As the need grows to create a democratic alternative to capitalism,
understanding why Communism failed is crucial for understanding that democratic
revolution can succeed.
A FATAL ABSENCE OF DEMOCRACY
Millions of working people worldwide took heart at the Russian Revolution in October, 1917. Yet Communism soon became a caricature of its promise. The revolution failed because it was undemocratic.
Working people and peasants toppled the Czarist regime in February, 1917. Workers took over factories and established Workers Committees to run them. Peasants took over many large estates. Ordinary people organized "Soviets"-democratically elected councils-as organs of democracy. When the new government of industrialists and landowners kept Russia in the intensely unpopular World War I, there was a second, Communist-led revolution in October, 1917. The Bolsheviks (Communists) fought for control. They put the Workers Committees under the control of Communist-led trade unions. They undermined the peasants' organizations. They took power away from the Soviets and placed it in the hands of the Party. Sailors and workers at Kronstadt revolted in 1921 against the Communists and were mercilessly butchered.
What motivated the Communists' attack on workers? The Communists' goal was not democracy but economic development and "socialism" under Party control.
Communism is based on Marxist ideas that economic development is the basis of human development, and that workers are not fit to govern until they are "developed" by economic conditions. In backwards countries like Russia at the time of its revolution, the Communists thought the primary goal of the revolution should be industrial development and modernization under the direction of the Party. The Communists did not trust the people to govern. Equality and democracy would have to be put off until the "backwards" populace was ready.
Even in advanced capitalist countries, Marxists have a negative view of
working people, seeing them as "dehumanized" and motivated merely by
self-interest. Its negative view of people has led Marxism to play an
anti-democratic and counterrevolutionary role.
THE KEY TO REVOLUTION
While Communism today has few adherents, Marxism unfortunately continues to be the only coherent and systematic model of social change posed as a revolutionary challenge to capitalism.
Our goal in New Democracy is to spread an alternative to Marxism which makes democratic revolution possible. The basis for a new revolutionary movement is a new understanding of the role of ordinary people in society.
The new understanding of ordinary people is simply this: that most people
have values of solidarity and equality opposed to those of capitalism and
Communism; that, far from being backwards or selfish, most people in their daily
lives already struggle to create a new and better society; that the
irrepressible struggle of people to humanize the world, rather than forces of
economic development, drives history; and that ordinary people, rather than
intellectuals or a revolutionary party, are the source of democratic values and
of a new and democratic society.
MAKE DEMOCRACY THE GOAL
Contrary to what capitalist elites would have us believe, successful revolution is possible. To be successful, the explicit goal of revolution must be real democracy, so that ordinary people can shape all of society with equality and solidarity. Only with democracy as the explicit goal can we insure that society will reach its highest ends, and that revolution will never again be betrayed.
New Democracy works for democratic revolution. Call John Spritzler (617)566-9637. For free literature: New Democracy, P. O. Box 427, Boston, MA 02130, USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org