Thursday, September 10, 2020

Two stalwarts (1964)

From the September 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

We are a party without a personality cult, nor with any possibility of ever developing one. It is not a rule, written or unwritten, but a logical extension of our Socialist principles, which makes us frown upon any elaboration of our members as individuals.

Dead comrades are treated less inflexibly; an obituary note in the Socialist Standard, perhaps on special occasions a remembrance of those who were outstanding by their labours for Socialism.

The rest is effacement.

But as the sixtieth anniversary of our journal is so very special an event, perhaps we may be allowed to bend our customs, just a little. And there is no one for whom it is more apt to do this than the two men who for so long were inseparable from this paper.

We mean--who else?—Comrades Hardy and McClatchie.

Regular readers will know them well enough through their articles, Hardy’s over the signature H. and McClatchie over Gilmac. Perhaps not so well known is the work which they once did behind the scenes the painstaking editing, the advice to contributors, the enthusiasm which carried them through decades of service on the old Editorial Committee.

Hardy and Gilmac saw the Socialist Standard through some perilous times. They made their own imprint on the journal’s history and its survival is something of a monument to them. They finally left the Editorial Committee in 1959; somebody asked them how long they had served—was it twenty, thirty, forty years? Neither of them could remember.

Both are still outstanding for their energy. Gilmac, now our Head Office assistant, busies himself with a multitude of invaluable jobs. Hardy still drives himself, still seems to cram three times as much into a day as anybody else. Always close friends, they are also great walkers; only a few years back they left a man half their age purple faced on one of their strolls over the Seven Sisters. And if, on a Sunday morning in summer, you care to mingle with the hot and irritable trippers at Waterloo or Victoria, you may still come across Hardy, rucksack on his back, knocking off a crossword while he waits for the next train to the Downs.

The present Committee knew that the knowledge and experience of these two comrades would be invaluable in the preparation of this month’s Socialist Standard. Gilmac and Hardy did not hesitate when we asked them to come back on the committee for two or three months. Their contributions to this issue speak for themselves. We also owe them a debt for their other help and for their advice.

Yet even more than that we say thank you for their tireless work over the years. They must have met much bitterness and disappointment, but in dark days and bright they did not spare themselves in making sure that there would be a Socialist Standard for the present committee to inherit, and to stand up proudly to celebrate its sixtieth birthday.
Editorial Committee, September 1964

Socialists overseas (1964)

From the September 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

We have always maintained that the spread of Socialist ideas does not depend upon the existence of the S.P.G.B. or its Companion Parties, but that they arise from the system under which we have to live. It is therefore encouraging to know in how widely separated parts of the world these ideas are held and discussed; not only in Europe where perhaps it might be less surprising, but in various parts of Africa, the West Indies and Asia.

Anniversaries are, by custom, times when one looks around; remembers the past, takes stock of the present and looks forward to the future. Therefore in this issue celebrating the 60th anniversary of the appearance of the first issue of the Socialist Standard our readers may like to learn a little more about our friends and comrades overseas.

Contacts are made in various ways. Among our friends overseas are members of the SPGB who have emigrated, visitors who were in touch with us while over here working or on holiday, and friends made by our members while on holiday abroad. Replies are received to advertisements in overseas editions of English papers and in foreign journals. It is sometimes a little puzzling (though, of course, most encouraging) how some of our contacts overseas come to know us. For instance, recently we received two enquiries from Swaziland and four from Tanganyika within one month!

In the West Indies we are in correspondence with friends in British Guiana, Grenada and Trinidad, as well as in Jamaica. In Jamaica there is a small group of Socialists who are working hard to make their fellow workers see that the much sought after “Independence” has achieved a change in the colour of the skin of their exploiters, but nothing more. Regular readers who will remember that on two previous occasions we published “Letters from Jamaica" will be interested to know that we have just had advance copies of A Socialist View, a pamphlet produced by this group. This covers, briefly, the main points of the Socialist case, in particular as applicable in Jamaica. They also hold discussion meetings whenever they can and members have taken part in debates with other organisations. They arc looking forward to next winter, when one of our comrades hopes to spend a month in Jamaica to help and advise them in their activities.

Although this is the only active Socialist Group outside our Companion Parties, we are in correspondence with friends in many other parts of the world. We have just heard, for instance, that in Denmark two of them have been holding discussion meetings on current affairs, and in Vienna we have a staunch Socialist who, in spite of advancing years, continues to take on all and sundry to convince them—against any preconceived ideas they may have—of the true meaning of the word Socialism. He is at present holding discussions with a young student group.

Among the letters we receive one particularly remains clearly in mind. Having applied for literature in response to one of our advertisements, the enquirier—in Ibadan, Nigeria—not only told us that he has held our views for a number of years but asked why, in view of the advanced stage which capitalism has reached in this country, the majority of the working class in England are not Socialists. Here indeed was the 64,000 dollar question!

Month after month, year after year, our fellow workers appear to be too satisfied with the capitalist system—or too apathetic —to want to put an end to it. They seem to look with an almost fatalistic resignation on the possibility of another world war; this time probably, in view of the terrible weapons which have been developed by the opposing sides, truly “the war to end all wars"—and perhaps the human race. We. too, hope that the day will soon come when they will realise that whether at the forthcoming Election they vote Labour or Tory politicians into power; that if they could have a Liberal or even a “Communist" majority in Parliament—they will still continue to live under capitalism and will have to suffer the worries and indignities of that system. When that day comes—and it cannot come too soon for us—they will decide to abolish capitalism and establish Socialism. To try and bring that day nearer is the aim and work of members of the SPGB, its Companion Parties and friends and sympathisers in England and the rest of the world.
Eva Goodman

Contributions to the socialist movement (1964)

From the September 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

After fifty years of the Party’s existence it is worth while drawing attention to the principal contributions the Party has made to the Socialist movement

  1. We have always insisted upon the capture of political power before any fundamental change in the social system can be accomplished.
  2. Until the majority understand and want this change Socialism cannot be achieved.
  3. Opposition to all reform policies and unswerving pursuit of Socialism as the sole objective.
  4. Opposition to all war without any distinction between alleged wars of offence, of defence, or against tyranny.
  5. The understanding that taxation is a burden upon the capitalist class and not upon the working class, and therefore any schemes which are brought forward to cut down taxes are measures of interest to the capitalist class and not to the working class.
  6. That when the workers understand their position and how to change it they will not require leaders to guide them. Leadership is the bane of the working class movement for Socialism.
  7. That Socialism is international involving the participation of workers all over the world. Therefore any suggestion of establishing Socialism in one country alone is anti-Socialist.
  8. In a given country there can only be one Socialist Party, therefore no member can belong to any other political party at the same time as he is a member of the Party.
  9. Likewise no member can speak on any other political platform except in opposition.
  10. The Socialist Party must be entirely independent of all other political parties entering into no agreement or alliances for any purpose. Compromising this independence for any purpose, however seemingly innocent, will lead to non-Socialists giving support to the Party.
  11. We throw our platform open to any opponent to state his case in opposition to ours.
  12. Likewise all our Executive meetings, Branch meetings and Conferences are open to the public.
  13. The members have entire control of the Party and all members are on an equal footing.
  14. Finally the Party has a scrupulous regard for political honesty and no skeletons are permitted to moulder in cupboards.

This article originally appeared in the September 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard.

King Capital's Coronation (1964)

A classic reprint from the September 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard 
  From the treasury of past Socialist Standards we have selected the following four articles for reprinting in this Special Number. The choice was not easy to make from so much excellence.
A King is to be crowned.

In the presence of our Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Premiers of the five dominions of “our” mighty Empire, arid the assembled monarchs of many lands, and the Lord God of Israel and the Stock Exchange himself.

The Crown, and the Sceptre, and the Sword of State, and the Cap of Maintenance, and the Rod with the Dove, and the Monkey on the Stick, and all the other symbolical insignia and regalia which have come down to us from barbarism, along with ye Ancient Order of Foresters and ye game of skittles, are to be brought from their dungeon in the Tower (where they have rivalled a pawnbroker’s window) and taken to the House of God at Westminster, there to be used in the great ceremony.

And there, before a vast concourse of gentlemen who have won the same distinction in the divorce court that their forefathers gained in piratical, slave-hunting, and other plundering forays of the past, and of high born dames whose “Sir Joshua Reynolds” peach-bloom cheeks are veritable triumphs of the house-decorator’s art, and other high-born dames whose ancient lineage goes back to the mighty Pork Kings of Chicago, one George Wettin, a most cosmopolitan British gentleman, will swear great oaths to be faithful to certain hoary superstitions, and to uphold certain important and worthy institutions, and to lay hold of eternal life, and to do it all for the dirt-cheap, upset-competition price of a million a year or nearest offer.

And then another gentleman, who makes a point of doing the job in his nightshirt, scabs on and scandalises every tiddle-wig in the Kingdom by giving the said G. Wettin a dry shampoo with consecrated hair oil, in the full blaze of the public eye, and to the evident perturbation of the Unicorn, who claims affinity with the barbers by virtue of the pole sticking out of his forehead.

What does it all mean; the Crown, and the Orb, and the Sceptre and the Sword of State, and the Cap of Maintenance, and the rest of the jewelled symbols?

What does it mean: the swelling Anthem, the mumbled prayer, the intoned exhortation, the anointing with oil, the Crowning and Enthronisation?

What does it mean: the barbaric pomp and splendour, the lavish display of wealth, the clank of arms and armour and the jingle of spurs, the foregathering from the ends of the earth of the Empire’s rulers?

What does it mean: the flaunting flags, the streets lined with police and military, the hoarse acclamation of pallid millions whose rags flutter a significant reply to the bunting overhead, the bestowing of a meal upon thousands of little children whom hunger makes glad to accept even such a trifle from hands so heavy-laden with wealth that they cannot feel the weight of the charitable grains they scatter?

We are told that these gaudy jewels, this “impressive service”, are full of symbolism and historic significance. They are indeed. To the worker who will think it is very obvious that the Crown and the Sceptre and the rest are the symbols of ruling power. But who it is that rules, and who it is that are ruled, are matters less generally understood.

It is commonly believed that “royal” power is the attribute of the monarch of a constitutional country, but nothing could be farther from the truth. That question our capitalist masters in this country fought out many years ago. They have left the King his name and his robes, his Crown and his palaces, but they have stripped him of every vestige of power. The “Crown” is not the King, in any capacity, but the capitalist State. The King’s Speech to Parliament is written by his Ministers, even the prerogative of mercy is not the King’s, but belongs to the capitalist Cabinet.

The subservience of the royalty of capitalist countries to their capitalist paymasters is shown in such acts as that of the present King’s father (then Prince of Wales) in publicly associating himself, at the time of the “trial” of the Jameson raiders, with Cecil Rhodes, the arch-fiend in that disgusting business, who was even then busy engineering the war which was to give the cosmopolitan mine-owners £4,000,000 a year in extra profits, at the cost of so many thousands of workingmen’s lives.

Even the swearing to uphold the institutions of capitalism is all bunkum and make-believe, There is today, in this country at all events, no institution of capitalism that the capitalists themselves are not fully able to maintain, or that they trust to other hands than their own. Why, this man whom they swear to uphold the very walls of capitalism, they do not trust even with the command of one of the fleets of his own (!) navy, for fear he might be in a position to dictate terms to them, or act detrimentally to their interests.

The King as such is a nonentity, a dummy, a convenient cloak behind which the capitalist class carry on their operations of robbing the workers of the fruits of their toil. As a private individual, the landlord of vast estates, George Wettin may make himself feared, but no one trembles at his royal word, or quakes at the thunder of his anointed brow. If the great ones of the capitalist world bow and scrape before him, it is only because he is the incarnation of capitalism, the symbol of the domination of a class of parasites and thieves, the image of themselves triumphant. They know that while the workers will flock in millions to cheer this straw man of theirs, dragged through the streets like a fifth of November guy, they and their plunder are safe. Hence they set the example of deification, knowing well they will be followed by their sheep.

The aim of the master class is to keep the workers ignorant, for an ignorant subject class, not knowing how to act in their own interests, can be more easily and inexpensively kept in subjection than an educated one. In fostering this ignorance the first thing to be done is to preserve the inertia of the mind – the tendency of the mind to run in an unchanging direction.

The capitalists know, as well as we do, that it is changing environment that causes the alteration in the mental outlook of the people. Their great endeavour, therefore, is to oppose to that ceaseless evolution in the world about them, over which they have no control, counteracting conditions and influences. Hence they cling with the tenacity of desperation, to the empty husks and decaying forms of the past.

This can be seen in every dominant interest, since every interest, when it has become dominant, becomes conservative and reactionary. It explains why the Catholic Church clings so frantically to its out-of-date forms, why the Anglican and other Churches set their faces so relentlessly against innovation, and why capitalist countries would rather convert their monarchies to their own ends than abolish them.

A king, in the popular mind, rules by divine sanction and in accordance with grey and hoary custom – as the Archbishop will remind the world at the great shampooing in the words: “Be thou anointed with holy oil, as kings, priests, and prophets were anointed. And as Solomon was appointed king by Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet, so be you anointed, blessed and consecrated king over this people, whom the Lord thy God has given you to govern.”

The capitalists, on the other hand, have no ancient usage behind them, no special appointment from heaven. Unless they can disguise the fact of their dominance, they are clearly seen to rule by might alone – a perpetual challenge to might. A ruling class which has to confess that it rules because it possesses the means of life, already has one foot in the grave, for it holds a lamp to the line of class cleavage that all men may see.

This is the real use of monarchs in capitalist States. Behind the person of the King the capitalists can hide the fact that it is they in reality who rule. By parading their kings before the workers at every possible opportunity, and with every circumstance of pomp and display that their ingenuity can invent, by investing them with divine right and something of divinity itself, the capitalists awaken and stimulate and nurture that spirit of reverence which is so deadly an enemy to the growth of revolutionary ideas, and so detract attention from themselves.

As it is to the interest of the capitalist class to represent that they, together with the working class, are subservient to a greater power, and to set the example of loyalty to their king, it becomes the imperative duty of Socialists to strip the sham of all its disguising tinsel, and to expose the grim, sordid, unromantic, iron form of tyrant Capital beneath it all. No kingly power exists today in Western Europe. Everywhere the owners of the means of production have either bent the monarchy to their will or broken it. Power lies alone with the class of property-owners. They rule who “buzz” us to the check-board at dawn, who tell us we are “sacked” at dusk; they rule who grind our faces on the factory mill-stones; and rob us at the pay-box; they rule who lock us out of the workshops and quarries and mines, in order to convince us by starvation that their view of the value of our labour is correct; they rule who make mockery of their own laws, and bury our poor fellows alive in blazing coal seams in the bowels of the earth. They rule who own.

Clear your minds, fellow workers, of any idea that these Prime Ministers of the Dominions of the Empire have gathered together to render homage to the house of Hanover. They come to celebrate the dominion of their class and to take steps in conference assembled, to ensure the continued crucifixion of Labour. The whole of this inglorious show, indeed, is subordinate to this object. It is not an effort to solidify and make more stable the monarchy, but to blind the workers to their true position, and make capitalist domination more secure.

It is for this reason that the impudent thieves mock your poverty by flaunting in your faces the wealth they have stolen from you. They wish you to believe that you are sharers in the stupendous opulence all their efforts could not hide from your vision. The late Lord Salisbury, wise in his generation, once cynically said that what the working class wanted was not education but a circus. They are giving us a circus, in order to make our minds less receptive of education.

Fellow workers, there is but one meaning attaching to class rule, and that is class plunder. No man wishes to rule over another except to plunder him. Consider whence comes all this wealth and luxury which is to riot before your weary eyes? Is there one jot or tittle of it that you have not made? You, the workers of the world are the true Atlas. You carry the world upon your shoulders. Your strong arms sow, and reap, and gather the harvest of the field, your stout hearts face the terrors of the mine and battle with the dangers of the deep; your virile brains conquer natural forces, and turn the tyrants of the Cosmic System into agents of wealth production. And what is your portion of it all?

This question is answered by the ranks of armed men who press your serried masses into the gutters, by the gaudy regimental banners whose last glorious inscriptions are “Belfast” and “Tonypandy”, by the proposal to compel you to pay to ensure that you shall have 6s. a week to keep wife and family on when you are unemployed.

As long as you are ruled starvation will be your lot, for those who rule over you can always plunder you and always will. You are ruled, not by kings, but by those who possess the land, mines, factories, machinery, railways, and other means of production and distribution, and just because they possess those things. Since you are denied access to those things all the doors of life are shut against you except that of the labour market. You must become wage slaves – must sell your energies to those who own the productive forces. This means that goods are produced for profit, and that profit, that wealth you produce but which is taken away from you, goes to glut the market and to throw you out of work, so that you and your children starve when the warehouses are fullest.

The remedy for all this is to take these means of production and distribution away from their present owners and make them the property of the whole community. Bread will then be produced to feed people, not for profit, and clothes to clothe them, and houses to shelter them. All able-bodied adults will take part in the necessary social labour, and all will partake freely of the wealth produced.

To do this the workers must first study Socialism and organise to capture political power, in order that the political machinery may be used to end for ever the class domination which political power alone upholds.
A. E. Jacomb

Reprinted from the "Socialist Standard," June, 1911.

The Passing of Lenin (1964)

A classic reprint from the September 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard 
  From the treasury of past Socialist Standards we have selected the following four articles for reprinting in this Special Number. The choice was not easy to make from so much excellence.
One of the significant facts brought into prominence by the great war was the intellectual bankruptcy of the ruling class of the Western World. A gigantic field of operations and colossal wealth at their disposal, failed to bring out a single personality above the mediocre, from England and Germany down the list to America and Roumania. The only character that stood, and stands, above the Capitalist mediocrities, was the man lately buried in Moscow – Nikolai Lenin.

The senseless shrieks of the Capitalist henchman against Lenin was itself evidence of their recognition of their own inferiority. All the wild and confused tales that were told by the agents of the master class (from Winston Churchill to Mrs. Snowden) to suggest that Lenin was “the greatest monster of iniquity the world has ever seen,” largely defeated their object, to every person capable of thinking clearly, by their sheer stupidity and extravagance.

One result of this tornado of lies was to cause a corresponding reaction on the other side. The various groups of woolly headed Communists, inside and outside of Russia, began to hail Lenin a new “Messiah” who was going to show the working class a new quick road to salvation. Thus does senseless abuse beget equally senseless hero-worship

From sheer exhaustion the two-fold campaign has died down in the last year or two, even the “stunt” press only giving small space to Lenin and Russia.

Lenin’s sudden death, despite his long illness, has brought forward a flood of articles and reviews entirely different in tone from those that greeted his rise to power.

The shining light of modern Conservatism – Mr. J. L. Garvin – does not know whether Lenin was famous or infamous, whether he was a great man or a great scoundrel, so, wisely, leaves the verdict to posterity to settle.

A Fabian pet, Mr. G. D. H. Cole, in the New Statesman, for the 2nd February, makes the claim that Lenin’s great work was the “invention of the Soviet”! It is difficult to understand how the editor of a journal, supposed to be written for “educated” people, should have allowed such a piece of stupid ignorance to have passed his scrutiny. The word “Soviet” – that seems to have mesmerised some people – simply means “Council.” Every student of Russia knows that the “Council” has been an organic part of the Russian Constitution since the middle of the 16th century. But there may be another explanation of Mr. Cole’s attitude. As one of the leaders of that hopeless crusade to turn back the hands of the clock (known as “The Guild System”) he sees around him the ruins and the rubbish of the various experiments in this system and maybe he hopes by claiming Russia as an example of “Guildism” to arouse some new enthusiasm for further useless experiments. His hopes are built on shifting sands.

Michael Farbman, in the Observer, Jan. 27th, 1924, takes a more daring and dangerous line. He claims to understand Marx and Marxism, and yet makes such statements as:-
  When Lenin inaugurated the Dictatorship of the Proletariat he obviously was unhampered by the slightest hesitation or doubt as to the efficacy of Marxian principles. But the longer he tested them as a practical revolutionist and statesman the more he became aware of the impossibility of building up a society on an automatic and exclusively economic basis. When he had to adopt an agrarian policy totally at variance with his Marxian opinions, and when later he was compelled to make an appeal to the peasants’ acquisitive instincts and go back to what he styled ‘State Capitalism,’ he was not only conscious that something was wrong with his Marxian gospel, but frankly admitted that Marx had not foreseen all the realities of a complex situation. It is probably no exaggeration to say that the greatest value of the Russian Revolution to the world Labour movement lies in the fact that it has replaced Marxism by Leninism.
The above quotation has been given at length because it not only epitomises Mr. Farbman’s attitude but also that of many so-called “Socialists.”

It will, therefore, be a matter of astonishment to the reader unacquainted with Marx’s writings and theories to learn that almost every sentence in that paragraph either begs the question or is directly false.

In the first sentence we have two assertions, One that Lenin established the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” the other that this is a “Marxian principle.” Both statements are deliberately false.

Lenin never established any “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” – whatever that may mean – but only the Dictatorship of the Communist Party which exists today. In the whole of Marx’s writing that he himself saw through the press the phrase Dictatorship of the Proletariat does not occur once! This, of course, Mr. Farbman knows well. The next sentence contains a phrase that Mr. Farbman may know the meaning of, but which is idiotic nonsense from a Marxian standpoint. To talk of a Society “on an automatic and exclusively economic basis” is utterly in opposition to all Marxian teachings.

If Lenin ever made the statement attributed to him in the sentence that follows – “that Marx had not foreseen all the realities of a complex situation” – which is at least doubtful as no reference is given, that would only show Lenin’s misreading of Marx.

But the last sentence is a gem. Not only has the Russian revolution not displaced Marxism by Leninism (for as showed above Marxism never existed there) – it has displaced Leninism by Capitalism.

To understand Lenin’s position, both actually and historically, it is necessary to examine the conditions under which he came to the front. Early in 1917 it was clear to all observers that the corruption, treachery and double-dealing of the Czar and his nobles had brought about the collapse of the Army. (See M, Phillips Price The Soviet, the Terror and Intervention, p. 15; John Reed, Ten Days that Shook the World, etc,).

This was the most important factor in the whole Russian upheaval, and is the pivot upon which all the rest turns.

The Romanoffs and their crew had fallen from power when an efficient armed force was no longer at their disposal. Kerensky, who replaced them, tried to keep the war going without men or munitions. Lenin obtained permission to leave Switzerland for Russia and tried to stir up a revolt in March, 1917, but this failed, and he had to fly to Finland. Confusion grew, and finally it was decided to take steps to call a Constituent Assembly to draw up a new Constitution for Russia. The Bolsheviks hailed this move and loudly protested against the dilatoriness of Kerensky, who was afraid of losing office. At the same time the various Councils of peasants, workers and soldiers began to send representatives to Petrograd for an All-Russian Congress. At once a struggle began between the Kerensky section – or Mensheviks – and the Lenin section – or Bolsheviks – to obtain the majority of representation in this Assembly. For days the struggle continued and almost to the last moment the issue was in doubt, but the superior slogan of the Bolsheviks – “Peace, Bread, Land” – finally won a majority over to their side.

A day or two before this Lenin had come out of his hiding place and placed himself at the head of the Bolsheviks.

The first thing Lenin did when in office was to keep his promise. He issued a call for peace to all the belligerents on the basis of’ “no annexations, no indemnities.” This astonished the politicians of the Western Nations to whom election promises are standing jokes.

It was at this point that Lenin made his greatest miscalculation. He believed that the working masses of the western world were so war weary that upon the call from one of the combatants they would rise and force their various Governments to negotiate peace. Unfortunately these masses had neither the knowledge nor the organisation necessary for such a movement, and no response was given to the call, except the snarling demands of the Allies that Russia should continue to send men to be slaughtered. This lack of response was a terrible disappointment to Lenin, but, facing the situation, he opened negotiations for a separate peace with Germany. And here he made a brilliant stroke. To the horror and dismay of all the diplomatic circles in Europe he declared that the negotiations would be carried on in public, and they were. Thus exposing the stupid superstition still so beloved of Communists here, that it is impossible to conduct important negotiations in public.

Of course the conditions demanded by the Germans were hard. Again and again Lenin’s followers demanded that war should be re-opened rather than accept these conditions. Radek reports a conversation (Russian Information and Review, January 26th, 1924):-
  The mujik must carry on the war. ‘But don’t you see that the mujik voted against the war,’ Lenin answered. ‘Excuse me, when and how did he vote against it?’ ‘He voted with his feet; he is running away from the front.’
Large tracts of territory were detached from the Bolshevik control, and the greatest blow was the separation of the Ukraine, whose splendid fertile soil would have been of immense value for the purpose of providing food.

Still the problems to be handled were enormous. The delegates to the Constituent Assembly had gathered in Petrograd, but Lenin, who shouted so loudly for this Assembly when out of office, was not running the risk of being deposed now he was in office. He had the gathering dispersed, and refused to let the Assembly meet. Sporadic outbreaks among the peasantry were a source of continual trouble, particularly as the Bolsheviks had only a poor force at their disposal. The signing of the Armistice however solved this problem. The Communists are fond of claiming that Trotsky organised the “Red Army.” This claim is absurd, for Trotsky knew nothing of military matters. The upheaval in Germany, after the signing of the Armistice, threw hundreds of German officers out of work and Lenin gladly engaged their services, at high salaries, to organise the army. By the offer of better food rations, better clothing and warmer quarters plenty of men offered themselves for enlistment. The main difficulty however was not men but munitions.

Lenin and his supporters expected that the victorious Allies would turn their combined forces on Russia. But the Allies were so engrossed in trickery, double-dealing and swindling each other over the sharing of the plunder that they largely ignored Russia. Still to show their good will and kind intentions they subsidised a set of thieving scoundrels – Koltchak (assisted by that British hero “Colonel” John Ward), Deniken, Wrangel, Yudenitch, etc., to invade Russia for the purpose of taking it out of the control of the Russians.

It was a most hopeful undertaking, this sending in of marauding bands! The peasant, who had just got rid of his age-long enemy the landlord (sometimes rather summarily) was expected to assist in restoring that gentleman. To help them in reaching a decision, these marauding bands, with strict impartiality, plundered friend and foe alike. The only result of these various raids was to unify the mass of the people in Russia in accepting the Bolshevik rule. Slowly the Russians began to gather arms. Their army was already in good order, and although the enormous distances and lack of transport prevented them reaching many places, yet whenever the Red Army met the looting bands mentioned above the latter were defeated, with monotonous regularity.

Of course compared with the battles on the western front these engagements were mere hand skirmishes, as neither side had any heavy artillery, high-velocity shells, poison gas, nor bombing aeroplanes.

A greater enemy to Leninism than any of these gangs, however, and one which had been exerting its influence for some time, now greatly increased its pressure, this was the individualistic conditions of the peasant, combined with the wants of the townsmen. Various decrees had been passed forbidding private trading in the towns and villages (apart from special licences) but the Bolsheviks had never dared to enforce these decrees in face of the food shortage. The result of this increased pressure was the famous “New Economic Policy,” that caused such consternation in the ranks of the Communist parties. In this country Miss Sylvia Pankhurst nearly died of disgust when the news arrived.

But once more Lenin was right. He recognised the seriousness of the conditions and tried to frame a policy to fit them. His own words describe the situation with great clearness:-
  :Yet, in 1921, after having emerged victoriously from the most important stages of the Civil War, Soviet Russia came face to face with a great – I believe, the greatest – internal political crisis which caused dissatisfaction, not only of the huge masses of the peasantry, but also of large numbers of workers.
  “It was the first, and I hope the last, time in the history of Soviet Russia that we had the great masses of the peasantry arrayed against us, not consciously, but instinctively, as a sort of political mood.
  “What was the cause of this unique, and, for us, naturally disagreeable, situation? It was caused by the fact that we had gone too far with our economic measures, that the masses were already sensing what we had not properly formulated, although we had to acknowledge a few weeks afterwards, namely, that the direct transition to pure Socialist economy, to pure Socialistic distribution of wealth, was far beyond our resources, and that if we could not make a successful and timely retreat, if we could not confine ourselves to easier tasks, we would go under.” (Address to the Fourth Congress of the Communist International.) (Emphasis ours.)
The most significant phrase in the above statement – the one we have underlined – now admits at last that Marx was right, and that the whole of the Communist “Theories and Theses” are rubbish from top to bottom.

Mr. Brailsford, the £1,000 a year, editor of The New Leader, in the issue for January 25th, 1924 says:-
  “Alone in the earthquakes of the war period, this Russian revived the heroic age, and proved what the naked will of one man may do to change the course of history.”
What knowledge! What judgement! What intelligence! Where has the “course of history” changed one hair’s breadth owing to Russia? And the above specimen of ignorance, that would disgrace a school child, is considered worth £1,000 a year by the I.L.P.! Doubtless the measure of their intelligence.

The chief points of Lenin’s rule can now be traced out. He was the product of the “course of history” when the breakdown occurred in Russia. At first – nay even as late as the publication of Left-Wing Communism (p.44) – Lenin claimed that it was “a Socialist Revolution.” He also claimed that the Bolsheviks were establishing “Socialism” in Russia in accord with Marxian principles. Some of the shifts, and even deliberate misinterpretations of Marx’s writings that Lenin indulged in to defend his unsound position have already been dealt with in past issues of the Socialist Standard and need not detain us here. To delay the victorious Allies taking action against Russia, large sums were spent on propaganda in Europe by the Bolsheviks. “Communist” Parties sprang up like mushrooms, and now that these funds are vanishing, are dying like the same vegetable. Their policy was to stir up strife. Every strike was hailed as the “starting of the revolution.” But somehow they were all “bad starts”!

When the Constituent Assembly was broken up by Lenin’s orders he had the Russian Soviet Constitution drawn up. He realised that if the Bolsheviks were to retain control this new Constitution must give them full power. We have already analysed this Constitution in detail, in a previous issue, but a repetition of one point will make the essential feature clear. Clause 12 says:-
  “The supreme authority in the Russian Soviet Republic is vested in the All Russia Congress of Soviets, and, during the time between the Congresses, in the Central Executive Committee.”
Clause 28 says:-
  “The All Russia Congress of Soviets elects the All Russia Central Executive of not more than 200 members.”
Innocent enough, surely! But – yes there is a but – the credentials of the delegates to the All-Russia Congress are verified by the officials of the Communist Party and at every congress it turns out – quite by accident of course – that a large majority of the delegates are members of the Communist Party. The others are listened to politely, allowed to make long speeches, and then voted down by the “Block.” This little fact also applies to all “The Third Communist International Congresses,” and to all “The International Congresses of the Red Labour Unions.” No matter how many delegates the other countries may send, the Russian delegation is always larger than the rest combined.

By this “Dictatorship of the Communist Party” Lenin was able to keep power concentrated in his own hands.

Lenin made desperate efforts to induce the town workers to run the factories on disciplined lines, but despite the most rigid decrees these efforts were a failure. The Russian townsmen, like the peasant, has no appreciation of the value of time, and it is impossible to convert a 17th century hand worker into a modern industrial wage slave by merely pushing him into a factory and giving him a machine to attend. Lenin’s experience proves the fallacy of those who proclaim that modern machines, because they are made “fool-proof” in some details, can be operated by any people, no matter how low their stage of development.

Another idea was tried. A number of minor vultures on the working class, of the I.W.W. and Anarchist “leader” type, had gone to Russia to see what could be picked up. There were 6,000,000 unemployed in America. Lenin called upon these “leaders” to arrange for the transport of numbers of mechanics and skilled labourers to form colonies in Russia, with up-to-date factories and modern machinery. These “leaders” pocketed their fees and expenses, but the colonies have yet to materialise.

Such was the position up to the time of Lenin’s illness.

What then are Lenin’s merits? First in order of time is the fact that he made a clarion call for a world peace. When that failed he concluded a peace for his own country. Upon this first necessary factor he established a Constitution to give him control and, with a skill and judgement unequalled by any European or American statesman, he guided Russia out of its appalling chaos into a position where the services are operating fairly for such an undeveloped country, and where, at least, hunger no longer hangs over the people’s heads. Compare this with the present conditions in Eastern Europe!

Despite his claims at the beginning, he was the first to see the trend of conditions and adapt himself to these conditions. So far was he from “changing the course of history” as Brailsford ignorantly remarks that it was the course of history which changed him, drove him from one point after another till today Russia stands halfway on the road to capitalism. The Communists, in their ignorance, may howl at this, but Russia cannot escape her destiny. As Marx says:-
  “One nation can and should learn from others. And even when a society has got upon the right track for the discovery of the natural laws of its movement – and it is the ultimate aim of this work to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society – it can neither clear by bold leaps nor remove by legal enactments the obstacles offered by the successive phases of its normal development. But it can shorten and lessen the birth pangs.” (Preface Vol, I. Capital.)
The Bolsheviks will probably remain in control for the simple reason that there is no one in Russia capable of taking their place. It will be a question largely as to whether they will be able to stand the strain for the task is a heavy one, and they are by no means overcrowded with capable men. But this control will actually resolve itself into control for, and in the interests of, the Capitalists who are willing to take up the development of raw materials and industry in Russia. The New Economic Policy points the way.

The peasant problem will take longer to solve because of the immense areas, and lack of means of communication. Until the capitalists develop roads and railways the peasants will, in the main, follow their present methods and habits. When these roads and railways are developed, modern agriculture will begin to appear worked at first with imported men and machines. But then Russia will be well on the road to fully developed Capitalism.

The Communists claim that Lenin was a great teacher to the working class the world over, but with singular wisdom they refrain from pointing out what that teaching was. His actions from 1917 to 1922 certainly illustrate a certain lesson that is given above, but the teacher of that lesson was Karl Marx.
Jack Fitzgerald

Reprinted from the "Socialist Standard", March 1924. 

The Romance of Ages (1964)

A classic reprint from the September 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard 
  From the treasury of past Socialist Standards we have selected the following four articles for reprinting in this Special Number. The choice was not easy to make from so much excellence.
Down from the tree-tops he came, primeval man, driven by hunger to wander through the forest with his kin searching for the nuts, roots and fruits on which he lived. He was the oldest specimen of his race and wandered over Europe when the climate was tropical and palms and tropical animals abounded. He required no clothes as the hair covering his body was sufficient protection in the mild climate then prevailing. His only weapons and tools were the branches torn from trees and the rough stones picked out of the beds of water-courses. He had learnt the art of communicating his primitive ideas by means of speech liberally helped out with gestures. His family arrangements were those of the brute from which he had just branched off, no rule had yet grown to guide him higher. He wandered widely over Europe before the coming of the ice drove him towards the Equator.

Slowly, very slowly, and painfully, man acquired more knowledge. A new type arose born during the breaks in the great ice ages. He discovered the wonderful properties of fire, and was able to add fish to his diet, a new weapon with which to fight hunger. Fire severed the cord that bound him to the forests and he wandered widely over the earth in the open, following the courses of the streams that provided him with fish. Out of the beds of streams he took rough stones and fashioned them into crude implements. His habitations were the beds of streams and holes in the hills. He peopled the hills, the woods, and the streams with living beings. The tree that fell on and crushed him, the rocks that impeded his passage, the mighty torrents, became to him objects endowed with life as he was—Religion was born. He wrought on the rough stone making for himself a stone-headed club and spear and became a hunter, strengthening himself in the fight against hunger by the addition of occasional supplies of meat to his food. The evil results of promiscuous marriage were modified by the growth of a rule prohibiting the marriage of parents to children.

Years passed away by the thousand and he learnt to make bows and arrows. Hunting became easier and meat became a more regular part of his food. On clay and stone, on the sides of his caves, using sharp-pointed wood or stone for pens, he sketched rude pictures of the animals he hunted, and the animals that hunted him. With the aid of fire he furnished himself with log boats to carry him over the water. He learnt to weave and make baskets and to make tools out of the bones of animals. He built himself huts and set them out in the form of village settlements—the town was born. He modified still further his marriage relations, and prohibited the marriage of brothers and sisters. He had by now gathered together some property and the seeds of the subsequent class struggles were planted. 

This property was held at first by women. He stepped higher in his religious ideas, and worshipped the elements; the earthquake, the cyclone, the cloudburst, inspired him with awe and he trembled before nature’s terrors and sought to find means to propitiate the mighty powers that so often involved him in wreck and ruin. He grew in numbers and lived in larger groups. These large groups were separated into gentes, phratries and tribes, or groups of close kinship, groups of near cousins, and groups of distant cousins. He improved his language and learnt the use of syllables. He polished up his stone implements and produced wonderful specimens of polished stone tools. The huge fierce animals that had harassed him of yore began to give way to a smaller and less ferocious kind, and the limbs, stature and gait of man lost much of their strength and uncouthness, becoming more beautiful as befitted one grasping at the conquest of nature.

With the discovery of pottery man continued his upward climb and found means to store his ever-growing varieties of food. He tanned the skin of the deer and took a pride in his personal adornment. He built himself villages surrounded by stockades, tamed the dog as a companion for hunting and learned how to make bread. His numbers had now grown so large that much of his attention was taken up with social organisation. The tribes had grown into numerous tribes living in a confederacy under a council of chiefs—the state was born. His religious ideas had moved upward to the conception of a great spirit that ruled his destiny, and the dreams that troubled his sleep became to him evidences of the wanderings of himself in other lands. His rude attempts at art grew into the making of pictures that conveyed ideas to those at a distance—the art of writing was born.

Some of the animals he hunted he learnt to domesticate and secured for himself a regular supply of milk and meat. But he did more. The work to be done in attending to flocks and herds was little. It was possible to supply the needs of many by the labour of few. Man at last was able to provide a surplus on which non-workers could live. Man learned the lesson well and in the wars on his kind he obtained captives who were put to work looking after the herds, thus giving leisure to the owners of the herds—in such wise was born the slavery that flourishes to-day.

Man cleared the forests and converted them into arable land and land on which to pasture his flocks. He cultivated gardens and raised root crops, pushing farther away his age-long enemy hunger. His wealth and responsibilities grew so much that he built for himself habitations of wood, mud and stone, and surrounded them with fortifications for the safe-keeping of his utensils and his cattle and to guard against the attacks of others of his kind. He added to his implements, his utensils, his weapons, and his ornaments by learning to manipulate metals—he had left the age of stone and entered the age of bronze. He built villages on the waters at the edges of lakes, safe from marauding animals and men. He made for himself personal gods, with idols and appointed officials to interpret the method of worship—priesthood had come into being. His council chiefs became organised into a close corporation, limiting election of officials to members of their families—aristocracy was born. He learnt how to picture ideas instead of objects, so developing his means of communication by writing.

His garden cultivation grew into field culture by the discovery of iron and the subsequent invention of the ploughshare. He now changed his habitation into towns surrounded with walls and battlements. His growing wealth and aristocratic privileges brought on the first great class struggle— the struggle between man and woman as to who should own and bequeath the store of wealth that had accumulated. Man won, and changed the law of inheritance from the female to the male. Individual ownership of property and to some extent the private ownership of land followed.

With the discovery of letter script and its use for writing records man entered into his own as a civilised being. The rest is a matter of history.

Reader, the above is a painfully brief and scrappy description of man’s development during prehistoric times. If you would enter fully into the romance consult the books on the subject that abound and you will have no cause for regret. Most of what is written above you will find in “Ancient Society,” a book written by Lewis H. Morgan. Look for it in the library.

Reprinted from the "Socialist Standard," June, 1925.

The Rise of Hitler (1964)

A classic reprint from the September 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard 
  From the treasury of past Socialist Standards we have selected the following four articles for reprinting in this Special Number. The choice was not easy to make from so much excellence.
The rise of Hitler to power in Germany is an event which the workers of all countries should study with care. It is not an isolated phenomenon, but part of a world-wide overflowing of discontent. It is not a coincidence that the three years since the oncoming of the crisis late in 1929 have witnessed the abrupt and sometimes violent overthrow of governments in different parts of the capitalist world. “National” Governments in the United Kingdom and many of the British Dominions; the advent of De Valera in the Irish Free State; the colossal defeat of “Prosperity” Hoover in the USA; repeated cabinet crises in France; political revolutions and counter-revolutions in South America; the Republic in Spain; political crises in Scandinavia; expulsions of leaders and reversals of policy in Russia; no country has escaped the economic consequences of a capitalist world which is seriously out of joint.

Each country has witnessed the consequent political stresses and strains of new discontents, and new slogans, which had generally brought about new political groupings and new figure-heads. The universal insurgency expresses itself in different ways according to the traditions, experience and constitutions of the various countries. A century ago such economic crises brought to a head deep underlying social conflicts and produced the revolutions of  ’30 and ’48, with their violent overthrow of kings and absolutist constitutions. Nowadays the more advanced countries have developed systems which permit easier adjustment to new pressures, avoiding the disturbance and expenses of the appeal to violence. Countries which have not travelled so far along the road of capitalist democratic government still resort to the old method of the bomb, the rifle, and the machine gun, the mass demonstration, the barricade, and the organisation of insurrection in the armed forces.

In a broad way the cause and the effect are the same everywhere. Everywhere capitalist private ownership reigns. Everywhere the rulers must serve the interests of the capitalist class, but everywhere it is an over-riding condition of social life that rulers cannot ignore the active discontent of the mass of the population. The discontent, even the open rebellion, of individuals and minorities can be bludgeoned into acquiescence, but when great masses of the population are driven by intolerable conditions into organising for common action then the rulers must sooner or later provide a safety valve; placate the movement or find means of dividing it; turn it into new directions or harness it directly to the capitalist state. In no other way can capitalism maintain itself.

Long before the war the British ruling class learned how to incorporate radical politicians and labour leaders in the parties of capitalism. The German capitalists in 1918 jettisoned the Kaiser for a similar end. Fifty per cent of the German voters had registered their disillusionment and war-weariness by voting for the reform programme of the Social Democratic Party. German capitalism thereupon “digested” the SDP and watched it stabilise German capitalism in the troubled post-war years. The military and civil associates of the Imperial Kaiser humbled themselves to the “upstart” labour leaders because they had to have someone who could control the workers and keep them loyal to the fundamentals of capitalism. So for fourteen years the Social Democrats, either in coalitions or in “friendly opposition”, worked out their policy of bargaining for reforms as price of their support. The outcome was inevitable. They have shared the fate that has always overtaken “Labour” politicians and parties when they accept responsibility for the administration of capitalism. Discontent with the effects of capitalism cannot for ever be stifled by Labour promises of better times or apologetic assurances that things might be worse. The membership and influence of the German SDP declined year by year until it had shrunk to a third of its former size. Part of the loss was picked up by the Communist Party, but in the meantime a new group had arisen, led by Hitler. At the election on March 5th he received 17,266,000 votes (43.9 per cent) and his allies, the Nationalists, received 3,132,000 (8 per cent), giving him a clear majority. The Social Democrats received 7,176,000 (18.3 per cent) and the Communists 4,845,000 (12.1 percent).

In one important respect Hitler’s Nazis are just like the Social Democrats and the Communists; they are all parties of discontent. Hitler promises work for the workless; secure government jobs in the police, the Army or the Civil service for 100,000 of his members; higher prices for agricultural products to help the peasants; and protection for the small investor and little shopkeeper squeezed by the big stores and the banks.

Immediately on taking office Hitler imposed fresh taxes on the big departmental stores and chain stores with the professed object of helping the small shopkeepers. He promised also to find posts for out-of-work professional men (doctors, lawyers and others), and it is because a relatively large number of bankers, proprietors of big stores and the more successful professional men are Jews that the party has taken on a violently anti-Jewish character. Every Jewish doctor driven out of practice, every Jewish lawyer barred from the courts, every Jewish schoolmaster and civil servant dismissed, makes another vacancy for one of his members. He was supplied with funds by German heavy industry, by armament manufacturers both in Germany and in France, and by American and other business men and financiers who had investments in Germany for which they needed protection. With the help of these funds Hitler’s party has known how to rally all kinds of discontent into a great movement representing half the electorate of Germany. Therefore Hitler has had to be “digested” as fourteen years ago were the Social Democrats. The stately and imperious Hindenburg and the aristocratic Von Papen, representing the military caste and big landowner, have had to receive on terms of equality the Austrian house-painter Adolf Hitler. Dr Hugenberg and the Nationalist Party, representing big industrial capitalists, have had to enter into coalition with him. Hitler will now have to administer capitalism. He will have to curb the demands of his followers, disappoint them, and ultimately lose many of them to new political adventurers, whereupon the capitalists and landlords who now use him will scrap him and use his successor.

The great lesson to be learned from the decline of the Social Democrats is the sterility of the policy of reforms and of reform parties. The day on which a reform party reaches power is the day on which the evil effects of capitalism begin to sap and undermine the strength of the party, turning the members’ blind loyalty first into bewilderment and then into dissatisfaction, causing them to drift into new parties.

The depths of mental bankruptcy of the reformists are shown by the comment of the Fabian New Statesman (London, March 11th, 1933). After explaining that Hitler scored because he appealed, with banners and uniforms and parades, to the electorate’s love of glamour, the German correspondent of the New Statesman says that the Social Democrats should have done the same, and should have given more prominence to pageantry and less prominence to social reforms. In other words, the workers are to be enticed, not even by the old plan of “bread and circuses”, but by circuses without the bread! This is what forty years of Fabian reformism has brought to the working-class movement!

The second lesson is one which has been entirely missed by the Labour Press in Great Britain, that is the evidence given by the Hitler episode of the overwhelming importance of controlling the political machinery. Six months ago, although the largest party in Germany, Hitler was not in control of the German Parliament and the machinery of government. He was ridiculed and derided by the members of the Government, and insulted by President Hindenburg. His party officials were hauled into court on charges of treason, and thrown into prison. Others were forced to flee the country. His newspapers were suppressed, his offices were raided by the police, his troops were forbidden to parade or wear uniforms in the street. When they attempted defiance they were driven off just like the Communists.

Now, having become possessed of the political machine and confirmed in power by the electors, he is able to turn the tables on his former opponents. He has removed the Governments of all the States of Germany. Former Cabinet Ministers have been arrested, beaten and made to suffer many indignities. Newspapers have been suppressed and their offices raided – from Conservative Catholic newspapers at one end of the scale to Social Democratic and Communist newspapers at the other. The Communists, in spite of their 5,000,000 voters and their year-long boasting of their belief in “mass action” and military revolt, have been cowed into complete submission without offering any real resistance whatever. Events are proving to them what they refused to learn. The organised political majority which controls the political machinery of the modern State is in a position to dominate, and can enforce submission on minorities. There is no road to Socialism except through the control of the machinery of government by a politically organised majority of Socialists.

Reprinted from the "Socialist Standard," April, 1933.

Cash and carry on (1964)

From the September 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

Looking back over the years, it is remarkable to notice how much the Party has accomplished with such slender financial resources.

In 1904 the Founder Members were faced with the problem of finding the necessary cash from their own scanty means.

They had set their hands to a mighty task, to convert the workers of the world to the cause of Socialism.

To carry out this work, they needed a central office from which to operate and a journal to carry the message.

Apart from the difficulty of finding the necessary cash to pay the rent, most landlords were hostile and many would not accept us as tenants at any price.

After being pushed from one miserable office accommodation to another equally depressing, we were finally, in an air raid, blown out of premises in Great Dover Street. This happened towards the end of the last war and although we managed to find other accommodation it was evident that the one satisfactory solution to this problem was to secure our own Central Office.

During the war, with the bombing and the black-out, activity was greatly reduced and as a result of this inactivity we were in the most unusual position of accumulating funds.

This small reserve, together with a mighty effort on the part of the members and a generous loan from a member, enabled us to buy the premises we now occupy as our Central Office.

Sixty years ago, the Party published the first number of the Socialist Standard and every month since then this journal has made its appearance.

In spite of all the difficulties and dangers caused by two world wars the Standard appeared regularly. The difficulty of obtaining newsprint and finding the money to pay for it on the one hand, and the problem of avoiding a shutdown by authorities on the other, were overcome. The case for Socialism was clearly stated in every copy, as was our bitter opposition to that bloody slaughter.

This magnificent record, as far as we know unequalled by any other organisation in any part of the world, was accomplished by the voluntary and unpaid services of members of the Party.

The sixty volumes of the Socialist Standard stand as a living record of the ability and courage of those members who laboured to produce them.

Apart from the generous and unpaid services members give to the Party, an organisation such as ours is always faced with the problem of finance. As a working class party we depend upon the donations that working people can afford and it is most gratifying to note how generously they respond to our appeals.

The cost of producing the Socialist Standard has increased by over three hundred per cent. during the past twenty years. The present copy is costing much more than we are selling it for, but we are happy to produce a special issue such as this. If you wish to take part in this effort we shall be pleased to accept your donations and assure you that they will be made good use of.
Ted Lake

Russian State Capitalism (1964)

Book Review from the September 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

Russia: A Marxist Analysis by Tony Cliff (International Socialism, 18/-)

The problem of Russia was a much more immediate one for the Trotskyists than it was for other groups. It is for this reason that so much of the research into the nature of the social order in Russia has come from this source. It would be foolish to pretend that we can learn nothing from their works and particularly foolish to pretend that nothing can be learned from Tony Cliff’s Russia: A Marxist Analysis. Cliff is the leading exponent of one of the Trotskyist state capitalist theories.

As a follower of Trotsky, he holds that the Russian revolution was the first stage of a world socialist revolution. The failure of this revolution to spread left the Russian “Workers’ State” isolated. In these circumstances, asks Cliff, what social order could appear in Russia? Socialism was out of the question and the backwardness of the country had already led to the appearance of a bureaucratic clique above the workers. Capitalism had to develop there. This did not take the form, as might have been expected, of a bourgeois restoration. Instead the bureaucracy transformed itself into a class when it began the process of rapid capital accumulation in 1928. In doing this it was carrying out the traditional function of the bourgeoisie.

The historic mission of the Stalinist bureaucracy became the establishment of capitalism in Russia. This it did with a ruthlessness previously unparalleled. Primitive capital accumulation in Britain, as described by Marx, was bloody enough. In Russia—with its slave camps, political terror and “dekulakisation” which drove the peasants into the factories—it was worse. The first part of Cliff’s book analyses this process in detail. The name Cliff chooses for Stalin’s regime is Bureaucratic State Capitalism. This describes a situation where a bureaucracy in control of the state machine fulfils the function of the bourgeoisie in capitalist relations of production.

In the second part of the book Cliff shows how Bureaucratic State Capitalism—with its irrational price system and other contradictions—has become a positive hindrance to the further development of the productive forces in Russia. The Stalinist bureaucracy has now fulfilled its purpose and is superfluous. Khrushchev’s reforms can’t disguise this fact. What of the future? Cliff maintains that there can be no return from a state-directed economy to a market economy and that therefore the overthrow of the bureaucracy can only lead to Socialism. As proof of this he instances the Hungarian Revolution.

We agree with Cliff’s description of Stalin’s Russia as Bureaucratic State Capitalism though not with his analysis of how and why it came about. Nor can we accept what Cliff suggests is going to happen. To talk of a “return” to a Western style market economy is nonsense for such a system has never existed in Russia. Bureaucratic State Capitalism is a stage in the development of Capitalism in Russia. This stage is now coming to an end and a market economy similar in some respects to that in the West is appearing. Cliff ignores the example of Yugoslavia; he also makes no reference to the proposals of Prof. Liberman and Academician Nemichinov for a relaxation of controls and a more rational and flexible price system. Of course, this evolution away from a bureaucratically-directed economy need not be automatic; Russia is a leading military power with a huge defence budget. A worsening of the international situation, as Cliff points out, could lead to a tightening of bureaucratic control over the economy.

One point that is brought out by Cliff is that the form of appropriation of surplus value under bureaucratic State Capitalism is different from that of the capitalism analysed by Marx. The ruling bureaucracy in Russia only exercises a de facto class monopoly over the means of production. Thus their share appears only to a small extent in the forms of rent, interest and profit: they get it in other ways, particularly as bloated salaries, pensions and prizes. As Cliff points out, towards the end of feudalism the ruling ideology condemned interest and profit, by which they meant only rent. So in Russia where the ruling ideology condemns unearned income, the surplus value is camouflaged as “earned income”. This is important as it brings out a difference between capitalism in Russia and the capitalism we know in the West.

Who are the recipients of this share out? Do they form a class? Cliff maintains that they do because they carry out the functions of a capitalist class. This seems fair enough. The bureaucracy is made up of the top political, military and industrial managers. This is not a homogeneous social group and there is room for conflict. Under the bureaucratically-directed economy of Stalin’s era the managers of the industrial enterprises were subject to the control of the political bureaucrats; now that Russia is moving; away from a bureaucratically-directed economy, the managers are gaining more freedom. Any move in this direction is bound to strengthen their hands again-the party bureaucrats. The managers appear to be the emerging dominant group in Russia. The completion of this process should put an end once and for all to the myth that Russia is Socialist.

Russia has set a pattern of capitalist development for backward and peasant countries; and Bolshevism is the theoretical aspect of this. This explains its attraction in the less developed parts of world. In this pattern the historic mission of the capitalist class is performed by an industrialising elite. In Russia these were the leaders of a revolutionary party; elsewhere they are young military officers, revolutionary intellectuals and nationalist political leaders. The very fact that such regimes are called state capitalist implies an enhanced role for political leaders and state officials. The evolution of capitalism in these countries may thus be different from the pattern described by Marx in Capital. There is a crying need for a detailed Marxist analysis of this new pattern. Cliff’s book on Bureaucratic State Capitalism in Russia is a contribution to this. It should be essential reading for all Socialists.
Adam Buick