As a product of the civil war -in which many thousands died- and hunger -that caused their return to the countryside-, the old Russian working class, who built the Soviets and stood under the leadership of the Bolshevik party to carry out the revolution, disappeared. This physical disappearance of around 90 per cent of the class is the reason for the triumph of Stalinism in Russia. Stalin ruled over a new working class, recently coming from the countryside, without experience or tradition.
The Bolsheviks sought different ways of organizing this newly formed working class in a revolutionary fashion. For example, they pushed ahead non-Partisan workers’ caucuses, anti-hunger committees, etc. However, in general, they did not achieve good results. The consequence of this organizational weakness –which was a social weakness, given the working class vanished from the Russian historical process- was Stalinism.
The consequences were that in Russia a new way of organizing and connecting with the workers’ movement emerged. It was inorganic and strongly bureaucratized; its main goal was exactly the opposite of the organization of revolutionary soviets and the old Bolshevik Party.
The revolutionary Soviets and the old Bolsheviks stood for developing, extending, generalizing and concentrating the spontaneous struggles of workers into one great revolution. Yet the Stalinist “Soviets” and the Stalinist “Bolshevik party” were to stop all struggles, to destroy the spontaneity of the masses, to avoid every organization of the working class.
However, outside Russia, Stalinism kept only one element from the Leninist heritage: to be where the workers are, to have their cells and militants on the shop floor, to organize the working class, to work around their everyday problems and not around the bourgeois elections, to lead their small struggles.
Nevertheless, these bureaucratic bastards use all this organizational capacity to carry out treacherous and counter-revolutionary class collaboration policies. They lead small struggles in order to better prevent great struggles, I mean revolutions. Just in case they happen, they work to lead them to defeat. Alternatively, if they triumph, they work to convert the new workers’ states into a counter-revolutionary tool.
Thus, Stalinism covered the open flank of social democracy. That is why in countries where social democracy exceptionally performs that role, as in England and Germany, Stalinism is very weak. However, where there is a “classical” electorally strong social democracy, as in France, Spain, Portugal, Stalinism is powerful in the labor movement. Social Democrats betray the workers through electoral politics, while Stalinists do the same on the grounds of daily struggles. It’s a true division of labor. And there is one Communist – Stalinist party, the Italian one, who performs both functions at the same time.
These organizational skills are the critical reason for the survival of Stalinism despite its tremendous global crisis. That is one of the reasons that prevent its full collapse. On many occasions, the Communist party carried out extraordinary betrayals. However, the working class did not break with them. The Spanish workers, for example, witnessed the Communists fighting on their side and building a national labor tool: the Workers’ Commissions (“comisiones obreras”). At the same time, the Communists called the workers to endorse the permanence of monarchy, and to support La Moncloa Pact. Despite of all republican tradition of Spanish workers and the disastrous consequences for their standard of living due to the implementation of La Moncloa Pact, the Spanish CP, although divided, fragmented and weakened electorally, remained as the leadership of Workers’ Commissions. The Workers’ commissions are still very strong compared to the languid UGT led by the Social Democrats. Of course the Social Democracy fulfills its counter-revolutionary role, dragging the working class electorally.
Read previous extracts:
Part 1: http://litci.org/en/questions-on-revolutionary-party-organization-part-1/
Part 2: http://litci.org/en/questions-on-revolutionary-party-organization-part-2/
Part 3: http://litci.org/en/questions-on-revolutionary-party-organization-part-3/