Revolution and Counter‑Revolution in Russia
MARXISM AND RUSSIA
1953 - 1957
Eight Supplementary Theses on Russia (from "Dialogue with Stalin", 1953)
Forty Years of Organic Evaluation of International, Social and Historical Development in Russia
- A. Russia Against Europe in the 19th Century
- B. Perspectives for the Demise of the Last Feudalism
- C. The Ineffaceable Russian Epic of the World Proletarian Revolution
- D. The Grim Trajectory of the Truncated Revolution
July 1975 Introduction
The next two articles are ’Eight Theses on Russia’, being the concluding part of the party text ‘Dialogue with Stalin’, 1953, and ’Marxism and Russia, 40 Years of Organic Evaluation of International, Social and Historical Developments in Russia’, 1957.
These two texts are important because they show that the evaluation of the economic, social and political structure of Russia as capitalist and imperialist isn’t the result of an impromptu analysis by some individual, but is instead the result of the work of the Communist Marxist Party. The party maintains the revolutionary course in an impersonal capacity; a work which involves a constant sorting and arranging of the tragic and hostile facts of contemporary reality to ensure a correct interpretation. The party of the proletarian revolution can trace itself back in a continuous line through forty years of counter-revolutionary victory, during which time it has aimed to forge the main criteria and perspectives for the world revolution of the future. This doesn’t mean making intellectualist comments about past events, the work isn’t ’historiographical’; instead we draw conclusions, which are genuinely in accord with 100 years of Marxism, about the conditions and characteristics of the future proletarian assault on the citadels of the bourgeois world. The two texts which follow essentially demonstrate two things. The course of the Russian revolution, including its degeneration and its shipwreck on counterrevolutionary shores, was perfectly comprehensible to the Marxist party and can be explained using the classic key of Marxist interpretation. Moreover, the fact that this interpretation remains entirely vindicated as the one, invariable theory of the revolutionary proletariat makes it the front line in the battle against all those who wish to bring Marxism ’up to date’ and to ’improve’ it; against all those distorters of the Marxist doctrine who base their pretensions of ’going beyond Marx’ precisely on the alleged ’novelty’ or ’inexplicability’ of the Russian phenomenon.
This is our scientific forecast: the future world capitalist crisis, which will involve the so-called ’socialist world’ also, will along with the objective conditions necessary for a revolutionary revival also give rise to this indispensible subjective condition: the dismantling in the minds and hearts of proletarians throughout the world, of the myth of Socialism in Russia. This defeatist myth, which immobilizes proletarian energies everywhere, is the cornerstone of the belief in the thousand and one ’national socialisms’ and the thousand and one ’roads to socialism’ that form the basis for the present day dominion of the opportunists over the proletarian movement. The collapse of the myth: ’Russia’, as of the myth: ’China’, and all analogous falsifications, is the condition for the return of the proletariat to the one global road to Socialism, traced out in the Bolshevik October – and fully confirmed precisely because of its defeat. The collapse of the myth is also the condition of victory for the one and only Communist Party which has kept to that historic road through 50 years of buffeting by counterrevolutionary storms.
Eight Supplementary Theses on Russia
(from "Dialogue with Stalin", 1953)
1. The economic process underway in the territories of the Russian union can be defined essentially as the implanting of the capitalist mode of production, in its most modern form and with the latest technical means, in countries with economies that are backward, rural, feudal and asiatic-oriental.
2. The political State, nevertheless, has its origins in a revolution in which the feudal power was defeated by forces dominated by the proletariat – followed in order of importance by the peasantry, while the bourgeoisie was virtually non-existent. In consequence, however, of the failure of the proletarian political revolution in Europe, the State was consolidated into a political organ of capitalism.
3. The outward manifestations and entire superstructures of such a regime coincides fundamentally, with certain differences due to time and place, with every form of developing capitalism breaking through into the initial cycle.
4. All the policies and propaganda of those parties that exalt the Russian regime in other countries have been emptied of class and revolutionary content, and represent a complex of ’romantic’ attitudes that have been deprived of meaning by the historical development of western capitalism.
5. The assertion that in present day Russia there is no statistically definable bourgeois class isn’t enough to contradict the preceding theses; since just such a situation was envisaged by Marxism long before the revolution; and since the power of modem capitalism is defined by its forms of production and not by national groups of individuals.
6. The management of large-scale industry by the State in no way contradicts the proceeding theses; since it still takes place on the basis of wage-labour and internal and external mercantile exchange; and since it is a product of modem industrial technique that is applied, just as it is in the west, once the obstacle of pre-bourgeois property relations has been removed.
7. The lack of a parliamentary democracy is in no wise at odds with the preceding theses, since wherever it does exist it does nothing but mask the dictatorship of capital. Furthermore, it becomes redundant and tends to disappear wherever the production techniques that enable future development are based on large-scale networks, on the State, rather than private organisations; apart from that, open dictatorship has been adopted by every capitalism in the emergent and ’adolescent’ stage.
8. This doesn’t mean that we can say that Russian capitalism is ’the same’ as in every other country since there are two different phases in question. In the first phases capitalism develops the productive forces and forces their application beyond old geographical limits, so completing the framework for the world socialist revolution. In the second phase, it exploits these same productive forces in an exclusively parasitical way; beyond the point where their use would allow ’improvement’ in the conditions of living labour’. Such an improvement is rendered possible only by an economic form no longer founded on wages, market and money, that is, the one and only socialist form.
Forty Years of Organic Evaluation of International, Social and Historical
Development in Russia
A. Russia Against Europe in the 19th Century
1. The objective of one of the first battles waged by Marxist socialists with regard to the «role» of Russia in European politics was to refute the fallacious position according to which the deductions of historical materialism could not be applied to Russia. The study of the first capitalism in England had resulted in universally valid social deductions which Marxist internationalism went on to apply to France, Germany and the United States. Our school, therefore, never doubted that this same historical key would give us access to Russia; a country which seemed to have shut its doors for ever in the face of of bourgeois society with the rout of Napoleon’s bayonets, holding everything back for a century.
2. For Russia just as for the other European countries, Marxism expected and urged on the great Russian bourgeois revolution which would follow in the footsteps of the English and French revolutions, and the 1848 revolutions which inflamed and sent tremors through all of Central Europe. Marx ardently expected, awaited and advocated the overthrow of the feudal mode of production in Russia, all the more so because in his eyes the land of the Tsar played the role of the bulwark of anti-liberal and anti-capitalist reaction in Europe. In the period of wars that aimed at the constitution of bourgeois national States in Europe – a period which ended in 1871 – each war was appraised by Marxism according to its ability to bring about a defeat and disaster to St.Petersburg: for taking this stance Marx would even be accused of being an agent of anti-Russian pan-Germanism! For him, as long as Tsarism remained intact, it would constitute a barrier not only to the bourgeois revolutionary wave, but also to what would ensue: the European workers’ revolution. The liberation movements of the nationalities oppressed by the Tsar, the classical example being Poland, would be fully supported by the First International.
3. In the historical doctrine of the Marxist school, the period in of socialist support for wars fought with the aim of constituting modern States, struggles for national liberation, and liberal revolutions finishes, in Europe, in 1871. On the horizon there still stood the obstacle of Russia, perpetually barring the way of the proletarian insurrection against «the confederated national armies», and sending its Cossacks to defend not only Holy Empires, but the capitalist parliamentary democracies as well, whose cycle of development in the West had been completed.
4. Marxism concerned itself with the social questions of Russia from very early
on, studying its economic structure and the development of its class
contradictions. This was in no way meant to undermine the fact that the cycle of
social revolutions must be sought holding to the fore the prior importance of
the international balance of power, as in Marx’s gigantic elaboration of the
various; stages of the revolution the conditions of which, as regards the
maturity of the social structure, manifest themselves precisely on the
international scale. Immediately, therefore, a question arises: was it possible
to speed up the historical development in Russia, which had not yet reached the
level attained by Europe at the beginning of the 19th Century, let alone 1848?
Marx answered this question in 1877, in a letter to a periodical, and in 1882 in
the preface to Vera Zasulic’s translation of the Communist Manifesto in Russian.
Was it possible for Russia to leap over the capitalist mode of production?
The answer to this last question was in part positive: yes, «if the Russian revolution becomes the signal for the proletarian revolution in the west, so that both complement each other». But in his first answer (1877), pointing to the bourgeois agrarian reform of 1861 and the abolition of serfdom (a reform which Bakunin, harshly criticised by Marx and Engels, had praised but which instead signified the final dissolution of the primitive communism of the Russian village), Marx said that the possibility of Russia escaping capitalism was already in the process of being lost: «If Russia continues to walk along the path it has followed since 1861, it will lose the best chance history has ever offered a people and will suffer all the fatal vicissitudes of the capitalist regime [...] once drawn into the whirlpool of the capitalist economy it will have to endure its inexorable laws, like the other profane nations». That is that, Marx bluntly concludes: And that, in fact, was that. With the failure and betrayal of the proletarian revolution in Europe, present-day Russia has fallen into capitalist barbarism. Certain writings of Engels on the old rural Russian commune (the mir) show that in 1875 and still more so in 1894, the capitalist mode of production seemed to have gained the upper hand. From then on it dominated the cities and, in part, the Russian countryside, and all this under Tsarist rule.
5. Along with capitalist industry – which in Russia arose from direct State investments rather than from a primitive accumulation – there appeared the urban proletariat and the Marxist working class party. Like the first Marxists in Germany prior to 1848, the party was confronted with the problem of the double revolution. Its theoretical positions, represented in the first period by Plekhanov, and then by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, were in full accord with European and international Marxism; most importantly on the agrarian question, a matter of prime importance in Russia. In this double revolution, what will be the contribution of the rural classes, of the extremely impoverished serfs and peasants; who, though emancipated in law, have seen their conditions of life grow worse than they knew under feudalism proper? Throughout the world, serfs and small peasants have supported the bourgeois revolutions and revolted against the privileges of the landed nobility. In Russia, though. the feudal mode could not be characterized as being of a centrifugal type, as had been the case in Europe and in particular in Germany. The central State power and the national army had been centralized in Russia for several centuries; an historically progressive condition up until the 19th Century. This centralisation had been established not only on the political level namely: as concerns the historical origins of the army, the monarchy and the State, all of which were imported from outside Russia, but also on the level of the social structure: the State and the Crown (and certain religious institutions which were no less centralized) owned more land and serfs than the feudal nobility. From these circumstances arises the Marxist definition of Russia as State feudalist: a State feudalism which so well withstood the attacks of the French democratic army that Marx for years went so far as to call upon the intervention of European, Turkish and German armies to destroy it. In short, the passage from State feudalism to State capitalism in Russia proved to be shorter than the European passage from molecular feudalism to centralised capitalist States and from early autonomist capitalism to a concentrated and imperialist capitalism.
B. Perspectives for the Demise of the Last Feudalism
6. These age-old forms explain why a bourgeois class comparable in strength to
the Western bourgeoisies never formed in Russia; and why, as a consequence,
grafting the proletarian revolution onto the bourgeois revolution (as expected
by Marxists) presented even more difficulties in Russia than in Germany. Engels’
approach to the problem of the weakness of the German revolutionary tradition
(which contrary to what occurred in England was completely exhausted in the
religious reformation) was to retrace the peasant’s historic war of 1525 and the
terrible defeat they suffered; due to the cowardice of the urban bourgeoisie,
the reformed clergy and also the lower nobility. In Russia though, where the
bourgeois class was politically absent, as were the petty nobility, and where a
rebellious clergy was lacking, could the task of the bourgeoisie be fulfilled by
the peasantry? This would be the first issue over which Marxists would enter
into struggle, theoretically and practically, against all other parties.
According to the historical scenario of our adversaries, the Russian Revolution
would be neither proletarian nor bourgeois, but peasant. As for us, we defined
the peasant revolution as simply the other side of the urban bourgeois
revolution, and, for over a century of polemics and class wars, Marxism has
never ceased to take exception to the monstrous notion of a "peasant socialism".
According to our adversaries, such a socialism would arise, in Russia, out of a
movement of small peasants, for a utopian egalitarian division of the land;
whilst the impotence of the bourgeoisie, and the factor of a young proletariat,
would, according to them, allow the poor peasantry to take State control instead
of the urban classes. They did not take into account the formidable energy which
the Russian working class could draw on due to its position as a section of the
European proletariat. The bourgeoisie is born as a national class and does not
transfer class energies across borders, but the proletariat is born as an
international class, and as a class participates in all "foreign" revolutions.
As for the peasantry. it does not even attain the national level.
On these foundations, Lenin elaborated the Marxist doctrine of the’ Russian Revolution, in which the indigenous bourgeoisie and the peasantry were discarded, as protagonists, and the principal role assigned to the proletariat.
This subject is amplified and documented in our text: ‘Russia and Revolution in the Marxist Theory (serialized in our press from No. 21 in 1954 to No.8 in 1955).
7. Two important questions therefore present themselves: the agrarian question and the political question. In regard to the former, the Social Revolutionary Populists were for the division of the land, the Mensheviks for municipalization and the Bolsheviks for nationalization. All these platforms, according to Lenin, are those of a bourgeois democratic revolution, not socialist. Yet the third one is the most advanced and creates the best conditions for proletarian communism. Let us once again cite Lenin from Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution. “The idea of nationalisation of the land is then a category belonging to the mercantile and capitalist society". In the Russia of today, only that part of agriculture organised into sovkhoses – the smallest part – is at this stage; the rest is even more backward.
As regards the question of power, the Mensheviks were for allowing the bourgeoisie to seize power, and then passing into opposition (in 1917 they would collaborate in the government alongside the bourgeoisie). The populists were for an illusory peasant government – and with Kerensky, they ended up doing the same as the Mensheviks. The Bolsheviks were for seizing power and establishing a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. The adjective "democratic" and the noun "peasantry" are explained by Lenin as follows: "such a victory will not yet by any means transform our bourgeois revolution into a socialist revolution"... "the social and economic reforms that have become a necessity for Russia do not in themselves imply the undermining of capitalism [...] on the contrary, they will for the first time really clear the ground for a wide and rapid European, and not Asiatic, development of capitalism"... “such a victory will enable us to rouse Europe; after throwing off the yoke of the bourgeoisie, the socialist proletariat of Europe will in its turn help us to accomplish a socialist revolution".
How then to deal with the peasant "allies"? Lenin’s response is just as clear. Marx had said that the peasants are "the natural allies of the bourgeoisie", and Lenin adds: "[in the genuine and decisive struggle for socialism] the peasantry, as a landowning class, will play the same treacherous unstable part as is now played by the bourgeoisie in the struggle for democracy".
In the last part of Russia and Revolution in the Marxist Theory (No.8, 1955), we showed that Lenin’s programme was this: taking power and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat during the bourgeois revolution – against the bourgeoisie itself and supported only by the peasants. He supported this with two arguments: first of all the necessity of realising the proletarian revolution in Europe, a condition without which socialism could not be victorious in Russia, and secondly the necessity of avoiding a Tsarist restoration, which would mean the restoration of the White guard of Europe.
C. The Ineffaceable Russian Epic of the World Proletarian Revolution
8. In 1914, the war Marx had foreseen between Germany and a coalition of the
Latin and Slavic races broke out; and just as he predicted, the Russian
Revolution arose out of the Tsar’s defeats.
Russia, at that time, was allied with the democratic powers of France, England and Italy. Capitalists and the democrats, as well as the renegade socialists who had embraced the cause of the anti-German war, considered that the Tsar had become an enemy to overthrow; either because they thought him incapable of conducting the war, or else suspecting him of secretly preparing an alliance with the Germans. For these reasons, the First Russian Revolution, in February 1917, was greeted with the applause of all patriots, democrats as well as socialists, who attributed it less to the fact that the masses, and in particular the soldiers, could endure no more, than to the clever manoeuvres of the allied embassies. Although the majority of the right-wing Russian socialists had not supported the war, they immediately set about creating a provisional government which would continue the war in alliance with the foreign powers, and it is on this basis that they laid down a compromise with the bourgeois parties.
Following the return of Lenin and the Bolshevik leaders in 1917, the Bolshevik party, with full support from Trotsky, discarded its initial hesitancy and set about the task of overthrowing this government which found such favour with the Mensheviks and Populists.
In our work on ‘The Economic and Social Structure of Russia Today’, particularly
in the first part we made use of the documents of the period to demonstrate the
historical occurences which led to the second revolution, that of October, the
40th anniversary of which is being celebrated today. In this work we examined
the struggle for power in 1917 in the light of the doctrinal questions which had
arisen within the party.
9. The conquest of power by the Communist Party expresses itself as the defeat during the civil war of all other parties; bourgeois parties, as well as the so called workers and peasant parties who supported Russia’s continuation of the war on the side of the allies. This conquest is made complete by a number of other factors: victory for the Bolsheviks in the Pan-Russian Soviet over all the aforementioned parties: the defeat suffered by these parties is compounded elsewhere, where they lose the battle for the control of the streets along with their extra-Soviet allies: the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, as convoked by the Provisional Government; finally, the Bolsheviks’ break with their last ally, the Left Social-Revolutionaries who are strong in the countryside and supporters of the Holy War against the Germans.
This enormous change did not take place without serious struggles within the party, and a historical conclusion was not reached until after four years of a devastating war; ending with the defeat of the counter-revolutionary armies drawn from three camps: the forces of the feudal nobility and the monarchy; the forces which Germany had summoned up in 1917, both before and after the Brest-Litovsk peace; and finally the forces (including the Polish army) which had been mobilised, with the greatest of zeal, by the democratic powers.
Meanwhile, in the European countries, a series of ill-fated attempts by the working-class to seize power occurred, showing an enthusiastic solidarity with the Bolshevik Revolution. The decisive event was essentially the defeat of the German Communists in January 1919 after the military defeat of Germany and the fall of the Kaiser. This was the first departure from the historical progression of events envisaged by Lenin, which up until then had been magnificently realised; especially with the Bolsheviks’ acceptance of peace in March 1918, a decisive step that the democratic world stupidly qualified as treason. The following years would confirm that the Russian economy, collapsing into terrible disorder, would not be receiving the aid of a victorious European proletariat. Later on, power in Russia would be solidly defended and preserved; but already it was no longer possible to settle the economic and social question in Russia by means of the perspective shared by all genuine Marxists, that is to say, by the dictatorship of the international communist party over the productive forces; which, in Europe, remained overabundant even after the war.
10. Lenin always denied – denying it to his last breath, as did all true Marxist Bolsheviks – that the Russian social structure could be transformed to the point of taking on socialist characteristics if the Russian Revolution did not spread to Europe, i.e., if the European economy remained capitalist. Nevertheless, that did not prevent him from continually insisting that in Russia power must be seized, and held, under a dictatorial form by the party of the proletariat supported by the peasants. Two historical questions then arise. First of all, can one define as socialist a revolution, which, as Lenin predicted, creates a power which is obliged (whilst awaiting new international victories) to govern social forms of private economy in the meantime? And secondly, how long can one admit that such a situation will last, and did alternatives exist other than an overt political counterrevolution, and the return to power of an openly national bourgeoisie?
For us, October was socialist. But in the absence of a military victory of the counter-revolution, two possibilities, not one, remained: either the apparatus of power (the State and the Party) would degenerate to the level of administration of capitalist forms and an open abandonment of the expectation of world revolution (this is what actually happened); or the Marxist party would maintain itself in power for a long period, devoting itself to supporting the revolutionary proletarian struggle in every foreign country, and declaring, with the same courage as Lenin, that the social forms remained largely capitalist (and even pre-capitalist) in Russia.
The first question must be given precedence since the second is linked to an examination of the present day Russian social structure, falsely presented as socialist.
11. The October Revolution, in the first place, should not be considered in terms of immediate or very rapid transformation of the forms of production and economic structure, but instead as a phase of the international political struggle of the proletariat. It nevertheless presented a series of important features which totally overstepped the limits of a national, purely anti-feudal revolution and which went beyond the fact that it was led by a proletarian party.
a) Lenin had established that the European and World War would have an imperialist character "for Russia included", and that the proletarian party must consequently openly practice defeatism; just as it had done during the Russo-Japanese War which provoked the outbreak of the struggles of 1905. This was so not because the Russian State was an undemocratic one, but because of the same reasons that dictated the same duty to all the socialist parties in other countries. The development of the capitalist and industrial economy in Russia was insufficient to furnish a base for socialism, but it was sufficient to give an imperialist character to the war. The traitors to revolutionary socialism who had espoused the cause of the imperialist brigands under the pretext of defending a democracy "of eternal value" – here against the German danger, there against the Russians – would disavow the Bolsheviks for ending the war and breaking up the war alliances and would try and stab the October Revolution in the back. But in spite of them, the October Revolution triumphed over war and world imperialism: and it would be a purely proletarian and communist conquest.
b) By defeating these renegades, October reclaimed the neglected principles of the revolution and re-established the Marxist doctrine which the traitors had conspired to destroy. For every nation it showed the way to victory over the bourgeoisie: the use of violence and revolutionary terror; contempt for democratic "guarantees"; unrestricted use of that essential Marxist principle of the dictatorship of the working class exercised by the Communist Party. It forever branded as imbeciles all those who see in the dictatorship the power of one man; and, with even better cause, it branded those who, in their dread of this tyranny (like all pimps of democracy) admit only the power of an amorphous and unorganised class, i.e., a class not constituted into a political party. We, on the other hand, have asserted in our texts the necessity for the party for over a century.
c) Although the working class seems to appear on the political scene – and worse still on the parliamentary scene – divided into several parties, the definitive lesson of October showed that the way forward cannot involve exercising power together with these parties, but instead requires the violent liquidation of this gaggle of capitalist servitors, one after the other, until total power is held by one party.
The full import of the three above points lies in the fact that maybe it was precisely in Russia where the special historical conditions of the survival of medieval despotism could be counted as an exception to the developed bourgeois countries; but despite that, to the applause or horror of the world, the path trodden in Russia was the one way, applicable everywhere in the world, as laid down by the universal Marxist doctrine; a path from which neither Lenin, nor the much admired Bolshevik party, ever deviated from for a second, in either thought or in action.
How despicable then that these names are exploited by people who, though horribly embarassed about such glories, ostentatiously vaunt their wish to celebrate them: the very people, in fact, who apologetically tell us that Russia was "obliged" to take those paths because of allegedly particular circumstances and local conditions; and who promise and concede, as if it were their very mission in life, that other countries will attain socialism by different and diverse national ways. Such ways turn out to be paved by every betrayal and disgrace found in the slime of the opportunist pig-sty, namely: liberty, democracy, pacifism, co-existence and competition.
For Lenin, the revolution in the West was the indispensable oxygen for socialism in Russia: whilst for those gentlemen who parade in front of Lenin’s stupid mausoleum on November 7th, oxygen is required only so that capitalism may continue to cavort around in the rest of the world; in order that they may continue to co-exist and fornicate with it.
D. The Grim Trajectory of the Truncated Revolution
12. The main terms of the second question, that is, on the economic structure of Russia at the time of the October victory, were set out in the key works of Lenin. These we have consulted in depth rather than resting content with a few out-of-context quotations – appropriate only in short and general articles – and placed his statements within the framework of historical conditions, relations of force and historical development.
The Russian Revolution was a "double revolution", and just as in pre-1848 Germany, three historical modes of production were set on the stage. These were, in the classic analysis of Marx: the medieval aristocratic-military empire, the capitalist bourgeoisie, and the proletariat – in other words, serfdom, wage labour, and socialism. The industrial development of Germany at that time was limited, in quantity if not in quality, but if Marx introduced the third player, the proletariat, it was because the technical-economic conditions of the third mode of production already fully existed in England while the political conditions seemed present in France. On the European scale a socialist perspective did exist. The idea of a rapid collapse of the absolutist power in Germany in favour of the bourgeoisie, and a subsequent attack of the young proletariat against the latter, was linked to the possibility of a proletarian victory in France, where, after the fall of the bourgeois monarchy in 1831, the Parisian and provincial proletariat would engage in a courageous battle which unfortunately it would lose.
Great revolutionary visions remain fertile even when history postpones their realisation. In Marx’s perspective, France was to have given the political basis with the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship in Paris; and attempts would be made in 1831 and 1848 and achieved in 1871; though the Communards would afterwards perish in a blaze of glory with guns in their hands. England was to have given the economic basis, and Germany, the doctrine: the same doctrine which it pleased Leon Trotsky to revive in Russia with the classic expression of the permanent revolution. But for Marx, as for Trotsky, the permanence of the revolution can only be realised on the international scale, not on the paltry scale of the nation. The Stalinists condemned permanent revolution with their ideological terrorism: precisely they who have aped it in an empty parody tainted with patriotism.
In Lenin’s view (and we all agree) 1917 would see a revolutionary Russia still as industrially backward as Germany in 1848 – hand on the torch of political victory; the supreme rekindling of the flames of that great doctrine which had spread throughout Europe and the world. Defeated Germany would provide the productive forces, the economic potential, and the rest of tumultous Central Europe would follow. A second wave was to have submerged "victorious" France, Italy (where we hoped in vain to see the revolution as early as 1919) England, the United States, and Japan.
But in the Central European and Russian heartland, the development of the
productive forces in the direction of a socialist mode of production would not
encounter obstacles and would need only the dictatorship of the Communist
13. In this short outline of the results of our work we must now consider the other possible outcome; that of Russia remaining isolated with its brilliant political victory in hand. This would have been an enormously advantageous situation in comparison with 1848, when all the combatant nations remained under capitalist rule, with Germany the most backward of the lot.
Let us then recapitulate the principal features of Lenin’s domestic policy, made in the expectation of a revolution in the West, and bear them firmly in mind. In industry: control of production and later, management by the State. This meant the destruction of the private bourgeoisie and therefore political victory for the proletariat – but on the other hand, it would mean economic administration within the framework of a mercantile and capitalist mode of production, and therefore develop only the "foundations" of socialism. In agriculture: the destruction of all forms of feudal subjugation and the creation of a cooperative management of large holdings, with the least possible tolerance for small-scale mercantile production; which in 1917 was the dominant form and had been inevitably encouraged by the destruction (and in this case not only political but economic) of the feudal mode of production. Even the landless agricultural workers, the only "poor peasants" truly dear to Lenin, had diminished in numbers since the expropriation of the rich peasants had transformed them into landowners.
The question of how long this situation would last arose in the great debate of 1926. Stalin said: if it is true that full socialism is impossible here then we must abandon power. Trotsky insisted that he believed in the international revolution, and that holding onto power was necessary even if it meant waiting 50 years. The riposte to this was that for an isolated Russia, Lenin had spoken of twenty years. We have shown that Lenin in fact spoke of twenty years "of good relations with the peasants", after which, even if Russia had not yet become socialist economically, the class struggle would have broken out between the workers and peasants in order to break up rural microproduction and agrarian private micro-capital; the gangrene of the revolution.
However, in the event of the hypothetical European workers revolution, the micro-possession of the land – which under its present "kolkhozian" form is ineradicable – would have been rapidly and drastically attended to without delay.
14. Marxist economic science adequately demonstrates that Stalinism has lagged much further behind than anticipated by Lenin; it is not twenty years, as he foresaw, but forty years which have elapsed, and the relations with the kolkhoz peasants are as "good" as the relations with the industrial workers are "bad". Industry is managed by the State under the regime of wage labour and under mercantile conditions which, so far, are even worse than those existing in the undisguised capitalisms. The kolkhoz peasant is treated well as a cooperator of the kolkhoz enterprise (which is a private and not a State capitalist form) or rather, as a small manager of the land and capital.
We need not recall the bourgeois characteristics of the Soviet economy, which range from commerce to inheritance and savings. This economy is in no way proceeding towards the abolition of exchange between monetary equivalents, and towards the non-monetary remuneration of labour. In the same way, the relations between workers and peasants are proceeding in a direction opposed to the abolition – which characterises communism – of the difference between agricultural labour and industrial labour, between manual and intellectual labour.
We are at forty years distance from 1917, and about thirty years from the date, estimated by Trotsky, up to which he said it would be possible to remain in power (fifty years takes us up to around 1975) and still the revolution in the West has not arrived. The assassins of Leon Trotsky and Bolshevism have almost completely constructed capitalism in industry, that is to say the foundations of socialism. Not so in agriculture where it remains incomplete and they are still twenty years behind Lenin’s twenty year estimate as regards the liquidation of the ridiculous kolkhozian form; that degeneration of classical liberal capitalism with which, in an unspoken agreement with foreign capitalists, they would like today to infect industry and all aspects of life. We won’t have to wait until 1975 to see the crises of production unfolding in the two competing camps, sweeping away the bales of hay, the chicken houses, the little individual garages, and all the miserable creations of the repugnant kolkhozian domestic ideal; that modern Arcadian illusion of populist capitalism.
15. In a recent study by American bourgeois economists on the dynamics of World trade, it was calculated that the present race for the conquest of markets (which after the second world conflict was concealed behind the shady Puritanism of "helpful" America) will reach a critical point in 1977. We therefore find ourselves at twenty years distance from a renewed flare-up of the permanent revolution on an international scale; a prediction which coincides with the conclusions of that far off debate in 1926 as well as the conclusions of our work over these last years.
In order to avoid a further proletarian defeat, the theoretical restoration of Marxism is indispensable and cannot wait until the third world conflict has already rallied the workers behind all those cursed flags (the situation which confronted Lenin and necessitated his tremendous effort after 1914). It should be well under way before, with the organisation of a world party that doesn’t hesitate to propose its own dictatorship. Any hesitation, in fact, is tantamount to liquidation: an especial weakness of those who have an imbecile taste for ’personalities’, and who like to explain matters by means of palace revolutions and the work of great men, or with traitors, demagogues and assorted swashbucklers.
In the course of these fateful twenty years, we predict a great crisis of world industrial production and of the commercial cycle, a crisis comparable in depth to the American crisis of 1932 but not sparing Russian capitalism this time around. This crisis may constitute the basis for a return of resolute, and no longer microscopic, proletarian minorities on Marxist positions who will shun the apologetics of those anti-Russian pseudo-revolutionaries of the Hungarian type, i.e., those who, quite in keeping with stalinism, fight alongside peasants, students, and workers.
Can we venture a projection of the future international revolution? The central area will be the countries which responded to the ruination of the World War II with a powerful upsurge of the productive forces: above all Germany (including East Germany), Poland and Czechoslovakia. The proletarian insurrection, which will proceed by ferociously expropriating all the possessors of capital (currently presented as being "in the hands of the people") would have its epicentre then between Berlin and the Rhine, and would rapidly draw Northern Italy and North-East France into the movement.
Such a perspective is not accessible to the weak of spirit, who don’t want to grant a minute of relative survival to any of the capitalisms; for them all capitalisms are the same and should simply be lined up and shot – even if the only weapons they have are enemas instead of atomic missiles!
It is evidently the case that Stalin and his successors have industrialised Russia in a revolutionary way, yet at the same time, by castrating the world proletariat, they have served the counterrevolution.1n the revolution to come, Russia will be a reserve of productive forces, and only later a reserve of revolutionary armies.
After the third revolutionary wave, continental Europe will have become Communist politically and socially, or else the last Marxist will have disappeared.
British capitalism has already used up its reserves which enabled it, as Marx and Engels showed, to bourgeoisify the workers in a labourist way. This time around, even the ten times more vampiristic and oppressive American capitalism will lose its reserves in the supreme confrontation as well. For the repugnant peaceful competition of today will be substituted the social mors tua vita mea: the fight to the death.
16. This is why our commemoration is addressed not to the past forty years, but
to the twenty years to come, and their denouement.