The Khrushchev Coup (Death of Stalin & Khrushchev’s Rise to Power)

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After the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev became the new head of the Soviet Union. He embarked on an extensive campaign of lies and attacks against the Stalin government which was immediately cheered by the capitalist world. Many of his lies still persist to this day. Khrushchev’s government launched de-stalinization, a wave of propaganda and censorship against Stalin era policies. In their place the Khrushchevites implemented profit oriented market reforms and other erroneous policies which put Soviet socialism as well as all other countries in the soviet camp on the wrong track.

Why didn’t anybody stop him? How did he manage to avoid being voted out? Khruschchev rose to power via an undemocratic military takeover, a coup de tat, and used the military to kill, imprison, intimidate and marginalize his enemies.

But how did Khrushchev succeed in doing this? And why did he do it? These are some of the questions that will be discussed in this article. Firstly we should talk about Stalin’s death, which in itself happened under very suspicious circumstances and has caused a lot of speculation.


REMOVAL OF STALIN’S BODYGUARDS

Shortly before Stalin’s death, his personal security was drastically reduced. The head of his personal secretariat Poskrebyshev and the head of his personal bodyguard General Vlasik were both removed under accusations of leaking documents and unreliability. This left Stalin vulnerable.

Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva said:

“Shortly before my father died even some of his intimates were disgraced: the perenniel Vlasik was sent to prison in the winter of 1952 and my father’s personal secretary Poskrebyshev, who had been with him for twenty years, was removed”.
(S. Alliluyeva: ‘Twenty Letters to a Friend’, p. 216).

Peter Deriabin believed this to have been a deliberate conspiracy and states in his book:

“A commission [was set up] to investigate… the entire state security apparatus [which then] proceeded… to cut Stalin’s bodyguards to the bone”
(P. Deriabin: Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars, pp. 317-18)

“About seven thousand men were dropped… [Leaving Stalin] guarded by… only a small group of officers… that had little security experience, especially as bodyguards.” (p. 319).

“That completed the process of stripping Stalin of all personal security… This had been a studied and very ably handled business: the framing of Abakumov, the dismissal of Vlasik, the discrediting of Poskrebyshev, the emasculation of the Okhrana and its enforced subservience to the [Khrushchevite-controlled] MGB, Kosynkin’s ‘heart attack’, the replacement of Shtemenko and the removal of the general staff from the last vestiges of Okhrana control. And certainly not to be forgotten at this juncture was the MGB control of the Kremlin medical office. . . With state security and the armed forces under their command, the connivers were finally in the driver’s seat”.
(pp. 325-26).

STALIN DIES

“There are a number of circumstances connected with the death of Stalin which make it, in forensic terms, ‘a suspicious death’:

Firstly, Stalin appeared to be in excellent health immediately prior to the beginning of March as was testified by an American journalist.

“And what of Stalin himself? In the pink of, condition. In the best of spirits. That was the word of three foreigners who saw him in February – Bravo, the Argentine Amassador; Menon, the Indian, and Dr. Kitchlu, an Indian active in the peace movement”.
(H. Salisbury: ‘Stalin’s Russia and After’; London; 1952; p. 157).

Secondly, on the night of 1-2 March there was a long delay in obtaining medical help for Stalin:

“Khrushchev does not mention specific times, but his narrative makes it incredible that the doctors arrived much before 5 a.m. on 2 March. This is many hours, perhaps twelve, after the seizure. . . .
It is not true that he was under medical care soon after the seizure”.
(R. H. McNeal, Stalin: Man and Ruler, p. 304).

“There is a mystery about what had happened to Stalin, His guards had become alarmed when he had not asked for his evening snack at 11 p.m. . . . The security men picked him up and put him on a sofa, but doctors were not summoned until the morning.
Stalin lay helpess and untreated for the better part of a day, making recuperative treatment much harder… 
Why did the Party leaders prolong the delay? Some historians see evidence of premeditated murder.”
(J. Lewis & P. Whitehead: ‘Stalin: A Time for Judgement’; London; 1990; p. 179).

“Only on the next morning . . . did the first physicians arrive”.
(W. Laqueur: ‘Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations, p. 151).

“Physicians were finally brought in to the comatose leader after a twelve- or fourteen hour interval”.
(D. Volkogonov, Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy, p. 513).

Thirdly, there was a deliberate lie in the announcement of his death, which was stated to have taken place ‘in his Moscow apartment’, whereas it actually occurred in his dacha at Kuntsevo. Historian Adam Ulam asserts that a: ” . . . conspiratorial air coloured the circumstances of Stalin’s death. The belated communique announcing his stroke was emphatic that it had occurred in his quarters in the Kremlin. Yet it was to his country villa . . . that his daughter Svetlana was summoned on March 2 to be by his deathbed. . . . He was stricken away from Moscow. . . .
The official communique’ lied about the place where Stalin had suffered the fatal stroke and died. . . .
There was an obvious reason behind the falsehood; his successors feared that a true statement about where he was at the time of the seizure would lead to rumours . . . that the stroke had occurred while he was being kidnapped or incarcerated by the oligarchs. Crowds might surge on the Kremlin, demanding an accounting of what had been done to their father and protector”.
(A. B. Ulam, Stalin: The Man and His Era, p. 4, 700, 739).

Fourthly, the revisionist conspirators had an ample and urgent motive — that of self-preservation — for eliminating Stalin:

“For many leading Soviet statesmen and officials, Stalin’s demise . . . came in the nick of time. Whether or not it was due to natural causes is another matter”
(D. M. Lang, p. 262).

“While murder cannot be proved, there was no question that motive for murder existed. . . . For . . . if Stalin were dying a natural death. it was the luckiest thing that had ever happened to the men who stood closest to him”.
(H. Salisbury, p. 160-61).

(From Bill Bland’s THE ‘DOCTORS’ CASE’, AND, THE DEATH OF STALIN)

What was this motive? We need to take a little detour to explore this question. Older theories have suggested that Stalin was attempting to purge the party and state of careerists and bureaucrats. However, newer research suggests a more systemic change. According to historian Aleksandr Pyzhikov (who is very much an anti-communist and anti-Stalin historian) in 1947 there was a proposition to update the party’s program. This 1947 party program has never been made available.

“According to Pyzhikov this program described “a progressive narrowing of the political functions of the state, and to the conversion of the state into, in the main, an organ of the management of the economic life of society.” [It was clearly a plan for transitioning from Socialism to Communism as described by Marx and Engels.]

Pyzhikov explains that the draft “concerned the development of the democratization of the Soviet order. This plan recognized as essential a universal process of drawing workers into the running of the state, into daily active state and social activity on the basis of a steady development of the cultural level of the masses and a maximal simplification of the functions of state management. It proposed in practice to proceed to the unification of productive work with participation in the management of state affairs, with the transition to the successive carrying out of the functions of management by all working people. It also expatiated upon the idea of the introduction of direct legislative activity by the people, for which the following were considered essential:

a) to implement universal voting and decision-making on the majority of the most important questions of governmental life in both the social and economic spheres, as well as in questions of living conditions and cultural development;

b) to widely develop legislative initiative from below, by means of granting to social organizations the rights to submit to the Supreme Soviet proposals for new legislation;

c) to confirm the right of citizens and social organizations to directly submit proposals to the Supreme Soviet on the most important questions of international and internal policy.””

(Pyzhikov, A. “N.A. Voznesenskii o perspektivakh poselvoennogo obnovleniia obshchestva.” in Furr, Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform)

In short, this would have shifted power away from the mid-level managers and politicians, directly to the workers who were now literate and educated enough to run all of society.

“According to Pyzhikov, [Leningrad party chief] Zhdanov… proposed convening the 19th Party Congress at the end of 1947 or 1948. He also set forth a plan for a simplified order of convocations of party conferences once a year, with “compulsory renewal” of not less than one-sixth of the membership of the Central Committee per year. If put into effect, and if “renewal” actually resulted in more turnover of C.C. members, this would have meant that First Secretaries and other Party leaders in the C.C. would have been less entrenched in their positions, making room for new blood in the Party’s leading body, facilitating rank-and-file criticism of Party leaders (Pyzhikov 96)… with at least the possibility of replacement — of no less than 1/6 of the Central Committee every year through a Party Conference, this Party plan envisaged the development of democracy from below in both the state and in the Party itself.” (Furr, Ibid.)

We do not know how this plan was rejected. Zhdanov, who was a close ally of Stalin’s died seemingly of a heart-attack the same year he made the proposition, which in hindsight is quite a coincidence. Zhdanov’s death would later be used in the so-called “Doctor’s Case” where a number of doctors were accused of trying to murder soviet politicians. There is no clear evidence about the truth regarding the Doctor’s Plot, some of the cases were clearly frauds orchestrated by Khrushchev which he then blamed on his enemies, but its possible some of the cases were genuine. Stalin was personally skeptical about the guilt of the doctors. He himself, would of course die under suspicious circumstances seemingly after being deliberately denied adequate medical care.

The 1947 draft plan was rejected, how – we do not know. Zhdanov had proposed a party congress in 1948 which would have been according to the normal custom, but for unknown reasons the 19th Party Congress was postponed until 1952.

All of this suggests that which the liberal historian Arch Getty had argued, that the true power in the Soviet Union was in many ways not held by the central leadership around Stalin, and especially not by Stalin personally. This was merely a cold-war myth, a caricature partially facilitated by Stalin’s fame and the hero-worship around him. He seemed like a larger then life figure. But in reality, the mid-level management and the first secretaries in the party had substantial power and Stalin was in the minority.

This group, the first secretaries, technocrats etc. were also the most susceptible to corruption and Stalin and Zhdanov’s new program would have attacked precisely this privileged group, removed management of the State offices, ministries, factories etc. from the Party’s hands putting it into the hands of the non-party masses.

From an ideological and practical stand point this seems a necessary course of action. What is the purpose of a vanguard party? To serve as the proletarian ideological guide and leader, a small group of the most class conscious industrial workers, not as a gigantic party of managers.

In 1929, Molotov had outlined the Stalin politburo’s plan to proletarianize the party, so that by 1930 at least 50% of the party were industrial workers. This goal was achieved. In 1930 the party had consisted of 65% manual workers, 20% peasants and only 14% white collar officials. The party was more proletarian in composition in 1930 then in Lenin’s time. However in the Khruschchev period, the number of industrial proletarians in the party had reduced to 30% while HALF of the party consisted of white collar officials.

This makes it clear why it was possible for Khrushchev to rally the bureaucracy around him, and defeat all the egalitarian, democratic and proletarinization efforts. This also makes the Trotskyist accusation that Stalin was the leader of a bureaucratic caste ridiculous, as his efforsts in 1930 created a party even less bureaucratic then Lenin’s. To explore how the bureucratization in the party occurred during the 1940s and early 50s is beyond the scope of this video, but the popular explanations are the material conditions of Russia, where the state was forced to rely on a minority of experts while the masses were largely uneducated, as well as the massive death toll of the best communist cadres and proletarians in the second World War, forcing the party and state to admit vast amounts of less suitable people within its ranks in the late 40s to replace the losses.

 

“Due to the circumstantial evidence of the series of measures undertaken by the conspirators in the months prior to Stalin’s death to remove the securities around him, it is not surprising, that within weeks of Stalin’s death, rumours would begin to circulate that he had been murdered:

“There were rumours, above all in Georgia, that Stalin had been poisoned.”
(W. Laqueur, p, 151).

Stalin’s son Vasily is reported to have cried out:

“‘They are going to kill him! They are going to kill him!'”
(P. Deriabin, p. 321).

“Stalin’s son Vasily kept coming in and shouting ‘They’ve killed my father, the bastards!”‘.
(D. Volkogonov, p. 774).

Vasily was arrested in April 1953 in order, as his sister Svetlana puts it, ‘to isolate him’:

“After my father’s death, [Vasily] . . . was arrested. This happened because he had threatened the government, he talked that ‘my father was killed by his rivals’ and all things like that, and always many people around him — so they decided to isolate him. He stayed in jail till 1961 . . . and soon he died”
(S. Alliluyeva, Only One Year, p. 202).

“[Vasily] was convinced that our father had been ‘poisoned’ or ‘killed’.
Throughout the period before the funeral . . . he accused the government, the doctors and everybody in sight of using the wrong treatment on my father.. . .
He was arrested on April 18th, 1953. . . .
A military collegium sentenced him to eight years in jail.
He died on March 19th, 1962”.
(S. Alliluyeva, p. 222-23, 224, 228).

Georges Bortoli comments:

“Vasily Stalin had said aloud what the others were thinking to themselves. In less than a month, all sorts of rumours would begin to circulate in Moscow, and people would begin speaking of a crime. . . Some people said that several members of Stalin’s entourage were threatened by the coming purge. Had they taken steps to forestall it?”
(G. Bortoli, The Death of Stalin, p. 151)”

(From Bill Bland’s THE ‘DOCTORS’ CASE’, AND, THE DEATH OF STALIN)

Indeed, many other leaders known to have been firm supporters of Stalin also died mysteriously almost immediately after.

“The Czechoslovak Marxist-Leninist leader Klement Gottwald died shortly after visiting Moscow to attend Stalin’s funeral.” (Bland, Ibid)

The Polish Marxist-Leninist leader Boleslaw Beirut died shortly after Khrushchev’s power grab on 12 March 1957

The Albanian leader Enver Hoxha, explicitly accused the Khrushchevites of murdering Stalin claiming that one of them, Anastas Mikoyan outright admitted it to him.

“All this villainy emerged soon after the death, or to be more precise after the murder, of Stalin. I say after the murder of Stalin, because Mikoyan himself told me . . . that they, together with Khrushchev and their associates, had decided . . . to make an attempt on Stalin’s life”.
(E. Hoxha, With Stalin: Memoirs, p. 31).

In his book Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR Stalin argued against the types of market oriented reforms the revisionists would later make. The same Anastas Mikoyan then described Stalin’s views in the book as “an incredibly leftist deviation” (“Neveroiatno levatskii zagib.” Mikoian, Tak Bylo, Ch. 46: “On the Eve of and During the 19th Party Congress: Stalin’s Last Days.”)


Professor Grover Furr concludes:

“[T]here is a long recognized mystery of why medical care was not summoned for the gravely ill Stalin until a day or more after it had been discovered that he had had a stroke. Whatever the details of this affair Khrushchev was involved in it.” (Furr, Khruschchev Lied, p.208)

FIRST ATTEMPT AT A COUP

Stalin died 9. 50 p.m. on 5 March. The revisionists immediately used their control of the security forces to prepare for a coup. The American journalist Harrison Salisbury was an eye-witness of how, shortly before 6 a.m. the next morning:

” . . . smooth and quiet convoys of trucks were slipping into the city. Sitting cross-legged on wooden benches in the green-painted trucks were detachments of blue-and-red-capped MVD troops — twenty-two to a truck — the special troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. . . . The fleeting thought entered my mind that, perhaps, a coup d’etat might be in the making.

By nine o’clock… the Internal Affairs troops were everywhere in the centre of the city… In upper Gorky Street columns of tanks made their appearance… All the troops and all the trucks and all the tanks belonged to the special detachments of the MVD. Not a single detachment of regular Army forces was to be seen.
Later I discovered that the MVD had, in fact, isolated almost the whole city of Moscow…
By ten or eleven o’clock of the morning of March 6, 1953 no one could enter or leave the heart of Moscow except by leave of the MVD…
MVD forces had taken over the city…
Could any other troops enter the city? Not unless they had the permission of the MVD or were prepared to fight their way through, street by street, barricade by barricade”
(H. Salisbury, p. 163-64, 166, 171, 173)

“Even before Stalin’s body was cold, . . . MGB troops . . . not only set up controls and halted traffic, including pedestrians, on every principal capital thoroughfare, but had also ringed the Kremlin”.
(Deriabin, p. 328).

The Marxist-Leninists succeeded, for the moment, in foiling the planned coup by mobilising sufficient support to call for the following day, 7 March, a joint emergency meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the Council of Ministers and the USSR Supreme Soviet. In these circumstances the revisionist conspirators lost their nerve and judged it expedient to postpone their planned coup and refrain from opposing the election of Beria as the Minister in charge of state security, an appointment which obviously had majority support among the leadership:

Khrushchev wrote in his memoirs:

“Beria immediately proposed Malenkov for Chairman of the Council of Ministers [prime minister]. On the spot, Malenkov proposed that Beria be appointed first deputy. He also proposed the merger of the Ministries of State Security and Internal Affairs into a single Ministry of Internal Affairs, with Beria as Minister. . . . I was silent. . . . Bulganin was silent too. I could see what the attitude of the others was. If Bulganin and I objected . . ., we would have been accused of starting a fight in the Party before the corpse was cold”. (p. 324)

(From Bill Bland’s THE ‘DOCTORS’ CASE’, AND, THE DEATH OF STALIN)

THE MILITARY COUP IN MOSCOW (1953)

Khruschchev’s coup went into action when the military arrested Beria, then vice president and minister of interior. In July 1953, Beria was accused of corruption. At the end of June 1953, the revisionist conspirators claimed that Beria was a nationalist agent of foreign imperialist powers and had been plotting against the Party leadership. However, later Khruschev surprisingly admitted they had no evidence of Beria’s supposed nationalism.

“I could easily believe that [Beria] had been an agent of the Mussavatists, as Kaminsky had said, but Kaminsky’s charges had never been verified. . . . We had only our intuition to go on”.
(Khrushchev, p. 333)

To finally carry out his coup, Khruschchev had to gain the support of the military. Khruschchev said: “The Presidium bodyguard was obedient to [Beria]. Therefore we decided to enlist the help of the military” (Khrushchev, pp. 335-36)

“In late June 1953 Beria was repressed, either by arrest and imprisonment or by outright murder.”
(Furr, Khruschchev Lied, p. 194)

According to historian Iuri Zhukov, Khrushchev managed to win some of the party bureaucracy on his side by opposing Stalin’s proposed democratic and egalitarian reforms which were supported by Malenkov and Beria. Malenkov was pushed out, Beria was killed.

Stalin had proposed economic policies which aimed at total abolition of the small commodity production that still existed, abolition of money trade and replacing it with exchange of goods of equal labor value, abolition of differences between mental physical labor and other egalitarian policies and policies which would have meant a radical transition closer to full communism.

According to Zhukov, Stalin also advocated for contested elections and democratic reform. We also know Stalin had proposed removing the party from leadership of managing the state as a necessary transition in the next stage in socialist construction towards communism. It would make sense that some rightist bureaucrats would be very much opposed to this, and consider these methods too radical and too left.

According to Iuri Zhukov, there was a decision to decrease the salaries of politicians which was supported by Malenkov. Khruschchev managed to win some people over by reversing this policy and returning higher salaries to bureaucrats.

“It is my firm conviction that the true meaning of the 20th Congress lies precisely in this return of the Party apparatus to power. It was the necessity to hide this fact . . . that necessitated distracting attention from contemporary events and concentrating them on the past with the aid of the “secret report” [better known as the Secret Speech, where Khrushchev launched an ideological attack against Stalin]”~I. Zhukov, “Krutoi povorot … nazad” (“A sharp turn . . . backwards”) http://www.gorby.ru/activity/conference/show_S53/view_24755/

It was necessary for Khruschchev to attack Beria, who was at the same time head of the security forces and vice president of the USSR. After the death of Stalin he was one of the most powerful men in the country. Malenkov was head of the council of ministers, or prime minister while Molotov perhaps the third most powerful man in the country was Foreign Affairs Minister.


It is unclear how exactly Khruschchev was able to get away with Beria’s murder. Khruschchev himself claims he was able to convince or intimidate Molotov and Malenkov to stand idly as he did it, but this has to be taken with a large grain of salt. Beria’s removal was a conspiracy full of deception, fraud and a palace coup.

“On the night of June 26 1953, Red Army tanks of the Kantemirovskaya Division rolled into Moscow and took up much the same positions as . . . in March. And the tanks were supported by infantry from the Byelorussian military district”
(Deriabin, p. 332)

Beria’s removal was made public the following month. A coup was also carried out within the Georgian party organisation. Opponents of Khruschchev were labeled as Georgian nationalists, removed and largely replaced with Zhukov’s military men.

In 1956 Khruschchev launched his attack on Stalin, the so-called “Secret Speech”. Virtually all the contents of this infamous and extremely significant speech have proven to be falsifications. There is a book length refutation and analysis of the fact claims in Khruschchev’s speech called Khruschchev Lied which I recommend to anyone interested in this topic.

Why did Khruschchev give this speech? As the Chinese communists theorized, Khruschchev wanted to pursue policies drastically different from the Marxist-Leninist line of Stalin and his supporters and therefore it was necessary to attack Stalin’s legitimacy. Historian Iuri Zhukov stressed that it was necessary for Khruschchev to combat Stalin’s democratic reforms and egalitarian programs and restore power into the hands of the party bureaucracy headed by Khruschchev himself. The Chinese said something very similar, saying that the Soviet party had become corrupt and revisionist.

To me it is clear that Khruschchev also had to attack all of his opponents politically. Khruschchev did not only attack Stalin, he also attacked all his other opponents: Molotov, Kaganovich, Malenkov, Beria by labeling them “Stalinists”. The evidence of Malenkov and Beria being loyal to Stalin is up for debate. Khruschchev himself turned out to be an extremely disloyal member of Stalin’s administration. Malenkov only joined the politburo as a candidate in 1941. Therefore we shouldn’t automatically conclude that Malenkov and Beria were not suspicious characters, opportunists or revisionists just because they were rivals of Khruschchev, that is an entirely different question. But it was important for Khruschchev to label them “Stalinists” to marginalize them.

Why did Molotov and Kaganovich once again stand by without adequately defending themselves? Only Khrushchev’s people had access to the archival documents which proved the secret speech to be full of lies. Molotov and Kaganovich must have known to a degree that Khrushchev was lying, but were relatively defenseless against the accusations. For all they knew, they might have been partially true. The same applies to the rest of the communist movement. The movement was shocked, but even Mao Tse-Tung and Enver Hoxha did not publicly oppose the secret speech until 4 years later, when it had become clear to them what had happened and it was far too late.

The next year in June 1957 Malenkov joined by the old Marxist-Leninists Kaganovich and Molotov finally attempted to oust Khruschchev from power. They won the vote in the presidium 7 to 4. However Khrushchev argued that only the plenum of the Central Committee could remove him from office. An extraordinary session of the Central Committee was held where Khrushchev was backed by military leader Georgy Zhukov, who gave a speech in Khruschchev’s favor even threatening to use the military to support him. Thus the military coup continued and party democracy was torpedoed by Khruschchev.

Why did the General support Khruschchev, even though he later admitted that Stalin was a great leader and Khruschchev a dishonest and vain-glorious opportunist? Because Khruschchev had promoted Zhukov to defense minister, while Stalin had demoted him due to corruption charges.

This network of scheming and corruption is what we generally know as the Khruschchev Coup. The murder or possible criminal neglect of the dying Stalin, the assassination many of Khruschchev’s political enemies, the marginalization of countless others, the lies, bribery and outright military take over and total rejection of party democracy. Khruschchev did what he falsely accused Stalin and others of doing.

SOURCES:

Pioneering article by W. B. Bland on Stalin’s death and the Khrushchev Coup. This article is very good, however it is seriously out of date and I only use that evidence which I quoted from the article. It sometimes quotes Robert Conquest, whose work in this case is almost entirely worthless and unreliable. Conquests’ writings cannot be taken as sufficient evidence. The article also quotes Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech” which is much the same way, it can’t be taken as evidence except when analysing it as a piece of propaganda. The article also puts forward the position that the Doctor’s Case was genuine, which in the light of more modern research is debatable. http://ml-review.ca/aml/BLAND/DOCTORS_CASE_FINAL.htm

Alliluyeva, Twenty Letters to a Friend

Alliluyeva, Only One Year

P. Deriabin, Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars

H. Salisbury, Stalin’s Russia and After

R. H. McNeal, Stalin: Man and Ruler

J. Lewis & P. Whitehead, Stalin: A Time for Judgement

W. Laqueur, Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations

D. Volkogonov, Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy

A. B. Ulam, Stalin: The Man and His Era

Hoxha, With Stalin: Memoirs

G. Bortoli, The Death of Stalin

Furr, Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform http://marxism.halkcephesi.net/Grover%20Furr/index.htm

Pyzhikov, A. “N.A. Voznesenskii o perspektivakh poselvoennogo obnovleniia obshchestva.”

Mikoyan, And it was (Mikoian, Tak Bylo) Ch. 46: “On the Eve of and During the 19th Party Congress: Stalin’s Last Days.”

Iuri Zhukov, “Krutoi povorot … nazad” (“A sharp turn . . . backwards”) http://www.gorby.ru/activity/conference/show_S53/view_24755/

Refutation of Khruschchev’s “Secret Speech” https://ia802707.us.archive.org/5/items/pdfy-nmIGAXUrq0OJ87zK/Khrushchev%20Lied.pdf

Stalin’s proletarization of the party in Molotov’s Pamphlet https://mltheory.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/molotov_1929_the_communist_party_of_the_soviet_union.pdf

Grover Furr on the “Doctors’ Plot”
https://mltheory.files.wordpress.com/2019/05/the-doctors-plot-furr.pdf

Analysis of Khruschchev era economic policy. I don’t agree with all the conclusions, and sometimes the book emphasises evidence which maybe doesn’t have a crucial importance, but in general the evidence presented is valuable and shows the Kosygin reform’s shift to a profit-oriented model as opposed to the model that Stalin proposed.
http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/BlandRestoration.pdf

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Basic description of Vanguardism & Democratic Centralism

Marxism-Leninism seeks revolution through organizing the working class & its reserve forces into a vanguard which acts as a front line & general staff of the revolution. This can be achieved through democratic centralism which combines the effectiveness of unity & discipline with democracy. Marxism-Leninism rejects loose disunited organizations & movements without leadership. Marxism-Leninism advocates leadership through example & guidance, by the most politically conscious members of the working class. If the party’s policies, tactics and positions are correct it will succeed in rallying support around it and to revolution.

VANGUARDISM


Spontaneity

Some people still idealize spontaneity and spontaneous grassroots movements. But such movements never lead to successful revolution. You need a popular mass movement, but you also need leadership and clear political goals. Without political consciousness these mass movements wither away and die and nothing changes, we’ve seen movements like this come and go a million times. Some people want to limit our movement to aimless protests with no clear goals, no agreement on principles and no organizational unity or capacity to bring change. Spontaneous popular movements that arise are good, but they are not enough. They create an opportunity for the Vanguard to introduce political consciousness, political goals, ideology and leadership.

Revolution is difficult, and anyone who is even remotely serious should realize that spontaneity alone is not enough.

“Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.”
~LENIN, What Is To Be Done? (Chapter 1)

“…to belittle the socialist ideology in any way, to turn aside from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology.”
~LENIN, What Is To Be Done? (Chapter 2)

Spontaneous protest actions by the people present an opportunity to build a real revolutionary movement. But some groups, especially anarchists and liberals, romanticize these spontaneous movements like Occupy Wall St. or Black Lives Matter. They think that any clear goals or ideology will ruin a good spontaneous grassroots movement, but this is a mistake. The problem with these movements is precisely that they are only spontaneous without any clear plans to facilitate change, or they are overtaken by liberals who romanticize just such aimless spontaneity.

“There is much talk of spontaneity. But the spontaneous development of the working-class movement leads to its subordination to bourgeois ideology,… the fundamental error… bowing to spontaneity… failure to understand that the spontaneity of the masses demands a high degree of consciousness from us… The greater the spontaneous upsurge of the masses… the more widespread the movement, the more rapid, incomparably so, the demand for greater consciousness in the theoretical, political and organisational work…”
~LENIN, What Is To Be Done? (Chapter 2)

“…no revolutionary movement can endure without a stable organization of leaders that maintains continuity… the wider the masses spontaneously drawn into the struggle… the more urgent the need of such an organization, and the more solid this organization must be” ~LENIN, What Is To Be Done? (Chapter 4)
Role of the Party

“The Party is the leader, the vanguard of the proletariat”
~LENIN, Once Again On The Trade Unions, The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Buhkarin
The vanguard party has a special role. While anyone can join a trade union, or vote in bourgeois elections, only the most active and class-conscious workers join the revolutionary party.

Trade Unions almost exclusively focus on short term economic demandsm, not on long term political demands. Reformist election campaigns focus on trying to fix capitalism, a system that can’t be fixed. But the vanguard party seeks to overthrow the entire capitalist system. It combines economic and political demands, and has the necessary political knowledge to see that the system must be overthrown.

“The Party must regard itself not as an appendage of the parliamentary electoral machinery… and not as a gratuitous supplement to the trade unions… but as the highest form of class association of the proletariat, the function of which is to lead all the other forms of proletarian organisations, from the trade unions to the Party’s group in parliament… The Party, and especially its leading elements, must thoroughly master the revolutionary theory of Marxism, which is inseparably connected with revolutionary practice.”
~STALIN, The Prospects of the Communist Party of Germany and the Question of Bolshevisation
The party consists of the advanced sections of the poor and working people. They are the vanguard.

 

“The Party must be, first of all, the advanced detachment of the working class. The Party must absorb all the best elements of the working class, their experience, their revolutionary spirit, their selfless devotion to the cause of the proletariat. But in order that it may really be the armed detachment, the Party must be armed with revolutionary theory, with a knowledge of the laws of the movement, with a knowledge of the laws of revolution… ”
~STALIN, The Foundations of Leninism (Chapter VIII)

 

The Vanguard can’t win without the People

The vanguard can’t ever win alone. The good thing about the vanguard, is that it is politically conscious, but the bad thing about the vanguard, is that it is small. By definition the most advanced section of the working class is only a minority of the working class, and it cannot overthrow capitalism on its own. It must show the way, leading by example, and win the trust of the wide masses of the people to support it, and carry out the revolution. The revolution is not carried out by the vanguard, but by the people.

“Victory cannot be won with the vanguard alone…The immediate task that confronts the class-conscious vanguard of the international labour movement, i.e., the Communist parties… is to be able to lead the broad masses (now, for the most part, slumbering, apathetic, bound by routine, inert and dormant) to their new position, or, rather, to be able to lead not only their own party, but also these masses, in their approach, their transition to the new position.”
~LENIN, “Left-Wing” Communism: an Infantile Disorder (Chapter 10)

“The point here is not that the vanguard should realise the impossibility of preserving the old regime and the inevitability of its overthrow. The point is that the masses, the millions should understand this inevitability and display their readiness to support the vanguard. But the masses can understand this only from their own experience. The task is to enable the vast masses to realise from their own experience the inevitability of the overthrow of the old regime, to promote such methods of struggle and forms of organisations as will make it easer for the masses to realise from experience the correctness of the revolutionary slogans.”
~STALIN, The Foundations of Leninism (Chapter VII)

The vanguard can only hope to guide the masses to revolution, if the ideas the party puts forward truly appeal to the masses and truly serve their interests. Winning the trust and support of the people is not easy, it only comes through hard work of educating the people and serving their interests. But it is absolutely necessary.

“…the Party would cease to be a party… if the Party turned in on itself and became divorced from the non-Party masses. The Party cannot lead the class if it is not connected with the non-Party masses, if there is no bond between the Party and the non-Party masses, if these masses do not accept its leadership, if the Party enjoys no moral and political credit among the masses.”
~STALIN, The Foundations of Leninism (Chapter VIII)

 

DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM

The organizational principle of democratic centralism is closely linked with the idea of Vanguardism, which arises from Marx’s concept of class consciousness. The debate around democratic centralism often boils down to the question of the role of a party member. Opponents of Leninism argued that anyone who supported socialism, should be able to sign up as a party member. In their mind, party members should not be oligated into anything, the party should be as big as possible, and it could tolerate different kinds of views.

1. Active revolutionaries:

In Lenin’s view the party needed active revolutionaries, not passive supporters. Hence a party member should belong to one of the party organizations and work in it. This separates a revolutionary party from a reformist party. A revolutionary party has no need for members who are nothing but voters, or names on a paper. These are sympathizers, supporters, not party members. Being a supporter is fine, but it is not enough.
2. Agreement on core principles:

In Lenin’s view a member of the party also needs to be someone who not only supports the idea of socialism, but actually upholds the principles and policy of the party. A Leninist party supports the ideas of revolutionary Marxism, and those who don’t agree with these core beliefs can’t be members of a Leninist party.

A party with mutually exclusive views about its fundamental beliefs will either be disunited or will lack any clear principle. This can work for a bourgeois party, or a party aimed only at winning some election seats, or passing small reforms, but it won’t work for a revolutionary marxist party. A revolution requires unity and trust.

3. Real unity:

The Leninist party functions based on “freedom of speech & unity of action”. This means that decisions are made democratically but they are binding on everyone. A member of the party is obligated to follow the decisions of the majority. When voluntarily joining the party, members agree to this principle. The same rules and decisions of the party are binding on all members, not only those who choose to follow them.

“Parties belonging to the Communist International must be organised on the principle of democratic centralism.”
~Terms of Admission into Communist International

“The discipline and organisation which come so hard to the bourgeois intellectual are very easily acquired by the proletariat… Mortal fear … and utter failure to understand its importance as an organising factor are characteristic of the ways of thinking which reflect the petty-bourgeois mode of life and which give rise to the … aristocratic anarchism, as I would call it. This aristocratic anarchism is particularly characteristic of the Russian nihilist. He thinks of the Party organisation as a monstrous “factory”; he regards the subordination of the part to the whole and of the minority to the majority as “serfdom”… division of labour under the direction of a centre evokes from him a tragi-comical outcry against transforming people into “cogs and wheels”… mention of the organisational Rules of the Party calls forth a contemptuous grimace and the disdainful remark … that one could very well dispense with Rules altogether.”
~LENIN, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back (Part Q)
4. Against Factionalism:
In 1921 in the 10th Bolshevik party congress Lenin proposed the so-called “ban on factions” which was accepted. In practice this means that the party won’t tolerate any more or less permanent factional or opposition groupings, that work against the majority of the party or put forward a political line that goes against the rest of the party. Having such interal factions is obviously very harmful for a party as it divides members into competing cliques. According to democratic centralism, members of the party are obligated to go along with the decision of the majority, or they will have to leave.

“All class-conscious workers must clearly realise that factionalism of any kind is harmful and impermissible, for no matter how members of individual groups may desire to safeguard Party unity, factionalism in practice inevitably leads to the weakening of team-work and to… attempts by the enemies… to use it for counter-revolutionary purposes…”
~LENIN, Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) (Part IV)

 

Role of disagreement

The issue of unity naturally raises the question of disagreement. The party is not only based on unity, but also democracy and freedom of debate. In fact, real unity is only possible via agreement, it cannot be forced.

So, if party members 1) agree with the principles of the party 2) agree to follow the democratic decisions of the party, and 3) don’t take part in factional activity, then what is the role of disagreement?

Issues are decided democratically, with freedom of debate. Everyone will be able to say what they want to say. That doesn’t mean their proposition will be accepted, but they will have a chance to present it. Questions also won’t be decided for all time. The party’s principles will remain, but the practical policy will have to change constantly. The composition of the leadership will also change. This means that questions of the party’s political line will be raised again and will have to be decided again because the situation will change.

When deciding big political questions its important that everyone has the chance to speak. If the party is very split on a question the problem won’t be solved by a narrow majority trying to silence the minority. It is important that enough time is given for discussion to take place fully before a decision is made. Real unity can’t be forced and without democracy the party leadership will lose touch with the membership and make wrong decisions.

There will always remain people who don’t agree with the majority, and this is normal. Nobody agrees with everyone else on every single thing. Disagreement is allowed within the conifines of the party rules. As long as members don’t break party discipline or engage in factionalism, they can disagree, and when the time comes for a new decision and new vote, they can argue for their side just like everyone else.

“…an important, serious and extremely responsible task: really to apply the principles of democratic centralism in Party organisation, to work tirelessly to make the local organisations the principal organisational units of the Party in fact, and not merely in name, and to see to it that all the higher-standing bodies are elected, accountable, and subject to recall.”

“…there must be complete unity of action… Action by the proletariat must be united… But beyond the bounds of unity of action there must be the broadest and freest discussion and condemnation of all steps, decisions and tendencies that we regard as harmful. Only through such discussions, resolutions and protests can the real public opinion of our Party be formed. Only on this condition shall we be a real Party, always able to express its opinion, and finding the right way to convert a definitely formed opinion into the decisions…”
~LENIN, Report on the Unity Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. (Part VIII)

“Democratic centralization in the Communist Party organization must be a real synthesis, a fusion of centralism and proletarian democracy. This fusion can be achieved only on the basis of constant common activity, constant common struggle of the entire Party organization… enemies… assert that the Communist Party… is trying rule over the revolutionary proletariat. Such an assertion is a lie … the centralization of the organization, i. e., the aim to create a strong leadership, cannot be successful if its achievement is sought on the basis of formal democracy. The necessary preliminary conditions are the development and maintenance of living associations and mutual relations within the Party between the directing organs and members, as well as between the Party and the masses of the proletariat outside the Party.
(Principles of Party Organization, adopted by the 3rd Congress of the Comintern)

“Precise operation of democratic centralism in the Party as demanded by our Party statutes, unconditional electiveness of Party organs, the right to put forward and to withdraw candidates, the secret ballot and freedom of criticism and self-criticism…”
~STALIN, Mastering Bolshevism

“…democratic centralist method… is a mass-line method. First democracy, then centralism; coming from the masses, returning to the masses; the unity of the leadership and the masses… Both inside and outside the Party there must be a full democratic life, which means conscientiously putting democratic centralism into effect.”
~MAO TSE-TUNG, Talk At An Enlarged Working Conference Convened By The Central Committee Of The Communist Party Of China

Party work

“…we must affirm anew the discipline of the Party, namely:

(1) the individual is subordinate to the organization;

(2) the minority is subordinate to the majority;

(3) the lower level is subordinate to the higher level; and

(4) the entire membership is subordinate to the central Committee.”
~Mao Tse Tung, The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War
In parties based on democratic centralism party bodies are elected. A democratic centralist party typically has one centralized leadership.

This can take a number of different forms:

Typically a communist party has local organizations, a Central Committee and a Politburo.

The communist party has a collective leadership. It has a Chairman and other high ranking positions, but none of them can decide on their own.

The C.C. is elected by a congress. The congresses are held at given intervals, for example every few years. In the congresses local organizations send representatives with right to vote who then elect the leadership of the party, the C. C. and political executive committee aka. the politburo.

The C. C. usually contains a relatively large amount of people. Somewhere around 20 is not unusual. The Politburo is smaller, consisting of the chairman and some other high ranking C. C. members. The job of the Politburo is to manage the every day affairs of the party and it has a lot of power but at the same time it’s accountable and aswerable to the C. C. The politburo is basically a smaller group of leaders who meet often and make quick decisions on immediate tasks. The C. C. is a bigger group that meets less often, maybe only a few times a year and decides broader questions of the party’s political, ideological and tatical line. The C. C. decides and the politburo implements the decisions.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:

LENIN, What Is To Be Done?

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1901/witbd/

LENIN, “Left-Wing” Communism: an Infantile Disorder
http://www.marx2mao.com/Lenin/LWC20.html

LENIN, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1904/onestep/index.htm

LENIN, Report on the Unity Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1906/rucong/index.htm

LENIN, Terms of Admission into Communist International

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/jul/x01.htm

LENIN, Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.)
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/10thcong/index.htm

LENIN, Once Again On The Trade Unions, The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Buhkarin
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/jan/25.htm

Principles of Party Organization, adopted by the 3rd Congress of the Comintern

http://www.marx2mao.com/Other/PPO21.html

MAO, The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War

https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_10.htm

MAO, Talk At An Enlarged Working Conference Convened By The Central Committee Of The Communist Party Of China
https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-8/mswv8_62.htm

STALIN, The Foundations of Leninism
https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1924/foundations-leninism/index.htm

STALIN, The Prospects of the Communist Party of Germany and the Question of Bolshevisation
http://marx2mao.com/Stalin/PCPG25.html
STALIN, Mastering Bolshevism
http://www.marx2mao.com/Stalin/MB37.html

 

Further reading:
PEKING REVIEW: A Discussion on Party Democratic Centralism
https://www.marxists.org/subject/china/peking-review/1971/PR1971-43a.htm

LENIN, Two Tactics
https://www.marxistsfr.org/archive/lenin/works/1905/feb/14.htm

LENIN, The Reorganisation of the Party
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1905/reorg/i.htm#v10pp65-029

lenin speech4

“Questions of the United Front in Germany“ by Walter Ulbricht (Aug 26. 1939)

Stand of the unity front in the country

 

In the reports of instructors it is said, that the comradely coherence of the antifascist workers became stronger. With the intensification of the political situation in September 1938 and by occasion of questions of work time and wages 1939 the comradely relations to the social-democrats has improved in many enterprises. The solidarity of the workers in the enterprise departments became more firm. That is proven by the resistance movements at the West Wall¹, in the mines and also on many places of the metal industry. In general it did not succeed yet to develop the comradely relations to a political relationship. The connections are large and good, but that all relies on friendship and randomness. The mutual trust is restricted on the hate against fascism.

 

In September 1938 the social resistance movements stepped backed behind the general discussion of the war questions. That seems to be come from, that the main orientation of the antifascists was concentrated on this question. In the report from Rhineland-Westphalia it is being said, that from meetings to prepare the resistance movement could not be spoken about yet. The instructor from Kiel says, that the comradeship became better, but it did not come to organized movements yet. They at least dare to discuss about all possible questions in groups again. Still the collaboration is mostly, to give tips to each other how to prevent piecework pressure.

 

An instructor from the Wasserkante says, that there is unclarity about the how of the struggle to the fall of Hitler and the necessary unity. In diverse reports the comradely relations of communists and social-democrats are already labelled as united front, although in some reports it is said, that over united actions are not spoken about yet.

 

Which character does the united-front-like collaboration between social-democrats and communist groups has?

 

I will bring up some examples, which characterize the most typical things. United-front-like collaboration is existing with such left groups, which are already ideologically close to us. The Mahnruf-Group² in Hamburg is standing in contact with us for some years, although the connection was temporarily lost. They have drafted flyers together with us or accepted the publishing of them. They are against the party directorate, but are not clear about what should come after Hitler yet. They declare, that their agitation has the goal to use very possibility to stir dissatisfaction.

 

At Siemens in Berlin a social-democratic group, which was connected with the leadership of the 10-Points-Group, works united-front-like together with us and also handed out flyers with us.

 

In a city in Ruhr Area a left social-democratic group works with us together for years. They have handed out flyers with us and also wrote to the party directorate and demanded the creation of the united front. Collaboration also exists with at Blohm & Voß in Hamburg with a social-democratic group. The communication over planned executive tasks intern and outside the enterprise does not exist yet. In the other apprehended enterprises in hamburg relations to social-democrats are existing. The relation is that of worker to worker.

 

A group of social-democrats and communists in Berlin has handed out a common flyer against Hitler´s war politics. For sure there are even more social-democratic groups which are collaborating with us.

 

The most characteristic of that collaboration, as far it is in the country itself, is the general propaganda against Hitler´s war politics. Insufficiently is being answered on the main arguments of the Nazis and insufficiently reasoned are these economic, social and directed against fascist enforced actions directed demands, which are useful for bringen the masses into motion.

 

Self-critical it is being said in the Hamburg report: “The thinking and acting of the biggest part of the social-democrats is unknown for us.“ In another report it is being said: “In all areas our friends are still hesitating to create connections with the social-democrats.“ In different reports it is being indicated, that the unclarity over the united and people´s front politics in Spain and France works debilitating.

 

The crisis among the social-democracy

 

The SPD is political and organizationally splintered. They exist in the country as friendship circles, who meet because of diverse, mostly legal reasons. Occasionally social-democratic functionaries use their occupation as small merchants, to meet their social-democratic comrades as customers. Specially the right-wing of the social-democrats are trying to spread the directives of the party directorate on this way. In general a left-development of many social-democrats, specially under the influence of the politics of the Soviet Union, can be detected.

 

1. A minority of active left social-democrats is for the unity of the working class, is ready for single steps of common antifascist propaganda, but has multiple doubts towards our demand of a democratic republic.

 

2. The biggest part of the social-democrats is acting in the representation of daily workers interests, is connected with the masses, is member of mass organizations and is for the democratic republic. Mostly these social-democrats have learned from the past, have a comradely relationship to the communists, but have some political distrust against the KPD.

 

3. The right-wing social-democratic functionaries in the country preach waiting, speculating on the automatically fall of fascism and speak often from a coming military dictatorship.

 

A famous former trade union leader said, that the war would be unpreventable and lead to the defeat of Germany. He says:

 

“It is not task of the German socialists to bring unnecessary victims for work in the country, but we must do anything to get contact to the military forces, which will dictate peace after the lost war by Germany.“

 

Another former social-democratic trade union leader said in discussion with a comrade:

 

“The reform of Marxism is a step forwards… The fascism will collapse by economic difficulties by itself. It is the people´s own fault that the fascism came. Weimar gave the possibility to vote correctly.“

 

The right-wing social-democratic leaders abroad are now going over to develop a reactionary platform as basis of the unification of the social-democrats.

 

Since 1933 the following development phases can be detected:

 

In spring 1933 the party directorate looked for a compromise with the fascism. The Reichstag faction voted for Hitler´s foreign policy and Wels left the executive of II. Internationale. When also the social-democratic leaders had to emigrate, they tried to keep the social-democracy together by concessions towards the left social-democrats. It came the manifesto of January 1934, which created the possibility of united-front-like collaboration of social-democrats and communists.

 

After that the Revolutionary Socialists published their revolutionary platform and inside the social-democratic apparatus the united-front-friendly forces gained influence. The right-wingers in the party directorate did everything they could to smash and prevent the unification of revolutionary social-democrats and removed their representatives step by step from the apparatus.

 

When bigger difficulties in struggle of the people´s front in Spain and France came up, the party directorate demanded the cancelling of unity-front-like collaboration between communists and social-democrats in the country and in Paris.

 

After the party directorate was successful to prevent the common action of revolutionary socialdemocrats in the country, it went over in the second half of the years 1938 to the reasoning of its political positions. Till then it saw itself just as the trustee of the socialdemocracy in Germany, it delcared now in the call of 14. September 1938:

“The directorate of the Social-democratic Party of Germany is the last organ, which was elected by the social-democratic mass organizations in Germany.“³

 

By that it announced again the exclusive leadership-claim. Wels became active again, was elected into the executive of II. Internationale again and united openly with the right-wing elements. A situation has developed in which the right-winged social-democratic leaders do a systematically offensive while the left social-democrats in the country are splintered and a part of the emigrated social-democrats, who are against the party directorate, are standing under influence of diverse Trotskyite groups.

 

The content of the right-wing-social-democratic platform

 

There is no worked out program, but a series of articles by Stampfer, Geyer and others, which were introduces by the declaration of Stampfer, that the working out of a social-democratic program would be necessary, already are being a social-democratic platform. That this so called party directorate is against the united and people´s front, comes from Stampfer´s exposition, that the SPD would have a decisive task due to the position between right-wing groups and communists. Geyer openly propagates an “undogmatic socialism“. Sollmann wrote: “For me class-socialism and class-politics of the workers have failed.“⁴ He delcared, that the Communist Mnaifesto could not be the basis of social-democratic concentration, like it seems some want. Stampfer is in these questions more skillful. He falsifies Marxism, uses for that some Marx quotes to be able to influence a bigger circle of socialdemocratic supporters. From these articles comes the following statement to political foundational questions: In the statement to imperialism in diverse articles he defends the line of SPD during the First World War. Wels says, that the social-democratic policy was right back then. Stampfer says: “Germany could have been united till the end of war, when it had focused on defense targets.“⁵ He defends the so called Peace Resolution⁷ of the Reichstag majority in July 1917. Factly these social-democrats are denying the existence of German imperialism. The aggressive imperialist forces do they see in the top of fascist bureaucracy. They reject to stand for the slogan of defeat of Hitler-Germany in case of war.

 

Towards the character of fascism Stampfer questions: “Was it really the bourgeoisie which brought Hitler into power… ?“⁶ He writes:

 

“He self, Hitler is – it ahs to be said, even when it is awkward – through and through a product of the modern revolutionary development and not thinkable without it.“⁸

 

The rejection of the Hitler regime would be in parts of the bourgeoisie stronger than among the industrial workers.⁹ The “proud Rhinish entrepreneurs“ would not let Hitler dictate them anything.¹⁰ By the way the social-democrats have the position of equating fascism and bolshevism. Geyer writes for example:

 

“The totalitarist idea itself – not just its racist form – is the real enemy of freedom. It lies on the ground of racism like nationalism or the orthodox class struggle teaching.“¹¹

 

In the question of the democratic republic they stand for a “authoritarian democracy“, like Sollmann is calling it. Stampfer is for a “temporary dictatorship of the republicans“¹², by what he means the suppression of the revolutionary forces, like he further explains it in an article, in which he writes: When the communists support the social-democratic politics, then a second Noske-politics is impossible.¹³ Stampfer claims, formerly the working class would have been educated to an overstated power consciousness. He puts today the future constitutional question into the foreground and to disguise the question, which class forces will be active in the future republic, by general speeches about “the people“. To the people´s front they have the opinion, that it would be a kind of coalition politics too and would not contrast from what the social-democracy did in Weimar Republic. To the question, why the SPD rejects the collaboration with the communists, Geyer answers: “The antidemocratic totalitarian ulterior motives are what takes the arguments of the communists all convincing power.“¹⁴ Sollmann writes in a letter to Stampfer:

 

“What is for you and me holy, ´Weimar´, is for others, also social-democrats, in best cases a bunch of errors, of weakness, of illusions, of personal deficiency. This deep border line inside the social-democracy has already in Weimar era hindered some of our actions…“¹⁵

 

What they imagine as a democratic republic, also comes out of the fact, that Sollmann stands for an “estatist structured socialism“¹⁶ and Stampfer speaks about “planned economic, progressive tendencies“ of fascism and demands, that these “progresses“ must be kept in the future republic.

 

Source: Walter Ulbricht “Zur Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung – Band II – Zweiter Zusatzband“, Dietz Verlag, Berlin, 1968

 

¹ also known as Siegfried Line

 

² Socialdemocratic group which acted together with communists

 

³ Neuer Vorwärts (Paris), Nr. 274, 18. September 1938, German

 

⁴ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 284, 27. November 1938, German

 

⁵ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 321, 13. August 1939, German

 

⁶ A resolution by socialdemocrats around Friedrich Ebert and Philipp Scheidemann in July 1917, being adopted by SPD, Zentrum and FVP (in Weimar later DDP) [so by the later “Weimar Coalition“]. In it is being denied that World War I is an aggressive war by Germany and it is claimed that just the other nations would want to crush Germany. So it was a denial of the existence of German imperialism.

 

⁷ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 310, 28. Mai 1939, German

 

⁸ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 275, 25. September 1938, German

 

⁹ cf. Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 312, 11. Juni 1939, German

 

¹⁰ cf. Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 310, 28. Mai 1939, German

 

¹¹ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 321, 13. August 1939, German

 

¹² Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 274, 16. September 1938, German

 

¹³ cf. Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 311, 4. June 1939, German

 

¹⁴ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 321, 13. August 1939, German

 

¹⁵ Neuer Vorwärts, Nr. 284, 27. November 1938, German

¹⁶ “Ständesozialismus“ (“Estate-Socialism“) like used as a phrase in fascist Austria 1933-1938; it is an euphemistic term to disguise the character of fascism, just like “National-Socialism“ in Nazi-Germany

Thanks to The Red Path!

Responding to Xexizy on “Not-real-Socialism”

Xexizy is basically correct when he defines capitalism:

The definition of capitalism is not only private property, it is:

PRIVATE PROPERTY, & MODERN MARKET ECONOMY. Goods are produced privately to be sold for profit.

However he is fundamentally wrong in his critique of the definition “socialism is common ownership of the means of production”. Xexizy points out that both feudalism and capitalism had private property but this is precisely why we define socialism as collective ownership.

This definition is used because socialism is the only system in which the means of production are owned in common.

We often also add that socialism replaces market economy with a planned economy. However Xexizy ignores this part completely. We also define capitalism as private production mostly for exchange as opposed to feudalism.

Xexizy is claiming that the USSR and other socialist countries were not really socialist. This is why he has come up with this scheme. His scheme is not at all obvious or evident or logical when reading Marx. It is something he has imposed on Marx because he wants to arrive at a certain conclusion. A conclusion not supported by Marxism but something he wants to twist Marxism to say.

This is why Xexizy has come up with his argument. Now I will show you how he is wrong:

Xexizy tries to artificially separate the so-called transitional stage from Lower Phase of Communism. In fact Marx only spoke about Lower & Higher Communism, and not about a specific third phase called the “Transitional Stage” especially since the Lower Phase is also a transitional stage.
According to Xexizy in the transitional stage everything is administered by the state but it is still not socialism. This doesn’t make any sense as in the immediate transition everything is obviously not administered by the state. The workers can take over the state, but the state won’t control the entire economy in the transition.

The reason why Xexizy claims this is obviously because he wants to claim the Soviet Union was just “evil-state-capitalism-not-real-socialism”. But really the transitional step from capitalism to socialism applies very well to something like the Soviet Union in Lenin’s administration, when the state controlled the economic heights, but didn’t abolish all private property yet.

The Stalin administration abolished private property and market economy (the two defining elements of capitalism) and thus created socialism. However based on Xexizy’s definition neither one of them was socialist. Obviously Lenin’s administration was the transition, the preparation for socialism which was then built by Stalin.

Xexizy misunderstands Marx when he quotes him:

“Within the co-operative society based on common ownership of the means of production, the producers do not exchange their products”
(Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme)

This shouldn’t be taken absolutely literally, especially because in the very next paragraph Marx begins to describe “exchange of equivalents in commodity exchange”, he simply means that individuals won’t be selling their labor or products as individuals, but all of this is part of the social process.

“since now, in contrast to capitalist society, individual labor no longer exists in an indirect fashion but directly as a component part of total labor.”
(Marx, Ibid.)

He was making this point specifically as a counter argument against the Lassallean petty-bourgeois notion of “undiminished proceeds of labor”.

But we will get to the specifics of what exactly all this stuff about commodity circulation means in a bit.

The same goes for Marx’s comment about value:

“…just as little does the labor employed on the products appear here as the value of these products, as a material quality possessed by them”

(Marx, Ibid.)

He is not denying the existence of value but saying that value is not a regulator of the economy anymore. Stalin says the following about this:

“the law of value can be a regulator of production only under capitalism, with private ownership of the means of production, and competition, anarchy of production, and crises of overproduction.”
(Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR)

However when asked if Value still exists in the USSR he said:

“Wherever commodities and commodity production exist, there the law of value must also exist.”

(Stalin, Ibid.)

Marx also acknowledged this. In describing the exchange or distribution of goods in Lower stage of Communism he said:

“Here, obviously, the same principle prevails as that which regulates the exchange of commodities, as far as this is exchange of equal values.”

(Marx, Ibid.)

Marx defines Lower Communism in this way:

“What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges. Accordingly, the individual producer receives back from society — after the deductions have been made — exactly what he gives to it. What he has given to it is his individual quantum of labor. For example, the social working day consists of the sum of the individual hours of work; the individual labor time of the individual producer is the part of the social working day contributed by him, his share in it. He receives a certificate from society that he has furnished such-and-such an amount of labor (after deducting his labor for the common funds); and with this certificate, he draws from the social stock of means of consumption as much as the same amount of labor cost. The same amount of labor which he has given to society in one form, he receives back in another.”
(Marx, Ibid.)

In simple terms this means that people work and receive payment, which they will then exchange for products, or means of consumption.

Instead in the Higher Phase of Communism products won’t be rationed, allocated or exchanged but will be given according to need.

Xexizy claims that in Socialism there cannot be Commodity Production. What he should say is that in the higher phase of communism there is no commodity production. In the lower phase it still exists. This is demonstrated by the fact that people work and are paid in return. Xexizy defines a commodity as something which is to be sold. Then what are these means of consumption which people will receive in return for payment? Are they not exactly commodities in Xexizy’s own definition? They are products which are sold i.e. commodities. However Xexizy’s definition is not exactly accurate, as in socialism products are not made to be sold, they are made to be used. They are still sold in the lower phase of communism which makes them commodities, but selling them is not the point, they are made for use, selling them is only the method of rationing them and funding their production.

“…nothing can pass to the ownership of individuals, except individual means of consumption. But as far as the distribution of the latter among the individual producers is concerned, the same principle prevails as in the exchange of commodity equivalents: a given amount of labor in one form is exchanged for an equal amount of labor in another form.”
(Marx, Ibid.)

Then Xexizy attempts to explain the difference between Higher and Lower Communism. He claims the only difference is that in Higher Communism products will be given according to need. As I’ve already explained, the fact that products are not given according to need but according to work as in Lower Communism like in the USSR it already implies commodity production in this sense. The Soviet Union couldn’t yet abolish commodity production. One reason was because they couldn’t simply give things for free, because they didn’t have super abundance characteristic of higher communism.

But according to Xexizy’s strange definition this, distribution of goods in return for payment for work is not commodity production. His description of lower communism is thus self-contradicting.
In Critique of the Gotha Programme Marx says in Lower Communism or Socialism:
“a given amount of labor in one form is exchanged for an equal amount of labor in another form.”

Products which are exchanged are commodities. However Marx makes a distinction here between this type of distribution, exchanging work for products and between exchanging products for other products. This commodity production in the usual sense is what he calls commodity production in Critique of the Gotha Programme.

As Lenin said:

“A commodity is, in the first place, a thing that satisfies a human want; in the second place, it is a thing that can be exchanged for another thing.”
(Lenin, KARL MARX: A Brief Biographical Sketch With an Exposition of Marxism)

If you have distribution according to payment, as Marx states we will have in Lower Communism, then you inevitably have commodity production in this sense in Lower Communism.

Exchange of products did also exist in Socialist countries for one reason: because not everything was owned by the state. They had a co-operative and collective farm sector which didn’t belong to society as a whole but only to the workers in those collectives. As a result of this their product only belonged to the collective and had to be exchanged with society for other products.

A society with collectives and co-operatives is socialist but not yet communist. That is, it is in the lower phase. For full-communism, co-operatives must become owned by the entire society as a whole and hence cease being co-operatives.

Xexizy criticizes Stalin’s plan to reduce the sphere of commodity circulation between town and country by creating a system of products exchange without money based on a plan. But this critique is rather laughable. He claims that this is only a form of barter and barter being a lower historical stage of trade it will inevitably lead to capitalist trade and commodity production.

In reality of course creating a system where goods are moneylessly allocated according to a plan is moving closer to communism. Naturally Xexizy doesn’t offer any other alternative plan of his own, and I doubt he even understands the details about why exactly Stalin made this suggestion, it being only a suggestion aimed at the collectives which were not owned by the state, to bring them under the same level of planning as the state and bringing them closer to being public property.

If everything was already public property and not collective property this would not be necessary.

Xexizy’s critique is a typical left-communist critique as it only labels something as not-real-socialism but offers no solutions.

Xexizy also claims the Soviet Union had wage labour but offers no proof of this. He quotes Stalin’s book on economics but omits the part where Stalin says labour doesn’t appear as a commodity on the market in the USSR and they therefore don’t have wage-labour.

Wage-labour doesn’t mean being paid. Marx himself says that in Lower communism people will receive means of consumption, or products as payment for work performed.
Furthermore Xexizy claims that Socialism is stateless.

This is particularly strange and he offers no source for this. He only presents us with the following deduction: since socialism is classless, and the state is an instrument of class struggle. Therefore the state should be abolished in socialism.

This is profoundly mistaken. First of all class struggle does not end in socialism. It only ends in Communism, the higher phase.

When Marx complains that the Gotha Programme does not deal with the dictatorship of the proletariat or “with the future state of communist society” he is talking about the Lower Phase, Socialism in which this state is in the process of withering away. It will be completely withered when we reach Higher Communism. Xexizy’s definition of Higher Communism fails here because according to him the state should already have withered before.

The debate between Anarchists and “state-socialists” like Marx also seems quite absurd if Marx truly believed Socialism to be stateless as Xexizy is claiming.

The last topic I want to discuss is the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Xexizy doesn’t mention this term for some reason, he only talks about a mysterious “transitional stage” when he ought to be talking about the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

The Dictatorship of the Proletariat encompasses the entire period between capitalism and full-communism. That means, until every vestige of capitalism is gone and we exist in a worldwide communist society.

Xexizy implies that socialism can never be built as long as there are capitalist countries out there. But this contradicts everything he said before as he deliberately emphasized that Capitalism and Socialism are not modes of ownership but Modes of Production. So what happens if we establish a socialist mode of production somewhere, but capitalism still exists out there in a different country? He offers no solution.

This can all be traced to Xexizy’s confused definition of Socialism. We speak about the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, Socialist Mode of Production and full-communism but in his mind they all merge into the same confusion. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat is not a mode of production, therefore it can exist at the same time as socialist mode of production, or not. It can also exist in one country or many countries. His insistence that a socialist mode of production must be stateless and international, is not based on science or economics but on ideology. That is not his idea of socialism, so he refuses to call it what it is. But a socialist mode of production, is precisely that regardless of what you think about it.

Xexizy is confused when he labels countries like the USSR with a socialist mode of production, common ownership of the means of production and planned economy, under the same vague term “transitional stage” together with other workers’ states like the paris commune, which didn’t yet have planned economy, collective farms or common ownership in general.

Marx, Engels and other Communists define Socialism as common ownership of the Means of Production, or in other words the abolition of private property. Why is this not good enough for Xexizy?

Because he wants to be able to say the Soviet Union and other such countries were not “real-socialism”. This is not a scientific or objective position. This is the position of left-communists who simply want to call everything not-real-socialism. Even many Trotskyists and Anarchists don’t stoop to this. Orthodox Trotskyists choose to call the Soviet Union a degenerated workers’ state or bureaucracy, but don’t deny its socialist mode of production and Anarchists usually limit themselves to stating they are against “state-socialism”.

But Left-communists want to change the entire definition of Socialism to fit their idea of it. They want to say:

“Lenin, Mao, all the great revolutionaries, what do they know? They were wrong, but thank god we left-communist have got it all figured out.”

These people are the reason why “not-real-socialism” has become such a joke and a weapon commonly used against us socialists.

These are the same people who have been against actually existing socialism for ever. This is merely their most recent attemp at justifying themselves. Nothing about what they are talking about is evident in Marx’s own text, only through carefully selecting, twisting and interpreting Marx’s words through their left-communist lense have they arrived at this result. Others have read the exact same texts for a 100 years and not come to this left-communist conclusion.

I have a proposition to make. We know what socialism is, we know what state-capitalism is. We know what these terms mean. So if you don’t like the Soviet Union, then just say you don’t like the Soviet Union. Don’t try to twist the definitions just to be able to say nothing was ever socialism.

Thank you.

marx

Vegetarianism & Communism

Having been both vegetarian & a communist for more then 5 years now I decided to finally write something about the connection between these issues. Does vegetarianism have anything to do with Communism and vice-versa?

BRIEF STORY ABOUT MY POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT

Before becoming a Communist I was a proponent of Schopenhauer’s philosophical pessimism. Where ever I turned I saw immense suffering, poverty, war, exploitation. About half of humanity (3.6 billion people) lives on less then 2 dollars per day while large portions of Africa live much worse. 80% lives on less then 10 dollars per day.

The Capitalist economic system fails to provide even the most basic necessities for countless millions and Western corporate interest actually actively hinders the development of most third world countries. 10 million die each year due to hunger and hunger related causes. Only 8% of this is due to natural disasters or war. 92% is simply due to economics, the poor can’t afford food. Meanwhile about half of the world’s food is wasted and left to rot as there is nobody (no paying customer) to purchase it. The needs of humans are in absolute antagonistic contradiction compared to the capitalist economic system.

Animals were often even worse off then humans, being exploited in horrible conditions in factory farms. Billions of animals are born each year only to suffer and die for the sake of consumerism, unnecessarily.

I stopped eating meat soon after understanding how unnecessary and immoral it was. I also saw the bankruptcy and inhuman character of capitalism but it took me some time to abandon pessimism. It had led me to a situation where I saw no solution for any of these problems.

As I gradually learned about the practicality of Socialism, the real benefits it provided and the futility of all other alternatives I finally stopped complaining, and started doing something to improve things. None of these problems were innate in life or humanity, they were the result of concrete material conditions which could all be changed.

RECOGNITION THAT SUFFERING IS BAD

We all have a capacity to suffer. It is universally recognized by everyone that it is bad, to be avoided, undesirable by definition. A masochist, who enjoys e.g. physical pain, does not suffer from it, but actually derives pleasure from it. Suffering is something that we all define as a bad thing.

But we only define it as bad if it is targeted towards us, right? Yes, but what makes any individual special? We all have the same capacity to suffer. From our subjective experiences and the realization that there is an external world outside of us, we inevitable reach the conclusion that suffering is just as bad for everyone. This subjective truth that suffering is bad, is accepted by every subject and is thus universally, objectively true. The only way to avoid this conclusion is nihilism or solipsism, neither of which were ever convincing to me. Even a solipsist or nihilist still behaves like suffering is bad, even if their ideology denies it.

If we recognize that suffering is bad, it is only natural to want to reduce it. Capitalism causes tremendous unnecessary suffering for the sake of profit.

DEFENDERS OF ANIMAL EXPLOITATION

We communists seek to improve the lives of people. We want to make life better for them. But what about animals? Animals suffer exactly like humans.

The common arguments in favor of continuing unnecessary animal exploitation that I’ve heard are:

1. “We need animal products to survive”

This is a relatively common but entirely unfounded claim. There are countless people who have not consumed animal products for decades and still live normal lives.

2. “Animals are less intelligent so its ok to abuse them”

This argument is to me particularly reprehensible. The quasi-nazi character of this line of reasoning should be blatantly obvious.

Do we torture or abuse the mentally handicapped? Do we torture or abuse those of lesser intellect? Then why do we abuse animals? IQ does not effect ones capacity to suffer or feel joy.

On top of that animals are in reality highly intelligent (in many cases more intelligent then human children).

3. “I’m against factory farming but not all animal exploitation”

I oppose exploitation. Not just when its extreme but also when its a milder form. More humane treatment of animals is better, but why should we exploit or abuse them at all? Besides factory farming is more profitable. It makes sense for capitalists to continue doing it.

4. “Animals taste better”

This is not an argument at all, yet many still use it. It is the mentality of the morally bankrupt decadent egoist. Naturally as a Communist I cannot condone such behavior.

5. “Animal exploitation is natural”

This is an appeal to nature fallacy. Rape and murder are natural, yet every civilization has outlawed them. Animal exploitation is a phenomenon that developed out of concrete material conditions and is fundamentally unnecessary at this state of human development.

Secondly, there’s good reason to believe eating animals is not all that native to humans. Our bodies cannot fully digest meat and our teeth are not suited for raw flesh. Meat provides a source of protein but is also related to many negative health conditions.

6. “I need meat to be fit or build muscle”

This is an argument that particularly athletes, body builders and those who consider themselves to be on those categories use. However it is also untrue. There are many successful vegan athletes and body builders.

DEFENDERS OF HUMAN EXPLOITATION

What astounds me is that many vegetarians and vegans who recognize the unethical character of animal exploitation still hold right-wing political & economic views. If you are against animal exploitation, you should also be against human exploitation!

I will now deal with some common arguments made in favor of continuing human exploitation but I won’t go into great detail about specific anti-communist claims in this post.

1. “Animals are innocent but humans are not”

What about third world children? What are they guilty of? Humans don’t deserve exploitation any more then animals do.

2. “Animals are cute and humans are not”

Nobody would seriously argue this but many implicitly voice sentiments like this. We shouldn’t only defend the rights of those animals (or people) who we find aesthetically pleasing, they all can suffer or enjoy life just the same.

3. “Capitalism is voluntary, not exploitation like factory farming”

Humans are limited by their material conditions. Realistically in many third world countries unemployment means total destitution or even death. This is hardly a voluntary choice but rather one dictated by circumstances. These circumstances are created and maintained by the capitalist system itself.

In the West the situation is not as extreme but people who don’t own the means to employ themselves still must seek employment from a capitalist if they wish to live reasonably well. Even in the west losing one’s job can mean homelessness or going hungry, losing access to healthcare, being unable to pay for education etc.

4. “Socialist economies don’t work”

This is blatantly false. The Soviet Union, a socialist country, was the world’s second biggest economy and kept growing for the entirety of its existence. Most socialist countries were far wealthier then most capitalist countries. Most people in socialism had better access to healthcare, necessities of life, education and culture then in most capitalist countries. 10 million starve annually in capitalism and 3.6 billion live on less then $2/day.

5. “Socialism collapsed”

The reason why the Western capitalist countries were able to defeat the Socialist countries is complex, but the fact that Socialism was destroyed doesn’t prove that it is not a superior system when it comes to serving people’s needs.

Some basic Soviet GDP statistics:

CAN ANIMAL EXPLOITATION BE SOLVED IN CAPITALISM?

1. The Profit Motive

Capitalism is a system based on profit. Exploiting people and animals is highly profitable. It seems unlikely that a profit-driven system would stop doing something profitable.

2. Can we not pass legislation against animal exploitation?

Theoretically we could but in a capitalist system those who control the wealth control politics and legislation also. The liberal quest to “get money out of politics” in capitalism, a system driven by money, is utterly hopeless. For this to work we would need a democratic system genuinely controlled by the people i.e. Socialism.

3. Can we not boycott the meat industry to make it unprofitable?

Theoretically we could but such boycotts are rarely effective enough. Besides people are limited by their resources. In this current system animal products are cheap, easily available and backed by advertisement. Attempts at “ethical consumerism” within capitalism practically never work.

SOCIALISM AND ANIMAL LIBERATION

1. Why did historical socialist countries not abolish animal exploitation?

The reasons are numerous. For one, they were far too concerned with the horrible conditions of humans. In countries that used to have serious famine only years before and where all resources were needed to industrialize, develop the military and win the Cold War this was not a realistic option. Add to that the fact that the Animal Rights Movement was not as developed as it is today.

2. Should we stop eating animals now or only in socialism?

The more vegetarianism and veganism spreads now the easier the transformation will be in the future. The economic base of capitalism facilitates exploitation but spreading the ideas now can’t do any harm. Reducing meat consumption right now has health benefits, reduces global warming and exploitation (even if only a tiny bit) and shows a good Communist Example of ethical behavior.

3. Isn’t Vegetarianism/Veganism Classist?

Bourgeois-vegetarianism can be classist. However as a Communist I recognize that some people can’t afford to change their eating habits. Its not the fault of the poor but the capitalist system. We shouldn’t blame them but fight to change the system.

4. National Self-Determination

Indigenous people who practice traditional hunting or cattle raising shouldn’t be our main focus. They contribute very little to the problem of animal exploitation. We should be lenient towards them.

Particularly cruel practices could be banned immediately in socialism and this wouldn’t necessarily be much of a violation of national self-determination. Socialist China banned traditional forced marriages and foot-binding as feudal and barbaric practices. If some traditional practices are exceptionally cruel towards animals we can do the same.

Its worth pointing out that in many indigenous cultures and many religions animal consumption in general, or the consumption of specific animals like cows or pigs is considered unethical.

SOURCES:

10 million starve annually due to economic conditions
http://www.bhookh.com/hunger_facts.php

Global poverty
https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-global-poverty

56 billion animals are killed annually
http://www.animalequality.net/food

The world’s 3.6 billion poorest people are getting poorer
http://www.wired.co.uk/article/global-poverty-oxfam-world-economic-forum

Pigs Are Highly Social And Really Smart. So, Um, About Eating Them…
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/15/are-pigs-intelligent_n_7585582.html

How Does Socialism Solve Racism, Sexism & Other Oppression?

(or, How to better understand the Relation between Base & Superstructure)

INTRODUCTION

Unfortunately it is assumed by some Marxists that Socialism, almost automatically solves issues like sexism, racism, transphobia & homophobia. People who hold this mistaken view argue: “These issues cannot be solved in capitalism, so let’s not focus on them now, it will all be solved in Socialism.”

There is a tactical component to this question which I will discuss at the end. First I want to cover the assumption that Socialism solves these, inequalities, oppressions, ills of capitalism automatically, or almost automatically. This mistaken view derives from an incorrect understanding of the Base and the Superstructure & their relation.
Base-superstructure_Dialectic

WHAT ARE THE BASE AND THE SUPERSTRUCTURE?

What Marxists often call simply the “Base” means the underlying economic system of the society, the economic mode of production. In our current society this mode of production is imperialist capitalism.

In A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy Marx describes this economic underlying ‘base’ as follows:

“In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation…”

and adds:

“…on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.”

So what is this superstructure? The superstructure consists of things like culture, religion,  form of government such as parliamentarism, military dictatorship or monarchism.

Later on Marx describes the basic relation between the base & superstructure:

“The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.”

That is, each economic mode of production (e.g. capitalism) creates its own superstructure which necessarily results from the social relations arising from the economic mode of production. Changing this superstructure is only possible, even necessary after changing the economic base.

This has led some to hold the incorrect view, that replacing a capitalist economic system with a socialist one, will automatically or practically automatically or very easily, get rid of all the oppressive and reactionary elements arising from the old capitalist society.

HISTORICAL PRACTICE

1. What was achieved?

Let us now examine the notion that the destruction of the capitalist economic base will by itself alone quickly & easily get rid of the reactionary culture fostered by capitalism. When Marxist-Leninist states were in existence, did they cure all these ills? We know the answer. Racism and sexism still remained though in a more limited form.

Trans issues were not yet recognized by anyone at the time, except the trans people themselves. This applies not only the capitalist countries but also socialist ones. LGBT issues were advanced by communist groups like the Black Panthers and recognized by socialist countries like the German Democratic Republic but there was a lot to be desired.

What Marxist-Leninist countries did do was implement policies such as granting equal legal & democratic rights to women as well as ethnic and religious minorities. They provided equal opportunities to study and work for all people regardless of sex or race. The socialist media portrayed minorities as equally capable members of society,  the education system tried to combat sexist, racist and other bourgeois-conservative views.

2. Objective vs. Subjective Factors

These advances were a necessary outcome of the new society that was being built. Socialism couldn’t have been built without at the same time combating the most glaring and most vicious examples of bourgeois-conservative ideology and culture. They were in one sense a result of the objective factors.

However there was nothing “automatic” or “easy” in this process, as would be implied by the “don’t worry, it will all be taken care of in socialism” type of attitude. These achievements were necessitated by the new economic system, but they were implemented by conscious policies by people. In this sense, they were also a result of the subjective factors, the people, the activists, members of the oppressed groups etc.

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THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM

The mistake of the “automatic” or “we will take care of it in socialism” theory is the following:

Although the capitalist base is what created and maintained the reactionary superstructure of sexism, racism, transphobia etc. the remnants of the old superstructure can still survive in a limited form for quite some time even in a new base. Especially as this base is constantly itself changing and transitioning away from the old towards something new. To think that these issues will be solved quickly and easily is naive hubris.

It took capitalism an extraordinarily long time to wipe out most remnants of feudal culture. There are still many constitutional monarchies in the world, where the economy is entirely capitalist and the crown has been stripped of power, yet the ridiculous cultural remnant of monarchist absolutism is still there.

Those aspects of feudalism which most strikingly hindered the growing bourgeoisie came into such violent conflict with the new capitalist system that they were eliminated much faster. Aspects like aristocratic privileges, Monarchist absolutism, absolute rule of the clergy, various feudal restrictions of banking, trade and other capitalistic activities. As a result the corresponding ideological-cultural superstructure, began to die out.

With the changes in the economic base the ruling feudal ideology began to be replaced by capitalist ideology. Feudalism was no longer seen as man’s natural state, instead man’s nature was proclaimed to be capitalistic. Religion lost much of its influence, the Divine right of the king crumbled into dust, replaced by the wealthy bourgeois politician.

This didn’t always happen in a simply linear fashion at all. The French Revolution overthrew feudal absolutism but the Napoleonic reaction managed to restore it, however while still releasing the economy from feudal shackles for capitalism to develop more freely.

In many capitalist countries up until a 100 years ago Monarchism & many feudal aspects still held influence. Finland still had clerical & aristocrat privileges and the church acted like a giant feudal landlord. The Russian Empire was another good example where capitalism was evidently there existing side by side with blatant feudalism. This is what Marxists later termed “semi-feudalism”.

Those aspects of the old feudal order which were less restricting for capitalism remained for a long time and died out only slowly, adapting themselves or even being co-opted by specific subjective forces in the capitalist order e.g. religious or conservative anti-communist propaganda. Similarly, while the Socialist States quickly stamped out the most egregious ills of capitalism, remnants still managed to survive and sometimes the people of those states were even unaware of this. It takes both the necessary objective conditions of the new society as well as conscious work by the subjective forces: the people, to achieve liberation and rid ourselves of sexism, racism, transphobia, homophobia and other ills of capitalism.

THE TACTICAL QUESTION

The tactical question of the matter essentially boils down to the question: “Revolution or Reform?”

The advocates of the theory of “we will fix it later in socialism” hold their view because they have a mistaken understanding of Marxist-Leninist theory. They have a one-sided view that exaggerates the danger of reformism. They want working class revolution, and see all other struggles as secondary and fundamentally reformist. This is a dangerous error. Such thinking isolates the Communists from the masses. The struggles of oppressed people are not secondary but deeply intertwined with the working class struggle.

1. Are questions of race, sex, etc. secondary to class?

Lenin could have been a dogmatist and said that the Peasant Question, Women’s Question or National Question are secondary and unimportant. But why didn’t he?

Because women are approximately half the population, our work depends on women. Because the vast majority of the Russian population were poor toiling peasants, it would have been inconceivable to succeed without them. Because the Russian Empire was a prison house of nations, it was inconceivable to build a socialist society based on trust, equality and co-operation without granting full rights to national minorities. Without such a policy, this wouldn’t have been a project of fraternity but of subjugation.

The working class is the most revolutionary class and class is the significant factor. In this sense the working class question is “primary”, but its only so in terms of the end goal, a classless communist society without oppression. In real praxis these other questions were never secondary, they were beneficial or necessary for the victory of the working class revolution.

2. The question of our alliance with oppressed minorities

The relatively small number of LGBT & trans people has made their struggle far more difficult and probably has contributed to it only being recognize so late. That said, isolating ourselves from LGBT & trans organizations because of their alleged “reformism” only hinders our movement and reduces its allies & forces. By the fact that they are oppressed, they belong to our movement. By the simple fact that we want true equality for all, their goal is the same as ours.

Some might argue, that because the number of LGBT & trans people is so small their chances of playing the crucial role is smaller. A popular movement without women is doomed to fail, but a movement that is missing a small minority, can still succeed. For the sake of argument let us assume this is correct: why should we deny ourselves this beneficial alliance even if it were possible to win without it? There is no good reason for it.

The same question applies to some very small national groups. Someone might argue that they are so few, that in the nationwide scheme they are not the deciding factor, but why deny ourselves this ally? All oppressed people are our allies.

Their number may be small but this probably doesn’t give a fair representation of their influence. There is reason to believe that oppressed people are more prone to Revolution & political activism, and this should be worthy of consideration for us.

3. Reform or Revolution?

Some people will to a varying degree argue explicitly (or more often implicitly) that the women’s movement, anti-racist movements, trans or LGBT movements are at the end of the day reformist in character and therefore not of any use for us, or worthy of our support.

Certainly there are reformist tendencies, in fact most non-communists are reformists. Liberals, social-democrats and all those who think that sexism, transphobia, homophobia and racism can be solved in the context of capitalism are by definition reformists. But what kind of a “mass movement” can we hope to become if we isolate ourselves from the masses because they are not communists?

These “reformist” movements should more accurately be termed “spontaneous” movements. Their problem is not principled dedication to reformist tactics, but a lack of class and political consciousness. They lack an understanding of the underlying causes of their oppression and act unconsciously, which results typically in reformist actions. The cure for unconscious action is political education. We should be eager to hear the complaints and grievances of the masses, and the experience to be learned from them. Likewise the masses are eager for political knowledge and better organizational forms – the fact that they are organizing themselves is proof of that.

The real reformist danger lies elsewhere. The real danger lies in semi-conscious political groups, even communist groups which take the opposite kind of one-sided approach. Groups that spend all their time focusing on issues which only impact a tiny minority. They neglect work towards working class revolution in favor of reformist actions, to fix capitalism for the oppressed groups. This task is doomed to fail as capitalism cannot be made something that it is not. Capitalism cannot be made into a fair & equal system.

Such movements are either outright liberal or simply have accepted liberal idealist political theory to such a degree that they look more like a liberal then a genuinely leftist organization. They serve neither the working class or other oppressed groups. Their work only serves capitalism as it hinders any real change. They should be exposed and criticized but the existence of such groups should not lead us to the wrong and one-sided view that rejects our work with oppressed groups, our alliance with them, us recruiting them into our ranks.

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Thoughts on Hoxha & Hoxhaism

INTRODUCTION

This article will be my brief critique of Albanian socialist leader Enver Hoxha & his modern followers.

Enver Hoxha was a great Marxist-Leninist & anti-revisionist. His works are a valuable contribution to anti-revisionism and the practical application of Marxism-Leninism. This ought to be recognized by every communist.

The critical comments I’m about to make should not be interpreted as a condemnation of Hoxha’s significant work.

WHEN HOXHA WAS CORRECT

Hoxha perhaps most well known for his firm critique of Khrushchevite Revisionism:

“The true Marxist-Leninists will intensify their principled struggle for the exposure of the Khrushchevite and other modern revisionists”
(Hoxha, Reject the Revisionist Thesis of the 20th Congress)

As well as his outstanding work against Yugoslav revisionism:

“The Yugoslav renegades abandoned the scientific theory of Marxism-Leninism on the socialist state right from the beginning…”
(Hoxha, Yugoslav “Self-Administration”)

However he also began to be very critical of Mao Tse-Tung’s China and this is where I feel he fell into serious errors. I will be writing a similar short article giving my thoughts on Maoism as well as the Juche Idea later. But for the time being let us point out that Mao also made mistakes, especially in the so-called “Three Worlds Theory” and it was entirely justified to point this out. In fact this was done by many supporters of Mao also.

One such pro-Mao communist was Harry Haywood who criticized the “incorrect strategic line of the Three Worlds Theory” in his article “China and its Supporters Were Wrong About USSR”. I will discuss the specifics of this issue in my future article on Mao.

WHEN HOXHA WAS WRONG

Let us now focus on Hoxha’s other criticisms of Maoist China.

1. The Peasant Question, People’s War

Hoxhaism claims that Mao gave up the leading role of the Proletariat to the Peasantry:

“Although he talked about the role of the proletariat, in practice Mao Tsetung underestimated its hegemony in the revolution and elevated the role of the peasantry.”
(Hoxha, Imperialism and the Revolution)

However, he in my opinion presents insufficient evidence to support this. Mao employed a worker-peasant alliance under the leadership of the Proletariat & the Communist Party as Lenin and Stalin did. Hoxha claims that in Mao’s case this was mere rhetoric and not true, and that in reality the Proletariat was never the leader, but I find this unconvincing.

Is there any doubt that the Communist Party was at the head of the Revolution? Is there any doubt that Communism is first and foremost a working class & not a peasant ideology? Hoxha’s best evidence seems to be the numerical superiority of the peasants, but the same argument was frequently made against Lenin by dogmatists.

Hoxha’s second piece of evidence is Mao’s slogan of ‘the countryside encircling the cities’. Hoxha claims that this was not merely a tactic but a deviation from Marxism-Leninism. In my opinion he fails to justify this. The soundness of the strategy was proven by the fact that they won. Are all guerrilla movements which hide in the countryside, mountains and forests going against Marxism-Leninism? Surely not.

Mao’s military strategy was based on Marxist-Leninist analysis & popularizing previous military writings, Sun Tzu’s Art of War in particular.

2. National Liberation, United Fronts, New Democracy

Hoxha argues that Mao was a class-collaborator:

“The revisionist concepts of Mao Tsetung have their basis in the policy of collaboration and alliance with the bourgeoisie”
(Hoxha, ibid.)

This is based on the fact that the Chinese Communist Party allied with all patriotic elements against the Japanese invasion in a nationwide united front. Does Hoxha denounce all united fronts? No he doesn’t, he cannot do that as united fronts are an accepted Marxist-Leninist tactic. Therefore Hoxha only denounces this particular united front.

Hoxha attacks the Maoist policy of ‘New Democracy’ as class collaboration, as the New Democratic State allowed the existence of not only workers but also capitalists & peasants under the leadership of the Communist Party. Hoxhaists might point out that the other classes also had some representation in the government, but to claim that the Proletariat & the Communist Party were not leading the State is quite frankly ridiculous.

The New Democratic State was designed as a transition from semi-feudalism & semi-colonialism to Socialism. The other socialist countries; ‘People’s Democracies’ in Eastern Europe as well as the Soviet Union during the NEP policy, grappled with these issues. Hoxha doesn’t denounce all of them, only Mao.

Hoxha attacks Mao for his idea that there are antagonistic & non-antagonistic class contradictions, i.e. that some class differences can be solved relatively peacefully in the context of the Worker’s State. It was necessary to violently overthrow the KMT, compradors & landlords. However the peasantry & patriotic forces that supported the Communists do not need to be dealt with in the same way.

The Bolsheviks did not immediately wipe out all the capitalist elements, instead they allowed them to exist in a restricted form during the NEP. The Bolsheviks first secured the gains of the Democratic Revolution and only later constructed Socialism. During the Collectivization of Agriculture the Bolsheviks wanted to “win over the middle-peasant” (and isolate the Kulak). This would be solving the contradiction between the workers and poor & middle-peasants in a peaceful non-antagonistic way. For some reason Hoxha doesn’t consider this to be class collaboration in the same way.

Considering that China was semi-colonial & even more backward then the Soviet Union, it should be expected that more compromises would have to be made with the classes with different but not antagonistic interests like the petit-bourgeois peasants. It would take longer to get rid of these social classes then in countries with more favorable conditions. Still the landlords were gotten rid of, agricultural collectivization was implemented, industry was nationalized.

MISTAKES OF MODERN HOXHAIST PRAXIS

I consider Hoxhaists my comrades. I am non-sectarian enough to support Hoxhaist parties such as the Brazilian PCR as based on the information from my Brazilian comrades they are the best party of their country. However there are elements in modern Hoxhaism which I’d prefer not to be there.

Hoxhaists have seem to have an ultra-left tendency of seeking “ideological purity” over all else. This means sectarianism, isolating themselves from others, attacking non-Hoxhaist Marxist-Leninists as “revisionists” and deadly enemies.

In general Hoxhaists seem incapable of distinguishing between disagreement, deviation & revisionism. A deviation is a one-sided mistaken line in Marxism. Naturally there are different degrees of deviation, some of which are more harmful then others. Revisionism means an anti-marxist trend, a line that contradicts with the core of marxism.

In my opinion Maoism & Juche both show some signs of deviation, but not revisionism. What I consider the flaws of Maoism are in no way on the same level as the anti-Marxist tendencies of Khrushchevite, Trotskyite or Titoite Revisionism.

I shouldn’t have to explain what disagreement means, but it seems it is necessary. We will always have disagreement about the correct tactics, the correct policies, the correct slogans. It is not always Revisionist to have different views.

It should be obvious to everyone that China not only nationalized large industry but also implemented policies of agricultural collectivization similar to the Soviet Union. The notion that they were not constructing socialism is absurd and based on a nitpicking “left-communist” attitude. They don’t care about the big picture. If they can find some excuse to denounce something as Revisionism, they will.

This conduct is not different from “Left-Communist”, “Orthodox Marxists”, Trotskyists and other armchair revolutionaries who claim “the Soviet Union was state capitalist because it still used money instead of labor vouchers” or some such nonsense. Unfortunately many Hoxhaists boldly proclaim such absurdities; “China was never building socialism. Mao was a Revisionist”. I say this is nonsense.

HOXHAISM OR LENINISM?

The biggest danger for Hoxhaists is sectarianism. They openly admit that they are Marxist-Leninists, that Hoxha was an anti-revisionist and not someone who created new theory. Hoxha’s writings popularized & applied Marxism-Leninism just like Stalin did, and Hoxha never sought to create a new “ism”. Hoxhaists should agree with this.

So why do we have Hoxhaist parties? Why do we have Hoxhaism? Hoxhaists feel that if a Marxist-Leninist organization doesn’t identify as Hoxhaist then probably a new party should be created, though they might come up with some other excuse for this splitting action.

Maybe I am a hopeless centrist for not being a Hoxhaist nor a Maoist. Maybe I am centrist for thinking its counter productive to spend most of one’s time denouncing Maoism & the DPRK as revisionists, enemies, worse then capitalists etc., instead of actually trying to advance Communism.

Particularly small parties and groups have a tendency for sectarianism & isolating themselves. This is true of many Maoist groups as well and seems to be a serious danger for all Hoxhaist groups. The Brazilian PCR doesn’t seem to suffer from this quite as much as some others, but I’ve been criticized for being “pro-Mao” by some Brazilian Hoxhaists (in a friendly discussion) as if that is what we should be worried about at this point.

You don’t see Maoists or Marxist-Leninists focusing all their time on attacking Hoxha, yet Hoxhaists seem obsessed with attacking us non-Hoxhaist M-Ls. This is wrecking activity and harms our movement.

Should there in my opinion exist specifically Hoxhaist parties? Absolutely not. We need Marxist-Leninist parties. Everyone should recognize the positive contribution of Hoxha and all the times when he was correct, we don’t need to be “Hoxhaists” to do that.

If some comrades insist on labeling themselves “Hoxhaists” then so be it. But that is not a big enough issue to split over, not from their point of view or mine. Like Hoxha, I call for ‘true Marxist-Leninist unity’.

Unity cannot be unprincipled, we cannot achieve unity by merely proclaiming that we have it and then still continue to have big differences which are brushed aside, we all know this. However to have disunity or split over minor questions is sectarian. The Hoxhaist vs. M-L split is obviously just such a minor question, to claim the opposite only proves my point.

The quest to have specifically Hoxhaist organizations, to have Hoxha’s face and name always visible as a priority, to split with those who don’t agree with Hoxha on everything is obviously sectarian.

Why do we need Marxism-Leninism?

Reichstag.jpg

Why do we need Marxism-Leninism specifically?
Are there not many equally valid roads to socialism?

PHILOSOPHICAL WORLD OUTLOOK

Marxism-Leninism has the most accurate, scientific, world outlook:
Dialectical Materialism. All the alternatives to this, e.g. idealism, mechanical materialism etc. are inadequate. Other left-wing ideologies either use Marxian dialectics, or bourgeois outlooks. They haven’t put forth their own viable alternative.

ORGANIZATION & TACTICS

Marxism-Leninism has the most effective organizational form & tactics:
Vanguardism & Democratic Centralism. Marxism-Leninism rejects conspiracy & isolated acts of individuals. We seek revolution through organizing the working class & its reserve forces into a vanguard which acts as a front line & general staff of the revolution. This can be achieved through democratic centralism which combines the effectiveness of unity & discipline with democracy. We reject a loose disunited organization & movement without leadership. We advocate leadership through example & guidance, by the most politically conscious members of the working class. If the party’s policies, tactics and positions are correct it will succeed in rallying support around it and to revolution.

Loose movements with no unity, leadership which romanticize unconscious spontaneity don’t succeed. Allegedly non-hierarchical forms fail & “degenerate” to hierarchy or centralism betraying their principles.

MATERIALIST ECONOMIC THEORY & ANALYSIS OF IMPERIALISM

Marxism-Leninism has the most scientifically accurate theory of political economy: Marxian Economics with Lenin’s analysis of modern imperialism. Other leftist movements haven’t produced an alternative theory to fit the task at hand. They either use Marx’s economics & the Leninist concept of imperialism, or bourgeois notions. “Orthodox Marxism” & other “non-leninist marxists” also fail as their theory is lacking in this regard.

COHESIVE LOGICALLY SOUND IDEOLOGY

Marxism-Leninism is a logical whole. A cohesive ideological frame work, not a hodge-podge of internally contradictory, inconsistent parts forced together like some other ideologies. Leninism not only updated (modernized) and defended, but also developed Marxism further while being fully compatible with it. Marxism-Leninism is the modern form of scientific communism.

On the other hand Anarcho-Communism tries to fit the utopian Communist ideas of Kropotkin together with the individualism of Proudhon. Titoism tries to fit markets together with socialist planning. Those are ideologies with incompatible parts or compromises where compromises are not really possible.

CLEAR ANALYSIS OF OUR HISTORY BASED ON MATERIALISM

As Marxism-Leninism is a materialist ideology it is able to honestly and thoroughly analyse history and past revolutionary experience. Not a dogma, but a guide to action Marxism-Leninism offers a powerful methodology for analyzing the world.

Why do some revolutions fail while others succeed? Why did the Soviet Union in the end not reach communism? Marxist-Leninist theory offers ways of getting to those answers. The Anarchist Movement is incapable of adequately explaining its past failures, and thus incapable of learning from those mistakes. Trotskyism either falls into reformism or defeatism as it also has an inadequate way of explaining the past successes & failures of our movement.

We defend the historical legacy of socialism against attacks by anti-communist propagandists. Our movement has achieved tremendous things, and to denounce them or to discard that wealth of experience would be utterly foolish.

It is crucial that our analysis of history is accurate and not colored by bourgeois propaganda. We must know the real facts; to repeat the successes but not the failures of the past.

Those who under the persuasion of anti-communist propaganda, disregard or denounce the glorious history of existing socialism are making a great mistake.

UNIVERSALLY APPLICABLE

Marxism-Leninism can be applied in a variety of different forms depending on the historical context or geographical location, in short material conditions. These applications will necessarily change over time.

Marxism-Leninism doesn’t require revolutions to happen in specific countries or in the exact same way. We argue that concrete conditions determine if countries can have revolutions. This is not determined by any moral or ideological prejudice. Marxism-Leninism rejects the Trotskyist notion that revolution can/should only occur in many countries at once or not at all.

The socialist revolution must be led by the working class vanguard. However we reject the dogmatist notion that it can only occur in wealthy non-colonized countries. We argue that working class revolution can happen not only by proletarians alone against capitalism, but also under the leadership of the communist workers in a worker-peasant alliance, or together with oppressed people fighting for national-liberation, or with broad struggle against feudalism, or for instance together with a democratic revolution or movement against fascism i.e., in countless different ways depending on the situation.

This is because our movement is meant to analyze and work based on the real world, and form our practical work based on what works in reality, responding to real conditions instead of imposing an ideological dogma on the situation or trying to force reality to fit a predetermined ideologically motivated model like a square peg into a round hole.

Some critical remarks on the Soviet election system & democracy

Introduction

To repeat the successes and not the mistakes of the past, it is important to understand that past. For this reason I think studying the economic & state systems of previous socialist experiments is highly important.

That said, I am by no means an expert on the Soviet System. Therefore I will only make some remarks on their system instead of attempting to make a thorough critique.

Elections under Lenin

The Lenin era democratic system was based on the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. Local soviets (worker councils) would send delegates to a Congress which created laws & decided policy. While the congress was not in session a Central Executive Committee (VTsIK) ran the government.

Elections under Stalin

The Stalin era democratic system replaced the Congress of Soviets with the Supreme Soviet which held elections every 4 years. The local Soviets decided only local issues while people could be elected to the Supreme Soviet directly instead of being sent as delegates.

Problems & Positive Features:

Without going into too much detail the Stalin era system was much more developed then the Lenin era system and all around can be called more democratic. However I think it was still flawed.

The Stalin era system actually copies the Western parliamentary system to a notable degree with its parliament (Supreme Soviet) & local organs (worker councils) but makes it more democratic in many ways while also limiting the rights of bourgeois forces.

1. Role of the Local Soviets

I think limiting the Soviets to deciding only local issues was a mistake. Having them send delegates to the parliament would have kept a stronger bond between work places and democracy & it would have better facilitated worker control on all levels of society. It would have kept the delegates more accountable also.

2. Selecting candidates

The Stalin era system of picking candidates for elections had positive elements. Having communist party chapters, komsomol, army units, women & student groups and co-operatives pick candidates; in short selecting candidates collectively was a good idea. It is more democratic, makes it more difficult for right-wingers & corrupt careerists with no social base to run.

3. Wages

Lenin states in The State and Revolution:

“Marx, referring to the example of the Commune, showed that under socialism functionaries will cease to be “bureaucrats”, to be “officials”, they will cease to be so in proportion as—in addition to the principle of election of officials—the principle of recall at any time is also introduced, as salaries are reduced to the level of the wages of the average workman…”

Needless to say this was not done in the Soviet Union. An official could earn 1000 rubles or if they held multiple positions which was possible they could earn more, while the lowest collective farmer or manual laborer could earn as little as 300-400 rubles per month. It is important to note that a skilled expert, manager or scientist could earn the same as a politician. Many of these inequalities were simply inherited from the previous capitalist system.

Why was this inequality not done away with? Lenin answers in the same work:

“Abolishing the bureaucracy at once, everywhere and completely, is out of the question. It is a utopia. But to smash the old bureaucratic machine at once and to begin immediately to construct a new one that will make possible the gradual abolition of all bureaucracy­­, this is not a utopia, it is the experience of the Commune, the direct and immediate task of the revolutionary proletariat.”

The elimination of the old state machine, all its remnants cannot be done over night. Secondly when writing his work Lenin was talking about revolution and socialism in an industrial country. Naturally in a backward country the elimination of the old bureaucracy would have to be even more gradual. As only 20% of the country was literate when the Bolsheviks took power, it was simply impossible for ‘all to govern in turn’ while such conditions existed. It was impossible to elect all officials. A transition, a raising of the cultural level had to take place.

I’m perfectly aware of the difficulties the Soviet government faced, but in my opinion the relative inequality in wages (though incredibly small in comparison with capitalist nations) was a problem. Economic incentives for individuals in production (as long as restricted & regulated) are not a problem, but privileges for political elites are. The principle of electing all or almost all officials could have been implemented after the old bourgeois experts & managers had been completely removed (i.e. in the late 30s, 40s or 50s).

The reason why such democratic reform did not take place was the struggle between two tendencies in the party: the Proletarian line of Stalin (which in the 1950s was in the minority) & the right-wing bourgeois line of the Revisionists, supported by centrists and bureaucrats (which managed to take power).

4. Contested Elections

The Soviet Union banned the opposition parties for violently opposing the Bolshevik Revolution or supporting the White Army etc. etc. etc. and never allowed opposition parties after that point. In the mid-1930s Stalin argued for contested elections. However this proposal was not accepted in the end.

Liberal critics claimed that Stalin’s move was merely a propaganda stunt, as he knew the Communist Party would win and therefore was willing to grant legal status to a powerless & marginal opposition that had no chance to take power. This is rather ironic considering that is precisely how most Western capitalist countries deal with their oppositions. The Communist Parties are tolerated in the West, as long as they don’t threaten Capitalism. If they begin to pose a threat Mccarthyism kicks in, or perhaps a military coup.

In any case, despite the Soviets not doing so, many other socialist countries (e.g. the GDR) had multiple parties. As far as I know there were no immediate negative consequences for this.

The question of allowing bourgeois opposition is a different one. My guess is that such opposition forces would immediately become puppets of foreign capitalist powers and should then be outlawed as organizations of foreign agents and traitors.

The context in which the Soviets banned the other parties was very specific, this cannot be over emphasized. First of all it was during a violent civil war and therefore more acceptable. Secondly, Russia (and other Eastern European countries) didn’t have a long history of parliamentary democracy to begin with. They were used to monarchy, despotism and right-wing dictatorship.

In our current context (long history of parliamentarism & time of peace), banning the opposition would be an entirely different matter. Venezuela has chosen not to do so even though their oppositionists are clearly paid by the USA.

The question of should we allow a left-opposition or a right-opposition is a difficult one but boils down to this: the Proletariat must be in charge, anti-proletarian forces cannot be allowed back in power. The vanguard status of the Communist Party is also of immense importance but this status has to be earned over and over again. Further more this vanguard status does not necessarily have to mean that the party holds monopoly control over the state.

The party is an ideological leader, but if the conditions are there, the people themselves should administrate the state as much as possible. All are in agreement about this. In Communism this should become the norm, but to reach this stage it should be facilitated already in the transitional period of Socialism.

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Bibliography:

State and Revolution
https://www.marxists.org/ebooks/lenin/state-and-revolution.pdf

Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform
http://clogic.eserver.org/2005/furr.html

Constitution (Fundamental law) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1936/12/05.htm