File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9710, message 38

Subject: Re: M-I: Fascism and social fascism
Date: Sun, 5 Oct 1997 23:20:18 +1300

This question has come up several times on this list. Most recently when
Mark Jones, who later left for the Lenin list, came on late last year.
Marxist-Leninists like yourself have a lot of catching up to do. Since you
seem to have seen the SU as actually existing socialism, its collapse is
obviously an acid test of your politics. Unlike ML currents, Trotskyists
have long explained the failure of the SU to overcome its backwardness as
the result of isolation and encirclement by the capitalist world economy.
Stalinism was an adaptation to that backwardness and encirclement, and 
which for a whole period remained parasitic on post-capitalist property
acting as agents of imperialist capitalism, before its inevitable
capitulation to capitalism. Trotsky's analysis is vindicated by this
counter-revolution, not as counter-revolutionary, but revolutionary. Only
Trotskyist oppositionists fought from 1924 onwards to break the
backwardness and encirclement of the SU. Stalinists and ML reinforced it
with their "socialism in one country". Therefore, in locating Yeltsin in
this counter-revolutionary process we have to start at least 60 years
before with the first fruits of stalinist socialism in one country: the
notorious 6th Congress; the betrayal of the Chinese revolution; the
autarkic first plan; the betrayal of the German working class and the world
working class, to fascism. No wonder that by the 1980's whatever remained
of a workers state and a socialist culture in the SU had been almost
You are on the right track to reject the superstructural "explanations" of
the collapse of the SU. The collapse has to be located in the historically
specific social relations of the SU in which the basic contradiction of
post-capitalist property relations which were a giant leap ahead of
capitalism, and the international law of value, suppressed and mediated by
the bureaucracy, could be transcended only by a political revolution which
would get rid of the bureaucracy, or capitalist restoration which would get
rid of the planned property relations. For the whole post-revolutionary
period, this contradiction deepened at the expense of the working class and
planned property relations, expressed in economic stagnation and growing
scarcity. As you point out, it was material want that undermined the
remnants of the culture of socialism and created the culture of
individualism and corruption, which of course destroyed the class
consciousness that was necessary for a political revolution. 
Today it is necessary to understand this process in its totality, and to
draw crucial historical lessons without which humanity has no hope of a
successful socialist revolution. 

James Blaut wrote: 
> Louis P and list:
> Just before Yeltsin took power, I was having lunch in NY with a Soviet 
> lady who was a distinguished geographer, a member of the then-Soviet
> Academy of Sciences, and a communist through and through. I asked her to
> try to explain to me why things were going so wrong in the SU. I said, in
> essence, I can't understand how it is possible that human beings who have
> been educated and indoctrinated in the values of socialism and equality
> from kindergarten on up can so easily turn away from these values and
> become acquisitive, competitive, etc., and reject sociaklism in favor of
> capitalism. She replied: In Russia today the kindergarten teachers demand
> bribes from the parents. Do you suppose that they inculcate socialist
> values in the children?
> A kindergarten teacher is very far down the social hierarchy from a
> or a Gorbachev. But one senses that the sins, deviations, whatever, that
> one blames onthe Soviet leadership were pervasive in Soviet society. 
> Along the same line of argumentm, those of us who have been members of
> Marxist-Leninist parties know very well that the ordinary members are
> usually happy to accept, faithfully, the actions of the party leaders,
> trusting that the leaders are (a) competent and (b) not violating the
> democratic principles inherent in Lenin's concept of democratic
> Perhaps those kindergarten teachers were as responsible for "Stalinism"
> was Stalin himself.
> I am trying to make this somewhat muddled point. As Marxists we are
> not to undervalue the role of superstructure, including ideology
> and values) and political leadership. But is it possible that wre give
> too much weight to thesde sduperstrucvtural forces when we try to explain
> the collapse of socialism in the SU? Is it possible that plain poverty,
> which set in after 1945 and  resulted from the inability of the society
> rebuild economically after the war and during the Cold War, combined with
> political superstructure so ossified -- bureaucratized and no longer
> accountable to the ordinary pary members, not to mention the rest of the
> citizenry -- as to be quite unable to mobilize the energies of the people
> for economic reconstruction, produced a generalized poverty that (a)
> the people on socialism and (b) led to a belief in the myth that
> is better than socialism at satisfying people's ordinary needs? In other
> words: economic base *and* superstructure.
> I am not trying to absolve Stalin. But I am not sure that Stalinism needs
> Stalin.
> In struggle
> Jim B  
>      --- from list ---

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