Suggested reading on Lenin and the 1917 revolutions?

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TragicTravisty
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Nov 22 2009 22:06
Suggested reading on Lenin and the 1917 revolutions?

hoping for recommended readings on Lenin, the Bolsheviks, and the February and October revolutions in Russia. Specifically, dealing with charges that the October coup was a counter-revolution meant to end the experiment in democracy and socialism, and that Lenin was doing the bidding of the bankers/wall-street. I read about this in the Web of Debt, which was quoting the Creature from Jekyll Island, but I doubt that the latter will be very comprehensive.
Thanks

nastyned
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Nov 22 2009 22:33

Hmmm...not sure about the Wall Street connection but Maurice Brinton's 'The Bolsheviks and workers control' put the boot into the bolshies good and proper.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 22 2009 22:46
Quote:
Lenin was doing the bidding of the bankers/wall-street

Greedy bankers, eh? wink

~J.

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Khawaga
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Nov 22 2009 22:51
Quote:
Specifically, dealing with charges that the October coup was a counter-revolution meant to end the experiment in democracy and socialism, and that Lenin was doing the bidding of the bankers/wall-street

I think you should be careful about this argument. Although it should be investigated, I've mainly heard this claim from more-or-less anti-semitic conspiracy theorists. Focusing on the Juice bankers is at best a structurally anti-semitic argument.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 22 2009 23:53
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Focusing on the Juice bankers

Oh, so it was teh greedy bankerz and the zionazis! But what about the super-rich and the illuminati? Bet you anything they were in on it too...

~J.

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Lexxi
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Nov 23 2009 00:00
TragicTravisty wrote:
hoping for recommended readings on Lenin, the Bolsheviks, and the February and October revolutions in Russia. Specifically, dealing with charges that the October coup was a counter-revolution meant to end the experiment in democracy and socialism, and that Lenin was doing the bidding of the bankers/wall-street. I read about this in the Web of Debt, which was quoting the Creature from Jekyll Island, but I doubt that the latter will be very comprehensive.
Thanks

You won't find one shred of academic integrity or historical accuracy from a right-wing free-market libertarian. Do you expect us to take the claims of a moron who has given lectures titled 'More Deadly Than War: The Communist Revolution in America' seriously? Here's a list of some recommended books.

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Khawaga
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Nov 23 2009 00:08
Quote:
Oh, so it was teh greedy bankerz and the zionazis! But what about the super-rich and the illuminati? Bet you anything they were in on it too...

Not to mention the lizards from 'V'. Wait a minute... they're all the same! The only ones that can save us are the Thule society, but almost all of them were killed off in the Nuremburg process and the zionazis in Israel keeps mopping them up! What are we supposed to do? wink

posi
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Nov 23 2009 11:09

Lenin was not "doing the bidding of the bankers/wall street". That's nonsense.

good list there on revleft, though avoid Figes. you should also read a standard Trot account, to understand how it's seen by most revolutionaries: http://www.marxists.de/statecap/harman/revlost.htm

I've just looked on amazon, there's a very short introduction which would generally be crap, but it's by Steven Smith, so quite possibly very good: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Russian-Revolution-Short-Introduction-Introductions/dp/0192853953

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 23 2009 11:11
posi wrote:
Lenin was not "doing the bidding of the bankers/wall street". That's nonsense.

I see the lizards got to you too, posi. sad

~J.

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Lexxi
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Nov 23 2009 13:57
posi wrote:
good list there on revleft, though avoid Figes. you should also read a standard Trot account, to understand how it's seen by most revolutionaries: http://www.marxists.de/statecap/harman/revlost.htm

I think the standard Trotskyist account would be by Trotsky himself tongue, The History of The Russian Revolution, which is quite good.

posi
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Nov 23 2009 18:53

It is also very long.

eta. also, it should be considered a source, not a history book.

TragicTravisty
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Nov 23 2009 17:58

i don't think that the theory that lenin was backed by banks is all that outlandish. From my understanding, he overthrew the first socialist movement in Russia, and privatized the central bank in 1920, all of which seems like it is in the interest of the banks. Why would he privatize the bank? Surely not for the workers' interests? Or maybe the above is untrue, or not an accurate representation. I don't and didn't put forward judgement either way, because I felt that I should do more research on the topic. That's why I asked for suggested readings, a request which was (considering that this is an anarchist forum with an apparent interest and respect for communal behavior, and the spread of information) surprisingly met with flaming.

Also, you'll notice if you read my first post, that those claims are not my own, and that I was asking for evidence to back them up. Of course, J quoted me out of context, and failed to distinguish the person making the assertion (Griffin) from the person referencing it (me). I'm extremely new to this, and I'm surprised that you seem to feel that the appropriate response to someone asking you for help (especially on the subject of the history of socialist revolutions) is to mock them.

That reading list was quite helpful, Marsella. I'm debating between the Fitzpatrick book or the trilogy by Rabinowitch, any thoughts either way?

TragicTravisty
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Nov 23 2009 18:01
Khawaga wrote:
Quote:
Specifically, dealing with charges that the October coup was a counter-revolution meant to end the experiment in democracy and socialism, and that Lenin was doing the bidding of the bankers/wall-street

I think you should be careful about this argument. Although it should be investigated, I've mainly heard this claim from more-or-less anti-semitic conspiracy theorists. Focusing on the Juice bankers is at best a structurally anti-semitic argument.

Have you heard any reliable/not anti-semetic arguments?

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Khawaga
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Nov 23 2009 18:16

I've heard the wall street connection from people that are not mental conspiracy theorists, but I do not know where they got their information from. In general I find it hard to believe that some Wall Street bankers sat down and figured out that they were gonna support this unknown Lenin guy to quash a workers' uprising.

petey
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Nov 23 2009 18:39

the only connection i can think of is between lenin and the curious US middleman/oilman and son of russian refugees armand hammer, but that relationship started after 1917. hammer is worth a look if you don't know who he is.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armand_Hammer
i'm no great expert on the russian revolution but you'd have to posit no conspiracy to explain lenin's actions in this area.

posi
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Nov 23 2009 19:08
TT wrote:
i don't think that the theory that lenin was backed by banks is all that outlandish. From my understanding, he overthrew the first socialist movement in Russia, and privatized the central bank in 1920, all of which seems like it is in the interest of the banks. Why would he privatize the bank? Surely not for the workers' interests? Or maybe the above is untrue, or not an accurate representation. I don't and didn't put forward judgement either way,

When you say, he "overthrew the first socialist movement in Russia", that contains layers of complexity. He was a huge part of creating that movement. He was not just an evil rightist entryist, he was under real social pressures. Read the article I linked to above, for an overly enthusiastic presentation of that view. He also had inconsistent politics in the area of workers' self activity.

If you read his addresses to Bolshevik congresses in the years after the revolution, you get an interesting picture. This is someone who understands he is introducing huge swathes of "state capitalism" - he calls it that - into the Russian economy, and who understands he is accomdating hugely to the pre-existing state bureaucracy. He sees no other way (and fails to mention his willingness to use weapons to crush the working class who object to the bureaucracy and the capitalism), and fails to make practice of the Marxist critique of the state which he is supposed to have, but he is under real pressures nonetheless.

There is no evidence that he was subjectively aligned with "bankers", or any similar forces. Objectively, part of his interests were aligned with capital, since he was presiding over a state seeking to develop a partially capitalist economy.

TragicTravisty
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Nov 23 2009 22:52

I'm not very well read on the topic, as i'm sure you've gathered from this thread. but didn't he have professional revolutionaries, and arms when he returned to Russia? Wouldn't this require an independent financier?

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Nov 24 2009 02:15
Khawaga wrote:
I've heard the wall street connection from people that are not mental conspiracy theorists, but I do not know where they got their information from.

I think the popularity of the argument started with the Bolshevik Revolution and the subsequent Civil War. Bolshevism was painted as a world conspiracy, and because of the later role of Leon Trotsky, a Jew, all the factors of a conspiracy came into place and were propagated by the Whites.

Since bankers = Jews, and Jews = Bolsheviks, Bankers = Bolsheviks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Protocols_of_the_Elders_of_Zion

The people who continue to propagate this trash are the same people who think that the Federal Reserve is propagating world socialism.

---

Where did they get arms?

During the February Revolution, some of the first factories to revolt were munition/arms factories. Weapons were also taken from police stations, and from warehouses. Soldiers who had mutinied also already had weapons or handed them over to workers. The Soviet Military Commission also distributed tens of thousands of weapons to workers. The exact numbers and how they were acquired is thoroughly detailed here.

How were they financed?

Far from receiving finance from banks, they robbed them. They received finance from the selling of their papers, probably their membership dues, perhaps finance from various unions they had a strong influence in, possibly other donations. And even when the Bolsheviks did gain control, they often ran into difficulties with finance (i.e. paying state employees). I remember reading that they had to put guns to the heads of bankers to force them to open their vaults to allow for payment of wages. And as so far as the Bolsheviks having professional revolutionaries, the vast majority of Bolshevik members were ordinary workers. I remember reading how one Russian Industrialist left a sum of money to the Bolsheviks after one of their family members died in a Tsarist prison. The money was taken on trust by the Second International, and the Bolsheviks didn't see much from it. This was over a decade before 1917.

TragicTravisty
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Nov 24 2009 02:31

that's the kind of information i was hoping to glean, directly or indirectly from this thread. marsella, where did you learn that information? (i'm assuming a variety of sources, but any specific sources which you found particularly helpful?)

kuro
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Nov 24 2009 03:13

Voline's "The Unknown Revolution"

Anarcho
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Nov 26 2009 16:04

May I suggest:

Section H.6 of An Anarchist FAQ is on the Russian Revolution. Also Section H.1.7 is specifically on State and Revolution although it needs to be supplemented by other sections,

The following articles may be of interest:

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/anarcho/how-the-revolution-was-lost

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/anarcho/on-the-bolshevik-myth

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/anarcho/anti-capitalism-or-state-capitalism

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/anarcho/review-the-bolsheviks-in-power

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/anarcho/review-kronstadt-1917-1921

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/anarcho/kronstadt-1921-the-end-of-the-bolshevik-myth

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/anarcho/the-bolshevik-revolution-legacy-better-rejected

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/anarcho/workers-against-lenin

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/anarcho/red-emma-and-the-reds

And, finally, a bit of humour:

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/anarcho/dead-dogma-sketch-apologies-to-monty-python

TragicTravisty
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Dec 24 2009 04:40

just ordered "the revolution betrayed" by trotsky, i don't expect it to be extensive, but it looked interesting and was said to contain some background on the revolution - anybody read it?

Cleishbotham
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Dec 24 2009 12:13

I think you might be disappoiinted. IIt does not deal with the issue you raised and does not explain anything very well. In it Trotsky is doing a bit of face-saving. After saying the USSR was not socialist he then argued that the USSR had no possessing classes, After praising the militarisation of labour in 1920 he concludes (in 1935) that it was the shift of the demobilised Red Army (which he commanded for a further fours years!) into the bureaucracy that led to "thermidor" or the end of the revolution.

Agree with Marsella's posts on here but just one small historical point . The search for Bolshevik financial connections began after the July Days (the Provisional Governmetn was were a show trial if they caught Lenin alive) and the "sealed train" deal was the start of the conspiracy theory (it did not get far as Mensheviks and members of other political organisations were also on the same train. Parvus (aka Helphand), Trotsky's old collaborator on "Permanent Revolution" who later became an arms dealer selling to the Germans is also supposed to have sent money to the Bolsheviks (I think it was in a book by Z.A. Zeman but increasing senility means I am not 100% sure).

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Red Marriott
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Dec 24 2009 16:18
Marsella wrote:
the vast majority of Bolshevik members were ordinary workers.

Yet most of the leadership were not - but were from the upper classes; http://libcom.org/history/social-origin-educational-level-chief-bolshevik-leaders-1917

As well as their previously-mentioned links with American capital via Armand Hammer, the Bolsheviks also quickly made links with European capital; http://libcom.org/history/rapprochement-how-bolsheviks-came-love-capitalists - including selling weapons to the German military as they were crushing Communist uprisings.

Quote:
Alliance with reaction
The Reichswehr, which with the Freikorps, had been the main instrument for crushing the revolutionary workers in 1919 - 21 was not a completely unloved body; it had friends in Moscow.

The exact extent of Russian collaboration with the Reichswehr will probably never be known, but it is likely that preliminary contacts were established in 1919, and the German military negotiated as early as 1920 with Trotsky. During 1922 Reichswehr officers and pilots were training in Russia and Naval exchanges carried on between the two countries. An organisation of German military and industrial enterprises in Russia - GEFU - was established, and continued it's activities throughout the 1920's. Under its auspices shells, poison gas and aircraft were all manufactured in Russia for the Reichswehr before 1923. In April 1923 Menzel of the High Coommand concluded an agreement for the production of 33 million gold marks worth of war material in Russia for the German army.[30] These facts make Stalinist and Trotskyist denunciations of the contacts between the S.P.D. and the High Command in 1918 ring rather hollow.

With this military rapprochement between Germany and Russia went increasing trade btween the two countries. After the Treaty of Rapallo, Krassin, the People's Commissar for Foreign Trade warned the German Workers (in an interview in "Rote Fahne) against strikes which could lead to thc interruption of deliveries of essential materials to Russia. Already the interests of the Soviet State were above those of the German proletariat.

With K.P.D. now an instrument of Russian foreign policy, it too was drilled into the campaign for the alliance. As Russian shells arrived throughout 1923 for the Reichswehr, the K.P.D. enforced it's so-called "Schlageter Line" of co-operation with fascist and nationalist groups. During the summer joint meetings with them were held, where both communists and fascist speakers urged an alliance with Soviet Russia against the Entente powers who had occupied the Ruhr, joint pamphlets written by members of the two groups were the two groups were sold in thousands, and Count Reventlow, a fervent nationalist and later Nazi, wrote articles in the K.P.D.'s "Rote Fahne". Zetkin, now an apparatchnik, announced in Parliament that "A collaboration is quite possible between the Reichswehr and the Red Army." The object of this projected exercise was to be Poland.[31]

The theory of National Bolshevism was used to justify this alliance of right and left.[32] Radek from Moscow insisted that "The insistence on the nation in Germany is a revolutionary act", while Thalheimer, in "Die Internationale" (theoretical organ of the K.P.D.) February 1923 claimed,

"The German bourgeoisie has aquired an objective evolutionary role in spite of itself."
[...]
The K.A.P.D. ... in 1927 ... sent an open letter to the K.P.D., asking whether those killed in the [Oct 1923] insurrection had been so by weapons supplied to the Reichswehr by Russia .....

30] For a documentation of the military collaboration, see Carsten, "Reichswehr and Politics 1919 - 33".
http://libcom.org/history/spartakism-national-bolshevism-kpd-1918-24-solidarity

Cleishbotham
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Dec 24 2009 18:19

Ret Marut wrote

Marsella wrote:

the vast majority of Bolshevik members were ordinary workers.

Quote:
Yet most of the leadership were not - but were from the upper classes

;

I don't know what point Ret Marut is trying to make. Which political group was, or could be, sociologically much different at the time?

BTW the Solidarity text you quote was written by a founder member of the CWO and I don't think we would disagree with it now ....

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Dec 24 2009 18:42
cleishbotham wrote:
Marsella wrote:
the vast majority of Bolshevik members were ordinary workers.

.

Ret Marut wrote:
Yet most of the leadership were not - but were from the upper classes

I don't know what point Ret Marut is trying to make.

That if one is to talk of the class composition of the Bolsheviks one gets a more balanced picture from both the statements above than from only one of them; that political parties and groups often tend to internally reproduce the class relationships of the wider society; that this fact may be relevant when assessing the relationship (and its theoretical justification) between party rank'n'file and leadership and between party and class.

Quote:
Which political group was, or could be, sociologically much different at the time?

According to Battlescarred, who has put biographies of many Makhnovists in the History section of the Library, the class background of the Makhnovists was predominantly poor peasant and worker.

Cleishbotham
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Dec 26 2009 10:32

And many r and f peasant Makhnovists were anti-semitic too. Stalin and Stalinism promoted workers by murdering real revolutionaries. A balanced view take into account the social origins and the political content of someones activities. This is a silly game you are playing. I thought the serious point that Marsella was making was that the Bolsheviks were a genuine class movement and those who was to understand what went wrong need to look beyond what Lenin said or did. Otherwise (and this is comfort for today's anarchist and neo- Menhsheviks alike) you just throw out the revolutionary baby with the Bolshevik bathwater.

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Dec 26 2009 14:03
Quote:
And many r and f peasant Makhnovists were anti-semitic too.

That hardly refutes my answer. But what's your evidence? I'm sure some must have been - but "many"? It has been stated by Jewish historians that the Makhnovists were the least anti-semitic of all forces in the Ukraine and dealt the most thoroughly with anti-semitism in their ranks.

I replied to your question with a direct answer - nothing silly about that. The only "game" I'm playing is to point out relevant facts - regardless of whether they may disturb neo-Bolsheviks. You can refute their interpretation, but I don't think they're irrelevant - that's silly.

"A balanced view take into account the social origins and the political content of someones activities"; agreed, and also takes into account how one influences the other - or is the Party the only place in class society where class ceases to have any influence in social relationships, or its manifestation in the division between intellectual and manual labour? I don't think so.

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x359594
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Dec 26 2009 18:41

Here are the old standard histories: The Russian Revolution in two volumes by William Henry Chamberlain, published in 1935. He has a good appendix of source material such as leaflets, proclamations, manifestos and decrees issued by the soviets and by the Bolshevik government. The History of Soviet Russia by E. H. Carr (first 3 volumes). The Russian Revolution: A Study in Mass Mobilization by John H. L. Keep. This is a comprehensive account of the Revolution in the countryside. I should add that none of these books endorse conspiracy theories about Lenin being in the pay of Wall Street bankers.

Cleishbotham
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Dec 27 2009 11:11

Ret Marut says

Quote:
The only "game" I'm playing is to point out relevant facts

but we both know that selection of facts is not about relevance but about interpretation. The quote you gave in your previous post from the Solidarity pamphlet "From Spartakism to National Bolshevism" (written in 1970) is about the decline of the revolution after 1921 not about the period 1917-21 so hardly relevant to a discussion about whether the Bolsheviks were in receipt of German money in 1917 or before which is where I think we started. As to neo-Bolshevism I have no worries about taking on board all the errors made by the Bolsheviks and others from day one in 1917 (I have mentioned some that nobody else has in several posts on other threads). I also know we are not going to have a re-run of that historical experience and will face new challenges in the future. What intereste me is that many of the criticisms of the Bolsheviks we would make today were made by many members of the Bolshevik Party (some by workers, some by educated people (intelligentsia) and even by one ex-prince!) at the time but they failed to alter the course of history. I think the October Revolution was the a genuine working class revolution and thta the Bolshevik Party of 1917 was a creation of that revolution (rather than any text by Lenin) but being the first (since the Paris Commune whichw as in a different epoch) it was inevitable it would make errors. We need to continue deabting what they were but if you a priori don't think there was anyhting proletarian about it then obviously there can be no meaningful dialogue on that level.

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Dec 27 2009 14:00
Cleishbotham wrote:
but we both know that selection of facts is not about relevance but about interpretation.

No - it's about both - the lack of one would tend to cancel out the other.

Quote:
The quote you gave in your previous post from the Solidarity pamphlet "From Spartakism to National Bolshevism" (written in 1970) is about the decline of the revolution after 1921 not about the period 1917-21 so hardly relevant to a discussion about whether the Bolsheviks were in receipt of German money in 1917 or before which is where I think we started.

But we don't have to stay where we started, that's how discussions develop. The revolutionary period is often described as 1917-21, so hardly irrelevant if one sees history as an unfolding process rather than separate static events. And the Solidarity quote explicitly describes the trade links with the German military as beginning probably in 1919. But for you 2 years apparently disqualifies it as having any relevance. (Yet you were happy to talk above about what Trotsky said in 1935.)

Do you have any evidence on your claims of high levels of anti-semitism among Makhnovists? In any case, we can probably as easily assume that there were at least as high levels among Bolsheviks, fwiw.