Friday, July 15, 2011


For those of you who have any interest for such things I am posting a link here to Don Hammerquist's: Lenin, Leninism, and Some Leftovers (2009).  This piece which I will warn you is not short, deals with a "much needed reassessment of Lenin and the question of revolutionary organization for our times."  I am not going to tell you he has figured it all out or anything, but he certainly raises many interesting points and provides some insightful answers.  If you do read it, you will find that there are several responses which you might want to check out also at Sketchy Thoughts.  I will print a little bit to start then just click on the link for more.

Don Hammerquist: Lenin, Leninism, and some leftovers

Don Hammerquist: This is a rough piece, slightly modified from two earlier drafts that were circulated privately to generate some discussion. This version is also unfinished and its analysis and strategic and organizational conclusions are tentative and provisional. I apologize for this and for the casual citations and references to authors and political tendencies that I am just getting around to considering carefully. I’m putting the argument out in this form, hoping that any frustrations and irritations with the general sloppiness, as well as the likely differences with political characterizations that are seen as mistaken, will provide added leverage towards needed discussions on revolutionary strategy and organization.

Some of the initial responses and reactions are being posted separately. These include a few responses from positions that are cited or criticized in the text. I have made some minor changes in this version as a result of these, but nothing, I think, that would undermine or deflect the thrust of any of the interventions. More such arguments have been solicited and will continue to be welcomed.

Lenin, Leninism, and some leftovers

“Leninist socialism as defined in the period of Stalin contained something wrong somewhere...” (Comrade Binod, Nepal; 8/8/09 Kasama)

This will be a start on some arguments that I have been threatening for a while. They will probably have no more real impact than my lapsed efforts to jack up the Jacobin spirit among the libertarian left in response to the current flounderings of capital - but a little more discussion might emerge, because what is more fun than debating circumstances long removed and only dimly contextualized and with all alternatives open to caricature. The unfortunate aspect of this is that in the heat of the debate over the political choices of past generations, the most important issues, deciding what to do and beginning to do it in the here and now, can drift further out of focus. I recognize the problem and hope that this doesn’t contribute to it.

I begin from the extended discussion of the “What In the Hell...” post of 10/20/2006. This opens with the question... “What in the Hell is the appeal of Lenin?” The current political circumstances are significantly more turbulent than those of 2006 and it’s possible that the complacency that permeates much of that “What in the Hell...” discussion has dissipated. However, I wouldn’t bet on it. More likely, a casual avoidance of real problems still persists, still encased within unstated and untested assumptions about the self sufficiency of current strategic perspectives. Throughout this piece I will return to this fault that pervades radical views that are otherwise quite different.

I regard myself as a Leninist – frequently to the dismay of others of the ilk – and have always attempted to work to the extent possible within or towards what I view as a Leninist organizational framework. The “What in the Hell...” question is not directed to me, but to unidentified people who the blog author feels are otherwise semi-intelligent leftists. Nevertheless, leaving open if I can make the semi-intelligent bar, I’ll venture what will doubtless be seen as a pro-Lenin answer to the question. So this is my take on the appeal of Lenin – which also leads into positions on his continuing relevance and a number of related issues.

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