From the January 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard
“Every conscious human action presupposes a will: the will to Socialism is the first condition of its accomplishment. This will is created by the great industry . . . small production always creates the will to uphold or to obtain private property in the means of production which are in vogue, not the will to social property, to Socialism”.
Strange as it may seem to-day, when erstwhile supporters of dictatorships are enthusiastic democrats, Kautsky’s position did not meet with support even among those who were outside the controversy and who called themselves Marxists. It brought out the worst side of Lenin as a controversialist. Kautsky’s reformist political recorded provided some excellent “Aunt Sallies” for Lenin’s abuse, and he certainly made use of them with effect—though they had nothing whatever to do with the merits of the debate. Kautsky’s arguments were answered with epithets. The quotations Kautsky used from Marx to support his arguments were largely evaded. Lenin attempted to interpret an isolated use by Marx of the phrase “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”, approval for the Bolshevik dictatorship. Kautsky’s analysis of the Russian question was scholarly and objective. It was never answered by Lenin or his associates. Kautsky gave Lenin credit for being Marxist. In fact, in Lenin’s favour it can be said that Socialism was not introduced in Russia simply because the absence of the material conditions made it a sheer impossibility. Lenin erred in interpreting Socialist theory to fit Russian experience. In doing so he misinterpreted Marx and obscured the meaning of the real place of the Bolshevik Revolution in history. Had Lenin placed the Bolshevik Revolution in its proper perspective as an object-lesson in history he would have contributed in a larger degree to working-class understanding, would have saved many from disappointment and disillusion when the high hopes they had placed in the movement failed to materialise.