Wednesday, December 22, 2010

English translation of "Lenin and Workers' Control," by Didier Limon (1967)

Lenin and workers’ control

Didier-L. LIMON


Published: Paris, December 1967, Autogestion: ├ętudes, d├ębats, documents, cahier no. 4, pp. 65-111.
Translated and Edited: Keith Rosenthal, December 2010

Editor’s Note: This phenomenal, historical and analytical study has, until now, not been translated into English. This is a shame on many levels for it stands nearly peerless in its meticulous treatment of the specific subject it takes up. That is, the debates and discussions surrounding the implementation of workers’ control of production within the first months after the October revolution of 1917 in Russia.

Didier Limon’s study goes in-depth to flesh out the various political tendencies, forces, and organizations at play during this pivotal moment in the revolution’s history. There’s little doubt as to where Limon’s political inclinations lay in all of this, namely, with the Bolsheviks, and more specifically, with Lenin’s approach to the question. Nonetheless, one cannot claim that he has failed to present the first-hand views of the various actors in this drama, and thus provides the reader with a clear, multi-dimensional picture of this centrally-important question to any socialist revolution, as it played out in the days when Russia was controlled by its working class.

One final note on this translation; I do not pretend in any way to be an expert in French-English translations. Indeed, I hope that such an expert will one day be inspired to give this article a much more professional touch. To this end, I am supplying the original French version of this article, which can be accessed at the following link, The only reason I tried my hand at this task was because, first of all, I was so delighted upon recently discovering this article that I wanted to share it with a broader audience, and second, given that the article was not available in English, I thought it better for there to be at least a less-than-perfect translated version of this article rather than no translated version at all.

In any event, while I cannot guarantee the reader that the following is a flawless translation, I can most definitely guarantee that in all its essentials, the following is an accurate representation of the arguments, facts, and details as penned by Limon some forty years ago.

All citations and footnotes are those of the original author, unless otherwise noted.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

The makings of a response to Wetzel & Brinton (or, Were Lenin, Trotsky, and the Bolsheviks Really Just Evil Despots?)

Tenth Parthy Congress, March 1921, Trotsky argues for militarization of labor, "shake-up" in the trade unions on the part of the Soviet state, rejecting trade union autonomy from workers' state, and that Soviet dictatorship trumps democracy (See English translation of Trotsky's speech here).

Trotsky roundly denounced by Lenin, voted down by Tenth Party Congree in favor of Lenin's opposed proposal, Trotsky nearly loses seat on Central Committee.

Trotsky later says he was wrong & that Lenin was correct.

Exactly one year later, in a prepared speech for the Fourth World Congress of the Cominter (Nov 1922), Trotsky clarifies his position on the trade unions (stark contrast to his 1921 arguments):

"Naturally the legend spread by the reformists that Plans are afoot to subordinate the trade unions organizationally to the party must be unconditionally denounced and exposed. Trade unions embrace workers of different political shadings as well as non-party men, atheists as well as believers, whereas the party unites political co-thinkers on the basis of a definite program. The party has not and cannot have any instrumentalities and methods for subjecting the trade unions to itself from the outside.
The party can gain influence in the life of the trade unions only to the extent that its members work in the trade unions and carry out the party point of view there. The influence of party members in the trade unions naturally depends on their numerical strength and especially on the degree to which they are able to apply party principles correctly, consistently and expediently to the needs of the trade-union movement.
The party has the right and the duty to aim to conquer, along the road above outlined, the decisive influence in the trade-union organization. It can achieve this goal only provided the work of the Communists in the trade unions is wholly and exclusively harmonized with the principles of the party and is invariably conducted under its control." (
"The Revolution in Russia is now in its most critical stages. The near future will determine whether or not the Bolsheviki can maintain their supremacy. They represent the peasants, the workers, and the soldiers — the great bulk of the population. Their demand is the land to the peasants who till it and the tools to the workers who use them. This means real democracy, for which the Russian people alone are fighting in the present war . . . the Bolsheviki, the representatives and the only representatives of real democracy in Russia."

Friday, December 10, 2010

John Lennon: "I am a socialist"

"In England, there are only two things to be, basically: You are either for the labor movement or for the capitalist movement. Either you become a right-wing Archie Bunker if you are in the class I am in, or you become an instinctive socialist, which I was. That meant I think people should get their false teeth and their health looked after, all the rest of it. But apart from that, I worked for money and I wanted to be rich. So what the hell -- if that's a paradox, then I'm a socialist." (John Lennon - 1980 Interview)