There is an immense literature in marxism on issues that are probably no longer viable: the need is to start over and create a neo-communist set of discourses that aren’t rehashes of the known failures of bolshevism. People are not going to respond to a leninist pitch anymore. So why not recreate the whole canon completely? We can still learn from leninism, but the sound of his name will turn off the great majority of the public minimally open to a radical set of solutions.
The solution is clear: renounce the bolshevik legacy. It is a useless mess of pottage. We need to create a revolutionary path that will break new ground and not violate the basic hopes for democratic participation. It is not as hard as it looks: the problem is the lunatic unfolding of the Russian revolution. Consider the history and ask just how much of the extreme tactics was necessary. Study the history. The secret police factions took over rapidly and weren’t just authoritarian, they were explosively sadistic to a degree that bordered on insanity. That, among other issues, foretold the whole bolshevik failure.
One of the problems was first the hatred of rights democracy on the part of many marxists and especially leninists. But I think this was a failure to grasp the reality of what was needed. Fukuyama had a field day here, even though his perspective was essentially false. But the point is that a communist reaction to liberal democracy can’t replace rights with a secret police domination! Looking at the Russian revolution we have to wonder…what were they thinking? It is worth going over the detailed history and asking how much of the violence and destruction of rights was necessary.
There is not reason why a revolutionary overthrow of a bourgeois pseudo-democracy can’t operate while respecting a basis set of rights. The basic hatred of all the rights gains of the early modern revolutions was a strategic disaster. It is more than possible to constrict democracy on the way to a better social democracy. But it doesn’t follow that the one party rule and letting secret police operations run amok are the strategy for a communist transition. Quite the contrary: the average american, say, would never agree to anything in the least like the bolshevik tragedy.
At all points in the bolshevik case there should have remained basic rights against arbitrary secret police tactics. All of that was totally unnecessary. Even if someone is arrested as a counterrevolutionary he has to be given the basic rights due to prisoners.
A complete review of the history here and the creation of a set of clear legal procedures for dealing with revolutionary contexts could revolutionize revolutionary theory itself and offer something to those who expect democratic essentials a passage through proto-communist terrain without the grotesque seizure of power by thugs that wrecked the Leninist revolution from the start.
I think the early russian revolutions had a different mentality too used to the tyrannies of tsarism: that made the basic errors at the start the reaction of those who had never known anything like democracy.
At this point, those options are impossible in a population raised on democracy, however limited by capitalism domination.
I think it would be relatively easy to repair this confusion, so it is time to give leninist histories their due, and then say goodbye to them. We need a new form of revolutionary transition. It need not require sentimental reaction or bourgeois posturing, but it must be clear, precise, legal by its own standard, and maintain habeas corpus in a maelstrom of reactionaries and radicals at war. How on earth did the world of Stalinist gulags come about? This turned bolshevism into a dead duck from the start. And it was totally unnecessary.