Leninism and Revisionism. In the Fundamental Questions of Theory and Practice of Socialism (The dictatorship of the proletariat, its organizational form and economic entity)

  • 01/07/14 12.07

In 2009, the Fund of Workers' Academy that promotes learning course for workers in Russia, published a collection of "The main idea of Leninism", which has incorporated major Lenin's views on the class approach to the analysis of social phenomena and the dictatorship of the proletariat.[1] Acquaintance with this collection helps to understand the defection, apostasy those of CPSU leaders, who took the revisionist stance on major issues of Marxism-Leninism at the XXII CPSU Congress. This stance was fixed in the CPSU program which, at most, predetermined the subsequent dissipation of the party and the destruction of the country. The above is proved in this article. The authors have tried to draw the particular attention to the fact that most inventions, excuses and "modern" arguments presented by current opportunists and renegades were retorted by Lenin long ago, at the time of the Lenin’s fight against opportunists and those perverting Marxism during the Second International and the establishment of the Soviet power in Russia.

The class character of the state

The fact that every state has the class character is the ABC of Marxism, and Lenin was constantly stressing it. In his article "The Petty-Bourgeois Stand on the Question of Economic Disorganisation" Lenin wrote: "to distinguish which class the state serves, whose class interests it stands for".[2] And in the book "The State and Revolution" Lenin emphasizes, that "according to Marx, the state is an organ of class rule".[3] In the article "The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It" Lenin asks: "And what is the state?" and gives the following answer: "It is an organisation of the ruling class".[4] The same idea Lenin explains in his article "Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power?": "The state, dear people, is a class concept. The state is an organ or instrument of violence exercised by one class against another".[5] In the Report at the Second All-Russia Trade Union Congress, January 20, 1919, Lenin stresses more categorically: "There is and can be only one alternative: either the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, disguised by constituent assemblies, all kinds of voting systems, democracy and similar bourgeois frauds that are used to blind fools, and that only people who have become utter renegades from Marxism and socialism all along the line can make play of today—or the dictatorship of the proletariat".[6] It is therefore logical that the Program of the RCP(b) developed by Lenin states clearly: "As opposed to the bourgeois democracy, which has been hiding the class character of the state, the Soviet government openly acknowledges the inevitability of the class character of any state. This class character will exist until the division of society into classes will disappear completely together with any respective state authority".[7] In the brochure "Letter to the Workers and Peasants Apropos of the Victory Over Kolchak", Lenin stresses the class character of the state in the strongest terms: "Either the dictatorship (i.e., the iron rule) of the landowners and capitalists, or the dictatorship of the working class.

There is no middle course. The scions of the aristocracy, intellectualists and petty gentry, badly educated on bad books, dream of a middle course. There is no middle course anywhere in the world, nor can there be. Either the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie (masked by ornate Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik phraseology about a people’s government, a constituent assembly, liberties, and the like), or the dictatorship of the proletariat. He who has not learned this from the whole history of the nineteenth century is a hopeless idiot".[8]

The essence of the socialist state

In his Concluding Speech On The Report Of The Council Of People’s Commissars, January 12 (25) January, 1918 at the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies Lenin said: "Democracy is a form of bourgeois state championed by all traitors to genuine socialism, who now find themselves at the head of official socialism and who assert that democracy is contrary to the dictatorship of the proletariat. Until the revolution transcended the limits of the bourgeois system, we were for democracy; but as soon as we saw the first signs of socialism in the progress of the revolution, we took a firm and resolute stand for the dictatorship of the proletariat".[9]In the brochure "The successes and the difficulties of the Soviet power", Lenin simply made fun of the unfortunate communists who rejected the dictatorship of the proletariat. He wrote: "We, of course, are not opposed to violence. We laugh at those who are opposed to the dictatorship of the proletariat, we laugh and say that they are fools who do not understand that there must be either the dictatorship of the proletariat or the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Those who think otherwise are either idiots, or are so politically ignorant that it would be a disgrace to allow them to come anywhere near a meeting, let alone on the platform".[10]Lenin defended the same idea in the Report On The Domestic And Foreign Situation Of The Soviet Republic at the Extraordinary Plenary Meeting Of The Moscow Soviet Of Workers’ And Red Army Deputies on April 3 1919: "either the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, or the power and complete dictatorship of the working class; no middle course was ever of any use, nothing came of it ".[11]

In "The dictatorship of the proletariat" Lenin wrote the following:

"1. The chief reason why the “socialists” do not understand the dictatorship of the proletariat is that they do not carry the idea of the class struggle to its logical conclusion (Cf. Marx, 1852)

The dictatorship of the proletariat is the continuation of the class struggle of the proletariat in new forms. That is the crux of the matter, and that is what they do not understand.

The proletariat, as a special class, alone continues to wage its class struggle. 
2. The state is only a weapon of the proletariat in its class struggle. A special kind of cudgel, rien de plus! Nothing more.—Editor.]".[12]

In his Speech Delivered at The All-Russia Congress of Transport Workers, March 27, 1921 Lenin once again explained that the question is put "either-or": "The class that took political power did so in the knowledge that it was doing so alone. That is intrinsic to the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. It has meaning only when one class knows that it is taking political power alone, and does not deceive others or itself with talk about “popular government by popular consent through universal suffrage”. You all know that there are very many-far too many-people who love to hold forth on that subject, but, at any rate, you will not find them among proletarians, because they have realised that theirs is a dictatorship of the proletariat, and they say as much in their Constitution, the fundamental law of the Republic".[13] In his brochure "The Tax in Kind" Lenin stressed quite simply and briefly: "At the same time socialism is inconceivable unless the proletariat is the ruler of the state. This also is ABC ".[14]

The concept, the objectives, and the historical boundaries of the dictatorship of the proletariat

In his article "Fear Of The Collapse Of Tile Old And The Fight For Tile New" Lenin notes"What dictatorship implies and means is a state of simmering war, a state of military measures of struggle against the enemies of the proletarian power".[15] With that, in his article "Greetings to the Hungarian workers" he emphasizes: "But the essence of proletarian dictatorship is not in force alone, or even mainly in force. Its chief feature is the organisation and discipline of the advanced contingent of the working people, of their vanguard; of their sole leader, the proletariat, whose object is to build socialism, abolish the division of society into classes, make all members of society working people, and remove the basis for all exploitation of man by man".[16] Lenin explains that "the abolition of classes requires a long, difficult and stubborn class struggle, which, after the overthrow of capitalist rule, after the destruction of the bourgeois state, after the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, does not disappear (as the vulgar representatives of the old socialism and the old Social-Democracy imagine), but merely changes its forms and in many respects becomes".[17] In his brochure "The Great Beginning" Lenin gives the following definition of the dictatorship of the proletariat: "If we translate the Latin, scientific, historico-philosophical term “dictatorship of the proletariat” into simpler language, it means just the following:

Only a definite class, namely, the urban workers and the factory, industrial workers in general, is able to lead the whole mass of the working and exploited people in the struggle to throw off the yoke of capital, in actually carrying it out, in the struggle to maintain and consolidate the victory, in the work of creating the new, socialist social system and in the entire struggle for the complete abolition of classes. (Let us observe in parenthesis that the only scientific distinction between socialism and communism is that the first term implies the first stage of the new society arising out of capitalism, while the second implies the next and higher stage.)

The mistake the “Berne” yellow International makes is that its leaders accept the class struggle and the leading role of the proletariat only in word and are afraid to think it out to its logical conclusion. They are afraid of- that inevitable conclusion which particularly terrifies the bourgeoisie, and which is absolutely unacceptable to them. They are afraid to admit that the dictatorship of the proletariat is also a period of class struggle, which is inevitable as long as classes have not been abolished, and which changes in form, being particularly fierce and particularly peculiar in the period immediately following the overthrow of capital. The proletariat does not cease the class struggle after it has captured political power, but continues it until classes are abolished—of course, under different circumstances, in different form and by different means.

And what does the “abolition of classes” mean? All those who call themselves socialists recognise this as the ultimate goal of socialism, but by no means all give thought to its significance. Classes are large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production, by their relation (in most cases fixed and formulated in law) to the means of production, by their role in the social organisation of labour, and, consequently, by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and the mode of acquiring it. Classes are groups of people one of which can appropriate the labour of another owing to the different places they occupy in a definite system of social economy.

Clearly, in order to abolish classes completely, it is not enough to overthrow the exploiters, the landowners and capitalists, not enough to abolish their rights of ownership; it is necessary also to abolish all private ownership of the means of production, it is necessary to abolish the distinction between town and country, as well as the distinction between manual workers and brain workers. This requires a very long period of time"[18] Lenin in his article "Economics and politics in the era of the dictatorship of the proletariat" continues to define the boundaries of the dictatorship of the proletariat and highlights the impact of the dictatorship of the proletariat throughout the whole phase of the socialism: "Socialism means the abolition of classes. The dictatorship of the proletariat has done all it could to abolish classes. But classes cannot be abolished at one stroke.

And classes still remain and will remain in the era of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The dictatorship will become unnecessary when classes disappear. Without the dictatorship of the proletariat they will not disappear.

Classes have remained, but in the era of the dictatorship of the proletariat every class has undergone a change, and the relations between the classes have also changed. The class struggle does not disappear under the dictatorship of the proletariat; it merely assumes different forms".[19] It should be stressed that Lenin specifically lists these forms for the communists of all countries and of the times to come, in his book "Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder": "The dictatorship of the proletariat means a persistent struggle—bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, educational and administrative – against the forces and traditions of the old society".[20] Under the socialism there is a sharp class struggle against the powers and traditions of the capitalist society. At the first place this struggle is aimed against the “petty-bourgeoisness” and against the petty-bourgeois manifestations on the part of representatives of classes and the layers of the social society. In particular this struggle is aimed against the petty-bourgeois aspirations to give to the society as little as possible and to give to the society not the best things while attempting to take from the society the best things and as much as possible. This struggle takes part in the working class, in the party itself and the mind of almost any man.

How long is the dictatorship of the proletariat indispensable? In the Theses on Tactics of the RCP report at the III Congress of the Communist International Lenin answers this question as follows: "The dictatorship of the proletariat does not signify a cessation of the class struggle, but its continuation in a new form and with new weapons. This dictatorship is essential as long as classes exist, as long as the bourgeoisie, overthrown in one country, intensifies tenfold its attacks on socialism on an international scale The dictatorship of the proletariat does not mean the cease of the class struggle ".[21] And since, as highlighted in the Report on the tactics of the RCP at the III Congress of the Communist International of July 5, 1921, "The aim of socialism is to abolish classes "[22], the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat shall include the entire first phase of the communism, i.e. the entire period of the socialism.

The organizational form of the dictatorship of the proletariat

The essence of any state – the dictatorship of the ruling class. At the same time, this dictatorship rarely openly acts on the surface of the political life. Each type of dictatorship (with all its deviations and temporary retreats) has a definite stable form of display. This form of display, as the organizational form, shall be adequate for the dictatorship of the particular class. This form corresponds to the dictatorship of the given class and provides for the preservation of the dictatorship of such class in the best possible way. The immanent, i.e. the inherent organizational form of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is the parliamentary democracy founded on the elections based on the territorial districts’ principal. The organizational form of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the Soviet power, elected in accordance with the factories’ and plants’ principle. In his "Thesis and Report on Bourgeois Democracy and the Dictatorship of the Proletariatat the I Congress of the Communist International of March 4, 1919, Lenin wrote: "The old, i.e., bourgeois, democracy and the parliamentary system were so organized that it was the mass of working people who were kept farthest away from a machinery of government. Soviet power, i.e., the dictatorship of the proletariat, on the other hand, is so organized as to bring the working people close to the machinery of government. That, too, is the purpose of combining the legislative and executive authority under the Soviet organization of the state and of replacing territorial constituencies by production units—the factory".[23]

As mentioned in the Lenin’s brochure "Letter to the Workers and Peasants apropos of the Victory Over Kolchak", "Soviet power—that is what the “dictatorship of the working class” means in practice.[24] Lenin in his article "The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government" emphasizes explicitly: "Soviet power is nothing but an organisational form of the dictatorship of the proletariat".[25]

Analysis of organizational forms of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie (in its most stable modification – the bourgeois democracy) and the dictatorship of the proletariat in the form of councils (i.e. soviets) demonstrates that the stability and functioning of the mentioned dictatorships is provided for by the objective grounds. The formation of the power is based on such objective grounds. The formation of the parliamentary democracy as a form of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is based on the monetary resources of the capitalists, on the institution of private capitalist property. The formation of the parliamentary democracy uses the bourgeois ideology which is dominant in society (as the being of the society determines its conscience). The proletarian democracy is based on the objective self-discipline of the working class in the course of the working class’ labour at the factories and plants. Such factories and plants become the electoral units (districts) of the Soviets. This is not about the title, but about the form of organization of the power which is characteristic for the Soviet power (the power ensuring the dictatorship of the working class).

Vaiver of the organizational form of the dictatorship of the proletariat a threat to the dictatorship of the proletariat

Soviets emerged in Ivanovo-Voznesensk in 1905 as organs of strike and organs of self government of the working class formed at the factories and the plants in accordance with the labour collectives’ principle. The Soviets were at that time elected at factories and plants. In 1917 the Soviets recurred throughout whole of Russia. The constitutive principle of the Soviets is the election of deputies at factories and plants, as the election of deputies at factories and plants provides for the possibility to control the activities of Soviet deputies and the feasibility of their calling off and replacement at the discretion of the labour collectives. This principle was formalized in Program of the RCP(b) adopted by the VIII Congress of the Party of Lenin: "The Soviet state also brings the state apparatus together with the masses by establishing that the electoral unit and the basic unit of the state shall be the production unit (plant, factory), not the territorial district".[26]

On the contrary to this program’s provision, in 1936 (in connection with the adoption of the new, supposedly more "democratic" constitution) the transition to the election based on the territorial principle took place. Such territorial principle of election is typical for bourgeois democratic system. This principle makes it impossible to call off the deputies which turned away from the people. The statements made by Stalin at that time on the alleged broadening of the democracy due to the adoption of the Constitution of 1936 shall be acknowledged as incorrect. It would have been more correct to say that a step toward the transition from the Soviet, proletarian democracy to the parliamentary, bourgeois democracy was actually made. Such parliamentary, bourgeois democracy implies formal equality and ignores the actual inequality. A formal onetime’ extension of the voting rights to former members of the exploiting classes could not actually broaden the democracy. The Soviet democracy (the democracy of the working people) gradually comes to all people’s voting on the basis of the gradual withdrawal of the former members of the exploiting class at the historical stage due to the elimination of any exploitation. The renunciation of the principle of elections through labour collectives at factories and plants (such principle is a characteristic principle of the Soviets) and the shift to the election in accordance with the territorial districts principle is equivalent to a throwback. It is the throwback from the Soviets to the parliamentarism and, hence, to the weakening of the real democratism.

It is interesting to recall that Lenin, while preparing the second Program of RCP(b), considered the possibility of waiver of the form of the Soviets only as the result of the general retreat in the struggle under the pressure of the circumstances and the forces of the enemy. He did not consider such waiver as the move to develop the democracy of workers (proletarians’ or workers' democracy). In the Resolution on Changing the Name of the Party and the Party Programme of the Seventh Congress RCP (b) Lenin wrote"the change in the political part of our Programme must consist in the most accurate and comprehensive definition possible of the new type of state, the Soviet Republic, as a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat and as a continuation of those achievements of the world working-class revolution which the Paris Commune began. The Programme must show that our Party does not reject the use even of bourgeois parliamentarism, should the course of the struggle push us back, for a time, to this historical stage which our revolution has now passed. But in any case and under all circumstances the Party will strive for a Soviet Republic as the highest, from the standpoint of democracy, type of state, as a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, of abolition of the exploiters’ yoke and of suppression of their resistance ».[27]

Everything seems to be explicit. However, a move to the bourgeois democracy was made. Since Then, due to the liquidation in practice of the possibility to call off the deputies that betrayed the trust of the voters organized as labour collectives, the process of more and more intensive contamination of the state machine by the bureaucracy and careerism started. It is also within the framework of this process the party-and-state machine bred khruschevs and gorbachevs. The state machine became soiled with careerists and bureaucrats for whom their own interests were the priority compared to the common interests. The title “Soviets” remained but the essence of the soviets started to blur. The dictatorship of the proletariat, having been deprived of its inherent organizational form, was put at risk. After the principal of election on the basis of the labour collectives was eliminated, the proletarian character of the bodies of the power (it still bore the name “soviet”) was only provided for by the still preserved elements of their connection with labour collectives. This connection took place through labour collectives recommending the candidates, through occasional reporting of the deputies to the labour collectives, through the regulation of the social contingent of the soviets by the party. This connection also took place on inertion due to the proletarian character of the party contingent. But even at the time of Stalin (who has vowed to strengthen the dictatorship of the proletariat by the coffin of V.I. Lenin and who was fighting for the strengthening of the proletarian dictatorship throughout his life) the anti-workers’ majority began gradually accumulating in the Central Committee of the party. This anti-workers’ majority opportunism, evolving into revisionism, was going to alter the class nature of the state after Stalin's death.

The waiver of the dictatorship of the proletariat – the waiver of Marxism

A kind of artillery preparation for the direct attack at the main idea of Marxism was held at the Twentieth Party Congress. By the efforts of Khrushchev’s revisionist group everything positive done under Stalin’s leadership was libelously questioned. This Khrushchev’s revisionist group also applied for the revision of the key provisions of Marxism on the class struggle and on the dictatorship of the proletariat. However, Lenin’s program of the RCP(b) was still in effect and, therefore, Khrushchev’s supporters began the preparation of this program’s replacement by a different one that would eliminate the very essence of Marxism-Leninism. A thesis of the final victory of socialism in the USSR (an unwinding and demobilizing thesis for communists, working class and all working people) was put forward by the CPSU’s First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev in his report at the XXII Congress "On the Program of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union".[28] It was stated in the report that the class struggle is confined only to the transitional period towards the socialism.[29] Throughout the whole report socialism was understood not as a phase of the communism, but as a separate formation. Accordingly, instead of the typical socialist goal of complete elimination of classes at the first phase of the classless society the goal of building the classless society was put forward. At the same time a purely anti-Marxist, revisionist goal was declared: "From the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat to the "people’s state".[30] It was stated that, allegedly "the working class of the Soviet Union on its own initiative, based on the tasks of building communism, transformed the state of its dictatorship into the people’s state… It is for the first time that we have formed a state which is not based on the dictatorship of any class ... the dictatorship of the proletariat is no longer indispensable".[31] The party, in the contradiction to Lenin’s concept of a political party as the vanguard of the class, was also declared to be not the party of the working class but the party of all people.

These revisionist ideas were not resisted at the Congress. The Congress unanimously adopted the revisionist, essentially anti-Leninist and essentially anti-Marxist program. According to this program, allegedly "the dictatorship of the proletariat has fulfilled its historical mission and, in terms of the goals of the internal development, has ceased to be indispensable in the USSR. The state which has emerged as the dictatorship of the proletariat, at this new, modern stage, has become a people’s state... As the party understands, the dictatorship of the working class ceases to be indispensable before the state withers away".[32] To appraise this position in more detail lets once again turn to Lenin.

In his book "The State and the Revolution" Lenin stressed the class character of every state (until such state continues to exist), the necessity to destroy the old state machine and the necessity to create the new state apparatus which would be able to solve the problems of the proletarian dictatorship for the purpose of the victory of the proletarian revolution; he also developed a number of provisions that have to be observed so that the state (which is the weapon of the working class, the means of ensuring its political domination) would not become the power dominating the working class. In this book and also in the notebook "Marxism on the State" Lenin clearly pursues the idea that the state withers away only with the complete elimination of classes (i.e. while the classes still remain, the state, as the body of the politically dominating class, remains as well). He cites and develops the idea of Engels about State: "When at last it becomes the real representative of the whole of society, it renders itself unnecessary".[33] Lenin, as if responding to all the doubters, to all those who are hesitant and indecisive, emphasizes: "Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. That is what constitutes the most profound distinction between the Marxist and the ordinary petty (as well as big) bourgeois. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism should be tested".[34] In his work "The State: A Lecture Delivered at the Sverdlov University of June 11, 1919) Lenin points out that it is the capitalist state which "proclaims liberty for the whole people as its slogan, which declares that it expresses the will of the whole people and denies that it is a class state ". [35]

The Khrushchev’s revisionist group, having disoriented, having actually deceived the party and the people with respect to the issue of the dictatorship of the proletariat (the dictatorship which absence makes the development of the socialism into communism impossible), eventually altered the goals of the development of the production and the society. The above is worth considering in more detail.

The goal of the of socialist production

The essence of history, the progress of the society shall be the movement to the full welfare and the free all-round development of all members of the society.

At the time of primitive-communal communism this essence only appeared in the strictly limited way due to the lack of the development of productive forces. It appeared in satisfying the urgent needs of society members, satisfying their demands based on the available resources and based on the tribal hierarchy.

At the time of slavery, slaves were not considered to be human beings. During the period of slavery the production was being developed for the benefit of the prosperity and all-round development of the members of the ruling class – slave owners.

At the time of the feudalism it was mostly the welfare and all-round development of the feudals that was increasing. The peasants and the craftsmen had to be content with rather poor satisfaction of their needs.

Under capitalism, the goal of the production is the production of the surplus value and profits. Such production leads to the increase of the welfare and all-round development of the capitalists. It limits the satisfaction of the workers’ need to the extent ensuring the reproduction of the work force required to continue the capital’s self-expansion. Under capitalism, as Lenin wrote in"Materials for the elaboration of RSDWP program", "the gigantic development of the productive forces of social labour, which is constantly becoming more socialised labour, is attended by monopolisation of all the principal advantages of this development by a negligible minority of the population. The growth of social wealth proceeds side by side with the growth of social inequality; the gulf between the class of property-owners (the bourgeoisie) and the class of the proletariat is growing".[36]

At the same time under capitalism the struggle of the working class begins. It is the struggle against limitation of the progress to the development of the members of the society belonging to the ruling class, the struggle for creation of the communist society in which the essence of the history would be revealed and in which the real purpose of production would be complete well-being and all-round free development of all members of the society.

In the commission’s draft party program prepared for the II Congress of the RSDWP the goal of the socialist production was formulated as a planned organization of social production process " tosatisfy the needs of both society as a whole and its individual members" Lenin objects to this: "Not accurate. Such “satisfaction” is “given” by capitalism as well, but not to all members of society and not in equal degree".[37] In "Notes on the second draft of the Program of Plekhanov" he wrote: "Nor is the end of the paragraph properly expressed: “the planned organisation of the social process of production so as to satisfy the needs of society as a whole, as well as its individual members”. That is not enough. Organisation of that kind will, perhaps, be provided even by the trusts. It would be mere definite to say “by society as a whole” (for this covers planning and indicates who is responsible for that planning), and not merely to satisfy the needs of its members, but with the object of ensuring full well-being and free, all-round development for all the members of society ".[38] Finally Lenin secured that the Program approved by the Second Congress of the RSDWP Party states as follows: "Having replaced the private ownership of means of production and means of circulation by the respective society’s ownership and having introduced the planned organization of socio-productive process for the welfare and all-round development of all members of society, the social revolution of the proletariat will eliminate the division of society into classes and will set the suppressed mankind free".[39]

In view of this program’s objective, the Bolshevik Party raised the Russian working class to the victorious socialist revolution. It is natural that while compiling the second program of the party, Lenin considered it absolutely necessary to keep in the new program the same goal which was recorded in the first program and which, if implemented, leads to the complete elimination of classes, i.e. to the full communism. The Program adopted by the VIII Congress of the RCP(b) reproduces the goal of the socialist production precisely in the wording of the first program, namely: "Having replaced the private ownership of means of production and means of circulation by the respective society’s ownership and having introduced a planned organization of socio-productive process for the welfare and all-round development of all members of society, the social revolution of the proletariat will eliminate the division of society into classes".[40]

This scientifically discovered, true goal of the communist production which was set for the working class (the founder of communist society) in the party program stayed in the party program as long as the party remained the party of the working-class ensuring the working class’ dictatorship. This goal was not, however, mentioned in the third, the revisionist party program adopted by the XXII Congress of the CPSU. It was substituted by satisfying of the constantly growing needs whereas neither well-being, nor development of the people, especially all-round development, may not be reduced to such satisfying of the constantly growing needs. Satisfying the needs alone leads neither to elimination of social inequality, nor to the elimination of classes. To be more specific, the third party program stated that under communism "the highest stage of the planned organization of the whole social economy is reached, the most efficient and rational use of material resources and manpower to meet the growing needs of the members of society is ensured".[41] Working members of society, whose development shall be the ultimate goal, turned into the manpower, effectively used to meet the needs of selected members of the society (such selected members of the society later became the oligarchs). It is removal of the development of all members of society from the goal of production, that turned the program’s definition of the goal of production into the camouflaged breaking away from the true goal of the socialism. The revisionists’ third program states: "The goal of the socialism – more and more complete satisfaction of the growing material and cultural needs of the people".[42] At the first glance, this definition of goal of socialism seems to be beautiful. At the same time this definition is deeply wrong. The goal of socialism, as defined by the founders of the scientific communism, is the elimination of classes. Such elimination of classes includes the satisfaction of the needs but may not be reduced to such satisfaction; also the elimination of classes does not imply that any and all needs shall be satisfied. At the first place it implies the ensuring of the complete welfare and free all-round development of all members of society, the elimination of any social inequality.

The waiver of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the waiver of the goal of socialism changed the class nature of the state. The state became unable to carry out the interests of the working class. In the era of the dictatorship of the proletariat the interests of the working class shall be deemed the interests of the society as a whole. That is why the state property was gradually ceasing to be a form of the social property. This property was gradually being transformed into a peculiar form of private property of those who actually controlled the public property – top party and state bureaucracy. Thus, the party-state nomenklatura elite succeeded in appropriating the property of the whole society. This elite also succeeded in creating the conditions allowing to divide such property and appropriate and privatize the resulting shares, formalizing the privatization in accordance with the laws of "all people’s" state. The above was happening at the instigation of Gorbachev during the Yeltsin’s era – first under the slogan of the revisionists’ "movement to the market", and then, openly, under the anti-communist slogan: “come on, privatize!” This process was ideologically supported by the revisionist concept of "the developed socialism", which included and strengthened the notorious revisionist "all people’s state".

The CPSU’s waiver of the main ideas of Marxism, i.e. the dictatorship of the proletariat, the goal of the socialist production and the goal of the socialism at the XXII Congress could not help resulting and, in the end, has resulted (despite of the active resistance on the part of the communist minority) in the destruction of the party, the state and the country. The above waiver was not only the fault of the renegade CPSU elite, but also the fault of those party members who, instead of studying and understanding Leninism, learnt by heart quotes and slogans, and took on faith the words of the revisionist party elite. And, therefore, consistent communist forces could not overcome the opportunists, revisionists and renegade traitors to socialism. The above is a lesson not only for the communists of the former Soviet Union and contemporary Russia. It is a lesson for the whole international movement of workers and communists.

Non-commodity, direct society’s nature of the socialist production

This matter is timely as this is, in the end, the question of the reason of the communists’ struggle for the power of their class. This is a question of what they would do if the working class seizes the power. To what extent have the conclusions from the mistakes of the CPSU and from the practice of building socialism in the USSR been made? What should be built in the economy and how should this be built?

Nowadays this issue both continues to be of the interest for the communists’ movement in Russia and abroad, and this issue also divides the communists movement. Herein we will not consider outright apologists of "swedish socialism" and other improvers of capitalism. We will speak only of those who continue to call themselves marxists and communists. Among such marxists and communists there are, on one side, a lot of supporters of the so-called “market socialism” (it has been lately more and more often called "China-style market socialism”). On the other side there are people calling themselves pragmatists and realists who are also constantly can be heard. The latter consider it ridiculous when the orthodox communists talk of the non-commodity character of the socialist production. Look around! – they say – The market is everywhere and, hence, starting from the market economy is the only way to go.

The market is, in fact, under capitalism everywhere. Therefore, we believe that it is just time to decide what is happening with the commodity character under capitalism, and what should be done with such character in the process of socialist revolution and building of socialism.

As early as in the First and the Second Bolsheviks’ Programs (as well as in the Program of Russian Communist Workers' Party (RCWP)) the nature of the capitalism and the bourgeois society was described in the following wording: "The main feature of this society is the commodity character of production which is based on the capitalist production relations. These relations imply that the most important and significant part of the means of production and the circulation of goods is owned by a small (in terms of the head count) class of individuals, whereas the vast majority of the population consists of proletarians and semi- proletarians that are forced, due to their economic status, to continuously or periodically sell their labour power, i.e. hire themselves to the capitalists and create the income for the upper classes of society by their labour".[43]

That is, capitalism – is primarily the commodity production. With that Lenin in his observations on the second draft of the Program of Plekhanov wrote on the mentioned program provision the following: "That is rather incongruous. Of course, fully developed commodity production is possible only in capitalist society, but “commodity production” in general is both logically and historicallyprius to capitalism".[44]

That is, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin specified that capitalism is the result of the development of commodity production. In many of his works Lenin kept pointing out that the commodity production in its development constantly and inevitably gives rise to capitalism.

The commodity is a thing produced for the purpose of exchange. Commodity production is the production of commodities, production of value. Capitalist commodity production is focused on selling goods in order to obtain surplus value, profit to the benefit of the capitalists (owners of the means of production, retail store networks, financial capital and capitalists in other forms of existence). The regulatory role in the production of commodities (this includes the capitalist commodity production) is played by its basic law – the law of value. This law directs the capital and, consequently, the commodity production to the most profitable areas.

And the goal of the socialist production is not generating profit on the capital. This goal is the satisfaction of the society’s interests. The above-mentioned programs of RCP(b) and RCWP state: "Having replaced the private ownership of means of production and circulation by the respective society’s ownership and having introduced a planned organization of socio-productive process for the welfare and all-round development of all members of society, the social revolution of the proletariat will eliminate the division of society into classes and will set the suppressed mankind free, as thus it will put an end to all kinds of exploitation of one part of society by its other part".[45]

The core, the essence of the socialist production is not the law of value, but the law of the use value. This law is aimed at the provision of the complete welfare and all-round development of all members of society. It is clear that ensuring the complete welfare and all-round development of all members of society may be possible only through socializing of the means of production and centralization of planning and management, which shall be politically ensured by the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The above is not possible to achieve through the self-regulation of the market of separate private producers.

Notwithstanding the above, it seems that the money, and a number of so-called commodity-money relations formally exist under the socialism, although neither Marx, nor Engels nor Lenin did not mention the term “commodity-money relations”. Does this usage of external commodity forms and titles mean that the socialist production is the commodity production according to its nature? Of course it does not. And the treasury notes, which are used by the socialist society, are not the money in the sense of the political economy. These notes are an additional indirect measurer of the productions volume and the quantity of the required effort that was spent, they play the role of the accounting and planning units. The money under socialism carry out the function of the inventory count and control of the direct society’s production and distribution. Socialism would not be possible if this function is not carried out. It is no coincidence that the Program of the Comintern, adopted in 1928 states: "capitalist forms and methods of economic activity (evaluative account, cash payments, sale and purchase, credits, banks, etc.) which seem to be connected to the market relations, play the role of the balance levers of the socialist overthrow. These balance levers serve at the greater and greater extent the enterprises of consistently socialist type, i.e. the socialist sector of the economy".[46]

Supporters of the market socialism usually remind of the NEP (New Economic Policy). They say that it was Lenin who stated that NEP is the radical revision of our views on socialismIt is here to stay. During the early period of the transition from the capitalism to the communism the New Economic Policy (NEP) implied (as a temporary retreat) the increased freedom for commodity production and circulation. Especially, this increased freedom was meant for circulation of commodity between the peasants and the socialist state sector. With that, Lenin was well aware that this increased freedom implies the struggle between the socialist tendency and the capitalist tendency. Bukharin's book "Economics in Transition" contains the following thesis: the "dictatorship of the proletariat is inevitably followed by the latent or more or less open struggle between the organizing tendency of the proletariat and the commodity-anarchic tendency of the peasantry". Lenin noted to that: "It should have been said: between the socialist tendency of the proletariat and the commodity-capitalist tendency of the peasantry".[47] Here Lenin also supports the following Bukharin's analysis: "In the city the main fight for the type of economy [after the seizure of the power – editor’s comment] ends with the victory of the proletariat. It also ends in the villages due to the defeat of the major capitalists. But at the same time it is being reborn in other forms. It is being reborn in a struggle between the state plan of the proletariat (that embodies the socialized labour) and the commodity anarchy, the speculative licentiousness of the peasantry that embodies the scattered property objects and the market welter." Lenin appraised the above idea with the brief "That is it!" And then Lenin supported the following Bukharin's statement "But as a simple commodity economy is exactly an embryo of the capitalist economy, the struggle of the described above tendencies shall be, basically, the continuation of the struggle between the communism and the capitalism" by writing "True. And it is better than the "anarchy".[48]

We note that Lenin had never raised the question of the immediate abolishment of the commodity production. He always emphasized that the issue is overcoming the commodity character of the production, escape from the commodity character of the production, denying the mentioned commodity character in the socialist society’s production. Based on the Marx’s position "Only the products being the results of the different, independent works confront each other as commodities», Lenin expressed his understanding of the goal of the socialist revolution as follows. "the abolition of private ownership of the means of production, their conversion into public property, and the replacement of capitalist production of commodities by the socialist organisation of the production of articles by society as a whole, with the object of ensuring full well-being and free, all-round development for all its members".[49]

And in the Instructions of the Council of Labour and Defence To Local Soviet Bodies, which was compiled in 1921, during the transitional period, Lenin noted, that "the manufactured goods made by socialist factories and exchanged for the foodstuffs produced by the peasants are not commodities in the politico-economic sense of the word; at any rate, they are not only commodities, they are no longer commodities, they are ceasing to be commodities ".[50]

This idea of overcoming the commodity production even during the construction of the socialist economy Lenin once again confirms in his comments on Bukharin’s book by writing down to his workbook the following thought of Bukharin: "The product may be a universal category only so far as there is a constant, not random social connection to the anarchic basis of the production. Therefore, to the extent the irrationality of the production process disappears (i.e., to the extent a conscious society’s regulator takes the place of the welter), a commodity becomes a product and loses its commodity character". Lenin notes: "Correct!", however about the ending he writes: "not quite correct: becomes not a “product” but somewhat differently. ETWA (roughly - Editor): becomes the product which goes to the society’s consumption not through the market".[51]

The adepts of the market usually cite the example of the NEP as an alleged Lenin's turn towards the understanding of the socialism as the commodity economy. They try to depict it as if Lenin did not consider NEP as the necessary temporary drawback to the market but thought it to be the goal and the perspective. The smartest of them even invented some, allegedly Leninist, methodology of the NEP and the socialist market. However, firstly, it should be noted that the NEP is not the methodology but the policy. Lenin and the Bolsheviks introducing the NEP acknowledged their retreat in the admission of the elements of capitalism – they did not call it the development of characteristics inherent to the socialist production. Secondly, the strongest leverages to overcome the market elements inherent to the period of transition towards the socialist economy were being developed at the time of NEP. In particular, that were the State Planning Commission (Gosplan), State procurement authority (Gossnab) and large manufacturing industry. Also the electrification plan was being developed, etc. That is, while the physical volume of the commodity (according to the title, but not, any longer, according to the nature) was increasing, the directly social nature of the socialist production was being enhanced and the pre-conditions for the further overcoming of the commodity character of the production were being prepared.

Stalin, consistently pursued the Lenin’s policy of overcoming the commodity character of the production in practice – the policy of overcoming the commodity character of the production during the transitional period of the production towards the socialism, the policy of giving to the socialist production the characteristics of the direct society’s production. Stalin outlined basic thoughts on this matter in his work "Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR". In particular, Stalin formulates the goal of the socialist economy as follows: "Is there a basic economic law of socialism? Yes there is. What are the essential features and requirements of this law? The essential features and requirements of the basic economic law of socialism could be formulated roughly as follows: ensuring of the maximum satisfaction of the constantly growing material and cultural needs of the whole society through the continuous growth and improvement of socialist production on the basis of the most modern technique".[52] Thus, Stalin clearly emphasized that the interests of the entire society shall be the definite priority in the system of the socialism.

With that, Stalin based his analysis not only on his "Marxist’s" views, but on the objective assessment of the available facts. Stalin examined guarantees of the proletarian state that are aimed to prevent the restoration of the capitalist elements in the economy. However, as we believe, Stalin somewhat underestimated, that the commodity production surely creates the tendencies and the desire to move towards the full-fledged capitalist commodity production and the market (this was eventually implemented in the USSR).

Stalin stated that under socialism the law of value, although with no regulatory significance, is still partially in effect, especially in the sphere of production of the consumer goods. The latter statement is disputable. After all, the law of value is the basic law of capitalism and, therefore, it can not be a law of the socialism. Engels pointed out in Anti-Duhring, that "the law of value is the basic law of the commodity production. Therefore, it is the basic law of the highest form of the commodity production – the capitalist production".[53] In the socialist economy the commodity feature of the production is only the denial of such character’s direct society’s nature. This feature belongs to the residuals of the capitalism that should be overcome in the course of the development of the socialism (as underdeveloped communism) into the ultimate communism. Therefore, we can assert that the development of the socialist economy shall be aimed at the strengthening of its direct society’s nature and at the overcoming of the commodity feature of the production. No matter, what would be the circumstances of the revolution for the communists, no matter what retreats and compromises would the communists have to accept, there should be the clear aspiration to achieve the ultimate goal – to overcome the commodity character of the production and the transition to the socialist, directly society’s character of the production. The socialist economy was moving forward as long as the state power considered the organization of such economy as direct society’s production.

The waiver of the fundamentals of socialism – the dictatorship of the proletariat – by Khruschev’s leadership in 1961 and the economic reform of 1965 gave rise to the process of gradual accumulation of negative tendencies in the socialist economy and in the socialist relations. Figuratively speaking, the above began the preparation to the Gorbachev's perestroika which changed the social order.

Whatever the current advocates of the capitalism would say, the economics in the Soviet Union was based on the direct society’s production. The above is particularly clear nowadays, when there is a possibility to compare the life in the Soviet Union to the current circumstances. A Soviet citizen was receiving more than half of the consumed goods (as calculated based on the current prices) through funds of public consumption. And that was almost “in accordance to the demand” that some of the crucial needs were being satisfied. The above included: free housing (although with long queues), cold and hot water, electricity, bread, healthcare and education, public transportation and much more.

It is a pity that the waiver of the socialist course, both in terms of the economics and in terms of the politics, was made by the leadership of the party itself, the party that still was called the communist party. The XXII Congress of the CPSU adopted a new party program, which excluded from its main provisions the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat. And the XXVIII Congress of the CPSU approved the transition to the market economy. It was at this Congress that the party and the people were being warned that the transition to the market economy will result in the capitalism and in the collapse of the CPSU and will bring misery for the people. The report of the representative of the Movement of the Communist Initiative, professor A.A. Sergeyev stated: "In addition to the commodity market there are two more markets. That are: the market of the private capital, represented by stock exchanges, and the labour market. So, these two markets, as taken together, will inevitably give the classic capitalist market (even if such capitalist market will be formally called the regulated market). And there is no escape from this... And neither our people, nor the party will survive this perestroika. The party, as the communist party, will disappear".[54]

As we can see now, the predictions made by the science have come true. So we have to start anew. Figuratively speaking, we have to address again the question "What should we do?" which Lenin considered in his book with the same title.

The concepts of building the socialism through the development of the market, commodity character of the production and the commodity-money relations (i.e. capitalist relations) and, similarly, through the plans of building different kinds of socially-oriented market economy, even with the best intentions and even under the leadership of the most patriotic and the most trusted government – this is the way of gorbachevs which will bring to the capitalism. The opportunism and the revisionism have learnt to compose a lot of patterns of capitalism. They have also learnt to invent many justifications for such patterns. However, the practice has shown to us the following. To separate the economics from its political basis, to consider the politicized economy, economy deprived of the class content in the coherent theory of socialism is an error and a stupidity. Moreover, it is a crime committed by communists with respect to the working class. In the USSR, in the last years of the CPSU’ ruling, the market socialism was being built. But as the result, the capitalism has been built.

To paraphrase Lenin, we may say that without fighting this infectious disease of the market, speaking of the commitment to the socialist or the communist choice is simply uttering pompous but deceitful phrases.

Let us then reconcile our course with Lenin, with the science of the communism!

 

*V.A. Tyulkin is first secretary of the Russian Communist Workers' Party - Revolutionary Party of Communists,

M.V.Popov is doctor of philosophy, professor, president of the Fund of Working Academy

Representatives of the journal of RCRP-RPC "Soviet Union"

 

[1] The main idea of Leninism. Lenin on class approach to the analysis of social

phenomena / Comp. Dr. Ph. Sc. M.V. Popov. - St.: Polytechnic Univ. Press,

2009. – 311 p. http://rpw.ru/

[2] Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 24, pages 562-564.

[3] Lenin Collected Works, Volume 25, p. 381-492.

[4] Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 25, pages 323-369.

[5] Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 87-136.

[6] Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 28, pages 412-428.

[7] Lenin. Complete Collected Works, Volume 38, p. 424.

[8] Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 552-560.

[9] Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 453-482.

[10] Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 55-88.

[11] Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 255-274.

[12] Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 30, pages 93-104.

[13] Lenin’s Collected Works, 1st English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 32, pages 272-284.

[14] Lenin’s Collected Works, 1st English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 32, pages 329-365.

[15] Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 400-403

[16] Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 387-391

[17] Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 387-391.

[18] Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 409-434.

[19] Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 30, pages 107-117.

[20] Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 31, Progress Publishers, USSR, 1964 p. 17—118. 
[21] Lenin’s Collected Works, 1st English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 32, pages 451-498.

[22] Lenin’s Collected Works, 1st English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 32, pages 451-498.

[23] Lenin Collected Works, Volume 28 (p. 455-477).

[24] Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 552-560.

[25] Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 27, pages 235-77.

[26] Lenin. Complete Collected Works, Volume 38, pp. 425 – 426.

[27] Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 27, 1972, pages 85-158

[28] XXII Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 17 – 31 October

1961. Verbatim record. M. Gospolitizdat, 1962. Vol. I, p.151.

[29] Ibid. p. 166.

[30] Ibid. p. 209.

[31] Ibid. pp. 210 – 211, 212.

[32] XXII Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 17 – 31 October

1961. Verbatim record. M. Gospolitizdat, 1962. Vol. III. p. 303.

[33] Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 25, p. 381-492.

[34] Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 25, p. 381-492.

[35] Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 470-488.

[36] Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 6, pages 17-78.

[37] Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 6, pages 17-78.

[38] Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 6, pages 17-78.

[39] Program of the Russian Social Democratic Worker’s Party, adopted at the II Party Congress. Second Party Congress. July–August 1903, Protocols, Moscow, 1959, p. 419.

[40] Lenin. Complete Collected Works, Volume 38, p. 419.

[41] XXII Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 17 – 31 October

1961. Transcript. Vol. III. M. Gospolitizdat, 1962, p. 274.

[42] Ibid. p. 238.

[43] Lenin. Complete Collected Works, Volume 38, pp. 417 – 418.

[44] Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 6, pages 17-78.

[45] Lenin. Complete Collected Works, Volume 38, p. 419.

[46] The Communist International in the documents. 1919 – 1932. M. 1933 p. 24.

[47] Lenin Miscellany, Vol. XI 1931. 2-nd ed., p. 368.

[48] Lenin Miscellany, Vol. XI 1931. 2-nd ed., p. 370.

[49] Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 6, pages 17-78

[50] Lenin’s Collected Works, 1st English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 32, pages 375-398.

[51] Lenin Miscellany, Vol. XI 1985, p.388.

[52] I.V. Stalin. Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR. 2010, St. Petersburg. pp.31–32.

[53] K. Marx and F. Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 20. p.324.

[54] XXVIII Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 2 – 13 July

1990. Verbatim record. Vol. I. M., Politizdat, 1991, pp. 504.

 

 

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