Header Ads

Header ADS


B.M Leizbon,

Socialist ideals have a long history. Once they were nothing but wish-dreams for a better future. But they had roots in ambient reality, for even in his dreams man cannot escape reality. Socialist Utopias reflected the contemporary level of the productive forces and the experience mankind had accumulated by that time.

Among other things, the great revolution in socialist ideology made by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels freed socialist ideas from all mysticism and religiosity, placed them on a solid ground by pointing to the social forces who are able to build the new society and to the real economic prerequisites that had been created for it by preceding development. Once a utopia, socialism became a science.

To assert itself, scientific socialism had to fight many different Utopian views, including those reflecting the narrow-mindedness of the peasantry, which reduced socialism and communism to the mere “just” distribution of property and simplified all aspects of the life of individuals and society. While the egalitarian aspirations of the peasantry had a revolutionary role to play in the liquidation of feudal property, they became reactionary when they were made a universal principle. Marx wrote in his early works how far the petty-bourgeois glorification of vulgar egalitarian communism denying the personality was from genuine communism.

Underneath the words about equality, about limiting consumption Marx discerned general 115 envy as "the disguise in which avarice re- establishes itself and satisfies itself, only in another way".  [115•1  The desire for a general levelling, the idea of a certain minimum, of a definite limited measure, the abstract rejection of the entire world of culture and civilisation—all this, Marx said, was by no means genuine assimilation of abolished private property. Such ideas spring from "the regression to the unnatural simplicity of the poor and undemanding man who has not only failed to go beyond private property, but has not yet even attained to it".  [115•2 

Egalitarian communism sought salvation from capitalism only in the establishment of communist communes. The hostility of egalitarian communism towards science, culture and the intelligentsia reflected the hatred of the small peasant and artisan for bourgeois society, their hatred and at the same time their complete despondency.

Censuring Wilhelm Weitling, a champion of this primitive sectarian communism, Marx said in March 1846 that the raising of fantastic hopes can lead ultimately only to the destruction and not to the salvation of the sufferers. "People without a positive doctrine,” Marx said, "are unable to do anything, and up to now have done nothing but raise noise, caused harmful outbursts and the destruction of the cause they have taken up."  [115•3  Condemning the nihilist attitude of sectarian communism towards man’s cultural 116 achievements, Marx said: "Ignorance is a demon which, we fear, will yet produce many a trag- edy."  [116•1 

This prophecy was more than once proved true.

The revolutionary preaching of the anarchists was accompanied by primitive views about future society. The anarchists expounded views directly opposed to those of Marxism, but unscrupulously referred to the Manifesto of the Communist Party written by Marx and Engels Anarchism, wrote Marx, "brazenly substitutes its sectarian programme and narrow theories for the broad programme and lofty aspirations of our Association...."  [116•2 

Nechayev’s  [116•3  programme article, "The Main Principles of the Future Social System”, which Marx and Engels called a "splendid example of barracks communism" is an example of the sectarian absurdities into which the anarchists fall.

This reactionary document proclaimed a society based on the principle: to produce "as much as possible and to consume as little as possible”, to work much in order to consume little. Man’s entire life—from birth to death—was strictly regimented. There were common dormitories, valuers and offices, regimentation of education, production, consumption, manual work obligatory for all, labour under pain of death. To achieve this society "the revolutionary catechism" of the anarchists demanded that all revolutionaries suppress in them all tender feelings of kinship, friendship, affection and gratitude, 117 should know only the cold passion of the revolutionary. The revolutionary needed no knowledge, he "knows only one science—the science of destruction".  [117•1  Intimidation and violence were to be his weapons.

Marx found it difficult to determine whether it was "buffoonery or baseness" that predominated in these ravings. The ground was taken away from under them by devastating Marxist criticism and the development of the productive forces. The organised working-class movement rejected "barracks communism”. But the latter did not disappear without a trace, it made itself felt under new conditions, living on the difficulties of the struggle for socialism and always reflecting the most "revolutionary revolutionism" of the desperate petty bourgeois.

Many of the features of "barracks communism" with its cult of violence and intimidation were resurrected in Trotskyism. While Lenin emphasised that ".. . violence is, of course, alien to our ideals”,  [117•2  Trotsky praised violence and intimidation and widely resorted to it.

Speaking ten days after the victory of the October Revolution, Lenin said: "We have not resorted, and I hope will not resort, to the terrorism of the French revolutionaries who guillotined unarmed men."  [117•3  This expressed his deep conviction that the victorious working class must not resort to armed violence, to terror, except as a retaliatory measure, when forced to do so by representatives of the overthrown exploiting classes who are unwilling to lay down their arms. 118 Trotsky, on the other hand, made terror a law of all wars and all revolutions. In his book, Terrorism and Communism, he maintained that "intimidation is a powerful means of policy, both foreign and domestic”. He did not draw any distinction between war and revolution; to him every revolution was a war, and "war, like revolution, is based on intimidation”. Like war, "revolution . . . kills few but intimidates thousands".

The methods of leadership that Trotsky attempted to impose upon the Party in peace-time conditions clearly prove that the "intimidation policy" is an essential part of Trotskyism and was not called for by any special, military conditions.

When there was a temporary military respite in the spring of 1920, the Ninth Party Congress decided to use military units as working parties. The disruption of the transport system and the threat of renewed hostilities in the near future made it inadmissible to demobilise the army. It was therefore necessary to send the armies to places where large labour forces were required. This was a temporary and emergency measure, necessitated, as Lenin reported to the congress, by extraordinary circumstances.

Trotsky, however, did not regard the militarisation of labour as a forced measure, he considered military methods natural for socialist construction. His speech at the congress expressed his contempt for the working masses. Since, he said, "man strives as a rule to evade work, it can be said that man is a rather lazy animal”, and therefore there should be militarisation under which every worker feels that he is a soldier of labour.

The Trotskyist endeavour to reduce the leadership of the masses to purely administrative methods was expressed even more clearly when the country entered the period of peaceful socialist construction. The discussion on the trade unions which the Trotskyists imposed on the Party at the end of 1920 and beginning of 1921 revealed the anti-democratic nature of Trotskyism, which strove to introduce military methods in the trade unions, to "shake up" all the leading personnel of mass organisations from top to bottom by purely administrative methods, and demanded "a tightening of screws".

In his speeches during the trade union discussion and on other occasions, Trotsky often spoke about the role of the masses in history and the need to maintain links with them, but the C.P.S.U. saw that all his talk was but a cloak for his deep mistrust of the masses, for his striving to use only coercive methods, since the Trotskyists, in fact, rejected persuasion, the Party’s principal method of leadership.

Lenin’s appraisal of the "actual differences" with Trotsky on the trade union question left no doubt that it was a question of "different approach to the mass, the different way of winning it over and keeping in touch with it. That is the whole point".  [119•1 

The striving for equalisation that was so typical of all variants of peasant Utopian socialism and the "barracks communism" of the anarchists is also to be found in Trotskyism. Suffice it to recall Lenin’s sharp criticism during the trade union discussion of Trotsky’s thesis that "the equalisation line should be pursued in the sphere 120 of consumption, that is, the conditions of the working people’s existence as individuals. In the sphere of production, the principle of priority will long remain decisive for us....” "This is a real theoretical muddle,” Lenin said. "It is all wrong. Priority is preference, but it is nothing without preference in consumption."  [120•1 

The victory of the socialist revolution, which creates moral incentives to work unprecedented in any exploiting formations, does not mean that material stimuli have disappeared. When you ask people to do shock-work, Lenin said, you have to give them bread, and clothes, and meat. "It is wrong to think that food distribution is only a matter of fairness. We must bear in mind that it is a method, an instrument, and a means of increasing output."  [120•2 

This was said at the Third All-Russia Food Conference in June 1921, when the country was starving. Later Lenin spoke even more extensively on material stimuli for developing production, on the correct combination of material and moral stimuli.

The economists of the Trotskyist trend, Preobrazhensky, for example, continued to assert that piece rates were a system of bourgeois incentives to work, that they "may begin to hamper the new system of labour organisation. . . ."

When the Soviet state was still in the transition from Civil War to peaceful construction, Lenin wrote in his article "New Times and Old Mistakes in a New Guise" that every turn of history calls forth some changes which assume 121 the form of petty-bourgeois vacillations and a Right-opportunist and anarchist character. In 1921 the Leftist bawlers wanted the almost immediate introduction of communism, taking as a model the policy of war communism which the Party had been compelled to introduce during the Civil War. Lenin spoke of the danger of petty-bourgeois impatience and lack of backbone which objectively further the ends of imperialism. The rout of the Leftists saved the country from the upheavals that would inevitably have taken place if an adventuristic line had been followed.

In China the Leftist adventurists were able to impose upon the country a policy which was practically tantamount to proclaiming the immediate introduction of communism. Simultaneously with the "big leap" slogan, they advanced the "people’s communes" slogan. In 1958, communes were hurriedly set up in the countryside and were immediately declared to be "cells of communist society”. The peasants’ personal plots, poultry and cattle were taken over by the communes. Everything, including domestic implements and utensils, was socialised. Ten items were to be supplied free of charge: food, clothing, marriage, funerals, and so on.

Excited by its own propaganda, the leading group of the C.P.C. adopted decisions stating that "apparently the achievement of communism in China can no longer be considered a remote prospect”. They wrote articles asserting that the Chinese People’s Republic would be the first socialist country to effect the transition to communism, and that out of the ten prerequisites which Marx said were necessary to build communism, China had already realised 8, while 122 the other two: the combination of agriculture with industry and the combination of education with material production—were well under way in China (Hung-chi, No. 7, 1958). Actually, observers noted, the communes resembled militarised settlements, idealising poverty and self-denial.

One can deceive oneself, one can deceive others for some time, but one cannot outwit reality.

The establishment of communes by purely artificial means and the complete disregard of the fact that the principles underlying the building of these communes did not correspond with the level of the productive forces in the Chinese countryside had ruinous economic consequences. In three or four months the communes ate up as much rice as had been consumed formerly in a whole year. The peasants stopped working and were faced with the threat of hunger. The communes had to be dissolved, but the Chinese propagandists, disregarding facts, continue to speak of communes, although these have long since been dissolved and replaced by some sort of agricultural artels called production teams.

Having utterly failed in its economic policy, the Mao Tse-tung group had succeeded in one thing only, namely a "big leap" backwards from Marxism to the ideology of "barracks communism".

True to the logic typical of petty-bourgeois revolutionism, the Maoists began to look for a way out of their difficulties through militarisation, "the tightening of screws”, the absolutisation of violence.

The entire able-bodied population in the people’s communes in town and country, including 123 women, was organised along military lines into platoons, companies, battalions, regiments and divisions. After that, the Maoists launched an extensive campaign under the slogan "Learn from the People’s Liberation Army".

There is no need to dwell on the numerous and extremely complicated slogans advanced during this campaign, such as the call to master the "three—eight" style and to act according to the "first four" rule, by which is understood the "style of cohesion”, "style of tension”, "style of severity" and the willingness to "bear the burden of enormous labour, considering it an honour" and many other slogans of that type. What all these seemingly incomprehensive numbers and words mean was explained in Renrnin ribao laconically and unequivocally on February 1, 1964: one must learn from the army, which "carries out orders resolutely, quickly, strictly, without arguments or haggling" and "does as it is ordered”. All this was said quite explicitly.

Comparatively recently still, in 1956, the Eighth Congress of the C.P.C. noted that the People’s Liberation Army had won thanks to the leadership of the Party, that the Army should learn from the people, that "centralisation achieved only by force is false centralisation unable to withstand the test of time".  [123•1  Later all this was rejected and nobody knows what has happened to the people who made these incontestable statements. The Maoists began to suggest that it is not the Army that should learn from the Party and the people, but that, instead, they should learn from the army, and centralisation 124 based on force is now advertised as the most important principle.

The measures that were taken in China to organise labour along military lines and implant military discipline are proof that this was not merely a propaganda campaign. A whole system of political bodies vested with great authority was set up in industry and agriculture: political boards at ministries and large plants, political sections at medium plants, and political commissars at small ones. All these bodies were staffed with people trained in the army, and many army men were transferred to the political bodies of civilian organisations.

The "cultural revolution" is intended by its organisers to complete this process of militarisation. The Hungweipings and Tsaofans, who are called upon to stage the indignation of the "revolutionary masses" against those who disagree with Mao Tse-tung’s adventuristic policy, are backed by military units. The army dissolves the lawful governing bodies and forms so-called revolutionary committees, in which it takes control of key positions.

The Army is charged with carrying out the sowing in spring, and with restoring production. Everything is being done to transform the country into a huge barrack. This has gone even further than the initial founders of "barracks communism" could imagine.

The anarchist slogan "Produce more and consume less" has been widely applied by the Maoists. The lawful demands of the workers for the betterment of their material conditions are branded as counter-revolutionary “economism”. The Maoist propaganda apparatus has long since been trying to underpin the unfortunate neces- 125 sity to curb consumption with a theoretical basis. People who are able to limit their requirements to the barest minimum are given wide publicity. For example, a certain cook "who for 13 years did not take a single day off, did not buy a single pair of shoes or a single pair of socks" is receiving loud praise. The papers suggest that "we, revolutionaries, must not think about clothes, but about how to liberate all mankind”. The principle of material incentives to work, and also the principle "Everything for the benefit of man, everything for the sake of man”, proclaimed in the Programme of the C.P.S.U., are being cried down as leading to bourgeois degeneration.

Now “economism” has been declared " corruption”, "a dagger with which people are killed without bloodshed, opium poisoning people, arsenic with a sugar coating”. The stripping of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions of all its authority for its alleged “economism”, the deprivation of the Chinese factory and office workers of all organisations able to stand up for their material and spiritual interests shows that the drum-beating and shouting about "arsenic with a sugar coating" is a dagger with which not metaphorical, but very real and very painful blows are struck at the workers’ organisations.

The "cultural revolution”, attended by the closure of schools and higher educational establishments to free the Hungweipings from the burden of studies, declared serious studies superfluous. As reported by a Hungweiping leaflet, Mao Tse-tung said early in 1964 to a group of students: "The curriculum of sciences could be cut by half. Confucius taught only six sciences: ceremonial, music, archery, chariotry, the holy books and arithmetic.... If we take the biography of 126 people advanced in science we shall find that there were no great leaders among them. ... In the Ming Dynasty only two emperors—Tai Tsu and Chen Tsu—managed state affairs well. One of them knew no hieroglyphs, the other only very few. Reading a lot will not make you an emperor.” This leaflet in praise of ignorance was being disseminated far and wide throughout China.

Later it was officially announced that the duration of studies at institutions of higher learning would be shortened and that many subjects would be struck out of the curriculum; in schools that were reopening, tuition began with military training and the singing of the song about "the reddest of red suns".

All this is logical—"barracks communism" is incompatible with real learning, genuine knowledge; it can thrive only on ignorance and darkness, on deception of people and incitement to fanaticism.

An oversimplified ideal of man impoverished and deprived of all natural feelings and requirements is the logical crowning of the artificial constructions of "barracks communism".

Marx’s motto "I am human and nothing human is alien to me" is considered in China as sedition of the worst kind.

In Soviet art one frequently comes across a courageous fighter, a hero of the Patriotic War, but he never forgets his wife and children. Maoist literary critics would declare him a traitor for worrying only about his family. A commander must not regret the loss of his soldiers for they are dying for a great cause.

The Maoists label the grief, suffering, and bereavement of the Soviet people, who knew 127 from their own experience all the horrors of fascist occupation and, refusing to resign themselves to it, fought every hour and every minute of the day "bourgeois emotions of petty people”. According to the "barracks communism" scheme, it is criminal to mourn the dead while rejoicing at the victory over fascism, to be ready to sacrifice oneself and yet to love one’s wife and children, to be fearless in battle but openly to express joy when quiet reigns again, to work for a high social ideal and yet to wish for more of the good things in life.

The Chinese newspapers now print ad nauseam appeals to "learn from Wang Tse”, "learn from Lei Feng,” etc., etc. They are all aimed at making men blind tools of Mao. "I want to be a universal cog”, says Wang Tse, while another widely advertised “hero”—Chang Hung-chi, who also wants to be a little cog, adds: ”. . . no matter where I am installed—on a gun, on a farm machine, on a motor lorry, on a lathe—I am happy, everywhere I shall be a little cog.” Soldier Lei Feng, another pretender for the role of an eternal little cog is supposed to have said the following: "A cog must always be cleaned to keep it from rusting. The same applies to people’s ideas. They must be constantly checked, to prevent break-downs."

Shameless interference in the personal affairs of people, constant control over everybody, is becoming the rule. As early as 1957 the Renmin ribao (January 12) printed a reply to a letter protesting against the ruling that a Communist could get married only after his application had been considered by three Party instances and that Party organisations were obliged "to help those entering marriage to acquaint themselves 128 with each other’s political views in order to avoid misunderstandings and possible regrettable consequences”. The paper explained that Party organisations must give advice to those entering marriage "not only on the political views of the future marriage partner but also on other questions”, help its members "to obtain a better knowledge of the character and cast of mind of their future marriage partner”. The paper ended with the hypocritical statement: "This cannot be considered an encroachment on a Party member’s freedom to marry."

The above “instructions” do not even mention such things as love or feelings. Later, the Maoists went even further. “Love” was replaced by the "instinct of attraction to the opposite sex”, and that “instinct” was branded as one of the most harmful manifestations of bourgeois individualism.

The suppression of natural human feelings, narrow-mindedness made an ideal, and to top it all, the dictatorship of Chairman Mao, who mercilessly suppresses even the slightest deviation from the “communist” pattern he has thought out—such is the despotism being implanted in China.

The Maoists are extremely vociferous about the hegemony of the working class, the dictatorship of the proletariat. However, these concepts have lost their genuine content in China. Hundreds of thousands of people to be “re-educated” are sent to the countryside, none to workers’ collectives. The difference in the living standard between the workers and peasants is used to incite the peasants against the workers, to accuse them of "striving for bourgeoisification”. Some observers who know the country well note that 129 “the working class in China is often treated as the bourgeoisie was in the Soviet Union”. The widely advertised “experience” of the Da-tsin oilfields, which are called "a socialist enterprise of the Chinese type”, is essentially an attempt to make the workers themselves entirely self- supporting. Newspapers praise the workers for building mud huts for themselves and for building huts of reed. While the workers are busy in production the members of their families engage in agriculture. And all that is passed for an ideal.

The intention to make the workers simultaneously peasants is implemented also in other ways. Factories hire workers in villages on agreements for a season or for three to seven years. These workers are paid less than permanent workers and part of their wages goes to the social fund of the village community. Another system is the payment for the workers’ labour according to workday units by the village. They are not allowed to take their family with them and are obliged to return to the village after their term of employment expires. In advertising this practice, the Chinese press emphasises the "incompatibility of a system of permanent workers with the ideas of Mao Tse-tung".

The experience of China shows that the petty bourgeoisie can be an ally of the working class, but can also work against it, implying by the word “proletarian”, which is synonymous of revolutionary in the contemporary world, their own narrow primitive ideals.

Petty-bourgeois narrow-mindedness is implanted in everything not only in China’s domestic affairs. It has become a state policy and extends also to foreign policy. The Chinese leaders want to equalise not only all members of their society, 130 but also all the socialist countries. According to them, the Soviet Union must suspend communist construction and use all its resources to bring all backward countries up to its level.

If the Soviet Union and other economically advanced socialist countries should really stop building the material and technical basis of communism and socialism, they would thereby deprive the peoples of the developing countries of the necessary assistance.

The striving for equalisation has always been strong in China, an immense country inhabited mainly by small peasants. From the very start, Communists had to fight absurd ideas about socialism evolved by the narrow-mindedness of peasants. As early as the Sixth Congress of the C.P.C. in 1928, the report of the Executive Committee of the Comintern pointed out that many people in China regarded socialism as a universal equalising share-out of property: "Divide all large estates—that is socialism; open up all the shops, take all the goods from them and divide them out—that is socialism; take the factories, workshops, etc., and pilfer them—that is socialism; confiscate the rice stocks in the granaries— that is socialism. Actually, however, that is not socialism, but only a universal division of property...."  [130•1 

At present the petty-bourgeois-peasant striving to "grab as much as possible" dictates the policy of the Mao Tse-tung group, which refuses to reckon with the interests of the world socialist system as a whole, and is willing, for the sake of equalisation, to deprive the world revolu- 131 tionary movement, about which it talks so much, of its principal material basis—the economic and military might of the socialist camp.

The ideas of socialism travelled a complex path from utopia to science. Now Mao Tse-tung wants to go back along that road—to make the science of socialism a reactionary utopia. But there can be no reverse movement in history. It is possible to impede a progressive movement, but what is rooted in life will shoot through anything. The more efforts are made to compress the spring of history, the more powerfully it will rebound, overthrowing all resistance.

* * * 


 [115•1]   K. Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Moscow, 1967, p. 93–94.

 [115•2]   Ibid., p. 94.

 [115•3]   See P. Annenkov’s Reminiscences about K. Marx in the collection The Communist League—A Forerunner of the First International (in Russian), Moscow, 1964, p. 72.

 [116•1]   K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Ed. 1, S. 104.

 [116•2]   K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 18, S. 333.

 [116•3]   Nechayev—"A Russian Revolutionary-Conspirator."

 [117•1]   K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 18, S. 427.

 [117•2]   V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 23, p. 69.

 [117•3]   Ibid., Vol. 26, p. 294,

[119•1]   V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 32, p. 22.

 [120•1]   Ibid., Vol. 32, p. 28.

 [120•2]   Ibid., Vol. 32, p. 448.

 [123•1]   Materials of the Eighth All-China Congress of the Communist Party of China (in Russian), p. 213.

 [130•1]   Stenographic Report of the Sixth Congress of the C.P.C. (in Russian), Book 1, Moscow, 1930, p. 17.

No comments

Powered by Blogger.