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ISR Issue 61, September–October 2008


Capitalists and the energy crisis

Phil Gasper’s “Critical Thinking” Column (“The end of cheap oil,” ISR 60, July–August 2008), is an excellent account of the reasons behind the skyrocketing energy costs, and the competition to control energy resources by the U.S. and its competitors. The article does a great job of explaining how both speculation and increased demand have pushed the oil prices to unprecedented levels. It details the drive by the U.S. to gain leverage over China by controlling energy resources, and shows how this competition is driving military spending and a new generation of weapons.

However, there is one point Phil overlooked which I would like to raise. Phil argues that, “to make any beginning on such a project would require wresting large quantities of economic resources from corporate control and radically democratizing the entire political process” and, “At the very least this would require the emergence of social movements on a scale…not seen since 1930’s.”

While a restructuring of today’s cities, the introduction of mass transit, etc., may indeed involve the emergence of mass movements, I think the way the argument is posed underestimates how much sections of the ruling classes, here in the U.S. and abroad, have opened a debate about how to come to terms with the energy crisis—a real crisis, which, even from the perspective of capitalism itself could be lethal to the system, and could very well mean some restructuring and even investment in mass transit. The subtitle of the article, “Capitalism has no solution to the world’s energy crisis,” underestimates the ongoing debates within the ruling class to find solutions.

Ming Li, quoted by Phil, is correct to say that capitalism will find it difficult to overcome the decline in oil resources. However, there are those in the ruling class who are pushing for developing alternatives to head off such a crisis—this includes conservation, recycling and “going green,” not just as a PR ”green-washing” of corporate America; it includes developing and bringing other energy resources (both alternative energy sources and nuclear power) online, and it involves seeing how to reorganize society to better tailor energy sources to usage.

The impetus for change may come from mass movements, but the capitalist class itself is trying to deal with this crisis and make a change in energy policy also. This reorganization is necessary for capitalism itself. Every reputable source, from the International Energy Administration to even the U.S. Department of Energy (hardly radical sources), now talks of potential peak oil production in the next 20-40 years.

Capitalism for the past century has come to rely on petroleum to power its production. Now capitalism, as a system that relies on growth, has to find alternatives to power its production in the coming decades. If the transition to off-load part of the energy burden away from fossil fuels (especially petroleum) is to be done with the least shock to the system, this requires “moving resources” to develop alternatives and changing energy consumption patterns and planning to reorganize energy production and even distribution networks today. Sections of capital are pushing exactly for this “longer term” perspective to stabilize the system, to take precedence over just the “short term profit” of individual corporations.

This can be and is becoming an arena for new competition, investments and profit in itself, and there is already jockeying for position among corporations and energy (not just oil) companies.

As just one example, energy giants BP and Amoco, DuPont (Chemicals and Materials), ALCOA (aluminum and metals), GE (main player in the nuclear industry), Duke Energy (of Harlan County coal fame and owner of Seabrook, New Hampshire Nuclear plant) are actively lobbying Congress to enact a carbon tax, which will give them a leg up on the likes of ExxonMobil.

There is of course a tension and an ongoing fight, since short-term profit is usually the be-all and end-all—and especially has been in the neo-liberal, everyone-for-themselves, cut-throat, race-to-the-bottom model of the past years. But there is precedent for long term thinking to save the system—with the state acting as a moderator, as” the executive committee of the ruling class”(The Freddie Mac /Fannie Mae bailout is just a small recent example).

There is no question that the burden of this shift will be pushed onto us in the form of higher prices, austerity, and moralizing (working people should consume less). And there is no way to know how open this debate will become or how it will get settled.

But it is important that there is now a debate within the ruling class about energy policy, (reflected in every recommendation of the International Energy Agency, the clearing house for international energy debates) which is seriously discussing a shift from a perceived unsustainable reliance on petroleum as the overwhelmingly dominant source of energy.

Let me end with 3 points about the importance of this debate:

1) This does not mean oil will become less important. The need for developing and shifting to other energy resources does not contradict, but complements the continued importance of oil. With limited resources and increasing demand, oil will continue to play a central role and there will even be more competition for its control as other sources are developed.

2) If sections of the ruling class do tack in the direction of the necessity of changing direction and developing alternatives (Gore has taken the lead today) then there is also a chance that some critics of big oil today and those against U.S. reliance on oil or “foreign oil” will back this new turn (even with its xenophobic and anti-Arab undercurrents).

3) This debate over energy policy, if opened publicly can be a great opportunity for those on the Left to take part in and shape it.

Saman Sepehri,

Engels the bad philosopher

Brian Jones’s summary of Anti-Dühring (May–June 2008) neglected to say that with respect to philosophy, it is among the worst books ever written by a revolutionary.

Space prevents me from outlining its many errors, but one example will do: the “law of the transformation of quantity into quality.” While it is true that some things change “nodally” (in “leaps”), many do not. When heated, metal, glass, plastic, butter, toffee and chocolate melt smoothly. So, the “nodal” aspect of this law is defective. To be sure, some things change “qualita?tively” (exactly as Engels says); once more, many do not. The order in which events take place can affect “quality.” For example, anyone who tries pouring a pint of water slowly into a gallon of concentrated sulfuric acid will face a long and painful stay in hospital, whereas the reverse action is perfectly safe. Worse still, this law is hopelessly vague. For instance, we have yet to be told the precise length of a “nodal point.” But, if no one knows, then anything from a geological age to an instantaneous quantum leap could be “nodal”! In addition, Engels failed to say what he meant by “quality.” Hegel understood this word in an Aristotelian sense. That is, it refers to a property, the change of which alters an object into something new. Unfortunately, given this “definition,” many of the examples dialecticians use to illustrate this law would fail. For example, the change from water to steam can’t be an example of “qualitative change”; ice, water and steam are all H2O. Quantitative addition or subtraction of energy does not result in a qualitative change of the required sort; nothing substantially new emerges.

Faced with this, we might try to widen the definition of “quality” to neutralize this objection. Alas, while this might rescue the above example, it would sink the theory. If we relax “quality” so that it applies to any qualitative difference, we would have to include the relational properties of bodies. In that case, we could easily have qualitative change with no extra matter or energy added. For instance, consider three animals in a row: a mouse, a pony, and an elephant. In relation to the mouse, the pony is big, but in relation to the elephant, it is small. Change in quality here, but no matter or energy has been added or subtracted. Plainly, that would make a mockery of this law.

Finally, consider stereoisomers: molecules with the same number of atoms arranged differently. Here we have a change in geometry producing a change in quality with the addition of no new matter or energy.

This law’s other serious weaknesses are detailed at my site:

Rosa Lichtenstein

Brian Jones responds:

Rosa Lichtenstein has a strange approach to the question of dialectics and their applicability to nature and human society. Ultimately, I believe that she reproduces the same upside-down error of Hegelian dialectics that Marx and Engels aimed to turn on its head. Hegel tried to understand the dynamics of the transformation of ideas. For Marx and Engels, the point was to explain the general dynamics of change in the real world.

First, Lichtenstein wants dialectical laws to prescribe precise nodal points of transformation from quantity to quality. When dialectical laws cannot meet that level of specificity, she declares them “hopelessly vague.” Lichtenstein can knock down her straw-man law all day, but it does not refute the general law that Engels describes. “For our purpose,” he writes in Dialectics of Nature, “we could express this by saying that in nature, in a manner exactly fixed for each individual case, qualitative changes can only occur by the quantitative addition or subtraction of matter or motion (so-called energy)” (my emphasis). The transformation of water to ice or to steam, according to Lichtenstein, isn’t really a qualitative change anyway, since all three have the same molecular structure. Well, I don’t think we have to “relax” our definition of quality too far to imagine that the unique qualities of steam allowed it to play a special role in industry. An ice engine will never be as productive as a steam engine, even though ice and steam are both H2O. Lichtenstein must be blissfully unconcerned about the melting of the polar ice caps—no qualitative change there, she must claim. Polar bears might disagree.

Lichtenstein admits that there are some cases of quantitative changes—for example, increasing degrees of heat—that lead to qualitative changes. (She concedes some examples of melting—but why does she admit them, since they also do not produce new molecular composition?). But since the precise di?men?sions of the “nodes,” or threshold—a millisecond or a geological age—cannot be prescribed, she claims that the “law” is worthlessly vague. Yet similar events can occur on vastly different scales. Geologists regularly refer to the “collision” of tectonic plates. These are quite different from, say, our automobile collisions. Surely, since tectonic plates move mere millimeters a year, and automobiles move at many miles per hour, Lichtenstein must find it ludicrous to call both “collisions,” even though the term describes something important that they have in common.

Anyway, even Lichtenstein’s examples of node-less transformations don’t hold up. She claims that all kinds of things don’t melt “smoothly” (meaning, without a precise melting point)—metal, glass, and so on. Is she serious? If that were correct, metal would begin melting as soon as any heat were applied to it. Hasn’t Lichtenstein ever cooked a meal? Did her metal pots and pans melt on the stove? Probably not, because while she was applying a certain quantity of heat to them, each metal has a unique quantitative threshold at which melting begins—and not before—“in a manner exactly fixed for each individual case.”

Amazingly, she claims to refute this law further by placing animals next to each other—a mouse, a pony, and an elephant—and moving her eyes from one to the other. They have different qualitative sizes, so she determines: “change in quality here, but no matter or energy has been added or subtracted. Plainly that would make a mockery of this law.” Let me see if I’ve got this right: three different animals placed side by side show no change from quantity to quality? If the mouse is not transforming into the pony, and the pony changing into an elephant, what is the change being considered here? Are we talking about the change that takes place in her mind as she looks at different animals? Surely she understands that in order for something the size of a mouse (say, a pony embryo) to grow into something the size of an adult pony, an enormous amount of energy (food, etc.) is required. The same holds true for something the size of a pony (say, a young elephant) to grow to the size of an adult elephant. Plainly Lichtenstein has made a mockery of herself.

Finally, Lichtenstein presents the example of stereoisomers. I am not by any stretch of the imagination a chemist. Still, this example doesn’t seem to be a far cry from another very common phenomena in nature—bicameralism, things that are mirror images of each other yet cannot be exchanged for each other. Your left and right hands are bicameral. If you could detach your hands and place them on the opposite arms, you’d look silly. So your hands are the same stuff arranged a different way—qualitative change without quantitative change? Sure, if you have found a way to observe the transformation of your left hand into a right hand! Engels, on the other hand (pun intended), was on a different mission. “We are not con?cerned here with writing a hand?book of dialectics,” he explains, “but only with showing that the dialectical laws are really laws of [the] development of nature.” The problem with Hegel is that he got it the other way around. “The mistake lies in the fact that these laws [in Hegel’s idealist scheme] are foisted on nature and history as laws of thought, and not deduced from them.”

Lichtenstein, like Hegel, is trying to “foist on nature and history” dialectics as laws of thought, losing sight of the real life motion of things in the natural world, which is inherently dialectical. There are countless silly examples on Lichtenstein’s website. She claims, for example, that Necker cubes are qualitatively different from regular cubes with no quantitative difference, and thereby are another refutation of dialectics. But by definition, these cubes are ambiguous in our perception of them. They are, afterall, not even real cubes, only representations of cubes! Their qualitative difference from other cubes exists entirely in the realm of the idea of a cube. Lichtenstein has lost sight of the purpose of dialectics—to understand the motion of things as we observe them in nature. I’m not sure what laws (if any) govern the transformation of one representation of a cube into another representation of a cube. Down here on earth, in order for one thing to truly change from one qualitative state to another, specific quantities of energy must be added or subtracted, in a manner exactly fixed for each individual case.

Bring Afghanistan to the center of antiwar movement

Ashley Smith’s article “Which Way Forward for the Antiwar Movement?” (July–August 2008) is an excellent analysis of the reasons the movement is in its current anemic state and the strategy for rebuilding it from the bottom up. We think the section on demands, however, needs to be updated in light of recent developments. Smith lists four primary demands: troops out of Iraq, no war on Iran, no to racism against Arabs and Muslims, and money for social spending instead of war. We assume these are the non-negotiable ones because he uses the word “Finally” when ending the list. In the subsequent paragraph, Smith states that the Left must argue for including opposition to the occupation of Afghanistan and for education and speakers about Palestine but we should be prepared to lose the argument.

We completely agree that we must continue to argue for the in?clusion of these demands, but we think that opposition to the occupation of Afghanistan is a necessary core demand for the movement at this time. As Smith argues earlier in his article, we must have demands that prepare the movement to con?front U.S. war plans. Barack Obama, in his July 15 foreign policy speech, made the hard case for the War on Terror—he wants to shift combat troops from Iraq (the “distraction”) to Afghanistan (the “central front”). Casualties for Western occupation troops in Afghanistan have exceeded those in Iraq in both May and June. While this may have more to do with tactical decisions by the Iraqi resistance, the increased media and official attention on Afghanistan signals an important dynamic. The debacle in Iraq has caused the American people to be skeptical of the American ruling class’s intentions in unleashing the U.S. military around the world. For example, a July 13 poll by ABC News and the Washington Post found that 45 percent of Americans think the war on Afghanistan was not worth it. If, however, Obama can salvage the War on Terror by making the positive case for military intervention in Afghanistan, he may also be able to re-establish the ability of the U.S. ruling class to sell its wars.

Given that many liberals and leftists who oppose the war on Iraq support the war on Afghanistan in some way, this presents a real political challenge. They concede that the war on Iraq was a war of choice for controlling the Middle East, but they believe the United States has a legitimate right to go after al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. They fail to see that just as WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) were the excuse for invading Iraq, 9/11, the Taliban, women’s rights, and even al-Qaeda were the excuses for invading Afghanistan, and that Afghanistan and Iraq are a part of the same imperial project of securing the U.S. ruling class’s position as global top dog.

In the current political climate, we believe a movement to get the troops out of Iraq will stumble, stagger, and stagnate if it is supportive of or unclear about the occupation of Afghanistan. We want to get the troops out of Iraq, but we do not want to send them to Afghanistan!

Sid Patel and Roger Dyer
San Francisco

Can’t wait for people to get fed up with Democrats

I want to thank Ashley Smith (July–August 2008) for a great speech on the short- and long-term strategies needed to build the move?ment it will take to end the war.

The last paragraph of the speech highlights the need to take advantage of every opportunity to “establish vehicles to mobilize the growing sentiment for change… to provide an alternative means for winning change when the Democrats either fail to deliver or deliver inadequate solutions.” This process has been happening already. Adrienne Kinne of Iraq Veterans Against the War mentions in the same issue that she turned to IVAW after the Democrats continued to fund the war after winning the House in 2006. Considering the weakness of the movement, there are others like her (and more becoming disillusioned with Obama and his recent right turn) who are coming to similar conclusions but have not yet been linked to organizations. This is a key part of the audience for the organization/educating Smith is calling for.

It’s important to emphasize that we cannot sit back and wait for people to become fed up with the Democrats. Our actions now can accelerate that process. For example, in May, June, and so far in July (it’s July 14 as I type this) U.S. casualties in Afghanistan have outnumbered those in Iraq. Many people will look at that and be drawn to Obama’s argument that the United States needs to pull troops out of Iraq and send them to Afghanistan. We need to get out there and patiently explain, even if it’s by the ones and twos or tens and twenties, that the war in Afghanistan is the same type of unjust, criminal, doomed occupation as Iraq is and part of the same project to dominate the Middle East.

The system is in crisis. The disastrous and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan coupled with the failure of the system to meet the basic needs of increasing numbers in the United States and around the world has laid bare the deepest contradictions of capitalism. This raises a number of questions in the minds of broad layers of people. Let’s get the choir singing and supply our answer loud and clear: struggle. I think we’ll find an audience eager to listen… and join in.

Gary Lapon
Northampton, MA

Keep it up

Thanks for the great magazine and keep up the great work. I am a member of the Communist Party USA and have heard quite a bit of negative rhetoric about your magazine and the International Socialist Organization from members of my party, but I think you guys are doing a terrific job and I have nothing but respect for your magazine and organization.

In Struggle,
Harold R. Niver Jr.

Opening my eyes to the real Ron Paul

I want to thank you for the fantastic article you wrote about Ron Paul in the ISR (January–February, 2008). I, like many others, had been so distraught by the prospect of seeing any of the other candidates in office that Paul’s anti-war rhetoric and opposition to the Federal Reserve Bank was music to my ears… until I did a bit more reading about his actual stance on other policies. Your article prompted me to do even more research, and I have you to thank for prompting me to discover the new information I did.

Only one problem remains now, though: the selection of candidates is so depressing that I don’t know how I could possibly choose any one of them when voting time comes around. Trust me, I’m not one who believes our facade of democracy in this country would actually allow its citizens to freely elect their president, but I still participate in the process for one silly reason: to defend myself against those who claim that one “doesn’t have the right to a political opinion unless they’ve voted.”

Anyways, I’m sure you’re very busy and receive plenty of emails. I just felt a serious desire to say “thank you” for the time you took to research Mr. Paul, and for the way you effectively exposed his short-sighted ideals for exactly what they are.

Neil Jarman

Why is the Socialist Party so small?

Why is it that the Socialist Party of France has much more influence than the Socialist Party USA (SP-USA)? The French Socialist Party is one of the main political parties and is the largest left-wing party in France. Why is it that the SP-USA does not nearly have as much in?fluence or recognition? Is it because of the negative connotations of socialism in the United States or the distortion of history by historians?

James Rankin

Editor’s response

Why is it that the Socialist Party of France has much more influence than the Socialist Party USA (SP-USA)? The French Socialist Party is one of the main political parties and is the largest left-wing party in France. Why is it that the SP-USA does not nearly have as much in?fluence or recognition? Is it because of the negative connotations of socialism in the United States or the distortion of history by historians?

On Lenin's Stickbending

Thanks to Paul D’Amato for his article “The myth of Lenin’s elitism” in the July–August ISR, and in par?ticular his defense and analysis of Lenin’s 1902 pamphlet What Is to Be Done? (WITBD).

I believe there is an important and unsatisfactory way of attempting to explain Lenin’s purportedly elitist formulations in WITBD within today’s socialist movement, which is to claim that Lenin is simply “bending the stick.” This formulation seems to have been at least largely introduced by Tony Cliff of the British Socialist Workers Party in his important book Building the Party. In Building the Party, Cliff writes, “At every stage of the struggle Lenin would look for what he regarded as the key link in the chain of development. He would then repeatedly emphasize the importance of this link, to which all others must be subordinated. After the event, he would say: ‘We overdid it. We bent the stick too far,’ by which he did not mean that he had been wrong to do so.”

It is not clear that the “quote” Cliff uses above is an actual quotation. Later in the same book Cliff writes, “Lenin’s ‘bending of the stick’ right over to mechanical over-emphasis on organization in What Is to Be Done? was, nevertheless, quite useful operationally, whereas, over a period of some four to five years, the Marxists in Russia had aroused a desire in the working class for confrontation at the factory level, the step now necessary was to arouse, at least in the politically conscious section of the masses, a passion for political action.”
I would argue that, on this question, it is Cliff who has the mechanical formulation and that “bending the stick” was not Lenin’s method of argument and should not be a model for socialists today. Moreover, reading WITBD through a “bending of the stick” prism creates two related problems: It allows the reader to dismiss out of hand rather than reckon with the actual argument Lenin is making, and it thus inhibits the reader’s ability to see the dialectical approach Lenin takes to the question of party building.

There is no mention of “bending the stick”—which is apparently a reference to a woodworking technique where a piece of wood is bent too far in one direction so that it will end up straight—within WITBD. (Lenin does, however, describe the need to seize the key link of the chain—a more useful metaphor.) At the 1903 Congress, it is Martov—who in this same series of meetings becomes the leader of the Menshevik faction of the Russian party—who says that Lenin “made a confession to us” that “‘the stick had been bent in one direction, and so we bent it the other way.’” Depending on which translation you use, Lenin may have also used the metaphor in the 1903 debates, saying—either “We all know that the economists bent the stick in one direction. In order to straighten the stick it was necessary to bend it in the other direction, and that is what I did,” or, “We all now know that the ‘economists’ have gone to one extreme. To straighten matters out somebody had to pull in the other direction—and that is what I have done.” In his 1907 introduction to the reprint of WITBD—written after the 1905 revolution—Lenin seems to make no mention of “stick bending,” but rather defends the essence of his pamphlet from detractors who chide him for an unhealthy obsession with organization—from the comfort of their by-then-well-established organization.

Why does any of this matter? What is crystal clear is that Lenin wanted both contemporary and future readers to consider WITBD within the context of the material conditions in which it was written. In this sense, while I agree with Paul that “it cannot be said that the Iskra period represents Lenin's first and last word on party organization,” I also think that such a “first and last word” does not exist. Until his death, Lenin wrote polemics - conducted not by means of lurching from one hyperbolic formulation to the next - but through what were intended to be specific, honest and reasoned arguments written for specific audiences at specific moments in the struggle. This does not mean that Lenin never exaggerated (we all do it). What it does mean is that exaggeration was not Lenin's method, and that he did not purposefully “bend” the truth, even if to do so would be “quite useful operationally.”

I would suggest that WITBD can be considered a “founding document” of Bolshevism, not because it contains a finalized blueprint to be copied and pasted over every situation every revolutionary-minded individual might find themselves in at every point in history (although there are plenty of historical parallels to draw), but because, for one thing, WITBD very clearly reveals Lenin's dialectical materialist approach to the question of party building.

I think this dialectical approach is what Paul refers to when he quotes Moira Donald writing that that “Lenin succeeded in elevating the question of party organization to the plane of Marxist theory… .” Taken in context, this “elevation” is particularly revealed in one of the most abused sections of the WITBD, which Paul also highlights:

“We have said that there could not have been Social-Democratic consciousness among the workers. It would have to be brought to them from without. The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labour legislation, etc. The theory of socialism, however, grew out of the philosophic, historical, and economic theories elaborated by educated representatives of the propertied classes, by intellectuals.”

On its face, this isolated quotation can be painted as elitist. However, considered in context, even by reading the pages immediately following, it becomes clear that Lenin is making a profoundly anti-elitist argument. He is not describing what he wants to be true. He is describing what was true and what he wanted to change. Socialist theoreticians had up to that time been too disconnected from the working class movement —in part because the working class was only just beginning to move, and in part because to be a “theoretician” required a level of education and freedom unavailable to the vast majority of a population which until some forty years previously had been mired in actual serfdom. Now that Russia was experiencing the “spontaneous awakening of the working masses,” coinciding with the development of “a revolutionary [educated] youth, armed with Social-Democratic theory” who were “straining towards the workers,” what was needed was a national organization to create serious and dynamic connections between these too disparate strains of Russian life - for the betterment of them both.

Lenin's formulation in this section of WITBD was not an exaggeration, nor was it simply a throw-away line borrowed from the soon-to-be “renegade” Kautsky. Lenin's argument here is entirely consistent with his other pre- and post-WITBD articles, including On Strikes. Rooted in a material analysis of Russian society, Lenin argues for an organization which can unify the “spontaneous” mass movements and organize the existing and developing leadership within those movements into an organization of theoreticians and agitators “in which all distinctions as between workers and intellectuals … must be effaced.” These remain goals worthy of any socialist organizing today.

Ben Dalbey

Wrong formulation for the right reasons

Paul D'Amato's “The Myth of Lenin's Elitism” is a clear contribution to combating the distortions of workers' revolutionary history. D'Amato is absolutely right to emphasize how the enemies of workers' power have scrambled for purchase on any weed they could find growing out of the mountain of Lenin's life work as a leader of the class. However, while properly placing the “scandalous” sentence from Lenin's 1902 pamphlet What is to be Done? (WITBD) in context, D'Amato shrinks from examining whether it is indeed a misformulated weed or not. The sentence in question reads: The history of all countries shows that the working class exclusively by its own effort is able to develop only trade-union consciousness. On its face, this statement is false. The Paris Commune is the obvious counter-example, of which Lenin undoubtedly knew.

Overall, I think Lenin was making the right argument for the right reason, but (as often happens to me while arguing), on this point went awry. The explicit Kautsky passage he summons next for supporting authority is elitist, and deterministic, and wrong. Lenin articulates a useful conception of class consciousness in his 1896 Explanation of a Program for the Social Democratic Party: “The workers' class-consciousness means the workers' understanding that the only way to improve their conditions and to achieve their emancipation is to conduct a struggle against the capitalist and factory-owner class created by the big factories. Further, the workers' class-consciousness means their understanding that the interests of all the workers of any particular country are identical, that they all constitute one class, separate from all other classes in society. Finally, the class-consciousness of the workers means the workers' understanding that to achieve their aims they have to work to influence affairs of the state, just as the landlords and capitalists did, and are continuing to do now.”

By this criteria, the Communards were indeed class-conscious, as I'm sure Lenin would have agreed.

Having gained from D'Amato a clearer understanding of the scandal, I look forward to reading Lih's Lenin Rediscovered to figure out how to apply today WITBD's disregarded gem: the role of the revolutionary newspaper. We need to re-win that aspect of Leninism in today's workers' movement. Keep up the great work.

Frank Couget
National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 36, AFL-CIO

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