Back in the USSR

Paul W. Cockshott cockshpw at
Sun Oct 2 20:40:02 MDT 1994

On Thu, 29 Sep 1994 SCIABRRC at ACFcluster.NYU.EDU wrote:

>      Forget my Hayekian predilections for a moment, and just
> think about the original Marxian perspective on communism.
> Marx argued that there was a two-stage process toward
> communism.  The first stage can be loosely defined as a
> proletarian dictatorship, in which state power is maximized
> leads to the withering away of the state.  BOTH of these
> stages - however utopian - were to emerge out of the massive
> potential provided by ADVANCED capitalism.

Science is only as good as the data it has to go on. Marx's experience
of revolution was based on europe of the 1840s and 1870's and
this inevitably coloured his viewpoint. This century has taught us
that capitalist oppression is most intense in countries newly
setting out on the capitalist road, and it is in these countries
that class antagonisms reach their highest intensity. The nearest
that the British working class came to a political revolution was
in the 1840s when capitalism domestically was at its most brutal.

The idea that the best conditions for revolution are provided in
the most developed industrial countries has been shown to be false
this century and it is anyway doubtful that it can be attributed to
Marx, since he lived before the revolutionary developments in the
third world made it a live political question. I am not aware that
he ever discussed the question in the way it has been understood
this century.

>      The Soviet Union MOST CERTAINLY did not attain advanced
> capitalism.  It was an almost feudal "third world" country
> run by autocratic Czars, steeped in the millenia of Russian
> orthodoxy and Russian apocalypticism.
I assume you mean Russia here not the USSR.

> (Hence, it doesn't
> surprise me that, as Paul puts it, most "proletarian
> activists" continue to reside in the `Third World'.)  The
> popular "success" of the Bolsheviks was made possible because
> their movement integrated several Marxist revolutionary
> concepts WITH endemic Russian mystic and authoritarian
> cultural forms.

Do you not consider that the success of the Bolshiviks also required
the existence of a concentrated industrial proletariat - a product of
capitalist not feudal relations?
Did it also not stem from the suffering and destruction of the
imperialist war - again an expression of capitalist relations in
their most advanced form.
What authoritarian cultural forms did the bolsheviks promote
in the pre-revolutionary period? All the bolshevik articles that I
have read in translation are radically `democratic' and anti-authoritarian,
the example of the Paris commune being often held up as a model form
of state.

>  While there were a few progressive reforms
> brought about by the revolution, that "revolution" remained a
> `dialectical' outgrowth of its historical and cultural
> context.  And this context was NOT what Marx had in mind when
> he spoke of communism as the product of a long, evolutionary,
> "spontaneous" development out of advanced capitalism.

Where does Marx say that communism will arise by evolutionary
rather than revolutionary means?
It seems that you are identifying the views of the reformist wing
of the SPD with Marx.

Its getting late I will try to reply to your other points
on another day.


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