The left should rehabilitate Ferdinand Lassalle... Stalin-style

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Jacob Richter
The left should rehabilitate Ferdinand Lassalle... Stalin-style

"In Italy at the tum of the century, so we are told, Italian socialists named their sons Lassalo and their daughters Marxina."

"We follow that bold path on which Lassalle has led us."

"Lassalle's legacy to German Social Democracy was a very mixed bag indeed and the movement spent many years shedding many of his policy nostrums as well as his proclivities toward dictatorial party organisation. In our discussion, however - with one important exception - we are going to focus on the permanent contribution that even otherwise suspicious Marxists were prepared to grant. There were two sides to Lassalle's permanent contribution. He brought out the emotional underpinning of the merger narrative more vividly and effectively than either Marx or Engels."

(Lars Lih)

"It is also instantiated in ‘strict unity of will’, which carries with it forms of ‘labour monarchy’: the idea that unity is to be achieved through the role of a single, charismatic, central leader. Or, in other words, the cult of the personality: of Ferdinand Lassalle, of the dead Lenin, of Stalin - and, on a smaller and declining scale, of Lula in the PT, of Bertinotti in Rifondazione, of Tommy Sheridan in the Scottish Socialist Party or of George Galloway in Respect."

"The capitalist regime prefers workers’ organisations to have such a single identifiable leader. Such leaders de facto promote the ideology of the necessity of one-man management, which is part of the ideology of capitalist rule, and is expressed in the ‘single person’ - monarch, president or prime minister - found in all capitalist state constitutions. Single leaders are also more amenable to corruption, integration in the normal capitalist political circus, blackmail or ‘exposure’ of this or that scandal, than collective leaderships."

(Mike Macnair)


"His speeches were studded with such gems as the statement that liberty and authority were not opposites, that "they were most intimately connected with each other in our Union [General Union of German Workers] which thus represents in miniature the model of our coming form of society on a large scale." In one of his speeches he boasted about the "spirit of strictest discipline which reigns in our association." It was not a mere boast; he had himself actually elected President for five years with the power to appoint the heads of all local groups and to expel whomever he pleased. And he even said in the course of that speech that wherever he went, he "heard the workers say things which could be compressed in the following sentence: 'We must concentrate the will of all of us in one single hammer and put this hammer in the hands of a man in whose intelligence, character and good intentions we have sufficient confidence so that he may strike with that hammer.'." This was the Fuehrer-principle and the "cult of personality" at its worst -- propounded by the "personality" himself."

(Max Nomad)