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The Russian Revolution

1917 1905 Russia Soviet Union CCCP USSR February October Bolsheviks Vladimir Lenin

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#41
BasilBerylium

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It was the democratic rule of the working class and the peasantry


exercising the dictatorship of their class rule over those who would seek to overthrow it.

It doesn't sounds very democratic

#42
caltrek

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Quote box added by edit:

 

 

 

Because the Party was still controlled by the workers and peasants, but it was the decision of this Party (which still represented its electorate) to repress the elements of society that were hostile to the proletarian democracy. This is what is called the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. It sounds contradictory to have a "democratic dictatorship" but in reality this is what that was. It was the democratic rule of the working class and the peasantry, exercising the dictatorship of their class rule over those who would seek to overthrow it

 

 

@ Joe00uk: ^^^BS

 

The Communist Party had substituted its will for the proletariat, the Central Committee had substituted its will for the Communist Party, the Politburo for the Central Committee, and eventually Stalin for the Central Committee.

 

So, in the end, only Stalin could define what was in the interest of the proletariat. Nothing democratic about that. 

 

Edit: Trotsky, Zinoviev, Tomsky, Zaminev  and others all purged, leaving Stalin in command.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#43
joe00uk

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^^^BS

 

The Communist Party had substituted its will for the proletariat, the Central Committee had substituted its will for the Communist Party, the Politburo for the Central Committee, and eventually Stalin for the Central Committee.

 

So, in the end, only Stalin could define what was in the interest of the proletariat. Nothing democratic about that. 

 

Edit: Trotsky, Zinoviev, Tomsky, Zaminev  and others all purged, leaving Stalin in command.

They had no means to do this. They had to be elected, and they had to report back on their activities. They could be recalled if their electors were unhappy with their work. All the Party bodies were accountable to their junior bodies etc. Likewise, there was also upwards accountability. But there was no way for the Party to "substitute its will for the proletariat". There was no mechanism by which this could happen - at least under Lenin or Stalin. The reason that post-Stalin corruption was allowed to flourish was because of complacency at the lower levels (well, all levels really, but I digress). Had they been more steadfast and vigilant this could have been avoided. Of course it would be hard work, but nevertheless it could have been avoided. Not that this means that during and before Stalin it was perfect - no, not at all. But it was fundamentally democratic. Also, these people were purged by Party votes. They were purged based on votes by the democratically elected representatives of the people. One man cannot be in command alone. Stalin tried to resign four times anyway.


"The Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains." - Karl Marx
"A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentleso temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another."  - Mao Zedong


#44
caltrek

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They had no means to do this. They had to be elected, and they had to report back on their activities. They could be recalled if their electors were unhappy with their work. All the Party bodies were accountable to their junior bodies etc. Likewise, there was also upwards accountability. But there was no way for the Party to "substitute its will for the proletariat". There was no mechanism by which this could happen - at least under Lenin or Stalin.

 

...and yet it happened.  History triumphs over theory.

 

 

 

Had they been more steadfast and vigilant this could have been avoided. Of course it would be hard work, but nevertheless it could have been avoided. Not that this means that during and before Stalin it was perfect - no, not at all. But it was fundamentally democratic. Also, these people were purged by Party votes

 

Initially, party votes might have been important.  Eventually, just a knock on the door was the only official warning many received that they were about to be purged.  Under a reign of terror, "vote" becomes meaningless.  Vote as I tell you...or you will suffer the consequences.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#45
joe00uk

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It happened when Leninism began to be discarded. This is when the problems of Soviet democracy and the economy really began to become overwhelming. Before that, of course there were some problems, I don't deny this, but it could have been improved. The baby didn't need to be thrown out with the bathwater. Party votes were the only reason anyone got purged. Either that or recalls from below. The "reign of terror" didn't operate as some capricious rampage of Stalin. Certain officials were removed from the party because of their incompetence or perhaps because they were even part of some fifth column. The purges were about improving Party discipline and not allowing it to degenerate into total bureaucracy. Notice that this is precisely what happened when the CPSU stopped conducting purges after the death of Stalin. And no, no one was pressured into voting like that. 


"The Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains." - Karl Marx
"A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentleso temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another."  - Mao Zedong


#46
caltrek

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From Wikipedia:

 

https://en.wikipedia...iki/Great_Purge

 

 

The Great Purge or the Great Terror (Russian: Большо́й терро́р) was a campaign of political repression in the Soviet Union which occurred from 1936 to 1938.[1] It involved a large-scale purge of the Communist Party and government officials, repression of peasants and the Red Army leadership, widespread police surveillance, suspicion of "saboteurs", "counter-revolutionaries", imprisonment, and arbitrary executions.[2] In Russian historiography, the period of the most intense purge, 1937–1938, is called Yezhovshchina (Russian: Ежовщина; literally, "Yezhov phenomenon",[note 1]commonly translated as "times of Yezhov" or "doings of Yezhov"), after Nikolai Yezhov, the head of the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, who was himself later killed in the purge. Mobile gas vans were used to execute people without trial.[3][4][5] It has been estimated between 200,000 to 600,000 people died at the hands of the Soviet government during the Purge.[6][7][8][9]

 

…The term "repression" was officially used to describe the prosecution of people considered counter-revolutionaries and enemies of the people by the leadership of the Soviet Union. The purge was motivated by the desire to remove dissenters from the Communist Party and to consolidate the authority of Joseph Stalin. Most public attention was focused on the purge of the leadership of the Communist Party, as well as of government bureaucrats and leaders of the armed forces, most of whom were Party members. The campaigns also affected many other categories of the society: intelligentsia, peasants and especially those branded as "too rich for a peasant" (kulaks), and professionals.[11] A series of NKVD operations affected a number of national minorities, accused of being "fifth column" communities. A number of purges were officially explained as an elimination of the possibilities of sabotage and espionage, mostly by a fictitious "Polish Military Organisation" and, consequently, many victims of the purge were ordinary Soviet citizens of Polish origin.

 

According to Nikita Khrushchev's 1956 speech, "On the Cult of Personality and its Consequences," and more recent findings, a great number of accusations, notably those presented at the Moscow show trials, were based on forced confessions, often obtained through torture,[12] and on loose interpretations of Article 58 of the RSFSR Penal Code, which dealt with counter-revolutionary crimes. Due legal process, as defined by Soviet law in force at the time, was often largely replaced with summary proceedings by NKVD troikas.[13]

Hundreds of thousands of victims were accused of various political crimes (espionage, wreckingsabotageanti-Soviet agitation, conspiracies to prepare uprisings and coups); they were quickly executed by shooting, or sent to the Gulag labor camps. Many died at the penal labor camps of starvation, disease, exposure, and overwork. Other methods of dispatching victims were used on an experimental basis. One secret policeman, for example, gassed people to death in batches in the back of a specially adapted airtight van.[14][15]

The Great Purge was started under the NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda, but the height of the campaigns occurred while the NKVD was headed by Nikolai Yezhov, from September 1936 to August 1938, hence the name Yezhovshchina. The campaigns were carried out according to the general line, and often by direct orders, of the Party Politburo headed by Stalin.

 

So, anybody who was not a part of the proletariat was subject to the most brutal form of repression. Even if you were a member of the proletariat, you could be accussed of espionage, wrecking, sabotage, anti-soviet agitation, etc.  

 

...and you call this "democratic"?

 

Give me a break.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#47
caltrek

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Beria was the longest-lived and most influential of Stalin's secret police chiefs, wielding his most substantial influence during and after World War II. He simultaneously administered vast sections of the Soviet state and acted as the de factoMarshal of the Soviet Union in command of NKVD field units responsible for anti-Nazi partisan operations on the Eastern Front during World War II, as barrier troops and the apprehension of thousands of "turncoats, deserters, cowards and suspected malingerers." Beria administered the vast expansion of the Gulag labor camps and was primarily responsible for overseeing the secret defense institution known as sharashkas, critical to the war effort. He played the decisive role in coordinating the Soviet partisans, developing an intelligence and sabotage network behind German lines.

 

He attended the Yalta Conference with Stalin, who introduced him to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as "our Himmler".[1] After the war, he organized the communist takeover of the state institutions of Central and Eastern Europe. Beria's uncompromising ruthlessness in his duties and skill at producing results culminated in his success in overseeing the Soviet atomic bomb project. Stalin gave it absolute priority and the project was completed in under five years in no small part due to Soviet espionage against the West organized by Beria's NKVD.

 

Upon Stalin's death in March 1953, Beria was promoted to First Deputy Premier, where he carried out a campaign of liberalization. He was briefly a part of the ruling "troika" with Georgy Malenkov and Vyacheslav Molotov. Beria's overconfidence in his position after Stalin's death led him to misjudge other Politburo members. During the coup d'état led by Nikita Khrushchev and assisted by the military forces of Marshal Georgy Zhukov, Beria was arrested on charges of treason during a meeting in which the full Politburo condemned him. Zhukov's troops ensured NKVD compliance, and on 23 December 1953, he was executed by Pavel Batitsky.[2]

 

So, even Stalin's secret police chief was himself found guilty of treason and executed. Found guilty by the Soviet government.  Of course, all is swept under the rug with discussions of a "petit-bourgeois camp" headed by Krushchev. Again, interests of the proletariat are defined as anything that Stalin declared them to be.   Any opponents were peasants, or individuals involved in espionage, wrecking, sabotage, anti-soviet agitation, petit-bourgeois, etc.  Loosely defined categories that anybody could be accused of with no due process, no recourse to anything but a show trial, etc.  


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#48
caltrek

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In Petrograd, Alexander Kerensky is appointed prime minister.[i]  July 22, 1917 A.D.

Kerensky proclaims Russia a republic.[ii]  September 15, 1917 A.D.

The Communist Party Central Committee votes ten to two to support an insurrection.  Leon Kamenev and Gregory Zinoviev are the two votes in opposition to the action.  

Russian Bolshevik “November Revolution” under Lenin’s leadership.[iii] – November 1917

Death of Lenin.[iv] January 1924

A council is appointed to succeed Lenin: Gregory Zinoviev, Leon Kamenev and Joseph Stalin.[v]  January 22, 1924 A.D.

Death of Lenin.  – January 1924 A.D.

A council is appointed to succeed Lenin: Gregory Zinoviev, Leon Kamenev and Joseph Stalin.[vi]  January 22, 1924 A.D.

A special session of the Communist Party called by Stalin, Zinoviev, and Kamenev denounces Trotsky.[vii]  November 26, 1924 A.D.

Leon Trotsky and Gregory Zinoviev are expelled from the Communist Party central committee.[viii] October 23, 1926

Leon Trotsky is expelled from the Communist Party in a move to consolidate Stalin’s command of the Soviet Union.[ix] 1927

Trotsky is deported from the Soviet Union. Bukharin is ejected from the Politburo.[x] – 1929

Joseph Stalin expels Gregori Zinoviev and Leon Kamenev from the Communist Party and exiles them to Siberia.[xi]  October 9, 1932

The Leningrad party secretary, Sergie Kirov is assassinated.  Kirov had promoted a relaxation of some of Stalin’s policies.[xii]  1934 A.D.

The Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow ceases the publication of the complete works of Marx while more than thirty volumes still remained unpublished.  Albert Camus later remarks that “doubtless the content of these volumes was not ‘Marxist’ enough”.[xiii]  - 1935

A show trial ends in the execution of 18 top-ranking Soviet figures, including Nikolai Bukharin.[xiv] March 15, 1938

Joseph Stalin dies.[xv] March 5, 1953

Lavrenti Beria, chief of police under Stalin, is shot after he is found guilty of treason.[xvi]  December 23, 1953


[i] K&K

[ii] K&K

[iii] NG. See also Howe.

[iv] NG

[v] K&K

[vi] K&K

[vii] K&K

[viii] K&K

[ix] NG

[x] Howe. Atlas.

[xi] K&K

[xii] Daniels

[xiii] Camus

[xiv] K&K

[xv] NG. K&K.

[xvi] K&K


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#49
caltrek

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That proletarians supported Kerensky.  Made no difference.

 

That Trotsky, Zmenev, Bukharin, Zinoviev and many other top ranking officials were part of the leadership that brought the dictatorship of the proletariat to power. Made no difference.

 

..and who assassinated Kirov?

 

Clearly, this was a dictatorship of Stalin.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#50
PhoenixRu

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That doesn't really make sense, because there was no fundamental change in the structures of proletarian democracy from the 1920s until after the death of Stalin, with the exception of the war perhaps.

 

The fundamental change was the tranformation of Soviets from the tool of direct democracy to the tool of state administration, receiving orders and instructions from above. This transformation was described in many books and articles (mainly in Russian, of course, but i thought you must've heard this too). Somewhere, Soviets are still existing in modern capitalist Russia, but exactly as low-level administrative units.

 

The Party continued to represent the people, because the Party was ultimately elected by the people or at least their elected representatives at the higher levels.

 

And still, there is the important difference between "we represent our own interests" and "these people says they represent our interests". In the worst cases, it was even: "this month we should work 9 hours instead of 8 and our wage will be reduced, these people says this is in our own interests, we're just not conscious enough to understand the whole picture".

 

As for socialist and petit-bourgeois tendencies, they weren't strictly tied to workers and peasants. By this logic, petit-bourgeois tendency should have been eroded with collectivization and urbanization. But no, this is exactly socialist tendency that eroded and died out. By 1970s - 1980s, this "petit-bourgeois" ideology was already dominant among urban population, from working class to top party apparatus. This still didn't meant that late Soviet people consciously strived to restoration of capitalism, but they (majority of them) already were nothing more than usual individualists-consumers. Infantile and extremely ungrateful individualists, i can add, who demanded from state to "provide" them the same luxurious consumption they saw in Western movies but didn't valued the real advantages they had: "Free healthcare, free education, free flats? Just a trifles, existing by default, how can it be otherwise? But Western jeans and bubble-gum..."


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"And the Russian land, let God keep it! Under heavens, there is no other land like this. And although Russian nobles are not righteous neither kind, let God arrange the Russian land and give us enough justice" - Afanasy Nikitin, medieval traveler of XV century.


#51
Erowind

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Because the Party was still controlled by the workers and peasants, but it was the decision of this Party (which still represented its electorate) to repress the elements of society that were hostile to the proletarian democracy. This is what is called the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. It sounds contradictory to have a "democratic dictatorship" but in reality this is what that was. It was the democratic rule of the working class and the peasantry, exercising the dictatorship of their class rule over those who would seek to overthrow it.

 

And what a democratic society it was. Shortly after the revolution many workers started striking due to poverty wages only to have the state violently oppress them. The rational given:

 

Workers have the right to strike against oppressive owners, but workers cannot strike against themselves it would be a paradox. Since the workers have already seized the means of production and the factories are collectively owned, their strike is illegitimate.

 

If the workers truly owned the factory they wouldn't be striking, they'd be setting their own wages instead of having them mandated. Not to mention that anyone speaking out against the dictatorship was violently suppressed. The USSR stopped being democratic the moment the revolution ended. Moreover how could the party be controlled by the peasantry when the structure of the party is top down in nature? If the party were controlled by the peasantry it would be structured from the bottom up.


Current status: slaving away for the math gods of Pythagoras VII.


#52
caltrek

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There are many ways to view the Russian Revolution, and many possible perspectives.  Here is one offered by Der Speigel:

 

100 Years Since the October Revolution Russia's Unloved Anniversary

 

http://www.spiegel.d...-a-1175652.html

 

Introduction:

 

Even revolutionaries have moments of doubt. Take Vladimir Ulyanov, a Russian emigré in Zurich during World War I whose nom de guerre was Lenin. We old ones, he said in a speech to Swiss socialists in 1917, might not experience the coming revolution. But you young Swiss, you will fight and win! It was January and Ullyanov-Lenin didn't yet know that the czar would fall a mere seven weeks later. And that he himself would take the czar's place by the end of the year.

 

Or take Sergei Udaltsov, who is sitting in a Moscow café 100 years later, wearing the uniform of the professional revolutionary: black jacket with a shaved head. Udaltsov, who's great-grandfather was a close companion of Lenin's, is the leader of the radical left. Together with Alexei Navalny, he led the protests against Vladimir Putin's return to the Kremlin in 2012, going on to spend four-and-a-half years under house arrest and in jail as a result. He says the people are tired, the politicians are clueless and a change of government is likely. But if everything falls apart, who will profit? Isn't it more likely to be the right than the left?

 

This year, Russia is celebrating the anniversary of the Russian Revolution. One hundred years ago in March, the czarist monarchy was toppled. One hundred years ago in November, Vladimir Lenin and his followers grabbed power. It was, so to speak, two revolutions in one.

 

Later in this rather long article: 

 

 

If you want to tell the story of the revolution as the Kremlin sees it today, you need to start with Pyotr Stolypin, the most capable of the Czars' prime ministers. Vladimir Putin had a monument to Stolypin erected in front of his seat of government when he was prime minister - and forced all of his cabinet members to donate one month of their salaries to fund it. There isn't a single functionary in the Kremlin party who hasn't once quoted the famous words Stolypin uttered to the opposition in 1907: "You want great upheaval, we want a great Russia!" It is a comfortable response to any protest.

 

 

 

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#53
caltrek

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This has been an interesting thread and I find myself reading and then re-reading it for further insights. One observation that has now caught my attention:

 

 And still, there is the important difference between "we represent our own interests" and "these people says they represent our interests". In the worst cases, it was even: "this month we should work 9 hours instead of 8 and our wage will be reduced, these people says this is in our own interests, we're just not conscious enough to understand the whole picture".

 

"Not conscious enough to understand the whole picture."  

 

This reminds me of my thread regarding false consciousness.  Initially, I was reluctant to even introduce that idea.  It opens a whole can of worms.  Taken to an extreme, it can be used as an excuse to set aside democratic procedures.  I remember discussing with a gentleman from Africa their situation.  He argued that the underlying population was simply not educated well enough to be trusted with democracy.  

 

Then there is our own situation in the United States, where the objective reality of global climate change is denied for a more comforting Make America Great Again sloganeering that harkens back to a past that never was.  Interesting quote in the article I cited earlier:  "You want great upheaval, we want a great Russia!"

 

Sort of the same idea.

 

I think there is also some wishful thinking going own about elevating a super Artificial General Intelligence that would somehow bring about a more just order.  This, not merely as an intelligence to be consulted, but one which is elevated above partisan concerns and put in command and control of our collective economies. 

 

Republics are fragile things.  From our own revolutionary times:

 

...upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: "A republic, if you can keep it." 

 

 

Source of Franklin quote:  https://constitution...you-can-keep-it


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#54
PhoenixRu

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I remember discussing with a gentleman from Africa their situation.  He argued that the underlying population was simply not educated well enough to be trusted with democracy. 

 

This gentleman may be right. Modern Africa is the historical analogue of Europe in 18-19th centuries: industrial revolution has already begun, cities are rapidly growing, but this is still a semi-archaic society, with many remnants of the past. There is still no qualified working class, nor significant urban middle class, and many people are simply illiterate. No wonder that African bourgeois democracies are so fragile, a wonder that they exist at all. You can't expect much, give them time (say, another 2-3 generations).

 

Back to Russian revolution, civil wars are not the best time for social experiments. Workers self-government may be excellent in theory. But in practice, centralization and concentration of power were the only way to win the war which seemed impossible to win. But, as it often happens in history, what was the right and only possible solution in the short-term, becomes an obstacle in the long-term.


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"And the Russian land, let God keep it! Under heavens, there is no other land like this. And although Russian nobles are not righteous neither kind, let God arrange the Russian land and give us enough justice" - Afanasy Nikitin, medieval traveler of XV century.


#55
caltrek

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This gentleman may be right. Modern Africa is the historican analogue of Europe in 18-19th centuries: industrial revolution has already begun, cities are rapidly growing, but this is still a semi-archaic society, with many remnants of the past. There is still no qualified working class, nor significant urban middle class, and many people are simply illiterate. No wonder that African bourgeois democracies are so fragile, a wonder that they exist at all. You can't expect much, give them time (say, another 2-3 generations).

 

 

Yes, well my counter argument to the gentleman from Africa was that striving for democracy should give him plenty of incentive to be sure the underlying population was educated well enough to assume its responsibilities. Still, your points are well taken.  

 

 

 

 

Back to Russian revolution, civil wars are not the best time for social experiments. Workers self-government may be excellent in theory. But in practice, centralization and concentration of power were the only way to win the war which seemed impossible to win. But, as it often happens in history, what was the right and only possible solution in the short-term, becomes an obstacle in the long-term.

 

I pretty much agree completely with your assessment here.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#56
caltrek

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Speaking of the writings of Marx that might not be Marxist enough for the Marxists:

 

 

 

There is today and ever-present temptation to suppose that class is a thing.  This was not Marx's meaning, in his own historical writing, yet the error vitiates much latter-day "Marxist" writing.  "It", the working class, is assumed to have a real existence, which can be defined almost mathematically - so many men who stand in a certain relation to the means of production.  Once this is assumed it becomes possible to deduce the class-consciousness which "it" ought to have (but seldom does have) if "it" was properly aware of its own position and real interests. There is a cultural superstructure, through which this recognition dawns in inefficient ways.  These cultural "lags" and distortions are a nuisance, so that it i easy to pass from this to some theory of substitution: the party, sect, or theorist, who disclose class consciousness, not as it is, but as it ought to be

 

 

Source: The Making of the English Working Class, E.P. Thompson, 1966, page 10


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls






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