Main Marxism and the U.S.S.R.: The Theory of Proletarian Dictatorship and the Marxist Analysis of Soviet..
Marxism and the U.S.S.R.: The Theory of Proletarian Dictatorship and the Marxist Analysis of Soviet SocietyPaul Bellis (auth.)
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MARXISM AND THE U .S.S.R. Marxism and the U.S.S.R. The Theory of Proletarian Dictatorship and the Marxist Analysis of Soviet Society Paul BeIlis © Paul Bellis 1979 Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st edition 1979 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without permission First published 1979 by TUE MACMILLAN PRESS LTD London and Basingstolce A.ssociated companies in Delhi Dublin Hong Kong Johannesburg Lagos Melbourne Xew Tork Singapore Tokyo British Library Cataloguiag in Publication Data Bellis, Paul Marxism and the USSR I. Russia - Politics and govemment - 1917I. Tide 320.9'47'084 DK266 ISBN 978-1-349-04411-5 ISBN 978-1-349-04409-2 (eBook) DOI 10.1007/978-1-349-04409-2 This book is sold subjeet to the standard conditions of the Xet Book A.greement To the Memory of my Mother Gwenven Bellis Contents Acknowledgements IX List of Works Cited in Abbreviated Form Introduction 1 The Theoretical Foundations The Dictatorship ofthe Proletariat and the Transition to Socialism The Commune and After The Economy in the Transition Period Russia and the Proletarian Revolution 2 Lenin and the Bolshevik Experience The Soviet Phenomenon A Workers' State with Bureaucratic Distortions 3 Trotsky and the Legacy of October Thermidor and Bonapartism The State in the Transition Period: The Co-ordinates of Bureaucratic Degeneration Politicalor Social Revolution? - The Socio-Economic Status of the Soviet Bureaucracy 4 Bureaucratic Collectivism, State Capitalism, and the Marxist Theory of the State The Theory of Bureaucratic Collectivism Tony Cliff and the Theory of State Capitalism Stalinism and the Eastern European Revolution 5 The Theory ofState Capitalism and the Soviet Economy State Capitalism and Marxist Theory The Law of Value and the Soviet Economy The Permanent Arms Economy Value and Surplus-Value in the Economy of Transition The First Five-Year Plan and the Law of Primitive Socialist Accumulation Vll X 3 3 6 18 25 30 30 44 56 56 69 83 93 93 114 121 129 129 133 144 150 164 Vlll Contents 6 Contemporary State Capitalist and 'New Class' Analyses of the Soviet Social Formation Bettelheim and the Soviet 'State Bourgeoisie' 'New Class' Theories from Eastern Europe Three Conceptions of Soviet State Capitalism: Dunayevskaya, Mattick, and James Leninism and Libertarian Socialism: Socialisme ou Barbarie 7 Conclusions 173 173 190 204 2 13 223 Notes 237 Index 265 Acknowledgements My principal debt of gratitude is that owed, for his indispensable guidance, to Dr Terrell Carver, of the Department of Political Theory and Institutions at the University of Liverpool. I am grateful to Professor F. F. Ridley for pertinent and valuable advice, and to the Staff of the U niversity's Sidney Jones Library for their efficiency in dealing with a pie thora of requests and problems. I wish, finally, to acknowledge the very real contri bution made by the late Cynthia Baldry, revolutionary Marxist, on whose suggestion the research of which this book was the eventual product was initially undertaken. Macmillan and I would also like to thank the following publishers who have kindly given permission for the use of copyright material: Pathfinder Press for the extracts from The Revolution Betrayed: What is the Soviet Union and Where is it Going? by Leon Trotsky; Penguin Books Ltd and Random House Inc. for the extracts from Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy by Karl Marx, translated by Martin Nicholaus (Pelican Books in association with New Left Review, 1973). Translation copyright© Martin Nicholaus, 1973. Also Pluto Press Ltd for the extracts from State Capitalism in Russia by Tony Cliff, and Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd for the extracts from Economic Calculation and Forms of Property by Charles Bettelheim. We have made every effort to trace all the copyright holders but if any have inadvertently been overlooked, we will be pleased to make the necessary arrangements at the first opportunity. June 1978 PAUL BELLIS IX List of Works Cited in Abbreviated Form ABC AD Althusser (1976) Anderson (1976) Avineri (1971) Balibar (1977) Bettelheim (1975) Bettelheim (1976) Bettelheim (1977) Binns (1975) Bukharin, Nikolai I vanovich and Preobrazhensky, Evgeny Alexeyevich, The ABC rif Communism, ed. E. H. Carr (Harmondsworth, 1969) . Engels, Frederick, Anti-Dühring: Herr Eugen Dühring' s Revolution in Science, Trans. Emile Bums, ed. C. P. Dutt (London and New York, 1935). Althusser, Louis, Essays in SeifCriticism, Trans. and intro. Grahame Lock (London, 1976). Anderson, Perry, Considerations on Western Marxism (London, 1976). Avineri, Shlomo, The Social and Political Thought rif Karl Marx (Cambridge, 1968, re pr. 1971). Balibar, Etienne, On the Dictatorship oJ the Proletariat (London, 1977). Bettelheim, Charles, The Transition to Socialist Economy (Hassocks, 1975). Bettelheim, Charles, Economic Calculation and Forms rif Property (London, 1976) . Bettelheim, Charles, Class Struggles in the U.S.S.R. First Period: 1917-1923 (Hassocks, 1977). Binns, Peter, 'The Theory of State Capitalism', International Socialism, no. 74 Oanuary 1975), pp. 20-5· x List of Works Cited in Abbreviated Form Binns and Hallas (1976) Biro (1969) I Biro (196g) 11 BR I BR 11 Brinton (1970) Buick (1975) Bukharin, 'Economics' Bukharin, 'Materialism' Burnham (1972) CAP I CAP 111 Cardan, 'Bolshevism' Xl Binns, Peter and Hallas, Duncan, 'The Soviet Union - State Capitalist or Socialist?', International Socialism, nO.91 (September 1976), pp. 16--27. Biro, B., 'Workers' States-Problems ofTransition', Part I, Marxist Studies, vol. I, no. 4 (1969), pp. 6--20. Biro, B., 'Workers' States - Problems of Transition', Part 11, Marxist Studies, vol. I, no. 5 (1969), pp. 517· Carr, Edward Hallett, The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923, vol. I (Harmondsworth, 1966, re pr. 1975)' Carr, Edward Hallett, The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923, vol. 11 (London, 1952). Brinton, Maurice, The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control, 1917-1921: The State and Counter-Revolution (London, 1970). Buick, Adam, 'The Myth ofthe Transitional Society', Critique, no. 5 (1975), pp. 59-70. Bukharin, Nikolai I vanovich, Economics of the Transformation Period (New York, 1971). Bukharin, Nikolai Ivanovich, Historical Materialism: A System oJ Sociology (Michigan, 1969)' Burnham,James, The Managerial Revolution (Westport, 194 I, repr. 197 2 ). Marx, Karl, Capital, vol. I. Trans. Ben Fowkes, intro. Ernest Mandel (Harmondsworth, 1976). Marx, Karl, Capital, vol. 111 (Moscow, 1959)' Cardan, Paul, From Bolshevism to the Bureaucracy (London, undated). List 01 Works Cited in Abbreviated Form Carlo, Antonio, 'The SocioCarlo (1974) Economic Nature ofthe U .S .S.R.', Telos, no. 21 (Fall 1974), pp. 2-86. 'Class Nature of Eastern Europe' . CNEE (Resolution of the Third World Congress of the Fourth International, 1951). In Class, Party and State and the Eastern European Revolution (S.W.P. New York, 1969), pp. 53-5· Cohen, Stephen F" Bukharin and the Cohen (1974) Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography, 1888-1938. (London, 1974)' Colletti, Lucio, From Rousseau to Lenin. Colletti (1972) (London, 1972). Cook, Martin, The Myth 01" Orthodox" Cook (1975) Trotskyism (London, 1975)' CSF Marx, Karl, The Class Struggles in France, 1848-1850. Intro. Frederick Engels (Moscow, 1952, repr. 1968). CW Marx, Karl, The Civil War in France (MESW /1) pp. 248-309. Dallemagne, J-L., 'Justice for BukDallemagne (1975) harin', Critique, no. 4 (1975), pp. 43-59· Daniels (1960) Daniels, Rohert Vincent, The Conscience 01 the Revolution: Communist Opposition in Soviet Russia (Harvard , 1960) . Day, Richard B., Leon Trotsky and the Politics of Economic Isolation (Camhridge, 1973)' DFI Reisner, Will (ed,), Documents 01 the Fourth International: The Formative rears, 1933-1940 (New York, 1973)' Djilas, Milovan, The New Class (LonDjilas (1957) don, 1957)' Draper (1962) Draper, HaI, 'Marx and the Dictatorship ofthe Proletariat', New Politics (1962), pp. 9 1- 104. Xli List of Works Cited in Abbreviated Form Draper (1970) Dunayevskaya (1971) EB EBC FD Geras (1972) Geras (197S) GI Giddens (1977) GP Xlll Draper, HaI, 'The Death ofthe State in Marx and Engels', Socialist Register (1970), pp. 281-308. Dunayevskaya, Raya, Marxism and Freedom. 3rd edn. (London, 197 1). Marx, Karl, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (MESW j I), pp. 94- 179. 'The Evolution of the Buffer Countries' (Resolution of the Seventh Plenum of the International Executive Committee of the Fourth International, April 1949)' In Class, Party, and State and the Eastem European Revolution (S.W.P. New York, 1969), pp. 11-16. Marx, Karl, First DraJt of The Civil War in France (MPW 111), 23668. Geras, Norman, 'Marx and the Critique of Political Economy', In R. Blackburn (ed.), !deolog)! in Social Science, (London, 1972) pp. 28430S. Repr. from New LeJt Review, no.6s (197 1), pp. 69-8S' Geras, Norman, 'Rosa Luxemburg After 1905', New LeJt Review, no. 89 (January-February 1975), pp. 346. Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederick, The German Ideolog)!, ed. and intro. C. J. Arthur (London, 1970). Giddens, Anthony, The Class Structure of the Advanced Societies (London, 1973, repr. 1977)' Goodey, Chris, 'Factory Committees and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat', Critique, no. 3 (1974), pp. 27-47· Marx, Karl, Critique of the Gotha Programme (MESWjl), pp. 3IS-31. XIV List of Works Cited in Abbreviated Form Grogan (1971) Hallas (1969) Harman (1969170) Harman (1971) Hindess (1976) Hindess and Hirst (1975) Holubenko (1975) Horowitz (1969) HQ HRR IDM INT Grogan, Brian, 'Further Developments (?) in State Capitalism', International, vol. I, no. 6 (1971), pp. 29-40. Hallas, Dunean, 'Building the Leadership' , International Socialism, nO·40 (1969), pp. 25-33. Harman, Chris, 'The Ineonsisteneies ofErnest Mandel', International Socialism, no. 41 (Deeember 1969January 1970), pp. 36-41. Harman, Chris, 'The Eastern Bloe', in World Crisis: Essays in Revolutionary Socialism, ed. Nigel Harris and John Palmer (London, 1971), pp. 168-203. Hindess, Barry, Introduction to Bettelheim, Charles. Economic Calculation and Forms ofProperty (London, 1976) . Hindess, Barry and Hirst, Paul Q., Pre-Capitalist Modes of Production (London, 1975)' Holubenko, M., 'The Soviet Working Class', Critique, no. 4 (1975), pp. 525· Horowitz, David, From Yalta to Vietnam: American Foreign Policy in the Cold War (Harmondsworth, 1967, repr. 1969). Engels, Frederiek, The Housing Question, (MESW /2) vol. I, pp. 546635· Trotsky, Leon, The History ofthe Russian Revolution. 3 vols (London, 1967) . Trotsky, Leon, In Deftnce of Marxism (Against the Petty Bourgeois Opposition) (London, 1971). Carr, Edward Hallett, The Interregnum 1923-1924 (London, 1954)' List of Works Cited in Abbreviated Form xv James (1964) James, C. L. R., 'Trotsky's "Revolution Betrayed"', Internationo.l Sodalism, no. 16 (1964), pp. Kautsky (1972) Kautsky, Karl, The Foundations of Christianiry (London, 1972). Kidron, Michael, Western Capitalism Sinee the War (Harmondsworth, 1970). Lane, David, The Roots of Russian Communism: A Sodal and Historieal Stuq, of Russian Social-Demoeracy, I~I907 (Assen, 1969)' Lane, David, The End of Inequaliry?: Stratifieation untier State Soeialism (Harmondsworth, 197 I ) . Law, David, 'The Left Opposition in 1923', Critique, No. 2 (1973), pp. 37-5 2. Lenin, V. I., Better Fewer, But Better (LSW/I), pp. 700-12. Lenin, V. I., The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It, (QSOE), pp. I I-54. Lenin, V.I., Colleeted Works, 45 vols (Moscow, 1963-1970). Lenin, V. 1., "Left-Wing" Communism - An Infantile Disorder (LSW/I), pp. 516--gI. Lenin, V. I., Eeonomies and Polities in the Era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (LSW/I), pp. 497-505. Lenin, V. I., The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky (Peking, 1965, repr. 1970). Lenin, V. I., "Left- Wing" Childishness and the Petry-Bourgeois Mentaliry (LSW/I), pp. 432-55. Lenin, V. I., Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power? (LSW/I), pp. 362400. Kidron (1970) Lane (1969) Lane (1971) Law (1973) Lenin, 'Better' Lenin, 'Catastrophe' Lenin, CW Lenin, 'Disorder' Lenin, 'Economies' Lenin, 'Kautsky' Lenin, 'Mentality' Lenin, 'Power' 25~' XVI List of Works Cited in Abbreviated Form Lenin, 'Tasks' Lewin (1974) Lewin (1975) Lockett (1976) LSW j 1 MAN Mandel, 'Inconsistencies' Mandel, 'Mystifications' Mandel (1967) Mandel (1968) Mandel (1971 a) Mandel (1971 b) Lenin, V.I., TheImmediate Tasksrifthe Soviet Government (LSWjl), pp. 401 -31. Lewin, Moshe, Political Vndercurrents in Soviet Economic Debates: From Bukharin to the Modern Reformers (Princeton, 1974). Lewin, Moshe, Lenin's Last Struggle (London, 1975). Lockett, Martin, 'Review of Charles Bettelheim, Les Luttes de classes en V.R.S.S.: premiere periode, 19171923', Bulletin rif the Conference rif Socialist Economists, vol. V (1976). Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich, Selected Works in One Volume (London. 1969). Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederick, Manifesto rif the Communist Party (MESWjl), pp. 30-70. Mandel, Ernest, 'The Inconsistencies of "State Capitalism"', in Readings on 'State Capitalism' (I.M.G., London, 1973), pp. 7-26 . Mandel, Ernest, 'The Mystifications of State Capitalism', in Readings on 'State Capitalism' (I.M.G., London, 1973), pp. 33-40. Repr. from International, vol. I, no. 2 (1970), pp. 6--28. Mandel, Ernest, 'The LabourTheory of Value and Monopoly Capital', International Socialist Review OulyAugust 1967), pp. 29-41. Mandel, Ernest, Marxist Economic Theory (London, 1968). Mandel, Ernest, 'Economics of the Transition Period', in E. Mandel (ed.), Fifty rears rif World Revolution (New York, 1968, repr. 1971), pp. 275-3°3· Mandel, Ernest, The Formation rif the List Mandel (1972) Mandel (1974<l) Mandel (1974b) Mandel (1975a) Mandel (1975b) Markovic (1976) Mattick (1969) McLellan (1976) Medvedev (1972) Medvedev (1975) MESC MESW /1 MESW /2 oJ Works Cited in Abbreviated Form Economic Thought oJ XVll Karl Marx (London, 1971). Mandel, Ernest, 'The Soviet Economy Today: Towards Capitalism or Socialism?', International Socialist Review (june 1972), pp. 6-19. Mandel, Ernest, 'Ten Theses on the Social and Economic Laws Governing the Society Transitional Between Capitalism and Socialism', Critique, no. 3, (1974), pp. 5-21 . Mandel, Ernest, 'Some Commentson H. Ticktin's "Towards a Political Economy of the U .S.S.R."', Critique, no. 3 (1974), pp. 23-6. Mandel, Ernest, Late Capitalism (London, 1975). Mandel, Ernest, 'Liebman and Leninism', Socia/ist Register (1975), pp. 95- 11 4. Markovic, Mihailo, On the Lega1 Institutiom 01 Socia/ist Democracy (Nottingham, 1976). Mattick, Paul, Marx and Keynes (London, 1969). McLellan, David, Karl Marx: His Life and Thought (St. Albans, 1976). Medvedev, Roy, Let History Judge: The Origim and Comequences 01 Stalinism (London, 1972). Medvedev, Roy, On Socialist Democracy (London and New York, 1975) . Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederick, Selected Correspondence, 3rd edn. (Moscow, 1975). Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederick, Selected Works, 1 vol. (London, 1968 repr. 1970). Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederick, XVlll List of Works Cited in Abbreviated Form Mili band (1970) Miliband (1975) MPWI MPWIII NC NE Nicolaus (1972) OA OF Selected Works, 2 vols. (Moscow, 1962) . Michels, Robert, Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy (London, 1915)' Miliband, Ralph, 'Marx and the State', Socialist Register (1965), pp. 278-96. Miliband, Ralph, 'Lenin's "The State and Revolution''', Socialist Register (1970), pp. 309-19. Miliband, Ralph, 'Bettelheim and the Soviet Experience', New Left Review, no. 91 (1975), pp. 57-66. Marx, Karl, The Revolutions of 1848 (Political Writings, vol. I), ed. David Fernbach (Harmondsworth, 1973)' Marx, Karl, The First International and After (Political Writings, vol.III) ed. David Fernbach (Harmondsworth, 1974.). Trotsky, Leon, The New Course (ind. Max Shachtman, 'The Struggle for the New Course') (Ann Arbor, 1965) . Preobrazhensky, Evgeny Alexeyevich The New Economics (London, 1965). Nicolaus, Martin, 'The U nknown Marx', in R. Blackburn (ed.) Ideology in Social Science, (London, 1972) , pp. 3°&-33. Repr. from New Left Review, no. 48 (1968), pp. 4161. Engels, Frederick, On Authoriry, (MESWj2) vol. I, pp. 63&-9. Engels, Frederick, The Origin of the Fami!J Private Properry and the State, (MESWjl) pp. 449-583. List OIS PA Parkin (1972) PC PEW PGR PO Post gate (1922) Poulantzas (1973) Poulantzas (1975) Poulantzas (1976) PP PU Purdy (1976) cif Works Cited in Abbreviated Form XIX Kuper, Richard, (ed.) The Fourth International, Stalinism, and the Origins of the International Socialists (London, 1971). Deutscher, Issac, The Prophet Armed: Trotsky, 187!r1921 (London, 1954, repr. 1970). Parkin, Frank, Class Inequality and Political Order: Social Stratification in Capitalist and Communist Sodeties (St. Albans, 1972). Engels, Frederick, Principles cif Commumsm (London, 1971, repr. 1973)' Marx, Karl, Early Writings. Intro. Lucio Colletti (Harmondsworth, 1975)' Marx, Karl, Grundrisse, Trans. and intro. Martin Nicolaus (Harmondsworth, 1973, repr. 1974)· Deutscher, Isaac, The Prophet Outcast: Trotsky, 1929-194° (London, 1963, repr. 1970). Postgate, Raymond W., Out of the Past: Some Revolutionary Sketches (London, 1922). Poulantzas, Nicos, Political Power and Social Classes (London, 1973)' Poulantzas, Nicos, Classes in Contemporary Capitalism (London, 1975)' Poultanzas, Nicos, 'The Capitalist State: A Reply to Miliband and Laclau', New Left Review, no. 95 (January - February 1976), pp. 63-8 3' Marx, Karl, The Poverty cif Philosophy (Moscow, 1955, repr. 1973)' Deutscher, Isaac, The Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky, 1921-1929 (London, 1959, repr. 1970). Purdy, David, The Soviet Union - State xx List of Works Cited in Abbreviated Form Capitalist or Socialist? QSOE Rakovski (1977) Rakovsky, 'Dangers' RB Rizzi (1939) Robens, 'Imperialism' RSM Sartre (1976) Sawer (1977) SCPD seR Shaehtman (1962) SOC I (London, 1976). Lenin, V. I., Questions of the Socialist Organisation of the Economy (Moseow, undated). Rakovski, Mare, 'Marxism and the Analysis ofSoviet Societies', Capital and Class, no. 1 (1977), pp. 83105. Rakovsky, Christian, 'The Professional Dangers of Power', Marxist Studies, vol. I, no. 3 (1969), pp. 1829· Trotsky, Leon, The Revolution Betrayed: What is the Soviet Union and Where Is It Going? 5th edn. (New York, 1972). Rizzi, Bruno, La Bureaucratisation du monde (Paris, 1939)' Robens, John, Imperialism, Stalinism, and Permanent Revolution (London, undated). Kuron, Jaeek and Modzelewski, Karol, A Revolutionary Socialist Manifesto (An Open Letter to the Party) (London, undated). Sartre, Jean-Paul, Critique of Dialectical Reason (London, 1976). Sawer, Marian, 'The Genesis of State and Revolution'. Socialist Register (1977), pp. 20g-27· Revolutionary Marxist Committee (V.S.), State Capitalism and the Proletarian Dictatorship (Revolutionary Marxist Papers no. 12) (Detroit, 1977)' Cliff, Tony, State Capitalism in Russia (London, 1974)' Shaehtman, Max, The Bureaucratic Revolution (New York, 1962). Carr, Edward Hallett, Socialism in One List of Works Gited in Abbreviated Form XXI Gountry, 1924-1926, vol. I (London, 1958) . SOC 11 Carr, Edward Hallett, Socialism in One Gountry, 1924-1926, vol. 11 (London, 1959). SR Lenin, V. I., The State and Revolution, (LSW /1) pp. 264-351. Stalin (1973) Stalin, J. V., The Essential Stalin: Major Theoretical Writings, 19051952, Ed. Bruce Franklin (London, 1973) . SUS Engels, Frederick, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific (MESWjl) pp. 375428. Tarbuck (1969/70) Tarbuck, Ken, 'The Theory ofState Capitalism - A Clock Without a Spring', Marxist Studies, vol. I, no. 1 (1969-7 0 ), pp. 7-2 5. Cliff, Tony, 'The Theory of BureauTBC cratic Collectivism -A Critique', (OIS) pp. 79-94. Repr. from International Socialism, no. 32 (1968). TC Trotsky, Leon, Terrorism and Gommunism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky (London, 1975). Therborn (1976) Therborn, Göran, Science, Glass and Society: On the Formation of Sociology and Historical Materialism (London, 1976). Therborn (1978) Therborn, Göran, What Does the Ruling Glass do When it Rules? (London, 1978). Thompson and Lewis (1977)Thompson, Paul and Lewis, Guy, The Revolution Unfinished? - A Gritique of Trotskyism (Liverpool, 1977). Ticktin (1973) Ticktin, Hillel H. 'Towards a Political Economy of the U .S.S.R.', Critique, no. 1 (1973), pp. 1-23. Ticktin (1976) Ticktin, Hillel H., 'Soviet Society and Professor Bettelheim' , Gritique, no. 6 (1976), pp. 17-44. XXIl List of Works Cited in Abbreviated Form TIL Timpanaro (1976) TP Trotsky, Leon, The Third International After Lenin (New York, 1957, repr. 1970). Timpanaro, Sebastiano, On Materialism (London, 1976). Trotsky, Leon, The Transitional Programme: The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International, Intro. Joseph Hansen Trotsky, 'Nature' Trotsky, 'Problems' Trotsky, 'State' Trotsky, 'Thermidor' and George Novack (New York, 1973) . Trotsky, Leon, The Class Nature ofthe Soviet State (London, 1973). Trotsky, Leon, 'Problems of the Development of the U .S.S.R.: Draft Theses of the International Left Opposition on the Russian Question', in Writings, 193Cf-1931 (New York, 1973), pp. 204-33. Trotsky, Leon. 'Not a Workers' and Not a Bourgeois State', in Writings, 1937-1938 (New York, 1970), pp. 90-4· Trotsky, Leon, The Workers' State and the Question of Thermidor and Bonapartism (London, 1973) (pub. together with The Class Nature of the Soviet State). TS Sweezy, Paul M. and Bettelheim, Charles, On the Transition to Socialism. Ist edn. (New York, 1971). TSV Marx, Karl, TheoriesofSurplus Value, 3 vols (London, 1969-72). Walton and Gamble (1976) Walton, Paul and Gamble, Andrew From Alienation to Surplus Value WN (London, 1972, repr. 1976). Marx, Karl, Marginal Notes on Adolph Wagner's 'Lehrbuch der politischen Ökonomie', in Terrell Carver, Karl Marx: Texts on Method (Oxford, 1975), pp. 179-21 9. Introduction Among the most significant of recent developments within the European reformist left has been the explicit abandonment by the French Communist Party (P.C.F.), at its Twenty-Second Congress in January/February 1976, ofthe Marxist concept ofthe dictatorship of the proletariat. This theoretical rupture clearly corresponds to the political practice of the P .C.F. and its sister parties, geared as they are to the progressive transformation of the bourgeois state through the election ofsuccessive 'left' governments, supported from below by the 'mass pressure' of an amorphous and undefined popular movement. Eurocommunism's Fabian strategy, and its repudiation ofthe conception most central to the theoretical practice of Marx, Engels, and Lenin, are, however, indissolubly bound up with what has for decades constituted the major obstacle to socialist revolution in the West: the existence of societies which, while formally proclaiming their incarnation of socialism, are characterised by signal inequality, an absence of any effective democracy, and continuing deficiencies in the supply and quality of many basic consumption goods. 1 Any attempt to comprehend and transcend this conjuncture must necessarily start from an analysis ofthe Soviet Union itself, as the first sodal formation in which capitalism was overthrown, and in whose deformed, and deforming shadow all subsequent anti-capitalist upheavals have inevitably occurred: this is the object of the book. The opening chapter traces the development, by the founders of historical materialism, of the concept of the transition from the capitalist to the socialist mode ofproduction, and ofthe dictatorship ofthe proletariat, as the political counterpart and condition ofthis socio-economic transformation. Chapter 2 is an appraisal ofLenin's contribution to the problematic ofthe transition, seen in the context ofthe interna I and external milieux in which the first workers' state was established. Chapter 3 documents Trotsky's brilliant, if ultimately incomplete extension of the theory to account for that state's degeneration, and to conceptualise the character and 2 Marxism and the U.S.S.R. dynamics ofthe bureaucratic 'totalitarianism' which issued from it. In Ckapters 4 to 6 consideration is given to the alternative Marxist analyses of the Soviet social formation which have subsequently been articulated, explicitly or implicitly, in opposition to that put forward by Trotsky (and since developed by other theorists standing in the same tradition, most notably the Belgian Ernest Mandel, a leading member of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International). This necessitates examining their internal coherence, as ostensibly Marxist analyses, and assessing also their 'external'2 correspondence with features and trends apparent in the contemporary U .S.S.R. The present work is a systematic attempt to collate the various strands of the discussion on the socio-economic character of the Soviet Union, clarifying its terms of reference and subjecting the diverse conclusions which have emerged from it to a critical scrutiny. It should be seen as a provisional summary of a debate which is far from being Byzantine: on the contrary, the 'Russian Question' remains an ineradicable reference point of revolutionary Marxist politics, 3 and it is in terms ofthose politics that what follows must ultimately be assessed. I The Theoretical Foundations THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT AND THE TRANSITION TO SOCIALISM Marx's first reference to 'the dictatorship of the proletariat' occurs in the third of a trilogy of articles which he wrote for his ill-fated journal Neue Rheinische Z,eitung- Politisch-Oekonomisch Revue in 1850, and which were subsequendy assembled under the tide The Class Struggles in France, 1848-185°. The term is here employed by Marx in the context of an exposition of what, for hirn, was entailed by revolutionary socialism: . . . the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transition point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations. (CSF, p. I 17) In April 1850, a month after Marx's writing of this article, the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat was incorporated into the first of the six statutes of the Universal Society of Communist Revolutionaries, among the principal figures of which were numbered, in addition to Marx and Engels, the Chartist George Harney and the exiled leaders of the Blanquists: The aim of the society is the overthrow of all the privileged classes, and to submit these classes to the dictatorship of the proletariat by maintaining the revolution in permanence until the realisation of communism, which will be the last organisational form of the human family.l 3 4 Marxism anti the U.S.S.R. Although the term itselfis not used, it is generally recognised that the substance of the concept of proletarian dictatorship as it was perceived by Marx and Engels at the time was elaborated in the Maniftsto of the Communist Party, written two years earlier: 2 . . . the first step in the revolution by the working dass, is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling dass, to win the batde of democracy. The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling dass; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible. (MAN, p. 52) In the same work, Marx and Engels described the object and end product of proletarian rule: When, in the course of development, dass distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands ofa vast association ofthe whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so called, is merely the organised power of one dass for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organise itself as a dass, if, by means ofa revolution, it makes itselfthe ruling dass, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of dass antagonisms and of dasses generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a dass. In place ofthe old bourgeois society, with its dasses and dass antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all. (MAN, p. 53)3 Although there is not, in the Maniftsto, any explicit reference to the abolition of the state, there can be no doubt that Marx and Engels envisaged precisely this. Hence, in a book review written about the same time, Marx observed that: 'The abolition ofthe state has only one meaning to the Communists, as the necessary result of The Theoretical Foundations 5 the abolition of dasses, whereupon the need for the organised power of one dass for the suppression of another ceases to exist'. (Cited in Draper (1970), p. 288) In a much later work by Engels, the SaintSimonian formulation of the de-politicisation of the public power employed in the Manifesto is explicitly equated with the abolition of the state: All socialists are agreed that the political state, and with it political authority, will disappear as a result ofthe coming social revolution, that is, that public functions will lose their political character and be transformed into the simple administrative functions of watching over the true interests of society. (OA, p.639)· The Manifesto itself refers to the 'rule' of the proletariat rather than to its 'dictatorship' ,as in the statement that 'the first step in the revolution ... is to raise the proletariat to the position ofthe ruling dass'. Engels, in the preliminary draft of the work which he prepared, wrote that the revolution 'will establish a democratic constitution and through this the direct or indirect dominance ofthe proletariat'. (PC, p. 13) However, in correspondence with Otto Lüning (co-editor, with Marx's dose friendJoseph Weydemeyer, of the Frankfurt journal Neue Deutsche Zeitung), Marx made it dear that he recognised no substantive difference between his concept of the dictatorship ofthe proletariat as set out in The Class Struggles in France, and the formulation employed in the Manifesto (and implicitly also the synonymous terminology used by Engels in Principles of Communism). (See Draper, 1962, p. 98)4 It has been daimed by some commentators that the French revolutionary Louis-Auguste Blanqui, rather than Marx, was the first to coin the term 'dictatorship of the proletariat' 5, although Draper has disputed this. In any event, Marx and Engels were emphatic about the distinctio.n between their own conception of revolutionary dictatorship and that of Blanquists, as is made dear by Engels' statement in his artide The Programme 01 the Blanquist Fugitives From the Paris Commune: From Blanqui's assumption, that any revolution may be made by the out break of a small revolutionary minority, follows of itself the necessity of a dictatorship after the success ofthe venture. This is, of course, a dictatorship, not of the entire revolutionary dass, the proletariat, but of the sm all minority that has made the 6 Marxism and the U.S.S.R. revolution, and who are themselves previously organized under the dictatorship of one or several individuals. (Cited in Draper, 1962, p. 95) When Blanqui's exiled followers in London adopted the Marxist conception of proletarian dictatorship in a programmatic document, 6 Engels observed, presumably with some satisfaction, that . . . when the so-called Blanquists made an attempt to transform themselves from mere political revolutionists into a socialist workers' faction with a definite programme - as was done by the Blanquist fugitives in London in their manifesto, Internationale et Revolution,-they ... adopted, and almost literally at that, the views of German scientific socialism on the necessity of political action by the proletariat and of its dictatorship as the transition point to the abolition of dasses and with them of the state - views such as had already been expressed in the Communist Manifisto and since then on innumerable occasions. (HQ, p. 613)7 In his letter to Weydemeyer of 5 March 1852, Marx summarised his ideas on the dictatorship of the proletariat, at the same time disdaiming any credit for the discovery of dasses and the dass struggle: What I did that was new was to demonstrate: I) that the existence of classes is merely linked to particular historical phases in the development ofproduction, 2) that dass struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship ofthe proletariat, 3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of alt classes and to a classless sociery. (MESC, p. 64) After this, aperiod of twenty years was to elapse before any reference to the proletarian dictatorship occurred again in the writings of Marx or Engels. When it reappeared, the conception itself had undergone a significant extension and refinement, the stimulus for this being the experience of the Paris Commune. THE COMMUNE AND AFTER. In none of his copious writings did Marx ever refer to the Paris Commune of 1871 as the dictatorship ofthe proletariat. 8 Some ten The Theoretical Foundations 7 years after the event, he remarked that 'apart from the fact that this was merely the rising of a city under exceptional conditions, the majority ofthe commune was by no means socialist, nor could it be'. (Marx to Nieuwenhuis, 22 February 1881, MESC, pp. 317-19) In the First Drajt of The Civil War in France, he wrote that: 'The principal measures taken by the Commune are taken for the salvation of the middle dass'. (FD, p. 258) As Miliband has observed, Marx's reluctance to characterise the Commune as the dictatorship ofthe proletariat would also follow from the fact that he undoubtedly conceived of this dictatorship as the product of a socialist revolution on anational scale. (Miliband, 1965, p. 291) It is nevertheless the case that Engels, in his 189 I Preface to The Civil War in France, hailed the Commune as the realisation ofthe proletarian dictatorship: Oflate, the Social-Democratic philistine has once again been filled with wholesome terror at the words: Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Well and good, gentleman, do you want to know what this dictatorship looks like? Look at the Paris Commune. That was the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. (MESW/ I, pp. 24B-59) There is no necessary contradiction here. As Avineri has pointed out, The Civil War in France, although it appears to be an account of the Commune's ~chievements, is actually an evaluation of its ascribed potential: ... wh at Marx saw in the Commune as a model for the future were not the actual, concrete arrangements it instituted, but a projection of the potentialities of these arrangements onto the future. Only this projection gives the Commune its historical significance. Marx, then, does not discuss the Commune as it actually was, but as it could be, not in actu but in potentia. He elevates the Commune's possible enactments and its potential arrangements to a paradigm offuture society. It is not the Paris Commune of 187 I that provides the model for future society, but the immanent reason Marx saw in it had it survived (though he was sure it would not). Only such a projection allows Marx, in his 188 I letter, 9 to criticise the historical Commune for not nationalising the Banque de France, and to praise the potential Commune for an intention to abolish private property. (Avineri, 1971, pp. 240-1) 8 Marxism arui the U.S.S.R. Clear support for this interpretation is provided by a reference which occurs in a letter by Engels, written in 1884: 'That in The Civil War the instinctive tendencies ofthe Commune were put down to its credit as more or less deli berate plans was justified and even necessary under the circumstances'. (Engels to Bernstein, 1 January 1884, MESC, p. 345) Marx hirnself stated that the 'great social measure of the Commune was its own working existence', arguing that, had it survived, its inherent dynamic would, ofnecessity, have led it in a socialist direction: The political rule of the producer cannot coexist with the perpetuation ofhis social sla very. The Commune was therefore to serve as alever for uprooting the economical foundations upon which rest the existence of dasses, and therefore of dass rule. (CW, p. 290) Lenin, taking up Marx's analysis of the Commune almost half a century later, was to argue that the main lesson to be learned from it was contained in Marx's assertion that 'the working dass cannot simply lay hold ofthe ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes' . (See Chapter 2) In his PreJace to The Civil War, Engels had emphasised this same aspect of Marx's account, referring to the 'shattering of the former state power and its replacement by a new and truly democratic one'} and arguing that the state, pending its future abolition, must be regarded as 'at best an evil inherited by the proletariat after its victorious struggle for dass supremacy, whose worst sides the victorious proletariat, just like the Commune, cannot avoid having to lop off at once as much as possible'. (MESW /1, pp. 248-59)1° Marx himselfidentified what he regarded as the 'new feature' of the Commune as being that: ... the people, after the first rise, have not disarmed themselves and surrendered their power into the hands of the republican mountebanks ofthe ruling dasses, that, by the constitution ofthe CommuTU!, they have taken the actual management of their revolution into their own hands and found at the same time, in the case ofsuccess, the means to hold it in the hands ofthe people itself, displacing the state machinery, the goverhmental machinery of the ruling dasses by a governmental machinery of their own. (FD, p. 261) The Theoretical Foundations 9 The 'true secret' of the Commune, Marx dedared, was that 'It was essentially a working-dass government, the produce of the struggle ofthe producing dasses against the appropriating dass, the political form at last discovered under which to work out the economic emancipation oflabour'. (CW, p. 290) He identified the principal structural innovations of this new political form as being: I. The abolition of the standing army and its replacement by a popular militia as an armed force no longer separate from and opposed to the people. 2. The political functionaries of the Commune consisted of elected and fully recallable delegat es rather than representatives. The police, judiciary, and other officials were similarly elected by universal suffrage and were revocable. 3. The delegated officials received no special material privileges, their incomes being on a par with those of skilled workers. 4. The separation of executive and legislative functions, characteristic ofthe bourgeois regime, was ended: 'The Commune was to be a working, not a parliamentary body, executive and legislative at the same time'. (CW, p. 287) 5. The extension ofthe Communal structure was to have created a genuinely unified and co-ordinated organisation at the level ofthe social formation as a whole: The Paris Commune was, of course, to serve as a model to all the great industrial centres ofFrance. The communal regime once established in Paris and the secondary centres, the old centralised Government would in the provinces, too, have to give way to the self-government of the producers. In a rough sketch of national organisation which the Commune had no time to develop, it states dearly that the Commune was to be the political form of even the smallest country hamlet . . . The rural communes of every district were to administer their common affairs by an assembly of delegates in the central town, and these district assemblies were again to send deputies to the National Delegation in Paris, each delegate to be at all times bound by the mandat imperatif(formal instructions) ofhis constituents. The few but important functions which still would remain for a central government were not to be suppressed ... but were to be discharged by Communal, and therefore strictly responsible agents. The unity ofthe nation was not to be broken, but, on the 10 Marxism and the U.S.S.R. contrary, to be organised by the Communal Constitution and to become a reality by the destruction of the State power which daimed to be the embodiment of that unity independent of, and superior to, the nation itself, from which it was but a parasitic excrescence. While the merely repressive organs of the old governmental power were to be amputated, its legitimate functions were to be wrested from an authority usurping preeminence over society itself, and restored to the responsible agents of society. (CW, pp. 288-9) Marx dearly placed great emphasis on the democratic and egalitarian features of the Commune, a fact which would certainly follow from the distinction which he and Engels drew between their conception of proletarian dictatorship and that of the Blanquists, which they saw as being essentially eIitist and conspiratorial. This emphasis also derived from Marx's critique of the nature and role of the contemporary state. His and Engels' views on the state as an agency of dass domination and oppression had been set out in the Manifesto ofthe Communist Party, while Marx himselfhad elaborated a critique of the separation of the state and civil society and ofthe nature ofthe former as an 'illusory community', five years earlier. (PEW, pp. 58-198) In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Marx described and analysed the massive bureaucratisation which the Fn;nch state had undergone in its Bonapartist form. Referring to the 'executive power with its enormous bureaucratic and military organisation ... this appalling parasitic bodY' which enmeshes the body of French society and chokes all its pores', he observed, in a sentence which prefigures his later pronouncements on the CommUDe, that: 'All revolutions perfected this machine instead of smashing it'. (EB, p. 169) The aggrandisement of the Bonapartist state, he maintained, had effectively resulted in the almost total subjugation of bourgeois society by its own executive power. In The Civil War in France, Marx recorded the further growth of the state power, while emphasising also the continued expansion of its role as an agency of dass oppression: At the same pace at which the progress of modern industry developed, widened, intensified the dass antagonism between capital and labour, the State power assumed more and more the character of the national power of capital over labour, of a public The Theoretical Foundations 11 force organised for social enslavement, of an engine of dass despotism. (CW, p. 285) It was this analysis which prompted Marx's graphie characterisation of the Commune: It was a revolution against the state itself, this supernaturalist abortion ofsociety, a resumption by the people for the people of its own sociallife. It was not a revolution to transfer it from one fraction of the ruling dass to the other, but a revolution to break down this horrid machinery of dass domination itself. (FD, P·249) Had the Commune survived, he conduded, the Communal Constitution 'would have restored to the social body all the forces hitherto absorbed by the State parasite feeding upon, and dogging the free movement of, society'. (CW, p. 289)11 In his account of the Commune, Marx thus moved from the problematic of the de-politicisation of the public power as articulated in the Maniftsto of the Communist Party to that of the deinstitutionalisation ofpolitical power, in the realisation ofwhich, as Miliband has remarked, the Commune 'did embody, for Marx, the essential elements of his concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat'. (Miliband, 1965, p. 291) lt should be noted, however, that this conception by no means originated with Marx. The affinity of Marx's writings on the Commune with his earlier polemic on the separation of the state and civil society in such works as the Critique of Hegel's Doctrine ofthe State and The Jewish Qpestion has been noted by Colletti, who has also drawn attention to the similarity between the concepts articulated in The Civil War in France and those developed by Rousseau in The Social Contract. The evidence, in his view, demonstrates condusively the essential (albeit indirect) dependence of Marx's 'political' theory on the ideas of the eighteenth century French philosopher, . . . to whom the critique of parliamentarism, the theory of popular delegacy and even the idea of the state's disappearance can all be traced back. This implies in turn that the true originality of Marxism must be sought rather in the field of social and economic analysis than political theory.12 12 Marxism and the U.S.S.R. Fernbach has emphasised that the structural features of the Commune as described by Marx 'do not explicitly demarcate a privileged position for the industrial working dass any more than the corresponding features of the bourgeois state, in either its parliamentary, Bonapartist, or fascist variants, do for the bourgeoisie'. (David Fernbach, Introduction, MPW, BI, 36) This, as he points out, would seem indeed to follow from Marx's view that a social dass can only attain hegemony to the extent that its own particular interests coincide with the broader historical movement of the development of social production. In the case of the proletariat Marx considered that its own interests as a dass and the universal interest ofsocial progress were absolutely synonymous. He first explained why this was necessarily the case in the Introduction to his Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right: So where is the positive possibility of German emancipation? This is ouranswer. In the formation ofa dass with radical chains, a dass of civil society which is not a dass of civil society, a dass which is the dissolution of all dasses, a sphere which has a universal character because of its universal suffering and which lays claim to no particular right because the wrong it suffers is not a particular wrong but wrong in general; a sphere of society which can no longer lay daim to a historical tide, but merely to a human one, which does not stand in one-sided opposition to the consequences but in all-sided opposition to the premises ofthe German political system; and finally a sphere which cannot emancipate itself without emancipating itself from - and thereby emancipatingall the other spheres ofsociety, which is, in a word, the totallossof humanity and which can therefore redeem itself only through the total redemption of humanity. This dissolution of society as a particular dass is the proletariat. (PEW, pp. 243-57)13 With the advent of the Commune, the working dass was to achieve, albeit temporarily, the historical role as a universal dass which Marx had attributed to it in his earlier writings. Hence, in his account of it, Marx emphasised wh at he saw as its 'all-sided opposition' to the premises of the existing political system: Only the proletarians, fired by a new social task to accomplish by them for all of society, to do away with all dasses and dass rule, were the men to break the instrument of that dass rule - the state, The Theoretical FounJations the centralized and organized govemmental power usurping to be the master instead of the servant of society. (FD, p. 250) It necessarily followed that the Commune was a genuinely democratic regime through which the political power ofthe mass of the people could be directly expressed and thus 'a thoroughly expansive political form, while all previous forms of govemment had been emphatically repressive'. (CW, p. 290) The Commune, Marx pointed out, established a working alliance with the petty bourgeoisie, which was given a share in govemment corresponding to its numerical strength. (FD, p. 258) The proletariat, however, remained the hegemonie dass, its leadership determining the character of the ruling bloc as a whole: 'the working dass was openly acknowledged as the only dass capable of sodal initiative, even by the great bulk of the Paris middle dass - shopkeepers, tradesmen, merchants - the wealthy capitalists alone excepted'. (FD, p. 214) The govemmental apparatus ofthe Commune thus served to organise the hegemony of the proletariat as the apparatus of the capitalist state served to organise the hegemony of the bourgeoisie: As the state machinery and parliamentarism are not the reallife of the ruling dass, but only the organized general organs of their dominion, the political guarantees and forms and expressions of the old order of things, so the Commune is not the sodal movement of the working dass and therefore of a general regeneration of mankind, but the organized means of action. (FD, pp. 252-3) Marx emphasised that the establishment of the Commune did not in itself put an end to sodal antagonisms: The Commune does not do away with the dass struggles, through which the working dasses strive to the abolition of dasses . . . but it affords the rational medium in which that dass struggle can run through its different phases in the most rational and humane way. (FD, p. 253) The Commune would thus still find it necessary to repress the minority which had avested interest in the restoration of the old order and which was therefore firmly opposed to its power. With the Marxism and the U.S.S.R. extension ofthe Communal regime, however, this opposition would cease to pose any serious threat: The Communal organisation once firmly established on a national scale, the catastrophes it might still have to undergo would be sporadic slaveholders' insurrections, which, while for a moment interrupting the work of peaceful progress, would only accelerate the movement, by putting the sword into the hand of the social revolution. (FD, p. 253) Without doubt, the most significant effect which the experience of the Commune had on the way in which Marx and Engels conceptualised the transition to socialism was that they no longer presented the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the disappearance of the state as two separate and distinct stages within the transition period . In his account of the Commune, as has already been noted, Marx emphasised that the political power which the proletariat substituted for the bourgeois state was fundamentally different in character from the power which it supplanted; the establishment of the Commune was therefore 'a revolution against the state iself'. The principal features of the Communal Constitution as described by Marx delimited the structure of astate which, in Engels' words, was undergoing a process of 'gradual dissolution'. (Engels to van Patten, 18 April 1883, MESC, pp. 340---2) Engels had even argued that: 'The whole talk about the state should be dropped, especially since the Commune, which was no longer astate in the proper sense of the word'. (Engels to Bebel, 18-28 March 1875, MESC, pp. 272-7) The determinant function of the proletarian state form, in contradistinction to that of all others hitherto, was to facilitate its own eventual disappearance. Engels set down his most extended treatment of this thesis in Anti-Dühring: As soon as there is no longer any dass of society to be held in subjection; as soon as, along with dass domination and the struggle for individual existence based on the former anarchy of production, the collisions and excesses arising from these have also been abolished, there is nothing more to be repressed which would make a special repressive force, astate, necessary. The first act in which the state really comes forward as the representative of society as a whole - the taking possession of the means of The Theoretical Foundations production in the name of society - is at the same time its last independent act as astate. The interference of the state power in social relations be comes superftuous in one sphere after another, and then ceases ofitself. The government of persons is replaced by the government of things and the direction of the process of production. The state is not "abolished", it withers away. (AD, p. 3 1 5) When this part of Anti-Dühring was revised for publication as Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, Engels added the following: Socialised production upon a predetermined plan becomes henceforth possible. The development of production makes the existence of different dasses of society thence forth an anachronism. In proportion as anarchy in social production vanishes, the political authority of the state dies out. (SUS, p. 428) The concept of the substitution of 'the government of things and the direction of the process of production' for 'the government of persons' did not, it should be noted, originate with Marx and Engels, but was first expounded by the 'utopian socialist' Henri de Saint-Simon. 14 It was Saint-Simon who first articulated the idea of a planned and collectively-owned mode of production based on modern industry and technology as an alternative to the anarchy of capitalist production. In its Saint-Simonian version, however, this conception had no specific connection with the working dass movement and the aim of proletarian emancipation. 15 It is perhaps surprising that, although the conscious regulation of the economy was so intrinsically apart ofthe Marxist concept ofthe socialist mode ofproduction, there are few references to planning as such in the writings ofMarx and Engels. Apart from a few general comments about the planned distribution of labour-time in future communist society in the Grundrisse and the first and third volumes of Capital, Marx's best-known and most explicit statement on this theme occurs in The Civil War in France: If co-operative production is not to remain a sham and asnare; if it is to supersede the Capitalist system; if united co-operative societies are to regulate national production upon a common plan, thus taking it under their own control, and putting an end Marxism and the U.S.S.R. to the constant anarchy and periodical convulsions which are the fatality of Capitalist production - what else, gentlemen, would it be but Communism, "possible" Communism? (CW, p. 291) There is virtually nothing to be found in the works of Marx and Engels on the concrete forms of planning within the socialist mode of production, although this is altogether more understandable in view oftheir professed aversion to the construction of'blueprints' for the future socialist society. Indeed, the only comment of any substance on this question is that by Engels in Anti-Dühring: From the moment when society enters into possession of the means of production and uses them in direct association for production, the labour of each individual, however varied its specifically useful character may be, is immediately and directly social labour. The quantity of social labour contained in a product has then no need to be established in a roundabout way; daily experience shows in a direct way how much ofit is required on the average ... It is true that even then it will still be necessary for society to know how much labour each article of consumption requires for its production. It will have to arrange its plan ofproduction in accordance with its means ofproduction, which include, in particular, its labour forces. The useful etrects of the various articles of consumption, compared with each other and with the quantity of labour required for their production, will in the last analysis determine the plan. People will be able to manage everything very simply, without the intervention ofthe famous "value". (AD, pp. 345-6) Marx, as his comments in the Critique of the Gotha Programme demonstrate, undoubtedly shared Engels' prognosis, equating the establishment ofthe collective ownership ofthe me ans ofproduction with the abolition of commodity exchange and the law of value. There are, however, serious objections to such a view (see Chapter 5). Marx and Engels added an important proviso to their conception ofthe disappearance ofthe state. As long as its dass adversary still existed, the proletariat would still need the state, both to maintain its own social supremacy, and to remodel all levels (and particularly the economic) of the social formation in accordance with its own dass interests. Marx expressed this thesis with particular darity in his Conspectus of Bakunin's "Statism and Anarchy":16 The Theoretical Foundations 17 ... so long as the other dasses, especially the capitalist dass, still exists, so long as the proletariat struggles with it (for when it attains government power its enemies and the old organization of society have not yet vanished), it must employ forcible means, hence governmental means. It is itself still a dass and the economic conditions from which the dass struggle and the existence of dasses derive have still not disappeared and must be either removed out ofthe way or transformed, this transformation process being forcibly hastened. (MPW, III, 333-8). In his artide Political Indifferentism, originally published as a companion piece to Engels' On Authoriry, Marx pointed out how, 'if the workers replace the dictatorship of the bourgeois dass with their own revolutionary dictatorship' , they, in so doing, 'give to the state a revolutionary and transitory form'. (MPW, III, 327-32) It was with the same conception in mind that Engels polemicised against the Lassallean idea of a 'free state', to which Marx had already addressed hirnself in his Critique of the Gotha Programme: Since the state is only a transitional institution which is used in the struggle, during the revolution, to hold down one's adversaries by force, it is pure nonsense to talk of a free people's state: so long as the proletariat still uses the state, it does not use it in the interests offreedom but in order to hold down its adversaries, and as soon as it becomes possible to speak offreedom the state as such ceases to exist. (Engels to Bebel, 18-28 March 1875, MESC, pp. 272-7) Unfortunately, some of Engels' later writings seem to obscure rat her than darify the question of the political form of the proletarian dictatorship. In A Critique of the Draft Social-Democratic Programme of 1891, Engels stated that: If one thing is certain it is that our Party and the working dass can only come to power under the form of a democratic republic. This is even the specific form for the dictatorship of the proletariat, as the Great French Revolution has already shown .. .l7 Lenin commenting on this passage, supposed Engels to be arguing that the extension of democracy inevitably gives rise to an upsurge 18 Marxism anti the U.S.S.R. of dass struggle and to popular demands whose realisation entails the emergence of the dictatorship of the prpletariat. (SR, P·3 1 4) This confusion may, as Miliband suggests, derive from the fact that Marx supported the establishment of the democratic republic while simultaneously denouncing its dass (bourgeois) character, although the contradiction is only an apparent one, since Marx acknowledged it to be the most progressive form ofbourgeois regime (and therefore wished to see it supplant the more backward and absolutist state forms) without losing sight of the fact that it remained a system of dass rule. It was, nevertheless, on the basis of passages such as that just cited from Engels, that Kautsky argued that the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat was meant to designate the social character of the state power rather than the actual form of government. Starting from the premise that a dass 'can rule, but not govern, for a dass is a formless mass, while only an organisation can govern', Kautsky maintained that Marx conceived the proletarian dictatorship as being merely 'a condition which must necessarily arise when the proletariat has conquered political power' .18 An examination ofMarx's writings on the Commune would seem to destroy any possible basis for such a view, perhaps most notable, in this context, being the passage in which he described the Commune as 'essentially a working-dass government, the produce of the struggle of the producing dasses against the appropriating dass, the political form at last discovered under which to work out the emancipation of labour'. (CW, p. 290) Miliband is surely correct in conduding that, for Marx, the dictatorship of the proletariat constituted ... hotk a statement of the dass character of the political power anti a description of the political power itself . . . it is in fact the nature ofthe political power which it describes which guarantees its dass character. (Miliband, 1965, pp. 28g-g0) THE ECONOMY IN THE TRANSITION PERIOD It has been argued by Buick that the transition period between capitalist and communist society did not represent, for Marx, the The Theoretical Foundations period between the establishment of the common ownership of the means of production and the time when the principle of 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs' would be implemented, but was rather the stage after the proletariat's seizure of political power and before the nationalisation of the means of producion. He maintains that it was, in effect, 'the period during which the working dass would be using state power to bring the means of production into common ownership'. (Buick, 1975, p. 59) With reference to Marx's distinction, in the Critique cif the Gotha Programme, between the first, or lower, and the higher phase of communist society, Buick contends that: . . . Marx is tal king of different phases of the same society, a society "based on the common ownership of the me ans of production", i.e. a dassless, stateless society with no wages or monetary system ... No doubt one could speak of a transition from the "first" to a higher phase of socialism, but the fact remains that Marx did not employ the concept of "transition period" in this sense. For hirn ... it was the transition from capitalism to socialism and not from one phase of socialism to another. (Buick, 1975, p. 61) The principal target of Buick's cntique would seem to be Mandel, whose conception of the 'transitional society' he is concerned to refute. (See, e.g. Mandel, 1974a, passim). It must be recognised that there are, indeed, passages in the writings ofMarx and Engels which would appear to support Buick's thesis. They did emphasise, however, that: 'Communism is not for us astate ofaffairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality will have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things'. (GI, pp. 56-7) Precisely because the 'present state of things' is itself a contingent and not an absolute or 'given' factor, it necessarily follows that the specific character and content ofthe tasks to be accomplished during the transition period by 'the proletariat organised as the ruling dass', and the periodisation of these tasks, cannot be arbitrarily defined in advance, except in the most general sense. The most important factor to condition the nature of the transition period must certainly be the level of development attained by the productive forces. It was, indeed, their changing 20 Marxism and the U.S.S.R. assessment of this factor in different conjunctures which prompted Marx and Engels to revise their views on the degree to which the abolition ofthe capitalist mode ofproduction could be regarded as being an imminently realisable prospect (see below). Moreover, the nationalisation of the me ans of production was only one of the tasks posited for the working dass during the transition period, as is dear from Marx's exposition ofthe concept of proletarian dictatorship in The Class Struggles in France, in which it is depicted as the suppression of all the conditions of existence of capitalist social relations of production. Inseparable from this conception, as Marx made clear in his account of the Commune, would be the elimination of bureaucracy and thereby the restoration to the social body proper of 'all the forces hitherto absorbed by the State parasite feeding upon, and dogging the free movement of, Society'. (CW, p. 289) And, as a matter of course, the victorious proletariat would be obliged to take measures 'to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible'. (MAN, p. 52). Ifthe realisation of all these tasks is already posited at the inception of 'the first phase of communist society', it would indeed be difficult to understand Marx's own characterisation ofthe transitional social formation: What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary,just as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually, still stamped with the birth marks ofthe old society from whose womb it emerges. (GP, P·3 1 9) It is surely an unnecessarily formalistic methodology which differentiates between one series of tasks, supposedly peculiar to the transition period between capitalist and communist society, and another series, to be achieved during the transition from the lower to the higher phase of communist society. Notwithstanding the inevitably provision al nature ofMarx's formulations ofthe character and content of the transition, he would certainly have rejected such an abstract schema. What is dear is that Marx envisaged an evolution of the mode of distribution during the transition period, which would differ in the first and the higher phases of communist society in correspondence with the level of development attained by the forces ofproduction. In the first phase, distribution would be effected in accordance with The Theoretical Fouruiations 21 the labour-time contributed by each individual, mediated through the issue of vouchers exchangeable against consumption goods. This phase would be, in its essentials, identical with what Marx had in his earlier works described as 'crude communism' (although he had then used the term in a pejorative sense to characterise vulgar conceptions ofthe abolition ofthe capitalist mode ofproduction), in that: ... the community is simply a community of labour and equality of wages, which are paid out by the communal capital, the communiv as universal capitalist. Both sides of the relation are raised to an imaginary universality-labour as the condition in which everyone is placed and capital as the acknowledged universality and power of the community.18 In the Critique of the Gotha Programme he explained the basis of distribution in the first phase of communist society: Here obviously the same principle prevails as that which regulates the exchange of commodities, as far as this is exchange of equal values. Content and form are changed, because under the altered circumstances no one can give anything except his labour, and because, on the other hand, nothing can pass to the ownership of individuals except individual means of consumption. But, as far as the distribution of the latter among the individual producers is concerned, the same principle prevails as in the exchange of commodity-equivalents: a given amount of labour in one form is exchanged for an equal amount oflabour in another form. (GP, pp. 319-20) It could therefore be said, Marx observed, that 'equal right' is still in principle during the first phase of communist society, although this is in reality 'bourgeois right' and 'a right of inequality'. Since equality in this instance consists in the fact that each individual's contribution to society and hence his or her entitlement to consumption goods is measured in labour-time, as an 'equal standard', it folIows, precisely by virtue of the fact that 'it tacitly recognises unequal individual endowment and thus productive capacity as natural privileges' , that 'equal right is an unequal right 22 Marxism and the U.S.S.R. for unequal labour'. (GP, p. 320) Marx emphasised, moreover, that: ... one worker is married, another not; one has more children than another, and so on and so forth. Thus, with an equal performance of labour, and hence an equal share in the social consumption fund, one will in fact receive more than another, one will be richer than another, and so on. To avoid all these defects, right instead of being equal would have to be unequal. (GP, p. 320) It must be recognised, he conduded, that: ... these defects are inevitable in the first phase of communist society as it is when it has just emerged after prolonged birth pangs from capitalist society. Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned thereby. In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labour, and therewith also the anti thesis between mental and physicallabour, has vanished; after labour has become not only a means oflife but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-round development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth ftow more abundantly - only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs! (GP, pp. 320-1) The assessment by Marx and Engels of the viability of the establishment of a society based on the collective ownership of the means of production as an immediate aim had, in their earlier writings, been a distinctly qualified one. In 1847 Marx had argued that: If the proletariat destroys the political rule of the bourgeoisie, that will only be a temporary victory, only an element in the service of the bourgeois revolution itself, as in 1794, so long as in the course ofhistory, in its "movement", the material conditions are not yet created which make necessary the abolition of the The Theoretical Foundations 23 bourgeois mode of production and thus the definitive overthrow of bourgeois political rule. 20 Engels, too, in his preliminary draft for the Manifesto ofthe Communist Parry, denied that it would any more be possible to abolish private property all at once than that the existing forces of production could: . . . at one stroke be multiplied to the extent necessary for the creation of a communal society. In all probability , the proletarian revolution will transform existing society gradually and will be able to abolish private property only when the means of production are available in sufficient quantity. (PC, p. 13) In the Manifesto itself, however, any doubts which Marx and Engels might have had about the 'ripeness' of the material conditions for the abolition of the capitalist mode of production were put aside. Reviewing this period almost four decades later, in his Introduction to Marx's Tke Class Struggles in France, Engels wrote that: 'History has proved us, and all who thought like us, wrong. It has made it dear that the state of economic development on the Continent was not, by a long way, ripe for the elimination of capitalist production'. (CSF, p. 12) Engels might not then, it may be supposed, have exduded such an eventuality in the case of the first social formation to undergo capitalist industrialisation, Britain. In any event, by 1872, he felt himself able to put forward, as a generalisation, the proposition that the industrial revolution had ... raised the productive power ofhuman labour to such a high level that - for the first time in the history of mankind - the possibility exists, given a rational division oflabour among all, of producing not only enough for the plentiful consumption of all members of society and for an abundant reserve fund, but also of leaving each individual sufficient leisure so that what is really worth preserving in historically inherited culture - science, art, forms of intercourse - may not only be preserved but converted from a monopoly ofthe ruling dass into the common property of the whole of society, and may be further developed. (H~ p. 565) Six years later, he reiterated the same thesis even more emphatically: Marxism and the U.S.S.R. The possibility ofsecuring for every member ofsociety, through sodal production, an existence which is not only fully sufficient from a material stand point and becoming richer from day to day, but also guarantees to them the completely unrestricted development and exercise of their physical and mental faculties - this possibility now exists for the first time, but it does exist. (AD, p. 3 1 7) This was evidently an exaggeration, at least if it was meant to be understood literally, as opposed to being a polemical overstatement ofan essentially valid argument, namely, the case for the implementation ofsocially planned production. Even in the most advanced of the contemporary capitalist countries, it would not be possible to inaugurate the 'first phase of communist society' , certainly as Marx and Engels saw it, that is, as a social formation in which commodity production had been eliminated (see below, Chapter 5). As Mandel has pointed out, however: If the capitalist mode of production were to be abolished on the world scale it would be possible to go over at once, without any transition other than that required by political events, to the organisation of an economy in which commodity production is abolished and which adapts men's productive efforts to the satisfaction of current needs. The only condition for such a rapid and far-reaching transformation would be restriction oJ needs to the most elementary ones. . . . The productive forces at mankind's disposal today make it possible to satisfy these needs without any transitional phase of accumulation or further industrial progress. Existing productive forces would, of course, have to be redistributed on a colossal scale ... (Mandel, 1968, p. 608) Clearly, though, the implementation ofthe principle of'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs' is by no means such a proximate possibility, and must, even on the most optimistic prognosis, remain a distinctly long-term prospect. It will, of necessity, require a vast expansion of the productive forces ('socialist accumulation'), not only towards the suppression of commodity production and the regulatory capacity of the law of value, but also in order to attain the drastic reduction in necessary labour-time which is essential if the division of labour is to be The Theoretical Foundations overcome and the 'withering-away' of dasses and the state thereby facilitated. This possibility can nevertheless be realised only in the context of an authentic proletarian political practice and the successful culmination of the dass struggle. RUSSIA AND THE PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION In his Preface to A Contribution to the Critique 01Political Economy, Marx stated that: No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed; and new, higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself. Therefore mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more dosely, it will always be found that the task itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution already exist or are at least in the process offormation. (MESW/I, pp. 180-4) It is undeniable that Marx's conception of socialism was premissed on the existence of a very high level of development of the productive forces, induding the proletariat itself. Marx did not believe, however, that the form in which this development was achieved was itself rigidly determined. Thus, the passage cited above must be qualified with reference to aseries of statements which occur in both his and Engels' writings, in which they explicitly repudiated any attempt to transform the 'historical sketch ofthe genesis of capitalism in Western Europe' set out in Capital into 'an historico-philosophic theory of the general path of development prescribed by fate to all nations'. (Marx to Otechestvenniye Zapiski, November 1877, MESC, pp. 291-4) In 188 I, in correspondence with Vera Zasulich, Marx emphasised that the 'historical inevitability' of the origins of the capitalist mode of production depicted in Capital was 'expressly limited to the countries of Western Europe' . (Marx to Zasulich, 8 March 1881, MESC pp. 319-20) The point at issue in this exchange, as in Marx's earlier letter to the editorial board of Otechestvenniye Zapiski, was the possibility that the village commune (obshchina) might come to constitute the basis for a socialist Marxism anti the U.S.S.R. transformation in Russia. It was precisely this thesis which formed the central programmatic tenet of the Narodniki, a grouping of populist intellectuals which emerged in Russia during the 1870's (though prefigured in the ideas of Alexander Herzen some twenty years earlier). Marx himself reached the conclusion, in his 1877 letter, that it would indeed be possible for Russia to initiate the transition to socialism without having to undergo 'all the fatal vicissitudes ofthe capitalist regime', in particular, the dispossession of the peasantry and the creation of a proletariat 'free' to sell its labour-power, which would imply the liquidation of the obshchina. Engels had already arrived at an essentially similar conclusion two years earlier in his article On Social Relations in Russia, although he emphasised the dependence of socialist transformation in Russia on simultaneous proletarian revolution in Western Europe. 21 In 1882, in the PreJace to the Russian edition of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx and Engels set out their joint conclusion: If the Russian revolution be comes the signal for a proletarian revolution in the West, so that both complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point of a communist development. (MESW /2, I, 22-4) Engels was subsequently, during the I 890s, to revise the perspective which he and Marx had espoused in 1882, adopting, in efTect, the view of Plekhanov (who had himself rejected agrarian populism after the demise of the Narodnovoltsy, following their assassination of the Tsar in March 1881) according to which Russia had already entered its phase of capitalist development, which would inevitably create an indigenous proletariat and, in so doing, the agency which would itself resolve the question of the mode of socialist transformation. 22 Although the Russian Marxist current launched by Plekhanov (who in 1883, with Paul Axelrod and Vera Zasulich, founded the 'Emancipation ofLabour' group) dissociated itself from all belief in the imputed socialist potential of the rural commune system, it still adhered to the thesis, as articulated in the 1882 PreJace to the Manifesto, ofRussia's essential dependence on the proletarian revolution in Europe as a complement to its own socialist transformation. In itself, this thesis had a much more general basis, which was often enough stated in the writings ofMarx and Engels. Thus, for example, the Provisional Rules which Marx The Theoretical Foundations 27 drew up for the First International contained the emphatic assertion that: ... the emancipation oflabour is neither a local nor anational, but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern society exists, and depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and theoretical, of the most advanced countries ... (MPW, III, 82-4) It was precisely this premise on which Trotsky based his opposition to Stalin's 'socialism in one country'. The actuality of socio-economic development in Russia proved to be more complex than Marx and Engels had envisaged, which should not be found surprising, particularly in view of their inevitably incomplete apprehension ofthe nature and consequences of imperialist expansion. The most significant feature of this expansion proved to be the phenomenon of uneven and combined development, as a function of which capitalist social relations of production came to interpenetrate and subordinate the pre-existing socio-economic forms in Russia and other 'backward' countries. 23 The Russia of 19I7 was not, although a superficial analysis might have suggested it, essentially feudal, but was rather characterised by an incomplete form of capitalist development, the central political consequence of which was that the national bourgeoisie was incapable of carrying through the bourgeois-democratic revolution, that is, of restructuring the political and ideological levels of the social formation under its own hegemony. In the event, the Russian revolution was not to have, as Lenin believed until April 1917 (and as the Mensheviks continued thereafter to assert), a bourgeois-democratic character, as encapsulated in the slogan of 'the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry', but was rat her to be an immediately socialist event. This had already received its theoretical expression in Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution, first formulated as a result of the experience of the abortive 1905 revolution. 24 The implications of this concept were in essence that ... the necessary logical distinction between the two revolutionary stages could not be transposed into a simple chronological succession within the real, historical process. That process, on the contrary, would so thoroughly combine with one another notjust Marxism anti the U.S.S.R. particular elements of the bourgeois and proletarian revolutions, but their substantive contents - a peasant agrarian revolution with the establishment of a worker's state, the destruction of the Tsarist state apparatus with the first encroachments on capitalist property-as to confute any neat or clear-cut historical periodization. (Geras, 1975, p. 26) With the elaboration in 1917 ofhis April Theses, Lenin, too, came to see the realisation by the proletariat of the tasks of the bourgeoisdemocratic revolution as being necessarily the consequence rather than the precondition of the socialist revolution. Russia took the road of proletarian revolution, in Trotsky's words ... not because her economy was the first to become ripe for socialist change, but because she could not develop further on a capitalist basis. Socialization of the means of production had become a necessary condition for bringing the country out of barbarism. (RB, p. 5) There was, however, a price to be paid this precocity, in that ... the establishment of socialist forms of property in the backward country came up against the inadequate level of technique and culture. Itselfborn ofthe contradictions between high world productive forces and capitalist forms of property, the October revolution produced in its turn a contradiction between low national productive forces and socialist forms of property. (RB, p. 300) In 1858, Marx had written to Engels: The difficult question for us is this: on the Continent the revolution is imminent and will moreover immediately assume a socialist character. Is it not bound to be crushed in this little corner, considering that in a far greater territory the movement of bourgeois society is still in the ascendant? (Marx to Engels, 8 October 1858, MESC, pp. 103-4) Almost six decades later, the same quest ion was posed de facta rather than ex hypotheosi with the success of the October Revolution. The problematic ofthe dictatorship ofthe proletariat and the transition The Theoretical Foundations period which had occupied Marx and Engels in theory now confronted the Bolshevik Party, and in particular Lenin and Trotsky, as the two principal architects ofits seizure ofstate power. Their response to it shaped the subsequent development of the world's first workers' state. 2 Lenin and the Bolshevik Experience THE SOVIET PHENOMENON Lenin's best-known and most extended treatment of the dictatorship ofthe proletariat and the transition period is to be found in his 1917 text The State and Revolution, written immediately before the Bolshevik Party's seizure of power. The point of departure for this work is Marx's assertion, in The Civil War in Franee, that 'the working dass cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes' . Following the condusion to which Marx and Engels had been led in their appraisal ofthe Commune, Lenin argued that the proletariat must, on seizing power, smash and destroy the existing state apparatus, as the political form in which was inscribed its own socio-economic subjugation. Lenin's emphasis on the destruction of the bourgeois state apparatus 1 did not imply, however, that the revolution could be equated with violence, or that the degree or extent of violence could be taken as being indicative ofthe measure ofits success. As Colletti has stated: The essential point ofthe revolution, the destTUetion it cannot forgo (and of which violence is not in itself a sufficient guarantee) is rather the destruction of the bourgeois State as a power separate from and eounterposed to the masses, and its re placement by a power of a new type. (Colletti, 1972, p. 220) The proletarian revolution, Colletti emphasises, therefore involves not only the transfer of power from one dass to another, but constitutes also the re placement of one type of power by another, both aspects being necessarily interlinked 'because the working dass that seizes power is the working dass that governs itself. Lenin and the Bolshevik Experience 31 The bourgeois state apparatus, Lenin argued in The State and Revolution, would actually be supplanted by 'something which was no longer the state proper', that is, by 'a state so constituted that it begins to wither away immediately, and cannot but wither away', the essence of this change being 'a gigantic replacement of certain institutions by other institutions of a fundamentally different type'. Although, again following Marx and Engels, he maintained that the new proletarian state would consist of 'the proletariat armed and organised as the ruling dass', there are few indications in the work as to what would be the specific form (as opposed to the general character) ofthe institutions ofproletarian rule. Lenin did suggest, however, that under the dictatorship of the proletariat ... the people can suppress the exploiters even with a very simple "rnachine" , almost without a "rnachine" , without a special apparatus, by the simple organisation ojthe armed people (such as the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies ... ). (SR, p. 329) EIsewhere in the text, he referred to the replacement of bourgeois ministries by 'committees of specialists working under sovereign, all-powerful Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies', and to ... the conversion of all citizens into workers and other employees of one huge "syndicate" - the whole state - and the complete subordination of the entire work of this syndicate to a genuinely democratic state, the state of the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. (SR, p. 334) The soviets had first come into existence during the events of 1905, the earHest known being the result ofspontaneous action by strikingworkers (the St. Petersburg Soviet, in which Trotsky played a major role, was among the first to be formed). According to Carr, Lenin's attitude towards the soviets at this time was 'somewhat lukewarm' . (BR, I, 95) This is not, however, apparent in Lenin's writings ofthe period. There is nevertheless no substantive basis for Cliff's assertion that 'almost from the outset' Lenin apprehended the role ofthe soviets as 'the form offuture workers' power'.2 While the tide ofLenin's artide Of23 November 19053 might appear to be supportive ofsuch an interpretation, his appraisal ofthe soviets was clearly quite different. In the text, he refers to the soviets 'and other revolutionary associations' as constituting 'a provisional revoluti- Marxism and the U.S.S.R. onary government', which he saw as being both 'an organ of power of the people which temporarily assurnes the duties of a government that has collapsed' and 'the organ of insurrection, uniting all who have risen in revolt and exercising political leadership of the insurrection'. In a subsequent article entitled Socialism and Anarchism Lenin stated, more explicitly, that: 'The Soviet of Workers' Deputies is not a labour parliament and not an organ ofproletarian self-government, nor an organ of self-government at all, but a fighting organisation for the achievement of definite aims'. (Lenin, CW, X, 71-4) The rejection of Cliff's implicit contention that Lenin's evaluation of the soviets in 1905 prefigures his account of their role in works written during and after 1917 does, however, serve to draw attention to a problem entailed in any attempt to situate the latter in the development ofLenin's thought. This is the apparent absence, in his writings, ofany theoretical antecedents ofthe 'anti-statism' of The State and Revolution (with the exception ofhis notes ofJanuaryFebruary 1917,4 from which that work was assembled, and a number of subsequent articles: see below). Cohen has pointed out that while Anton Pannekoek (whose polemic with Kautsky on the state Lenin documented in The State and Revolution: see SR, pp. 3449) and the Swede Zeth Höglund had both resurrected the theme of the need to destroy the bourgeois state apparatus articulated in the writings of Marx and Engels on the Commune, Bukharin was the first Bolshevik theorist to address hirnself to it. He maintains that 'Lenin had not thought about the matter before Bukharin raised it', and hence that while 'Lenin's authority legitimized antistatism ... the true initiative was Bukharin's'. (Cohen, 1974, pp. 41 and 43 respectively) Sawer, similarly, has argued that Lenin's conception ofthe transitional state emerged during the course ofhis work on a reply to Bukharin's 1916 article The Imperialist Robber State, an earlier version ofwhich he had refused publication in the party's theoretical journal. (Sawer, 1977, pp. 214-21) This contrasts sharply with the conventional view, recently restated by Anderson, that Lenin's new theoretical stance evolved as a response to the concrete experience ofthe recrudescence ofthe soviets early in 1917. (See Anderson, 1976, p. 116) In any event, Lenin certainly went beyond the views of Pannekoek and Bukharin in actually identifying the soviets with the new state form ofthe dictatorship of the proletariat,:; prefigured in the Paris Commune (Pannekoek, writing in 1912, had done no more than claim that the events of Lenin anti the Bolshevik Experience 33 seven years earlier in Russia had demonstrated the necessity of extra-parliamentary mass action, leading to the creation of an alternative working-class power structure transcending bourgeoisdemocratic political forms). In March 1917, following the revival of the Petrograd Soviet in the previous month, Lenin wrote in his Letters from Afar that it represented an 'unofficial, as yet undeveloped and comparatively weak workers' government' or 'the embryo of a workers' government' . (Lenin, CW, XXIII, 297-342)6 At the same time he argued, prefiguring The State and Revolution, that the proletariat must smash the existing state apparatus, substituting for it the armed people. In The Dual Power, written in April 1917, Lenin expanded his account of a month before, declaring that Alongside the Provisional Government, the government of the bourgeoisie, another government has arisen, so far weak and incipient, but undoubtedly a government that actually exists and is growing-the Soviet ofWorkers' and Soldiers' Deputies .... It is a revolutionary dictatorship, i.e., apower directly based on revolutionary seizure, on the direct initiative ofthe people from below, and not on a law enacted by a centralised state power. (Lenin, CW, XXIV, 38-41) The concept of dual power - the existence, alongside the bourgeois governmental institutions, oforgans ofworking-class powerwas by no means a new one, having already been expounded in Marx's Address to the Gentral Gommittee of the Gommunist League of March 1850. Marx had emphasised that, parallel with the bourgeois governments, the workers ... must simultaneously establish their own revolutionary workers' governments, either in the form of local executive committees and councils or through workers' clubs or committees, so that the bourgeois-democratic governments not only lose the support of the workers but find themselves from the very beginning supervised and threatened by authorities behind which stand the whole mass ofthe wörkers. (MPW, I, 319-30)7 Lenin reiterated his views on the soviets in other works written during April 1917, most notably his Letters On Tactics and The Tasks ofthe Proletariat in Our Revolution, in wh ich he also touched on some of 34 Marxism and the U.S.S.R. the associated themes which were to receive their fuHest treatment in The State and Revolution. Surprisingly, the last-mentioned, Lenin's major work of 1917, contains no definitive statement of his conception of the role of the soviets, to which there are only two or three concrete references in the entire text. His most explicit characterisation of their function is rather to be found in a number of works which appeared in the following year. In The Immediate T asks ofthe Soviet Government, Lenin dedared that ... Soviet power is nothing but an organisational form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the dictatorship of the advanced dass, which raises to a new democracy and to independent participation in the administration ofthe state tens upon tens of millions of working and exploited people, who by their own experience leam to regard the disciplined and dass-conscious vanguard of the proletariat as their most reliable leader. (Lenin, 'Tasks', p. 422) In his Letter to American Workers, Lenin described the soviets as 'a new and higher type of democracy, a form of the proletarian dictatorship, a means of administering the state without the bourgeoisie and against the bourgeoisie'. (LSW /1, pp. 456-67) Again, in his polemic against Kautsky, he wrote that: 'The Soviets are the direct organisation of the toiling and exploited masses themselves, which helps them to organise and adminster their own state in every possible way'. (Lenin, 'Kautsky', p. 62) The emphasis in aH three passages just cited is very much on the democratic and mass participatory character of the soviet system. Inseparable from this aspect of the system is the problem of bureaucracy and the elaboration of measures to combat it and ultimately eliminate it, which is actually one of the major themes of The State and Revolution. At this time, Lenin saw those measures described by Marx in his writings on the Commune as being fully adequate to this end, citing with approval Engels' summary ofthese in his Preface to The Civil War in France. Paraphrasing this, Lenin wrote that: The workers, after winning political power, will smash the old bureaucratic apparatus, shatter it to its very foundations, and raze it to the ground; they will replace it by a new one, consisting of the very same workers and other employees, against whose Lenin and the Bolshevik Experience 35 transformation into bureaucrats the measures will at once be taken which were specified in detail by Marx and Engels: I) not only election, but also recall at any time; 2) pay not to exceed that of a workman; 3) immediate introduction of control and supervision by all, so that all may become "bureaucrats" for a time and that, therefore, nobody may be able to become a "bureaucrat". (SR, p. 343) It was not possible, Lenin acknowledged, to eliminate bureaucracy 'at once, everywhere and completely'. Wh at was necessary was to begin to convert the functions of the bureaucracy into simplified administrative operations within the competence ofthe mass ofthe population. This, for Lenin, was the practical meaning of the abolition of the state and the de-institutionalisation of political power projected by Marx, and before hirn by Rousseau. One of its conditions of possibility was the establishment of universalliteracy (SR, p. 336); another, as he (and Marx) recognised, was the progressive expansion ofthe productivity oflabour, 'thus making it possible to reduce the working day to seven, six, or even fewer hours'. (Lenin, 'Tasks', p. 414; cf. CAP, III, 820) The conception of 'control and supervision by all' to which Lenin had referred was enshrined in the Programme adopted at the Eighth Party Congress in March 1919, which advocated the involvement of every member of a soviet in some function of administration, with a continuous rotation of offices among those so engaged, and the progressive drawing-in ofwider layers ofthe masses to administrative work. The same theme received even more explicit expression in the popular manual produced by the joint authors of the 1919 Programme, which dedared that the object of proletarian rule must be 'to replace the old officialdom by the masses themselves'. (ABC, p. 237) In The State and Revolution, Lenin had written that: 'The more democratic the "state" which consists of the armed workers, and which is "no longer astate in the proper sense of the word", the more rapidly everyJorm ofstate begins to wither away'. (SR, p. 337) Paralleling this, Bukharin and Preobrazhensky argued that: 'The more extensive this participation ofthe masses is, the sooner will the dictatorship of the proletariat die out'. (ABC, p. 240) It was, Lerrin emphasised, precisely in terms of their relation to participation and to the representation of dass interests that the different structures ofbourgeois and soviet (proletarian) democracy must be understood: Marxism anti the U.S.S.R. The old, i.e., bourgeois, democracy and the parliamentary system were so organised that it was the mass of working people who were kept farthest away from the machinery of government. Soviet power, i.e., the dictatorship ofthe proletariat, on the other hand, is so organised as to bring the working people closer to the machinery of government. That, too, is the purpose of combining the legislative and executive authority under the Soviet organisation of the state and of replacing territorial constituencies by production units - the factory. 8 By analogy with Marx's outline of the prospective national organisation ofthe Commune, the soviet system was structured in a tiered pyramid, the soviet organisations in each tier electing delegates, fuHy revocable, to the tier above, from local to national level. While it is clear that even before Lenin's death, the concentration of power in central institutions at the expense of the local soviets and congresses of soviets and their organs was weH advanced, the democratic potential inherent in the soviet system could never be completely effaced. I t is therefore significant that one ofthe major provisions ofthe new constitution promulgated in 1936 effected the reversion from a representative system based on the units of production to the territoriaHy organised system of direct elections characteristic of the bourgeois-democratic regime. In one important respect, Lenin's treatment ofthe transition to socialism goes beyond that ofMarx and Engels: his account, in The State anti Revolution, of 'the economic basis of the withering away of the state'. Marx had distinguished between the first, or lower, and the higher phases of communist society, each of which was characterised by a different mode of distribution (see Chapter I). Lenin, commenting on Marx's account, chose to designate these two phases as being, respectively, those of 'socialism' and of 'communism' proper. 9 Like Marx, however, he characterised the first phase of the transition as marked by the continued existence of bourgeois norms ofdistribution. Developing this thesis, Lenin wrote that: In its first phase, or first stage, communism cannot as yet be fuHy mature economicaHy and entirely free from traditions or vestiges of capitalism. Hence the interesting phenomenon that communism in its first phase retains "the narrow horizon of bourgeois right". Of course, bourgeois right in regard to the distribution of Lenin and the Bolshevik Experience 37 consumer goods inevitably presupposes the existence of the bourgeois state, for right is nothing without an apparatus capable of enforcing the observance of the standards of right. It follows that under communism there remains for a time not only bourgeois right, but even the bourgeois state, without the bourgeoisie! (SR, p. 335) Lenin did not me an by this that the capitalist state as such survives during the transition period, but referred rather to the dual role in which the proletarian state apparatus was necessarily cast in its enforcement of differentials within the sphere of distribution simultaneously with its safeguarding of the collective ownership of the means ofproduction. Only when the material preconditions for the implementation by society ofthe principle 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs' had been fulfilled would this regulatory capacity of the state become superfluous: The state withers away insofar as there are no longer any capitalists, any dasses, and consequently, no dass can be suppressed. But the state has not yet completely withered away, since there still remains the safeguarding of "bourgeois right", which sanctifies actual inequality. For the state to wither away completely, com