Vanguards, proletarians, and democrats…
October 2nd, 2018 •
The proletarian revolution theme is fundamental to the left, but history shows that in every case save the union movements which are not revolutionary regime change orgs a vanguard has come to the fore (and unions had their own vanguardism in record time, next to mafia penetration). It is a simple dynamic. Even the current left has a series of vanguards, all spouting proletarian slogans. We can try to decipher lenin and the russian case and we can see that lenin was ‘correct’ but misrealized his own strategy.
A vanguard is simply a neutral concept. We cannot therefore insist on proletarian jargon that is unrealistic and in most case points to the impossible. However, the russian case had many proletarian aspects or soviets that were suppressed in the end by the leninists and their wake.
Here is the point: there is no logical contradiction to a vanguard creating a democracy (the american revolution was created by a vanguard smart enough to create something that became a demoracy, and/or an ambiguous outcome, a mysterious faux democracy none the less a stupendous advance over monarchic history), limiting its own powers, creating a separation of powers, and then renouncing any control of economic resources, in a self-imposed ascetic discipline. Elements of this and more are part of our model of the DMNC which is entirely open to proletarian and/or vanguardist strategies, the latter however being constrained by a host of failsafes. Even a small indulgence in revolutionary power for personal gain should set off alarm bells. The bolshevik case succumbed from the start with lenin and his rolls royce (at that time period perhaps a minor bit), and the rest of it.
The point here, and we don’t have to be fanatics about our own model, is that a vanguard can follow a recipe with built insafeguards in advance. Deviation is grounds for revolutionary critique or challenge. Our broad outlines are to use the revolution to expropriate the bourgeoisie, found a commons, yield economic issues to bodies not subject to state dictates beyond axiomatic communism, create market socialism with considerable autonomy next to planned sectors, and yield a low level autonomous sector that sends shows the system isn’t totalitarian although it is ‘total’ system, of a sort. It must create a courts system, a parliamentary system, an ecological court system, and a set of economic an plitical rights. There are many solutions to this, but we can see the bolshevik case flunked virtually every test and was a degenerate pseudo-system from the start. The civil war was a severe stress but that is no excuse for the orgy of extrajudicial murder, torture and rapid covert agency domination that come about. Such possibilities must be condemned, and in advance, with marshalls/witnesses (ombudsmen) to keep the situation clear. The vanguard will end up guardians of the commons, but have very few other powers, these renounced and given over to a separation of powers.
Again, condenming vanguards leads to a vanguad condemning vanguards. Actually the russian reovolution had a host of more or less socialist ‘soviets’ but their collision with leninism was a sordid tragedy.
The result was a hopeless failure from the start.
As we move to correct this situation with populist rhetoric a new vanguard will come into being: again, it is not logically inevitable that such a situation should end up anti-democratic.