Thread: Lenin's Four Conditions For Revolution

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    Default Lenin's Four Conditions For Revolution

    The last one is the ingredient that is missing from many revolutionary movements. The ultra left sects and the Stalinists always throw the monkey wrench in to the movements.

    Let’s remind ourselves of the conditions Lenin put forth, the four conditions for revolution:
    1. The regime is split; there is a crisis in the regime.
    2. The middle class is wavering between the revolutionary forces and the ruling class.
    3. The working class is ready to fight and make the greatest sacrifices.
    4. The existence of a revolutionary party and leadership.
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    Compare these to Kautsky's four conditions (in the Road to Power):
    1. a regime hostile to the people;
    2. a party of irreconcilable opposition;
    3. mass support given to the party;
    4. a regime crisis of confidence.

    Coincidense? Of course not. Lenin was being "aggressive unoriginal" in the period 1915-16. Read more here.
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    how many of those conditions do we actually have?

    I really don't think we can count on a 'checklist' of criteria that we need to meet, i think the social and material conditioning changes alter the equation and there are more variables today than when Lenin or Kautsky were still vertical (example the factor of the internet and mass media).
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    how many of those conditions do we actually have?

    I really don't think we can count on a 'checklist' of criteria that we need to meet, i think the social and material conditioning changes alter the equation and there are more variables today than when Lenin or Kautsky were still vertical (example the factor of the internet and mass media).
    In my opinion we're somewhere at the beginning of Lenin's first condition.

    Democrats and Republicans are part of the same capitalist regime and Republicans are starting to get much more hostile towards anything they percieve as "left", with most of their venom being aimed at the Democratic Party, who they've laughably been accusing of being socialist and Marxist.

    Democrats, though acting characteristically weak, are firing back somewhat, but not at any elevated level.

    There are also some elements of the second condition happening as well. The capitalist class are sucessfully rounding up working class people to support capitalist interests...right now mainly in the health care debate.
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    The last one is the ingredient that is missing from many revolutionary movements. The ultra left sects and the Stalinists always throw the monkey wrench in to the movements.

    Let’s remind ourselves of the conditions Lenin put forth, the four conditions for revolution:
    1. The regime is split; there is a crisis in the regime.
    2. The middle class is wavering between the revolutionary forces and the ruling class.
    3. The working class is ready to fight and make the greatest sacrifices.
    4. The existence of a revolutionary party and leadership.
    Compare these to Kautsky's four conditions (in the Road to Power):
    1. a regime hostile to the people;
    2. a party of irreconcilable opposition;
    3. mass support given to the party;
    4. a regime crisis of confidence.

    Coincidense? Of course not. Lenin was being "aggressive unoriginal" in the period 1915-16. Read more here.
    Lenin was wrong with regards to the middle class being a decisive factor. Likewise, the true founder of "Marxism" was vague about "mass support." Lenin's third criterion, if I'm not mistaken, was phrased differently to be too one-sided with regards to immiseration (that immiseration automatically leads to support). Most revolutions are made when things are getting slightly better but the masses are pissed enough about positive changes not occurring fast enough.

    A tweaking of Kautsky's third criterion should lead to the definitive conditions for a revolutionary period. To all you Luxemburg fans out there, the "mass strike wave" isn't listed among those conditions.

    The fourth criteria is specifically about breakdowns in the military, paramilitary, police, and state bureaucracy. This occurs to the fullest extent only during full-scale war!

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/luxemburg-...061/index.html
    Last edited by Die Neue Zeit; 1st October 2009 at 01:52.
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    The fourth criteria is specifically about breakdowns in the military, paramilitary, police, and state bureaucracy. This occurs only during full-scale war!
    So we can only have revolutionary situations after or in full scale wars? I think history has given us a few examples that blow that idea out of the water.
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    I edited my post above: "to the fullest extent"

    [I was paraphrasing comrade Cockshott in that thread of mine, anyway. He listed Criteria 1-3 as being the "political movement," and the fourth as being major war leading to either total defeat or pyrrhic victory after a protracted war.]
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    So we can only have revolutionary situations after or in full scale wars?
    What are the exceptions?
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    Jacob Richter wrote:

    To all you Luxemburg fans out there, the "mass strike wave" isn't listed among those conditions.
    It isn't, but you should be able to realise that the fulfillment of the other four conditions is likely to result in mass strike waves.

    All of which shows that these are four useful guidelines, but they aren't necessarily hard and fast rules.

    Which is why, for example, Lenin adapted them. The issue of the middle class - or, more importantly, non-proletarian and otherwise reactionary elements of the exploited classes, like the peasantry - was central to Lenin's understanding of the question of a revolution in *Russia*.

    Contrast this to "classical" social democracy in Germany, and the differing material conditions. (Feel free to differ with Lenin's position of course).

    Jacob Richter wrote:

    This occurs to the fullest extent only during full-scale war!
    and Q wrote:

    So we can only have revolutionary situations after or in full scale wars?
    "War" can also include civil war, which can result out of the other factors...
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    It isn't, but you should be able to realise that the fulfillment of the other four conditions is likely to result in mass strike waves.
    Luxemburg's contention was that only the mass strike itself signalled the beginning of the revolutionary period. I hear this frequently from left-communists on this board.

    Which is why, for example, Lenin adapted them. The issue of the middle class - or, more importantly, non-proletarian and otherwise reactionary elements of the exploited classes, like the peasantry - was central to Lenin's understanding of the question of a revolution in *Russia*.
    That would make more sense.
    "A new centrist project does not have to repeat these mistakes. Nobody in this topic is advocating a carbon copy of the Second International (which again was only partly centrist)." (Tjis, class-struggle anarchist)

    "A centrist strategy is based on patience, and building a movement or party or party-movement through deploying various instruments, which I think should include: workplace organising, housing struggles [...] and social services [...] and a range of other activities such as sports and culture. These are recruitment and retention tools that allow for a platform for political education." (Tim Cornelis, left-communist)
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    Personally I have a problem with understanding the conditions for a pre-revolutionary situation. What defines a pre-revolutionary situation?
    “Where the worker is regulated bureaucratically from childhood onwards, where he believes in authority, in those set over him, the main thing is to teach him to walk by himself.” - Marx

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    Um, periods such as now (and any other period when at least one condition isn't met), perhaps?
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    and Q wrote:



    "War" can also include civil war, which can result out of the other factors...
    True enough, but that is only likely to be revolutionary if the war is one between a communist led force and the state. Nationalist civil wars like those in Jugoslavia do not create revolutionary situations.

    One then has to ask under what situation such a civil war can occur?

    Nepal gives one example.

    When I gave the rule about war and defeat, I was just echoing standard Commintern doctrine of the 20s, that the road to revolution was through further imperialist wars.
    The defeat of Protugal in colonial war created the revolutionary crisis of 1975 which indicates that the war need not be one with another major military power to destablise the army.
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    Actually, Lenin's conditions are much more refined and realistic than those of Kautsky. Are there many bourgeois regimes not hostile to the people? Is it not true, unless you're Jacob Richter, that the sympathies of the middle class are crucial to the success of a revolution?
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    Actually, Lenin's conditions are much more refined and realistic than those of Kautsky. Are there many bourgeois regimes not hostile to the people? Is it not true, unless you're Jacob Richter, that the sympathies of the middle class are crucial to the success of a revolution?
    Your definition of "proletarian" is more narrow than mine, and is based on the old "industrial working class" stereotype. Even this is but a subset of manual workers, themselves part of the larger working class.

    [My definition is in the "Police Union" SPEW thread, by the way.]

    Kautsky's first criterion refers to certain types of political authoritarianism, not typical worker-capitalist struggles. It naturally flows from the Marxist axiom "every class struggle is a political struggle."

    Even with the complexity of modern class relations, I don't view the sympathies of the modern (and smaller) petit-bourgeoisie, the modern unproductive/semi- workers (self-employed), and the modern coordinators (mainly mid-level managers but other non-capitalist with coordinating functions) as being critical.

    What your view shows (continuing from our debate on "majority support" and putsches) is that you don't care about winning majority working-class support. You'd rather have the sympathies from other classes and a minority of the working class. Even if this combined support formed a demographic majority, I'd still call the resulting seizure of power a putsch!
    Last edited by Die Neue Zeit; 3rd October 2009 at 02:53.
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    Your definition of "proletarian" is more narrow than mine, and is based on the old "industrial working class" stereotype.
    That's nonsense. I've never said that.

    Even with the complexity of modern class relations, I don't view the sympathies of the modern (and smaller) petit-bourgeoisie, the modern unproductive/semi- workers (self-employed), and the modern coordinators (mainly mid-level managers but other non-capitalist with coordinating functions) as being critical.
    Well, it's clear to me that given the abstract and abstentionist nature of your political work, you would not know anything about that. But it has been proven historically that when the sympathies of the middle layers are with reaction, it is quite easy for the bourgeoisie to crush the advanced workers.

    What your view shows (continuing from our debate on "majority support" and putsches) is that you don't care about winning majority working-class support. You'd rather have the sympathies from other classes and a minority of the working class.
    Again you distort what I said. Of course I'd rather have a support of the majority of the working class; the point is that when more advanced workers can show the lead and begin an insurrection, they should do so without waiting for a clear majority.
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    That's nonsense. I've never said that.
    Well, perhaps you should clarify by giving your own definition of "proletarian," then.

    Well, it's clear to me that given the abstract and abstentionist nature of your political work, you would not know anything about that. But it has been proven historically that when the sympathies of the middle layers are with reaction, it is quite easy for the bourgeoisie to crush the advanced workers.
    On the contrary, you need to look at the historical context in which Lenin said that. I just read in an Employment Insurance news today that Canada, with a population of 33 million, has 2.7 million people who are self-employed (unproductive/semi- workers).

    Even with this size, if all of Kautsky's criteria are met (especially the last one on the state), the sympathies of this group and of the other non-worker groups I've mentioned would simply not matter. They can take up arms and start a civil war later on, but they cannot prevent the proletariat from taking power.

    Again you distort what I said. Of course I'd rather have a support of the majority of the working class; the point is that when more advanced workers can show the lead and begin an insurrection, they should do so without waiting for a clear majority.
    I would say that one condition is in fact a subset of the other. There can be a clear majority and an absence for vanguard "readiness." However, as proven by the July Days, the converse is impossible, since the latter is naturally dependent on the former.
    "A new centrist project does not have to repeat these mistakes. Nobody in this topic is advocating a carbon copy of the Second International (which again was only partly centrist)." (Tjis, class-struggle anarchist)

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    This has probably been noted already bu neither Lenin's nor Kautsky's conditions take into account the material conditions of the time.
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    Um, periods such as now (and any other period when at least one condition isn't met), perhaps?
    Many aspects of the current period don't differ much from let's say 1995, 1975 or maybe even 1965 (?). And that's certainly true when you compare 2009 to 1939. That's why I find this question important: what does it mean to have a pre-revolutionary situation and what defines such a period as opposed to both a non-revolutionary situation and a revolutionary situation.
    Last edited by Tower of Bebel; 3rd October 2009 at 19:24.
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    "It is illogical and incorrect to reduce everything to the economic [socialist] revolution, for the question is: how to eliminate [political] oppression? It cannot be eliminated without an economic revolution... But to limit ourselves to this is to lapse into absurd and wretched ... Economism." - Lenin

    "[During a revolution, bourgeois democratic] demands [of the working class] ... push so hard on the outer limits of capital's rule that they appear likewise as forms of transition to a proletarian dictatorship." - Luxemburg

    “Well, then go forward, Tower of Bebel! [August] Bebel is one of the most brilliant representatives of scientific international socialism. His writings, speeches and works make up a great tower, a strong arsenal, from which the working class should take their weapons. We cannot recommend it enough… And if the [International] deserves to be named Tower of Bebel... well, then we are lucky to have such a Tower of Bebel with us.” - Vooruit
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    Many aspects of the current period don't differ much from let's say 1995, 1975 or maybe even 1965 (?). And that's certainly true when you compare 2009 to 1939. That's why I find this question important: what does it mean to have a pre-revolutionary situation and what defines such a definition as opposed to both a non-revolutionary situation and a revolutionary situation.
    The judgement can only be made for certain in a retrospective manner.
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