by Joseph Green, Detroit
(from Communist Voice #8, June 1, 1996)
Other theories of transition to socialism
* No transition period
* Immediate elimination of the state
* The state sector in a "mixed economy" as socialist
* A dominant state sector seen as socialist in itself
* Wait for the whole world
* Small-scale production and group ownership rather than social control of the entire economy
* Maintaining the marketplace forever
Lenin's views on the transition to socialism
* A protracted transition
* Importance of organization
* Accounting and control
* Utilizing forms from large-scale capitalism
* A realistic appraisal of the transition
* Capitalism doesn't just come from the former bourgeoisie
* A bourgeois economy is incompatible with a proletarian state
* Distortions of the proletarian state
Jim's report evades an assessment of the path to socialism
Where the report comes from
Was Lenin inconsistent?
* Is the nationalization of the banks and large corporations equivalent to socialism?
* Are consumer co-ops equivalent to socialism?
* Did Lenin recognize any dangers of state capitalism?
* Is state capitalism equal to socialism?
Jim's marketplace socialism
* Is it a retreat to go back to private capitalism?
* Is it possible to lead the small producers onto the path of amalgamation?
* Do agricultural co-ops have anything to do with the transition to socialism?
* Is nationwide accounting and control realistic?
* Should the state take over industry?
* What other means of transition is there?
On the term "state capitalism"
Is Marxism-Leninism the source of Stalinism?
* Jim's proof: Stalin says so
* Did Lenin think concessions were the only form of state capitalism?
* On Co-operation
* High salaries etc.
* Bureaucratic tutelage
* No such thing as revisionism?
. What does the economy of a country in transition to socialism look like? Does state ownership by itself suffice to lay the economic basis of socialism? How can socialism be distinguished from the revisionist economies ruled by sluggish bureaucracies in the state-capitalist countries (for example, Cuba, North Korea, China, Vietnam and formerly the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe)?
. These are some of the questions raised by the experience of early days of the Bolshevik revolution, and by the fight against the various revisionist regimes that have sought to pass themselves off as socialist or communist. A discussion of the nature of state-capitalism and its relation to socialism will help throw some light on these issues. In part one of this article, I begin by criticizing a report by Jim (San Francisco Bay Area) on Lenin's views on the use of state capitalism by a socialist government. (Jim's report is reprinted elsewhere in this issue of Communist Voice. (1))
. To understand what is at stake in the debates over state capitalism, let's review briefly some of
the different conceptions of socialism.
. Communist society as envisioned by Marx and Engels is neither mere state ownership nor ownership of each workplace by its workers alone. Nor is it ownership by individual communities or collectives. It is the management of production by all of society collectively, and it requires the elimination of the division of humanity into toiling classes that do the work and exploiting classes that do the ruling. Marx and Engels studied how money and private property and the present capitalist society arose; they showed how the private and small-scale character of production inevitably gave rise to money and exploitation. They showed that it was large-scale production, that has grown up under capitalism, that also provides the basis for overcoming capitalism. It creates both the necessity and the possibility for society as a whole to take over the direction of production, and to eliminate the division of humanity into classes. A classless society would have neither money, nor any form of private or small-group ownership of the means of production. There would not be a fair system of wages, but the elimination of the system of wage-labor: people would not work for wages, but they would receive their needs as a matter of course. People would work because transforming the world (creating things, taking care of people, protecting the environment, etc. ) would be one of the central desires of a fulfilled life. There would not be government (a state apparatus) in a classless society, as the state is a means whereby one section of the population suppresses the rest. Instead there would simply be an administrative apparatus operated by the whole population.
. But Marx and Engels didn't believe that such a society could come into being all at once. It's not just that it would require a revolution to overthrow the ruling minority that presently owns the means of production. Even after a revolution, such a society could not simply be proclaimed; it could not simply be the result of a revolutionary decree. It required a lengthy process of transition from capitalist society to communism. This is the dictatorship of the proletariat, during which the working population would transform itself as well as transforming the economy. Moreover, this transformation would lead through two phases of communism. In the lower phase of communism (often called socialism), production is already run by society as a whole. But people earn the means of life through their labor, although they are now paid equally with respect to the amount of their labor. The differences between the various types of labor have not yet been overcome; work has not yet changed from a job to one of the most important parts of a satisfying life; etc. This society is not the Marxist goal, but only one of the stages along the road to the higher stage of communism, the classless society.
. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels briefly sketched out this transition. They described a series of measures which the revolutionary proletariat, organized as the ruling class, would take. Many of these measures involved increasing the control of the state over the means of production. It is only at the culmination of this process, "when . . . class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation" that "the public power will lose its political character"(2)--i. e. government (the state) will dissolve into a merely administrative apparatus.
. In his famous polemic Anti-Dühring, Engels went back over the same ground, and pointed out that after the proletariat seizes power, it "transforms the means of production in the first instance into state property. " (emphasis in the original. ) He distinguished this from ordinary state ownership by a capitalist government (so-called "state socialism"). And he held that this led eventually to the withering away of the state power itself, leaving behind only "the administration of things and the direction of the processes of production. "(3) In Engels' later article The Peasant Question in France and Germany, he discussed the steps that a socialist government might take in the countryside. He studied in particular the question of the relationship of the state to collectives, and he held that the lower form of co-operatives were not yet socialist and were simply a stage on the road to a higher form of collective. He set forward certain general principles and showed the modifications that would be needed in some particular countries and regions.
. Also notable are Marx's comments in The Civil War in France on the Paris Commune of 1871, in which the proletariat briefly held power. He pointed out that the revolutionary proletarian state is not the same type as the bourgeois state. He did not, however, say much in this book about the economic tasks of this state, because he was summing up the experience of the Commune, which lasted only 71 days before it was crushed by military force and didn't get far on the economic front.
. Thus Marx and Engels provided a description of the communist goal, along with stress on the
need for a revolutionary transition period between capitalism and communism. They showed
that, as a step towards society as a whole running production, the proletarian revolution would
have the state take over the economy, and that even this might be preceded by a series of
preliminary measures. They provided what was, in essence, the first discussion of the utilization,
by the revolutionary proletariat, of both state regulation of capitalism and state ownership as
steps in the elimination of capitalism. They did not call this "state capitalism under workers' rule"
[as it was often called later], but they briefly sketched some of the content of this process.
Moreover, they distinguished it from "state socialism". (4) [Note, however, that this series of
articles vehemently opposes the view that the transitional economy can be described overall as
"state capitalism under workers' rule". Under the subhead "On the term `state-capitalism'" it
shows how very different things are often all jumbled together as state-capitalism, and points to
the need for a better terminology. In part three of this article, "On the question of 'state capitalism
under workers' rule'" it argues that it is doubtful that Lenin himself equated the transitional period
simply with state-capitalism, and that in any case the experience of the 20th century shows that
such an identification is mistaken theoretically and misleading in practice.]
. The Bolshevik revolution would represent the first big attempt to apply these theories to a
proletarian revolution. Lenin's views were the best presentation of the issue by the Bolsheviks.
But before reviewing Lenin's views, let's note that there are other, non-Marxist theories of
overcoming capitalism. The list below of some different views, although cursory, may help
indicate the issues at stake. This will help provide a context for judging what the experience of
the Bolshevik revolution on one hand, and of the various revisionist regimes of this century on
the other, show about the transition to socialism.
--No transition period
. Some people denounce the idea of a transition period. Instead, they hold that when enough
people understand the plan for a future society, they will bring it into existence all at once. They
may, for example, demand that money, commodity production, wage-labor, and the state are all
abolished immediately. Refusal to recognize a transition may seem very revolutionary. But it is
not only impractical, but can have reactionary consequences. For example, its advocates may
hold that a socialist regime need not recognize the right to national self-determination, since
nations and national differences should simply be abolished. In practice, national differences
cannot be abolished this way, but national freedoms can be.
--Immediate elimination of the state
. Anarchists see the source of evil in authority in general and the state in particular. They don't
recognize that the state itself arises on the basis of existing class differences and the lack of social
direction of the process of production. Hence they believe that they can simply abolish the state
and this will eliminate oppression and eliminate classes. They denounce the revolutionary
dictatorship of the proletariat as just another name for the oppressor state.
--The state sector in a "mixed economy" as socialist
. Reformist socialism sees the state sector in a capitalist country as "socialism". This type of
"socialism", typical of the Second International, is widespread, and is an ideology of the modern
capitalist state, which has a state sector and state regulation alongside a big private sector. It
holds that various capitalist states in Western Europe actually already are--or have been, so long
as the social-democratic party is in power--socialist. But the state sector in reality is not
"socialist" but is simply run on behalf of the entire bourgeoisie.
--A dominant state sector seen as socialist in itself
. Stalinism and, in general, revisionism in power present a system with a big state sector as
socialism, especially if the old bourgeoisie has--at least in part--been replaced by a new
bourgeoisie with its power based in the state sector. Faced with opposition to the exploitation and
lack of rights which the workers face in their regimes, the revisionists cite state ownership as
supposedly sufficient proof that there is no exploiting class. Most of the revisionist regimes have
collapsed, but the remaining ones have adopted more and more market reforms. More and more,
the last remnant of revisionist "socialism" is simply an authoritarian rule against the masses by a
corrupt party based on state bureaucrats and managers of enterprises.
--Wait for the whole world
. Another view holds that there can be no socialism until the whole world is socialist. Some say
this in order to throw up their hands and do nothing. But among those who advocate
revolutionary activity, this view allows its advocates to fudge on the question of the transitional
steps to socialism, with the result of vacillating between at times deprecating the necessary steps
of a transition as allegedly opportunism and at other times being unable to see what is wrong
with the economic base of revisionist state-capitalist society (their only objection being that the
revisionists aren't more democratic about it). Generally, the advocates of this view suggest that
the issue isn't to judge the conditions in each country or region, but to see whether the world as a
whole is ripe for socialism. This orients them away from the sober assessments needed of each
particular country or region.
--Small-scale production and group ownership
rather than social control of the entire economy
. Some people denounce large-scale production as the cause of the problems of modern
capitalism. They look to going back to small-scale production. They may idealize the individual
entrepreneur. But most dream of autonomous collectives and direct democracy. The advocates of
such views may regard the social direction of all production as even worse than the present
system, and in any case if society were organized according to their plan it would be unable to
carry out such direction of production as a whole. Despite the intentions of the supporters of
these plans, the various independent units would eventually relate to each other through the
--Maintaining the marketplace forever
. Some left-wing trends have become open advocates of marketplace ideas, thus helping import
the neo-conservative atmosphere of the time into the movement. Some of them simply want a
better "mixed" economy, with the government correcting the excesses of the market.
Others--such as the individualist wing of anarchism--dream of a society without a government
but with the marketplace, and form a sort of left-wing of the Libertarian Party.
. The views of various left-wing political trends often combine several of the above-mentioned viewpoints. Lenin by way of contrast developed his view of the path to socialism through continuing the ideas of Marxism. His views differ from those of the "left communists" and anarchists in a number of ways, among which is that he sharply stressed the need for a revolutionary transition period prior to the classless society. His stand differs from the revisionist and Trotskyist view that state ownership is in itself socialist, and he instead looked more closely at the nature of the state and of the economic principles guiding state industry. His stand differs from the marketplace ideologists (and the anarchists) in that he pointed to the role of large-scale production and the need for society as a whole to take over the direction of production.
. A study of Lenin's views on the transition period, with especial reference to the issue of state
capitalism, shows that he emphasized a number of themes. I won't deal here--except perhaps in
passing--with many important questions, such as the party, the trade unions, and many important
political issues, but will focus on the economic questions most directly related to the "state
capitalism" issue and to those raised by Jim in his report. A few of Lenin's points are as follows:
--A protracted transition
. Lenin--in the preparation for the October revolution--emphasized that there could be no question of directly turning Russia into a socialist country, but instead there had to be a series of steps to socialism, a lengthy transition period. He didn't just agitate for socialism in Russia on the grounds that the world in general was ripe for socialism, nor did he hold that socialism could simply be decreed, but advocated definite measures which he held would begin the transition towards socialism. Articles like "The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It" and "Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power" argued on the basis of definite transitional measures.
. After the revolution, Lenin continued to advocate such measures, both for industry and agriculture. When various measures could not be implemented or did not have the desired effect, Lenin sought out alternative ways of preparing the ground for socialist measures. He held
". . . that it was not without reason that the teachers of socialism spoke of a whole period of transition from capitalism to socialism and emphasized the 'prolonged birthpangs' of the new society. And this new society is again an abstraction which can come into being only by passing through a series of varied, imperfect concrete attempts to create this or that socialist state". (5)
--Importance of organization
. Why couldn't socialism just be introduced by decree? If socialism was just a matter of expropriating the bourgeoisie, it could be done rapidly. But Lenin stressed that "The important thing will not be even the confiscation of the capitalists' property, but countrywide, all embracing workers' control over the capitalists and their possible supporters. Confiscation alone leads nowhere, as it does not contain the element of organization, of accounting for proper distribution."(6) Lenin emphasized developing the organization necessary for the proletariat to actually run production and dispense with the capitalists, and this led through various stages. Again and again he came back to the need for the workers to learn how to handle nationwide accounting and supervision of production.
. Lenin pointed out that "in Russia we have a petty-bourgeois mass which sympathizes with the
abolition of the big bourgeoisie in all countries, but does not sympathize with accounting,
socialization and control -- herein lies the danger for the revolution, here you have the unity of
social forces which ruined the great French revolution and could not fail to do so, and which, if
the Russian proletariat proves weak, can alone ruin the Russian revolution. "(7) It is this
petty-bourgeois stand which, by the way, is reflected in anarchism, which denounces the big
bourgeoisie but is skeptical of organization or denounces it as Stalinism, state socialism, or what
--Accounting and control
. In dealing with the organization needed to actually run the economy, Lenin laid stress on the
apparently prosaic tasks of accounting and control. In his conception, this was a key step towards
the masses collectively organizing and running industry and agriculture. He laid stress on
verifying and reverifying the work that was done, and not being satisfied with high-sounding
declarations and decrees. Replacing the capitalists requires that the masses show in practice that
they can provide their own accounting and control, their own management of large-scale
production, their own labor discipline.
--Utilizing forms from large-scale capitalism
. Lenin held that the socialist proletariat could make use of and transform some of the large-scale
organization that had arisen under capitalism, including the co-operatives, banking apparatus,
monopolies, etc. Some of these could be transformed into an apparatus run by the workers.
Others he regarded as compromises with capitalism which could be used for awhile. Thus, in
cases where the workers could not immediately take over the direction of production, he held that
a sort of state-capitalism under workers' control -- that is, capitalists running enterprises under
the control and regulation of the proletarian state and workers' organizations -- could be used as
one part of the transitional economy. The enterprises would not yet be directly owned and
managed by the proletariat and its state, but the proletariat would gain experience, force the
amalgamation of industry and other changes, and prepare conditions for state ownership. This
would lead to it taking over the industry altogether. Lenin also referred to certain practices used
in the state-owned industry in the Soviet Union as state-capitalist.
--A realistic appraisal of the transition
. Lenin didn't sugarcoat the transitional measures, as is shown by his designation of some of them
as state-capitalism or as having features in common with state-capitalism. For example, he didn't
pretend that nationalization of the land alone brings socialism nor that the first steps towards
cooperation in the countryside was socialism. Instead he supported transitional measures because
they facilitate having millions of millions of toilers participate in building the economy and
moving towards socialism.
--Capitalism doesn't just come from the former bourgeoisie
. Lenin stressed that overthrowing the old bourgeoisie didn't suffice to root out capitalist
relations. Lenin stressed that the "small production engenders capitalism and the bourgeoisie
continuously, daily, hourly, spontaneously, and on a mass scale. "(8) He held that production via
individual co-ops, if the co-ops owned their own means of production, also gives rise to a
bourgeoisie. And he pointed to the possibility of bourgeois relations developing inside state
industry. Thus he held that extra-high salaries to specialists implies capitalist relations, saying
that "State capitalism is not money but social relations. If we pay 2,000 . . . , that is state
capitalism. "(9) Similarly he pointed to the contradictions created between the management and
the mass of workers by the state industry temporarily going on to the profit-making or
commercial basis. For all these reasons, capitalism doesn't just spring from the individuals who
formed the ruling class prior to the revolution, but "a new bourgeoisie"(10) can arise after the
expropriation of the old bourgeoisie.
--A bourgeois economy is incompatible with a proletarian state
. Lenin also held that there could only be a proletarian state if there was definite progress towards
socialism. He did not agree that one could simply graft a proletarian state onto a bourgeois
economy and wait until the world went socialist. He held, for example, that "The proletarian state
may, without changing its own nature, permit . . . the development of capitalism only with
certain bounds, and only on the condition that the state regulates [it]. "(11) Nor was his view that
the proletarian state could simply tolerate regulated capitalism forever. He held that the
proletariat should, in accordance with its strength and organization, gradually eliminate the
various compromises with capitalism and the utilization of state capitalist methods.
--Distortions of the proletarian state
. Moreover, Lenin held that the use of state capitalist methods not only had to be kept within certain bounds, but that it affects the nature of the proletarian state. He stressed that it inevitably resulted in "bureaucratic distortions of the state apparatus. " When state industry in Russia went onto the so-called "commercial basis" and each industrial department had to make a profit, he pointed to "the inevitable rise of narrow departmental interests and excessive departmental zeal", giving rise to conflicts with the mass of workers. (12) He connected this to the fact that "class struggle is inevitable" in "the period of transition from capitalism to socialism". (13) He discussed the ramifications of this for the trade unions, which had to defend the working class against the distortions of the proletarian state and its management of industry. Indeed, he polemicized strongly against Trotsky on this issue, opposing his policy of "bureaucratic harassment of the trade unions"(14) and his failure to deal with the fact that workers must not only build up a proletarian state but defend themselves against its mistakes and errors as well.
. These are some of the themes that stand out in Lenin's discussion of the relationship of the
transition to socialism to state capitalism.
. You might expect that Jim's report of 1991, entitled "Lenin's views on state capitalism under workers' rule -- review", would assess these views and their significance for the general theory of the transition to socialism. And his report does contain a large number of interesting extracts from Lenin's writing, characterized into four chronological periods. Each period was followed by relatively brief remarks by Jim. The report was accompanied by an even larger collection of extracts from Lenin's writings. But oddly enough this report never really expresses a view on general significance of "state capitalism under workers' rule". It snipes at various statements of Lenin's, but it avoids a direct statement on the general theoretical issues involved. Much of the report is devoted to Jim's complaints about how Lenin expressed his ideas. Jim says Lenin didn't repeat his ideas enough, or didn't express them "forcefully and directly" enough.
. Indeed, contradictions abound in Jim's report. For example, it begins by praising Lenin for opposing the spinelessness of "the social-traitors [who] were renouncing the tasks of revolution and socialism with the excuse that the economic conditions were not yet ripe for the overthrow of capital. " [43/1] But within a few pages Jim starts developing his theme that the conditions weren't ripe in Russia, because of the peasant majority. [46/2] And by the end of the report, Jim suggests that they probably weren't ripe in "much of the rest of Europe" either. [56/1] So apparently Jim thinks that the spineless social-traitors were right after all.
. Now, did Jim really think that those who thought the conditions weren't ripe for revolution were "spineless social-traitors", or was he just characterizing Lenin's views of them?(15) Were the "social-traitors" correct to renounce revolution, or does Jim think that the revolution should have gone ahead even if there weren't any conditions for it? Or does he think the revolution should not have been for socialism, but for something else? And if so, what? He doesn't say.
. Similarly, Jim's report is full of statements about Lenin's genius, about how he "broke new theoretical ground" about the transition to socialism, and stood "head and shoulders" above the "post-Lenin leadership". [56/2, 57/1] But the report also suggests that Lenin led a system of "bureaucratic tutelage", and that Lenin's ideas paved the way for Stalin's later despotism and "consolidated state capitalism". Well, there's a glowing endorsement for this "new theoretical ground"! According to Jim, Lenin ploughed the fields of despotism, but he did it so very, very well.
. These contradictions aren't the result of a bad writing style. Jim generally spoke and wrote in a clear, confident, and forceful manner. If his report is full of equivocal ways of saying things, this is due to the fact that Jim--a member of the Central Committee (CC) of the late Marxist-Leninist Party--and a number of his co-thinkers became demoralized about revolution, socialism, and Marxism by 1990-91, but they didn't want to be known as people who would abandon ship. So they beat their breasts about their loyalty to revolution and opposition to "social-traitors" until the day they gathered sufficient strength, at which time they advocated that all anti-revisionist communist work should stop. But why should the work stop? Because they were demoralized with it? Not at all, they said, it was just that there were no objective conditions for it, because the workers weren't militant enough, because the theory was shaky, anything at all, but not that they didn't want to do it. And they sought to silence any debate on this.
. Few people can carry out intense revolutionary work for all their lives. Most people, if they
retain their communist convictions, become sympathizers and supporters rather than all-out
organizers. There's nothing wrong with that. But Jim and company wanted to be known as the
firmest of the firm, while jumping ship. So instead of advocating their views openly, they
engaged in the peekaboo style which is apparent in the report.
. Jim's report was part of the examination by the late Marxist-Leninist Party of the early years of the Bolshevik Revolution and the related theoretical issues. Jim discussed his work with other Central Committee members at CC meetings. The CC noted the report's failure to sum up the general significance of the issues it was supposed to be dealing with. The CC minutes of November 1991 state that the CC discussed Jim's report "and, beyond that, further views on what the actual answer to the question of transition to socialism is and on the significance of state capitalism under workers' rule or transition to socialism in Russia and elsewhere. The report may go through some modifications/additions including adding views on the significance of state capitalism under workers' rule for the transition to socialism. "(16) And the CC meeting of March 1992 returned to this point and stated that Jim's report "mainly has left for its completion a look back at Marx and Engels on state capitalism and seeing what is different or developed further in Lenin on state capitalism, and also the polishing of the collection of Lenin statements on state capitalism. "(17)
. It wasn't until November 1993, two years later, that the MLP dissolved. Yet Jim never added to the report, despite the overriding importance the MLP gave to theoretical work on these questions. This is because in fact Jim already had reached a conclusion on the significance of Lenin's views on state capitalism--and, more generally, on the Marxist idea of the transition to socialism. If he had stated his conclusions directly, it would have given rise to a debate, which he wanted to avoid. But if one pieces together Jim's comments throughout the report,, a general picture emerges. Jim held that Lenin's views were "unrealistic" and inconsistent. He holds that Lenin paved the way for Stalin and Stalinism, and abandons the view that the Stalinists were revisionists. He finds the path of the state takeover of the economy as dangerous, while instead looking favorably on reliance on the free-market. He doesn't explain how the marketplace will lead to socialism.
. As we examine further Jim's report, we shall see that Jim's evidence that Lenin's views were
"unrealistic" is simply that the revolution ultimately failed, and his evidence that Leninism is the
source of Stalinism is that Stalin says so.
. Jim's main charge is that Lenin is inconsistent. Over and over, Jim's report presents Lenin as vacillating back and forth, swinging like a pendulum from one extreme to the other. A year after his report, at the Fourth Congress of the MLP in November 1992, referring to this supposed inconsistency, Jim would say that Leninism was fine but it was "inconsistent". But an "inconsistent" theorist is one who talks out of both sides of his mouth, and an inconsistent theory is a worthless one. So it is not surprising that in another year--in the debate leading to the dissolution of the MLP in November 1993--Jim was denouncing Leninism altogether. (18)
. In his report, Jim basically demands that Lenin should have had gone into the October revolution with a precise definition of what the transition to socialism would look like. Lenin should have had a precise formula about what constituted state-capitalist elements of the economy, about what apparatus should be built, about the role each aspect of the economy would play, etc. There should have been no deviation from these definitions. And these formulas should have been repeated word for word in each article, without the slightest change in metaphors or imagery.
. This is a profoundly utopian and anti-revolutionary demand. No new social system can be pictured in detail prior to its existence, and no large human endeavor is ever carried out exactly according to its original blueprint. Jim was engaging in vulgar mockery of the process of change.
. Lenin had a different view of the revolutionary struggle. He held that one has to analyze the basic lines of the class struggle, and then constantly study and take account of the experience of the struggle. Above I have quoted Lenin pointing out socialism can only come into being "by passing through a series of varied, imperfect concrete attempts to create this or that socialist state". And in describing the revolutionary struggle, he wrote that communist must "Investigate, study, seek, divine, grasp that which is peculiarly national, specifically national in the concrete manner in which each country approaches the fulfillment of the single international task . . ." (19) Can it be believed that this ceases upon the achievement of proletarian political power, and the new society is then constructed according to a perfect blueprint?
. So yes, the Bolshevik revolution went through a number of changes and zigzags and sharp turns
in its early years, and Lenin studied attentively its experience and repeatedly adjusted his ideas
about the transition to socialism. But having said this, it is remarkable how consistent --
throughout these many twists and turns -- was Lenin's adherence to the Marxist theoretical
framework about these problems. Again and again, it will turn out that Jim's attempts to prove
that Lenin vacillated about this framework are bogus. Jim's analysis often turns on quibbling over
the words "socialism" and "socialist society," and conveniently forgetting that sometimes they are
used to mean the full classless society, sometimes only the first phase of communism, and most
often they are used to refer to transitional forms that are on the path towards the new society.
--Is the nationalization of the banks and
large corporations equivalent to socialism?
. Jim's first example of Lenin's vacillation is as follows:
". . . there is the question of how Lenin viewed the nationalization of the banks, syndicates, etc. . . . It seems that there is a shift in Lenin's views between April and September [1917--JG. ], a shift corresponding to the class shift within the soviets, from seeing the soviets as a 'revolutionary democratic government of the workers and peasants' to seeing them as some type of socialist power. " [44/2]
. Jim argues that Lenin originally "stresses that this [nationalization] is not a socialist measure in itself, but only a step to socialism", but by September Lenin allegedly regarded such nationalizations as "a more immediate or direct step toward socialism. " [45/1]
. But wait a minute! According to Jim, Lenin regarded nationalization as a step to socialism in April -- and still regarded it as a step to socialism in September. What a big shift in views! (To be precise, Lenin regarded nationalization as a step towards socialism only provided nationalization was carried out by at least a revolutionary-democratic state, and more so if carried out by a proletarian state. )
. But Jim gives this example repeatedly, each time growing more emphatic. A bit later in his report, Jim states that:
"In April, he [Lenin] is relatively forceful that there is nothing socialist in the nationalization of the banks and syndicates. By September, a single nationalized state bank becomes 'nine-tenths of the socialist apparatus,' and 'the skeleton of socialist society. '" [46/2]
But it is not Lenin, but Jim who is inconsistent here. First he simplifies Lenin's statements in April -- that nationalization is not socialism, but a step towards socialism -- and converts them into the view that there is "nothing socialist" at all about nationalization. Apparently, for Jim there is "nothing socialist" about the transition towards socialism. And then Jim simplifies Lenin's later repetition of the idea that nationalization is a step to socialism and converts it into meaning that nationalization is just about all there is to socialism.
. So in the same report Jim sometimes says Lenin's inconsistency was just over how far nationalization went towards socialism, but elsewhere Jim says the inconsistency is over whether nationalization is socialism. Jim isn't even consistent about Lenin's supposed inconsistency.
. Of course Lenin's views about how quickly the transition to socialism would take place changed repeatedly. They varied continuously as the experience of the Russian revolutions of 1917 deepened. How rapidly would the proletariat be able to establish workers' control over industry? What would the resistance of the bourgeoisie amount to? Did Lenin put too much stress on what could be accomplished with revolutionary decrees in what he wrote in the weeks just prior to the October Revolution, when his attention and that of other comrades was focused on what a revolutionary government should proclaim to the whole country? Or is it more significant that Lenin's articles, even in September 1917 in preparation for the revolution, emphasized that a start should be made with workers' control (not ownership) of industry, and did not promise the immediate "introduction" of socialism? But through it all, the theoretical framework, of whether nationalization in itself constituted socialism, did not vary. And yet that is what Jim had charged.
. Jim appears to put particular emphasis on Lenin's words in April against "'introducing' socialism" and claims it shows that Lenin thought, in Jim's words, that "the direct transition" was "out of the question". [44/1] Presumably this means that Jim thought that these words showed that Lenin had a clearer idea in April about the need for a protracted transition to socialism. In this regard, Jim's report cites Lenin saying in April that the proletariat could not "set itself the aim of 'introducing' socialism in a country of small peasants so long as the overwhelming majority of the population has not come to realize the need for a socialist revolution. " But Lenin kept on insisting on the same idea -- that Russia had to go through a protracted transition to socialism. Here he is, in Dec. 1917, after the October revolution, saying that "We have always known, said and emphasized that socialism cannot be 'introduced', that it takes shape in the course of the most intense, the most acute class struggle . . . we have always said that a long period of 'birth-pangs' lies between capitalism and socialism . . . "(20) And here he is at the 3rd All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, in January 1918, saying that "we cannot leap straight into socialism. "(21)
. Jim also apparently charges Lenin with being inconsistent because Lenin thought the significance of nationalization varied depending, among other things, on the government doing the nationalizing. This is presumably the basis of Jim's remark that Lenin's "shift" in views depended on the changes in the nature of the Soviets. As we have seen, Jim is wrong about the nature of Lenin's "shift" -- under no circumstances did Lenin equate nationalization with socialism. Nevertheless, Lenin did believe that the significance of nationalization could differ. In this, he was simply following the elementary Marxist principle that economic content of nationalization is utterly dependent on, among other things, who is doing the nationalizing.
. Jim continues to even wilder criticisms of Lenin's views on the nationalization of the banks and
syndicates. He ends up accusing these views of being an ideological preparation for Stalinist
society. I will deal with this criticism later on, in the sections of this article dealing with Jim's
attitude to the marketplace and his equation of Leninism with Stalinism. For now, let's note that
Jim never discusses the significance of the nationalization of the banks and syndicates directly.
Are these steps to socialism or not? Does society have to take over all of production, and how
can this be done without nationalizing the banks and syndicates? Does nationalizing the banks
play a role in developing nationwide control and accounting, or does a socialist government do
this in some other way? Jim accuses Lenin of vagueness, while himself avoiding a clear answer.
--Are consumer co-ops equivalent to socialism?
. Jim also argues that Lenin swung wildly back and forth on co-operatives and even thought consumer co-ops were the main thing in socialism. He writes of
"an over-optimism in relation to the consumer co-ops. Lenin's 1918 views on the cooperatives seems to be consistent with the exaggerations in such places as his 1923 article 'On Cooperation. ' In 1923, the extension of the cooperatives becomes 'all that is necessary to build a complete socialist society. '" [49/2]
Jim likes this point so much he makes it at least three times. The last time, near the conclusion of the article, Jim sums up that, with respect to co-ops, Lenin put forward plenty of "contradictory viewpoints. " And he goes on to state:
"That is the only way to read the January, 1923 article 'On Co-operation. ' This article reflects an extreme in Lenin's views over a five or six year period, albeit at the outer limit of the pendulum swing. The views equating cooperatives with socialism were in line with similar opinions expressed in 1918. " [56/2]
. If Lenin believed that socialism could be built simply out of consumer co-operatives, then he had indeed departed from Marxist socialism, which emphasizes that socialism involves the organization of production. But this assertion from Jim is simply ludicrous.
. Take "On Co-operation". I have commented on this article in a previous issue of Communist Voice. (22) It is clear that, Jim to the contrary, this article was concerned, not just with consumer co-ops, but especially with producer co-ops. Lenin referred to co-operatives where "the land on which they are situated and the means of production belong to the state, i. e. , the working class. " (vol. 33, p. 473) This can only be referring to a type of agricultural producers' co-op (collective farming); land and means of production mean little for consumer co-ops.
. Similarly, what about Lenin's "1918 views on the co-operatives" which supposedly said that socialism could be built out of consumer co-ops alone? It turns out that the very statement by Lenin cited by Jim refers to producers' as well as consumers' co-operatives. Moreover, it was dealing with the need for accounting and control, and how to achieve it. Lenin was discussing the transition to socialism, not the full achievement of it. In this respect, he suggests that "The socialist state can arise only as a network of producers' and consumers' communes, which conscientiously keep account of their production and consumption, economize on labor, and steadily rise the productivity of labor, thus making it possible to reduce the working day to seven, six and even fewer hours. "(23)
. Jim however ignores this and points only to a sentence later on in the paragraph: "Capitalism has left us a legacy of mass organizations which can facilitate our transition to the mass accounting and control of the distribution of goods, namely, the consumers' cooperative societies." See, Lenin talked only about consumer co-ops!!! But Lenin's idea is clear. There should be a network of producers' and consumers' co-ops, of which capitalism has left us a legacy of consumer co-ops. The consumer co-ops can only do some of the things which are needed -- it will help the transition to the mass accounting and control of distribution, while socialism also requires mass accounting and control of production, raising the productivity of labor, etc.
. Moreover, Lenin doesn't refer to the co-ops and communes as equaling socialism. Indeed, in "On Co-operation", Lenin explicitly denied this. He referred to a series of political and economic conditions, including the building of these co-operatives, and then says "Is this not all that is necessary to build a complete socialist society? It is still not the building of socialist society, but it is all that is necessary and sufficient for it. " Jim is aware that Lenin said this, but it doesn't matter to him. He waves it aside, saying: "Expressions such as 'still not the building of socialist society, but it is all that is necessary and sufficient for it' were similar to other vague generalities that make it difficult to penetrate any precise economic analysis. "
. But Lenin's idea isn't that difficult to figure out. He believed that a series of conditions,
including the voluntary organization of all peasants into a type of collective farm whose land and
means of production belonged to all of society, would provide a stable basis for the transition to
socialism, free of the crises in grain procurement and other economic disasters that had
threatened the socialist revolution right from the start. One could ask how could this be achieved
in Russia at that time. (See my comments on "On Co-operation", referred to in footnote 22,
where I point to a number of factors that would have to be considered. ) But Jim's equation of
Lenin's article with a new definition of socialism is mindlessness.
--Did Lenin recognize any dangers in state capitalism?
. Jim also claims that Lenin was inconsistent on whether there are any dangers in a workers' state utilizing state capitalism. Jim writes, with respect to early 1918, that
"It was during this period that Lenin sets up the framework that the enemy is petty production against state capitalism (or sometimes state capitalism and socialism). However, it seems that there was something one-sided here. It is one thing to recognize the need for a certain compromise with state capitalism; and Lenin several times said that it must be admitted bluntly that it was a compromise. It is quite another to not squarely pose that such a compromise involves very real dangers; and Lenin tended towards the opposite extreme, rejecting any talk of state capitalist enemies or dangers. There is almost a boastful attitude that there is nothing to fear because the workers are in power: '. . . there is nothing terrible in it (state capitalism) for Soviet power, for the Soviet state is a state in which the power of the workers and the poor is assured. ' (vol. 27, p. 339)" [49/2]
. Well, let's see. If we restrict ourselves to 1918, as Jim asks, we find that:
. * Jim's own report admits that Lenin talked of various of these dangers. For example, Jim states that Lenin "admitted bluntly" that state capitalist methods were a compromise.
. * Jim cites Lenin saying things such as that paying high salaries to specialists "implies the cessation -- in a certain field and to a certain degree -- of the offensive against capital". (24) That's a pretty strong statement to make, considering that one is in the midst of a revolution against capital.
. * Lenin also stated that "The corrupting influence of high salaries [i. e. salaries to a few that are very much higher than that of the typical worker] -- both upon the Soviet authorities . . . and upon the mass of the workers -- is indisputable. "(25) Thus Lenin refers both to the danger of undermining the socialist stance of the Soviet authorities as well as damaging the morale of the mass of workers.
. Yet Jim insists that Lenin didn't "squarely pose" in 1918 that there were dangers! If anything, Lenin goes into this issue much more deeply than Jim. In fact, Jim -- who poses as sterner than Lenin against extra-high salaries and privileges for specialists and experts -- is altogether silent about the danger of these salaries and privileges when it comes to private capitalism. We shall see that Jim forgets all about the dangers of salary differentials and privileges when it comes to considering marketplace capitalism, as if these differentials only existed in state-regulated capitalism and weren't an inherent part of market capitalism.
. Waving aside the content of what Lenin said, Jim instead denounces Lenin's view that there is "nothing terrible" for the Soviet state in state-regulated capitalism. Jim calls this boastful. But does state-regulated capitalism involve a greater danger than the private capitalism it is replacing? Does he disagree with Lenin's view that the Soviet state can make use of state-regulated capitalism in the course of preparing the proletariat to take over the economy altogether? Or does Jim think that the Soviet proletariat was in the position to simply take over and run industry without trying to make use of the expertise of the capitalists and the specialists for awhile? Lenin's statements about state-regulated capitalism and about certain compromises in the state sector with capitalism (such as extra-high salaries for specialists) raises the question of whether such methods are typical of one stage of the transition to socialism, or were simply an especially terrible feature of Russia in 1918. It seems to me that such compromises are typical. But Jim doesn't speak to this. He just insists that one must repeat over and over that the revolution is using dangerous methods. Apparently he is demanding that, whether advancing or retreating, the socialist activists should only speak of revolution in tones of dread apprehension.
. Now let's focus a bit more closely on Lenin's views, not on Soviet use of state-capitalism in general (which includes state regulation of the private sector), but just on state-capitalist methods in the state sector. So far I have just referred to Lenin's views in 1918 on this question. According to Jim, it was "in the spring of 1918 that Lenin gave some of his more insightful views about state capitalism within the state sector. The main focus was on the question of high pay and privileges for the managers and experts. " [49/1] But Lenin focused on high pay and privileges in 1918 because this was the main way state capitalism was manifested in the state sector at that time. It wasn't until the New Economic Policy of 1921 that the state industry went on to the commercial basis. At that time, Lenin said a lot more about state capitalism in the state sector:
. * He pointed to the rise of contradictions between the mass of workers and the management of state industry, and he stressed that the class struggle continues in the period of transition to socialism. (26)
. * He held that the trade unions had to defend the workers in state industry against the bureaucratic distortions of the state, and discussed the implications of this for the trade unions. (27)
. * He stressed, in his polemic against Trotsky's commandism with respect to the trade unions, that the workers' state had bureaucratic distortions and the trade unions had to be one of the tools the workers used against such distortions. (28)
. * Moreover, as Jim himself says in his report, Lenin tended to call the state enterprises run on a commercial basis not socialist enterprises, but "nationalized or state or even socialized enterprises". [55/1]
. Yet Jim insists that Lenin's remarks in 1918 were his main discussion of state capitalism in the state sector. He says that Lenin only gave "some clues of the profundity of the issue" and that these clues only leave "a taste that leaves one hungry to go beyond the issue of high salaries . . ." [50/1] But Jim must not have been that hungry after all, because when his report reached Lenin's striking views about the state sector during NEP, Jim just waved them aside as "not directly pos(ing) the weaknesses in the state". Not directly posing the weaknesses??? Lenin just talked about the bureaucratic distortions of the state apparatus, called for the trade unions to fight the weaknesses in the state, laid stress on the continuation of the class struggle during the transition to socialism, fought Trotsky's commandism, etc. But according to Jim, this just "touches on this issue [weaknesses in the state sector]". Incredible!
. Well, what would be a more direct discussion of weaknesses in the state? What new point has Jim come up with? The only thing Jim can think of, is the question of high salaries. This is the only example he gives, and it is an issue which Lenin had discussed in great detail. But Jim himself blows hot and cold on this. When Jim discussed Lenin's writings of 1918 about high salaries, Jim claimed that Lenin was only dealing with a peripheral issue. But when Jim discusses the NEP period, the issue of high salaries apparently becomes the key issue for him. He claims that Lenin no longer talked about the issue of high salaries during NEP. Jim apparently doesn't understand the connection of extra-high salaries to the class struggle that Lenin laid stress on.
. But as a matter of fact, Jim's view that Lenin stopped talking directly about the issue of high salaries is not correct. Lenin brings up the point again in, for example, his "Report on the NEP at the Seventh Moscow Gubernia Conference of the RCP", Oct. 29, 1921. (29) Of course, gradually eliminating extra-high salaries would have been part of a renewed advance against capital. Yet Jim also criticizes Lenin for talking about the perspective of such an advance. He complains that Lenin seems to
"present the end of the 'retreat' as the imminent task, to be accomplished as soon as the forces of organization and control had the strength to go back on the offensive against the free market, etc. " [56/1]
Thus Jim wants it both ways: he chides Lenin both for putting forward the perspective of limiting
and ending the compromises with capital (i. e. ending the "retreat"), and for supposedly having
given up the perspective that high salaries, etc. were a compromise. There doesn't seem to be any
consistency here except that Jim simply wants to say the opposite of whatever Lenin says. Or
does Jim think that capitalism and "the free market" can grow and grow, but without high
salaries? It does correspond to modern neo-conservative ideas to complain only about high
salaries in the state sector and to forget about them in the private sector: in this sense, it is
consistent to complain about the perspective of an offensive against capital -- if one has in mind
private capital -- while simultaneously complaining about high salaries in the state sector.
--Is state capitalism equal to socialism?
. But what Jim is really trying to say is that Lenin equates state capitalism with socialism. He states that:
"Lenin called on the workers to organize the economy 'along state capitalist lines'. But what does that mean? Either it is just a phrase, or it means something quite distinct from socialism. Granted, this is a process of transition where there is no brick wall between the old and the new. Nonetheless, Lenin is clearly striving to guide the economy along the rails of state capitalism. One would think this would require a clear perspective of switching tracks towards a socialist organization down the way. But that perspective wasn't there (or if it was there it was only a flicker and not a guiding light). " [49/2-50/1]
. This is simply Jim turning things on their head. Lenin quite clearly stressed that Russia does not have socialism but is searching for the path of transition to socialism; Lenin indicated that various measures were a compromise with socialist principles and a "step backwards" and were state capitalism; he writes of the different economic systems coexisting in Russia; and then Jim says that Lenin hadn't clarified that this is really "something quite distinct from" the classless society.
. Jim claims that Lenin gave no indication of how to proceed towards socialism, but it's Jim who gives no indication. What is the alternative "track" towards socialist organization that Jim is talking about? How does he conceive the transition? As we shall see later, the only alternative Jim suggests is the direct rule of the marketplace, which he opposes to the step-by-step extension of social control of the economy.
. Lenin, on the other hand, discussed the conditions he felt were necessary to allow an advance
towards socialism. Take the question of extra-high salaries to the specialists and the bourgeoisie.
He called this an "evil legacy of capitalism" and says the Soviet Republic can be liberated from
this "only by organizing ourselves . . . If the class-conscious advanced workers and poor peasants
manage with the aid of the Soviet institutions to organize, become disciplined, pull themselves
together, create powerful labor discipline in the course of one year, then in a year's time we shall
throw off this 'tribute'. "(30) He talked of extending the network of producers' and consumers'
communes; the development of a non-financial type of competition among communes; the
necessity to develop mass participation in administration; the need for nationwide accounting
and control; etc. Some measures worked and some measures didn't; some estimates were right
and some were wrong. But the whole emphasis was on what is needed to provide a "conscious
mass advance" and on the contrast between the old way of doing things, which has to be
compromised with for the time being, and the new way. Lenin's writings provide one with a host
of questions to ask and standards to use in judging what worked and what didn't and why. Jim
would replace this with the idea that there is an alternative track to socialism, which however he
does not care to reveal to us.
. But enough of Jim's double-talk about Lenin's views. Now let's look at some of Jim's points that
indicate his own view on socialism and how to get there or whether it will ever be possible to
--Is it a retreat to go back to private capitalism?
. Jim is skeptical of almost every transitional step towards socialism, as seen when he accuses Lenin of not telling the masses that these steps were fraught with untold dangers. But Jim is noticeably enthusiastic about one particular step. He is excited about the moves to free trade in grain during the New Economic Policy.
. In the NEP, first the Soviet state tried to replace the state grain monopoly (in which all surplus grain went to the state) with a system of what was called "commodity exchange" which was apparently a somewhat state-regulated way in which the peasants could exchange the surplus grain with state industry. Then there was a further retreat, and Lenin said that what resulted was just ordinary "buying and selling", just the usual capitalist marketplace. Lenin stressed that these were "retreats". But Jim, instead of following his usual pattern and saying that Lenin's term "retreat" is vague, and "leaves one hungry" for a deeper discussion of the dangers, this time accuses Lenin of seeing dangers that aren't there. Jim denies that the free marketplace in grain, and that the increased role of the marketplace in the countryside in general, is a retreat at all.
. Thus Jim asks "Was it or wasn't it a retreat in fact?" And he reasons
"Was going over from state rationing of extreme scarcity to a certain freedom of trade a 'retreat' or an advance from the economic point of view of socialism?" [56/1]
If Jim wanted to be consistent in this reasoning, then he should also have questioned whether extra-high salaries for bourgeois specialists were a retreat. He should have asked, in the exact same way: "Was going over from industrial disorganization to a certain compromise with capitalist methods (such as extra-high salaries and privileges for the bourgeois specialists) a 'retreat' or an advance from the economic point of view of socialism?"
. Lenin's answer to both these questions was that he "admitted bluntly", as Jim puts it, that these transitional measures are compromises with socialist principle, and to point out the conditions needed to overcome these compromises or "retreats". [49/2] Jim's point of view is to denounce up and down anything associated with the state sector, but to question whether unleashing the force of the marketplace is a retreat.
. So Jim finds that the state sector in NEP period is suspect, but the marketplace is just fine. He finds that the co-ops are pretty suspect, but "freedom of trade" is not. When it is a question of going over from private capitalism to state-regulated capitalism, Jim gloomily wonders if this means having illusions in state capitalism really being socialism. But when it is a question of the free market, Jim says the problem is that Lenin only had a "partial recognition" of the need for it, and his views "were not consistent or systematic. "
. Jim even tries to prove that Lenin had come to see the need of the free marketplace as allegedly the best way to achieve socialism. He cites and runs with one sentence of Lenin's: "Theoretically speaking, state monopoly is not necessarily the best system from the standpoint of the interests of socialism. "(31) Lenin said this in a paragraph discussing the replacement of the "surplus appropriation system" for grain, in which there was "confiscation of all surpluses", with a tax in kind. This line of thought would lead Lenin, in "On Co-operation", to renew the emphasis on gradually organizing the entire peasantry into agricultural producer co-ops as key to bringing them towards socialism. But Jim seems to take Lenin's statement to mean that state interference should be replaced by private capitalism. Jim proceeds to advocate that state regulation and control of capitalism ("state-capitalism") is supposedly a "hot house" product. The implication is that the free market is the appropriate basis for the transition to socialism.
. Moreover, in quoting Lenin's article, "The Role and Functions of the Trade Unions Under the NEP," January 1922, Jim presents it as if NEP simply meant an unrestricted free market. He leaves out Lenin's view that "The proletarian state may, without changing its own nature, permit freedom to trade and the development of capitalism only within certain bounds, and only on the condition that the state regulates (supervises, controls, determines the forms and methods of, etc.) private trade and private capitalism. "(32) [53/2-54/1]
. Overall, Jim argues that state regulation of capitalism was impossible in Russian conditions -- it
would simply be a "'hot house' state capitalism". So long as the proletariat sought to limit and
restrict and control capitalism, Jim argues, "there were but two possibilities: either a social
explosion, or bureaucratic tutelage. " [56/1] This leads to the view that, to avoid this dilemma,
there was only one way out: the development of private capitalism.
--Is it possible to lead the small producers onto the path of amalgamation?
. Jim argues that the socialist revolution could not regulate private capitalism without bureaucratic tutelage, because monopolies, trusts, conglomerates, banks were really a superficial feature of Russian economy. (Indeed, he suggests that this was also the case in "much of the rest of Europe". ) He argues that "large, modern production" in Russia was devastated, while the regulation of small-scale production in order to direct it towards modern production "was an emergency measure imposed from above, a government decree managed by tens of thousands of bureaucrats, on top of millions of small to tiny producers. "[56/1] His conclusion is that there was no alternative but just freeing the marketplace from "bureaucratic tutelage", and he accuses Lenin of inconsistency because Lenin wished to hedge the marketplace with restrictions and controls and eventually to overcome it.
. Jim seems to assume that all the small producers must be wiped out by monopolies and trusts
before the material conditions exist for a socialist revolution. But Marxist theory, while pointing
out that modern socialism springs from the development of large-scale production under
capitalism, never assumed that monopoly and large corporations would wipe out all middle and
small capital and all petty-bourgeois production. Instead it held that large-scale production was
the leading factor in the economy, and that the proletariat could step by step amalgamate and
transform small-scale production. Jim doesn't even regard this as a possibility. Such
amalgamation and transformation is simply bureaucracy in Jim's eyes.
--Do agricultural co-ops have anything to do with the transition to socialism?
. This is what apparently lies behind Jim's grudge against co-ops in general and agricultural producers' co-ops, or collective farms, in particular. He doesn't want to consider ways in which the proletariat can actively transform the countryside in the direction of large-scale production. Marxist theory had proposed that this was possible. It paid attention to collective farms as a way in which the proletariat, coming to power in a country with a large peasant population, could help move the peasants towards socialism. For example, in his article "The Peasant Question in France and Germany", Engels wrote in 1894 that, after taking power, the proletariat's task with respect to the small peasants "consists, in the first place, in effecting a transition of his private enterprise and private possession to co-operative ones, not forcibly but by dint of example and the proffer of social assistance for this purpose. " (Selected Works, Vol. II, pp. 458, 470. ) He goes on to talk about different types of co-operatives and other relevant issues.
. Jim however refuses to consider what role the co-ops can play in transforming small production. He waves aside the issue. He instead repeats over and over that the co-ops are not socialism, are not the classless society, in order to avoid dealing with the issue at hand--whether co-ops can play a role in the transition to socialism.
. Thus, as we have seen, he falsely accuses Lenin of talking only of consumer co-ops. With this
dodge, he avoids dealing with Lenin's views concerning collective farms, or agricultural
producers' co-ops, and he avoids dealing with the role of producers' co-ops altogether.
--Is nationwide accounting and control realistic?
. Jim refers briefly to the early 1918 period of the revolution and argues that "it is clear that Lenin's general plan for establishing 'accounting and control' was unrealistic. " [49/2] But if the workers can't in fact control the economy, this means that the only alternative is the free market. And this is precisely what Jim insinuates.
. This is the key issue. How can the workers' take over the economy? Lenin suggested that it was necessary to start with establishing "accounting and control". If this was impossible, then what's left of the socialist revolution?
. Jim implies that the idea of "accounting and control" failed already in the early 1918 period. But what is his evidence? He has none.
. Instead Jim fraudulently presents the failure of an attempt to develop a system of state-regulated exchange called "commodity exchange" in 1921 as the failure of accounting and control in early 1918. The steps towards accounting and control in early 1918 were quite different from the "commodity exchange" plan of 1921; and the conditions were quite different in early 1918 and 1921. Yet, talking about early 1918, Jim writes that "in place of the free market and a money economy, Lenin hoped for what he later described as 'commodity exchange' of industrial and agricultural goods through the grain monopoly and state control of trade. " [49/2] Lenin never described the "commodity exchange" plan as referring to anything but 1921, and in one of the main articles describing the failure of the "commodity exchange" plan, Lenin explicitly talked about the plans of early 1918 as something quite different.
. How different? Well, Jim -- with his talk about the "commodity exchange" plan supposedly being in effect in early 1918 -- claims that the Bolsheviks sought to replace "the free market and a money economy" back then. This just isn't true. Instead -- prior to the Civil War and "War Communism" -- there was an attempt to gradually transform the economy, with an enlarging state sector competing with the private sector. This assumed the continued existence of a market (although a regulated one), and of money. In an article in late 1921, Lenin described the situation in early 1918 as "We assumed that the two systems--state production and distribution and private commodity production and distribution--would compete with each other, . . . " And he pointed out that the proletariat "made an attempt to pass, as gradually as possible, breaking up as little of the old as possible, to the new social relations while adapting itself, as much as possible, to the conditions then prevailing. "(33)
. Why does Jim drag in the "commodity exchange" system of 1921 when discussing the situation in early 1918? It's because the "commodity exchange" system failed. Since Jim has no evidence for a general failure of "accounting and control" in early 1918, he instead cites the failure of the "commodity exchange" system that was to be used in the countryside in 1921.
. But why was Jim so concerned to prove that "accounting and control" failed precisely in early
1918? Well, he presents this period as almost idyllic, being "before the civil war and the
devastation of the working class". [49/1-2] So, he implies, if "accounting and control" failed in
this period, then it would show that the revolution wasn't overwhelmed by hardships, civil war,
drought and blockade, but just failed of itself. Actually, the early 1918 period was a short period
which faced dealing with the damage World War I inflicted on the economy and which saw
dramatic political events (making and breaking of alliances among the parties of the toilers;
German invasion and the controversial Brest-Litovsk treaty; the beginning of Allied invasion;
and massive debate among the proletariat on how to take control of industry), but I will comment
more on this and on the material conditions in general in the continuation of this article in later
issues of Communist Voice.
--Should the state take over industry?
. Jim repeatedly suggests that the problem with the socialist revolution was dealing with small-scale and individual production in the countryside. But he also seems to be skeptical of state control over industry. This appears in his view that the general plan for accounting and control was "unrealistic", since accounting and control was the path leading to the takeover of industry and not simply a matter of relations with the countryside. And Jim complains repeatedly about Lenin's remarks about taking over industry. Whenever he deals with Lenin's views on taking over industry, he accuses Lenin of believing that nationalization of industry, or even nationalization of the banks alone, constitutes socialism. He never is willing to discuss that the takeover of industry is a key part of the transition to socialism.
. In one place, Jim raises the general issue of state regulation of the economy. He refers to "State and Revolution", "The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It" and "Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power?" and points out that Lenin wrote "in general, sweeping terms about the proletarian soviets taking hold of" the economy. [45/1] One might think that Jim would support this perspective, but Jim only cites such statements of Lenin's to object to them. He identifies this perspective as Lenin allegedly identifying socialism with state capitalism. To do so, he simplifies Lenin's discussion of the proletarian takeover of the economy as simply the Soviets "taking hold of the economic mechanism of state capitalism". Thus Jim identifies the whole process of the proletariat taking over the economy with state capitalism. Having thus drastically simplified Lenin's views, he feels safe in accusing Lenin of identifying one of the transitional methods--the use of state-regulated capitalism--with the classless socialist society itself.
. So let's see. Lenin devoted a whole pamphlet, "State and Revolution", to denouncing the
opportunist worship of state, and to reiterating the Marxist views on the state withering away in
the classless society. And what does Jim conclude -- that Lenin identified the classless society
with state capitalism, the state regulation of capitalism! Lenin discussed the Marxist views on
state ownership and on how the proletariat takes over the entire economy, and Jim concludes that
Lenin believed that mere regulation of capitalism amounts to socialism. Lenin carefully refrained
from saying anywhere that the necessary nationalizations mean that socialism has arrived. And
Jim concludes that Lenin is not describing transitional measures, but the future classless society.
This is not simply an exercise in tearing words out of context by Jim. It displays an allergy to the
concept that the proletariat must have the state take over the entire economy as a step towards a
future society without capitalists or a state.
--What other means of transition are there?
. So Jim is skeptical of co-ops, nationwide accounting and control, state control of the economy,
etc. What other type of transition to socialism does he envision? He accuses Lenin of not having
"a clear perspective of switching tracks towards a socialist organization down the way. " [50/1,
emphasis added] But Jim never mentions what this other track is. Is it a jump directly to the
classless society? But he is surely not proposing that for Russia, where he thought the material
conditions for socialism doesn't exist. Or is it the free market?
. By now it should be clear that a good deal of Jim's argumentation centers on confusing different uses of the term "state capitalism". This term refers to at least five different things.
. (A) There is ordinary state capitalism. This is the economy that has developed in most advanced industrialized states of the capitalist world, in which the state plays a big role--not just in owning a number of corporations, but through marketing boards, commissions, and a variety of regulations. The state -- no matter how many elections are organized -- remains a dictatorship of the capitalist class; its bureaucracy is connected to the capitalists by a thousand strings; and state ownership is simply ownership on behalf of the capitalist class or its most powerful sections. During wars, the role of the state generally expands tremendously in capitalist countries, and part of this expansion usually remains after the war. Lenin stated repeatedly that, in a capitalist state, "'war-time socialism' is in fact war-time state-monopoly capitalism, or, to put it more simply and clearly, war-time penal servitude for the workers and war-time protection for capitalist profits. "(34)
. (B) There is revisionist state capitalism. This state capitalism is actually a special variety of the first type, since it is the dictatorship of a bourgeois class. It is the economic system that generally prevails in the countries ruled by revisionist parties, such as China, Vietnam, Cuba, and previously the late Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. It differs from Western state capitalism in generally having a much more bureaucratic state, and in the status of the revisionist bourgeoisie being based directly on position in the ruling party and bureaucracy. There may also be other capitalists (especially smaller ones) and petty-bourgeois strata of a more traditional type. The analysis of this type of state capitalism is specially important to us today, as it is the base for the revisionist regimes which must be exposed as fake communism and real capitalism. But it wasn't discussed by Lenin since it hadn't developed yet.
. (C) There is capitalism regulated by a revolutionary-democratic government of the toilers. In this case, the masses have seized power and are utilizing state power to achieve their revolutionary aims. State ownership and state regulation do not make such governments socialist. But Lenin felt that this type of state capitalism, i.e. the extension of the economic role of the revolutionary-democratic state, was a step towards socialism. Unless the revolution becomes a socialist one, however, such a revolutionary-democratic regime will eventually be succeeded by, or degenerate into, an ordinary capitalist rule.
. (D) There is capitalism regulated by a proletarian government. After a socialist revolution, it is unlikely that the revolutionary proletarian government will be able to take over all the economy at once. It will increasingly seek to develop workers' control and regulation over the rest of the economy. The capitalist and petty-bourgeois enterprises and trade regulated by the government constitute a "state-capitalist" part of the economy.
. (E) As well, there are bourgeois methods in the state sector run by a proletarian government. The socialist revolution strives to smash up and replace the old state machine by an administration by the workers and the masses. But certain compromises with the old bourgeois methods will generally be necessary for a time--such as specially high salaries and privileges for specialists. And putting state industry on a profit basis is a compromise that is so deep that it immediately affects the relations of the state and the ruling party with the masses of workers.
. But Jim simply jumbles things all together when he discusses Lenin's views. He ignores all distinctions and simply characterizes Lenin's idea as "the transition to socialism through state capitalism"(35) or that Lenin is "clearly striving to guide the economy along the rails of state capitalism". (36) [49/1, 50/1] Jim thus implicitly advocates that any economy that has some features of state capitalism (in the sense of D and E above) can be characterized overall as state capitalism, as if it were an ordinary capitalist economy (in the sense of A above). He thus makes it out that Lenin believed that the transitional economy is nothing but state capitalism. Moreover, since Jim oversimplifies even more by presenting Lenin's view of the transitional economy as supposedly his view of socialism, Jim presents Lenin as identifying socialism with state capitalism.
. But this amounts in part to tearing words out of context and to ignoring the different uses of the term "state-capitalist". In 1918 Lenin expressed the essence of what he had in mind by saying that ". . . Russia cannot advance from the economic situation now existing here without traversing the ground which is common to state capitalism and to socialism (national accounting and control). . ."(37) The point was not to build ordinary state capitalism in Russia, but to "develop national accounting and control", which was a key to developing the proletariat's ability to run the economy. Lenin described the various sectors of the economy in Russia, and believed that organizing the private capitalist and petty-bourgeois sectors into the state capitalist sector would be a step forward. The measure of success would be the development of the proletariat's ability to direct the economy; the development of a revolutionary state ownership; etc.
. Jim's picture of the transitional economy is substantially different. There is state capitalism, which he seems to identify with ordinary state capitalism because he tends to describe it as "bureaucratic tutelage". There are things he sneers at, such as the co-ops. There is small peasant enterprise. But is there, in his view, anything socialist (that is, transitional towards socialism) in the economy at that time? He tends to present it as just ordinary state capitalism or the marketplace, with an unknown alternative track to socialism that was never taken.
. Jim's way of measuring the economy seems to be that the various types of state capitalism differ only quantitatively, only in their degree of consolidation. He says that the later Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union was "consolidated state capitalism", which is correct. But his implication is that revisionist economy differs from a transitional economy simply in how consolidated a state-capitalism it is. And that is simply not true. After all, what does it mean to make the degree of consolidation the only issue? If the state controls more of the economy, that would be a more consolidated system of state control, wouldn't it? But the higher degree of state ownership might reflect that the economy is closer to socialism. The type of economy -- and the type of state capitalism involved -- depends on whether there is a proletarian, a revolutionary-democratic, or a capitalist state; on whether the control is used to create "war-time penal servitude" for the workers (as Lenin characterized ordinary state capitalism in World War I) or to help benefit the workers and peasants; on whether a new bourgeoisie is consolidating or the country is moving closer to socialism; etc. And these questions can't simply be reduced to how consolidated the system is, but involve definite economic and social facts about the nature of the system, such as: Are the workers and their party doing the regulating and controlling? Is the ruling party actually a party of the working masses? Is the regulation designed to increase the profits of the rich, or are the rich being compelled to help the proletariat organize?
. The framework of Jim's report, however, is not organized around these questions. It is organized on the idea of a scale on which one measures the degree of state-capitalism. Jim in essence presents that one can rank Lenin on this scale by seeing how many times he repeats various formulations, or whether he is supposedly too enthusiastic about nationwide control and accounting ("state-capitalism").
. In my opinion, a better terminology on the issue of state capitalism and the transition period
would be useful, partly to avoid the confusion-mongering which Jim revels in and mainly
because the issue of revisionist state-capitalism is so important to us. I will discuss this in part
two of my article. For now, I wish to go on to one of the main implications from Jim's theory that
the various types of state-capitalism differ only in degree.
. Jim's report hints repeatedly that Lenin's views were the source of Stalinism. He presents Lenin's views as justifying the building of state-capitalism, while the "post-Lenin leadership" consolidated this state-capitalism.
. In line with this, Jim doesn't attribute a class difference to the Bolshevik regime when it was
really a revolutionary proletarian force and the state-capitalist system under the later Stalinist and
revisionist leadership. It's simply a matter of degree. And thus he doesn't deal with the main drift
of Lenin's ideas and how well it reflected the needs of the class struggle, but instead assesses how
many times Lenin repeated various ideas, the exact degree of vehemence, etc. (He gets this
wrong, but this is what he focuses on. )
--Jim's proof: Stalin says so
. To show that Stalin really was following Lenin, Jim makes the astonishing revelation that Stalin said so. Of course, Stalin also claimed to be following Marx, to be loyal to socialism and communism, to be leading the class struggle, and to be organizing the working class. Should all these things be set aside too? Well, within a couple of years Jim and his co-thinkers would be suggesting they had unanswered questions about all of these things.
. To prove his point, Jim cites one particular example in the collection of writings by Stalin entitled On the Opposition. Stalin must quote Lenin dozens and dozens of times in these articles, but Jim's argument is that he is has found one case in which "It cannot be said that Lenin was just misquoted here. " [47/1] If this is the only one, then surely it shows that Stalin had a hard time adapting Leninism to his purposes.
. Well, let's examine this case. Jim cites an argument in 1925 between Stalin and Sokolnikov. All Jim knows about this argument is Stalin's side of it in one of his speeches at the 14th Congress of the CPSU(B), and he cites page 244 of "On the Opposition". (38) Jim admits he doesn't really know what the argument was about; after quoting a few words from Sokolnikov which Stalin used, Jim says "Who knows the context in which Sokolnikov raised this. " [47/1] But Jim tries to draw a conclusion anyway. He doesn't think that one needs to know the substance of what is being argued about.
. It seems that part of the debate is over the nature of the State Bank of 1925 and, more generally, how to regard the state sector of the Soviet economy under NEP in late 1925. If one assumed that the Soviet economy and politics hadn't changed much since Lenin died in January 1924, one might refer to Lenin's comments about the relationship of NEP to the state sector. As we pointed out earlier in this article, Lenin had a lot to say about this. In the early 20's, what he said included:
* that there were "bureaucratic distortions in the state apparatus", a point which he maintained vehemently against Trotsky;
* that NEP meant "the inevitable rise of narrow departmental interests and excessive departmental zeal", giving rise to conflicts between industrial management and the state apparatus on one side and the mass of workers on the other;
* that the trade unions must defend the workers against these distortions and this excessive departmental zeal;
* that the class struggle is inevitable under NEP and until the disappearance of classes; etc.
Stalin refers to none of these views of Lenin, any of which struck hard against his viewpoint.
. What does Stalin do? Jim relates that Stalin quoted a remark of Lenin's from prior to the October Revolution in 1917 "about the state bank being 'nine-tenths of the socialist apparatus' and the 'skeleton of the socialist society. '" To make this more dramatic, Jim leaves out the context and Lenin's qualifying words, in which Lenin said that "That will be nationwide book-keeping, nation-wide accounting of the production and distribution of goods, that will be, so to speak, something in the nature of the skeleton of socialist society. '" (underlining added) Lenin was arguing that the revolutionary proletariat can transform the banking apparatus as part of constructing its transitional apparatus of national accounting and control. In practice, the state bank didn't play anywhere near as much of a role as Lenin had thought at the time of this article. That's why Lenin's articles after the October revolution didn't present the bank in the same way. But the general point being made by Lenin in this article was suggestions how to begin building the apparatus of nationwide accounting and control.
. But Stalin and Sokolnikov are apparently arguing over how revolutionary the Soviet state apparatus still was in 1925. Lenin's remark of 1917 had simply stated that a revolutionary proletarian state can make use of the banking apparatus. It said nothing about the existence of the state bank proving that the state was still revolutionary and socialist. And it said nothing about the particular features of the State Bank under NEP. Lenin always consistently emphasized that the nature of state institutions depended on, among other things, who controlled the state. State regulation, in his view, could help impose "war-time penal servitude" upon the workers, if carried out by the bourgeoisie; it could help prepare for the workers running the entire economy, if carried out by a revolutionary socialist government; it could have "bureaucratic distortions", even though it took place during the process of transition towards socialism. It is circular reasoning to deduce, from the fact that a revolutionary proletarian state could make use of a State Bank, that the state apparatus is revolutionary and proletarian because there is a State Bank. That is essentially what Stalin does. And Jim endorses this reasoning, and tells us that it can't be said that Lenin is being distorted.
. This is the type of logical somersaults that Jim has to turn in order to show that Leninism
supposed gave rise to Stalinism. But this example does show us one thing. We now know why
Jim concentrates so much attention on Lenin's remark on the State Bank. It's because Stalin did.
And instead of thinking the issue through for himself, Jim just accepted Stalin's views on this
--Did Lenin think concessions were the only form of state capitalism?
. Similarly, Jim wants to prove that Lenin repeatedly suggested that concessions (leases and deals with private capitalists, local or foreign) were the only form of compromise with capitalism being made use of by the Soviet government. Why? Because Stalin, in the speech we have just been discussing, presents "concessions and leases" as the main forms of "state capitalism". Stalin presents his view of this as Lenin's conception, and Jim naturally takes Stalin's word for what Leninism is. Jim's problem is that Lenin repeatedly presented the issue of "state capitalism" in a much broader light, as indeed can be seen even in various statements from Lenin cited in Jim's own report.
. So Jim does his usual trick -- he pulls a rabbit out of his hat. He waves aside the main drift of Lenin's writings, and the themes which Lenin polemicizes on over and over again. Jim is the David Copperfield of political analysts, and he can make Lenin's overall analysis disappear, while triumphantly displaying that cute rabbit. Concretely, Jim rushes to pull another passage of Lenin's out of context.
. Thus Jim cites the article "On Co-operation" and claims that it "defin(es) state capitalism as
essentially concessions, plus the cooperative societies". [55/1] (However, Jim can't decide
whether it presented the co-ops as state-capitalism or socialism, and he argues both ways on this.)
But this article, which is a rough sketch, focuses on the issue of agricultural collectives in the
countryside, as its title might suggest. It doesn't focus on state industry, nor the government
apparatus, nor the tasks of the trade unions in defending the workers against capitalism. So
naturally, this article is the place where Jim thinks one should try to find Lenin's discussion of
what's up with state industry and the state sector. (39)
. Indeed, Jim lays great stress on "On Co-operation". He says that "articles such as 'On Co-operation' . . . are one-sided along the same lines which eventually became the state capitalist orthodoxy. " Let's see. "On Co-operation" fervently advocated voluntary collectivization, and suggested that it would be a protracted process. The Stalinist, revisionist regime implemented forced and hurried collectivization. "On Co-operation" says that the proper type of co-ops provides the basis for building socialism, but isn't itself socialism. The revisionist regime said that state industry plus co-ops is socialism, and it eventually was debating where it was the full, communist, classless society. So what does Jim conclude? The "post-Lenin leadership" was simply following Lenin's plan.
. No doubt, Stalin cited "On Co-operation" in various debates, as he cited many other articles of
Lenin, works of Marx, the ideas of socialism and the class struggle, etc. But that doesn't mean he
was a Leninist any more than it means that the revisionist regime was "socialist" and based on the
--High salaries etc.
. Similarly, why does Jim do somersaults to prove that Lenin supposedly vacillated on whether there was a danger or compromise involved in ultra-high salaries for specialists under socialism? It's because the Stalinist regime became notorious for its huge salary differentials. And Jim wants to prove that they were simply following Lenin, perhaps going a bit further than he would have, but basically on the same road. Thus Jim has to stretch and tear at Lenin's writing.
. It is precisely examples like this that are the evidence for Jim's conclusion, at the end of his report, that Lenin's "framework" had
"a number of big loopholes in it. The post-Lenin leadership made good use of these weaknesses . . . in favor of their self-satisfied optimism that lead to pawning off a consolidated state capitalism as the victory of socialism. " [57/2]
. Another way in which Jim implies that Stalinism simply follows from Leninism and from the socialist revolution is in his discussion of "bureaucratic tutelage". The Bolshevik revolution -- so long as it was a live socialist revolution -- was inseparable from the mass initiative and activity of the proletariat and large numbers of allied toilers. It faced protracted hardship, exhaustion and devastation that finally sapped the strength of the militant proletariat, and also, along with the many zigzags of the revolution, divided the proletariat, poor peasants and communist activists among themselves. This provided the basis for the Bolshevik revolution eventually degenerating into a state capitalist despotism. A fundamental dividing line between revolutionary socialism and revisionism is whether the regime really does represent the will of the proletariat, or whether it is ruling over the masses.
. Lenin's plans were based on the revolutionary action of the masses. Even his plans for the utilization of state capitalism were designed to provide conditions for increasing the knowledge and ability to act of the proletariat. For example, discussing state regulation of capitalism under NEP, Lenin pointed out that: "The success of such regulation will depend not only on the state authorities but also, and to a larger extent, on the degree of maturity of the proletariat and of the masses of the working people generally. "(40) And in his sketch "On Co-operation", he was concerned to find a path towards socialism that would enlist the activity of all the toilers, so that "every small peasant could take part in it. "(41)
. The tragedy of the Bolshevik revolution was that this mass mobilization declined, faltered, and
was defeated. But Jim ignores the existence of this mobilization in early years of the revolution.
He insists that the need to deal with the small-peasant economy meant that there was a system of
"bureaucratic tutelage" right from the start -- in his view, only reliance on the marketplace could
avoid this. This basically comes down to the view that the transitional state is just as bureaucratic
and oppressive as an ordinary capitalist state or as a revisionist state. It amounts to the view that
all the talk of mass activity is simply a pleasant-sounding lie. With this view, it's not surprising
that Jim abandoned socialist activity. But the view that the revolution was simply bureaucratic
tutelage from the start goes against the facts of history.
--No such thing as revisionism?
. Thus again and again, Jim suggested the practices of the "post-Lenin leadership" sprung from Lenin's views. This is why he never refers to revisionism. He has given up the view that the state-capitalist regimes were trampling on the ideas of Marx or Lenin. The word revisionist or anything like it never occurs in his report, even though he devotes a good deal of attention to comparing Lenin's views to those of the revisionist leaders. For Jim, they were only the "post-Lenin leadership" [57/1,2] or "state-capitalist buffs" [47/1]. There is Lenin, who he praises as smarter and more insightful, and the "post-Lenin leadership", who were not as smart and just fell right through those "loopholes" that Lenin left in his theorizing. But there is no longer a contrast between revolutionary Marxism and revisionism, between a revolutionary movement that stands at the head of the masses and a revisionist bourgeoisie who are oppressing the masses. Instead Jim implies repeatedly that the "post-Lenin leadership" was not abandoning Marx and Lenin's views, but simply following Marxism-Leninism to its conclusion. It is simply a difference in shading, that's all -- that's the viewpoint of the report.
(1) Page references to Jim's report will be given in the form [x/y], meaning page x, column y of this issue of Communist Voice. (Return to text)
(2) See the Communist Manifesto at the end of Section II "Proletarians and Communists". (Text)
(3) Herr Eugen Dühring's Revolution in Science, Part III. Socialism. Ch. II. Theoretical, pp. 306,7. (Text)
(4) See Engels' denunciation of "state socialism" using the example of colonial Java in his letter to Bebel of Jan. 18, 1884. (Text)
(5) Collected Works, vol. 27, p. 341, "'Left-wing' childishness and the petty-bourgeois mentality", IV. (Text)
(6) Collected Works, vol. 26, pp. 107-8, "Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power". (Text)
(7) Collected Works, vol. 27, p. 295, "Session of the All-Russia C. E. C. , April 29, 1918: 1. Report on the immediate tasks of the Soviet government". (Text)
(8) "Left-Wing" Communism, An Infantile Disorder, ch. II. (Text)
(9) Collected Works, vol. 27, p. 311, "Session of the All-Russia C. E. C. , April 29, 1918: 2. Reply to the debate on the report on the immediate tasks". (Text)
(10) Collected Works, vol. 29, p. 189, "Speech closing the debate on the party program", March 19, 1919 at the Eighth Congress of the R. C. P. (B. )". (Text)
(11) Collected Works, vol. 33, p. 185, "The role and functions of the trade unions under the New Economic Policy, Sec. 2. State capitalism in the proletarian state and the trade unions". (Text)
(12) Ibid. . pp. 185,6,"Sec. 3. The state enterprises that are being put on a profit basis and the trade unions". (Text)
(13) (Ibid. , "Sec. 4. The essential difference between the class struggle of the proletariat . . "). (Text)
(14) Collected Works, vol. 32, p. 42, "The Trade Unions, the Present Situation and Trotsky's Mistakes". (Text)
(15) Within two years, Jim would start hinting that the organizations led by the ideas of those his report called "spineless social-traitors" were really "Marxist movements", just as much as the Bolsheviks were. (Text)
(16) CC minutes of the 11th plenum since the 3rd Congress, November 1991, Point 1, "Theoretical Work", available in the archives of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. (Text)
(17) Minutes of the 12th Plenum, Point 1, "Theoretical Work". (Text)
(18) Also see the Open Letter of June 27, 1994 in which he and his fellow-thinkers denounced the fact that a number of former MLP activists had continued active work in defense of Marxism-Leninism. (Text)
(19) "Left-Wing" Communism, An Infantile Disorder, Ch. X, p. 96. (Text)
(20) Collected Works, vol. 26, p. 401, "Fear of the Collapse of the Old and the Fight for the New". (Text)
(21) Collected Works, vol. 26, p. 461, "Report on the Activities of the Council of People's Commissars". (Text)
(22) See Communist Voice, Vol. 1, #3, pp. 59-61 where I discussed some of the issues raised by Lenin's views on the collectives and some of the issues that "On Cooperation" didn't go into. I was commenting on the views of Barb (Chicago Workers' Voice). In contrast to Barb, who identified this article with Lenin's complete teachings on the peasantry, I pointed out that it was only a brief sketch. Barb avoids major issues by saying that "On Co-operation" answered everything one needs to know about what the Bolsheviks should have done, while Jim seems to have been reading "On Co-operation" upside down. (Text)
(23) Collected Works, vol. 27, p. 255, "The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government". (Text)
(24) Collected Works, vol. 27, p. 249, "The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government". (Text)
(25) Ibid. , p. 250. (Text)
(26) Collected Works, vol. 33, pp. 185-6, "The Role and Functions of the Trade Unions Under the New Economic Policy". (Text)
(27) Ibid. , pp. 185-8,193. (Text)
(28) See for example Collected Works, vol. 32, pp. 24-25 in particular, "The Trade Unions, The Present Situation and Trotsky's Mistakes"; also "The Party Crisis", vol. 32, p. 48. (Text)
(29) Collected Works, vol. 33, p. 88. (Text)
(30) Collected Works, vol. 27, p. 251, "The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government". (Text)
(31) Collected Works, vol. 32, p. 226, Tenth Congress of the R. C. P. (B. )". (Text)
(32) Collected Works, vol. 33, p. 185. (Text)
(33) Collected Works, vol. 33, pp. 88, 91, "Report on the New Economic Policy", Oct. 29, 1921, at Seventh Moscow Gubernia Conference of the Russian Communist Party". (Text)
(34) Collected Works, vol. 25, p. 377, The section "Can we go forward if we fear to advance towards socialism" in "The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It", vol. 25, p. 357. (Text)
(35) See the first sentence of "Some Observations (2)". (Text)
(36) See the fifth paragraph of "Some Observations (2)". (Text)
(37) Collected Works, vol. 27, p. 341, "Left-Wing" Childishness and the Petty-Bourgeois Mentality, sec. IV, emphasis as in the original. (Text)
(38) Stalin, "Reply to the discussion on the Political Report of the CC", Dec. 23, 1925, section 6. "Concerning NEP". (Text)
(39) "On Co-operation" was written hastily by Lenin in his final illness, and it contains a number of loose formulations, is repetitive, etc. One can either read it to deal with its main theme, or to make sensational discoveries about Lenin's new views. The paragraph that supposedly presents state capitalism as just concessions also states that: "the practical purpose of our New Economic Policy was to lease our concessions". (Vol. 33, p. 472) Taken literally, this identifies the key aspect of NEP as "concessions". And since Lenin also pointed out in "On Co-operation", correctly, that concessions hadn't developed very far, it would lead to the conclusion that NEP was a minor issue. This would not only contradict everything known about NEP, but also contradict what Lenin said about NEP elsewhere in "On Co-operation". Also see footnote 22 for a reference to where I discuss some of the issues raised by reading "On Co-operation" in context. (Text)
(40) Collected Works, Vol. 33, p. 185, "The Role and Functions of the Trade Unions under the New Economic Policy". (Text)
(41) Collected Works, vol. 33, p. 468. (Text)
Last changed on November 2, 2001.