Marx, Hayek, and Utopianism

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Fri Oct 7 06:54:53 MDT 1994


What socialist blueprints are you referring to? Bolshevik rule in the
Soviet Union lasted for just a few years until Stalin highjacked the
state apparatus. Bolshevik rule was characterized by improvisation: if
'war communism' fails, then try NEP. There is a utopian strain in what
some regard as 'communism', especially the Maoist variant. But nothing in
Lenin's career evokes utopianism. Most importantly, Lenin never projected
that 'communism' would be able to be constructed in the USSR by itself;
he regarded the USSR as a beachhead. There is clear evidence that the
Bolsheviks doubted whether the USSR would survive unless revolutions
triumphed in the rest of Europe.

Lenin had goals: the modernization of Russia, social justice, a
revolutionary foreign policy, etc. But every politician has goals,
including garden-variety bourgeois politicians.

Utopian literature such as Plato's Republic, More's Utopia, Bellamy's
Looking Backward, etc. are nothing but blueprints. Bolshevik rule was
totally at odds with such utopian schemes in which every aspect of social
and economic life was dictated by a set of rules for a perfect society. A
careful reading of early Soviet society would show that it was one of the
least constrained societies in the history of the world.

I think I understand what you mean by 'utopia' but it seems to function
more as an epistemological category than what it has meant historically.
That's fine I suppose. I just question whether that has anything to do
with the Russian revolution.

Louis Proyect
Columbia University, Adminstrative Information Services

On Thu, 6 Oct 1994 SCIABRRC at ACFcluster.NYU.EDU wrote:

> Since it is clear that the Bolsheviks LACKED the advanced
> capitalist material conditions that Marx projected as the
> basis for communism, I think that we might view them as
> "utopians."  They were utopians in the sense that they had
> neither the knowledge nor the means nor the existential
> conditions to implement their socialist blueprints.
>


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