The marxist anatomy of October 1917

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

The marxist anatomy of October 1917 and the present situation[1]

The text which we are publishing below is the complete version of a text from the Marxist Labour Party in Russia, excerpts of which have been published in the print edition of the International Review. Our reply can be read here.ICC

The marxist anatomy of October, "Marxist Labour Party" (Russia)

After decades of Soviet power, we have been accustomed to call the great October a socialist revolution. But much of those things to which we have become accustomed have now disappeared. What is the fate, under such circumstances of the "titles" of the October revolution?

Classical scientific Marxism asserts that the first act of the social revolution of the proletariat will be the take over by the proletarian class itself of the political power in the society. According to Marx, capitalism is separated from communism by a period of revolutionary transformation. This period cannot be anything other than a period of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Consequently, if we see no such class dictatorship, then of course it is inappropriate to speak of overcoming capitalist relations. Moreover, the strongly entrenched appellations and official signboards signify nothing. They may be simple errors (whether well or ill intended). Marx was himself convinced that neither epochs nor persons can be judged on the basis of how regard themselves. Each of us is already sufficiently convinced: membership in a party which calls itself communist does not signify communist conviction, as a nostalgia for the Red Flag over administrative buildings in no way testifies to the yearning for a new social relationship between people.

The power of the workers - peasant soviets or the power of the workers' factory committees?

Russia, as is well known, is a country "with an unpredictable past" That's possibly why there is no single opinion now, when the proletarian dictatorship perished in Russia, or whether it existed at all. In our view, the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia did exist. But, firstly, it was not the dictatorship of the proletariat in "the pure aspect", that is, not a socialist dictatorship of the proletariat involving a single class, but a "democratic dictatorship of the proletariat", that is a union of the workers in the minority and of the poor peasants in the majority. Secondly, the span of its life was limited to a few months.

The case was like this: On the 13th (26th) January 1918, the 3rd Russian congress of Soviets of peasant deputies merged with the 3rd congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. Towards March the merger extended to the localities. In this way, the proletariat, whose political dominion should have guaranteed the socialist transformation, and under pressure of the Bolsheviks, shared power with the peasantry.

The Russian peasantry itself in 1917 was not, as is well known, socially homogenous. A significant part of it, 'kulaks' [rich land-owning peasants-exploiters, partly or even completely outside the still remaining village community, comparable to English yeomanry, - translator's comment] and "middlers"[medium peasantry, those who seldom or never hired themselves out elsewhere for keeping their own farm afloat, - the so-called ' thrifty managers' not exploiting other community villagers - translator's comment] more and more were oriented in their economies towards the demands of the market. The 'middlers', in this way, became petty bourgeois, and the kulaks often engaged in an outright contractual economy, hiring labour - the 'batraks' - and exploiting them, that is, they were already the village bourgeoisie. The institution of the traditional peasant community in most localities was formally preserved, but it was more beneficial not to the middlers, and less so to the kulaks - "the blood suckers", the commune benefited the mass of the poor peasants, which constituted over 60% of the peasantry as a whole. The laws of capitalist development however, transformed many of the poor peasants into semi-proletarians. There were also in the village real proletarians - rural labourers who did not join the community and hired out to the landlords and kulaks along with the poor peasants.

Thus itself the merger of the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies with the general peasant Soviets indicated the abandonment of "the pure dictatorship of the proletariat". However, the "purity", even to this extent was very much conditional. The Soviets of Workers and Soldiers Deputies consisted not only of workers. The soldiers were fundamentally - up to 60% - former peasants: poor and middle peasants dressed in overcoats and armed by the Tsarist government. Factory workers among the soldiers constituted less than 10%.

The general arming of the people, and not solely of the advanced class, the proletariat, the merging of the two types of Soviets, and even the two-party coalition of the Bolsheviks and the Left SRs ('Socialist Revolutionaries') factually indicate the transition to the so-called "old Bolshevik formula" - the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. But this form of power was a step back, compared to what arose after the overthrow by the October revolution. At that time, as is known, power passed over to the 2nd congress of Soviets of Workers and Soldiers Deputies, that is, in fact the "democratic dictatorship of the proletariat" was introduced, although Lenin, leader of the Bolsheviks, also spoke of "the workers' and peasants' revolution" (PSS, vol. 35, p.2) and "the transition of local power to the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' deputies" (op. cit., p. 11).

So the first experiment of establishing "the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat" was limited to the period of October 1917 to January/February 1918, and in addition a steady retreat occurred from the positions achieved by the working class in October to November. After that time, which is called "the triumphal procession of Soviet Power" by soviet historians, not only the merger of the Workers' and Soldiers' Soviets with the Peasant Soviets occurred. An even more important circumstance was the fact that instead of strengthening and developing the system of authentic workers' organizations - the factory committees, the Bolsheviks, on the contrary, contributed to its dissolution. But just the factory committees were able to become the authentic basis of Soviet power, if we understand it in the perspective of real socialist dictatorship of the proletariat. In other words, exactly the Soviets of Factory Committees ought to have ruled over the country. Instead of this in January/February 1918 at the first Russian congress of trade unions and the 6th conference of the Factory Committees of Petrograd, a decision was accepted on the initiative of the Bolsheviks on the merger of the Factory Committees and the Unions. The unions themselves were put under the control of the party-state apparatus which had been formed. Membership in the unions was obligatory for all workers, not only in the enterprises, but also in the institutions. The working class, however, opposed such state policy and the Soviet Authorities only managed to eliminate the autonomous factory committees in the beginning of 1919.

The merger of the Workers' and Soldiers' Soviets with the Peasant Soviets, and the factory committees with the trade unions under statification were not the only things that washed away the proletarian constituent of the Soviet structure. Thus, in the course of the Civil war the Bolsheviks rejected their prior ideas held before October to create Soviets of agricultural labour, independent of the Peasant Soviets - these would have been organs of rural proletarian power. Soviet farms were created on the lands of the former estate holders, but Soviets of agricultural labourers, were not. But then again in March of 1919 trade unions of agricultural labourers were organized.

These and many other facts tell us that the Great October was in fact not a socialist revolution, as the Bolsheviks suggested, but merely the second, culminating stage of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia, one of the fundamental goals of which was the settlement of the land question in favour of the Peasantry. Despite all of the activity of the working class and the proletarian political revolution in the capitals, the socialist revolution in October 1917 in capitalistically backward Russia never occurred. Karl Marx foresaw the possibility of such a situation in 1847. He wrote: "Therefore, if the proletariat overthrows the political rule of the bourgeoisie, its victory will be merely a short-lived one, will be merely an auxiliary moment in the bourgeois revolution itself, as was the case in 1794 (In France, ed), until in the course of history, in its "movement", the material conditions are again created, which necessitate the elimination of bourgeois means of production?" (K. Marx, F. Engels, Collected Works, 2nd Russian ed., v. 4, pp. 298-299). At that, "a revolution with political soul, in conformity with the limited and bifid nature of this soul, organizes a dominating stratum in the society at the expense of the society itself", - he warned, for "socialism cannot be realized without a revolution. It is in need of this political act since it is in need of abolition and destruction of the past. But where its organizing activity begins, where its end-in-itself, its soul comes forward, there socialism throws off its political envelope (op. cit. v. 1, p. 447-448 [written in July 1844]). It goes without saying that the Bolsheviks did not have "throwing politics off" in mind either under Lenin or after him.

However, V. I. Lenin himself declared in 1920: "The basic conditions complicating and slowing the struggle of the proletariat, which was victorious over the bourgeois, against the big peasantry in Russia, come in the main to the fact that the Russian revolution after the overthrow of 25 October 1917 passed through a 'general democratic' stage, that is, in its basis, through the bourgeois-democratic one - the struggle of the whole peasantry against the landholders; then - to the fact of cultural and numerical feebleness of the urban proletariat; and finally - to the fact of enormous distances and extremely bad ways of communication" (V. I. Lenin, Complete Collected Works, Russian edition, v. 41, p.176). In 1921 after the victory of the Reds in the Civil War and the introduction of the New Economic Policy (NEP), the leader of the Bolsheviks, who suggested: "we have taken the bourgeois-democratic revolution to it's conclusion, as no one else has", none the less suffered a slip of the tongue and said: "We completely intend to drive ahead firmly and steadfastly, to the socialist revolution, knowing that it is not separated by a Chinese wall from the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and knowing that only the struggle will decide, to what extent we will succeed (in the final analysis) in moving forward, what part of our vast high goals we will complete, which part of our victory we will consolidate. We shall see what we shall see" (op. cit. v. 44, p. 144-145).

Not until the summer of 1918, after severing the coalition with the left SRs, did the Bolsheviks decide "to carry the proletarian revolution into the countryside". With the aim of assisting in the installation "of the food dictatorship" and the organization of surplus appropriation, "committees of the poor" were established on a widespread basis, which included the rural proletarians and semi-proletarians, as well as the small owners. With this the Bolsheviks hoped to achieve the neutrality of the middle peasantry as regards deploying the class struggle in the countryside.

Such was the second (and last) attempt to establish "the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat". But development again set off on a descending line. In that time, when the activity of the Factory Committees was curtailed, and the real power moved from the Soviets to their executive committees and revolutionary committees, as well as committees of the RKP(b) (Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks)), at various levels, in the village the attempt was made to act simultaneously through the Peasant Soviets and the poor committees. The poor committees, however, irritated the middlers. The policy of neutralization of the middle peasantry, especially in view of their constant growth, seemed at risk. The movement of the middle peasantry to the side of the Whites in the Civil War would be equivalent to defeat for the Bolsheviks. All of this became so obvious, that on 8 November 1918 Lenin, speaking at a conference of delegates of the poor committees of the central provinces, publicly declared: "The Central Committee of our party developed a plan for the transformation of the poor committees, which is being sent for approval to the sixth congress of Soviets. We resolved that the poor committees and the Soviets in the countryside should not exist in separation. Otherwise, there will be squabbles and unnecessary discussion. We are merging the poor committees with the Soviets, and we are doing this so that the poor committees will become Soviets." (Lenin, op. cit., v. 37, pp. 180-181). The last promise was not kept. The policy of "neutralization of the middle peasantry" was followed by "the stable alliance with it", and then by the New Economic Policy, with its return to market relations.

In this way, towards the beginning of 1919, the dictatorship of the proletariat in Soviet Russia, even in its undeveloped "democratic" aspect, suffered defeat. The factory committees and poor committees were abolished, the socialist perspective of the October revolution within the country was finally lost. After 6 months, the proletarian revolution in Europe also suffered defeat. The country in essence turned back to the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. However it was a short-lived existence, as the real power was no longer in the deputies of the Worker-Peasant Soviets, but in their executive committees and the committees of the RKP(b). The Soviets were more and more separated from the workers' collectives, and in the Soviet apparatus bureaucratic tendencies began to grow. The Bolsheviks, with absolute sincerity, called on the masses, and on themselves, to fight these tendencies. This process went so far that Lenin, speaking at the Fourth Congress of the Comintern on November 13th, 1922, was obliged to confirm: "We adopted the old State apparatus, and this was our misfortune. The state apparatus quite frequently works against us. The fact is that in 1917, after we took power, the state apparatus sabotaged us. We were then very afraid and asked: "Please, return to us." They returned, and this was our misfortune. We have now a great mass of employees, but we do not have sufficiently educated forces, in order to really have them under our control. In fact it very often happens that here, at the top, where we have state power, the apparatus functions in a fashion, while below they wilfully manage themselves, and manage themselves in such a way that they often work against our measures. Above we have, I don't know how many, but I believe in any case, just some thousands, at a maximum some tens of thousands of our own. But below, hundreds of thousands of old officials, whom we received from the Tsar and the old bourgeois society, who work sometimes deliberately, sometimes unwittingly against us" (Lenin, op. cit., v. 45, p. 290).

The introduction of the NEP in 1921 in turn was the logical end of the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry: the petty bourgeois peasantry accomplished their market goals, the industrial proletariat at that time completely lost their organizational autonomy (especially after the introduction of one man management in the factories by the Bolsheviks), and besides it was already "thanks to the war and the desperate impoverishment and ruin, déclassé, that is, they lost their connection to their class." (V. I. Lenin, op. cit., v. 44, p.161). The NEP itself indicated, in the words of Lenin, "a movement to the restoration of capitalism to a significant degree" (op. cit., pp. 158-160). "If capitalism is restored, then the proletariat as a class is restored, engaged in the production of commodities", Lenin wrote (op. cit., p. 161). In addition, he declared that "to the extent that great industry was ruined, to that extent the factories stopped and the proletariat disappeared. It was sometimes accounted for, but it was not bound to economic roots." The leader of the Bolsheviks all the same oriented his comrades-in-arms to the position that "the proletarian state power is able, leaning on the peasantry, to hold the capitalists in check and to direct capitalism in the state's course, creating a capitalism subject to the state, and serving it" (op. cit., p.161). Here is clearly visible the specifics of Leninism, which demanded, starting with the April Theses, "not only considerations of class, but also of institutions" (op. cit. p. 31, p.123).

Thus, if there is any sense to call Soviet Russia "a workers' state", it's true only for the few months of its existence, and even then it is conditional! After all this, is it at all surprising that the development of the USSR ended with the restoration of classic bourgeois relations with private property, the new Russian" bourgeoisie, harsh exploitation and massive poverty?

What has been said is not at all an indictment of the Bolsheviks. They did what they had to do, under conditions of a backward peasant country -- conditions which were aggravated by the defeat of the social revolution in the West. But without this revolution even the Bolsheviks under Lenin did not think of the construction of socialism in Russia. Although even their most immediate goal - a socialist society free of commodity relations - was not accessible, the Bolsheviks achieved, in the end, a great deal. For 70 Soviet years Russia (USSR) experienced a significant leap in productive power. But why call this socialism? Industrialization, supplanting small production (in the city, and especially, in the countryside) with large commodity production, improvement of the cultural level of the masses, all these are processes of the development of bourgeois society. We do not call France socialist just because many factories have been built in the country and the "socialist party" governs! On the contrary, socialism implies, presupposes the strongly developed industrial society, as well as the power of the class of workers. That such a society was only in process of creation in Russia - USSR, excluding the working class from power, indicates how far the country was from socialism.

The russian marxists in the role of social-Jacobins

The changes in the system of Soviets, of course, were not accidental, nor were they the exclusive consequence of some error. The fact that the socialist dictatorship of the proletariat was not implemented in Russia, but rather a "democratic" dictatorship, which suffered defeat, was determined by the very nature of the October Revolution. But the character of a revolution, as it turns out, can be dual.

In 1910 the leader of the Bolsheviks V. I. Lenin spoke about the understanding of "the completion of the bourgeois democratic revolution": "If we take it in the broad sense we understand by it the solution of objective historical goals of the bourgeois revolution, the "completion" of it, that is the elimination of the very basis that permits the birth of the bourgeois revolution, the completion of the entire cycle of bourgeois revolutions. In this sense, for instance, the bourgeois democratic revolution in France was completed only in 1871, but begun in 1789.

If we use the word in its narrow sense, it means a separate revolution, one of the bourgeois revolutions, one of the "waves", if you will, which beats the old regime, but does not finish it off, does not eliminate the basis for subsequent bourgeois revolutions. In this sense, the revolution of 1789 in France was "completed", we may say, in 1794, but in no way did it eliminate thereby the basis of the revolutions of the years 1830, 1848." (V .I. Lenin, PSS, v.19, pp. 246-247).

It was the overt bourgeois-democratic character of the transformation becoming unavoidable that made the leader of the Bolsheviks to put the question about a "broad" or "narrow" revolution. Would the Russian revolution be able to brush off all relics of feudalism, to complete the program of the "broad" revolution, to become the finishing "wave", or will other waves follow this one? Lenin constantly asked himself the question: "Was our fate a revolution of the 1789 type or the type of 1848 or the type of 1871?" (PSS, v. 9., p380; v.47, p.223, p.226) He often compared the revolutionary events in Russia with the French revolution of 1848, with the revolution of 1870 and the Paris Commune of 1871, as well as with the Great French revolution. He did this in 1917 too. His general leitmotiv was always the same: "Our cause... is to push the bourgeois revolution as far as possible." (PSS, v.9, p. 381) "...We are obligated", Lenin wrote, "to do our duty as leaders of the democratic, the "broad democratic" movement to the end, to the Russian 1871, to the complete turning of the peasantry to the side of "the Party of Order"... We will demand all in the sense of "democratic pressure": if we succeed we will receive everything, if we fail - a part." (PSS, v. 47, pp. 224-225).

In September of 1917 V. I. Lenin indicated that the revolution of 1848 "was most like our current one" (PSS, v. 34 p.124). With that he stressed one more aspect of the duality of the bourgeois-democratic revolutionary process, which characterized France and Russia. Here is what Engels wrote in 1891 and 1895: "thanks to the economic and political development of France from 1789, there developed in Paris in the last 15 years such a situation, whereby every revolution that broke out could not help but assume a proletarian character, namely: having paid for the victory with their own blood, the proletariat advanced its own demands. These demands? in the end were reduced to the destruction of the class contradictions between the capitalists and the workers. How this is to occur, this, it is true, they didn't know" (K. Marx, F. Engels, Collected Works, 2nd Russian Ed., v. 22, p.190.) The discussion however was also about "the realization of the most authentic interests of the great majority", which "must soon become sufficiently clear to them in the course of their practical reality, as a result of the convincingly obvious nature of this reality." (Marx, Engels, op. cit. v. 22, p.535). And here, by the way, Engels writes as if to warn future generations of revolutionary Marxists of one serious error, which they and Marx made in those years: "...towards spring of 1850 the development of the bourgeois republic, which arose from the "social" revolution of 1848, led to the situation were the actual rule was concentrated in the hands of the great bourgeois, with additional monarchist inclinations, with all other classes, the peasantry and the petty bourgeois, of the other hand, grouping themselves around the proletariat, so that with the joint victory and after it the deciding factor should haven't been them, but the proletariat, made wiser by experience. Was it impossible under these circumstances to entirely count on the revolution of the minority being transformed into the revolution of the majority?

History has shown that we, and all people thinking like us, were wrong. It has clearly shown that the state of economic development of the European continent at that time was not so mature, as to be able to eliminate the capitalist means of production. It proved this by the economic revolution which by 1848 had seized the entire continent, and which for the first time established heavy industry in France, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and recently, in Russia. Germany it changed outright into a first class industrial country, and all this on the capitalist basis, which thus in 1848 still possessed great capacity to expand." (ibid).

After the October Revolution, in April of 1918, Lenin wrote: "If we take the scale of the Western European revolutions, we stand close to the level achieved in 1793 and in 1871. We can be proud of legal rights which have been raised to that level, and in one relation doubtless went further, specifically: we decreed and introduced in all of Russia the highest type of state, the Soviet power. But we cannot be satisfied with what we have in any case achieved, since we have only begun the transition to socialism. We have not yet realized the deciding factor in this regard." (PSS, v. 36, p.175). The deciding factor for the Marxist is "the transition from the simplest goals of the subsequent expropriation of the capitalists to the much more complex and difficult task of the creation of conditions, under which the bourgeoisie can neither exist, nor be recreated." (Ibid). "It's clear, that this goal is immeasurably higher and that without its resolution socialism does not yet exist", stressed the leader of the Bolsheviks.

We should note that, in the opinion of the Bolsheviks, the Paris Commune featured in turn, not only a proletarian, but also a petty bourgeois, and partly even a nationalist character. (see the 7th Russian conference of the RSDRP(b), April 1917. Protocol, Moscow, Gospolitizdat, 1958, p.15; V. I. Lenin, PSS, v.7, p. 270; v.8, pp. 486, 487, 490; v. 9, p. 329, v.20, pp. 218, 219; v. 26 p. 325).

The socialist potential of the first experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the world was evaluated paradoxically too. Thus in 1905 the future leader of the October revolution wrote about the Paris Commune: " history under the name of the Paris Commune such a workers government is known, which did not know how and could not differentiate the elements of the democratic and socialist revolution, which mixed the goals of the struggle for the republic with the goals of the struggle for socialism...and so on. In a word... this was such a government as ours should not be." (PSS, v. 11, p.70). In 1913 he remarked: "The Paris Commune (1871) finishes this development of bourgeois relations; the republic is only obliged to the heroism of the proletariat for its consolidation, that is that form of governmental organization in which class relations are presented in their plainest form." (PSS, v. 23, p.2). But in April of 1917 he clarified to Kamenev, who held the old Bolshevik position, that "The Commune, unfortunately, was too slow in the introduction of socialism." (PSS, v.31, p.142).

But in relation to programmatic goals V. I. Lenin was strict and consistent. In 1905 he wrote in his concluding part to the report of A. V. Lunacharsky "The Paris Commune and the Goals of the Democratic Dictatorship": "This reference teaches us, first of all, that the participation of the representatives of the socialist proletariat together with the petty bourgeoisie in the revolutionary government is entirely permissible, and under certain circumstances, outright obligatory. This reference shows us, further, that the real goals which the Commune had to achieve, were first of all the realization of the democratic, not the socialist, dictatorship, the introduction of our "minimum program." Finally, this information reminds us, as we draw the lessons for ourselves from the Paris Commune, we must not imitate its errors. However, its practically successful steps mark the true path. We should not adopt the word "Commune" from the great fighters of 1871, nor blindly repeat every one of their slogans, but we should clearly select the programmatic and practical slogans that correspond to the situation in Russia, which are formulated in the words: the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry." (PSS, v. 11, p. 132). In March of 1918 Lenin developed this thought at the 7th emergency congress of the PKP(b): "Now we must write the new program of the Soviet power in the place of the old, not at all distracted from the use of bourgeois parliamentarianism. To think that we cannot be pushed back, is utopianism.

One cannot historically deny that Russia created a Soviet republic. We say that with each push backward, we do not refuse to use bourgeois parliamentarianism. If hostile class forces drive us back on the old position, we will move to that which has been gained by experience, to the Soviet power, to the soviet type of state, the state of the type of the Paris Commune. This we must express in our program. Instead of the minimum program, we will introduce the program of Soviet power." (PSS. v. 26, p.54).

Despite the fact that the Soviet power was declared the "highest type of state, the direct continuation of the Paris Commune" (see V. I. Lenin, PSS, v. 36, p.110), the Bolsheviks were compelled in practice to retreat even from the principles of the Commune, for instance, agreeing to higher pay for bourgeois specialists and others (see op. cit., p. 179, 279).

Therefore, concerning the analogy of the Revolutionary process in France and Russia, Engels seems more correct, writing in 1885 in a letter to Vera Zassulich, the Russia "is nearing her 1789". "In a country, where the situation is so strained, where to such an extent the revolutionary elements have accumulated, where the economic situation of the enormous mass of the people becomes more intolerable from day to day, where all degrees of social development starting from the primitive community and ending with the present heavy industry and financial tops, where all these contradictions are violently restrained by a despotism which has no equal, a despotism which is more and more unbearable for the young who embody reason and the dignity of the nation - such a country should begin its 1789, and thereafter should not be low to follow with 1793", he stressed (K. Marx, F. Engels, Works, 2nd Russian ed., v. 36, p. 260, 263.)

An in fact, it was just in the events of the great French revolution that the Bolsheviks most often looked for the answers to Russian problems. When they came to power they even adopted the lexicon of the French revolutionaries of those times, for instance, the words: "commissar", "revolutionary tribunal", "enemy of the people", "food detachments". They sang the Marseillaise. All of this was because the Bolsheviks understood: Russia had to go through the purgatory of the radical bourgeois democratic revolution. This means they had to be as resolute and bold as were in their time the Jacobins in France. They, like the Jacobins, avenged themselves in the most radical way against absolutism and the relics of feudalism.

It's true, the Russian revolution went yet further - it completely avenged itself on the pre-Revolutionary bourgeois class. But this is by no means equivalent to the elimination of bourgeois relations, to the realization of an anti-commodity socialist revolution in the economy?

As to the socialist aspirations of the Bolsheviks, Engels foresaw such a possibility in the same letter to Vera Zassulich. "People who boasted about having made a revolution, were always convinced on another day that they did not know what they had done - the revolution they had made was not like the one they wanted to make. This is what Hegel called the irony of history, the irony which few historical personalities have avoided." (Marx and Engels, op. cit., v. 36, p.263). However, V. I. Lenin himself wrote in 1906 about the struggle for the socialist revolution in Russia, isolated and trapped in backwardness. "This struggle would be almost hopeless for the Russian proletariat alone, and its defeat would be just as unavoidable, as the defeat of the French proletariat in 1871, if the European socialist proletariat did not come to the aid of the Russian proletariat." (Lenin, PSS, v. 12, p.157). The matter is, of course, about "the socialist revolution in Europe" - "The European workers will show up 'how to do this', and then together with them we will make the socialist revolution." (ibid).

What is the Soviet Power?

V. I. Lenin frequently called the October Revolution "the workers' and peasants' revolution", and he was undoubtedly correct in this. However the Great October, as already noted, was not a socialist revolution, it was the apogee of bourgeois-democratic pressure - the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry with a short-term transition to "the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat." The anti-feudal transformation carried out by the Bolsheviks was not only in the workers interest, but also that of the broad peasant masses.

The October revolution itself, the victory of the Reds in the civil war, the suppression of numerous uprisings and mutinies were impossible without the support for the revolution by the common people - the basic mass of the toilers. What was the class composition of these toilers? From almost 140 million workers at the moment of the Revolution about 110 million were made up of the peasantry. Approximately 65% of the peasantry where poor peasants, the middle peasants were 20%, the kulaks were almost 15%. The urban petit bourgeois made up 8% of the population of the country. Proletarians were about 15 Million, just over 10% of the population, of whom industrial workers were only 3.5 million. (see 'Great October Socialist Revolution, Encyclopaedia', Moscow, "Soviet Encyclopaedia", 1977, pp. 276, 497). Therefore, it is not surprising that the revolution expressed a tone not so much proletarian, as that of the semi-proletarian and petty bourgeois masses. The leading role of the Proletarian Party did not save the situation. For this there is a completely Marxist explanation: the base determines the "superstructure", even such a "superstructure" as the RKP(b). Here is what V. I. Lenin himself wrote in 1917: "Russia is seething today. Millions and tens of millions? politically beaten by the awful whip of Tsarism and hard labour for the landowners and the factory owners, woke up and reached out for politics. But who are these millions and tens of millions? The greater part are small business owners, petit bourgeois, people who stand between the capitalists and the wage workers. Russia is the most petit bourgeois country of all European countries.

The gigantic petit bourgeois wave overwhelmed all, it suppressed the conscious proletariat not only by its numbers, but in ideas, i.e., it infected and held very broad circles in petit bourgeois views of politics." (PSS, v. 31, p.156).

The moving force of the October revolution was the workers and peasantry dressed in soldiers' uniforms and the proletariat held the hegemony under the leadership of the Bolshevik party. It seemed to the "New Bolsheviks" that with this act the socialist revolution itself began in Russia. However, later events demonstrated that the escalation of the political revolution of the proletariat beyond the boundaries of the bourgeois-democratic revolutionary process (that is, "the revolution in the narrow sense"), did not occur. The attempts as the elimination of money, introduction of production on a communist basis, direct distribution of products, rule by direct order, these and other measures of "war communism" were said to be not worthwhile. The Bolsheviks did not succeed in the exchange of products between the city and the country. The petty bourgeois elements demanded markets, the law of value demanded mercantile relationships. These demands could only be quelled together with the petty bourgeois environment. But this environment made up the fundamental mass of the armed populace, the revolutionary army.

Turning next to V. I. Lenin, we should again note, that he had fewer illusions concerning the character of the October revolution than did other "new Bolsheviks." In the end of 1920 a discussion flared in the RKP(b) about the role and goals of the "reservoir of state power", the trade unions, in Soviet Russia. Once the workers have the state, from whom are the unions to protect the proletariat? Not from our own dear state? To this the leader of the Bolsheviks sensibly remarked: "Comrade Trotsky speaks of 'a workers' state'. Excuse me, this is an abstraction?It's not just workers, that's the thing. Here lies one of the fundamental errors of Comrade Trotsky. Our state is in fact not a workers', but a worker-peasant state. That's the first thing. And hence a great deal follows." "Our state is a workers' state", Lenin added, "with bureaucratic deformities." (PSS, v.42, pp. 207-208.) It's true that the leader of the Bolsheviks sought the way out of this in the following dialectic: "Our present state is such, that the universally organized proletariat has to defend itself, but we must use these workers' organisations for their defence from our state, and for the defence of our state by them. And this and other defence is actualized by the peculiar interlacing of our state measures and our agreement, our 'joint undertaking' with our trade unions...", Lenin explained, "The understanding of this 'joint undertaking' includes the necessity of knowing how to utilize measures of state power for defence of the material and spiritual interests of the universally united proletariat from state power" (op. cit. p. 209).

With the transition to the NEP, however, the Bolsheviks had to abandon this scheme as well. First of all, because of compulsory enrolment of all workers as members of the trade unions, and of the subsumption of the unions in the party, but principally from "every direct interference of the unions in the management of enterprises (see Lenin, PSS, v. 44, pp. 344-346). Complete power was finally concentrated "in the hands of factory management, regularly composed on the basis of a single manager", the trade unions were assigned a part of participating in the work of the economic and state organs - this role became "not direct, but by members promoted by the unions and confirmed by the party and the Soviet power to higher state institutions, by members of the economic collegiate, members of factory management (where collegial arrangements are permitted), administrators, their assistants, etc" and also "promotion and preparation of administrators from the workers and toiling masses in general", "the steadfast increase of discipline of labour and the cultural forms of struggle for it and the increase in productivity" with the help of the disciplinary courts, etc.(op. cit., p. 347). At the same time V. I. Lenin recognized, that "from all that is laid out above, results a series of contradictions among the different goals of the trade unions", but he explained them as "contradictions of the situation of the trade unions under the dictatorship of the proletariat" (!) and indicated that they were not accidental and were unavoidable over the course of several decades. To the extent "the indicated contradictions would provoke conflicts, disagreements, friction, etc. a higher instance, reliably authoritative is needed to immediately resolve them. Such instance is the Party and the international association of the Communist Parties of all countries, the Comintern." (ibid., p. 350). In the course of subsequent decades of Soviet power, the position of the trade unions in the county has in fact changed little. After the curtailment of the NEP the Stalinists again turned to the policy of universal membership in the trade unions, but the "authoritative instance" turned out in fact to be authoritarian, and bypassed the Comintern.

Although around the time of the introduction of the NEP V. I. Lenin had internally realized the non-proletarian nature of the Soviet power, his slogan, as we know, was: "to push the bourgeois revolution as far as possible." To push, in the hope of a quickly forthcoming social revolution of the European proletariat ('La Sociale', that is an authentically socialist revolution). This revolution would compensate for Russian backwardness, Lenin thought.

Simultaneously with the famous "Letter to the Congress" of 1922, the Bolshevik leader alerted his colleagues: "Our party relies [leans] on two classes, and because of this its instability and inevitable collapse are possible, if between these two classes consent can not be established" (PSS, v.45, p.344) "If we do not close our eyes to the reality, we must recognize that at the present time the proletarian policy of the party is determined not by its social composition, but by the immense wholehearted authority of that thinnest stratum, which we may call the "party Old Guard". Not a great internal struggle would be sufficient inside this stratum, and if its authority is not undermined, this stratum will be weakened in any case to the extent that the decision will not depend on it any longer", he wrote a little earlier (Ibid, p. 20).

For all of these reasons the leader of the Bolsheviks refused to publicly admit the non-proletarian nature of the society that arose out of the October revolution, and he even threatened any who publicly expressed these views with execution (see PSS, v. 45, pp. 89-90). This is that very Ulyanov-Lenin, who had himself written in 1905: "The complete revolution is the seizure of power by the proletariat and the poor peasantry. But these classes, when they come to power, cannot fail to seek the socialist revolution. Consequently, the seizure of power, which is from the first a step in the democratic revolution, will be led by the force of events, against the will, (and sometimes against the conscience) of the participants to the socialist revolution. And here the collapse is inevitable. But once the collapse of the experiment in socialist revolution is inevitable, then we, (as Marx in 1871, who foresaw the inevitable collapse in Paris) should advise the proletariat not to rise up, to wait, to organize, to step back in order to better leap forward" (PSS, v.9, p.382).

The Marxist prognoses of Lenin the theoretician (in distinction from his non-Marxist aspirations as a social Jacobin politician and practitioner) were fully justified. The RKP(b) experienced a bitter intra-party struggle and elimination of a significant portion of the old guard. As history has shown, the completion of the entire cycle of bourgeois-democratic transformation in Russia took approximately as long as in France. There it was 1789-1871, and with us 1905-1991. In addition, the similarity is surprising, down to the details. Lenin himself reminds us of Robespierre. He, like Robespierre in his time, repeatedly fought against the Left, for instance at the 10th Congress of the RKP(b) the "Workers' Opposition" was suppressed, which attempted to carry out one of the key positions of the new party program, that "the trade unions must come to factual concentration in their hands of the management of the entire economy, as a unified whole" (see V. I. Lenin, PSS, v. 38, p. 435).

The "Russian Robespierre" did not fall to the guillotine, but it is known that his wife N. K. Krupskaya suggested that Lenin could have been counted among the repressed in the years of the Stalin purges. After the death of the leader of the revolution, power in Soviet Russia, as in France in 1794, passed to a Thermidorian "Directorate" - to the more right(-wing) "NEPist communists", in the service of whom there were several former Mensheviks of pro-market inclination. The polemic which broke out around Trotsky's assessment of the Great October, testifies that the majority of the "new Thermidorians" in essence held "old Bolshevik" views?

When the NEP was replaced at the end of the 1920s, there arrived a Russian Soviet bureaucracy headed by I. V. Stalin, who embodied many features of Napoleon I and even to an extent of Napoleon II. The specific Russian Bonapartism (which has led many astray, up to the present day) consisted in the Soviet "Napoleon" bringing a limit to the development of the revolution, introducing a regime of "State Socialism" to the USSR. 'State Socialism' had been planned already in the 19th century by the saint-simonists, Rodbertus and others; it was a model of a society which Engels mercilessly criticized in the last years of his life. However, the fundamental characteristics of Bonapartism, described by Marx in the work 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (Marx/Engels Works, v. 8 p. 115-217), can be seen in its special, Soviet variant. Here we have the cult of personality based on the "traditional faith of the people", and the "immense inner revolution" on its being discredited (op. cit. v.16, p. 376). Here is "the executive power and its immense bureaucratic and military organization", in which "every mutual interest is immediately torn from society, opposed to it as the high, general interest, torn from the sphere of the initiative of members of the society, and made an object of governmental activity, starting from the bridges, school buildings and communal property of any sort of village commune and ending with the rail roads, national property and state universities." The Russian revolution, like the Great French revolution "had to develop farther that which the absolute monarchy had started - centralization, but together with that it extended the capacity, attributes and number of the accomplices of government power" (ibid., v. 8, p.207). Stalin, like Napoleon, "completed this state machine" (ibid), and like Napoleon, he laid the basis of a new court-legal system, introduced a new administrative-territorial division, etc.

Under Stalin the industrialization of the country was instituted, as in the 19th century in France Napoleon III completed the industrial revolution. Stalin's leadership, as Bonaparte's rested on the peasantry, but in distinction from the latter, not on the parcelled peasant - the small owners (although in the middle 20s Stalin himself fluctuated), but on the peasants who possessed little, with strong communal relics, which even under NEP had constituted the majority of the village population. This explains the final success of collectivization of agriculture, which permitted the temporary preservation of the peasantry's special class status.

In connection with this one can recall the place in the letter of F. Engels to K. Kautsky of 15 February 1884: "Someone should take the trouble to expose state socialism, which is spreading like a plague; one can take its model in Java, where it flourishes in practice ? on a state basis the Dutch organized production based on the communism of the ancient rural community, thus guaranteeing the people a completely comfortable existence (as they understood it). This resulted in the people being held at the stage of primitive limitation, but the benefit to the Dutch state coffers is 70 million marks annually (now, probably more). The case is interesting in the highest degree and one can easily draw practical lessons from it. Among others, this is proof that the primitive communism in Java, as in India and Russia forms at the present time a splendid, very broad basis for exploitation and despotism (until it is shaken up by the elements of modern communism). In the conditions of modern society, it is a glaring anachronism, which either must be eliminated or developed further..." (Marx/Engels Works, v. 36, pp. 96-97).

Of course, in the Soviet Union there was another "case" of "state socialism", spread not by colonizers in a backward country with predominantly primitive natural economy, but by the VKP(b) (All Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)) with the goal of the rapid and massive proletarianization of the peasantry with the least resistance. At the same time the practice of Soviet "state socialism" confirmed that the institution of community, even having been transformed into collective farms, would remain the basis of [external] exploitation and despotism.

Collectivisation permitted the Bolsheviks to carry out as well the cultural revolution in the countryside necessary for industrialization. The further development of the old Russian community into a progressive agricultural commune proved impossible because of, first, its semi-decayed state, and, second, the absence of adjacent non-commodity socialism (modern European post-capitalist communism); therefore precisely the collectivisation enabled the gradual but final disappearance of the community and the pumping of more than 30 million workers from the village to the town.

The resemblance of the processes of the bourgeois transformation of France and Russia continued right up to Yeltsin's time. Boris Nikolayevich repeated almost every step of Louis Bonaparte. At first he too was selected president, then he broke up and shot the parliament, and he gave the country a new authoritarian constitution, all this using the recurrent Napoleonic-Stalinist ideas of a strong and unlimited government headed by a resolute personality. Under Yeltsin, as under Napoleon III, power was closely intertwined with the criminal world. Boris Nikolayevich, as opposed to Louis Bonaparte, did not become emperor, but he conducted a pro-imperial policy, and with the same result: if Napoleon III embarrassed himself in Mexico, then Yeltsin did in Chechnya.

The ultimate characterization given by Marx to the French revolution of 1848, considering the results of Louis Bonaparte's coming to power, is completely appropriate to apply to August Revolution of 1991: "However every slightly observant person, even if he has not followed the French events step by step, should have a presentiment that this revolution has in prospect an unheard of disgrace. It would be enough to listen to the complacent triumphant yapping of Mssrs democrats, who have congratulated themselves on the (expected) abundant results..." (Marx/Engels, Works, v.8, p.120).

However, there are enough real differences in the histories of France and Russia. Stalin conducted a social imperialist policy in relation to certain small peoples and neighbouring states, extending and strengthening the Soviet Union, but he was not defeated, as was Napoleon, but on the contrary he defeated the Nazi aggressor in the world war. In France after the collapse of Napoleon I the European reaction temporarily restored the monarchy, but this has not yet happened in Russia. It's not necessary to emphasize again that the basic difference was, finally, in the elimination by the radical Russian revolution both of the nobility in total, and the old bourgeois class, while in France the matter was restricted to the extirpation and expulsion of the landed aristocracy.

The main thing however seems to be that in the 20th century in Russia that thing occurred, against which Marx and Engels warned the European revolutionaries: "In France the proletarians will come to power not alone, but along with the peasants and the petty bourgeois, and will be obliged to carry out not their own measures, but those of the other classes." (Marx/Engels, Works, vol. 8, page. 585). "...on one beautiful morning our party, due to the helplessness and limpness of the other parties will come to power, in order to finally carry out all of those things which immediately address not our own interests, but the general revolutionary and specific petty bourgeois interests; in this case, pressured by the proletarian masses, constrained by our own party struggle with printed declarations and plans, which to a well known extent will be misconstrued and rashly pushed forward, we will be obliged to conduct communist experiments and run races, knowing full well how untimely they are. In addition we will lose our heads, we must hope only in the physical sense - the reaction will set in, and before the world will be in a position to give a historical assessment of similar events, we will be considered, monsters to be cursed, or fools, which is worse. It's hard to imagine another perspective" (ibid., v. 28, pp. 490-491). Sad to say, Lenin did not at all like this, and when they brought him similar expressions of the classics, he contemptuously called them "Punch's citations" (PSS, v. 9, p.409).

"State Socialism" as a Catching-up Capitalism

As far back as in 1849, Karl Marx, clarifying the bases of the capitalist formation, noted: "The existence of the class that owns nothing, except its capacity for labour, is a necessary prerequisite of capital? Capital presupposes wage labour, but wage labour presupposes capital. They mutually cause each other, they mutually generate each other" (K. Marx, F. Engels, Collected Works, 2nd Russian Ed., v. 6, pp. 443-444). Today, from the height of a new, post-Soviet epoch it is definitively clear that on the whole in the Union of Soviet "Socialist" Republics, under specific historical conditions, there occurred economic processes of the same sort. Having put the economy of the country during the NEP on a self-supporting, cost-accounting capitalist basis and thereby having anew restored, with the help of private capitalists, the working proletariat, the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Stalin then definitively abolished the class of private owners which was hindering them. Hereafter the restored wage labour was called upon to generate state capital under the signboard of "socialism".

In 1891 the German Social Democrats, influenced by F. Engels, inserted the following thesis into the Erfurt Programme of their party: "The Social-democratic party has nothing in common with the so-called state socialism, i.e. the system of statification with the fiscal ends in view which puts the State on the place of private entrepreneur and hereunder unites in one hands the power of economic exploitation and political oppressing of workers." (see K. Marx, F. Engels, Collected Works, v. 22, p. 623). Neither the programme of the Russian Social-democratic Labour Party which was common to the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, nor the programme of the Russian Communist party (Bolsheviks) contained a similar thesis, and the Russian Marxists almost did not take up this question at all (neither have done, alas, the Marxists-Leninists up to our days). Meanwhile the society created by efforts of the Russian Bolsheviks and their epigones proved to be exactly the practical embodiment of this well-known non-Marxist model of pseudo-socialism, but in reality - of state-capitalist monopolism. The Soviet Union never was either a socialist state, as the Stalinists maintain, or the degenerated workers' state, as the majority of Trotskyites believes. As a result of nationalization a state monopoly on means of production and exchange came into existence in the country, which is far from being equal to the socialization of property. As Karl Marx foresaw, "such abolition of private property is by no means a true mastering of it", for such sort of "communism" "community is only the community of labour and equality of wages paid by the communal capital, by commune as a common capitalist. Both sides of the interrelation are lifted on the stage of the imagined community: labour - as the destination of everyone, and capital - as the recognized community and strength of the whole society" (see K. Marx, F. Engels, Collected Works, v. 42, p. 114; written in April 1844).

In the USSR the class structure of society was preserved, including the industrial working class, state-farm semi-proletariat and constantly reducing neo-communitarian collective-farm peasantry. Under the circumstances the role of the bourgeoisie was played by the politically dominating class of party-state bureaucracy ("nomenklatura"), which performed, according to Engels, "public official function of total aggregate entrepreneur" (Marx and Engels, op. cit., v. 20, p. 185). There were preserved the exchange of commodities between the state-owned sector of production and the collective-farm & co-operative one, the retail trade and other attributes of commodity-money economy. Whereas V. I. Lenin himself said: "We set ourselves as an object the equality as the abolition of classes. Then it is necessary to do away with the class difference between workers and peasants too. This is precisely our object. Society, which has preserved the class difference between workers and peasants, is neither communist, nor socialist society" (see V. I. Lenin, PSS, v. 38, p. 353). "The object is to create socialism, to do away with the division of society into classes, to make all society members toilers, to take away the ground of any exploitation of man by man" (op. cit., p. 385)". As a result of the NEP the country is to "come to the correct socialist exchange of products between the industry and agriculture", he believed (see V. I. Lenin, PSS, v. 44, p. 8), only then "it is possible to consider that the foundation of the socialist economy has been laid" (op. cit., p. 502), moreover "the transition from the money to the non-money exchange of products is unquestionable. That this transition may be successfully completed, it is necessary that the exchange of products should be realized (not the exchange of commodities)" (see op. cit., v. 52, p. 22).

The purpose of state socialism, as F. Engels pointed out, is "to transform the possibly greater number of proletarians into officials and retirees dependent on the state and to organize alongside with the disciplined army of soldiers and officials the same army of workers". "Compulsory elections under the supervision of an authority nominated by the state, instead of factory taskmasters - a fine socialism", he was indignant (K. Marx, F. Engels, Collected Works, v. 35, p. 140). All this was in the USSR. During all seven decades of existence of this state the character of labour of workers in it remained hired - the administration hired workmen and was possessed of real power, and not the the reverse. Surplus product was estranged by the state apparatus and by it it was redistributed. In its turn, this stimulated [encouraged] the constant growth of those vast non-productive strata of population which Karl Marx called "'ideological' orders" and "the class of servants" (see K. Marx, F. Engels. Selected Works in 9 volumes. V.7. - Moscow: Politizdat, 1987, pp.414-415 [it's in the First Book of "Capital", Ch. XIII - "Machines and Large-scale Industry" - translator's note].) Only in contrast to England of 1861 "a perfect result of the capitalist exploitation of machines" was here the upkeep of almost all the 'servants' at the expense of the state. Taking into account this state of society, the "Social Status" column of Soviet questionary forms provided for only three categories of citizens: workers, collective farmers and "servants", the latter covering both the bourgeoisie-substituting "nomenklatura" and all the servants subordinate to it, including the so-called 'intelligentsia'.

Whereas Marx warned: "None of the forms of hired labour, though one of them can eliminate defects of another, is able to eliminate the defects of itself the system of hired labour" (see op. cit., v. 46, p. 62). If hired labour constantly reproduces capital, then some time or other those will appear who want to own this capital "as is customary" - on the rights of private property.

The monopoly-state mode of production that became firmly established in the course of realization of the model of "state socialism" and was based on wage labour in industry, services sector and large segment of agriculture - that peculiar state capitalism, which, according to V. I. Lenin, "no Marx and no Marxists could foresee" - proved in fact to be the road of backward, half-Asiatic, Russia to the modern capitalism. But then again, it was exactly K. Marx who had noted the existence of "the state mode of production in former epochs of Russian history" (see K. Marx, F. Engels. Selected Works in 9 volumes. V.8. - Moscow: Politizdat, 1987, p.109 [it's in the so-called Second Book of "Capital" - "The process of circulation of capital", Ch. IV - "Three figures of the process of circular movement" - translator's note]), so such a recurrence of traditionalism in the country was not something unexpected for the truly Marxist science.

The Party-managerial "nomenklatura" has carried out the objectively progressive task of organizing large-scale industry and integrating it with the collective-farm & co-operative sector into a single national-economic complex; thus there were overcome the economic orders, which the multinational country had inherited from feudalism and even pre-feudal modes of production. At the same time itself the "nomenklatura", as it has been said above, temporarily rallied into a dominating class, which, as F. Engels noted, had taken place more than once in the Asiatic history when "exercise of some public official function was in the basis of political domination" (see K. Marx, F. Engels, Collected Works, v. 20, p. 185-186 [it's in Engels's "Anti-Dühring", Ch. "Theory of Violence. End" - translator's note])

However during the years of "socialist construction" a huge managerial system with its all-penetrating bureaucratic planning was created, and it was efficient only under two main circumstances: with not very substantial nomenclature and assortment of industrial products and with substantial volumes of cheap, with half-serfdom relapses, labour of collective farmers and of half-slave labour of millions confined in corrective-labor camps, which allowed instead of army of unemployed to restrain the increase of cost of labour power and understate its real price on the monopoly labour market. As these two factors were disappearing the administrative-command system was more and more skidding with each new five-year plan and by the mid-1980s it has stopped out and out. It was in the so-called "perestroika", i.e. in transition to the model of "market socialism" after the example of China, that the Party-State elite first attempted to find a way out of the impasse thus arisen, but it became immediately clear that in this process the most of the "nomenklatura" did not want to waive their privileges and their habitual half-parasitic way of life in general, which would be inevitable. Then there spread a struggle, in the course of which the "perestroikaites" raised the standard of "democracy and glasnost (openness) " - to be sure, the one of bourgeois democracy and bourgeois openness - and tried to win round all those who were discontented with the system inclusive of the most exploited part of the working class, thus having roused them to political activity. At the same time the part of the vehicle of market reforms was assigned to the socially active bourgeois intelligentsia, which earlier had been diligently serving the needs of the class of bourgeois bureaucracy.

It was in the course of the perestroika struggle that the most mature part of the "nomenklatura" had fully realized by the beginning of the 1990s the final trend of development of its class-exploiting interest and, by the use of bourgeois liberal democrats, it set to privatize everything that had been created in the USSR under its leadership. Thus in Russia there was completed the epoch of the bourgeois democratic revolution in its broad sense - the one which had been begun by the Revolution of 1905 and was finished by the August political revolution of 1991. And, paraphrasing Engels, one can say that the political domination of the class of bourgeois bureaucracy, i.e. of the "nomenklatura", lasted as long as "it performed this very public official function of total [aggregate] entrepreneur" (ibid). The transitional state mode of production based on wage labour was succeeded by a standard market-monopolistic capitalism; despite the hopes of Stalinists, the law of value gained its next convincing victory in the sphere of commodity economy, thus having proved the groundlessness of any commodity-money "models" of non-Marxist socialism - both state and market ones.

Post-Soviet Russia

With this change of modes of production within the frame of commodity economy the former single exploiting class of bourgeois bureaucracy has made room for a usual spectrum of bourgeois strata and classes proper to the developed capitalism: financial oligarchy, bureaucratic bourgeoisie, trade [commercial] and industrial bourgeoisie. The class of the state-maintained servants has begun to decompose too. One part of it has reinforced the ranks of new exploiters, another one constitutes the basis of a vast stratum of the urban petty bourgeoisie which has been among the first to emerge, the third one is sinking into the proletariat or approaching [to] it from the point of view of its living conditions. There is a steady process of class delimitation in the country-side: the specific class of the collective-farm peasantry is quickly disappearing, classes of new agricultural workers, private farmers, big landowners are emerging. The legalization of the private ownership of land at the same time as of other means of agricultural production catalyzes this process.

The present political system of Russia - for all its obvious crisis-riddenness - is very advantageous for the whole bourgeoisie at large, seeing as all without exception large parties and associations - from the far right nazis to the allegedly left pseudo-communists - reflect in the end the economic and political interests of the rival groups of the dominating class, i.e. of the state-owned and private capital.

In 1990s the state power of Russia is in hands of the bloc of non-productive strata of the bourgeoisie - of the top bureaucracy and financial oligarchy supported by those traders who are engaged in export of raw materials and import of consumer goods. This bloc has full control over the sphere of money circulation in the country exploiting it in its purely speculative interests. The part of surplus value which remains at the disposal of the productive bourgeoisie is hardly enough for the maintenance of reproduction and its own insatiable consumption, so the proletariat - the producer of surplus value and the source of the whole of profit - is even deprived of wages funds. Thus the "patriotically spirited home commodity producers" - bourgeois ones - have invented a new kind of extorting absolute surplus value besides the extension of the working day and intensification of labour: introducing a system of voluntary servility of exploiting workers they reduce the necessary labour time to a minimum, but bring the surplus labour time to a maximum.

The whole activity of the ruling comprador bloc bears an openly parasitic and antinational character. That's why the factions of the bourgeoisie opposing it try to rally themselves and to lead under the chauvinistic slogans the possibly greater part of indigent and poor strata and classes (in robbery of which they have participated and are still participating). To promote this are called various combinations of 'state-patriotic' coalitions aiming for forming a bourgeois bloc of "patriot-professionals" from the former nomenklatura-CPSU politicians, regional elites, officials of middle and lower sections, industrialists and traders in the area of home industry, representatives of restricted small and middle business etc. In addition, the weakness of true communist internationalist forces result in the fact that the right-wing reactionaries more and more devour the political space to the left of the centre. Thus, not only "Red and White" alliances like 'the Communist Party of Russian Federation - People's Patriotic Forces of Russia' are created by their efforts, but also even "Red and Brown" ones as it has been in the case of the neo-CPSU "Trudovaya Rossiya" ["Labour Russia" headed by Victor Anpilov -translator's comment] and the fascist-like "National Bolshevist Party" [headed by Eduard Limonov - translator's comment]. No wonder that ultimately the great-powerism, Russian nationalism and anti-Semitism, defence of the "Orthodox spirituality» and any other Black-Hundredism of this sort become the common ideological platform of such-like associations and not Marxism-Leninism!

After having ousted the compradors from power the "people's patriotic forces" will try, in a protectionist manner, to create an effective market economy by means of rehabilitation of domestic industry and substantial strengthening of regulating role of the bourgeois state. Sure, the capitalist character of such economy would be then camouflaged as it now takes place in Byelorussia, and the agitators with red fillets would persistently call the completely impoverished toilers to unity with businessmen "in the name of rebirth of the Motherland". The most suitable thing for the national bourgeoisie in such a situation would be a tough political regime in the form of personal or, which is better, party dictatorship of right-wing trend. And it is quite able to come into being, and in any packing: White, "Red", Black, Brown, but most likely - in a mixed one. One can well understand that the extreme variant here is Nazism.

To our mind, the tasks of the proletariat and Marxist intellectuals in this situation are the development of an uncompromising class struggle against all the factions of the bourgeoisie - from the compradors to the national-patriots and their political attenders of any party colours; creation of genuine class workers' trade unions and rallying of the proletarian vanguard into a strong influential Marxist Labour party with a view to accomplish the genuine, international, worldwide socialist revolution and thus to abolish the whole system of commodity-money economy, class-exploiting structure of society and, consequently, any relations of social domination and subjection, the institution of the State.

At the same time the first step on this path may be the undivided power of that part of the proletariat which has been organized by the large-scale production and enlightened in Marxism, the power which it would establish in the course of radical social revolution, i.e. the socialist dictatorship of the proletariat. Only the socialist working class - the producer of the absolute majority of wealth [material values] in the present epoch - has the right to arming in order to avoid attempts of counterrevolution and restoration of old orders from anyone's side.

While the working class is in need of the state of this sort, the power in it must belong to it undividedly and directly - such is one of the main lessons of the defeat of Leninism.

[Translated from Russian by Mark Harris (the IWW, USA) and Dmitriy Fomin (the MLP, Russia) in 2001]


1ICC note. This is the complete version of the text excerpts of which are published in the ICC's International Review no.111. This translation was done by the editors of the magazine Left Turn with elaboration by the South Bureau of the Marxist Labour Party, 1995 - 1997. References to Lenin's works are to the Complete Collection of V. I. Lenin's Works, 5th Russian Edition, abbreviated PSS. The works of Marx/Engels mostly refer to the 2nd Russian edition of the Works of Marx and Engels. Unfortunately, the references do not include the names or - occasionally - the dates of the original texts such that these cannot always be identified in the English version of Lenin's Complete Works.