An article on Marxist-Leninism, written by J. Grancharoff, and published in Red and Black: An Anarchist Journal, No. 9 Spring 1979.
Marxism-Leninism: vehicle of capitalism
Rosa Luxemburg, referring to the Russian Marxists, stated: “It is interesting to observe that Russian Marxists are developing more strongly into ideological champions of capitalism.1 ” Her prophecy has been verified by the events that followed. When in power, Marxist-Leninists in historical and pragmatic terms, have proven the veracity of Luxemburg’s statement. It is equally applicable to non-Russian Marxists, such as Euro-Communists and Social Democrats who, without scruples, are also openly assuming the role of champions of capitalism.
Naturally some Marxist scholars will question and even object to the truth of the foregoing statements, despite the fact that “Russian society, like Eastern European societies, China etc. is an asymmetrical and antagonistically divided society – or, in traditional terms, a ‘class society’2 .” These objections are based on the ahistoricity of the historical method of social analysis. Used as a tool to dissect bourgeois reality and thus prove its bankruptcy, it is denied the same status in relation to Marxist-Leninist historical reality, which, in socialist terms, is the greatest ideological fraud perpetrated in the 20th century.
On the other hand, it may be justly argued, that the socialist scholars, bearers of the classless order, have a vested interest as a new class in obscuring and manipulating issues, in falsifying history, suppressing evidence and deceiving for their own benefit. To err is human, but when this is combined with the vanguardist role, the spirit of elitism and the urge to dominate, it becomes a conspiracy of scholars, conscious or unconscious, to minimize the evils of Marxist-Leninist bureaucratic capitalism and to present it as an attractive alternative to western style capitalism.
Whatever the case, Marxism-Leninism is a capitalist orientated movement. “The enslavement of the workers at the workplace is not merely an important or secondary ‘defect’ of the system, nor merely a deplorable and inhuman trait. Both, on the most concrete as well as on the philosophical level, it denounces alienation as the essence of the Russian regime. Strictly in rems of the labour process, the Russian working class is just as subject to a ‘wage’ relation as any other working class. The workers have control of neither the means not the product of their labour, nor of their own activity as workers. The ‘sell’ their time, their vital forces and their life to the bureaucracy, which disposes of them according to its interests. The constant effort of the bureaucracy is time decreasing its remunerations – and this by the same methods used in the West.3 ” This is true of the Soviet Union as well as China and other communist countries.
What makes Marxism-Leninism a bourgeois movement? Many factors but basically they can be reduced to three: 1) acceptance of the State – a bourgeois institution – as a vehicle of social transformation; 2) emphasis on centralization at all possible levels: economic, political and social and 3) related to the first and second, the hierarchical mode of organization and its preservation as a social reality.
The State is the acme of the concentration of political power. The centralization of political power in the hands of the State is a bourgeois theory. The bourgeois economists, such as Turgel, Quesney, Letronne and others, saw in the State an institution whose function was to mold the spirit of citizens and to provide ideas and sentiments useful and necessary for the society, the bourgeois society. At the same time the State has to fight against and suppress all ideas and sentiments contrary to its essence and its reality. A bourgeois dream turned into a nightmare by Marxist-Leninists.
The socialist State is superior to the bourgeois State. It is another form of bureaucratic capitalism. “The Russian regime is an integral part of the world system of contemporary domination. With the United States and China, it is one of the three pillars. In collaboration with the others, it controls and guarantees the preservation of the status quo on a global scale.4 ” Thus, to look at the socialist State as a threat to capitalism is to sound a false alarm. Socialism enthroned in power is capitalism. In the Marxist-Leninist society, the managers of capital are converted into socialist managers, the technologists and intellectuals into bureaucrats and apparatchiks, the trade unions into appendages of the State and the workers into slaves without rights and voice but a lot of duties. Once the means of production and distribution are a State monopoly, slavery is absolute. There are no alternatives.
Centralization, one of the many streams in Marxist thought, follows from the theory of the polarization of class struggle. “Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.5 ” The Proletariat, according to the Marxist pattern of thinking, inevitably, necessary and in the final analysis, will become the dominant class. In power, the Proletariat will continue the bourgeois process of centralization and production, reversing it to its own benefit. “The proletariat will use its political supremacy, to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production into the hands of the State i.e. of the proletariat organized as the ruling class, and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible.6 ” In practical terms the outcome of this economic interpretation of history ended in the modern monstrosity: State bureaucratic capitalism. “From the organization of production and the concentration of capital, entail the elimination of ‘independent’ individual capitalists and the emergence of a bureaucratic stratum that organizes the labour of thousands of workers into gigantic enterprises, assumes the effective management of these enterprises and controls the incessant modifications of the means and methods of production.7 ”
Since each mode of production corresponds to definite social relations within the fram work of capitalism. Marxist-Leninists distinguish various stages of capitalist development. Some of them are laissez-faire capitalism, monopoly capitalism and imperialism. The latter according to Lenin, “is the eve of Social Revolution of the proletariat,8 ” and definitely proves “the truth of the teaching of Karl Marx in concentration.9 ” It proves the truth of the concentration of power and capital in the socialist State but it does not prove the advent of socialism and the classless society. On the contrary, the concentration of capital and the centralization of power in the hands of the Marxist-Leninists State proves the greatest victory of monopoly capitalism; a prelude to socialist imperialism. But socialist imperialism is not a step nearer to socialism and classless society. “Thus what they retain of Marx is only the metaphysical and deterministic account of history: there is supposed to be a predetermined stage in history of mankind, socialism, as the necessary sequel to capitalism. But socialism is not a necessary stage of history, It is the historical project of a new institution of society whose content is direct self-government, collective management and direction by all humans of all aspects of their social life, and explicit self-institution of society.10 ” Economic concentration and centralization of power lead to a heavy bureaucratizations of life and a rigid hierarchically structured society. Hierarchy is the matrix of the authoritarian social order. It divides people into categories: masters and slaves, order-giving and order-obeying, husbands and wives, parents and children, intellectuals and workers, apparatchiks and citizens etc. Divided, atomized, alienated and unable to communicate with each other, people are easily manipulated and governed. The old adage of the Roman ruling class “divide and rule”, summarizes the function of hierarchy. Cleverly used by the bourgeoisie, it has been perfected as a weapon by the Marxist-Leninist society based on sado-masochistic relationships which are necessary prerequisites for political, economic and personal enslavements.
Being rigid hierarchy, Marxist-Leninist society is definitely a class society: “Deprived of political, civil and union rights, forced into ‘unions’ that are mere appendages of the State, the Party, and the K.G.B, subject to a regime of internal passports and work papers under permanent police control and surveillance in the workplace and outside it: constantly harassed by omnipresent official propaganda, the Russian working class is subjected to totalitarian oppression and control, mental and physical expropriation that very clearly outdoes fascist and Nazi models and has not been surpassed anywhere expect Maoist China.11 ” Thus, Marxist-Leninist society is but an extension of the bourgeoisie into irs infra-red form. This bourgeoisie, despite the fact that it does not own the means of production, rips off the surplus value. It is in its interest to preserve, by all means, the capitalist mode of production and to save capitalism. This is true not only within socialist countries but in western capitalism too.
In the uprising in France as well as in Czechoslovakia who “favored and produced the return to normality in the factories and in the streets? Well, in both cases the communists: in Paris thanks to the unions, in Prague thanks to the Red Army.12 ” In Italy, in the Hot Autumn of 1969-70, when capitalism was seriously challenged by the workers, the communist party stood up for the State and the status quo.
Marxist-Leninism is the state’s stage of monopoly capitalism. Monopoly capitalism, the Leninist will argue, “has grown out of colonial policy.13 ” Yet, paradoxically as it may sound, state socialism has grown out of colonial policy. In the first place, the party is the colonizer of the workers – the colonies; in the second the biggest state absorbs and economically exploits the small ones, e.g. Russia and its Satellites. The order is colonial too: the summit, the center, the bureaucracy are essential structural features to which the subalterns are workers, peasants and provinces, The socialist monopoly can be represented as an octopus whose head is in Moscow, or for that matter in Peking, while its tentacles are in the factories, in the fields, in the provinces, in the small states sapping the energy of the workers and peoples and suffocating any attempts at self-determination, self-assertion and independence. This makes the Marxist-Leninist State the zenith of monopoly capitalism, because the unity of economic exploitation and political enslavement is achieved. The words Lenin uttered against monopoly capitalism: “striving for domination instead of striving for liberty14 ”, are a proper description of socialist capitalism. Once monopoly capitalism and the state merge into state monopoly capitalism, capitalism becomes more virulent, aggressive and expansionary and reaches the final stage, imperialism, which is “the exploitation of small nations but a handful of the richest and most powerful nations.15 ” What an ironical indictment of Lenin is the state Lenin has created.
Now, if Marxist-Leninist Statist monopoly capitalism is a perfection over its bourgeois counterpart then, it follows, Leninist imperialism is a rather more perfect and atrocious form of oppression and exploitation. It is not accidental that the multi-nationals find it profitable to pump millions of dollars into socialist economic system to ensure its blood circulation. State socialist economies are reliable and pay secure dividends.
In conclusion, it may be stated that Marxism-Leninism, far from being a revolutionary science, is a reaction against revolution and especially against the Social Revolution, leveler of all class distinctions and privileges. The success of Marxism lies in its ability to create illusions in the heads of its followers, which affirm rather than refute its bourgeois essence as a movement. Marxism-Leninism does not make the world safe for socialism but it definitely makes it safe for capitalism. Not only is Marxism-Leninism a vehicle of capitalism, it is the savior of capitalism, it is capitalism par excellence. It does not engender revolution, it sprinkles rose oil for smooth capitalist exploitation.
- 1Georg Lucacs, History of Class Consciousness, London, 1971. P.26
- 2Conrelius Castoriadis, The Social Regime in Russia, in Telos 38, 1978-79, Washington University, St Lois. U.S.A. p.32
- 3Ibid, pp. 33-34
- 4Ibid p. 38
- 5K. Marx and F. Engels, Mainfesto of the Communist Party, London 1948, p. 61
- 6Ibid p. 79
- 7Cornelius Castoriadis, Op. Cit. p. 40
- 8V.I. Lenin, Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Pekin, 1970. P. 10
- 9Ibid, p. 16
- 10Cornelius Castoriadis, Op. Cit. p. 40
- 11Ibid, p. 34
- 12Censor, Rapporto Veridico, Milano, Italy, 1975. P. 51.
- 13V.I. Lenin, Op. Cit. p. 149
- 14Ibid, p. 150
- 15Ibid p. 150
Sorry to be late in replying,
Sorry to be late in replying, but just saw this post
The article starts out in a bad way, claiming:
Not exactly, and not even close to having anything to do with the Russian Marxist-Leninists.
The full paragraph from Lukacs History and Class Consciousness
The Russian "legal Marxists" were a formation that existed between 1894-1901, and of course there wasn't even a precursor of Bolshevism, much less "Leninism," until 1903. Now, if the author of the OP wants to make a connection between the "legal Marxists" and Leninism that would be one thing.
It is not the "thing" however that concerns the author, so using this misappropriated quote from Rosa to buttress a claim about the Bolsheviks is.....nonsense. Rosa, throughout the period 1903-1919, did not accuse Lenin and/or the Bolsheviks of being pro-capitalist, or proto-capitalist. And Lukacs...........???? Puh-leese. This "greatest Marxist since Marx," whose History and Class Consciousness represents a fundamental retreat from the critique of capital Marx advanced, couldn't get down on his knees fast enough to genuflect before Stalin.
To cite Rosa's criticism of "legal Marxists" as anticipating the nature, and course of Russian Bolsheviks as vehicles for, proponents of capitalism, and not explore the historical conditions that make Rosa's criticism specific to the "legal Marxists" and then ignore Rosa's own later assessment of the role of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution, goes beyond simple "bad faith"-- it falls into willful distortion.
It is not adequate, sufficient, to use Marx's categories to describe a political entity-- like the Bolsheviks, pre or post 1917-- as a class, as agents of the capitalist class, but not employ or develop the very process of analysis Marx used to derive those categories.
For example the article claims:
Really? States, as organized agencies of a ruling class, or of compromises between ruling classes-- i.e. merchants and landowners-- precede capitalism. Centralization on all possible levels? The capitalist states of the US bourgeoisie, in particular, do not insist upon centralization at all possible levels. Indeed, the capitalist class, internationally, over the last 30 years has been vociferous in its advocacy of decentralization, and its "anti-state" ideology.
And as for -- a hierarchical mode of organization-- that too precedes capitalism, and is not, in and of itself, the determinant of capitalism.
Now maybe the OP should be arguing that Marxism is the actual vehicle for capitalism-- which of course requires a huge suspension of disbelief, given Marx's work-- writings and actions--against capitalism, but then we would have to ascribe that class allegiance, that class vehicle, that pro-capitalist "ideology" to the very people the author quotes as support, Lukacs and Luxemburg, and would make them highly suspect sources for indicting Marxism-Leninism.
Is just complete nonsense. Whatever the mistakes, and they are legion, in Lenin's evaluation of imperialism; in the linkage between "state" and "monopoly" capitalism,-- the basis for the imperialism, the state monopoly, is the development of capitalism, the massive accumulation of the means of production as values.
There was no so development, no pre-existing developed capitalism in Russia-- kind of the whole point of uneven and combined development.
So what we have in the OP is the "ultra-left" version, essentially, of Stalin's "socialism in one country"-- in a country of backward agricultural relations and productivity, without an "advanced capitalism" -- instead of "socialism in one country" -- we get "state monopoly capitalism in one country" somehow imposed upon the same country with the same backward agricultural productivity, lacking the very basis on which the supposed monopoly is based.
Why do you keep saying OP?
Why do you keep saying OP? its quite clear this was an article writing by Jack Grancharoff in 1979, this isn't a thread.
That's a complete misreading of the quotation though isn't it. Immediately after that Grancharoff says this "Her prophecy has been verified by the events that followed. When in power, Marxist-Leninists in historical and pragmatic terms, have proven the veracity of Luxemburg’s statement. It is equally applicable to non-Russian Marxists, such as Euro-Communists and Social Democrats who, without scruples, are also openly assuming the role of champions of capitalism."
At no point was he claiming Rosa Luxemburg was talking about MLs there your deliberately mischaracterising what he's saying. He's stating that the Russian MLs showed the same tendencies, he even expands it to include other non Marxist Leninists to show he doesn't think this is unique to them. So either you stopped reading at that point or you're being deliberately dishonest.
Either way you're criticism is meaningless because based on a false premise.
He also referred to a Bourgeois mode of production meaning he's talking about a specific state. You're being disingenuous again.
30 years ago from your comment would be 1987, this was written in 1979, earlier you were moaning about a quote from 1903 not having any relevance to 1917, so even if what you're saying is true* if you really meant that this statement is just as wilfully dishonest.
*I doubt that given how monopolisation during that period has actively increased economic centralisation in Europe and North America despite the shallow advertising about consumer choice and empowerment.
What on earth made you think the author was using Lenin's definition of Imperialism here? He makes it quite clear by quoting it and then arguing against it, he doesn't think the Soviet Unions fulfils Lenin's version of Imperialism.
???? What? Russia had some of the largest most advanced factories on the planet by 1917, entire regions of Russia and Ukraine were colonies of the Coal producers, its territory also included the industrial centres of the Kingdom of Poland and Finland, the Empire couldn't of survived with shipping and rail companies.