Redpill me on vanguardism

Levi Martin
Levi Martin

It seems to me like vanguardism is the biggest problem with ML'ism with both USSR and China getting their revolution fucked because of it. In USSR already after Lenin died you had a situation where all the revolutionary leaders where infighting between their different factions and after Stalin (who from what I understand kept their bullshit down) died the country pretty much became an oligarchy. There was no new blood admitted to the higher echelons of power, thus near the end of USSR all of these old vanguardists started dropping like flies, leading to Gorbachev getting in power and the union dissolving. And yes, USSR was the first attempt, but Mao had the advantage of foresight, leading to him trying to curtail the power of this newly forming bureaucrat class but it didn't work and after he died you had Deng. So why stick to the idea of a vanguard if it seems they will always try to secure more power for themselves? I imagine this must have been re-thought by ML's over the years and there are some theoretical methods to prevent it, so how? Or am I just misunderstanding / missing some key information?

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Kayden Bell
Kayden Bell

theory hasn't changed at all since the early twentieth century

Bentley Parker
Bentley Parker

Ya gotta have a vanguard party for your vanguard party to keep the first vanguard party in line.

Jaxon Garcia
Jaxon Garcia

I think a problem with debates regarding vanguardism is that people seem to mean different things when they say it. Also, it was originally a way of organizing a political party in tsarist Russia, so I don't think there might be differing opinions on what the role (if it should even exist) of the vanguard party should be once communists have state power.

My interpretation of it is that the vanguard party (as opposed to a mass party) is supposed to only have members who understand and agree with Marxism and each fulfill some specific function in the party. The purpose of this party is to raise class consiousness among the population and "push" spontanous expressions of class struggle into a more focused, explicitly Marxist direction. This is obviously different from a mass party that attempts to attract as many members/votes as possible by watering down their principles. Maybe you could say that the vanguard party is more focused on a long term goal rather than winning the next election.

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Luke Bailey
Luke Bailey

The vanguard party as the ruling party seems less clear to me. Here's an exchange I had with Ismail from a while ago:

<What is the role of vanguardism in a post-revolutionary society? If I'm not mistaken, vanguardism and democratic centralism were originally meant to be the best way of organizing political action pre-revolution. It wasn't really intended to be a model for the entire political system of the socialist society itself, but I've seen a tendency of using "but it's vanguardism!" or "but it's democratic centralism!" as arguments to justify lack of democracy, rights to organize politically, freedom of speech etc in socialist countries.

The vanguard continues to exist with the same function as before the revolution: to serve as the leadership of the working-class.
To quote Lenin:
"No important political or organisational question is decided by any state institution in our republic without the guidance of the Party’s Central Committee. . . ."
"Then, of course, all the work of the Party is carried on through the Soviets, which embrace the working masses irrespective of occupation. The district congresses of Soviets are democratic institutions, the like of which even the best of the democratic republics of the bourgeois world have never known; through these congresses (whose proceedings the Party endeavours to follow with the closest attention), as well as by continually appointing class-conscious workers to various posts in the rural districts, the proletariat exercises its role of leader of the peasantry, gives effect to the dictatorship of the urban proletariat wages a systematic struggle against the rich, bourgeois, exploiting and profiteering peasantry, etc."

<Alright, but where does the vanguard party get it's legitimacy from? I assume the vanguard party that is in control of the state has it's own internal democracy, and that any person who has studied Marxism and has some organizational skills or can fulfil some other function within the party, gets to become a member and influence the decisions and direction of the party. Still though, how would you respond to the criticism that this system is inherently undemocratic? The vanguard party is not elected but simply assert their power over the political system because they believe to know what's good for the working class better than the workers themselves.
<What are the reasons (historical, structural, whatever) for this system degenerating to a point where the party leadership (again, a party and party leadership not directly chosen by the people) picks the candidates and then 100% of the population vores yes to all of them?

Alright, but where does the vanguard party get it's legitimacy from?
By leading the working-class in the revolution.

The vanguard party is not elected but simply assert their power over the political system because they believe to know what's good for the working class better than the workers themselves.
The Bolsheviks won a majority in the soviets before embarking on the October Revolution. The CPC and pretty much every other communist party has come to power on the basis of popular support. It isn't simply a case of a bunch of persons saying "hi, we're the vanguard" and immediately rushing to seize power in a conspiratorial manner.

What are the reasons (historical, structural, whatever) for this system degenerating to a point where the party leadership (again, a party and party leadership not directly chosen by the people) picks the candidates and then 100% of the population vores yes to all of them?
On paper the system was democratic, both in terms of how the party leadership was chosen (via party congresses involving hundreds, if not thousands, of delegates from across the country) and in terms of how the political system operated.

In practice, as you note, things fell short. Part of it was concern over capitalist encirclement (e.g. the Kronstadt mutiny and Tambov revolt were among the reasons Lenin moved to formally ban factions in the party, as he worried the counter-revolution was trying to take advantage of discord within the vanguard.) This created pressure to project a "united" appearance to both the citizenry and the outside world.

On the other, it was also felt that the party was "merely" putting forward competent candidates in elections, both those belonging to the party and those who didn't. The problem is that this sapped initiative on the part of voters, who simply saw a preset list of candidates with the full weight of the communist party behind them.

There were experiments to promote a greater degree of democracy (e.g. Hungary and Poland in the early-mid 80s tried out multi-candidate elections), but by that point it was obviously a bit too late.

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Joseph Williams
Joseph Williams

so I don't think there might be
so I think there might be*

Wyatt Parker
Wyatt Parker

I don't usually agree with anarchists but I think their critique of vanguardism is valid.
anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/secH5.html

In our view, the whole concept of a "vanguard party" is fundamentally anti-socialist. Rather than present an effective and efficient means of achieving revolution, the Leninist model is elitist, hierarchical and highly inefficient in achieving a socialist society. At best, these parties play a harmful role in the class struggle by alienating activists and militants with their organisational principles and manipulative tactics within popular structures and groups. At worse, these parties can seize power and create a new form of class society (a state capitalist one) in which the working class is oppressed by new bosses (namely, the party hierarchy and its appointees).

Oliver Johnson
Oliver Johnson

"Vanguard" at this point means so many different things that I cannot say that I entirely oppose or agree with the concept.

Jaxson Walker
Jaxson Walker

That's the point. Being for or against it is just a fashion statement to let everyone know what your opinion of the CCCP is. The debate isn't a theoretical argument, nor was it intended to be.

Angel Bell
Angel Bell

btw OP post this on /marx/. ismail usually gives pretty good answers to questions like this.

Andrew Jenkins
Andrew Jenkins

reposting my old reply here

a lot of internet MLs forget this
No they don't a lot of Zig Forums LARPers who are try-harding to be hardcore socialists do this, irrespective of the ideology they claim to subscribe to.

There is no top-down vanguardist party or organization
Not entirely true, they do have a top down organization as well. the criticism from M-Ls about Yellow Vests mostly stems in the fact that some members of these protests are libertarians who want a 'freer capitalism'. This occurred in Russia in 1996 and these non-socialist people were part of the reason the protests failed to remove Yeltsin.

haven't seen any evidence that ML regimes reduced work hours below 40 hours per week
Mostly because places like Cuba and the DPRK are economically struggling due to their isolation and lack of area available for large-scale full collectivized agriculture and industry. The M-L USSR set the world bench mark for the 8-hour, 5-day workday and work week, the only reason those were increased was because during the initial periods there was so much work to do and so little machinery to do it with that people had to make up for it with sheer mass-labor. in the 1930s before industrialization and in the 1940s after WW-2 where were almost no tractors or cranes or other construction machinery readily available, the moment it did however, the 8-hour work day and 5-day work week were officially re-enforced. Lowering it any further was a projected plan for the USSR however because they had not reached a level of productivity that would allow for that they could not feasibly do so. Additionally I would say that work is good, and considering the far more democratic organization of soviet industry (workers could easily vote to get managers fired for misanagement) and the fact that workers got massive benefits (long parental leaves for mother and father, a paid vacation for nearly 2 weeks every year etc.

cult of workerism
Encouraging work and its enjoyment is a bad thing? Under capitalism workerism is indeed shilling for porky, but M-Ls aren't talking about that.

CHINA!
seriously m8? You're using CHINA as a modern example? Anyone and their mother on this board knows what the fuck China's "socialism" is about and it certainly isn't M-L any more. Dengism is real, deal with it.

the ML cult of organization, discipline and vanguardism
Sorry that being a functional logical ideology bothers you, but it ain't a cult. Naz-Bols are a cult, M-Ls aren't

ML parties in the West are impotent and do absolutely nothing relevant
in the West
Because leftism in the West in general is impotent.

seen way more anarchists actually doing stuff IRL to help their local community
Like what? Act out like apes at Charlottesville? Or make themselves into public jokes by getting into skirmishes with equally cringy alt-righters?
You want to have an example of a communist movement that is gaining traction? Indias vangaurd communist parties had a million man march and are only gaining more power as they attempt to push off and remove Modi from power, thinly veiling their point, that if Modi and his supporters fudge the votes in favor of themselves rather than the popular communists, there will be a revolution. THAT is fucking action. Where do you see anarchists ANYWHERE doing that level of shit? Anarchists are almost exclusively seen in the west, because the West has raised 2 generations on nebulous "fugg uthority" mentality.

not some grandiose Lenin/Mao type of figures.
Lenin and Mao are different because they took what was essentially an unproven theory, started rolling with it and made adjustments as reality displayed the flaws of the theory. They weren't drinking beer and locally organizing after the Revolution because they started it, they also recognized that starting it requires a basis from which to start, Lenin outright states that parliamentary elections from which one can publicly propagandize communism is important to do, because people need to have their own motivations. Your entire idea of M-Ls as being only top-down is completely erroneous and based in a flawed understanding of the concept.

Wyatt Thompson
Wyatt Thompson

bump

Caleb Allen
Caleb Allen

worshiping a Redditor Chapotard
This needs to stop.

Tyler Murphy
Tyler Murphy

what?

Cameron Phillips
Cameron Phillips

Seeing as this is a ML thread. What are your takes Lenin's model of state capitalism?

Luis Thompson
Luis Thompson

What are your takes Lenin's model of state capitalism?
Elaborate?

Jaxon Martinez
Jaxon Martinez

Why did Lenin, along with everyone else that came after stick with state capitalism instead of hand "power" over to the workers?

Gavin Kelly
Gavin Kelly

What does "handing power over to the workers" mean to you, exactly? It is generally accepted among ML's that the USSR was state capitalist during the NEP and socialist when central planning and the five year plans were introduced. If you want ML's to explain why the USSR remained "state capitalist" through out it's existance, you first need to explain your reasoning or present an argument as to why you believe that was the case. Most ML's don't accept your premise.

Aaron Bennett
Aaron Bennett

you first need to explain your reasoning or present an argument as to why you believe that was the case.

Ignorance mainly, I don't know enough about soviet history but I frequently see "state capitalism" being thrown at ML whenever I see leftists argue online.

Jaxon Hill
Jaxon Hill

so you're just repeating shit anarchists say

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Caleb Parker
Caleb Parker

Alright, I should clarify that when Lenin used the term "state capitalism" to decribe the USSR in the 1920's, what he meant was different from what trotskyists and anarchists mean when they say the USSR (for the entirety of it's existence) was state capitalist. What Lenin meant was that the economy of the USSR at this point was largely a regulated capitalism (there were capitalists, commodities being sold according to the logic of the market, etc.) but the state owned some stuff and the communist party had a lot of control. He compared it to Germany iirc.

What trots and anarchists mean when they say the USSR (including post-NEP USSR) was state capitalists is that, even though pretty much the entire economy was collectively (state) owned and the capitalists, land owners, etc. had been expropriated, the USSR was still capitalist, because the workers of the state owned enterprises didn't have enough direct control over workplace and the production process, so "the state became the new capitalist" (or something like that).

Sorry to shill for Ismail and /marx/ again but I think he wrote a good refutation of the state capitalist argument. I'll try to find it.

Henry Robinson
Henry Robinson

double leninism

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Nathaniel Phillips
Nathaniel Phillips

Encouraging work and its enjoyment is a bad thing? Under capitalism workerism is indeed shilling for porky, but M-Ls aren't talking about that.

If you aren't working towards something, simply pushing for work is doing nothing but encouraging surplus labor beyond replacement of consumption.

Brandon Brown
Brandon Brown

Not him but I'm pretty sure Ismail posts on Chapo's subreddit. I mean who else do you know who scans soviet books and links books from Zlibrary?

Aiden King
Aiden King

Vanguardism is when members of the proletariat over through the bourgeois and establish themselves as the ruling class

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Matthew Kelly
Matthew Kelly

If you aren't working towards something, simply pushing for work is doing nothing but encouraging surplus labor beyond replacement of consumption.
That's true, that's also not what M-Ls argue for, making it a moot point.

Gabriel Martinez
Gabriel Martinez

He also posts on various liberal subreddits, he's goes where the people are and educate them as best he can. He's not in this to be the coolest kid in the commie block, he wants to radicalize the workers.

Hudson Jenkins
Hudson Jenkins

The Soviet Union weren't pushing people to work for the sake of working though. They were trying to modernize the country as fast as humanly possible using a planned economy

Hudson Adams
Hudson Adams

bump

Wyatt Sanchez
Wyatt Sanchez

Stalin was much cheaper than billionaires

Christopher Johnson
Christopher Johnson

That depends on who you are talking to. Trots, anarchists and Leftcoms all hate each other and disagree with one another what state capitalism means. For (unorthodox) Trots it's usually the "bureaucracy" somehow becoming a new capitalist class, anarchists reject the entire promise that socialism could even have a state, and Leftcoms think it's still capitalist because of commodity production.

They are all doing ridiculous mental gymnastics to distance themselves from every revolution that has ever happened to reaffirm the preconceived notion that the USSR wasn't "real socialism".

Aiden Murphy
Aiden Murphy

It sucks. It's so fucking gay.

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