Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Liberty as protection against counterrevolution

Great post at A Very Public Sociologist. Here's a sample:
The workers' state constructed on the bones of what went before would likely be more democratic and free than any form of political rule possible under capitalism, but there remains a key contradiction at its heart. As the rule of the workers become more consolidated and a greater proportion of society falls under its conscious democratic direction the need for security against counterrevolution from within and without remains pressing until capitalism is decisively defeated on a global scale. The Russian revolution and the history of the USSR demonstrates the negative resolution of this contradiction. Actual counterrevolution and the threat of it saw the infant workers' state in that country relied on militarily defeating those who wished to overthrow it. But in so doing, exacerbated by the backwardness and devastation of the country the state became increasingly bureaucratised and turned into the very opposite of a socialist state.

1 comment:

t said...

I totally agree. So did the Bolsheviks, incidentally.

In fact nearly all of them premised their arguments on the Left at the time on the thought that the revolution in Russia would only be worth pursuing at that time if similar uprisings were to occur in Germany and Western Europe. They had good reason to think that this could happen at the time. But what followed was the defeat of attempted uprisings in Germany and a brutal Russian civil war in which troops from dozens of foreign nations joined Russian counter-revolutionaries in attempting to strangle the revolution in its cradle. The Bolsheviks won the war, but at a very high cost. By the end of it they found themselves internationally isolated and their country in complete shambles.

The interesting question for me, is what happened between the end of the Civil War and the rise to power of Stalin? As far as I'm concerned, once Stalin had consolidated his power the revolution was already dead.