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Introduction for Western and World Readers
The Crisis of the International Workers MovementThe world-wide impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union on the workers movement has been extraordinary. Increasing reaction in the decade leading up to, and that succeeding, this final implosion of the putrid remnants of the world's first proletarian dictatorship, led to retreat after retreat of the working class. Though, on a world basis, the effects were a little more uneven, certainly in the advanced capitalist countries, the, primarily self-proclaimed, "advanced detachments of the working class," fell victim to an almost unbelievably rapid withering and decline.
At first glance this seems quite remarkable. After all, the entire, Western, revolutionary left had opposed the Soviet Union in one way or another; so why were they all so devastated by its collapse? Only the thoroughly bourgeois French and Italian communist parties were less affected, and even they suffered significantly.
A Simple Question! What Went Wrong?Yet in fact, a common thread connected them. None among them had any real, useful answer to the simple question of the working class, "What went wrong?" When those of them that still had the fortitude to get up at four on a winter's morning to hand out their propaganda to workers going on shift were confronted with the inevitable "Go back to Russia!" taunt, instead of being able to straighten up, look their misguided tormentor in the eye, and say with conviction "I'd like nothing better!" the best they could do was to shuffle their feet and launch into a long, dull, slippery presentation based on the chosen formula of their particular sect.
With no genuine Marxist analysis of the phenomena, the movement was completely hamstrung. The most intellectual of the left trend, whether within the predominantly petty-bourgeois, radical, activist left circles or among those who had become ensconsed in academia, showed themselves to be completely incapable of producing anything more than a lot of hopeless moaning about what might have been and self-flagellation about the lack of an ideological compass.
Such is the tragedy of the Western left at the threshold of the millennium; and whatever uneveness their may be elsewhere, it is a tragedy shared by all progressive forces around the world.
Marxism has the AnswerIt is doubly tragic that, in fact, the missing, creative development of Marxism which might have broken the impasse has existed since 1979 when Alexsei B. Razlatzki wrote "The Second Communist Manifesto."
Still, better late than never!
The Five Extraordinaries are Good!"The Second Communist Manifesto" is an altogether remarkable work. To borrow a styling (but not an ideology!) from Mao Tse-Tung; this work is permeated with the Five Extraordinaries. It has extraordinary scope, extraordinary depth and extraordinary creativity, it shows extraordinary prescience and has extraordinary practical implications for the revolution.
Its scope is sufficiently broad as to justify its borrowing the title of the jewel of the popular works of Marxism. It is truly a worthy successor to the "Communist Manifesto" by Marx and Engels. It is not an easy work to read, yet it is both simple and accessible. Although aimed squarely at the Russian proletariat, its scope utterly transcends its own immediate aims, which gives it an enormous significance for the international working class and their advanced detachments.
It is also a work of great depth. Razlatzki's profound grasp of Marxist materialism and the dialectic of history is revealed again and again. His relentlessly proletarian perspective is coupled with a deep humanistic concern for the fate of our species.
It is a work that positively sparkles with creative developments of Marxism. >From the pressing questions of the relationships between the proletariat, its party and its state under the dictatorship of the proletariat, to the ideological degeneration of the intelligentsia in the period since the second world war, this little book is packed with vital, original Marxist insights and powerful, new, analytic categories. It is intended as a popular work, so its insights have a synoptic form; but it is easy to see that behind these concentrated expressions, lies a broad, dialectical, historical and materialist understanding of the human condition, which Razlatzki's untimely death in 1989, has, alas, left for the proletarian intelligentsia to reconstruct.
Again and again, Razlatzki shows the power of Marxist materialism by correctly prophesying the fate of the Soviet Union, the character of the succeeding regime, the crisis of the workers movement in the capitalist countries; and all this fully a decade before these events took place. It even makes some predictions which, while they have yet to be fulfilled, act as sign posts to the future. For example, with a single sentence, it sketches the outlines of proletarian environmentalism, pointing the way to the political economy of the communist future.
And finally, this is a work with enormous practical significance for the working class of the entire world. Not only does it answer the question "What went wrong?" but it provides the proletariat with the guidelines it needs to reestablish its dictatorship and to secure it against the degeneration which overwhelmed the entire socialist camp. It answers the question of the collapse of the Western left in the wake of the demise of the Soviet Union, and, with its devastating critique of the bourgeois intelligentsia, places the tasks of the proletarian intelligentsia firmly on the agenda.
The Path to CommunismIs it a book free of all errors and omissions? Of course not! Is it a recipe for a march to communism without any difficulties? No more than Marx's "Capital" or Lenin's "State and Revolution" or any book could be! But, like both of these, it is a work that does the world's proletarians an inestimable service. It clarifies the crucial contradictions driving developments in today's world, it sets the agenda for struggle against the senseless cruelties of advanced capitalism and it arms the proletariat against the apparently innocent errors which led to the wreck of the first great wave of proletarian revolution. In short, by summarizing and concentrating the proletariat's experience of the first wave of revolutions, it prepares the way for the second, decisive round in the global contest between the two great classes of the epoch, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. And it is the only work of Marxism which lays out in such practical detail the road which must be travelled to reach the goal of a classless society, of communism.
Every true communist longs for the withering away of even the proletarian state, (and, especially since the wreck of October, even before it has been created!) seeing in it, terrible limitations on the sovereignty of the class itself. What need has the self-active, self-directing subject, the international proletariat, for such a coercive apparatus? Yet it is only in moments of fatigue and of profoundly anarchist despair (alas, all too common in the late 20th century) that conscious Marxists can wish away the necessity of a state apparatus in the transition period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and can comfort themselves with the utopian fantasy of an immediate transition to classlessness.
Perhaps too, the international communist movement shares the blame for such anarchist despair. Since the publication of Engels' work "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific," there has been a tendency among communists to shy away from any analysis of developments after the achievement of proletarian dictatorship out of a fear of being labelled a utopian socialist. So as, one by one, the bastions of the proletarian dictatorship were overwhelmed by the silent counterrevolution, honest communists found themselves on the horns of dilemma. To understand the events of the present requires not only knowledge of history but also an understanding of the paths to the ultimate goal, to the future; yet, by the very tradition of the movement itself, to study the paths to the future was to lay oneself open to an automatic, though not always well-grounded, charge of utopianism.
"The Second Communist Manifesto" clears away these cobwebs and shows the working class how it can create and maintain that proletarian dictatorship whose highest aim is its own rapid withering away.
What Is To Be Done?It is not an easy work! Advanced proletarians who read it will be able to more rapidly assimilate its content, but many, even of the honest elements of the Western communist left, will find this very difficult. There is something here to irritate each of them; Trotskyites, neo-Stalinists, Maoists, and Hoxhaites who cannot advance beyond refighting the battles of 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and even 60's and 70's will all be equally enraged by its challenge to their deeply ingrained prejudices. This alone should tell them something!
And truly this baggage is the primary reason that it is not an easy work. If you, dear reader, can read this work with an open mind it will amply repay your effort! And as you struggle with a passage, first, blame the translator who was unequal to his task; and second, blame the CPSU who forced this work to be created under conditions of extreme repression and illegality, who forced it to be 'published' in hand-written form. And if you want to emulate the sacrifice of those who preserved this legacy for the workers of the entire world by copying it out by hand, then translate this work into all the languages of humanity. The working class will thank you!