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Lenin refutes Communism in the Soviet Union

Wocambs
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10/15/2014 3:34:20 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
It is commonly thought that real-world examples of communism 'failed', with the USSR being the prime example. Firstly, this view ignores the obvious successes of the USSR - presumably you don't become a 'superpower' by going from failure to failure. Regardless, criticisms of the USSR are declared 'criticisms of socialism/communism'.

Lenin disputes this.

In his introduction to 'The Tax in Kind', he writes that the pamphlet "appertains to the discussion on ,"state capitalism" an [sic] the main elements of our present-day economy, which is transitional from capitalism to socialism".

Absolutely explicitly, he is stating that the Soviet Union is dominated by 'state capitalism', and is nothing more than a transition between capitalism and socialism.

State capitalism, however, is nothing like socialism, as Lenin also unintentionally makes clear in 'The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government'.

Lenin applauds his own success, with what is a fairly good definition of socialism: "We have successfully fulfilled the second task of the revolution: to awaken, to raise those very "lower ranks" of society whom the exploiters had pushed down, and who only after October 25, 1917 obtained complete freedom to overthrow the exploiters and to begin to take stock of things and arrange life in their own way". The 'exploiters' have been overthrown, and now the people are in control of their own lives, no longer ruled by economic masters.

However, this vision of socialism is contradicted earlier in the same pamphlet. He writes that: "the same revolution demands"precisely in the interests of its development and consolidation, precisely in the interests of socialism"that the people unquestioningly obey the single will of the leaders of labour".

How can it possibly be that 'the same revolution' which aimed to free people from economic masters also requires that they unquestioningly submit themselves to new economic masters? In Lenin's defence, he at least has the decency to recognise that forcing the people to submit to these new masters is not 'socialism', but 'state capitalism' - because the only change is that private owners have been swapped out for state dictators.

He does attempt to justify this, by, again, putting forward quite a reasonable view of democracy. "The airing of questions at public meetings is the genuine democracy of the working people". However, as is obvious by how he advocated the crushing of political dissent and a dictatorship by the 'vanguard', it did not seem he was particularly in favour of democracy. In any case, whatever small power the Soviets did have was completely destroyed by Stalinism.

Therefore, as Lenin clearly illustrates, the USSR prevented the counter-revolution, by being the counter-revolution. The vision of socialism that was supported by the people was clearly one which met two vital criteria:
1. The end of economic masters
2. Decisions to be made by democratic soviets

As we are all aware, the USSR was literally the antithesis of that. Economic masters remained, they merely became members of the state, and decisions were made by dictators and by councils of elites, not by the people's democracy. Not only was it not socialist, but it cannot be called a 'transition state' either, because it clearly sought to destroy fundamental elements of what inspired the revolution.

The Tax in Kind: https://www.marxists.org...
The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government: https://www.marxists.org...
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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10/15/2014 5:26:10 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
You make some excellent points. The Soviet system was indeed merely a form of state capitalism, abolishing the workers councils and taking over from capitalism anti-democratic production relations; authoritarian, top-down methods of discipline & organization (such as the dehumanizing system of Taylorism); a ruthless prioritizing of productivity over people, over their needs and rights; and an objectification of workers that alienated them from their productive activity and creativity. Yes, all of the above, which fundamentally characterizes and defines capitalism was adopted by the Soviet system and helped do it in.

Also, as a result of the hostility of the West (which was present from the inception of the Soviet state, recall that a military expeditionary force comprised predominantly of American, British, and Japanese troops, invaded Russia during its civil war to support the enemies of the revolution) the Soviet system and its leadership became overpreoccupied with security and defense concerns, to such an extreme that the USSR became a militarized police state whose oppressiveness and military expenditures ultimately helped to collapse it.

It should additionally be pointed out that to go socialist in the fashion that Russia ostensibly attempted to go socialist in, in a fashion designed for industrially advanced societies, there obviously needs to be a sufficient surplus and economic infrastructure to socialize! Russia, having lagged behind Western Europe in industrial development quite simply lacked the necessary socializable economic surplus and base. Hence it was an ill-fated experiment in building communism because the wrong approach, one that disregarded the glaring weaknesses and failed to capitalize on the traditional strengths of Russian society, was taken.

Well, I could go on, and on, but the point has been made, that the failure of the Soviet system had everything to do with it not being an authentically communist system, and with historical factors, and not much at all with the alleged flaws in the idea of communism.

(Btw, "Therefore, as Lenin clearly illustrates, the USSR prevented the counter-revolution, by being the counter-revolution." is spot-on and well-put.)
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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10/15/2014 6:26:03 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/15/2014 5:56:24 PM, Wocambs wrote:
At 10/15/2014 5:26:10 PM, charleslb wrote:

Thank you!

You're most welcome. Stay strong in the struggle.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
1Percenter
Posts: 781
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10/17/2014 3:02:17 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Only fools argue whether the USSR is really, truly communism or not. The "authentic" communism argument cannot be considered empirically because it does not exist and has already been demolished logically. Since we have empirical evidence showing that alternatives such a capitalism reliably function as intended, even if not implemented "purely", your argument about the lack of true communism in the soviet union is irrelevant from the start.

If you want to try to defend communism, stop babbling about what "could have been" or "should have been" and go find a nation that has successfully implemented communism without transitioning into a form of dictatorship. Until then, there is a mountain of evidence demonstrating that communism will fail due to its inherent flaws.
Chimera
Posts: 178
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10/17/2014 4:14:24 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/17/2014 3:02:17 PM, 1Percenter wrote:
Only fools argue whether the USSR is really, truly communism or not.

It is a problem when there is already a set definition of communism, that the Soviet Union fails to meet, and people still refer to the Soviet Union as 'communist'.

A communist society would be stateless, classless, and moneyless. With worker's control of the means of production, and distribution of goods based on the maxim 'from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs'. The Soviet Union was none of these things. Thus, it is not communism. Period.

The "authentic" communism argument cannot be considered empirically because it does not exist and has already been demolished logically.

Since we have empirical evidence showing that alternatives such a capitalism reliably function as intended

I'd hardly say that capitalism 'functions as intended', if by such you mean that it isn't mass-scale theft. Or that it doesn't make people more desensitized to this theft since they profit from such due to the hierarchical economic structure that capitalism maintains.

, even if not implemented "purely", your argument about the lack of true communism in the soviet union is irrelevant from the start.

If you want to try to defend communism, stop babbling about what "could have been" or "should have been"

This isn't about what 'could have been'. This is about 'what actually happened'.

and go find a nation that has successfully implemented communism without transitioning into a form of dictatorship.

First, you're argument is nonsense since communism isn't about having a nation 'implement' it. Only Leninists, Maoists, etc. advocate for that nonsense. Actual communist revolution would be organized from the bottom up, through democratically operated organizations of class rule.

Second, I'd disagree.

Communism as a system has operated before in certain parts of history. For instance, the Russian Soviets (before Lenin's October Revolution) operated as democratic workers councils. In the Free Territory in Ukraine, workers-peasants soviets also operated on a democratic basis for more than 3 years until the Free Territory was reconquered by the Red Army. In late 1920's Korea, Kim Chwa-Chin lead forces that maintained a region known as the Shimnin autonomous region, which fought against Japanese imperialist forces until Kim was assassinated. Revolutionary Catalonia had massively successful implementation of communism, where industrial productivity doubled, agricultural outputs went up by over 25%, and most parts of Catalonia didn't even need to use currency to acquire most materials. The examples go on and on.

In all of these cases, no totalitarian state was formed by the revolutionaries involved. Now, granted some of these cases did not quite meet all of the prerequisites, such as Catalonia, which still had a state, but the state there had no real power and instead the worker's cooperatives held all the real power. Russia still had a government, but the soviets operated on their own accord.

Until then, there is a mountain of evidence demonstrating that communism will fail due to its inherent flaws.

Really? Please bring me some evidence. I would love to see it.
fazz
Posts: 1,617
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10/17/2014 5:47:01 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/17/2014 3:02:17 PM, 1Percenter wrote:
Only fools argue whether the USSR is really, truly communism or not.

No Man Is Land. Basically, USSR failed because the West isolated it. Same as North Korea which is embargoed and sanctioned totalistically until it is floating alone by itself. Moral, you can't have communism without the community.

If you want to try to defend communism, stop babbling about what "could have been" or "should have been" and go find a nation that has successfully implemented communism without transitioning into a form of dictatorship.

Last I checked the largest most populated country in the world is Communist. Guess, what the US is no longer the world's superpower. China is the no. 1 capitalist country in the world. It's the economy, stupid!

Since we have empirical evidence showing that alternatives such a capitalism reliably function as intended, even if not implemented "purely", your argument about the lack of true communism in the soviet union is irrelevant from the start.

I myself do not identify with the rest of the people on this page. I am more comfortable with Capitalism. I am avowed and admittedly bourgeoise, fat and happy. However, the most succesful markets of European capitalism today are built upon the history of Colonialism. Certainly, Freedom and Slavery, hand-in-hand is a paradox wrapped in an oxymoron? Also, the few cases of succesful Capitalism we have in the modern world are too few. We have the failing Asian Tigers, the Africans suffering from the wealth of the Dutch Disease, and well the corrupt Oligarchs of the Middle East. The only true success stories are the Socialist Democracies in the Nordic region of europe, (another enigma?).

So I am really curious to see this 'succesful' experiment of yours, herr doctorr?
Wocambs
Posts: 1,505
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10/17/2014 6:37:27 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/17/2014 3:02:17 PM, 1Percenter wrote:
Only fools argue whether the USSR is really, truly communism or not. The "authentic" communism argument cannot be considered empirically because it does not exist and has already been demolished logically. Since we have empirical evidence showing that alternatives such a capitalism reliably function as intended, even if not implemented "purely", your argument about the lack of true communism in the soviet union is irrelevant from the start.

Surely only fools criticise real-world examples of political theories without first establishing that the society being discussed is actually an example of that political theory? It makes as much sense to criticise 'socialism' by pointing to America and saying 'Look, these people tried to redistribute wealth and create equal opportunity via welfare and state-supported schools, and look at how massive wealth inequality is in their society - socialism clearly doesn't work'.

I am actually interested though, in what way do you think capitalism reliably functions "as intended"? Do we intend for capitalism to regularly undergo crises? Do we intend for capitalism to increasingly aggregate society's wealth in the hands of the few? Do we intend for capitalism to provide short-term incentive to cause long-term harm? Do we intend for capitalism to give economic elites the power to influence politics? I can respect people like Voltairine de Cleyre who thought that if privilege and authority were destroyed that private property would lead to prosperity for all, but I don't know what it is about capitalism that you think is currently working.

If you want to try to defend communism, stop babbling about what "could have been" or "should have been" and go find a nation that has successfully implemented communism without transitioning into a form of dictatorship. Until then, there is a mountain of evidence demonstrating that communism will fail due to its inherent flaws.

I think it's actually pretty important what should have happened. Lenin should have done what the people wanted and created a society without economic masters run by democratic soviets, instead of a totalitarian society where dictators controlled both the economy and politics... and indeed, as Chimera said, there are actually quite a few examples of societies in the genuine communist tradition.
debate_power
Posts: 726
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12/1/2014 3:26:06 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/15/2014 3:34:20 PM, Wocambs wrote:
It is commonly thought that real-world examples of communism 'failed', with the USSR being the prime example. Firstly, this view ignores the obvious successes of the USSR - presumably you don't become a 'superpower' by going from failure to failure. Regardless, criticisms of the USSR are declared 'criticisms of socialism/communism'.

Lenin disputes this.

In his introduction to 'The Tax in Kind', he writes that the pamphlet "appertains to the discussion on ,"state capitalism" an [sic] the main elements of our present-day economy, which is transitional from capitalism to socialism".

Absolutely explicitly, he is stating that the Soviet Union is dominated by 'state capitalism', and is nothing more than a transition between capitalism and socialism.

State capitalism, however, is nothing like socialism, as Lenin also unintentionally makes clear in 'The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government'.

Lenin applauds his own success, with what is a fairly good definition of socialism: "We have successfully fulfilled the second task of the revolution: to awaken, to raise those very "lower ranks" of society whom the exploiters had pushed down, and who only after October 25, 1917 obtained complete freedom to overthrow the exploiters and to begin to take stock of things and arrange life in their own way". The 'exploiters' have been overthrown, and now the people are in control of their own lives, no longer ruled by economic masters.

However, this vision of socialism is contradicted earlier in the same pamphlet. He writes that: "the same revolution demands"precisely in the interests of its development and consolidation, precisely in the interests of socialism"that the people unquestioningly obey the single will of the leaders of labour".

How can it possibly be that 'the same revolution' which aimed to free people from economic masters also requires that they unquestioningly submit themselves to new economic masters? In Lenin's defence, he at least has the decency to recognise that forcing the people to submit to these new masters is not 'socialism', but 'state capitalism' - because the only change is that private owners have been swapped out for state dictators.

He does attempt to justify this, by, again, putting forward quite a reasonable view of democracy. "The airing of questions at public meetings is the genuine democracy of the working people". However, as is obvious by how he advocated the crushing of political dissent and a dictatorship by the 'vanguard', it did not seem he was particularly in favour of democracy. In any case, whatever small power the Soviets did have was completely destroyed by Stalinism.

Therefore, as Lenin clearly illustrates, the USSR prevented the counter-revolution, by being the counter-revolution. The vision of socialism that was supported by the people was clearly one which met two vital criteria:
1. The end of economic masters
2. Decisions to be made by democratic soviets

As we are all aware, the USSR was literally the antithesis of that. Economic masters remained, they merely became members of the state, and decisions were made by dictators and by councils of elites, not by the people's democracy. Not only was it not socialist, but it cannot be called a 'transition state' either, because it clearly sought to destroy fundamental elements of what inspired the revolution.

The Tax in Kind: https://www.marxists.org...
The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government: https://www.marxists.org...

Thank you very much. Hopefully, the servile masses will see this post and comprehension will dawn in their faces.
You can call me Mark if you like.