The study of theory is necessarily linked to practice
The study of theory is necessarily linked to practice. The theory of scientific socialism of which Marx and Engels were originators was a scientific discovery of laws governing human development.
There are many bourgeois liberals who masquerade as Marxists and rely on the low ideological and political development of the working class movement. We have an older ideology and there is much confusion.
Marxists study society in motion for the purpose of revealing the inner contradictions, the fundamental laws of motion in society and the laws governing human society’s development. The purpose of this study is enlightenment, as a guide to action and as an integrated whole of theory and practice.
One of the laws that Lenin discovered was the fact that capitalism goes through convulsions of reaction and that revolution develops in waves. This seems to also apply to counter-revolution; this is the result of the uneven nature of its development. If we study the most recent of counter-revolutions we find a convulsion actually at the centre of the revolution brought on by the resistance of the remaining bourgeois forces as the change in agriculture from bourgeois to socialist state-owned is being implemented.
Counter-revolution is itself, uneven in its development and requires a material basis. It relies on the internal contradictions within the revolutionary process. Errors in the realm of scientific application of the laws of developing socialism cause outbreaks and opportunities for the defeated class to re-emerge and find support to re-establish their rule. The working class is not homogenous and is composed of different layers. The vanguard and the leading section of the class can ossify and lose class character depending on the length of time needed for transitions.
The actual process of building socialism involves bringing more and more sections of the population into the ranks of the proletariat, if this is not combined with lifting the material and spiritual level of the class and consciously bringing the new layers to a higher material standard then the class itself can adopt alien class spirit.
The development of the party involves bringing the party under the spiritual and cultural domination of the class. The concept that classes are abolished is correct in a sense but the truth is that they wither away along with the state. The erroneous concept that they had abolished classes or had no antagonistic classes fed the notion of the non-Marxist concept of the state of the whole people. Not enough attention was paid to Lenin’s thesis of the state withering away and this being the arrival of communism.
Those who, in reaction to the end of socialism in Europe and the Soviet Union, reject “20th century socialism” also reject the great achievements and strides made by the class. They appear to retreat to 18th or 19th century utopian concepts or at best adopt a reform view that we can, as Marta Harnecker says, seize the state and wield it for our class. They build this house of cards on already discredited theories espoused by the Mensheviks and later in a more ultra-left form by Trotsky.
It is not dissimilar to early revisers of Marx who argued that workers had no interest in the nation through the argument that “workers have no country” being turned on its head and gutted of its revolutionary content. It was equally the rejection of this position by the opportunists who adopted national chauvinism on the basis of Marx’s assertion that the worker’s had assumed the interest of the nation.
They take and turn the concept that the proletarian revolution is a world revolution and adopt the impossible position that unless there is revolution in several countries then the proletariat should surrender power back to the capitalists. This has various extremes that go from opposing the development of socialism in the successful revolutionary theatre which has been usually preceded by the doctrine of revolutionary war that is spreading socialism on the point of a bayonet. This revolutionary war doctrine is coupled with the national nihilism doctrine. This throws other oppressed classes onto the side of the reactionaries.
Instead of rejecting the experiences of the working peoples, in particular this sectarian approach to revolution, it behoves Marxists to adopt a scientific approach and to examine without fear the correct and incorrect applications of the laws developed by the most advanced of Marxists, the Leninists, who succeeded in wresting power from capital, who defeated fascist reaction. They built a modern country that was able to advance human civilisation on the path of space utilisation and were the first humans to leave the planet.
A scientific and even a historical study of the Soviet Union is very difficult due to bourgeois falsifications. The study of this aspect of history often departs from historical materialism and descends into good or bad. This is done to make it impossible for our class to move forward scientifically and to bury the truth that the outcome of the situation in socialist Europe was the work of the capitalists as much as the errors of socialist leaders. That the actions of these individuals were mercilessly resolved by the underlying laws that they unearthed and applied, or those that they ignored or failed to discover. They also relied on the skills, knowledge and characteristics of those applying the science.
As Marxists and class protagonists life itself demands that we find these answers. It is ridiculous to equate the actions of Germany and Japan to the actions of deranged individuals as it is equally important to understand the Soviet Union as the culmination of the application of social and economic laws. Just as Hitler was the representative and agent of a class so to was Stalin the agent and representative of a class. To put an equal sign between them may assist the capitalists who unleashed their juggernaut on the people of Europe who sent their forces to destroy “Jewish Bolshevism” as they still rant about.
That Stalin could not have stood one minute against the might of this fascist horde if it had not served the people of the Soviet Union. That the coming into being of the Soviet Union was the action of real people who created and built this country. That the dismantling and overthrow of the Soviet government was the action of real men and women and that all these players were the agents of differing social classes and interests.
Debates and assertions rage about when socialism was destroyed in the Soviet Union and even if it had been destroyed at all. Socialism, whilst conceived of in the minds of men and women, is still something real that obeys laws of development that exist in reality. In the social production of life and in the mode of production the relations of society are also forged. What surprise awaited the capitalist explorers from Europe when they happened on the feudal society of Tonga and the slave society of New Zealand and of course the different evolutions of society in so much of the world? That Tonga had developed because of economic laws to a feudal society that this society had not been brought about in someone’s dream.
The same can be said of the reversion of the Soviet Union back to capitalism. It was not that people had decided that they wished to become wage slaves again, it was more that a section of society saw that their interests were served by a reversion to this form of development. It was a social decay and gangersterism became the official policy. This change could only come about by overthrowing the power of the working class and this could only be done by subverting that power from within.
The abolition of the Soviets and the restoration of bourgeois democracy was carried out by stealth. The corruption and theft of state assets by well-placed individuals, all this had to be a gradual process and intriguingly the raising again of spiritual issues of the class. Factionalism within the Communist Party had been a problem and the development of leadership along factional lines created the opportunity for infiltration of individualism into the party.
Trotskyism was a pernicious form of factionalism in Russian politics and became so internationally. It reflected an anarchist and therefore individualist tendency in the international working class and became a vehicle for posing intellectual or utopian concepts against the revolution. It had a ruthless disregard for everything that did not serve its interests. It was based on the layers of petty bureaucrats that follow any revolution. The internal struggle against Trotskyism and its defeat put the revolution off guard. It also strengthened counter factional tendencies. There was an administrative tendency to deal with a problem of deterioration or cowardliness that appeared in the revolution.
The most damaging effect of Trotskyism was to force the party towards administrative rather than political means of dealing with issues. The absolute and devastating attack by Imperialism through the forces of fascism and constant penetration of agents into the Soviet Union and even into the party.
From all accounts the party Political Bureau operated as a collective and worked well, the decisions were collective decisions and these were all human beings. The struggle against fascism took a tremendous effort and toll on the Party but some problems can now be seen to have been evident with hindsight. The split between Bukharin and Stalin engineered in 1937 represented an actual class split. It was skilfully engineered, a more objective look at the activities of some of the Politburo and when and how they came to get there should form some study. A study of the career of Khrushchev reveals that many of those who stood in his way to promotion were eliminated under the cover of eliminating real threats. The vacancies that allowed Beria and Khrushchev into the political leadership came about with the assassinations of Kirov and Obrieklnsky. It is highly likely that these two comrades worked together until the arrest of Beria. The operation of the Political Bureau after Stalin’s death becomes a systematic blackmail and removal of comrades, a real terror came about. This terror resembled the later persecution of Communists in the Soviet Union as it fell and in Yugoslavia as Tito took his bribes from the USA.
Beria was arrested and accused of being a British spy by the comrades. At this point it is clear that a dictator has arisen in the leadership. The previous generation of a cult around Stalin had undermined the position of Stalin but had set this dictatorship up. Those who have a cult built around them often become victims to this cult. Stalin had tried to remove some of the gang from the Political Bureau towards the end of his life but did not have the support to do so. He was accused of paranoia by Khrushchev about the doctor’s plot and it is possible that he was either right or was demented.
All this can only be speculation as this stuff is well-hidden. What is clear though is that Khrushchev was an inept and pompous leader. He brought about decisions that damaged the Soviet Union and appears to be a convulsion of the capitalist class. It was in itself a deepening of the cult and a weakening of the collective approach. In all the debate about personalities the actual issues have been obscured.
At no time is any Communist Party immune from opportunism and this was the outcome of the sweeping wave of corruption that was launched across the Soviet Union. Disregard for natural laws will have repercussions. The immensity of the struggle in the Soviet Union saw the rise of a left opportunist trend accompanied by dogmatic interpretations. The struggles in the Soviet party infected all other parties and this is that Imperialism has international influence.
To get to a renewal of Marxism we must come out of the argument over personalities as this is an infinite source of contradictions. The dogmatists who don’t want to work directly from reality create false dichotomies. The young Marx versus the old Marx, Lenin as the ultimate word on situations that he was no longer there for, the “what ifs” of history. Most of these positions fail to understand or refuse to allow that there is a scientific method and an art to politics. That Marxism is a science but that it is only a guide to the art of politics.
When someone like Putin says that the tragedy of the 20th Century is the loss of the Soviet Union but anyone who seeks its return is crazy it exhibits the art of politics. Millions in Russia have, like him, a connection to their Soviet Past, but those who overthrew the Soviet power are now in power. Through these comments he brings with him those who would support the return, but then he takes advantage of the despair, then turns and attempts to bring with him those who would not want the return.
In dismissing 20th Century Socialism as an aberration dreamed up by Lenin and the Communists we are taking the class view of the bourgeoisie, that it was futile to dream of or create a society ruled by the downtrodden. This unscientific approach dismisses, without battle, the experience of millions of workers and discredits the actual fact that on this planet we discovered laws that unleashed a new world order. That this struggle is still playing out and finds its echoes in the existence of not only socialist Vietnam, China, Cuba, Korea and Laos but in the independence of over 200 nation states and the defeat of the imperialists on this question. That Russia has not yet been torn into a balkanised mess is, in no short measure, due to the historical existence and legacy of the Soviet Union and the actions of millions of workers.
Underlying all historical progress is still the class struggle, which is still principally between the imperialist bourgeoisie and the revolutionary proletariat. The alliance of national forces and the array of these are still characteristic of the nation states that are currently in existence. Communists have a responsibility within the theory of relativity as applied through dialectics to this struggle to approximate this experience and lend consciousness to this struggle. In doing so we continue to see a progressive role in the struggle of oppressed nations as allies of the working class. The freeing of our class from the bourgeois influences of opportunism in its left and right forms still needs the development of strong united Communist Parties. The communist movement itself has a responsibility to work for greater consciousness and unity.
It is not that we will not make left and right errors but that we must overcome them through our experiences and struggles. Such errors will continue so long as the class representing the imperialist bourgeoisie exists. They represent a step towards the bourgeoisie, not some evil or good. The heroic struggle of the worlds’ working classes in defeating the fascist bourgeoisie required a campaign to split the so called “democratic” imperialists from the “fascist” imperialists.
After the defeat of the “fascist” imperialists the “democratic” imperialists went on the offensive against the victorious working classes. First off, they entered into class alliances with the defeated bourgeois forces of Japan, Germany and France. There was not an outbreak of democracy across the capitalist world but a repositioning. Instead a dreadful new era of the use of science in the form of atomic and chemical as well as psychological warfare was unleashed.
Their task was to disarm the working class and national liberation forces. This was done in areas not occupied by the Red Army and the approach remained to bleed the Soviet Union through unequal trade and spheres of influence. The Marshall plan was part of the atomic policy of containing then reversing Communism. The initial success of this policy was the splitting of the Communist movement by bringing Yugoslavia to a nationalist rather than an internationalist position. The mistakes in raising the United Front with the democratic bourgeoisie weakened the position in France Italy and Greece. Direct occupation by The US and British forces and the rearming of the French colonial bourgeoisie and Japanese by the USA weakened the international movement. Careful cultivation of splitting tendencies between countries added to the pressure.
The USA came out of the war as a militarised and politically dominant force whose sphere of influence in Latin America and dominance in the Pacific gave it enormous reserves. The intensification of exploitation of the American Continent whilst building a military force enabled the USA to fund enormous military expansion. This was coupled with the creation of nuclear weapons. The US was able to absorb the fascist bourgeoisie’s experts and to carry forward social and psychological warfare in Latin America, to refine its central intelligence operatives.
They were able to establish new bases throughout the world. The military expansion of the US is underrated as opportunist forces in the working class either openly support this expansion or talked more aggressively about Soviet expansionism. Since the Second World War the US successfully split Yugoslavia and fostered fascist and neo fascist forces, split Taiwan from China and played to the Sino-soviet split fostering ultra-leftist forces with-in the Communist Movement.
They crushed national liberation movements in Greece, Albania, Yemen, Congo, Guatemala, Chile, and Grenada. They have killed millions throughout the world with their conventional weapons and have used chemical, biological and some limited forms of atomic warfare against millions in the world. They have successfully kept up a psychological barrage against the Soviet Union which even penetrated the socialist countries through the medium of backward religious and social conditions. The re-emerged alliance of left sectarians and right opportunists were used to paralyse a response of workers.
The reality we face is that millions of the world’s citizens, while recognising that something is wrong, have been inoculated with anti-communism. Academics in capitalist universities are inoculated against Marxism through the use of a dry and sterile form taught and inculcated at universities.
Despite all this, history continues to march forward and new struggles, sometimes using forms that have worked before, emerge. The reality of our world is that national independence is still irreconcilable with imperialism. That the dominance of finance capital over industrial capital and all forms of production still leads to crisis and decay, now on the very nations that gave birth to this beast, and the very existence of human life on this planet is challenged by the capitalist form of production. Finance capital is the genesis of the current decay and degeneration of democracy. Human existence places a question before us all, either abolish the rule of the financiers and replace it with the rule of the vast majority or the most endangered species will cease to exist.
We are living in the era of the end of capitalism and it is up to us to finish with this beast and all its destruction or perish. To do this we need to oppose those who defend capitalism with their left Sectarian view of opposing a Communist Party welded in the working people, a party unreservedly biased towards the working people and towards the liberation of humanity. The many varieties of sectarians have one common thread; they oppose the creation and building of such a party despite their noise, they all argue it is not the right time, they disguise their divisiveness and lack of acceptance of a collective will through their arguments for purity. Be they hiding under Anarchism, Trotskyism, Maoism, Hodxhaism or some other ism even Stalinism, their cult has only one existence to deny the necessity of a revolutionary party of and for the working class. Its essence is anti-Leninist anti-working class and therefore anti-communist.
On the other wing of opportunists are those who direct us to subordinate the politics of the revolutionary class to the bourgeoisie. They oppose the class rule of the working people and put forward the rule of the financiers as the only form of democracy that can exist. They reject political struggle against this class and confine their policies to a better attitude from the capitalists. Class struggle is to be suppressed, but in reality it is only the class struggle of the working people that is suppressed. This opportunism is a reflection of the actual dominance of the bourgeoisie in society. The forms it takes are liberalism, or labourism and sometimes national communism. They are resolutely opposed to the formation of socialist rule but when under revolutionary pressure will, like the bourgeoisie, talk and manoeuvre about Socialism sometime.
It is the unity and struggle with these forces that progress towards socialism is made. Both opportunisms reflect vacillations that occur within the working class in response to the pressure and dominance of the bourgeoisie. They occur in many shades but it is one essence that unites these forces which often appear as opponents. That essence is fear and resistance of the revolution, opposition to the strengthening of revolutionary politics and most importantly anti-communism, thus an extreme hostility to the formation of the Communist vanguard of the working class.