Question for ICC members

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proletarian.
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Feb 27 2015 17:58

Thanks for the clarification Leo

Battlescarred
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Feb 27 2015 18:01

Yes, I have met peasants, French peasants, and they were fine people.
Oh, and as for arguing with you, it's a waste of time, you smug, condescending git of a Bolshevik.

boomerang
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Feb 27 2015 18:06

Leo, I know very little about peasant cultures (emphasis on the plural, can't assume it's the same everywhere), and I'm willing to accept that you could be right that in many of these peasant cultures nearly everyone is a lot more bigoted than people generally are in cities. But I don't think this supports your argument for excluding peasants from revolutionary councils or federation or whatever.

Obviously bigoted attitudes are something any revolution needs to deal with. But we can't just go excluding whole categories of people because they're more likely to be bigots. My boyfriend has worked in construction and according to him and others I've known who've worked in this industry, almost all men there (hardly and women around) are also quite sexist, racist, homophobic, and ableist. At least this is the case in my city and I can imagine it's similar in many other cities and towns. Are we to exclude all construction workers from the revolution then?

The battle of ideas is part of any revolution, and we will need to strive for the leadership of ideas on many issues, both when it comes to ideas about capitalism, anarchism/communism, and class, and also ideas about gender, race, and so on. In most cases, the way to overcome people's bigotry is by confronting it, not excluding them from a revolutionary process in which the success of that revolutionary process depends on our mutual aid. Of course there will be exceptions, members of neo-nazi groups for example can fuck right off, as can others whose bigotry is crossing the line from offensive to dangerous, or is so offensive that it's eroding solidarity.

Basically, the argument that peasants should be excluded on grounds of their cultural backwardness doesn't hold water. If there's any case at all for them being excluded (which I doubt there is, but am still considering and trying to be open minded to your case for it), it's based on issues of relationship to the means of production and how this might alter their response to revolution.

Just to say, though, you mention that a significant portion of peasants might rally behind the wealthy landowners... not so sure why you'd predict this, but I'm willing to accept that there's a risk of this happening ... but there's at least an equal risk of the higher-income proletariats rallying behind the capitalists. Are we to exclude these higher income proles then? No, the way to deal with these risks is by trying to draw them into the revolution, as well as pre-revolutionary struggle, both in action and in thought/ideas. I don't see why peasants shouldn't be dealt with the same way. As we can see from the Spanish revolution, where the revolution was in some ways most mature in rural areas, such organizing and consciousness spreading can have real results.

Battlescarred
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Feb 27 2015 18:20

"entire towns, where literally 99,9% of the population hold these views." Towns, then surely not part of the peasantry, a bit careless with your facts.

NO, Lenin and co launched a war against the peasantry and later were forced to institute the New Economic Policy. Why are you defending the NEP, by the way? Miasnikov, the best representative of your broad current who I have a certain amount of admiration for, was firmly opposed to the NEP.

"Marx himself, who after all come up with the phrase "the idiocy of rural life". But Marx also later wrote some very interesting stuff on the Russian rural communities of the mirs, commenting favourably upon them.
Oh and changing the goalposts when questioned on the petty bourgeoisie. Oh no, not really petty bourgeois but artisans.But Marx himself put artisans in the same class as small shopkeepers and as a component of the petty bourgeoisie.

boomerang
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Feb 27 2015 18:22
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the position of marxism on the potential of the peasants originated not in Kautsky but in Marx himself, who after all come up with the phrase "the idiocy of rural life". He also disagreed with Bakunin's populism which declared everyone other than the ruling class to be potentially revolutionary.

Leo or anyone else, do you know where I can read about Bakunin's views on this? (I didn't know he took this position)

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Feb 27 2015 18:36

'Petty (or petite) bourgeois' is by definition, those who are self-employed, they are neither exploited nor exploiter. They live off the sale of the product of their labor.

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Feb 27 2015 18:33

If anyone's reactionary, its those who hold the view that separate organisations should be created for members of different classes/social groups despite their shared support for communism. And that they should stay separated for who knows how long until the ICC or its supporters says it okay,

Leo
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Feb 27 2015 19:27
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Yes, I have met peasants, French peasants, and they were fine people.

Good for you, I've also met many peasants who were fine people.

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Oh, and as for arguing with you, it's a waste of time

Why do you keep doing it then?

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you smug, condescending git of a Bolshevik.

Insult me as much as you like, the fact that I'm not an anti-Bolshevik doesn't make me a Bolshevik nevertheless.

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"entire towns, where literally 99,9% of the population hold these views." Towns, then surely not part of the peasantry, a bit careless with your facts.

Actually I said entire villages and entire towns. I'd already said what I think of towns: "Remote towns tend to be far worse than villages, the peasant prejudices mixed in with the worst aspects of life in capitalist cities."

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NO, Lenin and co launched a war against the peasantry and later were forced to institute the New Economic Policy.

When exactly? When they were fighting against the Whites? Do you see war communism as a war against the peasantry?

In fact, even the radical (like Makhno's) and moderate (like Tambov) left-wing peasant movements weren't suppressed until after the NEP.

As for the war on kulaks, that took place much later.

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Why are you defending the NEP, by the way?

I'm not defending the NEP: What I said was that "Lenin's position lead not to the war on the kulaks but to the New Economical Policy." Notice how I'm pointing out to a historical incident and am saying nothing in its defence.

In fact, if anything, my own position is neither based on the positions of war communism or the NEP but the demands put forward in the Petropavlovsk resolution by the sailors of Kronstadt.

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Miasnikov, the best representative of your broad current who I have a certain amount of admiration for, was firmly opposed to the NEP.

Yes, and rightly so in my opinion. The very important difference between the Petropavlovsk resolution was that it was very strongly against the utilization of wage-labor by the peasants and the artisans whereas NEP wasn't and favored the middle to upper peasants.

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But Marx also later wrote some very interesting stuff on the Russian rural communities of the mirs, commenting favourably upon them.

Yes, this already came up in this thread and I tried to explain what I thought about it. In case you're interested, it's near the end of this post.

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Leo, I know very little about peasant cultures (emphasis on the plural, can't assume it's the same everywhere)

No, of course it's not the same everywhere. In fact, not even the peasant culture in two different villages is the same: in some cases, there might be seemingly large differences even. What I'm saying is that there are certain common aspects of most peasant cultures which we can generalize, knowing, of course, that these generalizations aren't absolute.

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But I don't think this supports your argument for excluding peasants from revolutionary councils or federation or whatever.

My arguement is that the commune is separate from the people who choose to own their individual land or shops, and the individuals who choose to own their individual land or shops have no say in the functioning of the commune. Thus they are naturally excluded from the workers councils, which are organs of the commune.

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Basically, the argument that peasants should be excluded on grounds of their cultural backwardness doesn't hold water.

Sigh, but that's not the arguement. The arguement is that peasants will choose to have private land because of their culture rather than join the proletarian commune. Peasants who want to join the commune are more than welcome to do so and of course will participate in the workers councils like all the other workers, but they'll cease to be peasants when they do so.

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Just to say, though, you mention that a significant portion of peasants might rally behind the wealthy landowners... not so sure why you'd predict this, but I'm willing to accept that there's a risk of this happening ... but there's at least an equal risk of the higher-income proletariats rallying behind the capitalists.

I don't think there's an equal risk of the higher-income proletarians rallying behind the capitalists. Capitalists do not pay high salaries to workers for the sake of it: workers with a high income tend to have great difficulty in finding the time to spend their salaries.

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Are we to exclude these higher income proles then?

If they do side with the counter-revolution and start murdering revolutionary workers, then yes. Until then, of course not.

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No, the way to deal with these risks is by trying to draw them into the revolution, as well as pre-revolutionary struggle, both in action and in thought/ideas. I don't see why peasants shouldn't be dealt with the same way.

I'm not opposed to drawing all non-exploiting strata to support the proletarian revolution at all. What I'm saying is that because of the general traits of the peasant culture, not even all of the agricultural proletariat will be willing to join the proletarian commune and some will want to have its own land: this I expect for a much more significant proportion of the tenant farmers. As for the small landowners, I'd be surprised if more than a mere minority will want to give up their land and join the proletarian commune if at all.

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As we can see from the Spanish revolution, where the revolution was in some ways most mature in rural areas

I don't think this is true at all. It was the factory workers of Catalonia, the most industrialized area of Spain, who went up against the Stalinist-lead popular front government, not the rural collectives. Also, I wouldn't describe Spain in the 30ies as a revolution but that's a different point.

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such organizing and consciousness spreading can have real results.

It can: i'm simply not very optimistic about its prospects and am quite wary of the results of forced collectivizations (or communizations) & the results of waging a war against the peasants who resist it.

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'Petty (or petite) bourgeois' is by definition, those who are self-employed, they are neither exploited nor exploiter. They live off the sale of the product of their labor.

So an artisan in the slave-societies of the antiquity was petty-bourgeois? I think that's a very inadequate distinction. According to Marx, a defining aspect of being petty-bourgeois is the ability to purchase the labor power of the proletariat in other words employ workers. Otherwise why call them bourgeois? A "bourgeois" who doesn't exploit suprlus value is not a bourgeois.

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If anyone's reactionary, its those who hold the view that separate organisations should be created for members of different classes/social groups despite their shared support for communism.

I'm sorry, but this is class collaborationism. If members of different classes support communism, they can give give up their demand to own land and join the commune. If they don't, they are not supporters of communism.

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And that they should stay separated for who knows how long until the ICC or its supporters says it okay,

I don't think this debate is about the ICC anymore. I'm not an ICC supporter, I'm a former member. I'm pretty sure that I've made some points which the ICC would disagree with (as far as I recall, the ICC is more critical towards the Kronstadt demands for example).

And this has nothing to do with when I or anyone else says ok about anything. Classes do not disappear by democratically putting people from different classes into the same organs. Eventually, I think individual landed property will die out as more and more of them prefer to join the commune rather than being individual land-owners. It is none other than the peasants themselves who determine this.

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Feb 27 2015 19:45

According to Leo, Bakunin was populist because he thought "everyone other than the ruling class" were potentially revolutionary. This can only mean Leo believes everyone other than the working class have no potentiality whatsoever to be revolutionary.

Sounds to me to be another more justification for the necessity of a workers' state, or general state, or [whatever you wanna call it] state that take care of them other classes which are homogeneously reactionary and backwards.

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Feb 27 2015 19:07
leo wrote:
Insult me as much as you like, the fact that I'm not an anti-Bolshevik doesn't make me a Bolshevik nevertheless.

That's like saying, "I'm not fascist, but nor am I against fascism."

Leo
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Feb 27 2015 19:20
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This can only mean Leo believes everyone other than the working class have no potentiality whatsoever to be revolutionary.

Not as a class, no. I am a marxist after all.

Individually anyone from a non-exploiting class can be a revolutionary and anyone from an exploiting class can be one by detaching himself or herself from his or her class position.

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Sounds to me to be another more justification for the necessity of a workers' state, or general state, or [whatever you wanna call it] state that take care of them other classes which are homogeneously reactionary and backyards.

Not a workers state. I'm not trying to justify its necessity, I'm pointing out its inevitability and dangers. If you have illusions about this and convince yourself that there is no state, then the state will organize a counter-revolution and massacre millions before you know what's going on. Closing your eyes to reality doesn't make it go away.

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the fact that I'm not an anti-Bolshevik doesn't make me a Bolshevik nevertheless.

That's like saying, "I'm not fascist, but nor am I against fascism."

Only if you think Bolshevism is on the same level with fascism. I don't think so. I have a feeling you might well be willing to shoot me for this.

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Feb 27 2015 19:47
leo wrote:
My arguement is that the commune is separate from the people who choose to own their individual land or shops, and the individuals who choose to own their individual land or shops have no say in the functioning of the commune. Thus they are naturally excluded from the workers councils, which are organs of the commune.

leo wrote:
The arguement is that peasants will choose to have private land because of their culture rather than join the proletarian commune. Peasants who want to join the commune are more than welcome to do so and of course will participate in the workers councils like all the other workers, but they'll cease to be peasants when they do so.

leo wrote:
I'm sorry, but this is class collaborationism. If members of different classes support communism, they can give give up their demand to own land and join the commune. If they don't, they are not supporters of communism.

Now your turning this whole thread upside down. If you read all my previous earlier posts, it was I who basically presenting that argument (although differently), that if members of the other classes were for a social revolution against all classes, against themselves as a class, that there should be no reason for organising separately from revolutionary proletarians. Wasn't it you who wrote post #33 and started this whole debate about peasants?

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Feb 27 2015 19:38
leo wrote:
Quote:
If anyone's reactionary, its those who hold the view that separate organisations should be created for members of different classes/social groups despite their shared support for communism.

I'm sorry, but this is class collaborationism. If members of different classes support communism, they can give give up their demand to own land and join the commune. If they don't, they are not supporters of communism.

Its almost as if you deliberately misread in order to turn an entire thread about you.

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Feb 27 2015 19:42

I agree with Leo that it does seem difficult for people here to accept that there is a peasant question at all. The ICC has written about this, although this was quite a long time ago: http://en.internationalism.org/node/2942. One of the points made in the text is that it is a mistake to see the peasantry as a unified mass - it is not a single class in the same way as the proletariat is.

Leo also made the point earlier that the ICC's conception of the transitional state is the fruit of the reflections by the Italian communist left in the 1930s (and of the French communist left in the 1940s). The whole point of these groups' attempts to draw a "balance sheet" of the defeat of the Russian revolution was to avoid repeating the disastrous policies which had led not only to the destruction of the soviets but also of the Bolshevik party itself. A key lesson: there can be no justification of violence within the working class and no repression of working class political tendencies. Along with this: any violence against other non-exploiting classes should be avoided as much as possible. The aim of the entire non-exploiting population being organised in soviet type organisations would be to avoid a kind civil war within the civil war, which is what happened in Russia in 1918-21.

Leo
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Feb 27 2015 19:53
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Now your turning this whole thread upside down. If you read all my previous earlier posts, it was I who basically presenting that argument (although differently), that if members of the other classes were for a social revolution against all classes, against themselves as a class, that they should be no reason for organising separately from revolutionary proletarians. Wasn't it you who wrote post #33 and started this whole debate about peasants?

Yes, and here's what I said:

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Obviously, all the lands of the agrarian bourgeoisie will be confiscated by the proletarian commune in the cities. Yet there'll be the small peasants, non-exploiting, who don't want to be a part of the commune. There'll be all sorts of agricultural proletarians who'll prefer to have a small piece of land of their own rather than be part of a commune too. Participation in the commune can be encouraged: forcing it, however, is not a very good idea. If things come to forced collectivization (or communization if you want), there are two possible outcomes. Either it will mean the cities will starve or it will mean the peasants will be slaughtered.

And so, the consequence is a situation where the proletarian commune in the cities will allow - in fact organize the redistribution of the land in the countryside to the peasants.

As you can see, my position hasn't changed at all.

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Its almost as if you deliberately misread in order to turn an entire thread about you.

I haven't. Since you've been very aggressively against what I've been saying, that was what I thought you were saying.

boomerang
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Feb 27 2015 20:15
Leo wrote:
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Basically, the argument that peasants should be excluded on grounds of their cultural backwardness doesn't hold water.

Sigh, but that's not the arguement.

It realllly did seem that way, cuz you kept going on about their being sexist/racist/homophobic/etc., but you've clarified your position now, so thanks.

Battlescarred
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Feb 27 2015 21:45

"In fact, even the radical (like Makhno's) and moderate (like Tambov) left-wing peasant movements weren't suppressed until after the NEP."
This is just nonsense. The various anti-Bolshevik peasant movements developed precisely because of "war communism" and as for action being taken against them not until after introduction of NEP in 1921, the Antonov movement had been attacked in 1920 and Antonov killed in that year, NOT in 1921.Similarly repression against the Makhnovists and the Sapozhkov movement happened well before the introduction of the NEP.
You keep telling us , Leo, that we have an idealistic view of peasants because we've never met any and you have. This is totally anti-materialist. Marx had little contact with factory workers (ok, his chum Fred owned a factory) but that doesn't make his analyses irrelevant.

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Feb 27 2015 23:16
Leo wrote:
In fact, even the radical (like Makhno's) and moderate (like Tambov) left-wing peasant movements weren't suppressed until after the NEP.

This isn't true at all, at least in regard to the Makhnovists. In 1919:

Peter Arshinov wrote:
The Bolsheviks set out to execute every point in Trotsky's order in a militaristic fashion. Workers from Aleksandrovsk factories who met to discuss the call issued by the Revolutionary Military Council of the Gulyai-Pole region were dispersed by force and declared outlaws. The peasants were threatened with shooting and hanging. In various places individuals - Kostin, Polynin, Dobrolyubov and others - were seized, accused of having publicized the call of the Revolutionary Military Council, and were executed after a summary trial by the Revolutionary Military Tribunal. This order was followed by numerous others in which Trotsky commanded the units of the Red Army to destroy the Makhnovshchina by every method and at its very source. Moreover, he gave secret orders to capture, at any cost, not only Makhno and the members of his staff, but even the peaceful militants of the cultural section. The instructions were to bring them all before the Revolutionary Military Tribunal, i.e., to execute them.
According to an individual who commanded several divisions of the Red Army, and to several Bolshevik military leaders who held high posts, Trotsky formulated his relationship to the Makhnovshchina in the following terms: it would be better to yield the whole Ukraine to Denikin than to permit a further development of the Makhnovshchina. Denikin's movement, being frankly counter-revolutionary, can be undermined later by means of class propaganda, whereas the Makhnovshchina develops in the depths of the masses and arouses the masses themselves against us.

[...]

But at the same time Voroshilov had in his hand an order signed by Trotsky commanding him to capture Makhno and all the other responsible leaders of the Makhnovshchina, to disarm the insurgent troops, and to shoot anyone who resisted.

[...]

At this time the insurgent detachments stationed near Mariupol' retreated to Pologi and Aleksandrovsk. Makhno unexpectedly joined them, saving himself from the trap which the Bolsheviks had set for him at Gyaichur. The Bolsheviks immediately seized and executed Ozerov, Chief of Staff of the Makhnovist Army, staff members Mikhalev-Pavlenko and Burbyga, as well as several members of the Revolutionary Military Council. This was the signal for the execution of numerous other Makhnovists who fell into the hands of the Bolsheviks at this time.

In 1920:

Peter Arshinov wrote:
In the middle of January, 1920, the Bolsheviks declared Makhno and the members of his army outlaws for their refusal to go to the Polish front. This date marked the beginning of a violent struggle between the Makhnovists and the Communist power. We will not go into all the details of this struggle, which lasted nine months. We will only note that it was a merciless struggle on both sides. The Bolsheviks relied on their numerous well-armed and well-supplied divisions. In order to avert fraternization between the soldiers of the Red Army and the Makhnovists, the Bolshevik commander sent against the Makhnovists a division of Lettish sharpshooters and some Chinese detachments, that is to say, units whose members had not the slightest idea of the true meaning of the Russian revolution and who blindly obeyed the orders of the authorities.

[...]

The arrival of Red divisions in a village meant the immediate arrest of many peasants, who were later executed either as Makhnovist insurgents, or as hostages. The commanders of various Red divisions were particularly fond of this savage and vile method of struggle against the Makhnovshchina, preferring it to open struggle against Makhno. It was especially the units of the 42nd and 46th Red Rifle divisions who indulged in this type of activity. The village of Gulyai-Pole, which passed from one side to the other several times, suffered the most. Each time the Bolshevik troops entered the village or were obliged to leave, the commanders rounded up several dozen peasants, arresting them unexpectedly in the streets, and shot them. Every inhabitant of Gulyai-Pole can tell horrifying stories about this Bolshevik practice. According to the most moderate estimates, more than 200,000 peasants and workers were shot or seriously injured by the Soviet authorities in the Ukraine at that time. Nearly as many were imprisoned or deported to various parts of Russia and Siberia.

[...]

If Makhnovist prisoners were not shot on the spot, they were imprisoned and subjected to all types of torture to force them to repudiate the movement, to denounce their comrades and to take employment with the police. The assistant to the commander of the 13th insurgent regiment, Berezovsky, was taken prisoner by the Bolsheviks and became an agent of the Special Section (Cheka); but according to him, he did this only after being subjected to torture. Similarly, the Bolsheviks more than once offered freedom to the commander of the engineering corps of the Makhnovist army, Chubenko, if he would agree to assist them in killing Makhno. Assassinating Makhno with the help of any imprisoned Makhnovist was the constant concern of the Bolsheviks during the entire summer of 1920.

[...]

The assault on the Makhnovists was accompanied by mass arrests of anarchists. The purpose of these arrests was not only the total destruction of all anarchist thought and activity, but also the stifling of any possibility of protest, of any attempt to explain to the people the real meaning of what was happening. Not only anarchists, but also their friends and acquaintances, and those who were interested in anarchist literature, were arrested. At Elisavetgrad fifteen youths between 15 and 18 years old were arrested. Although the district authorities in Nikolaev were dissatisfied with this capture, saying that they wanted "real" anarchists and not children, none of these children were released.
In Khar'kov the pursuit of anarchists assumed proportions unheard of in Russia in past years. Snares and ambushes were organized at the homes of all local anarchists. A trap of this kind was set up in the "Vol'noe bratstvo" ("Free Brotherhood") bookshop. Anyone who came to buy a book was seized and sent to the Cheka. They even imprisoned people who stopped to read the newspaper Nabat which had appeared legally and was posted on the wall of the bookshop. When one of the Khar'kov anarchists, Grigory Tsesnik, escaped arrest, the Bolsheviks threw his wife, who had no political interests of any kind, into prison. She started a hunger strike, demanding her immediate release. The Bolsheviks then told her that if Tsesnik wanted to obtain her release, he had only to give himself up to the Cheka. Tsesnik, though ill with tuberculosis, gave himself up and was imprisoned.

http://libcom.org/history/history-makhnovist-movement-1918-1921-peter-ar...

And those numbers might sound high, but they're totally in line with what G.P Maximoff cites from the Bolsheviks' own documents in The Guillotine at Work.

factvalue
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Feb 27 2015 23:22

Sorry for delayed response to your earlier thing Leo dude, I've been out in the countryside for the last few days surrounded by hordes of reactionaries, squadrons of artisans and various other species of unproletariate.

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The basic idea here is thus one of a people's struggle against the state. The barracks and the workplace are similar structures, so the army proletarianizes most if not all the privates: so the struggle of the privates against their officers is of course part of the class struggle. Yet neither the soldiers nor young people are actually a class: there are many soldiers from a proletarian background, others are from peasant, artisan or petty-bourgeois backgrounds. Some, even are from bourgeois backgrounds. Then there is the situation where it's not in the interests of the privates to be sent to death, nor is it in the interests of their families. All these complicate things.

They might complicate things if you have a rigid set of outmoded categories that you’re trying squeeze the world into. So what if they don’t fit into your scheme? (in which apparently the army ‘proletarianises’ the privates and some are from peasant, artisan(!) or petty-bourgeois backgrounds, which presumably makes them proletarians, but only if they are in the army(!?)) I think one point of the Bookchin article that I advertised previously, outdated as it is in many respects, was that the notion of class needs widening/jettisoning, as demonstrated by such tortuous, mangled and self-contradicting passages as this one of yours above, which groans and wriggles its way to admitting that at least some such categories, created as they were for the mid-nineteenth century, might (just might) not be applicable wholesale in all circumstances in their original form come what may.

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As for young people today, the unemployed young children of proletarians, students from proletarian families, precarious young workers etc. I'd say all of them are proletarians. A young person who's running a small shop, however, is not a proletarian

What if they became privates in the army?

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In any case, I don't see the proletariat only as the workers in the factories, but there are distinctive class lines in society, and categories such as students, soldiers, youth etc. are categories made up of different classes, as is the general category of the "people".

What if everyone became privates in the army? Wouldn’t we then all be ‘proletarianised’ and then communism might dawn spontaneously, after a discrete interval had elapsed of course.

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Oh I'm not denying that there aren't countless reactionary, brutal, racist, sexist and murderous shipyard and factory workers - though I'm pretty sure that the ratios are far lower compared to those among the petty-bourgeoisie, the artisans and the peasants.

It’s been a while since I bumped into a lathe of artisans (wtf is the collective noun for this species of nonprol?) but what percentage uncertainty would you add to this ‘pretty’ statement? I’m a bit of a nerdy little twat about numbers, could you give me a figure for how accurate you would say you were being here? I don’t mean to be facetious but I really don’t know what you’re on about.

On general principle I’m also having a hard time figuring out how you can manage to base any position on a resolution of the Kronstadt sailors and not be anti-Bolshevik .. simultaneously? I’d need to keep a belief monk up in the attic to help me practice such feats of self-contradiction before I felt confident enough to whip them out in full view of hoi polloi.

Leo
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Feb 27 2015 23:52
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This is just nonsense. The various anti-Bolshevik peasant movements developed precisely because of "war communism" and as for action being taken against them not until after introduction of NEP in 1921, the Antonov movement had been attacked in 1920 and Antonov killed in that year, NOT in 1921.

I'm sorry, but I think you're misremembering. The Tambov rebellion started in 1920, and the Red Army started attacking it in June 1921. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tambov_Rebellion)

Antonov himself wasn't killed either in 1920 or 1921 but in 1922. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksandr_Antonov_%28politician%29)

Also, I don't think we can say the Makhnovist movement developed because of "war communism", though this is nevertheless mostly a fair point about the Antonov movement.

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Similarly repression against the Makhnovists and the Sapozhkov movement happened well before the introduction of the NEP.

Yes, there were clashes between the Makhnovists and the Bolsheviks before 1921, but the Makhnovists weren't crushed until 1921 and there were alliances as well. In fact, when the Red Army attacked the Makhnovists in 1921, they were formally allies.

The Sapozkhov movement, as far as I know, was a revolutionary mutiny in the Red Army against the specialists so I don't think it's directly related to the peasant question.

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You keep telling us , Leo, that we have an idealistic view of peasants because we've never met any and you have. This is totally anti-materialist.

What you're doing here is a reduction to absurdity. What I'm saying is that it's difficult for many in Europe to understand the peasant question because there aren't peasants anymore where you live, at least in the traditional sense. Having an empirical experience of the peasants is simply an example of being aware of the general situation, it is not necessary. I know anarchists here who've had much less of an experience than me who understand what I'm talking about here because they know about the general situation in the countryside. (Not that there aren't people who romanticize the countryside in Turkey. Politically, they vary between Stalinist patriots and the Grey Wolves so there's actually a lot of them - Ataturk even has a quote like "the peasant is the master of the country").

This doesn't mean that Westerners need to have an idealistic view of the question because they've never met any or because they live in countries where the peasant question has been absent for a long time. Some of the posters on this thread who were in fact critical of me were quite knowledgeable on the question, and the discussion with them didn't go half as accusatory as this one - in fact even something of an agreement may have emerged as a result.

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Marx had little contact with factory workers (ok, his chum Fred owned a factory) but that doesn't make his analyses irrelevant.

Actually, Marx did have contacts with factory workers, studied the living and working conditions in numerous countries attentively and himself worked for numerous newspapers writing articles (some of which may have been written by his chum Fred too).

Leo
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Feb 27 2015 23:56
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Sorry for delayed response to your earlier thing Leo dude, I've been out in the countryside for the last few days surrounded by hordes of reactionaries, squadrons of artisans and various other species of unproletariate.

I'm sorry to hear that. Did you get beaten for drinking a beer in public? Did they try to attack and shame you or your partner for not covering your/her body sufficiently?

At least did the electricity go off? Did you get stared at like you were an alien? Did you have to walk very long distances to get to your destination? No? Might be because you've been out in the countryside in the West, "dude".

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They might complicate things if you have a rigid set of outmoded categories that you’re trying squeeze the world into. So what if they don’t fit into your scheme? (in which apparently the army ‘proletarianises’ the privates and some are from peasant, artisan(!) or petty-bourgeois backgrounds, which presumably makes them proletarians, but only if they are in the army

They will stay proletarian if they start working too. Class isn't genetic.

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What if they became privates in the army?

Sure; they'll also be proletarianized if they become workers in a factory or an office. It's simple really.

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It’s been a while since I bumped into a lathe of artisans

No, there aren't many left in the West. Living in the Middle East, I bump into them often. In fact my father in law is one.

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On general principle I’m also having a hard time figuring out how you can manage to base any position on a resolution of the Kronstadt sailors and not be anti-Bolshevik .. simultaneously?

Did you know that there were Bolsheviks among the Kronstadt rebels? In fact, the majority of the Kronstadt section of the RCP(b) participated in the rebellion. You can see their debates in the Kronstadt Izvestia. And of course, there's the fact that even when the Red Army was attacking Kronstadt, the sailors didn't break the ice which would have given them a tremendous military advantage, but killed many soldiers as well. In turn, the Bolshevik Party had to be lied to so as to rally it against Kronstadt.

In fact, lots of soldiers in the Red Army deserted and joined the rebels. It was only with the aid of a Kemalist Pasha and nationalist Central Asian regiments given under his command that the rebellion was repressed with success. Among those murdered were rebels shouting "Long live the Communist International" in their last breath.

I see no contradiction in my position, yet a good deal of ignorance in your snide remarks.

Oh, and I'm not interested in discussing about anarcho-municipalists in this thread so please stop trying to bring Bookchin up.

factvalue
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Feb 28 2015 00:32
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I'm sorry to hear that. Did you get beaten for drinking a beer in public? Did they try to attack and shame you or your partner for not covering your/her body sufficiently?

At least did the electricity go off? Did you get started at like you were an alien? Did you have to walk very long distances to get to your destination? No? Might be because you've been out in the countryside in the West, "dude".

Did these things happen because "peasant"? My wife and me walked quite a long way to get to the pub, does that count? I've been beaten a few times in pubs, but I think I gave as good as I got, for westerner, but that was a while back, I don't know if I could still handle myself as well. Me and an old girlfriend of mine were attacked in 1986 for walking though a catholic area in Belfast, does that count? Oh, and two off duty police tried to beat me up while walking home from the university bar because we were singing Irish (peasant) songs - I think they were western prols (not quite army but you know what I mean). The electricity is continually going off in my flat in London, fucking peasants eh? I use 5 amp fuse wire to fix it, 'cause like, 'western', y'know? I've been stared at all my life like I was an alien but I've mostly put this down to alienation in general though, not "peasant" as such, but you might have something there, difficult to say without more evidence. Would you say that you’d met a large enough number of non-western peasants to make the sweeping claims you’ve made?

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They will stay proletarian if they start working too. Class isn't genetic.

I thought you said there was a bit of “proletarianising” hanky panky going on here, what’s Mendel got to do with it?

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And of course, there's the fact that even when the Red Army was attacking Kronstadt, the sailors didn't break the ice which would have given them a tremendous military advantage, but killed many soldiers as well. In turn, the Bolshevik Party had to be lied to so as to rally it against Kronstadt.

Did the sailors do this because “Bolshevik Party” then? Not sure what you're going for here, is it: If the Bolshevik Party had to be lied to it ..must mean only that one must remain neutral as to all consequences of the Bolshevik Party’s existence?

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In fact, lots of soldiers in the Red Army deserted and joined the rebels.

This was for reasons of "Bolshevik Party" as well? Well I never, did they also invent sliced bread and the wheel and the circular argument (one 'e')? Thank fuck for them that’s what I say!

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Oh, and I'm not interested in discussing about anarcho-municipalists in this thread so please stop trying to bring Bookchin up.

Neither am I. I was replying to your response back on page two. On the other hand, if I fancied bringing it up, what could you do? Even "Bolshevik Party" couldn’t stop me, thank fuck. But why so reluctant to analyse your categories (rhetorical/snide)?

factvalue
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Feb 28 2015 00:33

Anyway good luck to ye duder, I'm away to bed.

factvalue
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Feb 28 2015 00:34

Maybe have another wee chat later? Up the Peasant!! Yeeeeeeeeeeooow!!

baboon
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Feb 28 2015 15:12

I was going to make the same link as Alf above - I think that it's worrh a read not least for being a position of the ICC.The text makes it clear that there is no such thing as a homogenous peasantry - only sociolgogists seem to have such a point of view - there are enormous differences and variations that exist between non-exploiting stratas.These element, more or less, have every material interest in aligning with and joining up with a proletarian revolution.

I think that personal exoeriences in whatever field of politics can be useful but I don't think that one can base political positions on them.The level of 1integration of non-exploiting strata into the revolution will be a measure of its sucess and will begin the process of the cutting down of the state.

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Feb 28 2015 16:08
Leo wrote:
Yes, there were clashes between the Makhnovists and the Bolsheviks before 1921, but the Makhnovists weren't crushed until 1921 and there were alliances as well. In fact, when the Red Army attacked the Makhnovists in 1921, they were formally allies.

I don't understand what your point is here. As indicated by those selections from History of the Makhnovist Movement, the Bolsheviks clearly attempted to destroy the Makhnovists repeatedly well before the NEP. And even during the shaky anti-White fronts formed between the Makhnovists and the Bolsheviks, the Bolsheviks continued to undermine Makhnovism as best they could (e.g. sending the Makhnovists to the Polish front to dislodge them from their base in Ukraine). That the various attempts to assassinate Makhno and either absorb into the Red Army or wipe out the Makhnovists failed is hardly attributable to the Bolsheviks taking a less hostile attitude toward Makhnovism prior to the NEP.

boomerang
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Mar 2 2015 16:51

I'm sorry this has taken me so long to reply. The gears of my brain turn slowly. wink

My post is aimed at Agent’s post #24, but I’d be glad to hear responses from anyone.

boomerang wrote:
First of all, the period before the state is overthrown. Class will still exist. Should we be building neighbourhood assemblies that include people of the “non-exploiting, non-exploited classes” and should these multi-class bodies be electing delegates to councils and forming federations?

Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
At a period of near-revolution (before the abolition of the state), when class-wide mass organisations such as workplace/neighborhood assemblies and delegate councils have been formed, we can only assume the working class has achieved the mass revolutionary consciousness necessary to carry out social revolution. This working class should be able to articulate the goals of the social revolution (i.e. a process of abolishing all classes) it seeks to carry out. This means that the mass organisations they create will be open to other members of society, however they must agree to the revolutionary goals and principles articulated by the working class, i.e. accept their own abolition.

Ok, so I take it this means the federation of workers councils will put out some sort of brief "statement of revolutionary aims" and anyone who agrees with these aims, and whose actions don't contradict them, will be allowed to join in as an equal participant, even if they are peasant or non-exploiting petite bourgeoisie. (Any exploiters would have to stop exploiting if they wanted to join.)

Obviously, for such a statement to be put out, it would need the support of at least the majority of workers, but we can assume there won't be full consensus, either.

This raises the question: Would working class people be excluded if they didn't support the stated revolutionary aims? I'm not talking about people who are reactionary, or are actively involved in counterrevolutionary activity. Just workers who disagree.
I think it would be a big mistake to exclude them. Our solidarity would fall apart and we’d be weaker. You could say, “Well, our solidarity wouldn’t mean much if they weren’t on board with the revolutionary goals!” But I still think our solidarity could be quite strong even then. The minority of workers who might not support the goals of class abolition (yet) will still feel a sense of loyalty to their fellow workers and be willing to stand with them and defend them during times when we need each other’s support.

Also, this minority of workers could easily progress to join the majority in their acceptance of the anarchist/communist aims, as the events of the revolution continue to escalate and unfold, and influence their consciousness.

Trotsky, for all his faults, had good insights about this:

Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution wrote:
Parliamentary consultations of the people are carried out at a single moment, whereas during a revolution the different layers of the population arrive at the same conclusion one after another and with inevitable, although sometimes very slight intervals. At the moment when the advanced detachment is burning with revolutionary impatience the backward layers have only begun to move. … The difference in level and mood of the different layers of the people is overcome in action. The advance layers bring after them the wavering and isolate the opposing. The majority is not counted up, but won over.

I know the term “parliamentary consultations” might seem weird, but he just means taking a vote on an issue at a given time. So in other words, workers who might disagree with the statement of revolutionary aims today, could feel very differently next week or month or year, as they participate in actions that radicalize them, so excluding them wouldn’t be a good idea.

Going back in time a bit, when neighborhood assemblies are first being built, this will likely be before the majority of the working class supports the revolutionary abolition of class. There won’t be any statement of revolutionary aims for the non-exploiting middle class to sign onto. So, this brings me back to the question,

boomerang wrote:
Should we be building neighbourhood assemblies that include people of the “non-exploiting, non-exploited classes” and should these multi-class bodies be electing delegates to councils and forming federations?

There’s another issue I want to discuss, but this is already plenty - we’ll leave that for another time!

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Mar 5 2015 15:30
boomerang wrote:
Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
At a period of near-revolution (before the abolition of the state), when class-wide mass organisations such as workplace/neighborhood assemblies and delegate councils have been formed, we can only assume the working class has achieved the mass revolutionary consciousness necessary to carry out social revolution. This working class should be able to articulate the goals of the social revolution (i.e. a process of abolishing all classes) it seeks to carry out. This means that the mass organisations they create will be open to other members of society, however they must agree to the revolutionary goals and principles articulated by the working class, i.e. accept their own abolition.

Ok, so I take it this means the federation of workers councils will put out some sort of brief "statement of revolutionary aims" and anyone who agrees with these aims, and whose actions don't contradict them, will be allowed to join in as an equal participant, even if they are peasant or non-exploiting petite bourgeoisie. (Any exploiters would have to stop exploiting if they wanted to join.)

I’m not sure what exactly what the federation of workers’ councils will do (in terms of putting out statements and the like), but I think the revolutionary consciousness of the proletariat will be quite explicit and widespread enough, so as to be obvious what those organs of class power are for. Even if proletarian, peasant and petite-bourgeois individuals who don’t share the aims of the revolution, or have a different conception of revolution, or completely hold reactionary ideas somehow find themselves in these institutions (base assemblies and delegate councils), they should be only a marginal force within these institutions, so as to be “out of place”. This presupposes that the overwhelming majority of the proletariat have revolutionary consciousness, and that they along with those who join them from other classes (by giving up those class positions, and are for communism), dominate those institutions. Otherwise, those mass organisations won’t function properly as means through which the revolutionary subjects can abolish capitalism and the state.

boomerang wrote:
This raises the question: Would working class people be excluded if they didn't support the stated revolutionary aims? I'm not talking about people who are reactionary, or are actively involved in counterrevolutionary activity. Just workers who disagree.
I think it would be a big mistake to exclude them. Our solidarity would fall apart and we’d be weaker. You could say, “Well, our solidarity wouldn’t mean much if they weren’t on board with the revolutionary goals!” But I still think our solidarity could be quite strong even then. The minority of workers who might not support the goals of class abolition (yet) will still feel a sense of loyalty to their fellow workers and be willing to stand with them and defend them during times when we need each other’s support.

If anything, they may exclude themselves. The whole point of the mass organisations would be to carry out a social revolution, created by a revolutionary conscious proletariat. All of this presupposes that the proletariat, or at least the overwhelming majority of the class, have revolutionary consciousness.

boomerang wrote:
Going back in time a bit, when neighborhood assemblies are first being built, this will likely be before the majority of the working class supports the revolutionary abolition of class. There won’t be any statement of revolutionary aims for the non-exploiting middle class to sign onto. So, this brings me back to the question,

boomerang wrote:
Should we be building neighbourhood assemblies that include people of the “non-exploiting, non-exploited classes” and should these multi-class bodies be electing delegates to councils and forming federations?

In the here and now, all organisations organized around immediate issues, seeking concessions from capital and the state, should be class based, excluding “non-exploiting, non-exploited classes”. During the revolutionary process, these organisations should be open and inclusive to all those giving up their class positions and fighting for a world communist society.

Repeating what I wrote in the first page of this thread, "...it is not important that the peasantry and the petite-bourgeoisie becomes organised by the working class. The working class cannot organise these “non-exploiting and non-exploited” classes; it cannot direct them to take part in the revolution. It can only open up its organisations to those classes, during the revolutionary process, so long as they acknowledge that this process itself is a struggle against themselves as “peasants” and “petite-bourgeoisie”. The burden is on the latter to “do something” about themselves, not the working class."

Maybe somebody else have any thoughts on this? Any disagreements?

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Mar 5 2015 15:55

Separately, while Leo sees peasants and petite bourgeois becoming proletarians during the revolutionary process, in order to join that revolution, I see it rather differently. During the revolutionary process, the proletariat becomes the "free association (commune) of associated producers". Ex-peasants and ex-petite bourgeois joining the revolutionary process will directly become freely associated producers as well. Why in the world would they have to become proletarians while the proletariat is abolishing itself as a class during that same process? That would seem redundant.

Leo
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Mar 5 2015 17:20
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I don't understand what your point is here. As indicated by those selections from History of the Makhnovist Movement, the Bolsheviks clearly attempted to destroy the Makhnovists repeatedly well before the NEP. And even during the shaky anti-White fronts formed between the Makhnovists and the Bolsheviks, the Bolsheviks continued to undermine Makhnovism as best they could (e.g. sending the Makhnovists to the Polish front to dislodge them from their base in Ukraine). That the various attempts to assassinate Makhno and either absorb into the Red Army or wipe out the Makhnovists failed is hardly attributable to the Bolsheviks taking a less hostile attitude toward Makhnovism prior to the NEP.

I'm not disputing those facts but I think the problem here is that it assumes the Bolsheviks always had sinister intentions against the Makhnovists.

Yet there was a time when both Lenin and Trotsky agreed that it was an interesting experiment which they shouldn't intervene against. Needless to say, I think they should have stuck with this position.

Quote:
Separately, while Leo sees peasants and petite bourgeois becoming proletarians during the revolutionary process, in order to join that revolution, I see it rather differently. During the revolutionary process, the proletariat becomes the "free association (commune) of associated producers". Ex-peasants and ex-petite bourgeois joining the revolutionary process will directly become freely associated producers as well. Why in the world would they have to become proletarians while the proletariat is abolishing itself as a class during that same process? That would seem redundant.

The proletariat becomes the free association of associated producers only at the end of the revolutionary process, not during. I'm all for drastic measures such as abolishing the money form and massively reducing the working day. but the free association of producers as in full communism, has other criteria as well: the end of the separation between the cities and the countryside, the end of alienation including alienation with nature, the abolition of the division of labor, the generalization of "high culture" (science, philosophy and art) to all members of the community to name a few, all of which are at least as drastic changes in the life of human species as, lets say the emergence of patriarchy as the first form of class society or the beginning of the process of urbanization with the establishment of the first city nearly 10,000 years ago.

So the ex-peasants etc. will be proletarians because they can't go to full communism before the world does, in that they'll be a part of the world commune just like the other workers, and they'll cease to be proletarians when the proletariat finally manages to abolish itself as well as all the other classes as classes.