William Mandel replies ( wasRe: William Mandel on Cuba, Brazil and Venezuela and socialism v. capitalism?)

Mark Jones markjones011 at tiscali.co.uk
Mon Dec 30 07:42:09 MST 2002

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-marxism at lists.panix.com
> [mailto:owner-marxism at lists.panix.com]On Behalf Of Jim Farmelant
> Sent: 30 December 2002 13:53
> To: marxism at lists.panix.com
> Subject: William Mandel replies ( wasRe: William Mandel on Cuba, Brazil
> and Venezuela and socialism v. capitalism?)

Mandel visited to USSR and wrote a book about Soviet women, I think I'm
right. But he got disillusioned by what he saw there. But then, that's
because he went with illusions in the first place. Now he has abandoned
Marxism and abandoned the revolution. This is a tragic outcome for a life
spent in our movement, promoting the cause of communism and working class
revolution. And he is quite wrong in his historical judgment that:

>     Of course capitalism has proved its general superiority over
> socialism. Show me a country where the opposite is the case.

What this notion shows, if it shows anything, is that Mandel swallowed
Stalinist propaganda about 'building socialism in one country' and *Mandel
has never abandoned the Stalinist notion of socialism in one country*. He
is, in fact, still a Stalinist, but nature if no longer by inclination. Of
course, Socialism in One Country was never on, it could not happen and did
never happen, and nor did any of the leading Bolsheviks--including Stalin
himself!--seriously suppose that is WAS possible to build socialism even
inside a relatively large enclave like the USSR. In Stalin's hands, the
slogan Socialism in One country was nothing more than a political ploy, used
cynically but probably correctly (not all cynicism is evil, sometimes it is
just realism) in order to push forward and legitimise a particular strategy
of industrialisation the ONLY purpose of which was to prepare the Soviet
Union for impending war with imperialist, Nazi Germany. Stalin relocated
heavy and defence industry from the western parts of the USSR to the Urals,
Siberia and Central Asia. If, per contra, Stalin had done what Mandel

>     Lenin was right in introducing NEP, and Stalin, a doctrinaire
> Marxist, wrong in dismantling it, a process completed when I was there
> in 1931.

i.e., if Stalin has persevered with NEP, then the USSR might indeed have
avoided the Purges and the terrible social cost of forced industrialisation,
but then the USSR would have soon been destroyed by Hitler Germany. The
Swastika flag would fly over the Kremlin today--and Berlin, Paris, and
London too; and the language spoken by the inhabitants of Russia would today
be German, because the Russian were doomed to annihilation by Hitler's
genocidal plans. Mandel could not be more wrong! If NEP had continued, the
inevitable result in the 1930s would have been to anchor the USSR within the
German sphere of influence and capital expansion, and what development of
Soviet heavy industry might have occurred under NEP (not much!) would have
been entirely in the indefensible western provinces: the Ukraine, Western
Russia and the Baltikum. So Stalin was right to impose forced
industrialisation on the USSR, by ANY historical test, even in the light of
the ultimate collapse of the USSR; only because of Stalin's Five Year Plans,
does the Russian nation still exist today. This way it is sheer nonsense to
argue, as Mandel does:

> Would economic growth under NEP
> have been enough to stop Hitler at Moscow in 1941, as Stalin's
> industrialization did? We have no way of knowing, just as we have no way
> of knowing whether developments in Germany in response to a NEP Soviet
> Union would have brought Nazism or another war party to power.

It is as certain as tomorrow's sunrise that NEP would have made the defence
of Russia impossible in face of the German industrialised blitzkrieg.
Mandel's last defence of his sell-out (because a sell-out is what it is) is
that Stalin begot Hitler! This is the kind of thinking people like Richard
Pipes and other arch academic cold-warriors have made careers arguing.
Stalin, they want to say, was to blame for everything, even Hitler. As soon
as you inspect this argument its intellectual dishonesty and its rank,
reactionary nature stands clear. In effect, Mandel is arguing that Hitler
came to power because the USSR decided to defend itself. NEP was a
completely capitulationist policy, because it made the defence of the
country impossible. Mandel is arguing that we should appeal to the 'good
nature' of capitalists, along the lines that if you go belly up and give in,
you might get just liberal neo-imperialism, but if you take a stand and
fight your corner, you risk raising the djinn of Hitler or some other demon
of bourgeois society. Nonsense! It is the absolute duty of communists to
stand their corner, to raise their banner and fight to the death for the
cause of proletarian internationalism and of communist revolution. Appeasing
the class enemy only emboldens him, weakens the revolution and the working
class, and ensures the emergence of leaders like Hitler and Bush in periods
of crisis.

Mandel's argument is that if there had been no Stalin (and indeed, no
Trotsky, because Trotsky was also opposed to the NEP), and if the NEP had
been allowed to develop to the point where it restored capitalism in Russia,
which it certainly would have done and was doing by the late 1920s, then
there would have been no social crisis in Germany, no collapse of Weimar
social democracy, and no rise to power of Hitler Nazism. There is not a
shred of evidence for such wild speculations and nor can there be. In
reality, the only possible conclusion to draw from the world economic impact
of Soviet industrialisation in the 1930s was that is was a stabilising
factor which helped industrial powers like Germany overcome the worst
effects of the Great Depression by supplying vast new orders for heavy
industrial equipment, which they were eager to fulfil. Thus, the Krupps and
Thyssens, and the Henry Fords and General Motors, had no such fears of
Stalinism as William Mandel now does: they were more than happy to supply
the USSR with the means of waging industrialised warfare.

It is sad when a person who in decades past has made a contribution to the
movement, such as William Mandel, should then become a bitter and open enemy
of socialism, Marxism and the great cause of proletarian revolution.

Mark Jones

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