Russia, Marx, Stalin

Alex Trotter uburoi at panix.com
Wed Aug 10 14:11:17 MDT 1994


One more thought about Marx and Stalinism, if anyone is still interested:
I think the answer to the question as to whether Marx can be blamed for
Stalin is, in true dialectical fashion, yes and no. Marx looked at the
primitive accumulation of capital and the early Industrial Revolution in
Britain and described how horrible it was that humans were being
sacrificed to develop the forces of production. But then he came to the
conclusion that this process was inevitable and necessary, because it was
laying the groundwork for socialism and communism. This fit in with the
teleogical vision of unilineal stages of historical development that Marx
maintained in most of his 'mature' work. From that it's easy to see how
Stalin could justify a similarly brutal (and telescoped) period of
primitive accumulation in Russia.
	However, in his last years, Marx began to change his mind to some
extent, and this in regard to Russia. With his work on the
_Ethnological Notebooks_, he started paying more attention to the
communistic life of 'primitive' (non- or precapitalist) societies,
including the Russian *obschina,* or rural peasant commune. Whereas once
Marx had believed that all human societies would come to experience
capitalism, he now (in this case at least) thought that communism in
Russia could come out of the institution of the *obschina* without having
to pass through a stage of capitalism. Following this new thinking, Marx
was scornful of his own followers in Russia and sympathetic to the
Populists including Chernyshevsky.

--AT


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