O Planeta sem Visto

O Planeta Sem Visto

Por Leon Trotsky. Trecho do Capítulo 45 de sua autobiografia, Minha Vida (1930). Traduzido do espanhol pelo Reagrupamento Revolucionário em dezembro de 2016, a partir da versão disponível em https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/mylife/ch45.htm.

Confesso que meu apelo às democracias europeias, nessa busca pelo direito de asilo, me valeu de passagem muitos momentos de graça. Às vezes, me parecia que estava assistindo à encenação de uma espécie de comédia “pan-europeia” em um ato, intitulada “Os princípios da democracia”. Uma comédia que podia ter sido escrita por Bernard Shaw [dramaturgo satírico], caso se adicionasse a esse líquido “fabiano” que corre em suas veias uma boa dose do sangue de Jonathan Swift [romancista satírico, autor de As Viagens de Guilliver]. Mas, qualquer que fosse seu autor, não se pode negar que a comédia, cujo subtítulo poderia ser “Europa sem visto”, tinha muito de instrutiva. E não falemos dos Estados Unidos! Os Estados Unidos não só tem o privilégio de ser o país mais forte do mundo, mas também o mais temeroso. Não faz muito tempo que [o presidente dos EUA Herbert] Hoover explicou a sua paixão pela pesca, ressaltando o caráter democrático desse esporte. Se é assim – e eu duvido que o seja – a pesca é uma das poucas relíquias da democracia que ainda restam nos Estados Unidos. O direito de asilo já faz tempo que os ianques tem removido de seus códigos legais. De modo que o subtítulo pode ser ampliado: “Europa e América sem visto”. E como estes dois continentes regem o resto do mundo, a conclusão é indiscutível: “O planeta sem visto”.

Por vários lados me explicaram que minha descrença na democracia é meu maior pecado. Quantos artigos e até mesmo livros foram escritos sobre isso! Mas quando eu peço para receber uma breve aula prática de democracia, não há voluntários. Não há um único país em todo o planeta que se disponha a estampar um visto em meu passaporte. E querem me convencer que esse outro pleito, imensamente mais importante, que é o pleito entre os proprietários e os que não tem posses, será decidido com a observância estrita das formas e rituais da democracia?

Mas, vamos aos fatos: a ditadura revolucionária deu os frutos que dela se esperavam? A essa pergunta, que se ouve constantemente, não pode ser respondida a não ser através da análise dos resultados da revolução de outubro, enfocando-se as perspectivas que se abrem ante ela. Uma autobiografia não é, como compreenderão, o lugar mais adequado para levar a cabo esse exame. Procurarei realiza-lo em um livro consagrado especialmente ao problema [A Revolução Traída, 1936], no qual já toquei em meu exílio na Ásia central. Compreendo, não obstante, que não posso finalizar o relato de minha vida sem falar, ainda que em algumas poucas linhas, porque sigo incondicionalmente no caminho em que sempre estive.

O panorama que se desenvolveu ante os olhos da minha geração – a que agora está entrando nos anos maduros ou declinando rumo à velhice – pode ser descrito esquematicamente como segue: no decorrer de umas décadas – de fins do século XIX ao começo do XX – a população europeia foi submetida à disciplina inexorável da indústria. Todos os aspectos da educação social tiveram que se render ao princípio da produtividade do trabalho. Isso trouxe consigo enormes consequências e parecia abrir uma série de novas possibilidades para o Homem. Na realidade, o que fez foi desencadear uma guerra. É claro que a guerra teve que convencer a humanidade de que ela não estava degenerada, como tanto clamara lamentavelmente a anêmica filosofia, mas, ao contrário, que estava cheia de vida, de forças, de ânimos e de espírito empreendedor. E a guerra serviu também para evidenciar para a humanidade, com uma potência jamais conhecida, o seu enorme poder técnico. Foi como se o Homem, posto diante de um espelho, ensaiasse fazer um corte no pescoço com a navalha de barbear, como forma de se assegurar de que sua garganta estava sã e forte.

Ao término da guerra de 1914-18, se proclamou que, a partir daquele momento, era dever um dever moral sagrado direcionar todas as energias a estancar aquelas mesmas feridas que, pelo espaço de quatro anos, se defendeu que era um dever moral produzir. O trabalho e a poupança não apenas se veem restaurados em seus antigos direitos, como apoiados pela mão de ferro da racionalização. As assim chamadas “reparações” são levadas à cabo pelas mesmas classes, pelos mesmos partidos e até pelas mesmas pessoas que foram responsáveis pela devastação. E onde se implantou uma mudança de regime político, como na Alemanha, quem conduz o movimento de construção são personagens que na campanha de destruição figuravam em segundo ou terceiro escalão. A isso se reduz toda a mudança, em pureza. Poder-se-ia dizer que a guerra ceifou toda uma geração apenas para que se produzisse um lapso na memória dos povos e para que a nova geração não compreenda de forma muita clara que o que o se está fazendo é, na verdade, ainda que se trate de uma fase historicamente superior e com consequências que serão, portanto, muito mais dolorosas, voltar aos velhos hábitos.

Na Rússia, a classe trabalhadora, guiada pelos bolcheviques, tentou transformar a vida para ver se era possível evitar que se repetissem periodicamente esses acessos de loucura da humanidade e, ao mesmo tempo, para construir as bases de uma cultura superior. Foi esse o sentido da revolução de outubro. É indubitável que a missão a que se propôs ainda não está cumprida, pois se trata de um problema que, por razão natural, só se pode ver resolvido ao longo de muitos anos. E digo mais: digo que é necessário considerar a revolução russa como o ponto de partida de uma nova história da humanidade em sua totalidade. Ao término da Guerra dos Trinta Anos, foi possível que o movimento alemão em prol da Reforma tivesse todo o aspecto de um tumulto desencadeado por homens fugidos de um manicômio. E de certa forma assim o era, pois a Europa acabara de sair de dos claustros da Idade Média. E, não obstante, como conceber a existência dessa Alemanha moderna, da Inglaterra, dos Estados Unidos e de toda a atual humanidade, sem levar em conta aquele movimento da Reforma, com as inúmeras vítimas que devorou? Se está justificado que haja vítimas – e não sabemos de quem teria que se obter, de fato,  a permissão – nunca está tão justificado como quando as vítimas servem para levar a humanidade a um avanço. E cabe dizer o mesmo da Revolução francesa. O reacionário e pedante Taine imaginava ter descoberto uma grande coisa quando dizia que, alguns anos depois de se ter decapitado Luís XVI, o povo francês vivia mais pobre e menos feliz que sob o Antigo Regime. Feitos como os da grande Revolução francesa não se podem medir pela régua de “alguns anos”.  Sem a Grande Revolução, a França de hoje seria inconcebível e o próprio Taine teria terminado seus dias como o escriba de algum grande senhor do velho regime, ao invés de se dedicar a insultar a revolução à qual deve sua carreira.

Pois bem: a revolução de outubro deve ser julgada com uma distância histórica maior. Apenas tolos ou pessoas de má fé podem acusa-la de, em doze anos, não ter trazido paz e bem estar para todos. Vista sob o mesmo critério da Reforma ou da Revolução francesa, que representam, em um distância de uns três séculos, duas etapas do caminho da sociedade burguesa, não se pode senão se admirar que um povoado tão atrasado e solitário como a Rússia se tenha conseguido assegurar à massa do povo, doze anos após a sacudida, uma média de vida que, ao menos, não é inferior ao que existia às vésperas da guerra. Apenas isso, por si só, é um milagre. Mas, claro está que não é aí que se deve buscar o sentido e a razão de ser da revolução russa. Estamos diante de uma tentativa de mudança da ordem social. É possível que essa tentativa se modifique e transforme, talvez fundamentalmente. É seguro que deve adotar um caráter totalmente distinto sobre a base da nova técnica. Porém, passarão algumas dezenas de anos, passarão alguns séculos, e a ordem social que rege olhará para a revolução de outubro tal qual hoje o regime burguês faz com a Revolução francesa e a Reforma. E isso é tão claro, tão evidente, tão indiscutível, que até os professores de História o compreenderão; ainda que apenas depois de uns tantos anos.

“Bem, e sobre tudo ocorreu à sua pessoa nesse processo, o que me dizes?” Já quase consigo ouvir essa pergunta, na qual a ironia se mescla com a curiosidade. Não há muito mais o que dizer sobre ela do que aquilo que eu já disse ao longo desse livro. Não entendo essa lógica de medir um processo histórico com a régua das vicissitudes individuais de uma pessoa. Meu sistema é o inverso: não só penso objetivamente o destino pessoal que me coube, como também, ainda que subjetivamente, não sou capaz de vive-lo se não for de forma indissociável dos caminhos da evolução social.

Quantas vezes, desde a minha expulsão [da URSS], tive que ouvir os jornais falarem e discorrerem sobre minha “tragédia”! Não reconheço nenhuma tragédia pessoal. O que há, simplesmente, é uma mudança de capítulo na revolução. Um jornal norte-americano publicou um artigo meu, acompanhando-o da engenhosa observação de que o autor, apesar de todos os reveses sofridos, não havia perdido – como o artigo demonstrava – o equilíbrio da razão. Não posso senão me assombrar com essa tentativa filisteia de estabelecer uma relação entre a clareza de juízo e ter um cargo no governo, entre o equilíbrio moral e as circunstancias da atualidade. Jamais conheci semelhante relação de causalidade. No cárcere, com um livro à minha frente ou uma pena na mão, vivi momentos de prazer tão radiantes como os que pude desfrutar naquelas reuniões das massas durante a revolução. E quanto à mecânica do poder, me pareceu sempre mais como um encargo inevitável do que uma satisfação espiritual. Mas sobre isso talvez seja melhor ouvirmos algumas palavras já ditas por outros. No dia 26 de janeiro de 1917, Rosa Luxemburgo escreveu na prisão a uma amiga, dizendo:

“Isso de se entregar por completo às misérias de cada dia que passa é para mim algo inconcebível e intolerável. Veja, por exemplo, a fria serenidade com a qual se elevava Goethe por sobre as coisas. E, não obstante, não acreditava que não havia de passar por amargas experiências. Pense naquilo que ele viveu: a grande Revolução francesa, que, vista de perto, certamente tinha o aspecto de uma força sangrenta e sem nenhum objetivo e, logo após, uma sucessão de guerras que vão de 1793 a 1815… Não te peço que escreva poesias como Goethe, mas sua forma de abraçar a vida – aquele universalismo de interesses, aquela harmonia interior – está ao alcance de qualquer um, ainda que seja apenas como aspiração. E se me disser, por acaso, que Goethe podia ser assim porque não era um lutador politico, te responderei que precisamente um lutador é quem mais tem que se esforçar em ver as coisas desde acima, caso não queira cair de bruços a cada passo contra todas as pequenices e misérias… sempre e quando, naturalmente, que se trate de um lutador de verdade…”

Que palavras magníficas! As li pela primeira vez não fazem muitos dias e elas me fizeram ter ainda mais afeto e carinho pela figura de Rosa Luxemburgo do que antes.

No que diz respeito a doutrinas, caráter ou ideologia, não há em Proudhon – essa espécie de Robinson Crusoé do socialismo – nada com o que eu simpatize. Mas Proudhon era, por natureza, um lutador; era, intelectualmente, generoso; sentia um grande desdém pela opinião pública oficial e nele ardia uma chama inextinguível do desejo agudo e universal pelo saber. Isso o permitia estar por cima dos vaivéns da vida pessoal e por cima da realidade que o cercava. No dia 26 de abril de 1852, Proudhon escreveu na prisão a um amigo:

“O movimento, sem dúvidas, não é normal e nem sege uma linha reta; mas a tendência se mantém constante. Tudo o que é feito pela revolução é algo que não pode mais ser desenraizado; o que se tenta contra ela passa direto como uma nuvem. Eu gosto de ver esse espetáculo, do qual entendo cada figura; assisto a essa evolução da vida no universo como se desde o alto descendesse sobre mim sua explicação; o que a outros destrói, a mim eleva mais e mais, me inspira e me fortalece. Como, então, você quer que eu acuse o destino, que eu reclame das pessoas e as acuse? Eu rio do destino. E quanto aos homens, são por demais ignorantes, por demais escravizados, para que eu me irrite com eles.”

Ainda que essas palavras certamente tenham uma eloquência eclesiástica, são belas palavras. Eu assino embaixo delas.

El Planeta sin Visado

El Planeta sin Visado

Por Leon Trotsky. Extracto de lo Capítulo 45 de su autobiografia, Mi Vida (1930). Copiado de
https://www.marxists.org/espanol/trotsky/1930s/mivida/46.htm

Confieso que la apelación a las democracias europeas, en este pleito del derecho de asilo, me ha valido, de pasada, muchos ratos de regocijo. A veces, parecíame estar asistiendo a la representación de una especie de comedia “paneuropea”, en un acto, titulada “Los principios de la democracia”. Una comedia que podría haber escrito Bernard Shaw si a ese líquido “fabiano” que corre por sus venas se añadiese una buena dosis de la sangre de Jonathan Swift. Pero, cualquiera que su autor fuese, no puede negarse que la comedia, cuyo subtítulo podría rezar: Europa sin visado, tenía mucho de instructivo. ¡Y no hablemos de Norteamérica! Los Estados Unidos no tienen sólo el privilegio de ser el país más fuerte, sino también el más miedoso del mundo. No hace mucho que Hoover explicaba su pasión por la pesca haciendo resaltar el carácter democrático de este deporte. Si ello es así-y yo lo dudo-, la pesca es una de las pocas reliquias de la democracia que quedan en los Estados Unidos. El derecho de asilo ya hace largo tiempo que los yanquis lo tienen derogado también de sus Códigos. De modo que el título puede ampliarse: Europa y América sin visado. Y como estos dos continentes rigen el resto del mundo, la conclusión es indiscutible: El planeta sin visado.

Por todas partes oigo decir que mi vicio más imperdonable es la falta de fe en la democracia. ¡Qué sé yo cuántos artículos y hasta libros se han escrito acerca de este tema! Pero el caso es que cuando a mi se me ocurre pedir que me den una lección práctica de democracia todo el mundo se excusa. ¡Ni un solo país en todo el planeta que se preste a estampar el visado en mi pasaporte! Y siendo esto así, ¿se me quiere hacer creer que ese otro pleito, inmensamente más importante y más cruento, que es el pleito entre los poseedores y los desposeídos, va a poder resolverse aplicando con rigor exquisito los hábitos y las formas de la democracia?

Pero, vengamos a cuentas, ¿es que la dictadura revolucionaria ha dado los frutos que se esperaban de ella? A esta pregunta, que oye uno constantemente, no se puede dar una respuesta más que analizando los resultados de la revolución de Octubre y enfocando las perspectivas que ante ella se abren. Una autobiografía no es, como se comprende, el lugar más adecuado para llevar a cabo este examen. Procuraré hacerlo en un libro consagrado especialmente al problema, en el que puse mano ya durante mi destierro en el Asia central. Entiendo, sin embargo, que no puedo abandonar el relato de mi vida sin decir, aunque sólo sea en unas pocas líneas, por qué sigo incondicionalmente en el camino en que siempre estuve.

El panorama que se ha desarrollado ante los ojos de mi generación -la que ahora está entrando en los años maduros o declinando hacia la vejez-puede describirse esquemáticamente como sigue: En el transcurso de algunas décadas-fines del siglo XIX y comienzos del XX-la población europea hubo de someterse a la disciplina inexorable de la industria. Todos los aspectos de la educación social se tuvieron que rendir al principio de la productividad en el trabajo. Esto trajo consigo magnas consecuencias y parecía abrir ante el hombre una serie de nuevas posibilidades. En realidad, lo que hizo fue desencadenar la guerra. Claro es que la guerra hubo de convencer a la humanidad de que no estaba, ni mucho menos, degenerada, como tanto clamara lamentatoriamente la anémica filosofía, sino por el contrario, pletórica de vida, de fuerzas, de ánimos y de espíritu emprendedor. Y la guerra sirvió también para evidenciar a la humanidad, con una potencia jamás conocida, su enorme poderío técnico. Era algo así como si un hombre, puesto delante de un espejo, ensayase a darse un tajo en el cuello con la navaja de afeitar, para cerciorarse de que su garganta estaba sana y fuerte.

Al terminarse la guerra de 1914 a 1918, se proclamó que, a partir de aquel momento, era deber moral sagrado enderezar todas las energías a restañar aquellas mismas heridas que por espacio de cuatro años se había estado predicando que era un sagrado deber moral producir. El trabajo y el ahorro no sólo se ven restaurados en sus antiguos derechos, sino atenazados por la férrea tenaza de la racionalización. Las tituladas “reparaciones” corren a cargo de las mismas clases, los mismos partidos e incluso las mismas personas a cuyo cargo corriera también la devastación. Y donde, como en Alemania, se implantó un cambio de régimen político, llevan la batuta en el movimiento de reconstrucción personajes que en la campaña de destrucción figuraban en segundo o tercer rango. A esto se reduce todo el cambio, en puridad.

Diríase que la guerra ha segado a toda una generación tan sólo para que en la memoria de los pueblos se produzca un lapso y la nueva generación no comprenda de un modo demasiado claro que lo que hace, en realidad, aunque sea en una fase históricamente superior y con consecuencias que serán, por tanto, mucho más dolorosas, es volver a las andadas.

En Rusia, la clase obrera, guiada por los bolcheviques, ha acometido el intento de transformar la vida para ver si es posible evitar que se repitan periódicamente esos ataques de locura de la humanidad, y a la par, para echar los cimientos de una cultura superior. No fué otro el sentido de la revolución de Octubre. Es indudable que la misión que se propuso no está aún cumplida, pues se trata de un problema que, por razón natural, sólo puede verse resuelto en el transcurso de bastantes años. Y diríamos más: diríamos que es menester considerar la revolución rusa como el punto de partida de la nueva historia humana en su totalidad.

Al terminar la Guerra de los Treinta años, es posible que el movimiento alemán de la Reforma tuviese todo el aspecto de una baraúnda desencadenada por hombres escapados del manicomio. Y en cierto modo, así era, pues Europa acababa de salir de los claustros de la Edad Media. Y, sin embargo, ¿cómo concebir la existencia de esta Alemania moderna, de Inglaterra, de los Estados Unidos y de toda la humanidad actual, sin aquel movimiento de la Reforma, con las víctimas innumerables que devoró? Si está justificado que haya víctimas-y no sabemos de quién habría que obtener, realmente, el permiso-, nunca lo está tanto como cuando las víctimas sirven para imprimir un avance a la humanidad.

Y lo mismo cabe decir de la Revolución francesa. Aquel reaccionario y pedante de Taine se imaginaba haber descubierto una gran cosa cuando decía que, a la vuelta de algunos años después de haber decapitado, a Luis XVI, el pueblo francés vivía más pobre y menos feliz que bajo el antiguo régimen. Sucesos como el de la gran Revolución francesa no pueden medirse por el rasero de “algunos años”. Sin la Gran Revolución sería inconcebible la Francia de hoy, y el propio Taine hubiera acabado sus días de escriba de algún gran señor del viejo régimen, en vez de dedicarse a denostar la revolución a la que debe su carrera.

Pues bien: a la revolución de Octubre hay que juzgarla a una distancia histórica aún mayor. Sólo gentes necias o de mala fe pueden acusarla de que en doce años no haya traído la paz y el bienestar para todos. Contemplada con el criterio de la Reforma o de la Revolución francesa, que representan, en una distancia de unos tres siglos, dos etapas en el camino de la sociedad burguesa, no puede uno por menos de admirarse que en un pueblo tan atrasado y solitario como Rusia se haya podido asegurar a la masa del pueblo, doce años después de la sacudida, un promedio de vida que, por lo menos, no es inferior al que se les brindaba en vísperas de la guerra. Ya esto, por sí solo, es un milagro. Pero, claro está que el sentido y la razón de ser de la revolución rusa no es ahí donde hay que buscarlos. Estamos ante el intento de un nuevo orden social. Es posible que este intento cambie y se transforme, fundamentalmente tal vez. Es seguro que habrá de adoptar un carácter totalmente distinto sobre la base de la nueva técnica. Pero, pasarán unas cuantas docenas de años, pasarán unos cuantos siglos, y el orden social que rija remontará la mirada a la revolución de Octubre como el régimen burgués de hoy hace con la Revolución francesa y la Reforma. Y esto es tan claro, tan evidente, tan indiscutible, que hasta los profesores de Historia lo comprenderán; claro está que pasados unos cuantos años…

Bien, ¿y de la suerte que en todo esto ha corrido su persona, qué me dice usted? Ya me parece estar oyendo esta pregunta, en la que la ironía se mezcla con la curiosidad. A ella, no puedo contestar con mucho más de lo que ya dejo dicho en las páginas del presente libro. Yo no sé que es eso de medir un proceso histórico con el rasero de las vicisitudes individuales de una persona. Mi sistema es el contrario: no sólo valoro objetivamente el destino personal que me ha cabido en suerte, sino que, aun subjetivamente, no acierto a vivirlo si no es unido de un modo inseparable a los derroteros que sigue la evolución social.

¡Cuántas veces, desde mi expulsión, he tenido que oír a los periódicos hablar y discurrir acerca de mi “tragedia” personal! Aquí no hay tragedia personal de ninguna especie. Hay, sencillamente, un cambio de etapas en la revolución. Un periódico norteamericano publicó un artículo mío, acompañándolo de la ingeniosa observación de que el autor, a pesar de todos los reveses sufridos, no había perdido, como el artículo demostraba, el equilibrio de la razón. No puede uno por menos de reírse ante esa pobre gente para quien, por lo visto, la claridad de juicio guarda relación con un cargo en el Gobierno y el equilibrio de la razón depende de los vaivenes del día. Yo no he conocido jamás, ni conozco, semejante relación de causalidad. En las cárceles, con un libro delante o una pluma en la mano, he vivido horas de gozo tan radiante como las que pude disfrutar en aquellos mítines grandiosos de la revolución. Y en cuanto a la mecánica del Poder, me pareció siempre que tenía más de carga inevitable que de satisfacción espiritual. Pero, mejor será que acerca de esto oigamos palabras muy discretas, dichas ya por otros:

El día 26 de enero de 1917, Rosa Luxemburgo escribía a una amiga, desde la cárcel:

“Eso de entregarse, por entero a las miserias de cada día que pasa, es cosa para mí inconcebible e intolerable. Fíjate, por ejemplo, con qué fría serenidad se remonta un Goethe por encima de las cosas. Y sin embargo, no creas que no hubo de pasar por amargas experiencias: piensa tan sólo en la gran Revolución francesa, que, vista de cerca, seguramente tendría todo el aspecto de una mascarada sangrienta y perfectamente estéril, y en la cadena ininterrumpida de guerras que van desde 1793 a 1815… Yo no te pido que hagas poesías como Goethe, pero su modo de abrazar la vida-aquel universalismo de intereses, aquella armonía interior-está al alcance de cualquiera, aunque sólo sea en cuanto aspiración. Y si me dices, acaso, que Goethe podía hacerlo porque no era un luchador político, te replicaré que precisamente un luchador es quien más tiene que esforzarse en mirar las cosas desde arriba, si no quiere dar de bruces a cada paso contra todas las pequeñeces y miserias… siempre y cuando, naturalmente, que se trate de un luchador de verdad…”

¡Magníficas palabras! Las leí por vez primera no hace muchos días y ellas me han hecho cobrar nuevo afecto y devoción por la figura de Rosa Luxemburgo.

En cuanto a doctrinas, carácter e ideología, no hay en Proudhon, esa especie de Robinsón Crusoe del socialismo, nada que me simpatice. Pero Proudhon era, por naturaleza, un luchador; era, intelectualmente, generoso; sentía un gran desdén hacia la opinión pública oficial y en él ardía esa llama inextinguible del afán acuciante y universal de saber. Esto le permitía estar por encima de los vaivenes de la vida personal y por encima de la realidad circundante.

El día 26 de abril de 1852, Proudhon escribía a un amigo desde la prisión:

“El movimiento, indudablemente, no es normal ni sigue una línea recta; pero la tendencia se mantiene constante. Todo lo que los Gobiernos hagan, primero unos y luego otros, en provecho de la revolución, es cosa que ya no se puede desarraigar; en cambio, lo que contra ella se intenta, se evapora como una nube. Yo disfruto de este espectáculo, cada uno de cuyos cuadros sé interpretar; asisto a esta evolución de la vida en el universo como si desde lo alto descendiese sobre mí su explicación; lo que a otros destruye, a mí me exalta, me enardece y me conforta; ¿cómo, pues, puede usted pretender que me lamente de mi suerte, que me queje de los hombres y los maldiga? ¿La suerte? Me río de ella. Y en cuanto a los hombres, son demasiado necios y están demasiado enservilecidos, para que yo pueda reprocharles nada.”

Pese al regusto de patetismo eclesiástico que hay en ellas, también éstas son palabras muy bien dichas, y yo las suscribo.

The Planet Without a Visa

The Planet Without a Visa

By Leon Trotsky. Excerpt of the Chapter XLV of his autobiography, My Life (1930). Copied from
https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/mylife/ch45.htm#f1.

I must admit that the roll-call of the western European democracies on the question of the right of asylum has given me, aside from other things, more than a few merry minutes. At times, it seemed as if I were attending a “pan-European” performance of a one-act comedy on the theme of principles of democracy. Its text might have been written by Bernard Shaw if the Fabian fluid that runs in his veins had been strengthened by even so much as five per cent of Jonathan Swift’s blood. But whoever may have written the text, the play remains very instructive: Europe without a Visa. There is no need to mention America. The United States is not only the strongest, but also the most terrified country. Hoover recently explained his passion for fishing by pointing out the democratic nature of this pastime. If this be so – although I doubt it – it is at all events one of the few survivals of democracy still existing in the United States. There the right of asylum has been absent for a long time. Europe and America without a visa. But these two continents own the other three. This means – The planet without a visa.

On many sides it has been explained to me that my disbelief in democracy is my greatest sin. How many articles and even books have been written about this! But when I ask to be given a brief object-lesson in democracy, there are no volunteers. The planet proves to be without a visa. Why should I believe that the much more important question – the trial between the rich and poor – will be decided with strict observance of the forms and rituals of democracy?

And has the revolutionary dictatorship produced the results expected of it? – I hear a question. It would be possible to answer it only by taking a reckoning of the experience of the October Revolution and trying to indicate its future prospects. An autobiography is no place for this, and I will try to answer the question in a special book on which I had already begun to work during my stay in Central Asia. But I cannot end the story of my life without explaining, if only in a few lines, why I adhere so completely to my old path.

That which has happened in the memory of my generation, already mature or approaching old age, can be described schematically as follows: During several decades – the end of the last century and the beginning of the present – the European population was being severely disciplined by industry. All phases of social education were dominated by the principle of the productivity of labor. This yielded stupendous results and seemed to open up new possibilities to people. But actually it only led to war. It is true that through the war humanity has been able to convince itself, in the face of the crowings of aruemic philosophy, that it is not degenerating after all; on the contrary, it is full of life, strength, bravery, enterprise. Through the same war, it realized its technical power with unprecedented force. It was as if a man, to prove that his pipes for breathing and swallowing were in order, had begun to cut his throat with a razor in front of a mirror.

After the end of the operations of 1914-18, it was declared that from now on the highest moral duty was to care for the wounds which it had been the highest moral duty to inflict during the preceding four years. Industry and thrift were not only restored to their rights, but were put into the steel corsets of rationalization. The so-called “reconstruction” is directed by those same classes, parties, and even individuals who guided the destruction. Where a change of political régime has taken place, as in Germany, the men who play the leading rôles in the direction of reconstruction are those who played second and third rôles in guiding the destruction. That, strictly speaking, is the only change.

The war has swept away an entire generation, as if to create a break in the memory of peoples and to prevent the new generation from noticing too closely that it is actually engaged in repeating what has been done before, only on a higher historical rung, which implies more menacing consequences.

The working class of Russia, under the leadership of the Bolsheviks, made an attempt to effect a reconstruction of life that would exclude the possibility of humanity’s going through these periodical fits of sheer insanity, and would lay the foundations of a higher culture. That was the sense of the October Revolution. To be sure, the problem it has set itself has not yet been solved. But in its very essence, this problem demands many decades. Moreover, the October Revolution should be considered as the starting-point of the newest history of humanity as a whole.

Toward the end of the Thirty Years’ War, the German Reformation must have appeared the work of men who had broken out of a lunatic asylum. To a certain extent, it really was: European humanity broken out of the medieval monastery. Modern Germany, England, the United States and the modern world in general would never have been possible without the Reformation with its countless victims. If victims are generally to be permitted – but whose permission could one ask? – it is certainly victims that move humanity forward.

The same can be said of the French Revolution. That narrow-minded, reactionary pedant, Taine, imagined that he was making a most profound discovery when he established the fact that a few years after the execution of Louis XVI, the French people were poorer and more unhappy than under the old régime. But the whole point of the matter is that such events as the great French Revolution cannot be viewed on the scale of “a few years.” Without the great revolution, the entire new France would never have been possible, and Taine himself would still have been a clerk in the service of some contractor of the old régime instead of being able to blacken the revolution that opened a new career to him.

A still greater historical perspective is necessary to view the October revolution. Only hopeless dullards can quote as evidence against it the fact that in twelve years it has not yet created general peace and prosperity. If one adopts the scale of the German Reformation and the French Revolution, representing two different stages in the evolution of bourgeois society, separated from each other by almost three centuries, one must express amazement at the fact that a backward and isolated Russia twelve years after the revolution has been able to insure for the masses of the people a standard of living that is not lower than that existing on the eve of the war. That alone is a miracle of its kind. But of course the significance of the October Revolution does not lie in that. The revolution is an experiment in a new social régime, an experiment that will undergo many changes and will probably be remade anew from its very foundations. It will assume an entirely different character on the basis of the newest technical achievements. But after a few decades and centuries, the new social order will look back on the October Revolution as the bourgeois order does on the German Reformation or the French Revolution. This is so clear, so incontestably clear, that even the professors of history will understand it, though only after many years.

And what of your personal fate? – I hear a question, in which curiosity is mixed with irony. Here I can add but little to what I have said in this book. I do not measure the historical process by the yardstick of one’s personal fate. On the contrary, I appraise my fate objectively and live it subjectively, only as it is inextricably bound up with the course of social development.

Since my exile, I have more than once read musings in the newspapers on the subject of the “tragedy” that has befallen me. I know no personal tragedy. I know the change of two chapters of the revolution. One American paper which published an article of mine accompanied it with a profound note to the effect that in spite of the blows the author had suffered, he had, as evidenced by his article, preserved his clarity of reason. I can only express my astonishment at the philistine attempt to establish a connection between the power of reasoning and a government post, between mental balance and the present situation. I do not know, and I never have, of any such connection. In prison, with a book or a pen in my hand, I experienced the same sense of deep satisfaction that I did at the mass-meetings of the revolution. I felt the mechanics of power as an inescapable burden, rather than as a spiritual satisfaction. But it would perhaps be briefer to quote the good words of someone else.

On January 26, 1917, Rosa Luxemburg wrote to a woman friend from prison:

“This losing oneself completely in the banalities of daily life is something that I generally cannot understand or endure. See, for example, how Goethe rose above material things with a calm superiority. Just think of what he had to live through: the great French Revolution, which at near range must have seemed a bloody and utterly aimless farce, and then from 1793 to 1815, a continuous sequence of wars. I do not demand that you write poetry as Goethe did, but his view of life, the universality of his interests, the inner harmony of the man, every one can create for himself or at least strive for. And should you say that Goethe was not a political fighter, I maintain that it is precisely the fighter who must try to be above things, or else he will get his nose stuck in all sorts of rubbish – of course, in this case, I am thinking of a fighter in the grand style …”

Brave words. I read them for the first time the other day, and they immediately brought the figure of Rosa Luxemburg closer and made her dearer to me than ever before.

In his views, his character, his world outlook, Proudhon, that Robinson Crusoe of socialism, is alien to me. But Proudhon had the nature of a fighter, a spiritual disinterestedness, a capacity for despising official public opinion, and finally, the fire of a many-sided curiosity never extinguished. This enabled him to rise above his own life, with its ups and downs, as he did above all contemporaneous reality.

On April 26, 1852, Proudhon wrote to a friend from prison:

“The movement is no doubt irregular and crooked, but the tendency is constant. What every government does in turn in favor of revolution becomes inviolable; what is attempted against it passes over like a cloud: I enjoy watching this spectacle, in which I understand every single picture; I observe these changes in the life of the world as if I had received their explanation from above; what oppresses others, elevates me more and more, inspires and fortifies me; how can you want me then to accuse destiny, to complain about people and curse them? Destiny – I laugh at it; and as for men, they are too ignorant, too enslaved for me to feel annoyed at them.”

Despite their slight savor of ecclesiastical eloquence, those are fine words. I subscribe to them.

Communism and the Family

Communism and the Family

by Alexandra Kollontai

[First Published: in Komunistka, No. 2, 1920, and in English in The Worker, 1920; Copied from 

http://www.marxists.org/archive/kollonta/1920/communism-family.htm ]

Will the family continue to exist under communism? Will the family remain in the same form? These questions are troubling many women of the working class and worrying their menfolk as well. Life is changing before our very eyes; old habits and customs are dying out, and the whole life of the proletarian family is developing in a way that is new and unfamiliar and, in the eyes of some, “bizarre”. No wonder that working women are beginning to think these questions over. Another fact that invites attention is that divorce has been made easier in Soviet Russia. The decree of the Council of People’s Commissars issued on 18 December 1917 means that divorce is, no longer a luxury that only the rich can afford; henceforth, a working woman will not have to petition for months or even for years to secure the right to live separately from a husband who beats her and makes her life a misery with his drunkenness and uncouth behaviour. Divorce by mutual agreement now takes no more than a week or two to obtain. Women who are unhappy in their married life welcome this easy divorce. But others, particularly those who are used to looking upon their husband as “breadwinners”, are frightened. They have not yet understood that a woman must accustom herself to seek and find support in the collective and in society, and not from the individual man.

There is no point in not facing up to the truth: the old family in which the man was everything and the woman nothing, the typical family where the woman had no will of her own, no time of her own and no money of her own, is changing before our very eyes. But there is no ne d for alarm. It is only our ignorance that leads us to think that the things we are used to can never change. Nothing could be less true than the saying “as it was, so it shall be”. We have only to read how people lived in the past to see that everything is subject to change and that no customs, political organisations or moral principles are fixed and inviolable. In the course of history, the structure of the family has changed many times; it was once quite different from the family of today. There was a time when the kinship family was considered the norm: the mother headed a family consisting of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who lived and worked together. At another period the patriarchal family was the rule. In this case it was the father whose will was law for all the other members of the family: even today such families may be found among the peasantry in the Russian villages. Here the morals and customs of family life are not those of the urban proletariat. In the countryside, they observe norms which the worker has long forgotten. The structure of the family and the customs of family life also vary from nation to nation. Among some peoples such as the Turks. Arabs and Persians, a man is allowed to have several wives. There have been and there still are tribes where the woman may have several husbands. We are used to the fact that a young girl is expected to remain a virgin until marriage; however, there are tribes where it is a matter of pride to have had many lovers and where the women decorate their arms and legs with the corresponding number of bracelets. Many practices which might astonish us and which might even seem immoral are considered by other peoples to be quite normal and they, in their turn, consider our laws and customs “sinful”. There is, therefore, no reason to be frightened of the fact that the family is in the process of change, and that outdated and unnecessary things are being discarded and new relations between men and women developing our job is to decide which aspects of our family system are outdated and to determine what relations, between the men and women of the working and peasant classes and which rights and duties would best harmonise with the conditions of life in the new workers’ Russia. That which is in be With the new life should be maintained, while all that is old and outdated and derives from the cursed epoch of servitude and domination, of landed proprietors and capitalists, should be swept aside together with the exploiting class itself and the other enemies of the proletariat and the poor.

The type of family to which the urban and rural proletariat has grown accustomed is one of these, legacies of the past. There was a time when the isolated, firmly-knit family, based on a church wedding, was equally necessary to all its members. If there had been no family, who would have fed, clothed and brought up the children? Who would have given them advice? In days gone by, to be an orphan was one of the worst fates imaginable. In the family of old, the husband earns and orts his wife and children. The wife for her part is occupied with housekeeping and with bringing up the children as best she can. But over the last hundred years this customary family structure has been falling apart in all the countries where capitalism is dominant and where the number of factories and other enterprises which employ hired labour is increasing. The customs and moral principles of family life are changing as the general conditions of life change. It is the universal spread of female labour that has contributed most of all to the radical change in family life. Formerly only the man was considered a breadwinner. But Russian women have for the past fifty or sixty years (and in other capitalist countries for a somewhat longer period of time) been forced to seek paid work outside the family and outside the home. The wages of the “breadwinner” being insufficient for the needs of the family, the woman found herself obliged to look for a wage and to knock at the factory door. With every year the number of working-class women starting work outside the home as day labourers, saleswomen, clerks, washerwomen and servants increased. Statistics show that in 1914, before the outbreak of the First World War, there were about sixty million women earning their own living in the countries of Europe and America, and during the war this number increased considerably. Almost half of these women are married. What kind of family life they must have can easily be imagined. What kind of “family life” can there be if the wife and mother is out at work for at least eight hours and, counting the travelling, is away from home for ten hours a day? Her home is neglected; the children grow up without any maternal care, spending most of the time out on the streets, exposed to all the dangers of this environment. The woman who is wife, mother and worker has to expend every ounce of energy to fulfil these roles. She has to work the same hours as her husband in some factory, printing-house or commercial establishment and then on top of that she has to find the time to attend to her household and look after her children. Capitalism has placed a crushing burden on woman’s shoulders: it has made her a wage-worker without having reduced her cares as housekeeper or mother. Woman staggers beneath the weight of this triple load. She suffers, her face is always wet with tears. Life has never been easy for woman, but never has her lot been harder and more desperate than that of the millions of working women under the capitalist yoke in this heyday of factory production.

The family breaks down as more and more women go out to work. How can one talk about family life when the man and woman work different shifts, and where the wife does not even have the time to prepare a decent meal for her offspring? How can one talk of parents when the mother and father are out working all day and cannot find the time to spend even a few minutes with their children? It was quite different in the old days. The mother remained at home and occupied herself with her household duties; her children were at her side, under her watchful eye. Nowadays the working woman hastens out of the house early in the morning when the factory whistle blows. When evening comes and the whistle sounds again, she hurries home to scramble through the most pressing of her domestic tasks. Then it’s oil to work again the next morning, and she is tired from lack of sleep. For the married working woman, life is as had as the workhouse. It is not surprising therefore that family ties should loosen and the family begin to fall apart. The circumstances that held the family together no longer exist. The family is ceasing to be necessary either to its members or to the nation as a whole. The old family structure is now merely a hindrance. What used to make the old family so strong? First, because the husband and father was the family’s breadwinner; secondly, because the family economy was necessary to all its members: and thirdly, because children were brought up by their parents. What is left of this former type of family? The husband, as we have just seen, has ceased to he the sole breadwinner. The wife who goes to work earns wages. She has learned to cam her own living, to support her children and not infrequently her husband. The family now only serves as the primary economic unit of society and the supporter and educator of young children. Let us examine the matter in more detail, to see whether or not the family is about to be relieved of these tasks as well.

Housework ceases to be necessary

There was a time when the women of the poorer classes in city and country spent their entire lives within the four walls of the home. A woman knew nothing beyond the threshold of her own home, and in most cases had no wish to know anything. After all, in her own home, there was so much to do, and this work was most necessary and useful not only for the family itself but also for the state as a whole. The woman did everything that the modern working and peasant woman has to do, but besides this cooking, washing, cleaning and mending, she spun wool and linen, wove cloth and garments, knitted stockings, made lace, prepared – as far as her resources permitted – all sorts of pickles, jams and other preserves for winter, and manufactured, her own candles. It is difficult to make a complete list of all her duties. That is how our mothers and grandmothers lived. Even today you may still come across remote villages deep in the country, far from the railroads and the big rivers, where this mode of life has been preserved and where the mistress of the house is overburdened with all kinds of chores over which the working woman of the big cities and of the populous industrial regions has long ceased to worry.

In our grandmother’s day, all this domestic work was necessary and beneficial; it ensured the well-being of the family. The more the mistress of the house applied herself, the better the peasant or craftsman’s family lived. Even the national economy benefited from the housewife’s activity, for the woman did not limit herself to making soup and cooking potatoes (i.e. satisfying the Immediate needs of the family), she also produced such things as cloth, thread, butter, etc. which had a value as commodities that could be sold on the market. And every man, whether peasant or worker, tried to find a wife who had “hands of gold”, for he knew that a family could not get along without this “domestic labour”. The interests of the whole nation were involved, for the more work the woman and the other members of the family put into making cloth, leather and wool (the surplus of which was sold in the neighbouring market), the greater the economic prosperity of the country as a whole.

But capitalism has changed all this. All that was formerly produced in the bosom of the family is now being manufactured on a mass scale m workshops and factories. The machine has superseded the wife. What housekeeper would now bother to make candles, spin wool or weave, cloth? All these products can be bought in the shop next door, formerly every girl would learn to knit stockings. Nowadays, what working woman would think of making her own? In the first place she doesn’t have the time. Time is money, and no one wants to waste time in an unproductive and useless manner. Few working women would start to pickle cucumbers or make other preserves when all these things can be bought in the shop. Even if the products sold in the store are of an inferior quality and not prepared with the care of the home-made equivalent the working woman has neither the time nor the energy needed to 1 perform these domestic operations. First and foremost she is a hired worker. Thus the family economy is gradually being deprived of all the domestic work without which our grandmothers could hardly have imagined a family. What was formerly produced in the family is now produced by the collective labour of working men and women in the factories.

The family no longer produces; it only consumes. The housework that remains consists of cleaning (cleaning the floors, dusting, heating water, care of the lamps etc.), cooking (preparation of dinners and suppers), washing and the care of the linen and clothing of the “family (darning and mending). These are difficult and exhausting tasks and they absorb all the spare time and energy of the working woman who must, in addition, put in her hours at a factory. But this work is different in one important way from the work our grandmothers did: the four tasks enumerated above, which still serve to keep the family together, are of no value to the state and the national economy, for they do not create any new values or make any contribution to the prosperity of the country. The housewife may spend all day, from morning to evening, cleaning her home, she may wash and iron the linen daily, make every effort to keep her clothing in good order and prepare whatever dishes she pleases and her modest resources allow, and she will still end the day without having created any values. Despite her industry she would not have made anything that could be considered a commodity. Even if a working woman were to live a thousand years, she would still have to begin every day from the beginning. There would always be a new layer of dust to be removed from the mantelpiece, her husband would always come in hungry and her children bring in mud on their shoes.

Women’s work is becoming less useful to the community as a whole. It is becoming unproductive. The individual household is dying. It is giving way in our society to collective housekeeping. Instead of the working woman cleaning her flat, the communist society can arrange for men and women whose job it is to go round in the morning cleaning rooms. The wives of the rich have long since been freed from these irritating and tiring domestic duties. Why should working woman continue to be burdened with them? In Soviet Russia the working woman should be surrounded by the same ease and light, hygiene and beauty that previously only the very rich could afford. Instead of the working woman having to struggle with the cooking and spend her last free hours in the kitchen preparing dinner and supper, communist society win organise public restaurants and communal kitchens.

Even under capitalism such establishments have begun to appear. In fact over the last half a century the number of restaurants and cafes in all the great cities of Europe has been growing daily; they are springing up like mushrooms after the autumn rain. But under capitalism only people with well-lined purses can afford to take their meals in restaurants, while under communism everyone will be able to eat in the communal kitchens and dining-rooms. The working woman will not have to slave over the washtub any longer, or ruin her eyes in darning her stockings and mending her linen; she will simply take these things to the central laundries each week and collect the washed and ironed garments later. That will be another job less to do. Special clothes-mending centres will free the working woman from the hours spent on mending and give her the opportunity to devote her evenings to reading, attending meetings and concerts. Thus the four categories of housework are doomed to extinction with the victory of communism. And the working woman will surely have no cause to regret this. Communism liberates worm from her domestic slavery and makes her life richer and happier.

The state is responsible for the upbringing of children

But even if housework disappears, you may argue, there are still the children to look after. But here too, the workers’ state will come to replace the family, society will gradually take upon itself all the tasks that before the revolution fell to the individual parents. Even before the revolution, the instruction of the child had ceased to be the duty of the parents. Once the children had attained school age the parents could breathe more freely, for they were no longer responsible for the intellectual development of their offspring. But there were still plenty of obligations to fulfil. There was still the matter of feeding the children, buying them shoes and clothes and seeing that they developed into skilled and honest workers able, when the time came, to earn their own living and feed and support their parents in old age. Few workers’ families however, were able to fulfil these obligations. Their low wages did not enable them to give the children enough to eat, while lack of free time prevented them from devoting the necessary attention to the education of the rising generation. The family is supposed to bring up the children, but in reality proletarian children grow up on the streets. Our forefathers knew some family life, but the children of the proletariat know none. Furthermore, the parents’ small income and the precarious position in which the family is placed financially often force the child to become an independent worker at scarcely ten years of age. And when children begin, to earn their own money they consider themselves their own masters, and the words and counsels of the parents are no longer law; the authority of the parents weakens, and obedience is at an end.

Just as housework withers away, so the obligations of parents to their children wither away gradually until finally society assumes the full responsibility. Under capitalism children were frequently, too frequently, a heavy and unbearable burden on the proletarian family. Communist society will come to the aid of the parents. In Soviet Russia the Commissariats of Public Education and of Social Welfare are already doing much to assist the family. We already have homes for very small babies, creches, kindergartens, children’s colonies and homes, hospitals and health resorts for sick children. restaurants, free lunches at school and free distribution of text books, warm clothing and shoes to schoolchildren. All this goes to show that the responsibility for the child is passing from the family to the collective.

The parental care of children in the family could be divided into three parts: (a) the care of the very young baby, (b) the bringing up of the child, and (c) the instruction of the child. Even in capitalist society the education of the child in primary schools and later in secondary and higher educational establishments became the responsibility of the state. Even in capitalist society the needs of the workers were to some extent met by the provision of playgrounds, kindergartens, play groups, etc. The more the workers became conscious of their rights and the better they were organised, the more society had to relieve the family of the care of the children. But bourgeois society was afraid of going too far towards meeting the interests of the working class, lest this contribute to the break-up of the family. For the capitalists are well aware that the old type of family, where the woman is a slave and where the husband is responsible for the well-being of his wife and children, constitutes the best weapon in the struggle to stifle the desire of the working class for freedom and to weaken the revolutionary spirit of the working man and working woman. The worker is weighed down by his family cares and is obliged to compromise with capital. The father and mother are ready to agree to any terms when their children are hungry. Capitalist society has not been able to transform education into a truly social and state matter because the property owners, the bourgeoisie, have been against this.

Communist society considers the social education of the rising generation to be one of the fundamental aspects of the new life. The old family, narrow and petty, where the parents quarrel and are only interested in their own offspring, is not capable of educating the “new person”. The playgrounds, gardens, homes and other amenities where the child will spend the greater part of the day under the supervision of qualified educators will, on the other hand, offer an environment in which the child can grow up a conscious communist who recognises the need for solidarity, comradeship, mutual help and loyalty to the collective. What responsibilities are left to the parents, when they no longer have to take charge of upbringing and education? The very small baby, you might answer, while it is still learning to walk and clinging to its mother’s skirt, still needs her attention. Here again the communist state hastens to the aid of the working mother. No longer will there be any women who are alone. The workers’ state aims to support every mother, married or unmarried, while she is suckling her child, and to establish maternity homes, day nurseries and other such facilities in every city and village, in order to give women the opportunity to combine work in society with maternity.

Working mothers have no need to be alarmed; communist not intending to take children away from their parents or to tear the baby from the breast of its mother, and neither is it planning to take, violent measures to destroy the family. No such thing! The aims of communist society are quite different. Communist society sees that the old type of family is breaking up, and that all the old pillars which supported the family as a social unit are being removed: the domestic economy is dying, and working-class parents are unable to take care of their children or provide them with sustenance and education. Parents and children suffer equally from this situation. Communist society has this to say to the working woman and working man: “You are young, you love each other. Everyone has the right to happiness. Therefore live your life. Do not flee happiness. Do not fear marriage, even though under capitalism marriage was truly a chain of sorrow. Do not be afraid of having children. Society needs more workers and rejoices at the birth of every child. You do not have to worry about the future of your child; your child will know neither hunger nor cold.” Communist society takes care of every child and guarantees both him and his mother material and moral support. Society will feed, bring up and educate the child. At the same time, those parents who desire to participate in the education of their children will by no, means be prevented from doing so. Communist society will take upon itself all the duties involved in the education of the child, but the joys of parenthood will not be taken away from those who are capable of appreciating them. Such are the plans of communist society and they can hardly be interpreted as the forcible destruction of the family and the forcible separation of child from mother.

There is no escaping the fact: the old type of family has had its day. The family is withering away not because it is being forcibly destroyed by the state, but because the family is ceasing to be a necessity. The state does not need the family, because the domestic economy is no longer profitable: the family distracts the worker from more useful and productive labour. The members of the family do not need the family either, because the task of bringing up the children which was formerly theirs is passing more and more into the hands of the collective. In place of the old relationship between men and women, a new one is developing: a union of affection and comradeship, a union of two equal members of communist society, both of them free, both of them independent and both of them workers. No more domestic bondage for women. No more inequality within the family. No need for women to fear being left without support and with children to bring up. The woman in communist society no longer depends upon her husband but on her work. It is not in her husband but in her capacity for work that she will find support. She need have no anxiety about her children. The workers’ state will assume responsibility for them. Marriage will lose all the elements of material calculation which cripple family life. Marriage will be a union of two persons who love and trust each other. Such a union promises to the working men and women who understand themselves and the world around them the most complete happiness and the maximum satisfaction. Instead of the conjugal slavery of the past, communist society offers women and men a free union which is strong in the comradeship which inspired it. Once the conditions of labour have been transformed and the material security of the working women has increased, and once marriage such as the church used to perform it – this so-called indissoluble marriage which was at bottom merely a fraud – has given place to the free and honest union of men and women who are lovers and comrades, prostitution will disappear. This evil, which is a stain on humanity and the scourge of hungry working women, has its roots in commodity production and the institution of private property. Once these economic forms are superseded, the trade in women will automatically disappear. The women of the working class, therefore, need not worry over the fact that the family is doomed to disappear. They should, on the contrary, welcome the dawn of a new society which will liberate women from domestic servitude, lighten the burden of motherhood and finally put an end to the terrible curse of prostitution.

The woman who takes up the struggle for the liberation of the working class must learn to understand that there is no more room for the old proprietary attitude which says: “These are my children, I owe them all my maternal solicitude and affection; those are your children, they are no concern of mine and I don’t care if they go hungry and cold – I have no time for other children.” The worker-mother must learn not to differentiate between yours and mine; she must remember that there are only our children, the children of Russia’s communist workers.

The workers’ state needs new relations between the sexes, just as the narrow and exclusive affection of the mother for her own children must expand until it extends to all the children of the great, proletarian family, the indissoluble marriage based on the servitude of women is replaced by a free union of two equal members of the workers’ state who are united by love and mutual respect. In place of the individual and egoistic family, a great universal family of workers will develop, in which all the workers, men and women, will above all be comrades. This is what relations between men and women, in the communist society will be like. These new relations will ensure for humanity all the joys of a love unknown in the commercial society of a love that is free and based on the true social equality of the partners.

Communist society wants bright healthy children and strong, happy young people, free in their feelings and affections. In the name of equality, liberty and the comradely love of the new marriage we call upon the working and peasant men and women, to apply themselves courageously and with faith to the work of rebuilding human society, in order to render it more perfect, more just and more capable of ensuring the individual the happiness which he or she deserves. The red flag of the social revolution which flies above Russia and is now being hoisted aloft in other countries of the world proclaim the approach of the heaven on earth to which humanity has been aspiring for centuries.

O Comunismo e a Família

O Comunismo e a Família

Escrito pela dirigente bolchevique Alexandra Kollontai e originalmente publicado em Komunistka n.2, em 1920. A versão aqui reproduzida foi copiada de marxists.org e revisada para erros de ortografia.

O papel da mulher na produção: efeito sobre a família

Se manterá a família no comunismo? Persistirá na mesma forma atual? São estas questões que atormentam, nesse momento, à mulher trabalhadora e a seus companheiros, os homens. Não devemos achar estranho que nesses últimos tempos este problema perturbe a mente das mulheres trabalhadoras. A vida muda continuamente diante de nossos olhos; antigos hábitos e costumes desaparecem pouco a pouco. Toda a existência da família proletária se modifica e se organiza de uma forma tão nova, tão fora do comum, tão estranha, como nunca podemos imaginar. E uma das coisas que mais causa perplexidade na mulher, nesses momentos, é a maneira como foi facilitado o divórcio. De fato, em virtude do decreto do Comissario do Povo de 18 de dezembro de 1917, o divórcio deixou de ser um privilégio acessível somente aos ricos; de agora em diante, a mulher trabalhadora não terá que esperar meses e, inclusive, até anos para que seja julgado seu pedido de separação matrimonial que dê a ela o direito de separar-se de um marido alcoólatra ou violento, acostumado a espancá-la. De agora em diante poderá se obter o divórcio amigavelmente dentro do período de uma ou duas semanas, no máximo. Porém, é precisamente esta facilidade para obter o divorcio, fonte de tantas esperanças para as mulheres que são desgraçadas em seu matrimônio, o que assusta outras mulheres, particularmente aquelas que consideram o marido como o “provedor” da família, como o único sustento da vida, a essas mulheres que não compreendem que devem acostumar-se a buscar e a encontrar esse sustento em outro lugar, não na pessoa do homem, mas sim na pessoa da sociedade, do estado.

Não há nenhuma razão para nos enganarmos: a família normal dos tempos passados na qual o homem era tudo e a mulher era nada -posto que não tinha vontade própria, nem tempo do qual dispor livremente-, este tipo de família sofre modificações dia a dia, e atualmente é quase uma coisa do passado, o qual não deve nos assustar. Seja por erro ou ignorância, estamos dispostos a crer que tudo o que nos rodeia deve permanecer imutável, enquanto tudo o mais muda. “Sempre foi assim e sempre será”. Esta afirmação é um erro profundo. Para nos dar conta de sua falsidade, não precisamos mais que observar como viviam os povos do passado e, imediatamente, vemos como tudo está sujeito à mudança e como não há costumes, nem organizações políticas, nem moral que permaneçam fixas e invioláveis. Assim, portanto, a família tem mudado frequentemente de forma nas diversas épocas da vida da humanidade. Houve épocas em que a família foi completamente diferente de como estamos acostumados a admiti-la. Houve um tempo em que a única forma de família que se considerava normal era a chamada família genésica, aquela em que a cabeça da família era a mãe-anciã, em torno da qual se agrupavam, na vida e no trabalho comum, os filhos, netos e bisnetos. A família patriarcal foi em outros tempos considerada também como a única forma possível de família, presidida por um pai-amo, cuja vontade era lei para todos os demais membros da família. Ainda em nossos tempos se pode encontrar nas aldeias russas, famílias camponesas deste tipo. Na realidade, podemos afirmar que nesses locais a moral e as leis que regem a vida familiar são completamente diferentes das que regulamentam a vida da família do operário da cidade. No campo existem todavia, grande número de costumes que já não é possível encontrar na família da cidade proletária.

O tipo de família, seus costumes, etc., variam segundo as nações. Há povos, como por exemplo os turcos, árabes e persas, entre os quais a lei autoriza o marido a ter várias mulheres. Existiram e todavia se encontram tribos que toleram o costume contrário, quer dizer, que a mulher tenha vários maridos. A moral a serviço do homem atual o autoriza exigir de las jovens a virgindade até seu casamento legítimo. Porém, não obstante, há tribos em que ocorreu o contrário: a mulher tem orgulho de ter tido muitos amantes e enfeita braços e pernas com braceletes que indicam o seu número. Diversos costumes, que a nós nos surpreendem, hábitos que podemos, inclusive, qualificar de imorais, outros povos o praticam, com a sanção divina, enquanto que, por sua parte, qualificam de “pecaminosos” muitos de nossos costumes e leis. Portanto, não há nenhuma razão para que nos aterrorizemos diante do fato de que a família sofra uma mudança, porque gradualmente se descartem vestígios do passado vividos até agora, nem porque se implantam novas relações entre o homem e a mulher. Não temos mais que nos perguntar: “o que morreu em nossos velho sistema familiar e que relações há entre o homem trabalhador e a mulher trabalhadora, entre o camponês e a camponesa?” Quais de seus respectivos direitos e deveres se encaixam melhor nas condições de vida da nova Rússia? Tudo o que seja compatível com o novo estado de coisas se manterá; o restante, toda essa bagagem antiquada que herdamos da maldita época de servidão e dominação, que era a característica dos latifundiários e capitalistas, tudo isso terá que ser varrido juntamente com a mesma classe exploradora, com esses inimigos do proletariado e dos pobres.

A família, em sua forma atual, não é mais que uma das tantas heranças do passado. Solidamente unida, compacta em si mesma em seus começos, e indissolúvel -tal era o caráter do matrimônio santifico pela cura, a família era igualmente necessária para cada um de seus membros. Porque, quem trataria de criar, vestir e educar os filhos se não fosse a família? Quem os guiaria na vida? Triste sorte a dos órfãos naqueles tempos; era o pior destino que alguém poderia ter. No tipo de família a que estamos acostumados, o marido é quem ganha o sustento, que mantém a mulher e os filhos. A mulher, por sua parte, se ocupa dos afazeres domésticos e de criar os filhos. Porém, desde há um século, esta forma corrente de família experimentou uma destruição progressiva em todos os países do mundo, nos que o capitalismo domina, naqueles países em que o número de fábricas cresce rapidamente, juntamente com outras empresas capitalistas que empregam trabalhadores. Os costumes e a moral familiar se formam simultaneamente como consequência das condições gerais da vida que rodeia a família. O que mais contribuiu para que se modificassem os costumes familiares de uma maneira radical foi, indiscutivelmente, a enorme expansão que adquiriu por toda parte o trabalho assalariado da mulher. Anteriormente, o homem era a única possibilidade de sustento da família. Porém, desde os últimos cinquenta ou sessenta anos, temos visto na Rússia (com anterioridade em outros países) que o regime capitalista obriga as mulheres a buscar trabalho remunerado fora da família, fora de casa. Com o salário do homem, a base do sustento da família era insuficiente para cobrir as necessidades da mesma, a mulher se viu obrigada a procurar trabalho remunerado; a mãe teve que ir também à porta da fábrica. Ano a ano, dia a dia, foi crescendo o número de mulheres pertencentes à classe trabalhadora que abandonavam suas casas para engrossar as fileiras das fábricas, trabalhando como operárias, lavadeiras ou empregadas. Segundo cálculos de antes da Grande Guerra, nos países da Europa e América, chegava a sessenta milhões o número de mulheres que ganhavam a vida com seu trabalho. Durante a guerra esse número aumentou consideravelmente. A imensa maioria dessas mulheres estavam casadas; fácil é imaginarmos a vida familiar que podiam desfrutar. Que vida familiar pode existir onde a esposa e mãe está fora de casa durante oito horas diárias, dez, melhor dizendo (contando a viagem de ida e volta)? A casa fica, necessariamente, descuidada; os filhos crescem sem nenhum cuidado maternal, abandonados a si mesmo em meio aos perigos da rual, na qual passam a maior parte do tempo. A mulher casada, a mãe que é operária, sua sangue para cumprir com três tarefas que pesam ao mesmo tempo sobre ela: dispor das horas necessárias para o trabalho, o mesmo que faz seu marido, em alguma indústria ou estabelecimento comercial; dedicar-se depois, da melhor forma possível, aos afazeres domésticos e, por último, cuidar de seus filhos. O capitalismo carregou para sobre os ombros da mulher trabalhadora um fardo que a esmaga; a converteu em operária, sem aliviá-la de seus cuidados de dona de casa e mãe. Portanto, a mulher se esgota como consequência dessa tripla e insuportável carga que com frequência expressa com gritos de dor e lágrimas. Os cuidados e as preocupações sempre foram o destino da mulher; porém sua vida nunca foi mais desgraçada, mais desesperada que sob o sistema capitalista, logo quando a indústria atravessa um período de máxima expansão.

Quanto mais se estende o trabalho assalariado da mulher, mais aumenta a decomposição da família. Que vida familiar pode haver onde o homem e a mulher trabalham na fábrica, em seções diferentes, se a mulher não dispõe nem sequer do tempo necessário para para preparar uma comida razoavelmente boa para seus filhos?! Que vida familiar pode ser a de uma família em que o pai e a mãe passam fora de casa a maior parte das vinte e quatro horas do dia, voltados a um duro trabalho que os impede de dedicar uns poucos minutos a seus filhos?! Em épocas anteriores, era completamente diferente. A mãe, a dona de casa, permanecia em casa, se ocupava das tarefas domésticas e de seus filhos, aos quais não deixava de observar, sempre vigilante. Hoje em dia, desde as primeiras horas da manhã, até soar a sirene da fábrica, a mulher trabalhadora corre apressada para chegar a seu trabalho; à noite, de novo, ao soar a sirene, volta correndo à casa para preparar a sopa e cuidar dos afazeres domésticos indispensáveis. Na manhã seguinte, depois de breves horas de sono, começa novamente para a mulher sua pesada carga. Não pode, portanto, surpreender-nos, portanto, o fato de que, devido a essas condições de vida, se desfaçam os laços familiares e a família se dissolva cada dia mais. Pouco a pouco vai desaparecendo tudo aquilo que convertia a família em um todo sólido, tudo aquilo que constituía suas bases de apoio, a família é cada vez menos necessária a seus próprios membros e ao estado. As velhas formas familiares se convertem em um obstáculo. Em que consistia a força da família nos tempos passados? Em primeiro lugar, no fato de que era o marido, o pai, quem mantinha a família; em segundo lugar, o lar era algo igualmente necessário a todos os membros da família e em terceiro e último lugar, poque os filhos eram educados pelos pais. O que fica atualmente disso tudo? O marido, como vimos, deixou de ser o sustento único da família. A mulher, que vai trabalhar, se converteu, nesse sentido, igual a seu marido. Fica todavia, não obstante, a função da família de criar e manter seus filhos enquanto são pequenos. Vejamos agora, na realidade, o que sobra dessa obrigação.

O trabalho doméstico não é mais uma necessidade

Houve um tempo em que a mulher da classe pobre, tanto na cidade como no campo, passava sua vida no seio da família. A mulher não sabia nada do que acontecia pra lá da porta de sua casa e é quase certo que tampouco desejava saber. Em compensação, tinha dentro de sua casa as mais variadas ocupações, todas úteis e necessárias, não só para a vida da família em si, mas também para a de todo o Estado. A mulher fazia, é certo, tudo o que hoje faz qualquer mulher operária ou camponesa. Cozinhava, lavava, limpava a casa e passava a roupa da família. Porém não fazia isso sozinha. Tinha uma série de obrigações que já não têm as mulheres de nosso tempo: manipulava a lã e o linho, tecia as telas e os adornos e se dedicava, na medida das possibilidades familiares, às tarefas de conservação de carnes e demais alimentos; destilava as bebidas da família e inclusive modelava velas para a casa. Quão diversas eram as tarefas da mulher nos tempos passados! Assim passaram a vida nossas mães e avós. Ainda em nossos dias, nas aldeias mais remotas, em pleno campo, sem contato com as linhas de trem ou longe dos grandes rios, pode-se encontrar pequenos núcleos onde se conserva, todavia, sem modificação alguma, este modo de vida dos bons tempos do passado, em que a dona de casa realizava uma série de trabalhos dos quais a mulher trabalhadora das grandes cidades ou das regiões de grande população industrial não tem noção, desde há muito tempo.

Nos tempos de nossas avós eram absolutamente necessários e úteis os trabalhos domésticos da mulher, do que dependia o bem-estar da família. Quanto mais se dedicava a dona de casa a essas tarefas, melhor era a vida no lar, mais ordem e abundância se refletiam na casa. Até o próprio Estado podia se beneficiar bastante das atividades da mulher enquanto dona de casa. Porque, na realidade, a mulher de outros tempos não se limitava a preparar purês para ela ou sua família, suas mãos produziam muitos outros produtos de riqueza como telas, linho, manteiga, etc., coisas que podiam ser levadas ao mercado e ser consideradas como mercadorias, como coisas de valor. É certo que nos tempos de nossas avós e bisavós o trabalho não era avaliado em dinheiro. Porém não havia nenhum homem, fosse camponês ou operário, que não buscasse como companheira uma mulher com “mãos de ouro”, frase, todavia, proverbial entre o povo. Porque só os recursos do homem, sem o trabalho doméstico da mulher, não bastavam para manter o lar. No que diz respeito aos bens do estado, aos interesses da nação, coincidiam com os do marido; quanto mais trabalhadora era a mulher no seio da família, mais produtos de todos tipos se produzia: telas, couros, lã, cujo excedente podia ser vendido no mercado das redondezas; consequentemente, a dona de casa contribuía para aumentar em seu conjunto a prosperidade econômica do país.

O capitalismo modificou totalmente esse antigo modo de vida. Tudo o que antes se produzia no seio da família, se fabrica agora em grandes quantidades nas fábricas. A máquina substituiu os ágeis dedos da dona de casa. Que mulher trabalharia hoje modelando velas ou manipulando tecidos? Todos esses produtos podem ser adquiridos na venda mais próxima. Antes, todas as garotas tinham que aprender a tecer suas roupas. É possível encontrar em nossos tempos uma jovem operária que faça suas roupas? Em primeiro lugar, carece do tempo necessário para tal. O tempo é dinheiro e não há ninguém que queira perdê-lo de uma maneira improdutiva, quer dizer, sem obter nenhum proveito. Atualmente, toda a mulher operária prefere comprar suas roupas a perder tempo fazendo-as. Poucas mulheres trabalhadoras, e só em casos isolados, podemos encontrar hoje em dia que preparem as conservas para a família quando na venda de comestíveis ao lado de sua casa pode comprá-las perfeitamente preparadas. Ainda no caso de que o produto vendido no estabelecimento comercial seja de uma qualidade inferior, ou que não seja tão bom como o que possa fazer uma dona de casa em seu lar, a mulher trabalhadora não tem tempo nem energias para dedicar-se a todas as operações que um tipo de trabalho desse requer. A realidade, portanto, é que a família contemporânea se torna cada vez mais independente de todos aqueles trabalhos domésticos sem cuja preocupação não se poderia conceber a vida familiar de nossas avós. O que se produzia anteriormente no seio da família se produz atualmente com o trabalho comum de homens e mulheres trabalhadores nas fábricas.

A família atualmente consume sem produzir. As tarefas essenciais da donda de caso se reduziram a quatro: limpeza (do chão, dos móveis, etc.); cozinha (preparação d comida), lavar a roupa e as vestimentas da família. Esses trabalhos são esgotantes. Consomem todas as energias e todo o tempo da mulher trabalhadora que, além do mais, tem que trabalhar em uma fábrica. É certo que os afazeres individuais de nossas avós compreendiam muito mais operações, porém, não obstante, estavam dotados de uma qualidade de que carece os trabalhos domésticos da mulher operária de nossos dias; estes perderam sua qualidade de trabalhos úteis ao estado do ponto de vista da economia nacional, porque são trabalhos com os que não se criam novos valores. Com eles não se contribui para a prosperidade do país. É em vão que a mulher trabalhadora passe o dia desde a manhã até a noite limpando sua casa, lavando e tingindo a roupa, consumindo suas energias para conservar as roupas em ordem, matando-se para preparar com seus modestos recursos a melhor comida possível, porque quando termina o dia não ficará, apesar de seus esforços, um resultado material de todo seu trabalho diário; com suas mãos infatigáveis não haverá criado em todo o dia nada que possa ser considerado como uma mercadoria no mercado comercial. Mil anos que vivesse, tudo seguiria igual para a mulher trabalhadora. Todas as manhãs haveria tirar a poeira da cômoda; o marido viria com vontade de jantar a noite e seus filhos voltaram sempre pra casa com os sapatos cheios de barro.

O trabalho da dona de casa tem a cada dia menos utilidade, é cada vez mais improdutivo. Os trabalhos domésticos em forma individual começaram a desaparecer e dia a dia vão sendo substituídos pelo trabalho caseiro coletivo e chegará um dia, mais cedo ou mais tarde, ao ponto que a mulher trabalhadora não terá que ocupar-se de seu próprio lar. Na Sociedade Comunista de amanhã, esses trabalhos serão realizados por uma categoria especial de mulheres trabalhadoras dedicadas unicamente a essas ocupações. As mulheres dos ricos, já faz muito tempo, vivem livres dessas desagradáveis e fatigosas tarefas. Porque a mulher trabalhadora tem que continuar com essa pesada carga? Na Rússia Soviética, a vida da mulher trabalhadora deve estar rodeada das mesmas comodidades, a mesma limpeza, a mesma higiene, a mesma beleza que até agora constituía o ambiente das mulheres pertencentes às classes endinheiradas. Em uma sociedade comunista a mulher trabalhadora não terá que passar suas escassas horas de descanso na cozinha, porque nela existiriam restaurantes públicos e cozinhas centrais nos quais poderá comer todo mundo.

Está crescendo o número de estabelecimentos desse tipo em todos os países, inclusive os capitalistas. Na realidade, se pode dizer que desde há meio século aumentam a cada dia em todas as cidades da Europa; crescem como cogumelos depois da chuva de outono. Porém, enquanto sob o sistema capitalista, somente pessoas com bolsas bem cheias podem permitir-se ao gosto de comer nos restaurantes, em uma cidade comunista estarão ao alcance de todo mundo. O mesmo se pode dizer da lavagem de roupa e demais trabalhos caseiros. A mulher trabalhadora não terá que se sufocar em um oceano de sujeira nem estragar a vista remendando e costurando a roupa à noite. Poderá levá-la, cada semana, às lavanderias centrais para ir buscá-la depois lavada. Desse modo, a mulher trabalhadora terá uma preocupação a menos. A organização de locais especiais para passar e remendar a roupa oferecerão à mulher trabalhadora a oportunidade de dedicar-se às noites a leituras instrutivas, a distrações saudáveis, ao invés de passá-las como até agora em tarefas esgotantes. Por tanto, vemos que as quatro últimas tarefas domésticas que todavia pesam sobre a mulher de nossos tempos desaparecerão com o triunfo do comunismo. Não terá do que reclamar a mulher operária, porque a sociedade comunista haverá acabado com o jugo doméstico da mulher para fazer sua vida mais alegre, mais rica, mais livre e mais completa.

O Estado deve ser responsável pela criação dos filhos

Que sobrará da família quando desaparecerem todos as tarefas do trabalho caseiro individual? Todavia teremos que lidar com o problema dos filhos. Porém, no que se refere a essa questão, o Estados dos Trabalhadores acudirá em auxílio a família, substituindo-a, gradualmente, a Sociedade tomará conta de todas aquelas obrigações que antes recaíam sobre os pais. Sob o sistema capitalista, a instrução dos filhos deixou de ser uma obrigação dos pais. O filho aprende na escola. E quando o filho entra na idade escolar, os pais respiram aliviados. Quando chega esse momento, o desenvolvimento intelectual da criança deixa de ser um assunto de sua incumbência. Não obstante, com isso não terminavam todas as obrigações da família a respeito da criança. Todavia subsistia a obrigação de alimentar o filho, calçar-lhe, vestir-lhe, convertê-lo em operário direito e honesto para que, com o tempo, pude-se sobreviver por contra própria e ajudar seus pais quando estes se tornassem velhos. Porém o mais comum era, não obstante, que a família operária não pudesse quase nunca cumprir inteiramente estas obrigações  relacionadas a seus filhos. O reduzido salário de que depende a família operária não lhe permite nem sequer dar a seus filhos o suficiente para comer, enquanto que o excessivo trabalho que pesa sobre os pais lhes impede de dedicar à educação da jovem geração toda a atenção que exige essa tarefa. Se dava por certo que a família se ocupava da criação dos filhos. Porém, o fazia na realidade? Mais justo sería dizer que é na rua onde se criam os filhos do proletariado. Os filhos da classe trabalhadora desconhecem as satisfações da vida familiar, prazeres dos quais participamos nós com nossos pais. Porém, além do mais, temos que levar em conta que a redução dos salários, a insegurança no trabalho e até a fome convertem, frequentemente, o garoto de 10 anos em um operário independente. Desde este momento, tão logo o filho (seja menino ou menina) começa a ganhar um salário, se considera dono de sua pessoa até o ponto que as palavras e os conselhos de seus pais deixam de causar-lhe a menor impressão, quer dizer, se debilita a autoridade dos pais e termina a obediência.

A medida que vão desaparecendo um a um os trabalhos domésticos da família, todas as obrigações de sustento e criação dos filhos são desempenhadas pela sociedade ao invés de pelos pais. Sob o sistema capitalista, os filhos eram, com demasiada frequência, na família proletária, uma carga pesada e insustentável. Nesse aspecto, a Sociedade Comunista também sairá em auxílio dos pais. Na Rússia Soviética se empreendeu, graças aos Comissariados de Educação Pública e Bem-estar Social, grandes avanços. Se pode dizer que neste aspecto já se fez muitas coisas para facilitar a tarefa da família de criar e manter seus filhos. Já existem casas para as crianças em fase de amamentação, creches, jardins de infância, colônias e lares para crianças, enfermarias e postos de saúde para os doentes ou que precisam de cuidado especial, restaurantes, refeitórios gratuitos para os estudantes nas escolas, livros de estudo gratuitos, roupas e calçado para as crianças dos estabelecimentos de ensino. Tudo isso não demonstra suficientemente que a criança sai do marco estreito da família, passando o peso de sua criação e educação dos pais à coletividade?

Os cuidados dos pais a respeito dos filhos podem classificar-se em três grupos: 1º, cuidados que os filhos precisam imprescindivelmente nos primeiros tempos de sua vida; 2º, os cuidados que exige a criação do filho, e 3º, os cuidados que exige a educação do filho. No que diz respeito à instrução dos filhos, em escolas primárias, institutos e universidades, já se converteu em uma obrigação do estado, inclusive na sociedade capitalista. Por outro lado, as ocupações da classe trabalhadora, as condições de vida, obrigam, inclusive na sociedade capitalista, a criação de locais de jogo, creches, asilos, etc. Quanto mais consciência tenha a classe trabalhadora de seus direitos, quanto melhor estiverem organizados em qualquer estado específico, tanto mais interesse terá a sociedade no problema de aliviar a família do cuidado dos filhos. Porém a sociedade burguesa tem medo de ir demasiado longe no que diz respeito a considerar os interesses da classe trabalhadora, e muito mais se contribui para a desintegração da família. Os capitalistas se dão conta, perfeitamente, de que o velho tipo de família, em que a esposa é uma escrava e o homem o responsável pelo sustento e bem-estar da família, de que uma família desse tipo é a melhor arma para afogar os esforços do proletariado pela sua libertação, para debilitar o espírito revolucionário do homem e da mulher proletários. A preocupação pela qual pode passar a sua família priva o operário de toda sua firmeza, lhe obriga a entrar em acordo com o capital. O pai e a mãe estão dispostos a concordar com quaisquer termos quando seus filhos tem fome. A sociedade capitalista não foi capaz de transformar a educação em um assunto verdadeiramente social e do Estado porque os proprietários, a burguesia, são contra isso.

A Sociedade Comunista considerará como base real de suas leis e costumes, como a primeira pedra do novo edifício, a educação social da geração nascente. Não será a família do passado, mesquinha e estreita, com brigas entre os pais, com seus interesses exclusivistas para os filhos a que moldará o homem da sociedade de amanhã. O homem novo, de nossa nova sociedade, será modelado pelas organizações socialistas, jardins infantis, residências, creches para as crianças, etc, e muitas outras instituições desse tipos nas que a criança passará a maior parte do dia e nas quais educadores inteligentes o converterão em um comunista consciente da magnitude dessa inviolável divisa: solidariedade, camaradagem, ajuda mútua e devoção à vida coletiva. Vemos agora, uma vez que não se precisa atender à criação e educação dos filhos, que é o que ficará das obrigações da família com respeito a seus filhos, particularmente depois que haja sido aliviada da maior parte dos cuidados materiais que trazem consigo o nascimento de um filho, ou seja, à excepção dos cuidados que exige um filho recém nascido quando todavia necessita de atenção de sua mãe, enquanto aprende a andar, agarrando-se às roupas de sua mãe. Nisso também o Estado Comunista sai em auxílio da mãe trabalhadora. Já não existirá a mãe oprimida com um bebê nos braços. O Estado dos Trabalhadores se encarregará da obrigação de assegurar a subsistência a todas as mães, estejam ou não legitimamente casadas, desde que amamente seu filho; instalará por todas parte casas de maternidade, organizará em todas as cidades e em todos os povos creches e instituições semelhantes para que a mulher possa ser útil trabalhando para o Estado enquanto, ao mesmo tempo, cumpre suas funções de mãe.

As mães operárias não têm porque alarmarem-se. A sociedade comunista não pretende separar os filhos dos pais, nem arrancar o recém-nascido do peito de sua mãe. Não existe a menor intenção de recorrer à violência para destruir a família como tal. Nada disso. Essas não são as aspirações da sociedade comunista. O que presenciamos hoje? Que se rompem os laços da desgastada família. Esta, gradualmente, vai se libertando de todos os trabalhos domésticos que anteriormente eram outros tantos pilares que sustentavam a família como um todo social. Os cuidados da limpeza, etc., da casa? Também parece que demonstrou sua inutilidade. Os filhos? Os pais proletários já não podem atender a seus cuidados; não podem assegurar nem sua sobrevivência nem sua educação. Esta é a situação real cujas consequências sofrem igualmente os pais e os filhos. Portanto, a Sociedade Comunista se aproximará do homem e da mulher proletários para dizer-lhes:”Sois jovens e se amam”. Todos têm o direito à felicidade. Por isso devem viver vossa vida. Não tenham medo do matrimônio, já não é mais uma cadeia para o homem e a mulher da classe trabalhadora. E, sobretudo, não tenham medo, sendo jovens e saudáveis, de dar a vosso país novos operários, novos cidadãos. A sociedade dos trabalhadores necessita de novas forças de trabalho; saúda a chegada de cada recém-nascido ao mundo. Tão pouco temam pelo futuro de vosso filho; ele não conhecerá a fome nem o frio. Não será desgraçado, nem ficará abandonado a sua sorte como acontecia na sociedade capitalista. Tão pronto ele chegue ao mundo, o Estado dos trabalhadores, a Sociedade Comunista, assegurará ao filho e à mãe alimentação e cuidados solícitos. A pátria comunista alimentará, criará e educará o filho. Porém essa pátria não tentará, de modo algum, arrancar o filho dos pais que queiram participar na educação de seus pequenos. A Sociedade Comunista tomará como todas as obrigações da educação do filho, porém nunca despojará das alegrias paternais, das satisfações maternais àqueles que sejam capazes de apreciar e compreender essas alegrias. Se pode, portanto, chamar isso de destruição da família por violência ou separação a força da mãe e o filho?

Há algo que não se pode negar, o fato de que há chegado a hora do velho tipo de família. A culpa disso não é do comunismo: é o resultado da mudança experimentada pelas condições de vida. A família deixou de ser uma necessidade para o Estado como ocorria no passado. Todo o contrário resulta em algo pior que inútil, posto que sem necessidade impede que as mulheres trabalhadoras possam realizar um trabalho muito mais produtivo e muito mais importante. Tão pouco é necessária a família aos seus membros, posto que a tarefa de criar os filhos, que antes lhe pertencia por completo, passa cada vez mais às mãos da coletividade. Sobre as ruínas da velha vida familiar, veremos ressurgir uma nova forma de família que suporá relações completamente diferentes entre o homem e a mulher, baseadas em uma união de afetos e camaradagem, em uma união de pessoas iguais na sociedade comunista, as duas livres, as duas independentes, as duas operárias. Não mais “servidão” doméstica para a mulher! Não mais desigualdade no seio da família! A mulher, na Sociedade Comunista, não dependerá de seu marido, seus robustos braços serão o que proporcionará a ela seu sustento. Se acabará com a incerteza sobre a sorte dos filhos. O Estado Comunista assumirá todas essas responsabilidades. O matrimônio ficará purificado de todos seus elementos materiais, de todos os cálculos de dinheiros que constituem a repugnante mancha da vida familiar de nosso tempo. O matrimônio se transformará de agora em diante na união sublime de duas almas que se amam, que se professem fé mútua. Uma união desse tipo promete a todo operário, a toda operária, a mais completa felicidade, o máximo de satisfação que pode caber a criaturas consciente de si mesmas e da vida que a rodeia. Esta união livre, forte no sentimento de camaradagem em que está inspirada, em vez de escravidão conjugal do passado, é o que a sociedade comunista de amanhã oferecerá a homens e mulheres. Uma vezes que tenham sido transformadas as condições de trabalho, uma vez que tenha-se aumentado a segurança material da mulher trabalhadora, uma que tenha desaparecido o matrimônio tal como consagrava a Igreja – isso é, o chamado matrimônio indissolúvel, que no fundo não era mais que uma mera fraude-, uma vez que esse matrimônio seja substituído pela união livre e honesta de homens e mulheres que se amam e são camaradas, haverá começado a desaparecer outra calamidade horrorosa que mancha a humanidade e cujo peso recai por inteiro sobre a fome da mulher trabalhadora: a prostituição. Essa vergonha se deve ao sistema econômico hoje em vigor, à existência da propriedade privada. Uma vez desaparecida a propriedade privada, desaparecerá automaticamente o comércio da mulher. Portanto, a mulher trabalhadora deve deixar de se preocupar com o fato de que a família tal como está constituída hoje está fadada ao desaparecimento. Seria muito melhor saudar com alegria a aurora de uma nova sociedade que liberará a mulher da servidão doméstica, que aliviará o peso da maternidade para a mulher, uma sociedade em que, finalmente, veremos desaparecer a mais terrível das maldições que pesam sobre a mulher: a prostituição.

A mulher, a quem convidamos a que lute pela grande causa da liberação dos trabalhadores, precisa saber que no novo Estado não haverá motivo algum para separações mesquinhas, como ocorre agora. “Esses são meus filhos. Eles são os únicos a quem devo toda minha atenção maternal, todo meu afeto. esses são filhos teus; são os filhos do vizinho. Não tenho nada a ver com eles.” Desde agora, a mãe operária que tenha plena consciência de sua função social, se elevará ao extremo que chegará a não estabelecer diferenças “os teus e os meus”; terá que recordar sempre que de agora em diante não haverá mais “nossos” filhos, mas sim os do Estado Comunista, um bem comum a todos os trabalhadores.

O Estado dos Trabalhadores tem necessidade de uma nova forma de relação entre os sexos. O carinho estreito e exclusivista da mãe por seus filhos tem que ampliar-se até dar conta de todos os filhos da grande família proletária. Ao invés do matrimônio indissolúvel, baseado na servidão da mulher, veremos nascer a união livre fortalecida pelo amor e o respeito mútuo entre os membros do Estado Operário, iguais em seus direitos e em suas obrigações. Ao invés da família de tipo individual e egoísta, se levantará uma grande família universal de trabalhadores, na qual todos eles, homens e mulheres, serão antes de tudo trabalhadores e camaradas. Essas serão as relações entre homens e mulheres na Sociedade Comunista de amanhã. Estas novas relações assegurarão à humanidade todos os gozos do chamado amor livre, enobrecido por uma verdadeira igualdade social entre companheiros, gozos que são desconhecidos na sociedade comercial capitalista. Abram caminhos à existência de uma infância robusta e sana; abram caminhos a uma juventude vigorosa que ame a vida com todas suas alegrias, uma juventude livre em seus sentimentos e em seus afetos!

Esta é a consigna da Sociedade Comunista. Em nome da igualdade, da liberdade e do amor, fazemos um chamado a todas as mulheres trabalhadoras, a todos homens trabalhadores, mulheres camponesas e camponeses para que resolutamente e cheios de fé se entreguem ao trabalho da reconstrução da sociedade humana para fazê-la mais perfeita, mais justa e mais capaz de assegurar ao indivíduo a felicidade a que tem direito. A bandeira vermelha da revolução social que tremulará, depois da Rússia, em outros países do mundo proclama que não está longe o momento em que poderemos gozar do céu na terra, ao que a humanidade aspira desde há séculos.

Leviné’s Last Speech

Leviné’s Last Speech

copied from http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/History/Levine.html

This is the speech delivered by German Communist leader Eugen Leviné at his trial in June 1919, following the defeat of the Bavarian Council Republic, which has gone down in history as the Munich Soviet. Leviné had opposed the declaration of the Council Republic but like Rosa Luxemburg before him he saw it as a matter of revolutionary honour to fight alongside the most militant section of the working class, even when he believed the struggle was doomed to defeat. “An honourable death and experience for the future is all we can salvage from the present situation”, he told fellow KPD members. “We Communists are all dead men on leave”, were his famous words to the court. Leviné was found guilty and executed by firing squad.

I FIND it rather difficult to state my case. Even before my first interrogation I pointed out that the whole of these proceedings – the entire trial was really only the outcome of a political and not of a legal situation. The indictment of high treason is based only on the fact that the Soviet Republic was defeated. When it succeeds, it ceases to be high treason. Much the same was said in the leading article of the Münchener Neueste Nachrichten, which stated that “only unsuccessful high treason is high treason. If it succeeds, it ceases to be high treason. High treason is thus a political, not a legal issue.”

I look upon this Court as the representatives of that class I have always regarded as my political adversaries. Perhaps I could account for my actions before Communists; but how could I defend myself before my adversaries for actions which they must regard as directed against their very existence?

I found myself in a similar situation in Russia; I refused to plead and was acquitted for lack of evidence. I shall not pursue the same tactics now; I propose to explain my motives.

I am not defending myself because I expect a more lenient sentence from you. Had I wished this I rather ought to be silent. My Counsel, who are closer to you both politically and as individuals could conduct my defence far more effectively. I am addressing the Court now for the same reasons which made me defend myself so resolutely throughout the whole proceedings. Both in the Press and among the public the most monstrous rumours have been spread about the Soviet Republic, about me personally, about the entire course of events, and I do not wish to let the rumours go by unopposed. The Munich workers have known me only for a short time and some of them may be gnawed by doubts as to whether I am really worthy of the confidence they have placed in me. As I am no longer free, I must use this trial to set everything out clearly.

My second reason is that I am a member of the Communist Party, and this is the most hated and most maligned party in Germany. I regard it therefore as my duty to proclaim in public the motives by which the members of the German Communist Party work, wish to work, strive to work. I owe it to the workers on the Executive Committee and to over twelve hundred members of the Factory Councils with whom I have grown close through our day to day collaboration, even if they ultimately repudiated me. I owe it to them, too, to clear their names.

I am defending myself, then, not to obtain a more lenient sentence, but so as not to miss an opportunity of establishing the facts.

The main difference between myself and the Prosecution is that we regard all political and social phenomena, in Germany as well as in the rest of the world, from totally opposite angles. The Prosecuting Counsel overestimates the power and capacity of leaders to act and to influence events. He assumes that the dice of world history would fall differently according to whether they are cast by honest or dishonest leaders. But the leaders themselves emerge from the masses, even if from a different milieu. They become leaders not because they are superior to the masses but only because they are capable of formulating what tile masses themselves intuitively desire but cannot express for lack of formal education. You will therefore find in your bourgeois circles .I great many people superior to me in erudition, but at a workers’ meeting, I, Gentlemen, would carry the day – and not because of my personal superiority, but only because I would be expressing what the masses felt and wanted.

It was the tragedy of the Munich masses that they still had too little political experience. They were well aware that to achieve victory the entire proletariat must act as a body; but they believed that this body could have various programmes and that it was quite sufficient for the Social-Democrats, the Independent Socialists and the Communists to conclude a formal agreement.

This was actually one of the reasons for the defeat of the Munich Soviet Republic. When the proletariat is united in its will and purpose, it is invincible, but not when unity is established in a merely formal organisational way.

This point of view makes my appraisal of all the issues with which I shall deal later quite different from that of the Prosecution. I do not wish to mitigate my sentence; I do not wish to shift the legal responsibility onto the Executive Council. I answer unreservedly for my actions. I was partly the initiator and I first formulated the ideas which the workers only felt instinctively; but I can say that I would never have taken part in a revolution which was thrust upon the workers by the leaders in the way the Prosecution has described.

When I went as a young student to Russia, I already realised that the activity of a political agitator consists only in formulating the historical will of the masses, not in forcing his own will upon them against their will. This principle governed my actions. I appealed to the masses. When they agreed with me, they responded. When they did not, I had unfortunately to play the part I did play and to reap the legal consequences of what others in their folly had sown. I say all this not to explain my personal attitude, but because it expresses the fundamental views of the Communist Party. This party is generally regarded as a group of people who set out to impose minority terror and dictatorship over the proletariat. Yet every line of the party programme testifies that the proletariat alone is destined to achieve its emancipation.

Our whole attitude to the much-debated question of terror and the use of force follows on from this viewpoint that not only a major part of the task but the entire task is assigned to the masses. I have already had the opportunity to expound my attitude to the dictatorship of the proletariat: that it is only an intermediate stage between the dictatorship of capital and the establishment of complete democracy with only one class of working people. The Communist Party is convinced that this programme could very well be realised without violence if the dwindling minority of property owners would not close their minds to historical necessity. The armed struggle of which we are so vehemently accused only begins when this dwindling minority nevertheless proceeds to defend the privileges of its caste and class by force of arms.

“The Proletarian Revolution has no need of terror for its aims; it detests and abhors murder. It has no need of these means of struggle, for it fights not individuals but institutions.” How then does the struggle arise? Why, having gained power, do we build a Red Army? Because history teaches us that every privileged class has hitherto defended itself by force when its privileges have been endangered. And because we know this; because we do not live in cloud-cuckoo-land; because we cannot believe that conditions in Bavaria are different – that the Bavarian bourgeoisie and the capitalists would allow themselves to be expropriated without a struggle – we were compelled to arm the workers to defend ourselves against the onslaught of the dispossessed capitalists.

This is how it has been in the past and this is how we shall naturally always act in the future, whenever we succeed in attaining power. We did not call on the workers to take up arms out of pleasure in bloodshed. On the contrary, we would be only too happy if the hitherto privileged classes would refrain from embarking upon a hopeless struggle – for one day the struggle will be hopeless. I should like to draw your attention to the fact that the victory of the proletariat in November also passed without bloodshed. In Berlin, for example, the first shots were fired at six o’clock in the evening from the Royal Stables when a group of officers opened fire on defenceless pedestrians out of annoyance at the course of events.

In my view we armed the proletariat to deter the bourgeoisie from an armed counter-attack. The President of the Court or the Public Prosecutor earlier quoted part of an article from the Bulletin of the Executive Council, expressing the apprehension that any gun not surrendered by the bourgeoisie would be used against the proletariat.

While I was initially extremely pessimistic about the situation and did not believe that Bavaria was any different and that the Bavarian Government would not dare to allow the Prussians to march on Munich, I gradually came to hope that we might possibly succeed in holding out until Soviet Republics had been proclaimed in other parts of Germany and that the Hoffmann Government would refrain from attacking us.

We all regard the events of the early days of May not as a proletarian offensive but as an unmotivated bloodbath into which the White Guards plunged the Munich working class.

During the whole time I was in Munich I had the great joy of working hand in hand with my Communist friends. There was always complete unanimity between us and I therefore felt that I was not a stranger but could identify myself with these Communist workers, and through them with the entire Munich working class. I was therefore entitled, at least for that period, to speak in their name.

A second point which also follows from my whole outlook is the recall and dismissal at any time of each and every functionary. The cornerstone of a Soviet Republic is the factory council. The workers are not organised regionally, but in the factories, where they are together every day, where they can get to know each other in the course of their daily work, and where elections of the functionaries are held on totally different principles. There the workers know whether their representative is a mere babbler or a man who can stand his ground.

That is why we accepted this form of organisation as natural and normal – all the more so since the new state was to include only working people. Every representative would hold office only as long as his electors wished. It was therefore not an empty gesture when I repeatedly offered to return my mandate to the Factory Councils. Hence I can say that I and my friends – I may call them my friends – of the Action Committee, all thirty-five of us who resigned on 27th April, were prepared to do so at any time. Not one of us clung to his mandate. And I can assure you that the life we led had no great attraction for any of us, nor for the workers among us, weary after their daily work.

All of us remained in office only out of a sense of duty and regarded it as a heavy burden. I repudiate any suggestion that any single one of us craved for or was drunk with power. Not a single one of us wrested power by force. We received it from the workers of Munich. In the course of two weeks they compelled us three times to keep our mandates. I therefore also reject the allegations that only a triumvirate – Levien, Leviné and Axelrod – or an alien clique, determined the policy. None of these three was a member of the Revolutionary Tribunal or the Committee for Combating the Counter-Revolution.

I should also like personally to reject a reproach which, it is true, was raised from outside the Court but was partly also levelled at me by the Prosecution – namely, that we are aliens. I know very well that I am of Russian origin. I am a Jew, I am not Bavarian. How then could I presume to accept a post which, according to my Counsel corresponded to that of Prime Minister? To understand this you must project yourself into the minds of the working class.

Our ideal is a future German Soviet Republic which one day will be merged into an International Soviet Republic. As long, however, as that was not achieved, Soviet Republics could and can only be affected in separate places, and we were of course convinced that everyone who felt fit for a given post must accept it if no one else was available.

I accepted the post because my previous activity had also given me insight into economic relationships and because I felt justified and indeed morally bound to accept it as no one else was there. And as long as I held the post I had a duty to perform towards the German as well as the International proletariat, and the Communist Revolution.

The Prosecution accuses me of having instigated the ten days’ general strike. It is true that it was I who moved the resolution calling for a general strike. It was obvious that to safeguard a proletarian dictatorship the entire proletariat should stand by, and stand by armed.

We had no police, and it was essential to prevent looting and so forth. The Prosecution has asked how I could possibly justify keeping people away from their work for ten days at a time when work was so urgently needed. The German Government kept millions of proletarians away from work, not for ten, but for many hundreds of days. The German Government aspired after Bagdad and Longwy. We wanted Communism. The means, however, which you do not condemn in their case, you should also not condemn in ours just because we pursue other aims.

The Prosecution claims that the workers only struck under the threat of machine-guns. In reality the motion calling for the strike was unanimously adopted by the representatives of all the factories, including the clerical staff; the officials’ organisations, the post office workers – all were in favour of the strike.

Where then is the terror? Where the violation by a minority? Why does the Prosecution accept the legends which discredit the workers of Munich? Why will it not admit that they acted in accordance with their own mass-resolutions?

Some time later, on the Tuesday after Easter, it was proposed to call off the strike in view of its economic effects. I made a counter-proposal. Sunday and Monday were Easter holidays. If the workers returned to work on Tuesday, it would have created the impression that the strike had fizzled out. I suggested a more dignified conclusion, more consistent with the will of the working class – namely, to strike on Tuesday, to close all theatres, to stop all trams running so that it was quite clear that it entirely depended on the individual, free decisions of the workers whether they worked or not. This resolution was again accepted unanimously.

The Prosecution will know how it was carried out. The workers, with hundreds of post office employees, men and women, in their pale-blue uniforms in the vanguard, marched to the Wittelsbach Palace to express their solidarity with those who have been portrayed in this Court as terrorists and the enslavers of the Munich proletariat.

In the opening stage of the Soviet Republic we had to prevent the propaganda of the bourgeois Press. We were not in a position to introduce mere censorship and were therefore compelled, it is true, to close down the newspapers.

You say that is terror. Yes, it is terror. The same terror practised by the Hoffmann Government in suppressing the Rote Fahne. The same terror which affords me no other opportunity of justifying myself before my Party comrades than to appeal to the President of this Court to let me state my case.

The Prosecution accuses me of having insisted on harsh sentences and at the same time holds me responsible for the looting in the Soviet Republic. I cannot quite understand it. Either I ought not to have instructed the Tribunal to apply severe measures, as was testified by the witness Kämpfer, in which case I cannot be reproached for the looting; or else I should have been allowed to instruct the Tribunal in its duties in the manner I considered necessary in the interests of our work and our task, and then I cannot be reproached for having done so. While condemning me for even considering the introduction of capital punishment, the Prosecution is demanding in the same breath the death penalty for me – for me who neither looted nor murdered.

The Prosecution has spoken of the internal peace which I have endangered. I did not endanger it, because internal peace does not exist. As long as the word “socialism” merely heads the notepaper of the various governments there can be no internal peace; and as long as there are shareholders who could double their fortunes in the five years of war without doing a stroke of work, the workers will try to claim their share of that increased wealth and the shareholders will not allow it. And the more the economic conditions deteriorate in the aftermath of the war, when the prisoners of war return to find no work, no homes, no clothes and the little there is cannot be justly distributed because there is no Communist Republic, the internal struggle will continue. And if it assumes forms of which I and my friends do not approve, the struggle will go on as an inevitable phenomenon against which there is no appeal.

Take a look round! In this very Court are officials who earn monthly only I50 to I80 marks under the present cost of living. Take a look at the homes of the so-called “Spartacist nests”, and you will understand that we have not endangered the internal peace; we have only revealed that internal peace does not exist. And so long as it does not exist this struggle will go on. And if it assumes military forms and carries in its wake all the ghastly misery and distress that actually prevailed in Munich during the first days of May, it is not we who are to blame but those who deny the working class the right to decide its own destiny.

The Prosecution has claimed that I am morally guilty of shooting the hostages. I emphatically repudiate this charge. The guilty are those who in August 1914 were the first to take hostages, though they were never brought to justice or sentenced to death. If anyone else is to blame it is the men who sneaked off to Bamberg and from there sent misguided proletarians together with Officers’ Units and Negroes to fight against Munich.

[Uproar and indignation among the judges. The President intervenes and tries to stop Leviné from proceeding.]

Mr President, I know very well what I may bring on myself by this statement. But I must say that I have been provoked by the Prosecuting Counsel as never before in my whole political career. To justify his demand for the death sentence the Prosecution charged me with dishonourable motives, and based this charge above all on an accusation of cowardice – one of the gravest accusations that can be levelled against a man who has been engaged for sixteen years in the revolutionary struggle.

I am prepared to let that pass and will only say that if the Prosecution reprimands me for not having joined the Red Army after I withdrew from the government and had no more duties to fulfill, I must refer to the statement already made by my Counsel – namely, that I am guided by the code of honour prevailing among my own friends.

On the last evening we held a meeting, attended by workers, members of the Red Army and others, at which it was unanimously decided that members of the Red Army were to remain at their posts, while former members of the government were to “disappear”.

I disappeared. I disappeared, I “sneaked away” in agreement with my Communist friends. But not to save my skin.

Gentlemen, you were very indignant about one of my remarks. I shall not speak about the manner in which I made that remark, but in substance it is nevertheless true. I have read myself in the news papers that among the troops which marched on Munich there were Negroes. Moreover the Hoffmann Government had not shrunk from certain other measures. Everyone must admit that the blockade of Munich, the closing of the railways and the stoppage of food supplies as practised in this “free state”, were nothing more than a repetition of the English blockade which was regarded as morally so objectionable.

As to the charge of cowardice, I cannot prevent the Prosecuting Counsel from making such accusations. But I may perhaps invite him, who demands the death penalty, to be present at the execution. He may then also admit that it is a misconception to assume that only those who fight in the front lines of the Red Army risk their lives. You know the poem which appeared in Vorwaerts after the Berlin January Days:

A hundred proletarian corpses all in a row;

Karl, Rosa and Company, none on show!

None on show!

Three days later Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were murdered, and the “Company”, my friends Werner Müller and Wolfgang Fernbach were also killed. Not one of them was a member of the Red Army.

Gentlemen, I have twice been accused by representatives of the Bavarian Government of cowardice. The first time by Schneppenhorst for not approving of the establishment of a Soviet Republic; the second time by the present Prosecution for fighting not by force of arms but in my own way, according to my own judgement, and for my absence from the battlefield as agreed with the Communist Party.

I am coming to a close. During the last six months I have no longer been able to live with my family. Occasionally my wife could not even visit me. I could not see my three-year-old boy because the police have kept a vigilant watch on us.

Such was my life and it is not compatible with lust for power or with cowardice. When Toller, who tried to persuade me to proclaim the Soviet Republic, in his turn accused me of cowardice, I said to him: “What do you want? The Social Democrats start, then run away and betray us; the Independents fall for the bait, join us, and later let us down, and we Communists are stood up against the wall.”

We Communists are all dead men on leave. Of this I am fully aware. I do not know if you will extend my leave or whether I shall have to join Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. In any case I await your verdict with composure and inner serenity. For I know that, whatever your verdict, events cannot be stopped. The Prosecuting Counsel believes that the leaders incited the masses. But just as leaders could not prevent the mistakes of the masses under the pseudo-Soviet Republic, so the disappearance of one or other of the leaders will under no circumstances hold up the movement.

And yet I know, sooner or later other judges will sit in this Hall and then those will be punished for high treason who have transgressed against the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Pronounce your verdict if you deem it proper. I have only striven to foil your attempt to stain my political activity, the name of the Soviet Republic with which I feel myself so closely bound up, and the good name of the workers of Munich. They – and I together with them – we have all of us tried to the best of our knowledge and conscience to do our duty towards the International, the Communist World Revolution.

Appendix: Leviné’s Death Sentence

Eugene Leviné has been condemned to death for the crime of high treason.

Grounds: From April 4th to 5th the Revolutionary Central Council met in order to overthrow the legal constitution and to proclaim a Soviet Republic despite Leviné’s opposition. The Hoffmann Ministry transferred its seat to Bamberg, while explicitly reserving its rights. The Diet was not dissolved. The proclamation of the Soviet Government was not founded as a State power. It was merely an act of insubordination against the existing constitutional government.

On the night of April I3th to I4th a part of the Munich garrison sought to help the legal government to re-establish its power.

On this date began Leviné’s positive activity aimed at changing by force the Bavarian constitution. He brought about the proclamation of the second Soviet-Republic and the dictatorship of the proletariat. On his initiative an Executive Council and a Committee of Action were set up under his presidency. He ordered the immediate proclamation of a general strike to mobilise the masses for his purposes. The proletariat was armed, a Red Army organised to fight against the government forces. Leviné repeatedly called for the most resolute resistance. A Judicial Commission was appointed to combat the counter-revolution, that is to persecute and suppress the supporters of the lawful government.

The Revolutionary Tribunal, which was taken over from the first Soviet Republic, was to serve the same ends. Numerous actions were carried out by the Red Army to extend the Communist rule by force of arms beyond the borders of Munich. All these measures were designed to transform the entire legal and economical structure into a Communist or Socialist State.

Leviné explicitly accepted full responsibility for all this.

Such conduct warrants a charge of high treason.

Leviné was an alien intruder in Bavaria and he was not in the least concerned with the nature of its constitution.

A man of great intellectual powers, he was fully aware of the implications of his actions. It stands beyond doubt that a man who meddles in such a way with the destiny of a people is guided by dishonourable convictions. For this reason the defendant is denied mitigating circumstances. The Court regards moreover severest punishment as an imperative command of justice.

In accordance with Article 3 of Martial Law the Court therefore pronounces the death sentence.

Order Prevails in Berlin

Order Prevails in Berlin

by Rosa Luxemburg

First printed in Rote Fahne 14 January, 1919. Copied from
http://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1919/01/14.htm

[The following editorial is the last known piece of writing by Rosa Luxemburg. It was written just after the Spartacus uprising was crushed by the German government and in the hours prior to the arrest and murder of her and Karl Liebknecht by the Friekorps. – A.L.]

“Order prevails in Warsaw!” declared Minister Sebastiani to the Paris Chamber of Deputies in 1831, when after having stormed the suburb of Praga, Paskevich’s marauding troops invaded the Polish capital to begin their butchery of the rebels.

“Order prevails in Berlin!” So proclaims the bourgeois press triumphantly, so proclaim Ebert and Noske, and the officers of the “victorious troops,” who are being cheered by the petty-bourgeois mob in Berlin waving handkerchiefs and shouting “Hurrah!” The glory and honor of German arms have been vindicated before world history. Those who were routed in Flanders and the Argonne have restored their reputation with a brilliant victory – over three hundred “Spartacists” in the Vorwärts building. The days when glorious German troops first crossed into Belgium, and the days of General von Emmich, the conqueror of Liege, pale before the exploits of Reinhardt and Co. in the streets of Berlin. The government’s rampaging troops massacred the mediators who had tried to negotiate the surrender of the Vorwärts building, using their rifle butts to beat them beyond recognition. Prisoners who were lined up against the wall and butchered so violently that skull and brain tissue splattered everywhere. In the sight of glorious deeds such as those, who would remember the ignominious defeat at the hands of the French, British, and Americans? Now “Spartacus” is the enemy, Berlin is the place where our officers can savor triumph, and Noske, “the worker,” is the general who can lead victories where Ludendorff failed.

Who is not reminded of that drunken celebration by the “law and order” mob in Paris, that Bacchanal of the bourgeoisie celebrated over the corpses of the Communards? That same bourgeoisie who had just shamefully capitulated to the Prussians and abandoned the capital to the invading enemy, taking to their heels like abject cowards. Oh, how the manly courage of those darling sons of the bourgeoisie, of the “golden youth,” and of the officer corps flared back to life against the poorly armed, starving Parisian proletariat and their defenseless women and children. How these courageous sons of Mars, who had buckled before the foreign enemy, raged with bestial cruelty against defenseless people, prisoners, and the fallen.

“Order prevails in Warsaw!” “Order prevails in Paris!” “Order prevails in Berlin!” Every half-century that is what the bulletins from the guardians of “order” proclaim from one center of the world-historic struggle to the next. And the jubilant “victors” fail to notice that any “order” that needs to be regularly maintained through bloody slaughter heads inexorably toward its historic destiny; its own demise.

What was this recent “Spartacus week” in Berlin? What has it brought? What does it teach us? While we are still in the midst of battle, while the counterrevolution is still howling about their victory, revolutionary proletarians must take stock of what happened and measure the events and their results against the great yardstick of history. The revolution has no time to lose, it continues to rush headlong over still-open graves, past “victories” and “defeats,” toward its great goal. The first duty of fighters for international socialism is to consciously follow the revolution’s principles and its path.

Was the ultimate victory of the revolutionary proletariat to be expected in this conflict? Could we have expected the overthrow Ebert-Scheidemann and the establishment of a socialist dictatorship? Certainly not, if we carefully consider all the variables that weigh upon the question. The weak link in the revolutionary cause is the political immaturity of the masses of soldiers, who still allow their officers to misuse them, against the people, for counterrevolutionary ends. This alone shows that no lasting revolutionary victory was possible at this juncture. On the other hand, the immaturity of the military is itself a symptom of the general immaturity of the German revolution.

The countryside, from which a large percentage of rank-and-file soldiers come, has hardly been touched by the revolution. So far, Berlin has remained virtually isolated from the rest of the country. The revolutionary centers in the provinces – the Rhineland, the northern coast, Brunswick, Saxony, Württemburg – have been heart and soul behind the Berlin workers, it is true. But for the time being they still do not march forward in lockstep with one another, there is still no unity of action, which would make the forward thrust and fighting will of the Berlin working class incomparably more effective. Furthermore, there is – and this is only the deeper cause of the political immaturity of the revolution – the economic struggle, the actual volcanic font that feeds the revolution, is only in its initial stage. And that is the underlying reason why the revolutionary class struggle, is in its infancy.

From all this that flows the fact a decisive, lasting victory could not be counted upon at this moment. Does that mean that the past week’s struggle was an “error”? The answer is yes if we were talking about a premeditated “raid” or “putsch.” But what triggered this week of combat? As in all previous cases, such as December 6 and December 24, it was a brutal provocation by the government. Like the bloodbath against defenseless demonstrators in Chausseestrasse, like the butchery of the sailors, this time the assault on the Berlin police headquarters was the cause of all the events that followed. The revolution does not develop evenly of its own volition, in a clear field of battle, according to a cunning plan devised by clever “strategists.”

The revolution’s enemies can also take the initiative, and indeed as a rule they exercise it more frequently than does the revolution. Faced with the brazen provocation by Ebert-Scheidemann, the revolutionary workers were forced to take up arms. Indeed, the honor of the revolution depended upon repelling the attack immediately, with full force in order to prevent the counter-revolution from being encouraged to press forward, and lest the revolutionary ranks of the proletariat and the moral credit of the German revolution in the International be shaken.

The immediate and spontaneous outpouring of resistance from the Berlin masses flowed with such energy and determination that in the first round the moral victory was won by the “streets.”

Now, it is one of the fundamental, inner laws of revolution that it never stands still, it never becomes passive or docile at any stage, once the first step has been taken. The best defense is a strong blow. This is the elementary rule of any fight but it is especially true at each and every stage of the revolution. It is a demonstration of the healthy instinct and fresh inner strength of the Berlin proletariat that it was not appeased by the reinstatement of Eichorn (which it had demanded), rather the proletariat spontaneously occupied the command posts of the counter-revolution: the bourgeois press, the semi-official press agency, the Vorwärts office. All these measures were a result of the masses’ instinctive realization that, for its part, the counter-revolution would not accept defeat but would carry on with a general demonstration of its strength.

Here again we stand before one of the great historical laws of the revolution against which are smashed to pieces all the sophistry and arrogance of the petty USPD variety “revolutionaries” who look for any pretext to retreat from struggle. As soon as the fundamental problem of the revolution has been clearly posed – and in this revolution it is the overthrow of the Ebert-Scheidemann government, the primary obstacle to the victory of socialism – then this basic problem will rise again and again in its entirety. With the inevitability of a natural law, every individual chapter in the struggle will unveil this problem to its full extent regardless of how unprepared the revolution is ready to solve it or how unripe the situation may be. “Down with Ebert-Scheidemann!” – this slogan springs forth inevitably in each revolutionary crisis as the only formula summing up all partial struggles. Thus automatically, by its own internal, objective logic, bringing each episode in the struggle to a boil, whether one wants it to or not.

Because of the contradiction in the early stages of the revolutionary process between the task being sharply posed and the absence of any preconditions to resolve it, individual battles of the revolution end in formal defeat. But revolution is the only form of “war” – and this is another peculiar law of history – in which the ultimate victory can be prepared only by a series of “defeats.”

What does the entire history of socialism and of all modern revolutions show us? The first spark of class struggle in Europe, the revolt of the silk weavers in Lyon in 1831, ended with a heavy defeat; the Chartist movement in Britain ended in defeat; the uprising of the Parisian proletariat in the June days of 1848 ended with a crushing defeat; and the Paris commune ended with a terrible defeat. The whole road of socialism – so far as revolutionary struggles are concerned – is paved with nothing but thunderous defeats. Yet, at the same time, history marches inexorably, step by step, toward final victory! Where would we be today without those “defeats,” from which we draw historical experience, understanding, power and idealism? Today, as we advance into the final battle of the proletarian class war, we stand on the foundation of those very defeats; and we can do without any of them, because each one contributes to our strength and understanding.

The revolutionary struggle is the very antithesis of the parliamentary struggle. In Germany, for four decades we had nothing but parliamentary “victories.” We practically walked from victory to victory. And when faced with the great historical test of August 4, 1914, the result was the devastating political and moral defeat, an outrageous debacle and rot without parallel. To date, revolutions have given us nothing but defeats. Yet these unavoidable defeats pile up guarantee upon guarantee of the future final victory.

There is but one condition. The question of why each defeat occurred must be answered. Did it occur because the forward-storming combative energy of the masses collided with the barrier of unripe historical conditions, or was it that indecision, vacillation, and internal frailty crippled the revolutionary impulse itself?

Classic examples of both cases are the February revolution in France on the one hand and the March revolution in Germany on the other. The courage of the Parisian proletariat in the year 1848 has become a fountain of energy for the class struggle of the entire international proletariat. The deplorable events of the German March revolution of the same year have weighed down the whole development of modern Germany like a ball and chain. In the particular history of official German Social Democracy, they have reverberated right up into the most recent developments in the German revolution and on into the dramatic crisis we have just experienced.

How does the defeat of “Spartacus week” appear in the light of the above historical question? Was it a case of raging, uncontrollable revolutionary energy colliding with an insufficiently ripe situation, or was it a case of weak and indecisive action?

Both! The crisis had a dual nature. The contradiction between the powerful, decisive, aggressive offensive of the Berlin masses on the one hand and the indecisive, half-hearted vacillation of the Berlin leadership on the other is the mark of this latest episode. The leadership failed. But a new leadership can and must be created by the masses and from the masses. The masses are the crucial factor. They are the rock on which the ultimate victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were up to the challenge, and out of this “defeat” they have forged a link in the chain of historic defeats, which is the pride and strength of international socialism. That is why future victories will spring from this “defeat.”

“Order prevails in Berlin!” You foolish lackeys! Your “order” is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will “rise up again, clashing its weapons,” and to your horror it will proclaim with trumpets blazing:

I was, I am, I shall be!

The Third International

The Third International

by Alexandra Kollontai †

[First printed in The American Socialist, Oct. 23, 1915. Copied from http://www.marxists.org/history/usa/parties/spusa/1915/1023-kollontai-thirdint.pdf ]

Note:— Alexandra Kollontai has just arrived in this country from war-torn Europe and is now touring the nation under the direction of the German Federation of the national Socialist Party. In this article she gives some of her ideas on the reorganization of the international forces of Socialism.

When in the distant future some historian shall picture the bloody year of horror, and describe the shattering crisis in the labor movement and the division and dissolution of the Socialist International, he will be compelled to declare: “In the depths, in spite of all the wavering of faith and pessimism, in spite of the despair and ruling distrust of one another, there arose during this time the fresh and vital germ of a new international of labor, that international that has fulfilled the great work of releasing the proletariat from the yoke of capitalism.”

The Third International is no utopia, no “baseless vision” of incorrigible optimism. The elements from which it has to be built are already in our midst and have been called into life by the existing crisis. The new international of labor is made up of such men as Karl Liebknecht, the members of the Russian Duma languishing in Siberia, of the ever-growing “left” of the German and Russian Social Democratic Parties that have remained true to the principles of the class struggle and Socialism.

The New Elements.

The Third International of labor includes the brave Italian comrades who have protested to the last against the murder of the people. In the new international are the few French Socialist and unions and the numerous English party members of the International Labour Party and the British Socialist Party, who have fought for the fundamental principles of the working class, who have raised their protest against the war and who will have nothing to do with “civil peace.” The new, coming International is composed of those workers who have met the compulsory “civil peace” with strikes and uprisings.

But the real, the firm basis of the new International must be formed of the Socialist youth. Youth, the bearer of the future — youth, that cares so little for the past and expects everything from the coming life and the future. Youth, whose heart is not contaminated with the petty bourgeois mentality and whose mind can not be misled by the ideology of a bygone age. The fresh, brave, revolutionary, sacrificing youth of labor, that presses forward, ever forward.

All Children of Age.

It is no accident that in all the decisive historical moments, it was just the “great” and the “old” men who sacrificed the ideals of the future to the past, to ancient, outgrown principles. A person may be ever so great as a thinker and fighter, he still is and must remain only the child of his age. And every age has its own ideology and its own progressive tasks. When our “great men,” leaders, laid the cornerstones of the Second International, the principle of the “defense of the fatherland” was a progressive and democratic principle, closely bound up with the struggle of the third estate to establish the modern capitalist state. “Defense of the fatherland” belongs to the time of the defense of  democracy against the last attacks of feudalism, when to stand for the national state was to create the indispensable foundation for the class movement of the proletariat.

It is to be wondered at that it is just the “old comrades,” the “great men” whose services to the movement remain invaluable that look upon the “defense of the fatherland” as the highest duty of the proletariat, and that appear to overlook the fact that the maintenance of the class solidarity of the proletariat of the world has now supplanted this old duty? The anarchist Kropotkin and the Marxist Plekhanov, the orthodox Kautsky and the wavering Vandervelde, Adler, and Vaillant, all can join hands, all are agreed upon the fatal, false, and absolute principle: first “fatherland,” then the party…

Hope Is In Youth.

It lies in the hands of the youth of labor to put an end to this false idea and to attack with fresh courage the new tasks of the labor movement.

It is the youth of labor that must weld together the shattered links of the International. But while the new International corresponds to the new conditions of life and conducts an effective and vital battle against the enemy, this new and third International must have three cornerstones as its foundation. The first cornerstone must be the organic organized unity of the labor International. No purely formal, no purely external alliance of national parties can constitute the center of the world proletariat. Its task must be to replace jingoism and narrow patriotism with the feeling of international solidarity and supplant allegiance to the fatherland with allegiance to class. What have laborers to defend in a capitalistic state? Their outlawry? Their exploitation? Their fetters? The watchword of the new International must be: No war of defense in the conflict of capitalistic states but an aggressive war of conquest of the working class against the entire capitalist world.

Revolutionary Tactics.

The second cornerstone must be the revolutionary tactics and methods of fighting of the organized proletariat. We stand on the eve of tremendous, unavoidable, revolutionary struggles. The capitalist method of production has reached its zenith; private property and national boundaries stand in the road of its further development. Conditions are ripe to call into life the last decisive battle. The second great task of the new International must be to equip this proletariat of all nations for this decisive struggle.

There remains the third cornerstone: the decisive and relentless battle to the bitter end against war between nations and peoples and against the domination of militarism. War between nations and peoples robs the proletariat of its strongest and only irresistible weapon — class solidarity. War weakens the class feeling and brings with it “civil peace,” the highest aspiration of the capitalist world. Therefore it is the first duty of the youth of labor to use every energy to meet every threat of war between nations with the only effective reply — to call the “red terror” into life.

It is the power of youth to take up all these splendid tasks. The building of the new International depends upon them. Make way for the Socialist youth, the bearers of the future! In all reverence we bare our heads to the veterans of the movement, but it is only through the anti-reform, anti-military, revolution-minded and internationally organized youth of labor that a new, strong, creative International of labor can be erected.

†- Alexandra Kollontai was in America for about 5 months, lecturing steadily throughout the course of her stay. She returned to

Edited with a footnote by Tim Davenport.

Civilised Europeans and Savage Asians

Civilised Europeans and Savage Asians

by V.I. Lenin

[First printed in Pravda No. 87, April 14, 1913. Copied from http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1913/apr/14.htm ]

The well-known English Social-Democrat, Rothstein, relates in the German labour press an instructive and typical incident that occurred in British India. This incident reveals better than all arguments why the revolution is growing apace in that country with its more than 300 million inhabitants.

Arnold, a British journalist, who brings out a newspaper in Rangoon, a large town (with over 200,000 inhabitants) in one of the Indian provinces, published an article en titled: “A Mockery of British Justice”. It exposed a local British judge named Andrew. For publishing this article Arnold was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment, but he appealed and, having connections in London, was able to get the case before the highest court in Britain. The Government of India hastily “reduced” the sentence to four months and Arnold was released.

What was all the fuss about?

A British colonel named McCormick had a mistress whose servant was a little eleven-year-old Indian girl, named Aina. This gallant representative of a civilised nation had enticed Aina to his room, raped her and locked her up in his house.

It so happened that Aina’s father was dying and he sent for his daughter. It was then that the village where he lived learned the whole story. The population seethed with indignation. The police were compelled to order McCormick’s arrest.

But Judge Andrew released him on bail, and later acquitted him, following a disgraceful travesty of justice. The gallant colonel declared, as gentlemen of noble extraction   usually do under such circumstances, that Aina was a prostitute, in proof of which he brought five witnesses. Eight witnesses, however, brought by Aina’s mother were not even examined by Judge Andrew.

When the journalist Arnold was tried for libel, the President of the Court, Sir (“His Worship”) Charles Fox, refused to allow him to call witnesses in his defence.

It must be clear to everyone that thousands and millions of such cases occur in India. Only absolutely exceptional circumstances enabled the “libeller” Arnold (the son of an influential London journalist) to get out of prison and secure publicity for the case.

Do not forget that the British Liberals put their “best” people at the head of the Indian administration. Not long ago the Viceroy of India, the chief of the McCormicks, Andrews and Foxes, was John Morley, the well-known radical author, a “luminary of European learning”, a “most honourable man” in the eyes of all European and Russian liberals.

The Tasks of the Revolutionary Youth

The Tasks of the Revolutionary Youth

First Letter[3]

by V.I. Lenin

[First printed in Student, No. 2-3., September 1903, Copied from http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1903/sep/30b.htm ]

The editorial statement of the newspaper Student,[4] which, if we are not mistaken, was first published in No. 4 (28) of Osvobozhdeniye,[5] and which was also received by Iskra, is indicative in our opinion of a considerable advance in the editors’ views since the appearance of the first issue of Student. Mr. Struve was not mistaken when he hastened to express his disagreement with the views set forth in the statement: those views do indeed differ radically from the trend of opportunism so consistently and zealously maintained by the bourgeois-liberal organ. By recognising that “revolutionary sentiment alone cannot bring about ideological unity among the students”, that “this requires a socialist ideal based upon one or another socialist world outlook” and, moreover, “a definite and integral” outlook, the editors of Student have broken in principle with ideological indifference and theoretical opportunism, and have put the question of the way to revolutionise the students on a proper footing.

True, from the current standpoint of vulgar “revolutionism”, the achievement of ideological unity among the students does not require an integral world outlook, but rather precludes it, involving a “tolerant” attitude towards the various kinds of revolutionary ideas and abstention from positive commitment to some one definite set of ideas; in short, in the opinion of these political wiseacres, ideological unity presupposes a certain lack of ideological principles (more or less skilfully disguised, of course, by hackneyed formulas about breadth of views, the importance of unity at all costs and immediately, and so on and so forth). A rather plausible and, at first glance, convincing argument always produced in support of this line of reasoning is to point to the generally known and incontrovertible fact that among the students there are, and are bound to be, groups differing greatly in their political and social views, and to declare that the demand for an integral and definite world outlook would therefore inevitably repel some of these groups and, consequently, hinder unity, produce dissension instead of concerted action, and hence weaken the power of the common political onslaught, and so on and so forth, without end.

Let us examine this plausible argument. Let us take, for example, the division of students into groups given in No. I of Student. In this first issue the editors did not yet advance the demand for a definite and integral world outlook, and it would therefore be difficult to suspect them of a leaning towards Social-Democratic “narrowness”. The editorial in the first issue of Student distinguishes four major groups among the present-day students: 1) the indifferent crowd—”persons completely indifferent to the student movement”; 2) the “academics”—those who favour student movements of an exclusively academic type; 3) “opponents of student movements in general—nationalists, anti-Semites, etc.”; and 4) the d politically minded”—those who believe in fighting for the overthrow of tsarist despotism. “This group, in turn, consists of two antithetical elements—those belonging to the purely bourgeois political opposition with a revolutionary tendency, and those who belong to the newly emerged [only newly emerged?— N. Lenin] socialistically minded revolutionary intellectual proletariat.” Seeing that the latter subgroup is divided in its turn, as we all know, into Socialist-Revolutionary students and Social-Democratic students, we find that there are among the present-day students six political groups: reactionaries, indifferents, academics, liberals, Socialist- Revolutionaries and Social-Democrats.

The question arises: is this perhaps an accidental grouping, a temporary alignment of views? That question has only to be raised for anyone at all acquainted with the matter to answer it in the negative. And, indeed, there could not be any other grouping among our students, because   they are the most responsive section of the intelligentsia, and the intelligentsia are so called just because they most consciously, most resolutely and most accurately reflect and express the development of class interests and political groupings in society as a whole. The students would not be what they are if their political grouping did not correspond to the political grouping of society as a whole— “correspond” not in the sense of the student groups and the social groups being absolutely proportionate in strength and numbers, but in the sense of the necessary and inevitable existence among the students of the same groups as in sccie y. And Russian society as a whole, with its (relatively) embryonic development of class antagonisms, its political virginity, and the crushed and downtrodden condition of the vast, overwhelming majority of the population under the rule of police despotism, is characterised by precisely these six groups, namely: reactionaries, indifferents, uplifters, liberals, Socialist-Revolutionaries and Social- Democrats. For “academics” I have here substituted “up lifters”, i.e., believers in law-abiding progress without a political struggle, progress under the autocracy. Such uplifters are to be found in all sections of Russian society, and everywhere, like the student “academics”, they confine themselves to the narrow range of professional interests, the improvement of their particular branches of the national economy or of state and local administration; everywhere they fearfully shun “politics”, making no distinction (as the academics make none) between the “politically minded” of different trends, and implying by the term politics everything that concerns … the form of government. The uplifters have always constituted, and still constitute, the broad foundation of our liberalism: in “peaceful” times (i.e., translated into “Russian”, in times of political reaction) the concepts uplifter and liberal become practically synonymous; and even in times of war, times of rising public feeling, times of mounting onslaught on the autocracy, the distinction between them often remains vague. The Russian liberal, even when he comes out in a free foreign publication with a direct and open protest against the autocracy, never ceases to feel that he is an uplifter first and foremost, and every now and again he will start talking like a slave, or,   if you prefer, like a law-abiding, loyal and dutiful subject— vide Osvobozhdeniye.

The absence of a definite and clearly discernible border line between uplifters and liberals is a general characteristic of the whole political grouping in Russian society. We might be told that the, above division into six groups is incorrect because it does not correspond to the class division of Russian society. But such an objection would be unfounded. The class division is, of course, the ultimate basis of the political grouping; in the final analysis, of course, it always determines that grouping. But this ultimate basis becomes revealed only in the process of historical development and as the consciousness of the participants in and makers of that process grows. This “final analysis” is arrived at only by political struggle, sometimes a long, stubborn struggle lasting years and decades, at times breaking out stormily in the form of political crises, at others dying down and, as it were, coming temporarily to a standstill. Not for nothing is it that in Germany, for example, where the political struggle assumes particularly acute forms and where the progressive class—the proletariat—is particularly class- conscious, there still exist such parties (and powerful par ties at that) as the Centre, whose denominational banner serves to conceal its heterogeneous (but on the whole decidedly anti-proletarian) class nature. The less reason is there to be surprised that the class origin of the present-day political groups in Russia is strongly overshadowed by the politically disfranchised condition of the people as a whole, by the domination over them of a remarkably well organised, ideologically united and traditionally exclusive bureaucracy. What is surprising, rather, is that Russia’s development along European capitalist lines should already, despite her Asiatic political system, have made so strong a mark on the political grouping of society.

In our country too, the industrial proletariat, the progressive class of every capitalist country, has already entered on the path of a mass, organised movement led by Social-Democracy, under the banner of a programme which has long since become the programme of the class-conscious proletariat of the whole world. The category of people who are indifferent to politics is of course incomparably   larger in Russia than in any European country, but even in Russia one can no longer speak of the primitive and primeval virginity of this category: the indifference of the non- class-conscious workers—and partly of the peasants too—is giving place more and more often to outbursts of political unrest and active protest, which clearly demonstrate that this indifference has nothing in common with the indifference of the well-fed bourgeois and petty bourgeois. This latter class, which is particularly numerous in Russia owing to her still relatively small degree of capitalist development, is already unquestionably beginning, on the one hand, to produce some conscious and consistent reactionaries; but on the other hand, and immeasurably more often, it is still little to be distinguished from the mass of ignorant and downtrodden “toiling folk” and draws its ideologues from among the large group of raznochintsy[6] intellectuals, with their absolutely unsettled world outlook and unconscious jumble of democratic and primitive-socialist ideas. It is just this ideology that is characteristic of the old Russian intelligentsia, both of the Right wing of its liberal-Narodnik section and of the most Leftward wing: the “Socialist Revolutionaries”.

I said the “old” Russian intelligentsia. For a new intelligentsia, whose liberalism has almost entirely sloughed off primitive Narodism and vague socialism (not without the help of Russian Marxism, of course), is already making its appearance in our country. The formation of a real bourgeois-liberal intelligentsia is proceeding in Russia with giant strides, especially owing to the participation in this process of people so nimble and responsive to every opportunist vogue as Messrs. Struve, Berdyaev, Bulgakov & Go. As regards, lastly, those liberal and reactionary elements of Russian society who do not belong to the intelligentsia, their connection with the class interests of one or another group of our bourgeoisie or landowners is clear enough to anyone at all acquainted, say, with the activities of our Zemstvos,[7] Dumas, stock-exchange committees, fair committees, etc.

And so, we have arrived at the indubitable conclusion that the political grouping of our students is not accidental, but is bound to be such as we have depicted above, in concurrence with the first issue of Student. Having established that fact, we can easily cope with the controversial question of what, actually, should be understood by “achieving ideological unity among the students”, “revolutionising” the students, and so on. It even seems very strange at first glance that so simple a question should have proved controversial. If the political grouping of the students corresponds to the political grouping of society, does it not follow of itself that “achieving ideological unity” among the students can mean only one of two things: either winning over the largest possible number of students to a quite definite set of social and political ideas, or establishing the closest possible bond between the students of a definite political group and the members of that group outside the student body. Is it not self-evident that one can speak of revolutionising the students only having in mind a perfectly definite content and character of this revolutionising process? To the Social-Democrat, for example, it means, firstly, spreading Social-Democratic ideas among the students and combating ideas which, though called “Socialist-Revolutionary”, have nothing in common with revolutionary socialism; and, secondly, endeavouring to broaden every democratic student movement, the academic kind included, and make it more conscious and determined.

How so clear and simple a question was confused and rendered controversial is a very interesting and very characteristic story. A controversy arose between Revolutsionnaya Rossiya (Nos. 13 and 17) and Iskra (Nos. 31 and 35) over the “Open Letter” of the Kiev Joint Council of United Fraternities and Student Organisations (printed in Revolutsionnaya Rossiya, No. 13, and in Student, No. 1). The Kiev Joint Council characterised as “narrow” the decision of the Second All-Russian Student Congress of 1902 that student organisations should maintain relations with the committees of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party; and the quite obvious fact that a certain section of the students in certain localities sympathise with the “Socialist Revolutionary Party” was nicely covered up by the very   “impartial” and very unsound argument that “the students as such cannot associate themselves in their entirety with either the Socialist-Revolutionary Party or the Social- Democratic Party”. Iskra pointed to the unsoundness of this argument, but Revolutsionnaya Rossiya, of course, flew to arms in its defence, calling the Iskra-ists “fanatics for divisions and splits” and accusing them of “tactlessness” and lack of political maturity.

After what has been said above, the absurdity of such an argument is only too apparent. The question at issue is the particular political role the students should play. And, don’t you see, you must first shut your eyes to the fact that the students are not cut off from the rest of society and therefore always and inevitably reflect the political grouping of society as a whole, and then, with eyes thus shut, proceed to chatter about the students as such, or the students in general. The conclusion arrived at is … the harmfulness of divisions and splits resulting from association with a particular political party. It is clear as daylight that in order to carry this curious argument to its conclusion, the arguer had to leap from the political plane to the occupational or educational plane. And it is just such a flying leap that Revolutsionnaya Rossiya makes in the article “The Students and Revolution” (No. 17), talking, firstly, about general student interests and the general student struggle and, secondly, about the educational aims of the students, the task of training themselves for future social activity and developing into conscious political fighters. Both these points are very just—but they have nothing to do with the case and only confuse the issue. The question under discussion is political activity, which by its very nature is connected inseparably with the struggle of parties and inevitably involves the choice of one definite party. How, then, can one evade this choice on the grounds that all political activity requires very serious scientific training, the “development” of firm convictions, or that no political work can be confined to circles of politically minded people of a particular trend, but must be directed to ever broader sections of the population, must link up with the occupational interests of every section, must unite the occupational movement with the political movement and raise the former to the level of the   latter?? Why, the very fact that people have to resort to such devices in order to defend their position shows how sadly they themselves are wanting both in definite scientific convictions and in a firm political line! From whatever side you approach the matter, you find fresh confirmation of the old truth which the Social-Democrats have long propounded in condemning the efforts of the Socialist- Revolutionaries to balance themselves—as regards both scientific theory and practical politics—between Marxism, West-European “critical” opportunism and Russian petty- bourgeois Narodism.[1]

Indeed, imagine a state of things where political relations are at all developed and see how our “controversial question” looks in practice. Suppose there is a clerical party, a liberal party and a Social-Democratic party. In certain localities they function among certain sections of the students, let us say, and, perhaps, of the working class. They try to win over as many as possible of the influential representatives of both. Is it conceivable that they would object to these representatives choosing one definite party on the grounds that there are certain general educational and occupational interests common to all the students and to the entire working class? That would be like disputing the fact that parties must contend on the grounds that the art of printing is useful to all parties without distinction. There is no party in the civilised countries that does not realise the tremendous value of the widest and most firmly established educational and trade unions; but each seeks to have its own influence predominate in them. Who does not know that talk about this or that institution being non-partisan is generally nothing but the humbug of the ruling classes, who want to gloss over the fact that existing institutions are already imbued, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, with a very definite political spirit? Yet what our Socialist-Revolutionaries do is, in effect, to sing dithyrambs to “non-partisanship”. Take, for example, the following moving tirade in   Revolutsionnaya Rossiya (No. 17): “What short-sighted tactics it is when a revolutionary organisation is determined to regard every other independent, non-subordinate organisation as a competitor that must be destroyed and into whose ranks division, disunity, and disorganisation must at all costs be introduced!” This was said in reference to the 1896 appeal of the Moscow Social-Democratic organisation, which reproached the students for having in recent years with drawn into the narrow confines of their university interests, and which Revolutsionnaya Rossiya admonished, saying that the existence of student organisations never prevented those who had “crystallised as revolutionaries” from devoting their energies to the workers’ cause.

Just see how much confusion there is here. Competition is possible (and inevitable) only between a political organisation and another political organisation, a political tendency and another political tendency. There can be no competition between a mutual aid society and a revolutionary circle; and when Revolutsionnaya Rossiya ascribes to the latter the determination to destroy the former, it is talking sheer nonsense. But if in this same mutual aid society there develops a certain political tendency—not to aid revolutionaries, for instance, or to exclude illegal books from the library—then every honest “politically minded” person is in duty bound to compete with it and combat it outright. If there are people who confine the circles to narrow university interests (and there undoubtedly are such people, and in 1896 there were far more!), then a struggle between them and the advocates of broadening, not narrowing, the interests is similarly imperative and obligatory. And, mind you, in the open letter of the Kiev Council, which evoked the controversy between Revolutsionnaya Rossiya and Iskra, the question was of a choice not between student organisations and revolutionary organisations, but between revolutionary organisations of different trends. Consequently, it is people already “crystallised as revolutionaries” that have begun to choose, while our “Socialist-Revolutionaries   are dragging them back, on the pretext that competition between a revolutionary organisation and a purely student organisation is short-sighted…. That is really too senseless, gentlemen!

The revolutionary section of the students begin to choose between two revolutionary parties, and are treated to this lecture: “It was not by imposing a definite [indefiniteness is preferable, of course… I party label [a label to some, a banner to others I, it was not by violating the intellectual conscience of their fellow-students [the entire bourgeois press of all countries always attributes the growth of Social- Democracy to ringleaders and trouble-makers violating the conscience of their peaceable fellows…] that this influence was achieved”, i.e., the influence of the socialist section of the students over the rest. Assuredly, every honest-minded student will know what to think of this charge against the socialists of “imposing” labels and “violating consciences And these spineless, flabby and unprincipled utterances are made in Russia, where ideas of party organisation, of party consistency and honour, of the party banner are still so immeasurably weak!

Our “Socialist-Revolutionaries” hold up as an example to the revolutionary students the earlier student congresses, which proclaimed their “solidarity with the general political movement, leaving quite aside the factional dissensions in the revolutionary camp”. What is this “general political” movement? The socialist movement plus the liberal movement. Leaving that distinction aside means siding with the movement immediately nearest, that is, the liberal movement. And it is the “Socialist-Revolutionaries   who urge doing that! People who call themselves a separate party urge dissociation from party struggle! Does not this show that that party cannot convey its political wares under its own colours and is obliged to resort to contraband? Is it not clear that that party lacks any definite programmatic basis of its o vn? That we shall soon see.

___

The errors in the Socialist-Revolutionaries’ arguments about the students and revolution cannot be attributed merely to. the lack of logic that we have tried to demonstrate above. In a certain sense it is the other way round: the illogicality of their arguments follows from their basic error. As a “party” they from the first adopted so inherently contradictory, so slippery a stand that people who   were quite honest and quite capable of political thinking could not maintain it without constantly wobbling and falling. It should always be remembered that the Social- Democrats do not ascribe the harm done by the “Socialist Revolutionaries” to the socialist cause to various mistakes on the part of individual writers or leaders. On the contrary, they regard all these mistakes as the inevitable consequence of a false programme and political position. In a matter like the student question this falsity is particularly apparent and the contradiction between a bourgeois-democratic view point and a tinselled covering of revolutionary socialism becomes manifest. Indeed, examine the train of thought in Revolutsionnaya Rossiya’s programmatic article “The Students and Revolution”. The author’s main emphasis is on the “unselfishness and purity of aims”, the “force of idealistic motives” of the “youth”. It is here that he seeks the explanation of their “innovatory” political strivings, and not in the actual conditions of social life in Russia, which, on the one hand, produce an irreconcilable antagonism between the autocracy and very broad and very heterogeneous sections of the population and, on the other, render (soon we shall have to be saying: rendered) extremely difficult any manifestation of political discontent except through the universities.

The author then turns his guns on the attempts of the Social-Democrats to react consciously to the existence of different political groups among the students, to bring about closer unity of like political groups and to separate the politically unlike. It is not that he criticises as incorrect any of these attempts in particular—it would be absurd to maintain that all of them were always wholly successful. No, he is a stranger to the very idea that differing class interests are bound to be reflected in the political grouping too, that the students cannot be an exception to society as a whole, however unselfish, pure, idealistic, etc., they may be, and that the task of the socialist is not to gloss over this difference but, on the contrary, to explain it as widely as possible and to embody it in a political organisation. The author views things from the idealist standpoint of a bourgeois democrat, not the materialist standpoint of a Social-Democrat.

He is therefore not ashamed to issue and reiterate the appeal to the revolutionary students to adhere to the “general political movement”. The main thing for him is precisely the general political, i.e., the general democratic, movement, which must be united. This unity must not be impaired by the “purely revolutionary circles”, which must align themselves “parallel to the general student organisation”. From the standpoint of the interests of this broad and united democratic movement, it would be criminal, of course, to “impose” party labels and to violate the intellectual conscience of your fellows. This was just the view of the bourgeois democrats in 1848, when attempts to point to the conflicting class interests of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat evoked “general” condemnation of the “fanatics for divisions and splits”. And this too is the view of the latest variety of bourgeois democrats—the opportunists and revisionists, who yearn for a great united democratic party proceeding peaceably by way of reforms, the way of class collaboration. They have always been, and must necessarily be, opponents of “factional” dissensions and supporters of the “general political” movement.

As you see, the arguments of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, which from the standpoint of a socialist are illogical and contradictory to the point of absurdity, become quite understandable and consistent when viewed from the standpoint of the bourgeois democrat. That is because the Socialist-Revolutionary Party is, actually, nothing but a subdivision of the bourgeois democrats, a subdivision which in its composition is primarily intellectual, in its stand point is primarily petty-bourgeois, and in its theoretical ideas eclectically combines latter-day opportunism with old-time Narodism.

The best refutation of the bourgeois democrat’s phrases about unity is the course of political development and of the political struggle itself. And in Russia the growth of the actual movement has already led to this kind of refutation. I am referring to the emergence of the “academics” as a separate group among the students. As long as there was no real struggle, the academics did not stand out from the “general student” mass, and the “unity” of the whole “thinking section” of the students appeared inviolable. But as   soon as it came to action, the divergence of unlike elements became inevitable.[2]

The progress of the political movement and of the direct onslaught on the autocracy was immediately marked by greater definiteness of political grouping—despite all the empty talk about uniting anybody and everybody. That the separation of the academics and the politically minded is a big step forward, hardly anyone, surely, will doubt. But does this separation mean that the Social-Democratic students will “break” with the academics? Revolutsionnaya Rossiya thinks that it does (see No. 17, p. 3).

But it thinks so only because of the confusion of ideas which we have brought out above. A complete demarcation of political trends in no wise signifies a “break-up” of the occupational and educational unions. A Social-Democrat who sets out to work among the students will unfailingly endeavour to penetrate, either himself or through his agents, into the largest possible number of the broadest possible “purely student” and educational circles;he will try to broaden the outlook of those who demand only academic freedom, and to propagate precisely the Social-Democratic programme among those who are still looking for a programme.

To sum up. A certain section of the students want to acquire a definite and integral socialist World outlook. The ultimate aim of this preparatory work can only be—for students who want to take practical part in the revolutionary movement—the conscious and irrevocable choice of one of the two trends that have now taken shape among the revolutionaries. Whoever protests against such a choice on the plea of effecting ideological unity among the students, of revolutionising them in general, and so forth, is obscuring socialist consciousness and is in actual fact preaching absence of ideological principles. ’[he political grouping of the students cannot but reflect the political grouping of society as a whole, and it is the duty of every socialist to strive for the most conscious and consistent demarcation of politically unlike groups. The Socialist- Revolutionary Party’s appeal to the students to “proclaim their solidarity with the general political movement and leave quite aside the factional dissensions in the revolutionary camp” is, essentially, an appeal to go back, from the socialist to the bourgeois-democratic standpoint. This is not surprising, for the “Socialist-Revolutionary Party” is only a subdivision of the bourgeois democrats in Russia. When the Social-Democratic student breaks with the revolutionaries and politically minded people of all other trends, this by no means implies the break-up of the general student and educational organisations. On the contrary, only on the basis of a perfectly definite programme can and should one work among the widest student circles to broaden their academic outlook and to propagate scientific socialism, i.e., Marxism.

P. S. In subsequent letters I should like to discuss with the readers of Student the importance of Marxism in moulding an integral world outlook, the differences between the principles and tactics of the Social-Democratic Party and the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, the problems of student organisation, and the relation of the students to the working class generally.

Notes

[1] It need hardly be said that the thesis that the programme and tactics of the Socialist-Revolutionaries are inconsistent and inherently contradictory requires special detailed elucidation. We hope to go into this in detail in a subsequent letter. —Lenin

[2] If certain reports are to be credited, a further divergence of the unlike elements among the students is becoming increasingly marked, namely, dissociation, of the socialists from political revolutionaries who refuse to hear of socialism. It is said that this latter trend is very pronounced among the students exiled to Siberia. We shall see if these reports are confirmed. —Lenin

[3] No subsequent letters appeared. The article was reprinted as a mimeographed pamphlet under the title “To the Students. The Tasks of the Revolutionary Youth (Social-Democracy and the In telligentsia)”; and Department of Police documents for 1904-05 show that copies of the pamphlet were discovered during arrests and house-searches in Ekaterinoslav, Nizhni-Novgorod, Kazan, Odessa, Arzamas, and the Smolensk and Minsk gubernias.

[4] Student —a revolutionary student newspaper. Three issues appeared: No. I in April and No. 2-3 in September 1903.

[5] Osvobozhdeniye (Emancipation)—a fortnightly journal of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie, published abroad in 1902-05 under the editership of P. B. Struve. The followers of Osvobozhdeniye later made up the core of the Constitutional-Democratic (Cadet) Party, the principal bourgeois party in Russia.

[6] The rasnochinisy (i.e., “men of different estates”) were the Russian commoner-intellectuals, drawn from the small townsfolk, the clergy, the merchant classes, the peasantry, as distinct from those drawn from the nobility.

[7] Zemstvos—the so-called local self-government bodies, dominated by the nobility, set up in the central gubernias of tsarist Russia in   1864. Their competence was confined to purely local economic and welfare matters (hospital and road building, statistics, insurance, etc.), and they functioned under the control of the provincial governors and the Ministry of the Interior, who could invalidate any decisions the government found undesirable.

Stagnation and Progress of Marxism

Stagnation and Progress of Marxism

Rosa Luxemburg, 1903

[Source: Karl Marx: Man, Thinker and Revolutionist, edited by D. Ryazanov.. Originally posted online at http://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1903/misc/stagnation.htm ]  

In his shallow but at time interesting causerie entitled Die soziale Bewegung in Frankreich und Belgien (The Socialist Movement in France and Belgium), Karl Grün remarks, aptly enough, that Fourier’s and Saint-Simon’s theories had very different effects upon their respective adherents. Saint-Simon was the spiritual ancestor of a whole generation of brilliant investigators and writers in various field of intellectual activity; but Fourier’s followers were, with few exceptions, persons who blindly parroted their master’s words, and were incapable of making any advance upon his teaching. Grün’s explanation of this difference is that Fourier presented the world with a finished system, elaborated in all its details; whereas Saint-Simon merely tossed his disciples a loose bundle of great thoughts. Although it seems to me that Grün pays too little attention to the inner, the essential, difference between the theories of these two classical authorities in the domain of utopian socialism, I feel that on the whole is observation is sound. Beyond question, a system of ideas which is merely sketched in broad outline proves far more stimulating than a finished and symmetrical structure which leaves nothing to be added and offers no scope for the independent effort of an active mind.

Does this account for the stagnation in Marxism doctrine which has been noticeable for a good many years? The actual fact is that – apart for one or two independent contributions which mark a theoretician advance – since the publication of the last volume of Capital and of the last of Engels’s writings there have appeared nothing more than a few excellent popularizations and expositions of Marxist theory. The substance of that theory remains just where the two founders of scientific socialism left it.

Is this because the Marxist system has imposed too rigid a framework upon the independent activities of the mind? It is undeniable that Marx has had a somewhat restrictive influence upon the free development of theory in the case of many of his pupils. Both Marx and Engels found it necessary to disclaim responsibility for the utterances of many who chose to call themselves Marxists! The scrupulous endeavor to keep “within the bounds of Marxism” may at times have been just as disastrous to the integrity of the thought process as has been the other extreme – the complete repudiation of the Marxist outlook, and the determination to manifest “independence of thought” at all hazards.

Still, it is only where economic matters are concerned that we are entitled to speak of a more or less completely elaborated body of doctrines bequeathed us by Marx. The most valuable of all his teachings, the materialist-dialectical conception of history, presents itself to us as nothing more than a method of investigation, as a few inspired leading thoughts, which offer us glimpses into the entirely new world, which open us to endless perspectives of independent activity, which wing our spirit for bold flights into unexplored regions.

Nevertheless, even in this domain, with few exceptions the Marxist heritage lies shallow. The splendid new weapon rusts unused; and the theory of historical materialism remains as unelaborated and sketchy as was when first formulated by its creators.

It cannot be said, then, that the rigidity and completeness of the Marxist edifice are the explanation of the failure of Marx’s successors to go on with the building.

We are often told that our movement lacks the persons of talent who might be capable of further elaborating Marx’s theories. Such a lack is, indeed, of long standing; but the lack itself demands an explanation, and cannot be put forward to answer the primary question. We must remember that each epoch forms its own human material; that if in any period there is a genuine need for theoretical exponents, the period will create the forces requisite for the satisfaction of that need.

But is there a genuine need, an effective demand, for the further development of Marxist theory?

In an article upon the controversy between the Marxist and the Jevonsian Schools in England, Bernard Shaw, the talented exponent of Fabian semi-socialism, derides Hyndman for having said that the first volume of Capital had given him a complete understanding of Marx, and that there were no gaps in Marxist theory – although Friedrich Engels, in the preface of the second volume of Capital, subsequently declared that the first volume with its theory of value, had left unsolved a fundamental economic problem, whose solution would not be furnished until the third volume was published. Shaw certainly succeeded here in making Hyndman’s position seem a trifle ridiculous, though Hyndman might well derive consolation from the fact that practically the whole socialist world was in the same boat!

The third volume of Capital, with its solution of the problem of the rate of profit (the basic problem of Marxist economics), did not appear till 1894. But in Germany, as in all other lands, agitation had been carried on with the aid of the unfinished material contained in the first volume; the Marxist doctrine had been popularized and had found acceptance upon the basis of this first volume alone; the success of the incomplete Marxist theory had been phenomenal; and no one had been aware that there was any gap in the teaching.

Furthermore, when the third volume finally saw the light, whilst to begin with it attracted some attention in the restricted circles of the experts, and aroused here a certain amount of comment – as far as the socialist movement as a whole was concerned, the new volume made practically no impression in the wide regions where the ideas expounded in the original book had become dominant. The theoretical conclusion of volume 3 have not hitherto evoked any attempt at popularization, nor have they secured wide diffusion. On the contrary, even among the social democrats we sometimes hear, nowadays, reechoes of the “disappointment” with the third volume of Capital which is so frequently voiced by bourgeois economists – and thus the social democrats merely show how fully they had accepted the “incomplete” exposition of the theory of value presented in the first volume.

How can we account for so remarkable a phenomenon?

Shaw, who (to quote his own expression) is fond of “sniggering” at others, may have good reasons here, for making fun of the whole socialist movement, insofar as it is grounded upon Marx! But if he were to do this, he would be “sniggering” at a very serious manifestation of our social life. The strange fate of the second and third volumes of Capital is conclusive evidence as to the general destiny of theoretical research in our movement.

From the scientific standpoint, the third volume of Capital must, no doubt, be primarily regarded as the completion of Marx’s critic of capitalism. Without this third volume, we cannot understand, either the actually dominant law of the rate of profit; or the splitting up of surplus value into profit, interest, and rent; or the working of the law of value within the field of competition. But, and this is the main point, all these problems, however important from the outlook of the pure theory, are comparatively unimportant from the practical outlook of the class war. As far as the class war is concerned, the fundamental theoretical problem is the origin of surplus value, that is, the scientific explanation of exploitation; together with the elucidation of the tendencies toward the socialization of the process of production, that is, the scientific explanation of the objective groundwork of the socialist revolution.

Both these problems are solved in the first volume of Capital, which deduces the “expropriation of the expropriators” as the inevitable and ultimate result of the production of surplus value and of the progressive concentration of capital. Therewith, as far as theory is concerned, the essential need of the labor movement is satisfied. The workers, being actively engaged in the class war, have no direct interest in the question how surplus value is distributed among the respective groups of exploiters; or in the question how, in the course of this distribution, competition brings about rearrangements of production.

That is why, for socialists in general, the third volume of Capital remain an unread book.

But, in our movement, what applies to Marx’s economic doctrines applies to theoretical research in general. It is pure illusion to suppose that the working class, in its upward striving, can of its own accord become immeasurably creative in the theoretical domain. True that, as Engels said, the working class alone has today preserved an understanding of and interest in theory. The workers’ craving for knowledge is one of the most noteworthy cultural manifestation of our day. Morally, too, the working-class struggle denotes the cultural renovation of society. But active participation of the workers in the march of science is subject to fulfillment of very definite social conditions.

In every class society, intellectual culture (science and art) is created by the ruling class; and the aim of this culture is in part to ensure the direct satisfaction of the needs of the social process, and in part to satisfy the mental needs of the members of the governing class.

In the history of earlier class struggles, aspiring classes (like the Third Estate in recent days) could anticipate political dominion by establishing an intellectual dominance, inasmuch as, while they were still subjugated classes, they could set up a new science and a new art against obsolete culture of the decadent period.

The proletariat is in a very different position. As a nonpossessing class, it cannot in the course of its struggle upwards spontaneously create a mental culture of its own while it remains in the framework of bourgeois society. Within that society, and so long as its economic foundations persist, there can be no other culture than a bourgeois culture. Although certain “socialist” professors may acclaim the wearing of neckties, the use of visiting cards, and the riding of bicycles by proletarians as notable instances of participation in cultural progress, the working class as such remains outside contemporary culture. Notwithstanding the fact that the workers create with their own hands the whole social substratum of this culture, they are only admitted to its enjoyment insofar as such admission is requisite to the satisfactory performance of their functions in the economic and social process of capitalist society.

The working class will not be in a position to create a science and an art of its own until it has been fully emancipated from its present class position.

The utmost it can do today is to safeguard bourgeois culture from the vandalism of the bourgeois reaction, and create the social conditions requisite for a free cultural development. Even along these lines, the workers, within the extant form of society, can only advance insofar as they can create for themselves the intellectual weapons needed in their struggle for liberation.

But this reservation imposes upon the working class (that is to say, upon the workers’ intellectual leaders) very narrow limits in the field of intellectual activities. The domain of their creative energy is confined to one specific department of science, namely social science. For, inasmuch as “thanks to the peculiar connection of the idea of the Fourth Estate with our historical epoch”, enlightenment concerning the laws of social development has become essential to the workers in the class struggle, this connection has borne good fruit in social science, and the monument of the proletarian culture of our days is – Marxist doctrine.

But Marx’s creation, which as a scientific achievement is a titanic whole, transcends the plain demands of the proletarian class struggle for whose purposes it was created. Both in his detailed and comprehensive analysis of capitalist economy, and in his method of historical research with its immeasurable field of application, Marx has offered much more than was directly essential for the practical conduct of the class war.

Only in proportion as our movement progresses, and demands the solution of new practical problems do we dip once more into the treasury of Marx’s thought, in order to extract therefrom and to utilize new fragments of his doctrine. But since our movement, like all the campaigns of practical life, inclines to go on working in old ruts of thought, and to cling to principles after they have ceased to be valid, the theoretical utilization of the Marxist system proceed very slowly.

If, then, today we detect a stagnation in our movement as far as these theoretical matters are concerned, this is not because the Marxist theory upon which we are nourished is incapable of development or has become out-of-date. On the contrary, it is because we have not yet learned how to make an adequate use of the most important mental weapons which we had taken out of the Marxist arsenal on account of our urgent need for them in the early stages of our struggle. It is not true that, as far as practical struggle is concerned, Marx is out-of-date, that we had superseded Marx. On the contrary, Marx, in his scientific creation, has outstripped us as a party of practical fighters. It is not true that Marx no longer suffices for our needs. On the contrary, our needs are not yet adequate for the utilization of Marx’s ideas.

Thus do the social conditions of proletarian existence in contemporary society, conditions first elucidated by Marxist theory, take vengeance by the fate they impose upon Marxist theory itself. Though that theory is an incomparable instrument of intellectual culture, it remains unused because, while t is inapplicable to bourgeois class culture, it greatly transcends the needs of the working class in the matter of weapons for the daily struggle. Not until the working class has been liberated from its present conditions of existence will the Marxist method of research be socialized in conjunction with the other means of production, so that it can be fully utilized for the benefit of humanity at large, and so that it can be developed to the full measure of its functional capacity.

On Optimism and Pessimism

Leon Trotsky

On Optimism and Pessimism

On the 20th Century and on Many Other Issues

(1901)

Originally posted online at
http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1901/xx/20thcent.htm

Dum spiro spero! [While there is life, there’s hope!] … If I were one of the celestial bodies, I would look with complete detachment upon this miserable ball of dust and dirt … I would shine upon the good and the evil alike … But I am a man. World history which to you, dispassionate gobbler of science, to you, book-keeper of eternity, seems only a negligible moment in the balance of time, is to me everything! As long as I breathe, I shall fight for the future, that radiant future in which man, strong and beautiful, will become master of the drifting stream of his history and will direct it towards the boundless horizon of beauty, joy, and happiness! …

The nineteenth century has in many ways satisfied and has in even more ways deceived the hopes of the optimist … It has compelled him to transfer most of his hopes to twentieth century. Whenever the optimist was confronted by an atrocious fact, he exclaimed: What, and this can happen on the threshold of the twentieth century! When he drew wonderful pictured of the harmonious future, he placed them in the twentieth century.

And now that century has come! What has it brought with it from the outset?

In France – the poisonous foam of racial hatred [1]; in Austria – nationalist strife …; in South Africa – the agony of a tiny people, which is being murdered by a colossus [2]; on the ‘free’ island itself – triumphant hymns to the victorious greed of jingoist jobbers; dramatic ‘complications’ in the east; rebellions of starving popular masses in Italy, Bulgaria, Romania … Hatred and murder, famine and blood …

It seems as if the new century, this gigantic newcomer, were bent at the very moment of its appearance to drive the optimist into absolute pessimism and civic nirvana.

– Death to Utopia! Death to faith! Death to love! Death to hope! thunders the twentieth century in salvos of fire and in the rumbling of guns.

– Surrender, you pathetic dreamer. Here I am, your long awaited twentieth century, your ‘future.’

– No, replies the unhumbled optimist: You, you are only the present.

Notes

1. The Dreyfus Affair.
2. The Boer War

Opportunism and the art of the possible

Opportunism and the art of the possible

by Rosa Luxemburg

First printed in Sachsische Arbeiterzeitung, September 30, 1898. Copied fromhttp://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1898/09/30.htm

Comrade Heine, as is well known, has written a pamphlet for the party conference entitled To Vote or Not to Vote?  In it he comes out in favour of our participating in Prussian Landtag elections. It is not the main subject of his pamphlet that leads us to make a few necessary remarks, but rather the two terms which he mentions in his line of argument, and to which we react with particular sensitivity in consequence of the well-known events that have taken place recently in the party. The terms are: the art of the possible and opportunism. Heine believes that the party’s aversion to these trends rests entirely upon a misunderstanding of the true linguistic meaning of these foreign words. Ah! Comrade Heine, like Faust, has studied jurisprudence with zealous endeavour, but alas, unlike Faust, not much else. And in the true spirit of juridical thought, he says to himself, In the beginning was the word. If we wish to know whether the art of the possible and opportunism are harmful or useful to Social Democracy, we need only consult the dictionary of foreign words and the question is answered in five minutes. For the dictionary of foreign words informs us that the art of the possible is ‘a policy which endeavours to achieve what is possible under given circumstances’. Heine then proclaims, ‘Indeed, I ask all rational men, should a policy attempt to achieve what is impossible under given circumstances?’ Yes, we as rational men reply, if questions of politics and tactics could be solved so easily, then lexicographers would be the wisest statesman and, instead of delivering Social-Democratic speeches, we should have to begin holding popular lectures in linguistics.

Certainly our policy should and can only endeavour to achieve what is possible under given circumstances. But this not say how, in what manner, we should endeavour to achieve what is possible. This, however, is the crucial point.

The basic question of the socialist movement has always been how to bring its immediate practical activity into agreement with its ultimate goal. The various ‘schools’ and trends of socialism are differentiated according to their various solutions to this problem. And Social Democracy is the first socialist party that has understood how to harmonize its final revolutionary goal with its practical day-to-day activity, and in this way it has been able to draw broad masses into the struggle. Why then is this solution particularly harmonious? Stated briefly and in general terms, it is that the practical struggle has been shaped in accordance with the general principles of the party programme. This we all know by heart; should anyone challenge us, our answers are as clever as they always were. Now we believe that, despite its generality, this tenet constitutes a very palpable guide for our activity. Let us illustrate it briefly by two topical questions of party life – by militarism and custom policy.

In principle – as everyone is familiar with our programme knows – we are against all militarism and protective tariffs. Does it follow from this that our representative in the Reichstag must oppose all debate on bills concerning these matters with an abrupt and blunt no? Absolutely not, for this would be an attitude befitting a small sect and not a great mass party. Our representatives must investigate each individual bill; they must consider the arguments and they must judge and debate on the basis if the existing concrete relationship, of the existing economic and political situations, and not of a lifeless and abstract principle. The result, however, must and will be – if we have assessed correctly the existing relationship and the people’s interest – no. Our solution is: not a man and not a penny for this system! But, given the present social order, there can be no system which would not be this very system. Each time tariffs are increased we say that we see no reason for agreeing to the tariff in the present situation, but for us there can be no situation in which we could reach a different position. Only in this way can our practical struggle become what it must be: the realization of our basic principles in the process of social life and the embodiment of our general principles in practical, everyday action.

And only under these conditions do we fight in the sole permissible way for what is at any time ‘possible’. Now if one says that we should offer an exchange – our consent to militaristic and tariff legislation in return for political concessions or social reforms – then one is sacrificing the basic principles of the class struggle for momentary advantage, and one’s actions are based on opportunism. Opportunism, incidentally, is a political game which can be lost in two ways: not only basic principles but also practical success may be forfeited. The assumption that one can achieve the greatest number of successes by making concessions rests on a complete error. Here, as in all great matters, the most cunning persons are not the most intelligent. Bismarck once told a bourgeois opposition party: ‘You will deprive yourselves of any practical influences if you always and as a matter of course say no.’ The old boy was then, as so often, more intelligent than is Pappenheimer.[A] Indeed, a bourgeois party, that is, a party which says yes to the existing order as a whole, but which will say no to the day-to-day consequences of this order, is a hybrid, an artificial creation, which is neither fish nor flash nor fowl. We who oppose the entire present order see things quite differently. In our no, in our intransigent attitude, lies our whole strength. It is this attitude that earns us the fear and respect of the enemy and the trust and support of the people.

Precisely because we do not yield one inch from our position, we force the government and the bourgeois parties to concede to us the few immediate successes that can be gained. But if we begin to chase after what is ‘possible’ according to the principles of opportunism, unconcerned with our own principles, and by means of statesmanlike barter, then we will soon find ourselves in the same situation as the hunter who has not only failed to stay the deer but has also lost his gun in the process.

We do not shudder at the foreign terms, opportunism and the art of the possible, as Heine believes; we shudder only when they are ‘Germanized’ into our party practice. Let them remain foreign words for us. And, if occasion arises, let our comrades shun the role of interpreter.

…………

A] A reference to the soldiers of General Pappenheim in the Thirty Years War.

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