[Marxism] RE: Notes on bureaucracy (Was USSR, . . .etc)

Waistline2 at aol.com Waistline2 at aol.com
Sun May 23 15:48:10 MDT 2004


In a message dated 5/17/2004 12:40:53 AM Central Standard Time, stolz at left.ru 
writes:

>In the end, Soviet workers did built socialist housing for themselves, but 
it was too late.  The little girl died some time in the process.<

Vadim Stolz
 
 
Comment
 
Today, more than a decade after the collapse of Soviet Power, no section of 
the Marxist and communist movement can point an accusing finger at anyone other 
than themselves. The Marx standpoint demands that we learn how to pose every 
question in its historically concrete setting and unravel the social process 
to conform to our revolutionary line of march.  
 
The Soviet proletariat and peasantry has written the most glorious chapter in 
the history of the world working class movement. Its victories are 
monumental, its defeats painful and its errors historical. Marx of course stated that 
the proletariat would have to fight 50, 100, 200 years of civil wars and 
international wars to make ourselves fit as ruling class. The Soviet proletariat - as 
the advanced detachment of the world proletariat, led us through more than 
half of the Marx prophecy, as it attempted to weld the best and brightest of 
humanity into a strike force against bourgeois property. 
 
What the Soviet proletariat accomplished was to build an industrial society 
without the bourgeois property relation. I would venture to say that the 
majority of humanity in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the so-called Middle East, 
have to this day not attain the high standard of living, scientific and 
artistic pursuits and happiness created by the Soviets. This elementary truth is not 
understood by the ideologists. 
 
The former citizens of the Soviet Union are discovering this truth as they 
slowly emerge from one of the most complex class and political struggle in human 
history. Lenin described this complexity with his characteristic acute 
insight: 
 
"Why do we do these absurd things? The reason is clear: firstly, because ours 
is a backwards country; secondly, education in our country is at its lowest 
level; and thirdly because we are receiving no assistance. Not a single 
civilized state is helping us. On the contrary, they are all working against us. We 
took over the old state apparatus, and this was unfortunate for us. In 1917, 
after we captured power, the situation was that the apparatus sabotaged us. This 
frightened us very much and we pleaded with the state officials: 'Please come 
back,' They all came back, but this was unfortunate for us." 
 
The danger to the communist revolution, as with the case of Cuba and North 
Korea today, has many sides. In the historical sense the danger of 
counterrevolution is rooted in the development of the material power of production or the 
productive forces. In history the danger to the bourgeois revolution during the 
transition from agriculture to industry was abated once society achieved a 
degree of development - a technological regime, that made it impossible to go 
back to landed property relations and its political expression as feudalism. 
 
Here is the political and theory context to understand the "internal danger" 
that emerged within the Soviet Power during the time of Lenin and the 
complexity of the social struggle that led to the collapse of Soviet Power, the 
dismantling of the Soviet State and finally the overthrow of its socialist property 
relations in the industrial infrastructure. The "internal danger" is placed in 
quotes because one has to fight along a line of march when confronted with a 
social question that can only be solved historically. 
 
The danger of restoration of a decaying and dying class can only be abated 
and finally overcome, when its economic basis is liquidated by history. Society 
cannot return to economic or political feudalism because there no longer 
exists anything to go back to. 
 
One is of course referring to the question of the bureaucracy. Lenin of 
course makes it clear that the danger to the revolution was the revolutions own 
weakness or why call back the old state officials and place bureaucrats in 
positions of responsibility? One must treat this question as historical and not from 
the standpoint of the ideologists. The bureaucracy - according to the 
ideologists, grows out of the state power, specifically police action and organs of 
repression. 
 
Marxists of course know that bureaucracy has its genesis in the evolution of 
the division of labor in society (not the state) and is recast throughout 
history on the basis of changes in the technological regime. The industrial 
bureaucracy, whether in America or the Soviet Union is radically different from the 
feudal bureaucracy and nothing can explain this difference other than the 
standpoint of the development of the technological regime. 

The industrial bureaucracy is not the state and any worker (or college 
professor) who has labored in an institution of 50 or more people understands the 
elementary truth. There is nothing on earth more bureaucratic than an industrial 
facility or the sum total of the industrial infrastructure. The state itself 
is bureaucratic by definition but the industrial bureaucracy is infinitely 
broader than the state. 

The dispute with the petty bourgeois ideologist is that they explain 
bureaucracy on the basis of calling the police to restore order amongst outraged 
citizens seeking consumer goods or the state coercion used to implement labor 
discipline. The ideologists "forget" that the Soviet State was different from the 
bourgeois state and involved infinitely more than the armed bodies of men. The 
entire system of the dictatorship of the proletariat - Soviet Power, was in 
fact the emergence of a new kind of state. 
 
The technological revolution - not the state power, is creating the objective 
(not simply the subjective) material basis for the liquidation of bureaucracy 
as a characteristic administrative feature of production and social 
relations. 
 
The complexity of the social struggle in the Soviet Union was not limited 
solely to the struggle against the backwash of the practices of the old State 
apparatus. A "new bureaucracy" sprung up during the time of Lenin in the new 
political environment created by the affirmation of Soviet Power. Thus, 
bureaucracy did not evolve into a grave danger and obstacle to the Revolution as the 
result of the "degeneration of the Soviet State." Rather it was present - 
according to Lenin, as the weakness within the revolution itself.  From day one 
bureaucracy was the most dangerous enemy of the Revolution. 
 
The number of bureaucrats in the Soviet Union - throughout its history, was 
not limited to the species directly related to the old classes, to the old 
state apparatus. Soviet conditions enshrined in law prevented the formation and 
emergence of a bourgeoisie. What emerged after the puny buffoon Nitika 
Khrushchev disoriented the world communist movement and was removed from power was a 
caricature of the bourgeoisie in tune and political alignment with the world 
bourgeoisie.  
 
Conditions were such that even good Communists who did not possess the 
necessary revolutionary stamina and ideological firmness to sustain them through 
such a long historical process were drawn into the reactionary vortex of 
bureaucratic practices. Therefore, the Leninists method of dealing with the 
bureaucrats demanded that it be applied even more firmly and forcefully to the 
Communists themselves who degenerated. To this very day the hallmarks of communists 
insurgents is ideological commitment and the unyielding demand for centralization 
of task and adherence to a strategic line of march. 
 
Men and women have of course fought for the ideas of communism two thousand 
years before Marx was born and when political and economic communism was not 
possible. Folks have fought for and dreamed of various kinds of socialist 
societies before Marx and Engels were a gleam in their mothers eye. One must have 
the manliness and courage to fight along the historical line of march and the 
societal advance at each juncture in the development and evolution of commodity 
production . . . and its decay. 
 
What this means is that one must fight even when a decisive victory cannot be 
attained. The history of the abolitionists movement in America proves the 
wisdom of such a line of march and this movement took shape at least 70 years 
before the overthrow of the slave power. 
 
The struggle against the bourgeoisie in Russia has had a particularly violent 
character, and was accompanied by certain inevitable errors. The struggle 
currently unfolding in Russia - as the social movement seeks its new forms of 
expression, promises to be even more violent. These painful experiences have to 
be assimilated and understood. 
 
It is a fact that the growth of bureaucratism gradually formed a bureaucratic 
center that divided the revolutionary center from the people and prevented 
them from functioning in harmony. While setting up and consolidating the Soviet 
State apparatus and the building the industrial infrastructure and thus 
carrying out a historical task, that made possible the economic success of the 
Soviet Union, Stalin had to do two mutually exclusive task at the same time: use 
the bureaucracy as an organ of administration and fight it simultaneously. This 
explains why it was impossible to decisively defeat the bureaucracy. 
 
The question of the bureaucracy is historically concrete and no human agency 
is going to defeat the bureaucracy because like the law of value and the 
commodity form, it is a product of history. Something fundamental to history - the 
material power of production or the mode of production in material life, has 
to change to render bureaucracy obsolete along with the state as the state. 
 
It was not for nothing that Comrade Stalin stated, "the greatest enemy of the 
Soviet people holds a party card." What the ideologists and Western liberal 
call paranoia was in fact an acute understanding of the historical process. 
 
What emerged in the Soviet Union was a complex social struggle where every 
segment of Soviet society attacked the bureaucracy - reactionaries, progressives 
and communists alike. The bureaucracy blocked the next stage of the 
technological advance as the bottom line. This is in fact the revolutionary process and 
reaction seized power or carried out the insurrection. 
 
All the various progressive social elements involved in this struggle should 
understand the complexity of what took place and prepare for the final assault 
on bourgeois property. In this regard one comrade wrote that the Soviet Union 
exhausted its historical potential in 1944/1945. This is nothing more than 
rotten bourgeois ideology. Historical potential according to Marx means all the 
room the productive forces contain within itself before it begins its leap - 
transition, to a new level based on the injection into the production process 
of a new qualitative ingredient. 

One can disprove this absurd proposition that the Soviet Union has exhausted 
its historical potential by tracing its industrial development between 
1944/1945 and say 1970. 

That is to say that industrial society would reach the limits of its boundary 
expansion more than forty years later, with the injection into the production 
process of computers, digitalized process and advanced robotics and 
industrial socialism hit the wall in the historical sense or exhausted its historical 
potential.  

The subjective political factors in the form of policy, ushering in the 
collapse of the Soviet Power is another story for later. 
 
 
 
Melvin P. 
 
 
 
 




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