were not impressed by the effectiveness of 'direct action' in the students hands. Would it have happened had the workers not seen the government reel back from the clash at the barricades? Would it have happened if the great demonstration of 13 May had not reminded the strikers of their numbers and their power?  One thing is certain: the great well-oiled Union apparatus of the CGT, as well as its less-powerful sisters, the CFDT and Force Ouvrier, did their best to channel and control the movement but did not provide its fuel.   The question is - What did?  The fighting contribution of the students would have raised no echo in the working class had it not found there a mass of frustrations. (p.153)

 "The CGT focused its attention on wage levels, a guaranteed working week, a minimum monthly wage, disdaining involvement in corporate affairs let alone the formation of works-council. To show an interest in them would be to show an acknowledgement that private capitalism was here to stay.  This CGT attitude suited a large number of older workers. They wished to have nothing to do with French industrial capitalism except to draw money from it.   But a new generation is growing up which finds inadequate this view of a Union's role.  It believes workers representatives should be involved in decision-making at plant level. It is deeply concerned with the recognition of Union rights and the spread of information from the manager's office downward." (p. 156)  "…The CGT is wage orientated while the CFDT seeks profound reforms at the factory level to give the workers a direct share in management.  What was striking about the May crisis is that it saw the emergence of yet a third trend on the French labour scene, as hostile to the CFDT as to the CGT.   This trend was frankly revolutionary: its ambition to overthrow capitalism led it first to attempt to undermine the Communist-led CGT monolith, which it saw as an unwitting pillar of the bourgeois State." (p. 157)

Commenting on the general atmosphere of the strike the authors write: "Industrial noise died in France as everything seemed to head for a state of nature … It could have been a bonus vacation, a deliciously prolonged day-off, untroubled by pangs of conscience or a nagging wife. Indeed, wives and children joined the strikers on Sundays, turning the factory yards into fairgrounds. It was as if the working class has opted out of the political struggle.  And yet, on another view, this casual idleness, this proprietary lolling about the works, was the essence of revolution. Never had workers talked so much, thrashed out so many issues, got to know each other so well, or so meticulously explored those clean carpeted rooms where managers used to rule. The strike reached its peak on 22 May, leaving untouched no corner of the country.  At 'Berliet', the great commercial vehicle manufacturer at Lyons, the workers re-arranged the letters on the front of the factory to spell out 'Liberté'.  The Paris headquarters of the French employers federation - a club for top bosses if ever there was one - was 'occupied' for two hours by' commandos' of insurgent engineers.   The Merchant Navy was on strike, and the undertakers, and some big Paris hotels. Department stores put up their shutters on all their gay windows, and hundreds of town-halls were closed. Even the Bank of France, the Finance Ministry, and the nuclear plant at Mercoule were not spared. Even the Weather-forecasters struck.  It was extraordinarily and delightfully quiet.  Petrol was running short but there was no real panic. …The predominant mood was not alarm but joy and liberation. With the collapse of public transport people rediscovered their legs.  Friendships sprang up in the great march along the pavements. Shyness and modesty and snobbery were swept away as everyone4 turned hitch-hiker. The atmosphere was as gaily libertine as on a wartime holiday and the spring air was intoxicating. Salut camarade. (p. 161-162) 

    To give the reader an idea of what went on inside many firms I quote from a document by a group called 'Informations et Correspondence Ouvrière' [ICO] describing events at the Insurance company 'Assurances Générales de France': 
"The Assurances Générales de France, second largest insurance company in France, is a nationalized enterprise which in four years had  double concentration: first, a merger of seven companies into one group and then of this group with three others. Added to this was automation and centralization. Neither the Trade Unions nor the employees ever talked about workers' control but confined themselves to denouncing the arbitrary character of the management, which left the employees out of every decision (and which, in addition, had been taken over by a Gaullist clique).   A tiny minority of employees decided on Friday, May 17 (before the strike which was to go into effect May 20) to raise the question of control in clear terms in a leaflet distributed by students of the March 22 Movement in all the companies of the group, and of which the following is the essential part: 

Call a general meeting of all employees of the "Groupe des Assurances Générales de France" to discuss - and vote on - the following proposals:                                      

1. The Assurances Générales de France continues to function normally, managed by   

     autonomous control of all those working there now.

2.  All directors and Union Officials are relieved of their former duties. Each department will elect one or several representatives chosen solely for their human qualities and their competence.

3.   Elected Department representative will have a double role: to coordinate the operations of the department under control of all employees; and to organize with other departments a 'Representatives Management Committee' which, under control of all employees, will assure the functioning of the enterprise.

4.  Department representatives will explain their conduct to all employees whenever asked to do so and will be revocable at any time by those who elected them.

5. The hierarchy of wages is abolished. Every employee, official, or director, will receive provisionally standard salary equal to the average May wage (total wages divided by the number of employees present).

6.  Personal files on employees kept by the management will be returned to the    employees. They will be able to remove any information that is not purely administrative.     

7.   All property and materials of the Assurances Générales de France become the property of all, administered by all. Every employee is responsible for its protection under all circumstances.

8. To meet any threat, a volunteer squad under control of the elected Committee managing the firm, will guard the enterprise day and night.                                                                

see http://www.geocities.com/cordobacaf/ico_may.html?200613  

 

In the city of Nantes the population tried to run the entire city by "Self-management".

"For six remarkable days, from 26 May to 31 May, the city of Nantes, at the head of the Loire estuary in Southern Brittany was the seat of what amounted to an autonomous Soviet.  A 'Central Strike Committee' - representing workers' peasants' and students' unions - set itself up in the Town Hall becoming in effect the real local authority. The Mayor representing the central government in Paris was left with no staff except a doorman and a small force of police which he dared not use. Short-lived and chaotic though it was this experiment in 'Workers Power' was nevertheless of considerable historical importance. In Nantes the strikers crossed the frontier from protest to revolution. There emerged embryonic institutions replacing those of the Bourgeois State which were paralyzed by the strike.  Here was an example of that 'double pouvoir' ('Dual Power' as in Russia in 1917. A.O.) for which the revolutionists longed. But the example was not followed and in Nantes itself did not survive by more than a few hours General De Gaulle's tough 30 May speech. As we saw in the last chapter the CGT was ferociously opposed to any such insurrection." (p. 163)  

"The peasant Unions had in the meantime called on their members to cooperate in feeding the strikers. Teams of workers and students went out to help the farmers pick the new potatoes. By cutting out middlemen the new revolutionary authorities slashed retail prices: a litre of milk fell from 80 to 50 centimes, a kilo of potatoes from 70 to 12 centimes and of carrots from 80 to 50 centimes. The big grocery stores were forced to close. …  Workers and peasants, so often at loggerheads started working together. Power workers made sure there was no break in electricity current for the milking machines. Normal deliveries to farms of animal feed and petrol were maintained. Peasant came to march the streets of Nantes side by side with workers and students."(p.168)     "There were spectacular moments during the May crisis when the junction of students and workers appeared to take place, such as at the great demonstration on 13 May and at the mass-meeting in the Charlety Stadium on 27 May. The brotherhood of youth was in the air breaking down barriers of class and nationality. Groups of students marched to the factories in support of the strikers. In the Sorbonne (and later at the Institute of Psychology in the rue Serpente) a Student-Worker liaison committee tried to keep track of the many spontaneous contacts which sprang up. Workers in plants in the Paris area would themselves come to the Committee to seek student help - particularly in June when the strike movement was under strain and cracking up."(p. 164)

" What the student revolutionaries hoped for was that the workers would move beyond the 'strike and occupy' phase and actually encroach on the powers of the managers. They wanted to see workers' institutions set up at factory level which would be the precursors of a 'Workers' State'.  These ambitions were not satisfied in May. Many other developments took place at factory level but not quite that"(p.165)

However, this did not mean the workers were concerned only about wages and working conditions. Their response to the Unions achievements in the "Grenelle accord" was quite unexpected.    "  Mr. Pompidou round table talks with the Unions and employers were held over the weekend of  25-27 May  at the Hotel du Chatelet, seat of the Ministry of Social Affairs, in the rue de Grenelle.  The negotiations lasted a gruelling 25 hours, ending at 7.30 on Monday morning, when M. Pompidou gave the results to the nation in a radio talk at breakfast time. For two days, millions of workers, idle in factories, followed the bargaining over their transistor radios. Scores of journalists camped, seizing on a phrase here, or a smile there, to plot the course of the debates going on in the conference hall."  (p. 175)

" All those involved in the vast negotiations were deeply conscious of the need to reach an agreement - even if their motives differed.  For Pompidou, his career seemed to stand or fall on a successful outcome… for the Union leaders, substantial concessions secured at the conference would, they hoped, allow them to cut the ground from under the feet of the troublesome leftists.  Both sides were aware that failure, in the current climate of violence, could tip France from a national crisis into a state of revolution with results unpredictable for everyone.  But finally a draft agreement was hammered out conferring what seemed unprecedented advantages relating to wages, the working week, age of retirement, family allowance, old people's allowances, union rights, and so on - the biggest benefits secured by the French working class since WW2." (p. 176)

 

" The CGT was disarmed when Pompidou accepted almost without discussion, an immediate and massive increase of more than a third in the guaranteed standard minimal wage (SMIG), carrying this minimum up to 3 Francs per hour - an increase of no less than 35%.        Minimum wages in agriculture were pushed up by 56%. Some shop-girls, who had been earning even less than the minimum standard, got a bumper 72% rise."  (p.175)

 

" At dawn on the 27 May Pompidou emerged from the conference room, exhausted by triumphant, and himself read the terms of the agreements to the nation.  The Union bosses, George Seguy of the CGT,  Eugene Descamps of the CFDT, and Andre Bergeron of the Force Ouvriere -  smiled and gave the 'thumbs up' sign as they left to carry the news to their members. By mid-morning their smiles had withered.  Angry shop stewards bawled their protests down the telephone from every corner of the country The unthinkable had happened. The rank and file turned down the agreements and disavowed their leaders, leaving them far out on a limb in an uncomfortable posture of collusion with the employers and the government. Still more alarming, the embattled strikers, looking beyond mere economic benefits, raised the cry for 'Government by the people'. It seemed horribly clear that the spark of revolution, struck by student extremists, had found tinder on the shop floor.  Suddenly revolution seemed everywhere in the air, feared or hoped for. For the first time, solid citizens, canny politicians, and the students themselves, grasped that the movement, begun as a utopian dream, made a real dent in the political spectrum."  (p.192)

 

"…the Grenelle Agreement as negotiated that weekend was a landmark in French social history, in the same league as the Matignon Agreements of 1936 and the social legislation which followed the Liberation (of France from the Nazis in 1944. A.O.) Seguy and Frachon must have felt that they had led their Union safely
through the breach blown open by the students and had secured enormous benefits for the working class.… But that Monday at Renault Seguy's speech was met with boos and whistles.  From the first catcall he was in full retreat. In spite of all the information which had flowed to him in the conference room, he underestimated the success of an active minority in giving a political content to the strike. He was faced with a situation, comparable to - but far more dangerous than - the one he had confronted on 14-15 May, when the unofficial 'strike and occupy' movement first got under way. Then he was driven to seize the leadership of the movement in order to control it. Now he too had to underwrite the strikers' call for a popular government. But it must be said and repeated, that the CGT and its controlling body - the French Communist Party never seriously considered insurrection". (p. 194)

This is inaccurate for two reasons.

First, the strikers' did not call for a 'popular government' but for "Self-management'.  They shouted to Seguy: "We do not want a larger slice of the economic cake.  We want to run the bakery". 'Running the bakery' means employees manage their place of employment, and deputies of employees’ committees - not political Parties - govern.

Second, for Communist Parties everywhere - whose leaders were approved by Stalin, or later by his successors, this smacked of Trotsky's "Permanent Revolution".  Stalinists everywhere were horrified. They were committed to "Defending the USSR" and "Socialism in one country".  For them any call for a State run by employees' committees was "irresponsible adventurism". Moreover, had the French succeeded in setting up a State run by employees' committees it would have been a direct threat to the USSR big government itself.  Workers in the USSR might then realize that Socialism did not mean an economy run by BG but a state run by employees' committees.  USSR BG's rulers feared that even news reports about the events in France might inspire people in the USSR to revive demands for rule by employees' committees rather than by Party officials, therefore all TV, Press, and Radio in the USSR consistently referred to the French General Strike as "Student Hooliganism".  This terminology was used in all other BG states - in Poland, East-Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Albania, China, North-Korea.  This was a by-product of May '68 that the French strikers were unaware of.   It reveals the far-reaching repercussions of the French upheaval around the world.  It also explains the profound hatred - and fear - of the French Communist Party, and its Union - the CGT - towards anyone demanding "Self-Management".  Had the strikers succeeded in setting up a State run by employees' committees based on a system of employees' management of their place of employment, they would have made redundant not only private owners and Unions, but also political parties, and 'Leaders' purporting to 'represent the interests of the workers'.  When all employees decide how to run their place of employment, and all citizens decide how to run society, political representatives become redundant and rule by representatives becomes redundant.  The sheer fact that this possibility was declared publicly horrified - and will always horrify - all Union officials, all political parties, and all politicians, everywhere.

 

" No day in recent French history can match the anguish and excitement of Wednesday 29 May. The most sceptical minds came to believe that the regime was lost. The long suspenseful day opened with the news that the weekly cabinet meeting, held each Wednesday morning at ten as regularly as clockwork - was cancelled.  Ministers were turned away on the doorsteps of the Elysée. De Gaulle saw no member of his government that morning, not even Pompidou.  A little after eleven o'clock Presidnet and Madame De Gaulle left the palace by car. Their destination was given as Colombey-des-deux-eglises where the President has his country house.  It was put about that he had gone to ponder a great decision in solitude. The news of his departure was greeted with consternation in government circles. Many Gaullists were near to giving up the ghost, or at least their party label. Locked up in his safe at the Elysée, De Gaulle is thought to keep his political testament - a statement for his successor on the future of France. It was said that before leaving the Elysée that Wednesday, he handed the key of his safe to his top aide, the Secretary General at the presidency, Bernard Tricot.  Large quantities of luggage were seen leaving the building.  Had the great man at last decided to step down? Consternation turned to panic - not without a touch of wild humour, when, with the hours ticking by, De Gaulle failed to arrive in Colombey. He was lost. He had simply faded into the landscape.   "On a perdu le general De Gaulle" radio reporters admitted with something like a hysterical giggle.  And then the facts began gradually to leak out. He had driven with his wife to the heliport at Issy-les-Moulineaux, three helicopters had taken off – one a police machine, the second carrying the presidential couple, with a single aide-de-camp, a third laden with bodyguards. Nothing is known of De Gaulle's mood at the time. One phrase only of his has been recorded, addressed to Madame De Gaulle as they boarded the aircraft: " Depeche-vous- Madame, je vous en prie" .

The general's exact itinerary that day is still in doubt. He has not spoken nor his closest aides. What has been established is that instead of heading for Colombey the three helicopters landed at a military airfield at Saint-Dizier, 125 miles east of Paris, half way to the Rhine. The Presidential Caravelle (airplane) had flown there from strike-bound Orly (Paris airport) to meet them. According to an unconfirmed report he first called at Taverny, the underground command post of Frances nuclear striking force, and spoke to various military commanders over the secret communication network.  According to yet another rumour he was joined by his son-in law General Allain de-Boissieu (an army divisional commander).  The Caravelle then headed east  to land at the military airport of Baden-Baden, headquarters of the 70,000 French troops in Germany. The West-German Chancellor, Kiesinger,  was informed of the visit by the French ambassador as the plane touched down. No representative of the German government was there to meet him, but protocol was not violated as, by tradition, foreign heads of states can visit their troops stationed in Germany without informing the German authorities.  De Gaulle did not leave the airfield but summoned French army chiefs to meet him, including General Jacques Massu, Commander of French forces in Germany and general Beauvallet, Military governor of Met. What was decided at this extraordinary council of war? No one knows for certain although speculations abound. The most reliable sources suggest that the questions debated were of two orders: the first, general and political, the second military and tactical. In Paris De Gaulle repeatedly consulted Pierre Messmer, Minister of the Army to ascertain from day to day the mood of the troops: Was the army loyal? Messmer, Army Minister for ten years and a pillar of the regime, is believed to have replied that the men could be relied upon but that it would be unwise to ask them to fire on civilians. In Baden-Baden General Masu's profession of loyalty were forthright: the army was ready for any task the President assigned it. De Gaulle clearly considered his troops in Germany as a possible force of intervention, to be used if necessary to crush a Communist insurrection in Paris. A plan of campaign had to be drawn up and the most loyal units - perhaps 20,000 men - moved to Metz ready for action. An operational headquarters was to be set up at Verdun." (p. 203-205)                          

De Gaulle did not use the army against the strikers as this could spark off a rebellion in the Army.      After all, the soldiers were the same age-group as the students.

   During May many walls in France were covered by political graffiti. Many of them are listed on the Internet.    Here I quote but a few:

                                 " Don’t liberate me - I shall take care of this myself "

Workers of all countries, enjoy!

Since 1936 I have fought for wage increases.
My father before me fought for wage increases.
Now I have a TV, a fridge, a Volkswagen.
Yet my whole life has been a drag.
Don’t negotiate with bosses.   Abolish them.

A boss needs you, you don’t need a boss.

By stopping our machines together we will demonstrate their weakness.

Don't stay at home, occupy the factories.

Power to the employees committees. (an enragé)

Power to the enragés committees. (an employee)

Worker: You may be only 25 years old,
but your union dates from the last century.

Labour unions are Mafias.

Stalinists, your children are with us!

Man is neither Rousseau’s noble savage nor
the Church’s or La Rochefoucauld’s depraved sinner.
He is violent when oppressed, but gentle when free.

Conflict is the origin of everything. (Heraclites)

We refuse to be high-rised, diplomaed, licensed,
inventoried, registered, indoctrinated, dominated, suburbanized,
sermonized, tele-manipulated, gassed, booked.

TV is the police in your home.

We are all “undesirables” (After Cohn-Bendit was declared "undesirable" and deported to Germany)

We must remain “inadaptable”

“My aim is to agitate and disturb people.
I’m not selling bread, I’m selling yeast.”
(Unamuno)

Conservatism is a synonym for boredom, rottenness, and ugliness.

You will end up dying of comfort - and boredom

Meanwhile everyone wants to breathe and nobody can and many say "We will breathe later" and most of them don't die because they are already dead.

The prospect of finding pleasure tomorrow will
never compensate for today’s boredom.

The bosses buy your happiness, steal it.

Fight for your right to Happiness

Be realistic, demand the impossible.

Workers of the world - have fun.

Power to the Imagination.

From this small selection one can see that the French May '68 strike was something new, qualitatively different from all previous social upheavals and General Strikes.   The strikers' motives, demands, and aims, were new.  So was the way in which it was run. This strike opened a new era of political struggles aiming not only to improve working conditions within the existing political system, but to set up a new system of authority relations at work and in the state.           

One point missing in most comments on this strike is the age of the activists. Most students and worker activists in 1968 were born after WW2.  Their attitudes and expectations were very different from those born before WW2.  Before WW2 most people saw life as constrained by "objective conditions" within which their struggles could only improve their lot.  Working people accepted economic hardships as part of an employee's life and all they hoped for was to improve their lot a bit. After WW2 many began to see the "external conditions" as something they can change. They started to see their life as depending not on "objective conditions" but on what they do. They were convinced unemployment and poverty can be eliminated by government policies. They considered guaranteed employment and decent wages as their inalienable right. British workers demanded - and got - State paid Health and Education systems providing these services free to all citizens. These new attitudes (expressed by the "Existentialist" philosophy) created new expectations and aims. Young people wanted more than guaranteed employment and good wages. They wanted to participate in deciding their future. However, in 1968 those in France born after WW2 were still less than a third of the population.  At least half of them were below voting age.  This minority could not - and did not want to - impose its will on the majority. It challenged the view of the majority but had no intention of coercing the majority.  Therefore, when De Gaulle declared on May 30 that the Constituent Assembly was dissolved and new elections would take place in June they did not object.  They awaited the results of the elections.  This transferred the initiative from the strikers to de Gaulle's supporters, who immediately rallied on May 30 in an impressive - one million strong - demonstration in Paris.    

In the June '68 elections the entire Left (both "Old" and "New") suffered the worst defeat in its history when Socialists and Communists together lost 100 seats in the Constituent Assembly.   Only 42.5% of the electorate voted for them.

This convinced most strikers that their efforts to create a new political system based on "Self-management" were premature. One cannot impose "self-management" on people who do not want to manage their own life.  Seale and McConville comment: "…Most of the factories in France stayed closed and occupied well into June, and Renault, the bastion of the strike, did not yield until 18 of June, nearly five weeks after the first wild-cat rebellion at Nantes on May 14.  Right across French industry the Grenelle Agreements were now used as a 'platform' from which to negotiate still greater wage benefits - increases of between 10% and 14% at Renault, already the highest paid industrial workers in the country; but the CFDT's tentative claim for 'workers power' was nowhere conceded.  The great strike of May 1968 gave everyone a fatter wage packet and in many cases a shorter working week but it resulted in no profound changes in management-worker authority relations". (p. 219)

This gives a partial answer to the frequently asked question "Why didn't the strike succeed?"  It succeeded in increasing wages and improving working conditions, but it failed to change the authority relations at work and in the State because the election results showed clearly that the majority did not want such a change.

Behind this explicit reason lies another, implicit, reason. Suppose 60% of the electorate had voted for the Left indicating that they wanted a change of authority structure at work and in politics.  How could the new authority structure be implemented?    Student and Staff committees in universities and schools can manage the universities and schools much better than their appointed directors, but how could millions of citizens decide educational policy of the entire country and manage the educational system as a whole?    To decide educational policy there must be debates in which all citizens can participate, and at least two rounds of voting.  This requires means of communication capable of providing millions of inputs and immediate output.         No such means existed in 1968.

Employees' committees in every factory and office can easily manage their factories and offices better - and cheaper - than their hierarchical management, eliminating the costs of managers, supervisors, clerks, and Unions,  but how could millions of citizens decide the economic policy of the entire country?  How could millions of citizens participate in the debate on the country's budget?   And then vote on it?    If millions of citizens are to have the right to participate in policy debates and to vote on every policy there must be means enabling them to do so.  In 1968 no such means existed.  Magnetic cards, computerized Banking and shopping, PCs, the Internet, and mobile phones did not exist in 1968. Lack of a technology enabling every citizen to participate in every debate and vote on every policy rendered such participation utopian.  The aim was laudable - but unattainable.  No one said it but all knew it.    The 1968 strike ended because the older generation rejected "self-management" but also because its loftier aims could not be implemented.

Although in some places - as in the LIP watch factory - workers continued to occupy their factory for months after the elections, the strike began to subside and fizzled out soon after the elections.    A year later the same electorate voted to dismiss De Gaulle.  Most French voters rejected his authoritarian style in politics.  The rigid authoritarian structure in French Universities and factories became more relaxed and less authoritarian. Hierarchy at work, in education, and in politics, remained but became more tolerant and open to criticism. The French upheaval had effects outside France. In Czechoslovakia (and Poland) it encouraged the communist liberalization known as “The Prague Spring” (June 1968) which lasted until Soviet tanks rolled in on August 21 to put it down. In Chile it helped elect the Marxist Salvador Allende as president in 1970 until a CIA-instigated Coup led by General Pinochet, in 1973, killed him.

Today - thanks to the media - the May '68 Strike has slipped from memory and slid into oblivion.   Even its activists start to remember it as an exceptional event. 

Was this extraordinary strike a first political earthquake caused by a new - universal – political process generating frustration, or was it a local hiccup unique to France?     

As this strike was caused by resentment of the way policies at work and in the state are decided then the answer lies in peoples' attitudes to this issue today.

Are most people outside France today satisfied with the way policies are decided at their place of work and in their state, or do most people just tolerate the present situation because they see no alternative?      

If most people today are satisfied with the structure of policy-making then the May '68 upheaval was indeed unique to France.  But if most people everywhere today just tolerate the present way of deciding policies because they see no alternative then outbreaks of similar strikes in other countries are merely a matter of time.             What delays them is the fact that most people still see no alternative to rule by representatives in a multi-party system. bMost people have not yet realized that mobile phones, computers and the Internet make a non-party state where all citizens can vote directly on all policies a feasible option.    When many realize this then May '68 will become for them what the 1905 revolution in Russia was for the 1917 revolutions - a forerunner of future revolutions.  

If the process that caused the 1968 strike in France is universal then so is the strike.

After the collapse of Lenin's BG state in the USSR [1991] an academic political thinker wrote: "  Some form of managed Capitalism and a rather diluted - not very participatory - liberal democracy, is what history has in store for mankind, and that is that… dreams of a leap into some radically new world have to be abandoned."      {Alan Ryan, Warden of New College, Oxford, "Whatever happened to the Left" The New York Review of Books, Oct. 17, 1996. p. 42) .  Most people accepted this view.   

In other words - the collapse of USSR's BG indicates that the socialized economy has failed. Hence from now on humanity is doomed to live forever in BB economies in multi-party states. Big government has failed and humanity is doomed to be dominated forever by big business.    Many accept this conclusion.

Paraphrasing Heraclites we reply:"Darkness falls only on those who allow themselves to fall into darkness, for those who do not - a new sun rises every morning".  

Under today's new sun the most participatory direct democracy (DD) is possible by using mobile phones, the Internet, TV and magnetic cards.  When enough people realize this and are decided to set up a system where every citizen can vote on every issue of society the 21st Century will be very different from a " rather diluted, not very participatory liberal democracy”   Today - unlike in 1968 - a leap into the most radical new world in history is possible.  DD is not utopia whereas rule by representatives of BB or BG has become dystopia.

The time - and the possibility - has arrived to replace RR, BB, and BG by DD.

 

11. Women's Liberation

Marx's prediction that revolutions of technology will cause revolutions in society, mentality, and politics, were confirmed on a massive scale by the modern women's movements. The new textile factories of the industrial revolution attracted many young women who left farms to work in factories. Industrial work and disputes with their employers over wages and working conditions united them. They began to demand the same pay and rights as men. Women from the upper and middle classes led the struggle for women's right to vote ("suffrage") but the masses of the movement were the factory workers. Most men at first opposed women's demands, arguing that their work was inferior to men's. In WW1 men left factories to serve as soldiers and the arms industry had to employ women. After WW1 their demands could no longer be ignored and they won voting rights in most European countries.

In the 20th Century more women were involved in struggles for equal rights than ever before and they won more than in all previous history. The Israeli scholar Professor Yeshayau Leibovitz (1903-1994) said in 1992:” Until the second half of the 19th century no woman had a foothold in a university, and this was the norm.   A little over a century ago there was no woman lawyer, doctor, or professor, anywhere.  In all great political revolutions, starting with the two English revolutions in the 17th century, the American Revolution in the 18th century and the French revolution at the end of the 18th century, it never occurred to revolutionaries to give women political rights.  In the second half of the 19th century, something happened that I consider as the greatest revolution in human history from the Palaeolithic age to our times - namely, that the domains of intellectual, spiritual and political life, ceased to be male affairs and became human affairs.”   (see  www.leibowitz.co.il)  

This change was due to industrialization and successes of the women’s struggles for equal rights.  These struggles - and their achievements - were not spectacular like wars or revolutions therefore many History books ignore them. Any description of history that ignores struggles concerning half of humanity is profoundly flawed. 

Successful liberation struggles liberate not only the oppressed but also the oppressors. Liberation of women from domination by men liberates men from their obsession with domination. Liberation of women redefines roles of men and women in society superseding their biological functions.  Each society defines these roles in its way.  Social roles are not imposed on humanity - or on animals - by Nature.  Biology does not define social roles. Sex differences exist in baboons and in elephants but gender roles amongst baboons are totally different from gender roles amongst elephants. If biological differences determine gender roles in society why are these roles in Islamic society different from those in Danish society?  Gender roles are imposed by society, not by biology. They can be re-defined by society. In computer terms we can say roles are defined by society’s software not by nature’s hardware.

To get an idea of the women’s liberation struggles in the 20th Century readers are advised to consult the Internet. This book gives only a brief overview of these profoundly important struggles to enable readers to view the overall process.

In the 20th Century women's struggles passed through three stages. The first began already in the 19th century during the industrial revolution in Europe and USA when women demanded equal pay and rights at work as men, and the right to vote to Parliament. Voting rights were won after WW1.  In the UK in 1918, in USA - 1920,   in France - 1944, in Switzerland - 1971.  Equal pay has still not been won everywhere

The next stage began in Europe after WW1. It aimed to legalize abortion. The invention of the birth-control pill in 1957 was a great improvement. For the first time women could enjoy sexual relations without fear of pregnancy. "The Pill" reduced the urgency of the abortion issue but the struggle to legalize abortion is far from over. The third stage began in the 1960s when women workers, lesbians, and single-parent, demanded the same social and legal rights, benefits, and opportunities that heterosexual men are entitled to. It has achieved many of its demands, but not all. Religious rulers refuse to give women the same rights as men opposing all equality.

Most history books on women's liberation written in Europe and USA ignore the great contribution of the Russian women's struggles. In February 1917 a demonstration of 80,000 women textile workers demanding Peace and Bread started the Russian revolution. In his study "Class struggle and Women's Liberation" (see the Internet)  Tony Cliff writes in Chapter 9:

"  The first conference of women convened by the Bolsheviks after the October revolution took place on 19 November 1917 (a fortnight after the revolution. A.O.)  500 delegates representing 80,000 women from factories, workshops, trade unions and party organizations attended. The conference was called specifically for mobilizing support for the Bolsheviks in the elections to the Constituent Assembly.

A year later, on 16 November 1918, the Bolshevik Party convened the first all-Russian Congress of Working Women. It was organized by a commission which included Inessa Armand, Alexandra Kollontai, Klavdiia Nikolaeva and Yakov Sverdlov (secretary of the Bolshevik Party), who sent agitators to the provinces to arrange for the local election of delegates.

In the Kremlin Hall of Unions there gathered 1,147 women, including workers and peasant women from distant regions of the country. The programme presented to the congress was impressive: to win the support of women for Soviet power; to involve women in the party, government and trade unions; to combat domestic slavery and a double standard of morality; to establish communal living accommodation in order to release women from household drudgery; to protect women’s labour and maternity; to end prostitution; to refashion women as members of the future communist society. Nikolaeva chaired the congress. Sverdlov welcomed the delegates. The main speeches were delivered by Kollontai and Inessa Armand.   Lenin addressed the congress on its fourth day. After outlining the measures already taken by the Soviet government to improve women’s conditions, he called on women to play a more active political role.   The experience of all liberation movements has shown that the success of a revolution depends on how much the women take part in it .”

The congress led to the creation of Commissions for Agitation and Propaganda among Working Women. Their special methods of political work were elaborated by Kollontai at the Eighth Congress of the party in March 1919. She explained that because most women were politically backward, the party had really not had much success in trying to approach and recruit them on the basis of general political appeals. Furthermore, she argued that it was women’s oppression which led to their lack of involvement in political life; the cares and concerns of the family and the household robbed the woman worker of her time and energy and prevented her from becoming involved in broader political and social pursuits. Kollontai proposed that the way to attract women to Bolshevism was to draw them into socially useful projects, such as day nurseries, public dining rooms and maternity homes, which would serve to liberate women in their everyday lives.

We have to conduct a struggle against conditions oppressing woman, to emancipate her as a housewife, as a mother. And this is the best approach toward women - this is agitation not only by words, but also by the deed.

This principle of political organization, which became known as “agitation by the deed”, was the distinctive feature of the activities of the Bolshevik women’s organization in this early period.   (see the Internet)

The USSR legal system was the first to give equal rights of marriage and divorce to men and women, simplifying these procedures.  It was the first to legalize abortion.

" A Decree on the Legalization of Abortions was issued in November 1920.  Soviet Russia thus became the first country in the world to legalize abortion. To protect the health of women the decree stipulated: “... such operations will be performed freely and without any charge in Soviet hospitals, where conditions are assured of minimizing the harm of the operation.”

But the laws alone were far from enough to gain women real equality. The economic foundation of the traditional family had to be assaulted. This was attempted in a set of decrees abolishing the right of inheritance and transferring the property of the deceased to the state, which was to take over “women’s work” through its communal institutions: maternity homes, nurseries, kindergartens, schools, communal dining rooms, communal laundries, mending centres and so on.  Lenin explained:

" Notwithstanding all the laws emancipating woman, she continues to be a domestic slave, because  petty housework crushes, strangles, stultifies and degrades her, chains her to the kitchen and the nursery, and she wastes her labour on barbarously unproductive, petty, nerve-racking, stultifying and crushing drudgery. The real emancipation of women, real communism, will begin only where and when an all-out struggle begins (led by the proletariat wielding the state power) against this petty housekeeping, or rather when its wholesale transformation into a large-scale socialist economy begins". ("Class struggle and women's liberation" by Tony Cliff, on the Internet)

In the USSR all jobs were open to women, (including that of fighter-pilots in the air force) and the principle of equal pay for equal work was maintained. 

One of the greatest achievements of the State-owned economy was the policy on women giving birth. In 1989 USSR law extended maternity leave to three years on full pay paid for by the State (!) at the end of which the mother could return to her former job. This law was in force until the USSR was dismantled.

All USSR factories and offices maintained child-care nurseries for their employees with full board from morning till night at a low cost.  This enabled every woman with infants below school age to work.  During Stalin's reign (1924-1953) there was a setback in marital law. Some earlier progressive rights were withdrawn even in 2007 and new laws - strengthening the nuclear family - were introduced.

"In 1936 legal abortion was abolished, except where life or health was endangered or a serious disease might be inherited. The laws of l935-6 also provided some sanctions against divorce: fees of 50, 150 and 300 roubles for the first, second and subsequent divorces. Probably more important, it required entry of the fact of divorce in the personal documents of those involved.  Sexual freedom was virulently attacked and Puritanism extolled."  ("Class struggle and women's liberation" on the Internet)    Most regulations of Stalin's era were revoked after his death.

One contribution of the women's struggles in the 1970s to liberation struggles generally merits special mention.  In the 1970s women in European-Left groups formed "women's consciousness-raising groups" to discuss women's problems without the presence of men.  This was criticized by men who supported the women's struggles. The women explained that the presence of men inhibits many women who lack the assertiveness of men.  Many women find it easier to overcome their inhibition to express themselves in public when no man is present.  When women in these groups began to describe their problems they suddenly realized that what each believed to be her private problem was shared by many other women. Before such discussions each woman thought her problems were hers alone, and her fault. On realizing that many other women had the same problems they realized it wasn't their fault but the fault of a social norm in their society. This created an awareness that what seems like a personal problem often derives from a tradition, a law, or a custom, of society. This insight was summed up in the formula: "The personal is political" meaning that often what looks like a personal problem is widespread and is therefore a problem of society as a whole, not of the particular individual. Today this may seem obvious, but in the 1970s it came as a revelation to most women - and men.

Many women outside Europe and North America do not enjoy the achievements of the women's liberation movements. Much effort is still needed till all women, everywhere, enjoy rights that many women in Europe and North America have won.

The gap between the legal rights of men and women in any society is a measure of that society's quality. All three stages of women's liberation struggles demanded equality with men.  Women demanded the same rights, roles, and incomes, as men.  Lesbians and gays demanded the same rights - and opportunities - as heterosexuals. Single parent mothers demanded the same rights as ordinary families. However, a demand for equality ignores the quality of what one wants to equalize. When Ms. Thatcher became the first woman Prime Minister in the UK she did not change the role of Prime Minister nor the condition of women. Her policy of privatisation made the conditions of most working men and women much worse.  Women did not benefit from the fact that the UK's PM was a woman. The Conservatives' views of the role of women in society (the traditional medieval view: "Children, Kitchen, Church,") crushes women's liberation. The fact that a British woman became a Prime Minister did not improve the lot of women in Britain - or the role of Prime Minister. Equal right to perform a man's role does not change the nature of that role.

In this respect one can say about women seeking equal rights to men what W.E.B. DuBois said about the blacks in the USA seeking equal rights to whites: " They are like people trying to catch a bus without asking themselves: where is this bus going? "

Equality does not change the quality of what is being equalized. 

When future struggles for women's liberation develop beyond demands for gender equality in existing roles and strive to create new modes of human behaviour, they will elevate their struggle from "women's liberation" to "human liberation", from demands for equality to the creation of new human qualities.

 

 

12. Imperialism transformed

From the 16th century onwards European rulers of BB economies, motivated by greed, sent armed expeditions around the globe to find gold, spices, slaves, and territories to plunder and to colonize. This was done by the Vikings, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French, and British. Plundering and colonizing tribal societies reached its peak in the 19th century. Modern weapons enabled tiny groups of European colonizers to defeat big tribal armies and conquer vast tracts of land.  The first use of the Maxim machine gun was by British soldiers in the First Matabele War in 1893-1894.  In one battle, 50 British soldiers ("The thin red-line") with just four Maxim guns defeated 5,000 tribal warriors. The Maxim gun played a big role in the European colonization of Africa in the late 19th century. Its lethal efficiency destroyed tribal armies lured into battle in open terrain. Hilaire Belloc boasted in a famous jingle: "Whatever happens we have got,   the Maxim gun, and they have not. "

By the end of the 19th century most of Asia and Africa were colonies of Britain, France, Holland, Belgium, or Portugal.   WW2 was Hitler's attempt to turn the USSR into a colony of Germany.  After WW2, impoverished Britain, ruling the largest colonial empire, France, Holland and Belgium, could no longer afford the cost of policing the colonized. Many colonized people began to fight for their independence.  The following Table lists the success of the various struggles for independence.

Struggles for independence, some lasting decades (30 years in India) and costing many dead (the French army killed one million Algerians in the Algerian war for Independence (1954-62) were motivated by people's desire to run their countries themselves, without foreign rulers.  Latent in this was an urge to assert their pre-colonial group-identity. This was symbolized by the pre-colonial names given to former colonies after independence, by a new anthem and a new national flag.   The Vietnamese war for independence (1940-1975) was conducted first against the Japanese (1940 - 45), then against the French (1945-54) and finally against the USA and its South Vietnam ally (1955-75). The US dropped more bombs on Vietnam than all bombs it dropped in WW2 (including on Japan) killing more than 2M Vietnamese.  US was defeated in '75. The US claimed it was fighting communist insurgency. "Domino Theory" arguments of Communist expansion were used to justify the "Cold" war.  Philip Agee, a former CIA agent in Latin America who defected, told the London paper "Guardian": "  It was a time in the 70s when the worst imaginable horrors were going on in Latin America. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, El Salvador were military dictatorships with death squads, all with the backing of the CIA and the US government."  ("The Guardian" 10/1/2007)  The same happened in South-East Asia. The Vietnamese fought for an independent, united, Vietnam.  They did not threaten the USA.   

In liberated colonies former colonizers found themselves surrounded by masses of hostile formerly colonized people who nourished justified grievances against them. The best known case is South Africa where the Boers, who emigrated from Holland in the 18th century, persistently denied Black people the right to vote to Parliament. They passed anti-Black laws instituting strict racial segregation. This regime was known as "Apartheid".  The Blacks organized themselves in the "African National Congress" (ANC) and fought under the slogan "One person - one vote". 

One leader of this struggle, Nelson Mandela, was imprisoned from 1962 to 1990.  In 1994 he became President of a non-racist South Africa.  The following Тable 4 summarizes the racial discrimination in South Africa: 

 

In 1993, after 33 years of armed struggle against Apartheid, and international boycott of South Africa, the racist regime finally caved in. A draft constitution was published, guaranteeing freedom of speech and religion, access to adequate housing and numerous other benefits, and explicitly prohibiting discrimination on almost any ground.  Finally, at midnight on 26–27 April 1994, the old flag was lowered, followed by the raising of the new rainbow flag and singing of the new anthem, "Nkosi Sikele Africa" ("God Bless Africa"). The election went off peacefully amidst a palpable feeling of goodwill throughout the country.  The ANC won 62.7% of the vote, and Nelson Mandela became President of the new South Africa. The election decided also provincial governments, and the ANC won in all but two provinces. The racists captured most of the white and Colored vote and became the official opposition party. Since then, 27 April is celebrated as a public holiday in South Africa, known as Freedom Day. Contrary to expectations the transition from the racist regime to the democratic regime passed without serious bloodshed.  Mandela forbade acts of revenge and set up a unique institution - the Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a court-like body. Anybody who felt they had been a victim of violence could come forward and be heard at the TRC. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from prosecution. The hearings made international news and many sessions were broadcast on national television. The TRC was a crucial component of the transition to full and free democracy in South Africa and, despite some flaws, is generally - though not universally - regarded as successful.  The peaceful transition from a racist colonial regime that brutally oppressed Africans for more than a century serves as an example that such a transition is possible.  It is worth noting that the Black majority in South Africa did not set up a regime that discriminates against the White minority.

In 1979 a revolution overthrew the Iranian Shah and his regime. It was led by an 80-year old Islamic clergyman, Ayatollah Khomeini. This event, known as "The Islamic Revolution" took everybody by surprise. It was utterly unexpected. It lacked all customary causes of revolution - defeat at war, economic crisis, peasant rebellion, or disgruntled military. It produced great change at great speed. It overthrew a regime protected by a loyal modern army and security service.  It replaced a secular monarchy by a theocracy.   Secular laws were replaced by religious laws.

The outcome - an Islamic Republic under the guidance of the 80-year-old exiled clergyman - was supported by popular demonstrations in the capital Teheran. This dealt a resounding blow to many reforms, and to all established theories of history. All historical theories failed to predict - or explain - this revolution.  Needless to add, no Marxist expected such a revolution a decade after lunar landings, TV, computers, heart transplants, and birth-control pills. Few realized that these inventions contributed to bringing about this revolution.  This revolution was motivated by cultural frustration not by economic misery, therefore all Marxists failed to predict it, or to explain it after it occurred.   Iran's former ruler, Shah Reza Pahlevi, came to power in 1941. He was determined to modernize Iran. Opposition to his rule came from two opposing sectors: the Left, and the Religious.  The Left opposed his aggressive capitalism. The religious opposed his anti-Islamic policies. The clergy had influence on poorer Iranians who were the most religious, most traditional, and most alienated by modernization.

Ayatollah Khomeini first came to prominence in early 1963, leading opposition to the Shah and his reforms. The shah's reforms gave voting rights to women, allowed members of religious minorities to be elected to office, and introduced laws granting women legal equality in marital issues. This caused Khomeini to declare that the Shah "is destroying Islam in Iran".

Khomeini publicly denounced the Shah as a "wretched miserable man" and was arrested on June 5, 1963. This caused major riots throughout Iran with police shooting to quell it.  Later police files admitted some 380 were killed. Khomeini was kept under house arrest for 8 months and released. He continued to agitate against the Shah on issues including Iran's close cooperation with Israel and especially the Shah's extending of diplomatic immunity to American military personnel. In 1964 Khomeini was sent into exile where he remained until the revolution.

Following the 1963 anti-western riots a period of calm followed. Those who see only events were convinced that the anti-western campaign was over, but those who see processes knew that cultural frustration of many Iranians was accumulating. Dissent was suppressed by the Savak, the Shah's secret service, but the movement for Islamic revival spread and began to undermine the Westernization that was the basis of the Shah's secular regime.  Islamic thinkers fought back with ideas. Jala Al-e Ahmad's idea of Gharbzadegi (the plague of Western culture), Shariati's leftist interpretation of Islam, and Morteza Morahhari's popularized retellings of the Shi'a faith, all spread and gained listeners, readers, supporters.  Khomeini developed and propagated his theory that Islam requires an Islamic government by wilayat al-faqih, i.e. rule by the leading Islamic jurists. In a series of lectures in early 1970, later published as a book, Khomeini argued that Islam requires obedience to religious law alone, and for this to occur Muslims must not only be guided and advised by Islamic jurists but ruled by them, i.e. the leading Islamic jurist or jurists must run the government.

The Islamic revolution in Iran was a result of cultural frustration. The Shah's campaign against Islam exacerbated the cultural frustration of Iranian Muslims but it was the flooding of society by modern Western products like TV, cars, computers, birth-control pills, Rock and Roll music, that created in many Iranians the feeling that their identity was eroding. This brings to mind Marx's comment in the Communist Manifesto that the Bourgeoisie and " the cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese Walls".  However, it isn't just the prices but the commodities themselves that batter all traditional cultural identities. The Internet, TV, mobile phones, and birth-control pills, are not just 'commodities'. The birth-control pill is not just one more commodity like a shirt. Western commodities undermine traditional culture and taboos imposed on sexual relations by all religions.  All religions insist on sex for procreation, denouncing sex for pleasure as a sin. Birth-control pills (1957) enabled women to enjoy sex without fear of pregnancy. Women enjoying sex for pleasure are an abomination in all religions. Youth everywhere loves the new sexual freedom. The clergy everywhere hates it.  No wonder all traditional cultural identities (including Western ones) are eroding.   Add to this the flood of Western films seen on TV everywhere, when most traditional cultures discriminate against women and denounce kissing in public as pornography. Youth ignoring traditional taboos threatens every 'Group Identity'. Traditionalists realize their cultures are losing their grip on the mind of their young. The great anthropologist Ruth Benedict described this in a short interview with an old Indian Chief in the USA :   " A Chief of the 'Digger Indians' as the Californians call them, talked to me a great deal about the ways of his people in the old days. He was a Christian and a leader among his people … but when he talked of the Shamans who had transformed themselves into bears before his eyes in the bear dance his hands trembled and his voice broke with excitement. It was an incomparable thing the power his people had had in the old days.    … One day, without transition, Ramon broke his descriptions of grinding mesquite and preparing acorn soup.  "In the beginning",  he said, "God gave every people a cup, a cup of clay, and from this cup they drank their life" … In the mind of this humble Indian this figure of speech was clear and full of meaning.  "They all dipped in the water" he continued, "but their cups were different. Our cup is broken now.     It has passed away." …  He did not mean that there was any question of the extinction of his people. But he had in mind the loss of something that had equal value to that of loss of life itself, the whole fabric of his people's standards and beliefs. There were other cups of life left and they held perhaps the same water, but the loss was irreparable.  It was no matter of tinkering with an addition here, lopping off something there. The modeling had been fundamental, it was somehow all of a piece.  It had been their own". ("An anthropologist remembers" by Margaret Mead. Houghton Mifflin. .N.Y 1959,  p. 38)

Actually, it had been their sense of "Us".  Its loss is the loss of their (group) identity. The group, not the individuals, loses its uniqueness, and therefore ceases to exist.

Animals exist without being aware of existing.   Socialized human beings are aware of existing. This awareness has two modes: 1) An individual mode, and 2) A group mode. Individuals are aware of being different from other individuals, from parents, brothers, sisters, friends.  Group existence depends on the awareness of individuals that they belong to a particular group (a tribe, a nation, a faith, gender, a music band or a sports club) different from other groups.  Awareness of identity is awareness of uniqueness.  Group identity motivates politics. The British working class sense of "Us and Them" is an example. Without a sense of class-identity there is no class struggle, only economic struggle.    Today the sense of "Us" is eroding in all cultural groups.

All cultural groups today undergo a process of erosion of their group-identity. Groups whose identities erode split into three: 1) Isolationists. 2) Assimilationists. 3) Adaptationists.  Isolationists try to preserve traditional identity by efforts to isolate themselves from any change. Assimilationists give up their traditional identity and assimilate into the majority's identity. Adaptationists try to adapt the traditional identity to the new circumstances by accepting some change. This cannot preserve the former identity.  Isolationists see change in traditional group-identity as its extinction, but today most young people seek change. Lack of change implies continuation of outdated cultural constraints. When group-identity changes isolationists feel attacked. They are indeed attacked, not physically but culturally. The attack is from within, not from outside.  Isolationists become sects fixated on some "Eternal Truth". In today's world most young people seek change of music, morality, dress, and image. Blaming the "West" for generating cultural change is no cure. It is a rearguard Defence action. It doesn't slow down the process of cultural change. The Tsunami of Western products shows no sign of abating, with the Internet, mobile phones, and music MP pods as its latest artillery, the process of change in all cultures cannot be stopped. Conflicts between Isolationists and Adaptationists exist within every traditional culture. No act of revenge inflicted on Western culture by Isolationists will stop the Tsunami of Western products flooding all cultures. No acts of despair like destroying the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11, 2001 will stop the process of change in all civilizations. Despite all efforts by supporters of the veil those who reject the veil will prevail. Eroding group-identities cannot be preserved, protected, isolated, or resurrected.   The only viable alternative is to replace the outdated cultural identity by a new group-identity.   This is no easy task but there is no other way. Attempts to provide political solutions to cultural problems are doomed to failure. Cultural problems require cultural solutions.

In the last quarter of the 20th Century imperialism has transformed itself. Instead of using military force US prefers economic means of cheap - even free - grain (relieving the US of its surpluses) to feed many countries who thus become dependent on the US for grain.  IMF and World Bank loans now force most former colonies to work for repaying interest and loans. This retains imperialism in a benign disguise.

 

13.   POLITICS  OF  POISONING

As soon as the steam engine changed production methods, industrial by-products began to pollute the soil, the water, and the air.  Today the air we breathe, the water we drink, and almost everything we eat contains chemicals accumulating to quantities harmful to our health. One of the first to draw attention to industrial pollution and warn about its consequences was Marx's co-worker Friedrich Engels. Although he was a socialist advocating a state-owned economy his warnings were ignored by all state-owned economies.  Some of whom became major polluters.  During the 150 years since the industrial revolution industrial pollution has become a major health hazard to all living organisms everywhere on the planet.  

Industrial pollution has become particularly acute in the second half of the 20th Century.  In 1962 American zoologist Rachel Carson published her book "Silent Spring" which launched the modern anti-pollution movement.  The book was widely read and inspired public concern about pesticides affecting insects and birds. It brought about the ban of the pesticide DDT in 1972 in the United States.  

Carson proposed a biotic approach to pest control as an alternative to DDT, arguing that DDT had been found to cause thinner egg shells and result in birds' reproductive problems and death.  She accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation about DDT and public officials of accepting industry’s claims uncritically.  Her claim highlighted the lethal combination of two accomplices 1) Directors of industry and 2) State officials. Both provide motives and means to by-pass public concern about pollution. In 1971 an international environmental organization called "Greenpeace" was founded in Vancouver, Canada. Most people at that time viewed its activities as esoteric but as the American anthropologist Margaret Mead said:" Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens, can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” "Greenpeace" gained credibility for its campaigns to stop nuclear bomb testing, pollution, and hunting causing extinction of many species.   Later the focus of "Greenpeace" turned to other environmental issues, like sea-bottom trawling, global warming, forest destruction, nuclear waste, and genetic engineering. "Greenpeace" now has national and regional offices in 45 countries worldwide.

In 1985 Greenpeace organized a protest against France's nuclear bomb testing at Moruroa atoll in the Pacific Ocean. This prompted the French government to sink the Greenpeace ship "Rainbow Warrior", in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1985.

The Warrior had sailed from the North Pacific where it assisted the evacuation of the inhabitants of Rongelap Atoll in the Marshall Islands, who suffered health damage from radioactive fallout from American nuclear testing during the 1950s and 1960s. Greenpeace planned to send a flotilla of vessels protesting against imminent French nuclear bomb tests at Moruroa.  On the evening of July 10 1985 French frogmen attached bombs to the hull of the ship. Rainbow Warrior sank, killing Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira. New Zealand police traced the bombing to Major Alain Mafart and Captain Dominique Prieure of the French Secret Service, posing as a Swiss honeymoon couple. New-Zealand police arrested them but attempts of New Zealand authorities to extradite their superiors from France, failed. The French government initially denied any involvement in the bombing, but pressure from French and international media forced it to admit, on September 22, that the French secret service carried out the bombing. Subsequent investigations revealed that Christine Cabon, a French secret service agent, infiltrated the Auckland office of Greenpeace New Zealand, posing as a volunteer, in order to gather information about Greenpeace’s plans.  The fact that French nuclear weapons have no military purpose, not even as a "deterrent", compounds the absurdity of this crime. This episode shows how far governments will go to foil legitimate acts of protest by citizens

Today we suffer from air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, radioactive contamination, noise pollution, and global warming caused by carbon fuel emissions. Pollution effects are no longer confined to local areas. They have become global. Problems of smog in major cities are compounded by global weather changes due to global warming and melting of the icecaps at the poles. The entire planet is continuously contaminated and poisoned by industrial waste. The Internet has much material on this and those concerned should consult it. Former US Vice-President Al Gore made an important film on global warming available on the Internet at http://movies.peekvid.com/s4055/.    It reveals horrifying global hazards. 

A recent case highlighting the political aspects of this issue is that of General Motors' electrical car EV1 (see "Who killed the electric car?" on the Internet).  In 1989 research found that in Los-Angeles alone 25% of the people aged 16-25 suffer chronic lung diseases like cancer, coughing, asthma, etc. The State of California passed a law (1990) that by 1998 only car manufacturers offering 2% of their cars with Zero Poisonous Emission would be allowed to sell cars in California.  To jump this hurdle GM built the EV1 (Electric Vehicle 1) car and also filed a suit in court demanding the repeal of this law. President Bush’s administration also filed a law suit to repeal this law. By 1996 GM had built 1100 EV1s and leased them to people in California for $250 - $500 per month. The EV1 is driven only by an electric motor powered by batteries and emits no gasses. It is silent, needs almost no maintenance, is cheap to manufacture and simple to use. There was considerable demand for this car. On 24/4/2003 GM won its case and the law was annulled.  In 2005 GM called back all the EV1s. As these cars were leased on a non-renewable 3-year lease, they were all returned to GM despite the demand for more cars.  By March 15, 2005 the last 78 in storage had been transferred to GM's desert "Proving Grounds" in Mesa, Arizona where they were crushed. GM even collected the specimen exhibited in a transport museum.  Some light on the Federal law suit against California's Zero Emission law is shed by the fact that President Bush’s White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr., who filed the lawsuit against California's zero-emission law, is a former GM lobbyist. Vice President Richard Cheney is a major shareholder in Halliburton Energy Services, a multinational oil-corporation based in Houston, Texas, and Condoleezza Rice, Bush's Secretary of State was a member of the Board of directors of Chevron Oil Corporation.  Bush's fight against the Zero Emission law makes sense. Once again the lethal combination of  BB economy and rule by representatives managed to sidestep citizens' struggles against pollution.

Oil-companies fearing reduced sales and car manufacturers fearing reduced profits (as electric cars use only an electrical motor and no 4-stroke engine or gear box) fought against the Zero Emission law. They used their influence on political representatives, and won. When electric cars become popular use of petrol will drop sharply so oil-companies do their best to postpone this development. Oil companies' response to global warming caused by burnt petrol is like tobacco growers and cigarette manufacturers' response to cancer caused by smoking. They demand freedom to sell profitable products despite all the damage they cause people and the planet.

Big business sacrificing peoples' health at the altar of profit is nothing new. The wars waged by Britain against China in the 19th century for the right to sell opium freely in China are a clear and typical example. The following description is from the excellent Internet site of Ken Anderson on The British Empire.

Opium had long been grown in India but the British "East India Company" turned it into an immense industry.  No land in the provinces of India, Bihar and Benares could be sown with poppies without the company’s permission and not an ounce of opium could leave India without passing through the company’s control.

In 1821, the district of Sarun, in Bihar province, had between 5000 and 6500 acres of the poppies; by 1829 this had risen to 12,000 acres. At the company’s depot the opium was pressed into fist-sized cake, wrapped in a crust of dried poppy leaves and packed into wooden chests.  The average chest contained about 125 lbs. An opium addict was expected to consume 40 grains per day; one chest therefore represented a month’s supply for 8,000 addicts.  However it must be noted that addiction can come from twenty or even ten grains per day; at forty grains a day, an addict is in a very bad way.  It is estimated that there were between 10 and 12 million addicts in China by the 1840’s.  The East India Company strove to minimize addiction in India, directing its opium to China.  It wrote in 1817 to the governor in Bengal expressing hope that ’His measurers would tend to restrain the use of this pernicious drug”.  In that year the directors of the East India Company sold over 500,000 lbs of opium to Chinese smugglers.  The East India Co. treated India's growers as serfs.  In 1839 a grower was paid three and a half rupees (6 shillings) for a 29.5 oz of raw opium. A grower earned less than three pence a day during the harvest which rarely lasted more than a fortnight. A share-cropper with wife and three children might hope to earn 13 shillings as one years' income from growing opium. In 1837 it cost the company about £15 to produce a chest of opium on its own territory and bring it to Calcutta. There it was auctioned to exporters. Theoretically the company’s responsibility for the opium ended at Calcutta wharves. From 1800 to 1837 the company made average profits of 465% from its opium auctions in Calcutta.

In 1830 a missionary in China noted the booming opium trade off Lintin Island: “the boats are seldom interfered with as the ‘free traders’ can afford to pay the mandarins much better for not fighting than the government will for doing their duty.  The Chinese coast from Macao to Chusan is now the cruising ground of twenty opium ships.  In Macao besides several houses engaged in the sale of opium on a large scale, fifty or sixty smaller dealers distribute it as ‘catty’ or ‘cake’ and preparation of the drug for smoking gives employment to ten time more Chinese."

Because so many Cantonese were involved in the opium business, as middlemen, dealers, processors and smokers, the English traders enjoyed their support. In fact, Chinese sentiment in Canton did not turn against the English until 1841, when the hardships of war made themselves felt. Buying opium cancelled out China’s positive trade balance, paid for by tea. The drain on China’s silver reserves threatened inflation and caused friction between the envoys in London, Peking and Canton.

The English trade superintendent, Captain Charles Elliot, neither backed nor controlled the opium smugglers. His powers were vague, his ammunition blanks.  Lord Palmerston the British Foreign Secretary (later Prime Minister) instructed the first Canton superintendent Lord Napier in 1834, “It is not desirable that you should encourage such adventures as opium smuggling but neither have you any authority to interfere or protect them”. This waffling showed Britain's lack of policy.  The situation drifted, and a Peking official proposed legalizing the opium trade.  He argued that since the trade could not be stopped, it was better to admit the drug, tax it and stop the outflow of silver bullion, by making opium saleable only by barter; but the Emperor sacked the official expressing these views.  Eventually by way of a great show, a number of Chinese opium dealers were executed.  This did nothing to stop the drug piling up but did throw the Cantonese market into panic.  In 1838 the Viceroy got another imperial reprimand, and to exonerate himself he seized a few cases of opium and expelled two notorious traders; one was William Jardine, owner of Jardine Mathieson & Co. (who later founded Hong-Kong as an opium export outpost in China and used profits from opium to found the biggest Bank in Hong-Kong). Meanwhile Captain Elliot closed the warehouses and cleared the Canton River of opium ships. He assured the Chinese government there would be no more British intervention to help opium smugglers.   He was wrong.

New Years' Day 1839 saw the arrival of memos from the ‘Vermilion pencil of the Celestial Throne’ of China proclaiming the death penalty for opium smoking.  A new commissioner named Lin Tse-hsu, arrived in Canton in March 1839.  He had emerged from poverty to become one of the most powerful scholars and officials in imperial China.  He told the Canton traders what he was going to do and then did it.  This left the English, used to years of paper threats from Peking, flabbergasted/шокирани, смаяни. Lin was un-bribable. He spent his first week in Canton probing the opium trade and issuing orders to the Chinese. The English thought it was grossly peremptory/безапелационен but Lin explained that “imperial laws of the Manchu dynasty applied to barbarians equally as they did to the citizens of China”.     "Barbarians" meant "Foreigners".

In response Palmerston prepared a war. On September 4th 1840 there was a skirmish between British and Chinese ships in the Canton estuary, which the Chinese claimed as a victory but in fact no one was hurt. On November 3rd, a more serious engagement took place off Chuenpi.  The Chinese lost a dozen of their ships.

Lin briskly asked to be visited by Lancelot Dent of Dent & co., the biggest eastern trader after Jardine Mathieson.  Four days passed and Dent did not enter Canton to see the commissioner. Lin began to assemble Chinese troops on the Canton river.  Dent still failed to appear.  Lin lost interest in Dent and decided the man he wanted was Elliot.  By the evening of the 24th when Elliot dropped anchor, Lin had surrounded the foreigners' compound with soldiers and the English were now imprisoned. No one could get in or out. The whole foreign community in Canton was hostage to opium.  Elliot, un-armed, (a fact which Lin did not believe) did the only thing he could and gave in.  He agreed to hand over the opium and committed the British government to compensate opium traders for their losses.  All opium in the Canton area - 20,283 chests - was now theoretically in Lin’s hands.  Lin now sent new demands to Elliot, who read them with horror. Her Majesty’s government must not only withdraw from the opium trade but stop making opium. Any vessel carrying opium in Chinese waters would be confiscated.

On June 21st a British Navy force appeared off Macao; 20 warships carried 4,000 troops. It anchored for a few days, then sailed away and the Chinese thought they had returned home. They were wrong. The British had sailed north to attack the port of Tinghai. The people there had no hint of British plans. They assumed the vessels were opium carriers and were pleased that the trade was coming to their town. Then the fleet opened fire. Nine minutes later the broadsides/залпове from 15 cruisers turned most of Tinghai into rubble. English troops landed and swept through the town.  The English occupied Chusan which, they had wanted all along.  The Chinese forces with their outdated weaponry and their ancient belief in their spiritual superiority stood no chance against the British forces. Soon Shanghai at the mouth of the Yangtse river fell to the British in June. The British then sailed into Nanking.  On August 29th 1842, The Treaty of Nanking was signed and the Opium War was over.

This war was a taste of what was to come after the British Expeditionary force arrived on June 21st 1840.  The Chinese had no idea of what they were facing and their contempt for foreigners ruined their strategic planning.  Chinese officers took the English musket as a sign of weakness.  The sight of a British steam-powered paddle-wheeler was so novel that the Chinese sailors were thunderstruck when they saw it.

 The treaty of Nanking imposed on the Chinese was weighted entirely to the British side. Its first and fundamental demand was for British "extra-territoriality" this meant that all British citizens would be subjected to British, not Chinese, law if they committed any crime on Chinese soil.    The British would no longer have to pay tribute to the imperial administration in order to trade with China, and they gained five open ports for British trade: Canton, Shanghai, Foochow, Ningpo, and Amoy. No restrictions were placed on British trade, and, as a consequence, the opium trade more than doubled in the three decades following the Treaty of Nanking. The treaty established England as the "most favoured nation" trading with China; this granted to Britain any trading rights granted to other countries. Two years later, China was forced to sign similar treaties with France and the United States.

Lin Tse-hsü was disgraced and was sent to a remote appointment in Turkestan. In a series of letters he began to urge the imperial government to adopt Western technology, arms, and methods of warfare. He was the first to see that the war was won by technological superiority. His influence, however, dwindled to nothing, so his admonitions fell on deaf ears. It wasn't until a second Opium War with England that Chinese officials began to take seriously the adoption of Western technologies.

Even after the Treaty of Nanking, the British were incensed by what they felt were treaty violations. The Chinese were angered by mass emigration of Chinese nationals to America and the Caribbean to work in slave labour conditions. These conflicts turned into a war in 1856 that ended in 1860. A second set of treaties imposed on China further humiliated the imperial Chinese government. Most humiliating were the legalization of opium and the unrestricted propagation of Christianity in all regions of China (see: http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/kenanderson/histemp/chinaopium.html  ).      

The Opium wars cast doubts on the concept of "civilization". What is so civilized in forcibly imposing addiction on others for profit?  When Gandhi was asked what he thought of "Western civilization" he replied: "It will be a good thing"

Selling opium and cigarettes is motivated by the quest for profits by BB economies. However, big government economies, seeking power rather than profits, are big polluters too, as can be seen from the table below.   State officials managing industry do not behave differently from managers of private industries. See Table 5

 

The two top curves show China and USA, the third - Russia. Both USA's BB and China's BG fail to introduce measures to reduce pollution because their politicians - like all politicians - are concerned more about their power than about citizens’ health. Their power, like that of industry managers depends on increasing production.

The only way to abolish this pattern of behaviour is by setting up a political system where all citizens - not politicians - decide all issues of society. 

Facing the ominous pollution by emission of gases causing global warming, the UN started to convene conferences and formulate treaties committing UN member nations to reduce pollution, especially emission gases causing global warming.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC) is an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the "Earth Summit", held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The treaty aimed at reducing emissions of gases causing global warming (GHG).  The treaty as originally framed set no limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual nations and contained no enforcement provisions; it is therefore considered legally non-binding. It included provisions for updates (called "protocols") that would set mandatory emission limits. The principal update is the Kyoto Protocol, which is better known than the UNFCCC itself. It was opened for signature on May 9, 1992. It entered into force on March 21 1994.  Its stated objective is "to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a low enough level to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."  Signatories are split into three groups:

Industrialized countries

Industrial countries which pay for costs of developing countries

Developing countries.

Industrial countries agreed to reduce their emissions (particularly carbon dioxide) to levels below their 1990 emissions levels. If they cannot do so, they must buy emission credits or invest in conservation.

Developing countries have no immediate restrictions under the UNFCCC. This serves three purposes:

It avoids restrictions on growth because pollution is strongly linked to industrial growth, and developing economies can potentially grow very fast.

It means that they cannot sell emissions credits to industrialized nations to permit those nations to over-pollute.

They get money and technologies from the developed countries.

Developing countries are not expected to implement their commitments under the Convention unless developed countries provide funding and technology, and this has lower priority than economic development and dealing with poverty.

Some opponents of the Convention argue that the split between developed and developing countries is unfair, and that both developing countries and developed countries need to reduce their emissions. Some countries claim that their costs of following the Convention requirements impose a burden too big for their economy.

These were some of the reasons given by President George W. Bush of the United States for not forwarding the signed Kyoto Protocol to the United States Senate.

On September 8, 1992 President Bush (father of the  President George W. Bush) gave the UNFCCC to the U.S. Senate for ratification, and the Foreign Relations Committee approved the treaty (Senate Exec. Report 102-55) October 1, 1992. The Senate ratified it on October 7 1992, with a two-thirds majority vote. President Bush signed the ratification on October 13, 1992, depositing it with U.N. Secretary General.

According to the UNFCCC, having received over 50 countries' ratification, it entered into force March 24, 1994. Since then signatories have been meeting annually in Conferences of the Parties (COP) to assess progress in dealing with climate change, and beginning in the mid-1990s, to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol to establish legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted by COP-3 in December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, after intensive negotiations. Most industrialized nations and some central European economies in transition agreed to legally binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of an average of 6 to 8% below 1990 levels between the years 2008-2012, defined as the first emissions budget period. The United States would be required to reduce its total emissions by an average of 7% below 1990 levels; however neither the Clinton administration nor the (later) Bush administration sent the protocol to Congress for ratification. The Bush administration explicitly rejected the protocol in 2001. The protocol was opened for signature December 11 1997 in Kyoto, Japan and entered into force February 16 2005.  

US President George W. Bush has indicated that he does not intend to submit the treaty for ratification, not because he does not support the Kyoto principles, but because of the exemption granted to China (the world's second largest emitter of carbon dioxide). Bush also opposes the treaty because of the strain he believes the treaty would put on the economy; he emphasizes the uncertainties which he asserts are present in the climate change issue. Furthermore, the U.S. is concerned with broader exemptions of the treaty. For example, the U.S. does not support the split between Industrial countries and Developing countries.

Bush said of the treaty:    "This is a challenge that requires a 100% effort; ours, and the rest of the world's. The world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases is the People's Republic of China. Yet, China was entirely exempted from the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol.   India and Germany are among the top emitters. Yet, India was also exempt from Kyoto … America's unwillingness to embrace a flawed treaty should not be read by our friends and allies as any abdication of responsibility. To the contrary, my administration is committed to a leadership role on the issue of climate change … Our approach must be consistent with the long-term goal of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere."

The atmosphere polluting gases (GHG) data tables contain estimates for: CO2 - Carbon dioxide.  CH4 – Methane. N2O - Nitrous oxide. PFCs - Perfluorocarbons   HFCs – Hydrofluorocarbons.    SF6 - Sulphur hexafluoride.

The data contain the most recently submitted information, covering the period from 1990 to 2004, to the extent the data have been provided. 

Results of Kyoto to Date

Below is a list of the change in GHG emissions from 1990 to 2004 for some countries that are part of the Climate Change Convention as reported by the UN – Table 6

 

Comparing total greenhouse gas emissions in 2004 to 1990 levels, the US emissions were up by 16%, with irregular fluctuations from one year to another but a general trend to increase. At the same time, the EU group of 23 (EU-23) Nations had reduced their emissions by 5%   In addition; the EU-15 group of nations (a large subset of EU-23) reduced their emissions by 0.8% between 1990 and 2004, while emissions rose 2.5% from 1999 to 2004. 

COP-4 took place in Buenos Aires in November 1998. It had been expected that the remaining issues unresolved in Kyoto would be finalized at this meeting. However, the difficulty of getting US agreement proved insurmountable, so the parties adopted a 2-year "Plan of Action" to advance efforts and devise mechanisms for implementing the Kyoto Protocol, to be completed by 2000.

When the COP-6 negotiations resumed in 2001, in Bonn, Germany, no progress had been made on resolving the differences that had produced an impasse in The Hague. However, this meeting took place after President George W. Bush had become the U.S. President, and had rejected the Kyoto Protocol in March; as a result the United States delegation to this meeting declined to participate in the negotiations related to the Protocol, and chose to act as observers at that meeting. As the other parties negotiated the key issues, agreement was reached on most of the major political issues, to the surprise of most observers, given the low level of expectations that preceded the meeting.  .

At the COP-7 meeting in Marrakech, Morocco October 29-November 10 2001, negotiators in effect completed the work of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, finalizing most of the operational details and setting the stage for nations to ratify the Protocol. The completed package of decisions is known as the Marrakech Accords. The United States delegation continued to act as observers, declining to participate in active negotiations. Other parties continued to express their hope that the United States would re-engage in the process at some point, but indicated their intention to seek ratification of the requisite number of countries to bring the Protocol into force (55 countries representing 55% of developed country emissions of carbon dioxide in 1990). A target date for bringing the Protocol into force was put forward: ­the August-September 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 11) took place in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 2005.  It was the first Meeting of the Parties (MOP) since their initial meeting in Kyoto in 1997. It was the largest conference on climate change ever. 10,000 delegates attended.. It marked the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol. 

COP 12 was held in Nairobi, Kenya from 6 to 17 November 2006. At the meeting, the phrase "Climate tourists" was coined to describe delegates who came to see Africa, take snaps of the wildlife, of poor, dying African children and women.

UN efforts are not up to expectation given the current rate of growth of pollution and its hazards. This does not mean that Humanity as a whole is responsible for pollution.  Most people everywhere desire to curb and minimize pollution. Only a tiny minority seeking profits or power subverts this desire. The power of this minority cannot be abolished by elected representatives. They are prone to the pressures of industrial interests diverting them from protecting public health at the expense of polluters.   

Only direct voting by all citizens on all issues of pollution can be free from pressures by industry directors subverting efforts to maintain a clean, unpolluted, environment and planet.

Until all citizens - not their representatives - decide anti-pollution policy, anti-pollution activists can contribute by organizing and coordinating - via the Internet - a global boycott by citizens all over the planet of products of major polluters.

 

14. Big Business  or  Big Government?  Privatisation or Nationalisation?

 

On December 24, 1991 the USSR was still a "union" of fifteen republics. Next day, on December 25, 1991 the USSR Parliament decreed this union void and the USSR ceased to exist. There were no mass demonstrations protesting against this decision, no confrontations between civilians and the army and no civil war. 

For three generations Lenin’s one-party state educated and shaped its citizens’ mentality. Every schoolbook, newspaper, radio or TV program, all books films, theatre plays, or concerts USSR citizens were allowed to see had passed strict censorship by the state. This state provided all citizens with guaranteed employment (some of it forced) decent pensions, housing, health-care and education (including University).   This was big government.

Yet despite all this USSR citizens did not rise to defend their state when it was dissolved in 1991, unlike in 1919 when many tried to bring back the Tsar’s regime.                       In 1919 there was a two-year civil war trying to reinstate the Tsar's regime.                In 1991 no one fought a civil war to bring back Lenin’s regime.

When the USSR Parliament voted to dismantle the Union of 15 Socialist Republics into its constituent republics, its space-station Mir was circling earth with two Soviet cosmonauts aboard - Sergey Krikalev and Alexander Volkov. They were due to return to earth a few days later. When their return date arrived the USSR no longer existed and there was no one to cover the costs of their return. They were stuck in space till a way was found to pay for their return. Krikalev and Volkov remained "the last Soviet citizens" since down on earth the demise of the USSR terminated Soviet citizenship. Mir was a brilliant invention; it was - like the cosmonauts - a success.  The USSR space program was a success. It did not fail. What failed was the BG one-party state that managed it. When that state collapsed it stopped managing its economy and all its projects, so the space program was temporarily stopped. This was not due to some fault of the space program itself.  Nor was the USSR treasury bankrupt. It was due to the demise of the old management of the space program.  This happened also to the state-owned economy. Like the space program it stopped due to the demise of the state that managed it. It stopped like a train whose driver is dismissed. Most USSR citizens rejected their BG one-party state but not the socialized economy or space programme. Dissolving the BG state terminated all its projects. Unlike the USA where politics depend on economics in the USSR economics depended on politics. 

The state-owned economy in the USSR had amazing achievements.  It started - in 1921 - to build a new economic foundation for a ruined agricultural country.  In WW1 2 million Russian peasant-soldiers died, and another 5 million became disabled. Fields lay waste, there was hunger in the cities. The German occupation ravaged hundreds of towns and villages. Two revolutions in 1917 destroyed all the administration of the country. Offices, documents, and practices that used to administer 150 million people were destroyed.  New - inexperienced - people began to administer the economy in new - untested - ways.  British, French, American, and Japanese troops invaded Russia trying to topple Lenin’s regime. When they failed they armed and financed Tsarist generals to start a civil war lasting two years (1919-1921). This further ruined the country, parts of which changed hands many times. At certain moments Lenin’s regime existed only in St.Petersburg and Moscow. All the rest of the country was held by enemies of the revolution. Only in 1921 did the fighting end and the regime began to build a new economic base from scratch without any help from abroad. Moreover, Britain, France and the USA imposed an economic boycott on the USSR to strangle its economy. No foreign Bank was willing to lend the USSR money. Yet despite all this, in a mere 17 years, the USSR became a major industrial power manufacturing more tractors, tanks, and combines than Germany.   Canals were dug, power stations and the electricity grid were built, rails laid, steel plants constructed, and plants to construct ships, locomotives, airplanes, trucks, pumps. Hundreds of new schools, hospitals, and housing estates were built.   All this with very few engineers trained in the former Tsarist regime.  This was done - before labor camps existed - by many young volunteers, under the leadership of dedicated planners like Piatakov and Preobrazhensky, and a great organizer like Ordjonikidze, all inspired by Lenin’s motto: “Socialism is rule by workers Committees plus the electricity grid”.  The volunteers were enthusiastic even though the Committees were run by the Party, not by the workers. Moreover, Lenin’s one-party state hampered industrialization by its bureaucratic practices: 1) It appointed managers loyal to the Party rather than to their economic task.  2) It appointed political overseers to control workers, curbing their initiative and creativity. Stalin feared any independent initiative and assassinated those he suspected of having it. Despite these obstacles the rapid industrialization succeeded. In the first decade of industrialization the obstacles were overcome by genuine revolutionaries who refused to obey the party blindly and by the enthusiasm of the youth inspired by the task of creating a new society. Stalin assassinated most original revolutionaries in his show trials in 1936-38. He killed Piatakov and Preobrazhensky. Ordjonikidze committed suicide. Stalin took the credit for industrialization, terrorized the Party, and turned it into his rubber stamp.        After 1937 only those obeying him blindly got leadership posts.

Starting in 1928, the first ‘Five-Year plans’ built the foundation for a heavy industry in Russia’s underdeveloped economy without waiting years for capital to accumulate through the expansion of light industry, and without reliance on external financing. The country was industrialized at an unbelievable pace, surpassing Germany’s pace of industrialization in the nineteenth century and Japan’s early in the twentieth. After the reconstruction of the economy, and after the initial plans of further industrialization were fulfilled, the rate of growth slowed down, but it still surpassed most of the other countries in terms of total material production (GDP) until the period of Brezhnev stagnation in the second half of the 1970s.     

Industrialization came with expansion of medical and educational services, which improved labor productivity. Many new hospitals were built. Diseases like typhoid, cholera and malaria, disappeared; numbers of doctors and engineers increased as rapidly as facilities and training would permit; and death and infant mortality rates steadily decreased.   

The state-owned, planned economy grew from the early 1930s to the 1970s.  The USSR became the world's leading producer of oil, coal, iron ore, cement, manganese, gold, diamonds, natural gas and other minerals. Part of this was achieved by slave-labour of GULAG prisoners.       

Growth slowed after 1960 but this was considered characteristic of a mature, industrialized economy. However, Moscow planning ministries had failed to loosen their control at enterprise level, thus causing the stagnation of the 1970s-80s which showed signs of becoming a chronic problem. "Pakazukha" (see p. 104) became endemic. The USSR planned economy was not tailored to the demands of the modern economy it had helped to forge. As the economy grew, the control of party planners in Moscow over every enterprise in the country strangled the economy. It curbed local initiative and creativity. The cumbersome procedures of bureaucratic administration by a single centre blocked free communication at the enterprise level, curbed creativity and initiative, causing alienation of workers and customers. Calls for greater freedom for local managers to deal directly with suppliers and customers were ignored. This caused stagnation of the economy and frustration of the population. After dissolution of the USSR all former Soviet republics scrapped their Soviet-era systems of centralized planning and state ownership, ruining the economy and breeding massive corruption.    The State-owned, planned, economy of the USSR had achievements no BB economy had made. In 1957 it was the first to launch a satellite - “Sputnik” - to circle earth.  This stunned the entire world and drew world wide respect.   In 1989 USSR's BG passed a law granting women a 3-year maternity leave paid by the state.    In USA, the world's richest BB economy, no law grants women any maternity leave even today.      The BG one-party system damaged the efficiency of the state-owned economy and limited its capabilities. Employees loyal to their superiors were preferred to those loyal to their job. The nature of the state determined the nature of its economy. "Pakazukha" ruled. A socialized economy can function incomparably better in a non-party state (see Chapter 13).

This does not relieve us of the need to discuss the pros and cons of state participation in the economy. In the 20th Century the controversy between supporters of state participation in the economy and their opponents passed through four stages: 1) before WW1, state participation in the economy was not taken seriously.  2) In the 1930s,  following the Russian revolution, the US "Great Depression", Roosevelt's' "New Deal", and the emergence of the USSR as a major industrial power, economists began to see state participation in the economy as essential for reducing unemployment and increasing production. 3) After WW2 and the nationalisation of coal, steel, railways, and the Bank of England, by the Labour Party in Britain in 1945, and the creation of the state-owned, planned, National Health System, a state-owned, planned, sector in the economy was introduced in most European economies. Many new States in Asia and Africa did the same. 4) From 1976 onwards, there was growing criticism of state-participation in the economy. In the 1980s Britain's P.M. Margaret Thatcher, and US President Ronald Reagan began to sell socialized enterprises to private owners. Branches of the UK economy like coal, gas, railways, telephone services, were sold off to private owners. The argument for doing this was that socialized enterprises are inefficient, unprofitable, and waste tax-payers’ money. The debate between supporters of the two systems was renewed. Supporters of the BB were on the attack.

One reason for this was the effect of electronic computers on the economy.  The electronic digital computer was invented in WW2 to speed up calculations of weather forecasts (for aerial bombing), shell trajectories, and nuclear processes. At first computers were very few, very big, very expensive, and very prone to stoppages due to burnt out triode switches. When transistor switches were introduced (1956) computers became smaller, cheaper, reliable and numerous. By mid-1960s every Bank, Insurance Company, University, and factory had one.  In the 1970s they began to replace workers in industry.  Computer-controlled machines made thousands of industrial workers redundant. A new phenomenon of increased production linked to increased unemployment baffled many. Hitherto production and employment rose and fell together.  This was the basic idea of J.M. Keynes (see below) who argued in the 1930s that state-intervention in the BB economy is required for turning a fall in production and employment (predicted by Marx) into a growth of both. Most BB economies accepted Keynes's ideas. But in the 1970s, for the first time, production rose but employment fell.  BB economies became afflicted with a new problem of rising productivity coupled to falling employment. Advocates of BB economies used this as an argument against Keynesian state-participation in the economy. The solution of this “riddle” is simple: when BB replaced worker-driven machines by computer-driven machines (in the printing, textile, and metal, industries) they sacked workers yet increased the pace and duration of production. When less workers produce more goods, profits grow but so does unemployment. Technological innovation had occurred before the 1970s but those made redundant by it could find new employment. When printing technology was computerized in the 1970s thousands of redundant, middle-aged, print workers, could not find new employment. This was a result not of modernization but of BB's greed. A labour-saving device can be used to reduce working hours rather than jobs. Thus its benefits will be shared by all workers. This possibility was never discussed. Computer-driven machines could cut working hours - not jobs. Profits would still rise.  Workers can be re-trained for new jobs, not sacked. The rise of unemployment in the "Welfare Sate" despite government ownership of some sectors, and the USSR collapse in 1991, were used by advocates of BB economies as "proof" that every socialized economy is doomed. But what collapsed in the USSR was the BG state, not the economy, and   unemployment in "Welfare State" was caused by BB greed not by “economic laws”.

Many economists have debated the pros and cons of state participation in the economy. Best known among them were Friedrich Von Hayek, Milton Friedman, John Maynard Keynes, and Kenneth Galbraith. The first two opposed state intervention in the economy, the last two advocated it. Their arguments can be found on the Internet. Here only the gist of their arguments will be mentioned.  

The Austrian economist Friedrich Von Hayek (1899-1992), mentor of Margaret Thatcher, dismantler of the British "Welfare State", was the best known opponent of State participation in the economy. His main point was that any State participation in the economy is bound to reduce the freedom of the individual citizens. Von Hayek ends his best known book "The road to Serfdom" (1944) with the words: "Though we neither can wish, nor possess, the power to go back to the reality of the nineteenth century, we have the opportunity to realize its ideals. …The guiding principle that a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy remains as true today as it was in the nineteenth century." ("The road to Serfdom" by F.V. Hayek, University of Chicago Press 1994.  p. 262)    

Most of Von Hayek's book argues that any economic planning by a government undermines the freedom of the individual and paves "the road to serfdom".  Nowhere does he mention child labor, exploitation, 12-hours labor day, or the fact that the freedom of individuals like Henry Ford or John. D. Rockefeller controlled the freedom of  millions of other individuals who worked for them.  

Two economists wrote of the oil millionaire Rockefeller: “John D. Rockefeller knew a thing or two about power. His Standard Oil of New Jersey became a blueprint for corporate centralization. He pioneered new methods of stock rigging and financial mischief. He destroyed competition wherever he could and set new standards for industrial sabotage and union busting. He manipulated the tastes of ‘rational consumers’ and made ‘policymakers’ dance to his tune. He used violence to expropriate from indigenous Americans their resource-rich lands and religion to pacify their resistance. He harnessed the U.S. military to impose American ‘free trade’ on the rest of the world.   Raw power made Rockefeller and his family enormously rich. And yet, to the end of his life, John D. insisted that his best investment ever was the $45 million he donated to rebuild the Baptist University of Chicago.  Rockefeller saw Chicago as a religious asset. The philanthropy helped silence his critics in this world and pave his way to heaven in the next. It bought him the loyalty of spiritual shepherds and academic retainers, all eager to sing the praise of Standard Oil and glorify its devout owner. But in the long run the biggest yield came from the university’s department of economics.     After the Second World War, Chicago emerged as the bastion of a new religion: neoclassical economics. The key tenets of the faith were laid down already at the end of the nineteenth century, and it was Chicago – perhaps more than any other university – that helped propagate them. Its professors, nicknamed the Chicago Boys, spread the gospel of perfect competition and free trade. They insisted that consumers were sovereign and economic actors rational. They called for the separation of politics from economics. They preached monetarism and demanded small government and sound finance. They made economics a mathematical pseudo-science, impenetrable to the laity. And they advocated the production function and the marginal productivity of capital – an ingenious model that justified the political rule of capital while making capitalists such as Rockefeller perfectly invisible.  For these feats, the Chicago Boys were awarded plenty of Nobel Prizes. These included, among others, the prize to Gary Becker for his human capital, to Theodore Schultz for his development economics, to Robert Lucas for his rational expectations, to George Stigler for his attack on regulation, to Ronald Coase for his transaction costs and to Milton Friedman for his anti-Keynesianism.    Subsequent generations of the Rockefellers presented a more moderate image than did their forefather. Theirs was no longer the wild capitalism of John D. The mutual business sabotage and political confrontations that characterized the nineteenth century gave way in the twentieth century to a more stable formation of statist and corporate alliances. The Rockefellers entered high politics where they promoted a mellow hybrid of ‘liberal Republicanism,’ they engaged in imperial philanthropy, and they financed an intricate web of research foundations that helped soften the harshness of capitalism.  But the original virus nourished by John D. was unstoppable. Neoclassical ideology - or neo-liberalism, as it is now known - continued to spread throughout the globe. It programmed the technocrats from Santiago to Moscow. It placated the populace from China to South Africa.          It reduced risk far better than any other organized religion. It helped open the world for business.” ("The Rockefeller Boys" by Bichler and Nitzan, www.bnarchive.net  )  

No wonder von-Hayek got a job in Chicago University in 1950.  Hayek's disciple, Milton Friedman (1912-2006) a prominent "Chicago Boy" and mentor of President Reagan, wrote in his introduction to the 1994 edition of Von Hayek's book:  "The fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) the collapse of communism behind the 'Iron Curtain' (1989-1991) and the changing character of China have reduced the defenders of a Marxian type collectivism to a small hardy band concentrated in Western Universities.  Today there is wide agreement that socialism is a failure, capitalism a success.  Yet this apparent conversion of the intellectual community to what might be called a Hayekian view is deceptive.  While the talk is about free markets and private property and it is more respectable than it was a few decades ago to defend near-complete laissez-faire, the bulk of the intellectual community almost automatically favors any expansion of government power so long as it is advertised as a way to protect individuals from big bad corporations, relieve poverty, protect the environment, or promote "equality". …Government intervention in the post WW2 period was smaller and less intrusive than it is today.  President Johnson's "Great Society" programs, including Medi-care and Medicaid, and Bush's "Clean Air" and "Americans with Disabilities Acts" were all still ahead … Total government spending, federal state, and local, in the USA has gone from 25% of national Income in 1950 to 45% in 1993. Much the same has been true in Britain, in one sense more dramatically.  The Labour party, formerly openly socialist, now defends free private markets. The Conservative Party, once content to administer Labor's socialist policies, has tried to reverse, and to some extent, under Margaret Thatcher has succeeded in reversing, the extent of government ownership and operation. … While there has been a considerable amount of "Privatisation" there as here, government today spends a larger fraction of the national income and is more intrusive than it was in 1950.  On both sides of the Atlantic, it is only a little overstated to say that we preach individualism and competitive capitalism but practice socialism." (Friedman's introduction to "Road to Serfdom", University of Chicago Press, 1994, page xvi) 

Friedman focused his intellectual efforts to refute John Maynard Keynes's economic theories which influenced many economists and politicians after WW2.

Keynes (1883-1946) advocated a mixed economy where both the state and the private sector play an important role.  Keynesian economics challenged "Free Market" economics (economic theory based on the assumption that markets and private producers operate better on their own, without state intervention). In Keynes's theory, trends set by the government can shape the behaviour of individuals. Instead of the economic process being based on continuous increase of output as most classical economists had believed from the late 1700s on, Keynes argued that aggregate demand for goods is the driving force of the economy.  He argued that government paid economic projects will boost demand in the entire economy, reduce unemployment and deflation. A central conclusion of Keynesian economics is that in an unplanned economy there is no automatic tendency for employment and output to rise and therefore the government must intervene to prevent a crisis. During economic recession the government can print money and fund its projects. After WW1 Keynes said: " The decadent international individualistic capitalism in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war (WW1 A.O.) is not a success. It is not intelligent. It is not beautiful.  It is not just. It is not virtuous. And it doesn't deliver the goods."

Keynes criticized individualistic capitalism, not capitalism itself. He advocated government intervention in the economy to protect capitalism, not to replace it. He never discussed the question: who produced all the wars?   All supporters - and many opponents - of BB economies gloss over the shocking fact that it was BB economies trying to solve their unemployment crisis, to defeat their rivals, and to win new markets that produced WW1 and WW2, colonial wars,  and Japan's conquests of Korea, Manchuria and China in the 1930s, the Spanish civil war ('36-'39).   No socialized economy produced these wars.   They were all products of BB economies. 

US economist John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) supported socialization of parts of the economy. In 1997 he gave a talk outlining his views. His lecture "Liberalism in America's Political Future," was part of Pittsburgh University's 'American Experience' lecture series. In USA “Liberalism” is equivalent to “Left” in European political jargon. Galbraith, 89, Harvard's Professor of Economics Emeritus, entered American public life in the time of Franklin Roosevelt's 'New Deal'.   He was head of the World War II-era Office of Price Control while still in his 30s and at the end of the war directed the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, for which he was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1946. He was an adviser on the election campaigns of Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy, who later appointed him ambassador to India.  He is the author of many books, best known for his classic, "The Affluent Society". To a crowd packed into David Lawrence Hall auditorium, Galbraith laid out an agenda for "socially concerned" people.  He intertwined it with a critique of the market system economy, which, according to him, survives thanks to the "socially concerned" :  "Capitalism in its original form was an insufferably cruel thing which produced militant criticism and opposition," said Galbraith, noting that only with tools like trade unions, laws protecting workers' health and rights, public health care, housing for the poor, pensions for the old, and compensation for the unemployed did capitalism become a viable economic system in a human society. Let us not be reticent. We the socially concerned are the custodians of the political tradition and action that saved capitalism from itself."   Galbraith made his case for a responsible, yet humane, social policy.  On the privatisation trend he said: "In recent years there has been a curb of thought which holds that all possible economic activity should now be returned to the market. The market system having been accepted, it must now be universal. Privatisation has now become a public thing. This, needless to say, we reject. The question of private versus government role in modern life is not to be decided in abstract theoretical problems. The decision depends on the merits of the particular case. Conservatives, people on the right, need to be warned, as we also warn ourselves, that ideology can be a heavy blanket over thought. Thought must guide action. The continuing flaws, inequities, and cruelties of the market system make it an unreliable provider of some services."

On the stock market boom he said: "We are presently witnessing a stock market boom for which we may be reasonably sure there will be an eventual day of reckoning"   

On the Federal Reserve's efforts to rein in the economy: "We must not be in fear of a strong productive economic performance, but we must have well in mind the danger of excess. In good times, the public budget, taxes and expenditures must be a restraining force. So too, action against mergers and acquisitions and other manifestations of adverse, sometimes insane, corporate behaviour. Monetary restraint, hiring constraints may be in order. I will not comment further on my old friend Alan Greenspan." "We cannot be casual about inflation. If necessary, it must be restrained….What we do not accept is that an all-pervasive fear of inflation should arrest all economic progress." 

On the balanced budget: "We accept the need for fiscal responsibility. This does not, however, mean an annually balanced budget. If I may be allowed a word on our country in particular, the balanced budget has, at the moment, become a major weapon in a larger attack on the poor. Borrowing for enhanced future return is just as legitimate for government as it is for corporations and individuals. The valid test is that increased debt should be in keeping with increased ability to pay. And that, indeed, is our present situation."

On unemployment: "The social loss in human distress of unemployment must be directly addressed. This means opportunity for alternative public employment in recession or depression.  The social waste of idleness cannot be accepted."   

On income distribution: "The market system distributes income in a highly unequal fashion, a matter on which the U.S., it is now recognized, has a world leadership. Our distribution of income is more unequal than that of any other major industrial country. Strong and effective unions, a humane minimum wage, social security, [and] good medical care are all part of the answer to the unequal distribution of income.  So also a progressive income tax.  On this, the socially concerned agree."

On taxes: "Few exercises in social argument are so obviously in Defence of financial self-interest as those put forward by the rich against their taxes. It always boils down to the slightly improbable case that the rich are not working as hard as they should because they have too little income, and the poor are not working as hard as they should because they have too much. Nothing contributes to energy and initiative in modern economy as the struggle by the affluent to maintain their after-tax income."

On education: "High professional competence, generous financing, and yes, wise, effective discipline must make and characterize the education that is available to all. The justification is not that a well-educated labour force enhances economic productivity, which is the respectable present case. It is, rather, that education enhances, enriches, and enlarges the enjoyment of life. That is the true justification." On welfare: "Let us recognize that in any welfare system there will be some abuse. Some people will not work. Let us recognize that in any university with tenure there are some people who discover that leisure is a wonderful thing. We don't condemn universities because this is true. Let us not condemn the poor because some also abuse the system". He surveyed the failure of a conservative Congress to achieve its agenda declaring: "Those who would reverse social action or even allow it to stagnate are not in conflict with the socially concerned. They are in conflict with the history; We are in line with history. It is our support. For that we should be both grateful and energetic."  (Report by Fred Solomon, Dept. of University Relations)

To be accurate, throughout history all states have intervened in the economy in two ways: 1) They minted the money. 2) They kept armies and conducted wars, which required major spending by the state. So the question is not the state’s intervention in the economy but the nature of the state and the nature of its intervention.    

Between total and minimal state participation we find views like Galbraith's, who said to Brian Lamb in an interview: "I react to what is necessary. I would like to eschew any formula. There are some things where the government is absolutely inevitable, which we cannot get along without comprehensive state action. But there are many things - producing consumer goods, producing a wide range of entertainment, producing a wide level of cultural activity - where the market system, with independent activity is also important, so I react pragmatically. Where the market works, I'm for that. Where the government is necessary, I'm for that. I'm deeply suspicious of somebody who says, "I'm in favor of privatization," or, "I'm deeply in favor of public ownership." I'm in favor of whatever works in the particular case. (Interview with Brian Lamb, Booknotes, C-SPAN (November 13, 1994)    

Opponents of state participation in the economy ignore the fact that all states participate in their economy by minting money and paying for armies and wars. Armies must be fed, clad, housed and armed, this involves the economy.  So do Wars

What is missing in all debates is a discussion on the nature of the state that participates in the economy. What kind of State is it?  What is its authority structure?  Who decides policy and what is the aim?  Clearly, participation in the economy by the British state in 1945 differed from that of Thatcher forty years later.  These are not the only options. The British sociologist Richard Titmuss replied to the charges of inefficiency leveled against government-run enterprises by a detailed research comparing economics of blood markets in Britain and the USA. In Britain the blood market is run by the government and supplied by voluntary donors donating their blood for free. In the USA the entire blood-market is commercialized. Donors, administrators and personnel do it for money. The blood market supplies all hospitals with blood and is a major component in any health system. In 1970 Titmuss published his research in a book entitled “The gift relationship”. His conclusion is as follows: “On four testable - non-ethical - criteria, the commercialized blood market is bad. 1) In terms of economic efficiency it is highly wasteful of blood: shortages - chronic and acute - characterize the supply and demand position and make illusory the concept of equilibrium. 2) It is administratively inefficient and results in more bureaucratization, and much greater administrative, accounting and computing overheads.  3) In terms of price per unit of blood to the patient (or consumer) it is a system which is five to fifteen times more costly than the voluntary system in Britain, and finally, 4) in terms of quality, commercial blood markets are much more likely to distribute contaminated blood. The risks for the patient of disease and death are substantially greater.”  (“The gift relationship” Titmuss, new edition by The New Press, New York,. 1997, p.314)                                                                                                                      

One can argue against Titmuss that producing blood does not require people’s effort, skill, or time, and therefore many can afford to donate it whereas very few would agree to work for free in a factory. But his point that economics and politics - unlike physics or chemistry - are linked to moral choices remains valid. Today [2007] proposals for Privatisation include even prisons, so one can ask - why not privatize the Army?    The police?     The Courts?    Parliament?    Government?   

Private armies of mercenaries already exist in Africa. Some governments there have hired them and are satisfied with their cost-effectiveness balance. Suppose private armies turn out to be cheaper and more effective than armies of conscripts, or volunteers -- should armies be privatized?     If so why not privatize the State itself?  Privatisation Vs. nationalisation” debates use profitability as the ultimate criterion. Must all economic activity be evaluated only by profitability, excluding its role as a public service? "BG Vs. BB" debates discuss two ways of running the economy - by the "State" or by private entrepreneurs. They never discuss the nature of the State itself. They assume a State will always be rule by representatives. No one has suggested a State where all citizens can propose and vote on all policies.  This new possibility changes the "BB Vs BG" debate from one on the nature of the economy to one on the nature of the State. Most people resent both big business and big government and see no other option. However, the Internet and mobile phones present a new option - a State where all citizens can propose-debate-vote on every issue of society. This is neither rule by big business nor rule by big government but direct democracy. Though this option deserves to be discussed it is a safe bet that supporters of BB and BG will do all they can to exclude it from the debate. 

Much of today's economy is shaped by multinational corporations and Banks which local governments cannot control.  Coordinated legislation by DD states and employees' DD within such corporations can subordinate their activity to DD control.

 

15. Post-parliamentary non-Party state

The collapse of USSR's one-party BG State came as a surprise to most people, including all Marxists. More such surprises are in store for people in multi-party states. Ours is the era of decline of political parties, of rule by representatives (RR) and of states run by political parties. Today most people everywhere loathe all political parties. This will apply to all new parties formed in the future. The days of rule by political parties are numbered. Political Parties are organizations to advocate particular policies. For centuries they also decide policies while citizens decide only which party shall rule. Parties winning elections nominate Cabinets to decide all policies. This is the "multi-party state". Many believe that this State, together with freedom of the Press and speech is "Democracy". Actually, this has nothing to do with democracy. In genuine democracy there are no elections and no House of Representatives since all citizens - not representatives - decide all policies.  Rule by representatives (RR) contradicts democracy. The word "Democracy" means that the entire community ("Demos") - not its representatives - decides all policies. The "Demos" is "the community of all citizens" and "Kratos" is "the role of deciding for all".  In Demos-kratia all citizens can propose and vote on all issues of society. Those who think democracy means free elections will be surprised to hear that in democracy there are no elections. Citizens deciding who to elect have authority to decide whether to have elections at all.  All citizens  - not their representatives - are the sovereign. When all citizens decide all issues of society, elections are obsolete as no representatives - for deciding policy - are needed. In democracy all citizens decide all policies and nominate by lottery - not by election - people to execute them. The belief that Democracy means rule by representatives is a monstrous misconception. Only those ignorant of what "democracy" is - or eager to distort it - share this belief.

When representatives rule 99.99% of the citizens cannot decide any policy. This contradicts democracy. In RR citizens can decide only who will decide for them.   Today RR is in deep trouble because most people everywhere mistrust all representatives and their rule. People realize elections are the source of political corruption, conspiracies, and favouritism. People’s mistrust of RR can be measured by the numbers of those who ignore elections.  In the recent elections to US Senate and House of Representatives (Nov. 2006) only 40% of the electorate bothered to vote. This trend has persisted for the last 40 years. Non-voting is a vote of "No confidence" in the "elect your ruler" system. So why does RR persist?  Because most people do not realize there is a post-parliamentary democratic alternative to RR.  

“Freedom” means "living by one's own decisions".  People are “Free” when they live according to their own decisions. For a long time people thought that if they decide who decides for them what society should do - they are free. Nowadays they no longer think so. They realized that if they cannot trust their representatives then their freedom is like that which Henry Ford granted his customers when he said: "Customers are free to choose any colour of car they want, provided it is Black".   Actually, elections - even if they are 100% trustworthy - contradict political freedom.    as they authorize a few to decide what all must do.  Today all citizens live by decisions made by a few representatives therefore they are not free.

Total freedom is impossible when people live in a group.  Even in a loving couple, one must, occasionally, accept decisions of the other. When one lives by decisions made by others one isn't free.  Whenever people live in a group, be it a couple, a sports team, a commune, a political party, a music band, or society, they give up part of their freedom for the sake of living together. Different political systems have different levels of freedom.  In RR, citizens have more freedom than in a monarchy, as they can at least decide who will decide for them.  In a one-party state members of the ruling party can elect the leader of the party, so they have more freedom than in a Dictatorship where they cannot choose the dictator. In a multi-party state citizens can choose the ruling party, so they have more freedom than in a one-party State. Those disillusioned by the phoney freedom of the multi-party State - as most people today are - have not yet realized that an alternative (with more freedom) to the multi-party system is possible. Lacking an alternative, they stick to the outdated multi-party State. 

In 1991 most citizens of the USSR and all "Eastern Block" countries rejected Lenin's One-Party BG state despite the benefits its socialized, planned, economy conferred on them. Rejecting the One-party BG state they chose a Multi-party State, but what can those disillusioned by the Multi-party State choose?

The alternative to the multi-party state is the non-party state. 

A non-party state can be set up if political parties do not decide policies for others. Parties can advocate policies. They can try to convince citizens to vote for particular policies, but only all citizens - not representatives - can vote on policies.

In such a state every adult citizen has one vote on every issue of society so there are no elections - and no Parliament. All citizens are the parliament. In such a state there is a continuous public debate on policies. They are discussed and decided without politicians (see next chapter).  This is political equality and direct democracy (DD). 

The prime issue of all politics is: "Who Decides?" not "What to decide?".            Before asking: “Shall we go to war?” ask “Who decides whether we go to war?” ask not “How much tax shall we pay?” but “Who decides how much tax we shall pay?”      not “What will our taxes be used for?” but “Who decides what our taxes be used for?” 

There are different answers to “Who should decide”.  Monarchists say: a King.  Fascists say: A Dictator. Republicans say: Elected representatives.  Intellectuals say:  Experts must decide.  Party members say: my Party must decide. Genuine democrats say: all citizens must decide.   “Who decides” is also the central issue in every family, in every place of work, in every site of education, in every borough and municipality. 

Today, replacing Houses of Representatives by all citizens voting directly on all policies is the only really revolutionary project. Today‘s revolutionary principle is: "No taxation by representatives" and "Citizens pay no tax without the right to vote directly on it". This updates the old, anti-Monarchist demand "No taxation without representation". Turning decision-obeyers into decision-makers abolishes separation of rulers from ruled. Citizens become self-ruled. When citizens live by their own decisions they are free. Today most people in most societies mistrust most politicians and all political parties. Even supporters of a party often mistrust it. Many vote for whom they consider “the lesser evil”. Things were different in the past. Before WW2 most people trusted politicians and parties they voted for.  Most Germans trusted Hitler until his death. Most Russians trusted Stalin, most Britons trusted Churchill, most Japanese trusted Hirohito, most Americans trusted F.D.R. and many Frenchmen trusted de Gaulle. "Trust" is a conviction that the trustee will keep his promises.          It does not mean acceptance of his views, as the British electorate in 1945 proved.                   

The British General Election on 5 July 1945, a mere 2 months after the end of WW2 in Europe, was one of the most significant events of the 20th century. Final counts were declared on July 26, 1945 after counting the votes of soldiers serving overseas.    Held shortly after Victory in Europe Day (May 8), it was the first UK general election since 1935 as general elections had been suspended during WW2. It resulted in a stunning defeat of the Conservative Party led by Winston Churchill and a landslide victory of the Labour Party led by the unknown Clement Attlee, who won a majority of 145 seats.  The British electorate trusted Churchill, but disagreed with his policies.  The result of the election was totally unexpected, given the heroic status of Winston Churchill, Britain's Prime Minister during WW2. It reflected the voters' belief that a post-war Britain built by the Labour Party would be better than one built by the Conservative Party.  Labour promised a nationalised economy and Health Service while Churchill and the Conservatives wanted to reconstruct the old free market economy and services.  Churchill declared that Attlee's "Welfare State" program would require a Gestapo-like body to implement it. This created much resentment. Voters respected Churchill's wartime record but opposed the Conservative Party's domestic and foreign policies - with all the unemployment, poverty and misery they had created before the war. Most UK citizens did not want this type of economy to reappear. Labour had also been given, during the war, the opportunity to display their competence in government on domestic issues by their leaders Ernest Bevin, Herbert Morrison and Attlee at the Ministry of Labour.   Their administration was efficient. 

Clement Attlee's 1945 government was the most radical British government of the 20th century. It nationalized the Bank of England, the coal mines, electricity, gas, railways and iron & steel.  It created the National Health Service under Health minister Aneurin Bevan which to this day the Labour party still considers its proudest achievement. Originally the NHS provided "cradle to grave" health services free of charge to all citizens. The "Welfare State" was Labour's response to the influence that the economic benefits of the state-owned economy of USSR had had on many people in the UK.  The Labour Party did not want to replace the BB economy of the UK by a socialized, planned, economy.  The Labour Party was - and remains - committed to reforms, not to revolution, but it was under pressure from a considerable part of the electorate, especially industrial workers and soldiers, whose respect and sympathy for the USSR grew during WW2 due to the heroic - and immense - battles of the "Red Army" against the Nazi Army.  No battle of the US or UK armies came anywhere near in size and ferocity to the battles of Stalingrad, Kursk, or Leningrad, which cost the "Red Army" millions of casualties. The city of Leningrad was under siege for 30 months and hunger forced some people to eat the dead. No British or American city was under siege during WW2.   All history books and films made in the US and UK minimize the role of the USSR in WW2 and maximize the roles of the USA and UK.  They also hide the fact that British and American BB financed Hitler's re-armament of Germany till 1938. Yet any comparison of numbers of casualties in US, UK, and USSR armies - and the destruction each of these countries suffered - demonstrates clearly that the brunt of the burden of defeating Nazi Germany was carried by the USSR.  Hitler violated the Versailles Treaty by building his huge army. US, UK, and French BB ignored - and  financed - this knowing it would be used against Lenin’s State-owned economy. After WW2 British soldiers admired the "Red Army" and the social benefits of USSR’s economy, like guaranteed employment, state-paid housing, healthcare, education and pensions. This admiration reached a level that led many to believe that after WW2 British soldiers would start a revolution in Britain.   These attitudes swept the Labour Party into office in 1945 and created the Welfare State.     

In 1945 most people, in most countries, still trusted most politicians. In those days each political party published its political programme describing what it would do if it achieved power.  Voters studied party programs carefully and voted for the one whose political program appealed to them most.  Many voters also considered the reliability of party leaders. Most parties had a record of broken promises in past elections and this deterred some voters, but most voted for the program that appealed to them.

All this changed in 1952 when the US Presidential election campaign used TV to promote a political party and a presidential candidate. The Republican Presidential candidate General Eisenhower (referred to as "Ike") was marketed like a brand of toothpaste. His image, not his political program, was the prime product. A notable ad for “Ike” was an issue-free animated cartoon with a song by Irving Berlin called “I Like Ike”.  The ads for Eisenhower were short, snappy and upbeat, and often relied on catchy animation just like ads for consumer goods. A very effective Eisenhower TV spot repeated relentlessly the refrain: "I like Ike. You like Ike. Everybody likes Ike - for President." Eisenhower himself was infuriated by the ad-film director's instructions telling him to stare into some vacant corner on the ceiling without saying anything.  This image was later imposed on shots of interviews with random people in the street creating the impression that "Ike" listened attentively to their views. The Republicans' political programme was not mentioned, but Ike won the elections by a big majority.

From this moment on the marketing approach to politics dominated all political campaigns on TV.  Parties began “to sell” their programmes rather than “to explain” them. The spirit of TV commercials began to permeate politics. TV is primarily a visual medium. Most viewers remember what they saw, not what they heard. Party programs and speeches are verbal. They make poor images so they rarely appear on TV. What appears on TV is a politician whose looks and gestures aim to attract voters. People watching politicians on TV wonder more whether they are trustworthy than what their political programs are. In political elections today images are “in” and ideas are "out".  As TV watchers outnumber book readers a general transformation of peoples’ consciousness began:  images overshadowed ideas. 

TV close-ups often reveal qualities invisible in still photos. They magnify intonations, body-language, facial expressions, and unintentional gestures. When physicist Robert J. Oppenheimer, who supervised the scientific side of constructing the first Atom-Bomb, gave a rare TV interview, he stared continuously at the floor, giving a clear impression of being haunted by guilt.  This stayed in viewers’ memory long after the content of his words faded away.

Most politicians on TV are too eager to "sell" themselves as "honest". Excessive eagerness creates a manipulative image. Therefore today most politicians seem to viewers - who see dozens of commercials daily - as manipulative salesmen.             This increases mistrust of politicians, of political parties, and of politics generally. 

Most people today mistrust politicians. They make pre-election promises - designed to attract voters - and repeatedly break them after elections.  Fifty years of broken promises have convinced most voters that all political parties, and politicians, are untrustworthy. Many think this is inevitable in politics. Lord Acton's dictum: " Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" is seen by many as "Objective truth".  However, few ask themselves what exactly does "Power" mean? The answer is simple: in politics "Power" is "the role of deciding for others".     To decide - for others - what all in society shall do.  If I can decide only for myself what society should do, I have no political power. If I have the role of deciding for 10 people what society will do, I have some political "power".  If I have the role of deciding for 100 million people what society will do I have a lot of political "power".  "Politics" is "deciding what society will do".  A "Policy" is "a decision about an entire society".   "Power” is "the role of deciding for others".  "Political Power" is "the role of deciding for others what an entire society will do".   

Who grants roles to decide for others?  In the past people believed God does.            In coronation ceremonies the Head of the Church placed a crown on the head of a Monarch. This meant: "God grants this person the role of deciding policy for all the King’s subjects". Whoever opposed the King - opposed God. This is no longer accepted.  So who grants political representatives today the roles to decide policy for all citizens? Those who vote for them.  Voters replaced the Head of the Church.  Their voting puts the crown of decision-maker on the head of those they elect.  Elections grant the role of deciding policy. Elections transfer authority to decide policy from voters to those they vote for. By voting citizens pass their role of policy-deciders to representatives. This cancels - temporarily - their roles as policy-deciders.  Once they have voted they have handed their authority to decide policy to those they voted for. If they are unhappy about the way the roles are used they must wait for new elections.

Authority to decide whom to elect is authority to decide whether to elect.   Why hand others the role of deciding policies for us?   We have authority to abolish elections.  The electorate is sovereign.   It can decide all policies itself - without representatives.  

By voting for politicians we hand them our authority to decide policies. Our voting transfers our political authority to others. If we don't vote we retain our authority to decide policies, but what can we do with it?  In RR - nothing.   If we don’t vote others will vote and elections will authorize others as before, while we are stuck with our authority but unable to use it. However, we can vote to abolish elections and scrap RR   How can citizens use their authority to decide policies?  By creating a political system where every citizen can vote directly on every policy.   

Such a system is a direct democracy (DD) where the citizens themselves - not representatives - decide directly what their society should do.  This can also be called a non-party state as this State is not run by political parties but directly by all its citizens. Political Parties can - and will - exist in such a state but they will not decide policies. They will only recommend policies. They will work to convince citizens to vote for - or against - particular policies, but they will not decide on behalf of the citizens.   Voting on all policies will be done - all the time - by all citizens.     

Deciding policy is a crucial part of running society.  Once a decision is made it must be carried out.  How?  In a one-party or multi-party state this is done by a tiny group known as "Government" or "Cabinet".   In a non-party state there are no elections and no Parliament and there is no government.  State departments for Health, Education, Transport, Treasury, Defence, etc. exist, but they are not run by a Minister (or Secretary) appointed by a political party. In a non-party state those responsible for carrying out policy-decisions are appointed - at regular intervals - by lottery.  Lots are drawn from pools of people with the necessary expertise, skill, and knowledge.  Nomination by lottery abolishes conspiracies, favouritism, corruption and inefficiency caused by elections.  TV panels drawn by lottery will advise the public on policies, costs and consequences.  Lottery-drawn panels will include a variety of views, often conflicting with each other. All appointees must be changed regularly. This will cancel any panel's bias. Political problems are often created by politicians seeking to boost their careers, roles, and power. The ethnic war in former Yugoslavia created by Milošhevic in the 1990s is a typical example. A non-party state cleanses politics of personal power as no citizen can decide for others. It relieves politics of problems caused by politicians’ egos. When all citizens decide all policies personal power ceases to play a role in politics. All citizens - not a few politicians - decide political issues. Preferences of citizens vary, so choices are balanced by counter choices. This reduces personal bias in politics. The greater the number of political decision-makers, the less does policy depend on personal bias. A State where every citizen can vote on every issue of society and those responsible for executing policies are appointed by lottery is a non-party state. It abolishes political power - and political representatives. This greatly reduces costs, conspiracies, and corruption.  No one is paid for deciding policy so all costs of politicians, parliaments, presidents, and their perks are saved.  Direct democracy is much cheaper, much more efficient, free from personal bias and less prone to corruption and conspiracy than any form of rule by representatives.

 

16. Politics without Power? 

"The absurdity of all inherited political thought consists precisely in trying to resolve people's problems for them, whereas the sole political problem is precisely this:    How can people themselves become capable of resolving their own problems?"  (Cornelius Castoriadis. Introduction to Vol.1 of "Political and Social Writings" University of Minnesota Press 1988, p. 21)                                                              

The following two chapters answer Castoriadis's question.

 "Politics” is "deciding what society will do". "Power" is "the role of deciding for others". In the past very few people, often one person ("King", "President", "Dictator") played the role of deciding for all citizens what their society should do.  People for whom others decide are not free since to be free means to live by one's own decisions. Only those who live by their own decisions are free. Those who live by decisions of others are not free. Those who decide for others are said to have "Power" which is "the role of deciding for others".  Many crave power for its own sake and achieve it, almost always by plotting and scheming.  The more people one can decide for the more Power one has. Many want to decide for others what they should do, in the family, in school, at work, or in the state.  To achieve this they exploit other people's ignorance or resort to conspiracies, lies, and bribes.  Lord Acton observed: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". This was - and remains – true but what is “Power”?  Most people equate "Power" with "Politics". "Politics" is "Deciding what an entire society should do". Many believe that in societies numbering millions this can only be done by a few deciding for all. However, today, when millions of TV viewers vote by SMS this is no longer true. Efforts to achieve power breed conspiracy and corruption. No wonder most people today are disgusted with politics. They believe that conspiracy and corruption are part of politics. Actually they are part not of politics but of Power. The flaw is in equating "Politics" with “Power”.  The two are utterly different. "Politics" is "deciding what an entire society should do" while "Power" is “role of deciding for others". Only when a few decide what all should do are politics based on "Power".                            Is it possible to conduct politics without using power?  Is there a way to decide what a big society should do without a few deciding this for millions?   

Most people think this is impossible. They see no relation between the electronic communication revolution - and politics. They have never understood what Marx understood 150 years ago, namely, that new technologies modify behaviour, expectations, morality - and politics. Today, by using mobile phones, the Internet, magnetic cards, and TV, it is possible to create a political system where every citizen can propose, debate, and vote on every issue of society and no one decides for others.  In such a system every citizen decides for –and by - him/her -self only. 

When no one decides for others no one has power.  In such a system there would be no elections, no representatives, no house of representatives, no "Government", no "Power".  All citizens would govern themselves.    This is technically possible today.

Such a system is a direct democracy. "Demos" in Greek means "community" and "Kratos" (“Power”) means "the role of deciding for others".  "Demos-Kratia" means "Community power" or "All citizens decide all policies". Such a system existed in ancient Athens some 2500 years ago and lasted for some 200 years. In the past it was impossible for millions of citizens to have a direct democracy because the technical means to enable millions of citizens to propose, debate, and vote, on policy proposals, and to count all votes quickly, did not exist. Therefore most people agreed that a few representatives would decide policies for all citizens. These few had political power while most citizens lacked it.  Ancient Athens was exceptional as all its free men (but not women and slaves) decided themselves what their city should do. The number of free Athenian men was around 50,000, and the city was divided into 50 districts with 1000 citizens in each. They invented elaborate devices for voting and counting votes.  In such a system no citizen decided for others. Each citizen had one vote and decided for himself only.  This abolished "Power" in politics and eliminated corruption and conspiracies. Only those opposing democracy, who tried to overthrow it, resorted to conspiracy and corruption.

Mass participation in public debates on policy in ancient Athens produced Philosophy, the Theatre, notions like Tragedy and Comedy, logical reasoning,  critiques of Politics and of History, trial by jury, and even public debates on military strategy. These innovations were unique to Athenian democracy and although invented 2500 years ago, we still use them today. Most of our political concepts were invented by Athenian democracy. By contrast, in Sparta - not far from Athens, two kings ruled - without any public debates on policy - and therefore Sparta left no political heritage useful to us today.   Nor did Egypt, Babylon, India or China.

Athenian democracy, despite its many advantages, had its hazards and difficulties, but the freedom its members enjoyed outweighed all of them.

Today most people find the idea of a state where every citizen has the right to propose, debate, and vote on every policy, bizarre, impractical, and at best utopian.  The following is intended to stimulate a re-thinking of this outdated response.

First of all it is necessary to realize that the modern electronic communication makes the participation of millions of citizens in decision-making technically feasible.  The mobile telephone with a camera and a link to the Internet enables millions of citizens to vote by sending SMS messages, to have their IDs checked, and to add up all votes, in a matter of minutes. This is already done in TV programmes like "A star is born".   People can vote on decisions by sending SMS messages and their "Bio-metric" ID (which will soon be part of every passport).  A database of citizens' Biometric ID will enable instant identification.  This will ensure that only citizens will vote and no one will vote twice.  All the problems of sending, identifying, and adding up, millions of votes within minutes, can be solved by the electronic communication. Many solutions already exist. Privacy can be protected.  Technical obstacles to direct democracy (DD) that seemed insurmountable in 1968 have been overcome.

To give an idea how such a state might work, consider the following possibility:     Each domain of society is allocated a radio and a TV channel. There are channels dedicated to Education, to Health, to Transport, to Commerce, to Defence, etc.  Every channel operates non-stop 24 hours throughout the year.  In each channel a panel of people with qualifications relevant to the debated topic discuss the pros and cons of every proposal. Members of panels are drawn by lottery from pools of people with the required qualifications.  Panel members serve like Jury members in courts of law. They are drawn by lottery and replaced regularly. This abolishes bias. When a citizen phones in a proposal it is listed, and when its turn arrives it is discussed by the panel. Viewers can phone to add their comments. The debate on each proposal lasts a fixed period determined by the Constitution. When this time is up citizens are notified and voting starts.  People vote by mobile phone, magnetic card, or the Internet.       

A period set by the Constitution determines the time allocated for discussing and for voting. When this is up the votes are counted and if they exceed a minimum - determined by the Constitution - the proposal enters a second round of debates and voting.  The Constitution itself is shaped by all citizens. Every citizen can find out on radio or TV which proposal entered a second round, and participate in a second round of debate. When debating time is up a second vote is taken. If the proposal gains the required majority (a simple majority, a preferential majority, a local majority, or an overall majority) it becomes a policy binding the society.  One year after this vote, citizens can start a new debate to revoke it.

Once a policy has been decided a panel for executing it is drawn by lottery from pools of those who have the required qualifications. The executing panel has to report at regular intervals on radio and TV to all citizens on the progress of its work.

Such a system for deciding and carrying out policy is technically feasible.  It may encounter difficulties, but none are insurmountable.  In such a state there are no elections, no representatives, and no government. No one gets paid for deciding policy so cost of governance is greatly reduced. Such are politics without power. Moreover, abolishing elections cleanses politics of conspiracies and corruption caused by people craving personal power -  or favours.  

Political equality, granting every citizen one vote on every issue of society, creates post-parliamentary democracy, politics without politicians, and without power. This is cheaper, cleaner, and far more democratic than rule by representatives. Such a system will turn the state - and the economy - into an authentic democracy.  If this is applied to every place of work, so all employees can decide all about their work, then  management and unions become redundant. This will terminate a lot of anguish, frustration, strife and strikes.      

This leaves us with sociological and psychological objections to direct democracy.  

The first - and most common - objection to DD argues that political decisions are complicated matters and require expertise that most citizens lack. Can ordinary citizens, lacking the necessary knowledge, determine a policy?  This objection assumes policies are “deduced”. Actually they are “decided”. People confuse “Deciding” with “deducing”.  This is a widespread, common, error. "Deciding" is not "Deducing".  Decisions are choices determined by priorities whereas deductions are conclusions determined by Logic. We don’t deduce decisions. We choose them.   There are six differences between deciding and deducing:        

1)  Deciding depends on options and priorities. Deducing depends on data and Logic.

2) To "decide" is to choose one option from a number of options.  If only one option exists there is nothing to decide. Choosing is preferring and depends on priorities (see p.12) not on Logic. Different priorities shape different preferences and decisions on the same data. Deciding is not a skill.  It cannot be learnt.         Deducing - unlike deciding - is a sequence of logical inferences applied to the data. It overrules priorities. It overrules preferences. It applies logical deduction to data reaching a final "conclusion". Conclusions ignore priorities. We cannot choose a conclusion. Data and logic impose conclusions on us. We must accept them even when we prefer different ones. A conclusion has nothing to do with choosing.  It is imposed by data, logic, and knowledge.  Policies are not deduced, they are  decided.

3) Decisions are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, not ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’. There are no incorrect decisions, only bad ones.  Voting for Hitler was "bad" but not "incorrect".

Deductions are ‘correct’ or "incorrect" but neither "good’ nor ‘bad’.  There are no bad  deductions,  only incorrect ones.    2+2=5 is "incorrect" but not "bad"

 4) A decision considered "Good" by some is often considered "Bad" by others.

 A deduction is accepted as "correct" - or "incorrect" - by all.

 5) Those making a decision are responsible for its outcome as they could make a different decision - by changing their priority - and get a different outcome.  Those deducing a conclusion are not responsible for its outcome as they could not deduce another - correct - conclusion. They are responsible only for its logical correctness, not for its outcome. 

6) Data determines deduced conclusions, not decisions.

 

Given the same data different people will deduce the same conclusion, but - if their priorities differ - they will make different decisions using the same data.

To clarify further the difference between deciding and deducing, let us compare Hamlet pondering “To be or not to be?” with a doctor pondering “To amputate or not to amputate? Hamlet has two options. He must decide which to choose. He cannot deduce it. His priorities shape his preference. Knowledge and logic cannot help him. They do not determine what is ‘Good’ for him. His priority (see p.12) does. Hamlet must decide what to do. A doctor must deduce what to do. His priorities are irrelevant. His deducing depends on data, logic, and experience leading to a correct conclusion.  If the conclusion is ‘Bad’ ("the patient has cancer") the doctor is not to blame.  Doctors are responsible only for their deducing being "correct" not for it being "Good".

 

Imagine a patient suffering from pain in the leg. Analyzing medical test-results the doctor deduces the patient has cancer and says: “Amputation will enable you to live longer; without it, you’ll die soon.”  Analyzing the medical data by using medical expertise and logic, the doctor deduces a single medical conclusion (‘diagnosis’).  If the conclusion is incorrect it is due to faulty data or wrong deduction but not due to the doctor’s priorities. 

 

Medical data and logical deduction determine a doctor’s conclusion but they do not determine a patient’s decision how to respond to this conclusion. Doctors deduce but patients decide.  Different patients hearing the same conclusion will make different decisions.  Some will decide to die rather than live as disabled, others will decide to live as disabled rather than die.  As all decisions respond to the same conclusion ("diagnosis") of the doctor one might wonder which decision is “Good”?   Can the same data and diagnosis lead to different - even contradicting - decisions, yet all “Good”?  Surprising as it may seem the answer is: Yes!  for the simple reason that different patients have different priorities.  Some prefer death to disability; others prefer disability to death.  Both decisions are ‘Good’ for those who made them, as they result from different priorities, not from data, expertise or logic.  Different people have different priorities. There is no absolute priority to grade priorities since this too depends on an arbitrary priority.

What has all this got to do with politics? 

Or, put another way:  are policies ‘deduced’ or are they 'decided' 

In politics people vote.  To vote is to choose.  If we choose we don’t deduce.  If we deduce we cannot choose.  To choose is to prefer:  People prefer according to their priorities. Whoever decides policy - King, Dictator, President, Prime Minister, Leader, or ordinary citizen - prefers one option to all others. Preference depends on priorities.  Only people believing their priority is “Absolute Truth”, or “Natural”, or “Obvious”, think they deduce policies.   As decisions depend on priorities and every priority is arbitrary we “decide” policy. We do not “deduce” it. The same data-expertise-logic can produce different decisions due to different priorities. 

Politics means choosing, not deducing.  We choose a policy; we don’t deduce it.  Those making a decision are responsible for its outcome as they could decide differently and get a different outcome. Those deducing a conclusion cannot deduce differently to get a different conclusion.  They are not responsible for its outcome

 

Politicians whose decisions produce undesirable results try to evade their responsibility for such results by saying “I had no alternative”,  arguing that their decisions were conclusions.  In politics other options always exist. Choosing an option is always a decision, never a deduction.

Choosers are responsible for the outcome of their choices.

 

How does all this answer the objection that most people lack the requirements necessary for deciding policy?  It clarifies that deciding policy is choosing an option - according to one's priorities - and does not depend on expertise or logic.

Any citizen can choose just like any President.

Rarely are political decision-makers experts on issues they decide.  They don't need to be. They consult experts on any issue who explain to them the various options - and the possible outcome of every decision, then they choose one option. Decision-making is a role, not a skill. Decision-makers (King, President, Prime Minister, Dictator, or citizen) choose (by their priorities) one of the options offered by the experts.    Every citizen can do it.   Choices depend on priorities, not on expertise.  

In Errol Morris's excellent TV documentary on Robert McNamara (US Secretary of Defence 1961-68) "The fog of war" (2004) (see the transcript on the Internet) McNamara reminisces:

"The telephone rang; a person comes on and says "I'm Robert Kennedy. My brother, Jack Kennedy, would like you to meet our brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver."

4 o'clock Sarge comes in. Never met him "I've been authorized by my brother-in-law, Jack Kennedy, to offer you the position of Secretary of the Treasury."

I said, "You're out of your mind.  I know a little bit about finance. But I'm not qualified to be Secretary of the Treasury".    He said: "Anticipating that, the President-Elect authorized me to offer you the job of Secretary of Defence."
I said: "Look, I was in World War II for three years. But Secretary of Defence?  I'm not qualified to be Secretary of  Defence". "Well," he said, "anticipating that, would you at least do him the courtesy of agreeing to meet with him?"
So I go home and tell Marge [McNamara's wife A.O.] that if I could appoint every senior official in the department and if I could be guaranteed I wouldn't have to be part of that damn Washington social world… She said, "Well, okay, why don't you write a contract with the President, and if he'll accept those two conditions, do it."  My total net income [as Director of Ford Company A.O.]  at the time was of the order of  $800,000, but I had huge unfulfilled stock options worth millions.

 I was one of the highest paid executives in the world. And the future was of course brilliant. We had called our children in. Their life would be totally changed.

The salary of a Cabinet Secretary then was $25,000 a year. So we told the children they'd be giving up a few things.   They could care less.   Marge could care less. It was snowing. The Secret Service took me into the house by the back way. I can still see it. There's a love seat, two armchairs with a lamp table in between. Jack Kennedy is sitting in one armchair and Bobby Kennedy's sitting in the other.

I said: "Mr. President, it's absurd, I'm not qualified."
"Look, Bob," he said, "I don't think there's any school for Presidents either."

He said, "Let's announce it right now".  He said, "I'll write out the announcement."
So he wrote out the announcement, we walk out the front door.  

All of these television cameras and press , till hell wouldn't have it.      

That's how Marge learned I have accepted.   It was on television.    Live.

Kennedy: All right, why don't we do some pictures afterwards?  I've asked Robert McNamara to assume the responsibilities of Secretary of Defence. And I'm glad and happy to say that he has accepted this responsibility.     Mr. McNamara leaves the presidency of the Ford Company at great personal sacrifice.
McNamara: That's the way it began. You know, it was a traumatic period. My wife probably got ulcers from it.  May have even ultimately died from the stress. My son got ulcers. It was very traumatic, but they were some of the best years of our life and all members of my family benefited from it.    It was terrific.  (see the Internet)

 

McNamara had never served in Washington before, never held any political post, and never studied Finance or Defence. Elsewhere he admitted that when he came to Washington he didn't know the difference between an Atom-bomb and an ordinary bomb. Yet Kennedy appointed him Secretary of Defence, and never regretted it. Kennedy himself was in the same boat but - unlike McNamara - he knew that decision-making is not a skill but a role every normal person can fulfil.

No President is an expert on the options he chooses. Experts on the options explain to him their costs and consequences. All he has to do is to choose one. Choosing is not a skill that can be taught.    It depends on priorities, not on expertise.      

The current President of the USA (in 2007) George W Bush, while not extraordinarily bright decides USA's policies affecting much of the world. Many disagree with his policies but they blame his priorities, not his ignorance. Like all Presidents he too consults experts on the issues facing him and then chooses one of the options they offer.  All citizens (by using SMS) can easily replace George W. Bush.  Experts for the specific issues will describe the various options on TV but instead of Bush choosing an option all citizens will do it.

No rational argument can prove that their choice is necessarily worse than his.  Moreover while a President's choice depends on one person's bias the choice of all citizens depends on a multitude of different personal biases many of which cancel out each other.  This reduces the role of personal bias in politics.

 

Medicine, Law, and Engineering are skills. Doctors, lawyers, and engineers pass examinations and get certificates - issued by a university - allowing them to practice their skills, but no President passed an examination in choosing policies. No President has a certificate qualifying him to be President. This is not a defect but the nature of decision-making. If different people have different priorities then the same data will motivate them to make different decisions. We choose political representatives by their priorities, not by their expertise. If George W. Bush - whose expertise is somewhat limited - can be President of the USA, then so can most normal people since they - like him - are neither geniuses nor imbeciles.  GWB's Presidency ought to dispel the myth that making political decisions requires expertise which most citizens lack. But this myth will persist, or politics will be denuded like the King in the fable where the boy shouts "The King is naked". If everyone can decide policy why not do it by all citizens sending SMS rather than by a few representatives.  This is cheaper, and will eliminate corruption, conspiracies and ego-trips from politics.

Another common objection to direct democracy argues that if all citizens have the right to propose policies millions of proposals will clog up the political system. 

This possibility is refuted daily in every House of Representatives.  In all of them all members can propose laws and policies, yet the number of laws and policies actually proposed is far less than the number of Reps. There is not a single House of Reps where all Reps propose policies on the same day. The number of proposals depends on the number of topical issues, not on the number of Reps. As contents of proposals often overlap, many will drop their proposal if a similar one has been accepted.

 

Direct democracy, unlike any other political system, cannot be imposed on citizens.  DD depends on citizens' active participation in policy making. It cannot work if most citizens are indifferent to their society.  DD can be set up only if most citizens want it, and it can function only if they are active participants in it. If they are it means they are concerned to keep it going.  So they will take care to protect it from abuse and eliminate whatever hinders its operation. 

 

This brings us to the next common objection to DD, namely the argument that most people today despise politics and will not participate in DD politics. This is indeed the situation today (2007). The percentage of voters in USA elections is a good example. In most US presidential elections in the last 40 years some 50% of those entitled to vote did not vote. In most European countries the situation is similar. Lack of interest in politics, so the argument goes, rules out the DD option.   This argument ignores the fact that current Representative Rule (RR) produces citizens' political apathy.  RR requires citizens to be politically active only on Election Day. In the long period between elections RR wants citizens to "leave politics to politicians".  Most Reps worry about their careers far more than about the needs of those who elected them. No wonder most citizens become indifferent to - and disgusted by - politics - in RR. This is bred by RR - not by Politics.   Political apathy is not part of human nature. Politics shape society and individuality. The will to participate in this activity is dormant in most citizens but all varieties of Politics by Proxy (PP) repress it.   It surfaces at times of crisis, emergency, or revolution.

The writer Colin Wilson, in his 2001 postscript to his unique book "The Outsider", wrote: "When human beings become bored they lose all sense of reality, and somehow find themselves in the passenger seat.  They lose the sense of being in control of their lives, and slip into an attitude of passivity. Yet any crisis can instantly de-hypnotize them and make them realize that being in control, far from being difficult, is quite normal.  When we are 'awake', the 'real you' takes over, and life is transformed."     (THE  OUTSIDER, London Phoenix 2001, page  305)

The most recent crises of RR were the French General Strike in May 1968 and the bombing of the World Trade Centre towers in New York in 2001.  During these crises the behaviour of most people in these two societies changed dramatically.  People volunteered to help others, began to really listen to others, volunteered for community service, made sacrifices for others, and even risked their lives for others. This contradicted their political apathy which politics by proxy (PP) induce by advocating:  "Mind your own business and leave politics to politicians"  

 

Where did the readiness to mind other peoples' business come from?  It was latent in the social nature of individuality (see Ch.3), buried under heaps of selfishness, and apathy, dumped on it by an economic systems glorifying selfishness, and political systems preaching that representatives, and "Leaving politics to politicians", is an  eternal, inevitable, necessity. Such attitudes vanish during emergency or revolution.

Citizens’ political apathy is cultivated by those that thrive on it. Why should political representatives encourage citizens' participation in politics when this threatens their roles?  Political apathy produced by RR is no indication of peoples' attitudes to politics generally.  DD encouraging citizens’ participation in politics will dissipate most current citizens’ political apathy

 

Another objection to direct democracy argues that it enables demagogues to shape policy by their ability to influence many citizens.  A demagogue is a person with exceptional ability to influence people.   Hitler and Mussolini were demagogues.

Demagogues can appear in every political system and constitute a general problem in politics. Hitler was a demagogue. Elections empowered him to represent all Germans. Once elected he abolished all other parties and stayed ruler of Germany long after many Germans realized his policies were leading to disaster.  This cannot happen in DD where the demagogue has only one vote. He can influence people to vote for his policies but he never represents anyone except himself.  Even if citizens vote for his policies he has only one vote. DD citizens can vote against the demagogue’s policies the moment they realize he leads to disaster.  DD can respond to the danger of demagogues much faster than any other political system.

 

Direct democracy - like all systems for deciding policy - faces two kinds of problems: 1.Technical problems, and  2. Inherent problems. Technical problems can be eliminated, but inherent problems are like volcanoes - their eruptions can be treated but not terminated.  They may reappear, and must be tackled in new ways.

Technical problems of DD stem from the right of millions of citizens to propose debate and decide, every law and policy. Electronic communications provide the means to do this but procedures must be devised to protect the public from abuse of this right.  Control committees can do it, but they must be appointed by lottery and serve one term only. This will prevent the formation of elites controlling everything.