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How To Turn NEP Russia Into Socialist Russia

Selected Articles From"Lenin's political testament: the reality of history and the myths of politics" Sakharov V.A.

Svitlana M, Erdogan A

His confidence in the possibility of a successful completion of the Russian socialist revolution V.I. Lenin expressed in his last public speech at the plenum of the Moscow Soviet on November 20, 1922:

“Socialism is no longer a question of the distant future ... We dragged socialism into everyday life, and we must figure it out. This is what constitutes the task of our era ... no matter how difficult this task may be ... we all together, not tomorrow, but in a few years, we will all solve this problem at all costs, so that from Russia NEP will be socialist Russia "[1682]. 

All the last letters, notes and articles of Lenin are a manifestation of purposeful work to accomplish this task. Work started but not finished. 

The above analysis of the history of creation and content of the last letters, notes and articles of V.I. Lenin leads us to the conclusion that the widespread opinion that, in them Lenin completed development of a plan for the construction of socialism in the USSR, has no sufficient grounds. If we remain on the traditional point of view, i.e. that Lenin’s last letters, notes and articles are a “Political testament” and the completion of his development of a plan for building socialism, then it will be necessary to admit that this plan does not answer a number of questions of paramount importance, without which this plan loses its practical significance. Moreover, in these works of Lenin, a number of important political problems were not even raised, which were then relevant for the party and the state, without the solution of which the preservation of political power by the Bolsheviks was not guaranteed. For example, the prevention of an economic crisis, the approach of which was discussed at the XI Congress of the RCP (b) and which broke out in the second half of 1923. The question of its nature was debatable, the answer to which depended on the way to prevent it.

The same can be said about the problem of strengthening the Party's ties with the working class, which was not achieved only by including its representatives in the Central Committee or the Central Control Commission, and so on. 

Everything falls into place if this complex of Lenin's texts is judged not by the name it received later (obviously, not earlier than January 1924), but by the content and history of their origin. The history of Lenin's work on the problems posed in the "Testament" suggests that he did not set himself the task of completing developing a plan for building socialism in the USSR and, therefore, did not solve it. He simply continued to work on topical issues of party-state building, economic and social policy. Naturally, the solutions he proposed, firstly, were based on the then existing ideas about the ways and means of building socialism, and secondly, enriched these ideas with new observations, assessments, and conclusions. Therefore, Lenin's "Political Testament", which summarized the new experience of socialist construction, became an important contribution to the development of a plan for the construction of socialism in the USSR. But it was not the completion of this work, if only because it is obviously impossible to complete it at all, because such a plan must be constantly refined, corrected, adapting to new conditions, opportunities, and tasks. Nor were these works a “Political testament” in the true sense of the word since they were not conceived and executed as guidelines that the party had to fulfill without fail after the death of the leader. They can be regarded as a "Testament" only in the sense that they turned out to be (contrary to hopes) the last works of Lenin, his last advice, his last search for the solution of some important theoretical and political problems. 

The main problem was that the classical schemes for the development of the proletarian revolution in Russia under the conditions of the capitalist encirclement did not allow answering a number of vital questions. A theoretical breakthrough was required. Already the views that Lenin presented to the 11th Congress of the RCP(b), as well as subsequent speeches, letters, and articles, went far beyond the previous ideas of Russian Marxists at the beginning of the century. They went beyond what seemed possible to the Bolsheviks themselves on the eve of taking power and in the first years of the revolution. It was shown above that Lenin was developing a new concept of the socialist revolution in Russia (USSR), but a number of fundamentally important issues within its framework had not yet been worked out either theoretically or politically. This applied, for example, to the problem of accumulations (it is not enough to state the presence of various wealth in the country, it was necessary to find a mechanism to use them in the interests of the socialist revolution). The question of the nature, forms, and methods of industrialization of the country remained undeveloped. But the main stumbling block remained as the peasant question. Meanwhile, it was precisely in it that there was a "key" to solving other "intractable" practical issues. Without his decision, Lenin's faith in the successful completion of the socialist revolution would lose a significant amount of persuasiveness, if it were to develop based on its own strength and in the conditions of a capitalist environment. 

Trotsky did not share Lenin's views, mainly for doctrinal reasons. As it soon became clear, Zinoviev and Kamenev were skeptical about them, but already mainly for practical reasons. While the proletarian revolution in Germany appeared to be a reality in the short term, there was hope that the internal difficulties of the Russian revolution would be overcome with the technical, economic, and financial assistance of Germany. But at the end of 1923 it became clear that this help could no longer be counted on. The most important success factor in the previous theoretical and political constructions has disappeared. 1924 brought new doubts. The stabilization of capitalism that had begun (temporary and partial as Stalin believed; firm and long-term, as Zinoviev and Kamenev believed) pushed back the prospect of a European revolution even further. On the other hand, the campaign for elections to the Soviets, held at the end of 1924-beginning of 1925, showed that, despite the successes of the NEP and the restoration of agriculture, and even thanks to them, dissatisfaction with the size of agricultural taxes, the ratio of prices for industrial and agricultural products was growing in the countryside, and against this background, the political influence of the rapidly growing rural bourgeoisie - the kulaks was increasing. 

Extraordinary measures had to be taken: on the one hand, to cancel the election results, to carry out re-elections, etc., and on the other hand, to take a number of steps towards the demands of the peasantry (permission to lease land, hire labor). These steps made it possible to improve the conditions for managing the masses of peasants and the conditions for hiring farm laborers, but at the same time they created still greater scope for the development of the kulaks. The danger that Lenin spoke of in his article "How We Can Reorganize the Workers' and Peasants' Committee" became real; if the peasants follow the bourgeoisie, there will be a threat of breaking the class alliance of workers and peasants. 

For the attitude of the leaders of the "new opposition" to the Leninist concept of the socialist revolution in Russia, it is significant that Zinoviev considered it possible in the process of building socialism to confine itself to pursuing a policy of "neutralizing" the middle peasantry [1683]. And this was in the conditions of the NEP, when Lenin developed views that went in a diametrically opposite direction. 

The peasant question became decisive for the fate of the socialist revolution in the USSR. This or that answer to it either gave hope, or mercilessly took it away. 

The problem of the participation of the peasantry in the socialist revolution (the agrarian-peasant question) for Russian Marxists turned out to be the most difficult theoretical and practical task of the socialist revolution. Lenin solved the issue of the peasantry in the Russian socialist revolution on the basis of those theoretical developments that were known from the works of K. Marx, dating back to the 50-60s of the XIX century, and mainly from the works of F. Engels, which were based on the study of the peasantry of Europe. However, the experience of the Russian socialist revolution showed that the possibility of interaction with the peasantry was chronically underestimated. The impossibility of solving the problem within the framework of traditional assessments and schemes became more and more obvious. Some non-standard solution was required. A situation arose when a theoretical breakthrough was needed, capable of providing a solution to the problem of building socialism in the Soviet Union under conditions of a capitalist encirclement. 

Help came in the form of a theoretical hint from K. Marx. In December 1924, in the 1st volume of the “Archive of K. Marx and F. Engels”, draft drafts of a letter from K. Marx to V. Zasulich (March 1883) were published. In them, Marx formulated a fundamentally important proposition about two schemes (paths of development) of the socialist revolution. The first is proletarian, developed for England and other countries that do not know public ownership of land; the second is a communal-peasant (conditionally), developed by him specifically for Russia, where the vast majority of the population is engaged in work on land owned by rural communities. Within the first the formation of a socialist collectivist society was ensured by the new collectivism inherent in the factory and rural proletariat. Collectivism, which develops as capitalism develops and in the course of the struggle of the proletariat for its social liberation from exploitation. The slogan "Proletarians of all countries, unite!" - a derivative of the achieved level of development of this collectivism and the next step in its further development. Within the framework of the second path, the formation of a socialist collectivist society was ensured by the development of peasant collectivism, which persisted in a huge mass of the population due to the existence of a rural community, which K. Marx considered not as a manifestation of backwardness and a relic of feudalism, but as a manifestation of the specific features of the development of agriculture in Russia in the difficult bioclimatic conditions of Eastern Europe. 

Marx explicitly stated that the scheme of socialist revolution, which he justified in Capital, applies only to the countries of Western Europe:


“Analyzing the origin of capitalist production, I say: “At the basis of the capitalist system lies ... the complete separation of the producer from the means of production. .. the basis of this whole process is the expropriation of farmers ... Private property based on personal labor ... In this process taking place in the West, the point is, therefore, of the transformation of one form of private property into another form of private property.


The Russian peasants, on the other hand, would have had to turn their common property into private property... But the special research that I made on the basis of materials I gleaned from primary sources convinced me that the community is the fulcrum of the social revival of Russia... [1684]. 

In draft drafts, the letter varies many times, and this position is substantiated from different angles. Let us designate the main, fundamentally important ideas for our topic.

 “In Russia, thanks to an exceptional set of circumstances, the rural community still existing on a national scale can gradually free itself from its primitive features and develop directly as an element of collective production on a national scale” [1685].


“Russia is the only country in Europe in which communal land ownership has been preserved on a broad national scale, but at the same time Russia exists in a modern historical environment, it is a contemporary of a higher culture, it is connected with the world market dominated by capitalist production.


Assimilation of the positive results of this mode of production, it gets the opportunity to develop and transform the still archaic form of the rural community, instead of destroying it (I note in passing that the form of communist property in Russia(italics ours. - BC) is the most modern form of the archaic type, which, in turn, has gone through a series of evolutions). The Russian rural community belongs to the newest type in this chain. The landowner already owns the house in which he lives and the garden, which is his appendage, on the basis of private ownership. Here is the first decomposing element of an archaic form not known to older types. On the other hand, the latter rest entirely on the relations of consanguinity between the members of the community, while the type to which the Russian community belongs is already free from this narrow connection. This opens up a wider scope for its development” [1686]. 

From this, Marx concluded:

“Theoretically speaking, the Russian “rural community” can still preserve, by developing its base, communal ownership of land and, by eliminating the principle of private property, which is also inherent in it, become the direct starting point of the economic system towards which modern society is striving. society (that is, towards socialism. - BC): without resorting to suicide, it can start a completely new life, it can, bypassing the capitalist system, appropriate the fruits with which capitalist production has enriched humanity; a system which, if considered solely from the point of view of the possible time of its existence, is hardly worth taking into account the life of society. But you need to descend from the heights of pure theory to Russian reality.(highlighted by us. - BC). First of all, it is necessary to preserve the community, and “in order to save the Russian community (and, consequently, save the peasantry from ruin, i.e. from proletarianization. - BC), writes Marx, a Russian revolution is needed” [1687].

Marx believed that the prospects for the victory of the Russian revolution were opened by the fact that capitalism had already entered the stage of crisis:

“Another circumstance favorable for the preservation of the Russian community (through its development) is that it is not only a contemporary of capitalist production, but also survived the period when this social system was still intact... In a word, capitalism is in front of it - in a state of crisis that will end only with the destruction of capitalism, the return of modern societies to the "archaic" type of common property ... So, one should not be especially afraid of the words "archaic" [1688] (italics ours. - BC).

 Marx also expressed ideas that were accepted and embodied in terms of building socialism in the USSR:


 “Common ownership of land provides it (the rural community. - BC) with a natural basis for collectivist appropriation, and its historical environment - the existence of capitalist production simultaneously - provides it with ready-made material conditions for cooperative labor organized on a large scale. It can, therefore, take advantage of all the positive gains made by the capitalist system without having to go through its Kavda gorges. With the help of machines, for which the physical configuration of the Russian soil is so favorable, it will be able to gradually replace parcel cultivation with combined cultivation. Having previously been brought back to normal in her current form, she can directly become the starting point of the economic system to which modern society aspires, and start a new life without resorting to suicide (...) The habit of the Russian peasant to the artel it will especially facilitate the transition from parcel labor to cooperative labor, which, however, he already uses to some extent when mowing communal meadows and in such collective enterprises as draining marshes, etc. ”. “It can gradually replace parcel farming with large-scale farming with the use of machines, for which the physical relief of the Russian lands is so favorable [1689].


"If the revolution occurs at the proper time, if it concentrates all the forces of the country to ensure the free development of the rural community, the latter will soon become an element in the rebirth of Russian society and an element of superiority over countries that are under the yoke of the capitalist system." “In order for collective labor to be able to replace in agriculture itself small-scale labor, the source of private appropriation, two things are needed: the economic need for such a transformation and the material conditions for its implementation.” 

According to Marx, the Russian peasantry has an economic need for cooperation; the capitalist world can also provide material conditions for its implementation.


“As for the initial organizational costs, intellectual and material, Russian society is obliged to provide them to the “rural community”, at the expense of which it has lived for so long and in which it must still seek its source of rebirth” [1690]. 

Marx, on the basis of an analysis of some features of the historical development of Russia 35-40 years before the Russian socialist revolution, pointed to the presence of socialist potential in the Russian peasantry through the preservation of communal traditions and institutions as essential conditions for survival. The Bolsheviks moved towards the recognition of this fact from practice*. The generalization of experience led them to reconsider their previous views and assessments: from recognizing the need to neutralize the middle peasant in the socialist revolution — to recognizing the necessity and possibility of a strong alliance with them in the political field — further, to recognizing the possibility of cooperating with him in the economic field in building socialism. Each step in this direction was based on accumulated experience and stimulated by the acute political need to solve the next problem in relations with the peasantry. Gradually, the ground was being prepared for the emergence of the idea of ​​the possibility of expanding and deepening cooperation with the peasantry in the socialist revolution. 

Initially, the originality of the Russian socialist revolution was explained by the socio-economic and political backwardness of Russia. But over time, the understanding began to come that backwardness itself was generated not only by the policy of tsarism, that it had deeper roots in the specific conditions of the historical path of Russia. 

Lenin connects one reason for the uniqueness of the Russian socialist revolution with Russia's middle position between the developed capitalist countries of Europe and the countries of the East. And in this regard, Lenin formulates a fundamentally important proposition:


the farther the revolutionary process spreads to the East, “the more diversity (and therefore originality), in comparison with European models, social revolutions will show.” 

Accounting for this peculiarity and this regularity seems to Lenin to be decisive .to evaluate "our revolution". Since he associated one of the reasons for the success of the revolution with the fact that during it conditions were created under which the Bolsheviks were able to “implement precisely that alliance of the “peasant war with the workers’ movement”, about the desirability and possibility of which Marx wrote [1691], then we can to suggest that Lenin associated this ability of the Russian peasantry not only (or not so much) with the remnants of feudalism in society, but also with the peculiarity of the historical development of Russia, located at the junction of Europe and Asia. 

New approaches to the solution of the peasant problem of the Russian socialist revolution are read in Lenin's formulation of the question that in the socialist revolution the 

"political and social revolution" may turn out to be "the forerunner...of the cultural revolution ... of the cultural revolution, in the face of which we ... now standing”[1692]. 

Here, for the first time, Lenin, proceeding from an analysis of the experience of the revolution, approached the idea expressed by K. Marx in a letter to V. Zasulich (March 1881) that the creation of the necessary material and technical base of a socialist society in Russia could be completed after the revolutionaries captured political power, in the course of their implementation of their socialist program, provided that they receive material, technical and cultural assistance from the developed capitalist countries (and not the revolution that won them, as F. Engels and what was perceived by Russian Marxists) [1693]. 

Marx made this conclusion on the basis of an analysis of the peculiarities of the historical path of Russia's development. Lenin, apparently, did not know this letter from Marx**. He approached the problem from a different side than Marx, not from an analysis of the uniqueness of the country's historical development, but from an understanding of the practice of the socialist revolution. But it is all the more significant that he came to the same conclusions that K. Marx came to. 

The same can be said about the recognition of the socialist potential of the Russian peasantry. Lenin, unlike Marx, does not speak about it directly and definitely, but his reasoning about the possibility of involving it in socialist construction as an active and conscious participant through production cooperation under the conditions of the NEP speaks in favor of the fact that Lenin actually recognized it, or went to this confession. 

True, the difference between his formulation of the question and Marx's is also obvious. Marx associates it with collectivism, born and supported by the rural community, developing under the conditions of the socialist revolution, and Lenin - exclusively with the economic interest of the peasant, drawn through cooperation into a new system of economic and social relations and thanks to them imperceptibly transformed into a class of socialist society. 

All this suggests that if Lenin had learned about these works of Marx, he would have been able to perceive his ideas and use them to further develop a plan for building socialism in the USSR. 

The formulation of the question of the Russian socialist revolution, which Marx proposed, indicates that he was not embarrassed by the prospect of its existence in the conditions of a capitalist environment. Indeed, if the revolution in Russia can develop for some time, coexisting side by side with the capitalist states, receiving from them modern technology, cadres of specialists, etc., then, firstly, it is sufficiently autonomous from world capitalist system and, secondly, it has (no matter how small, but it has) chances of winning. Otherwise, Marx would not have called on the Russian revolutionaries to act in this way. Naturally, forty years later there were many more grounds for an optimistic answer to this question: a different experience, a different system of international relations, a different level of Russia's development, different prospects for the development of the revolution in the East. 

Interestingly, those political forces that did not accept Lenin's theoretical and political innovations did not accept Marx's "hint". It is known that Trotsky and his supporters openly laughed at Stalin's conclusion about the possibility of building socialism in the USSR under conditions of capitalist encirclement as an attempt to grow a baobab in a mignonette pot. In the speeches of Trotsky 1925-1926. it is impossible to find anything that testifies to the perception, to the consideration of the considerations expressed by Marx. Not a single fresh thought compared to what was said in 1921-1922. 

His response to Marx is easy to read in statements about the correctness of his theory of "permanent revolution", about maintaining adherence to his old estimates and schemes [1694]. Zinoviev and Kamenev replied to Marx, on the one hand, with the statement that the technical and economic backwardness of the country is an insurmountable obstacle to the socialist revolution [1695]; that its constructive tasks may well be solved in peasant Russia without the participation and even against the will of the bulk of the country's population [1696]. In this fundamental question for the revolution, they did not learn its experience. 

There is reason to believe that this "hint" of Marx influenced a sharp change in the political position of Bukharin, who turned from the ideologist of "left communism" into the ideologist of the right, kulak deviation in the Communist Party [1697]. New views of Bukharin, the concentrated expression of which was the slogan addressed to the peasantry - "Get rich!" (April 1925) can be interpreted as a kind of (expanding and simplified) interpretation of the newly discovered assessments and ideas of Marx. Starting from the thesis that the Russian peasantry has a socialist potential, he concluded that the entire peasantry, even the kulak, can peacefully grow into socialism. In Bukharin's speech at the Fourteenth Party Congress, the main provisions of his new concept of building socialism were fully defined: 

“Because of class differences within our country, because of our technical backwardness, we will not perish ... we can build socialism even on this beggarly technical base ... this growth of socialism will many times slower ... we will plod along at a snail's pace, but ... nevertheless, we are building socialism and ... we will build it ”[1698].

 Stalin accepted Marx's hint and, in our opinion, gave it an interpretation adequate to his thoughts. He was able to do this because, in the course of the socialist revolution, together with Lenin, he went through the above-mentioned evolution towards the assessments and proposals of Marx that were still unknown to them. Stalin managed to fulfill Marx's advice –

"descended from the heights of pure theory to Russian reality" [1699].

He saw that the thesis about the preservation of the socialist potential in the Russian peasantry, preserved thanks to the rural community, made it possible to pose and solve the question of the participation of the peasantry in the socialist revolution in a completely different way. In the article "The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists" (December 17, 1924) I.V. Stalin made the first correction of the previous ideas about the conditions for the victory of socialism in the USSR. He focused on the originality of the Russian revolution, rejecting the previous ideas about the ways of its development as erroneous:

“There is no doubt that the universal theory of the simultaneous victory of the revolution in the main countries of Europe, the theory of the impossibility of the victory of socialism in one country, turned out to be an artificial, unviable theory. The seven-year history of the proletarian revolution in Russia speaks not for it, but against this theory. 

At the same time, Stalin drew attention to a different scheme for the development of the socialist revolution - as a process of

"revolutionary falling away of a number of new countries from the system of imperialism" with the support of both the proletariat of other capitalist countries and the USSR, with the progress in socio-economic development, which turned into everything. a more powerful "base for the further development of the world revolution" [1700]. 

The new scheme actually took into account Marx's assumption that the Russian socialist revolution could, in principle, develop in a capitalist environment. 

The next step is related to the preparation of the draft theses "The most important results of the extended meeting of the ECCI". The "initial draft" of the theses of the report at the XIV All-Union Party Conference of the RCP (b) was compiled by Zinoviev. Zinoviev wrote:

“But at the same time, Leninism teaches that the final victory of socialism is possible only on an international scale (or in several decisive countries. From the above unconditional law of capitalism, in no case follows the conclusion that the final victory of socialism in one country is possible” (emphasis added. - B.C.). 

This statement interprets Lenin's views in a distorted way, it is directed against what K. Marx wrote about. 

 Stalin strikes out the last sentence, which denies the possibility of the victory of socialism in one country***, and inserts before the word "possibly":

"in the sense of a complete guarantee against the restoration of bourgeois relations." The result is: “But at the same time, Leninism teaches that the final victory of socialism in the sense of a complete guarantee against the restoration of bourgeois relations is possible only on an international scale (or in several decisive countries)”[1701]. 

There has been a radical change in the meaning and direction of the thesis. Now it turned out to be directed against Zinoviev and Trotsky. And their associates. 

Further, following Zinoviev's thesis about the emergence of a certain balance in the world between capitalism and socialism "with a clear bias towards the victory of the socialist revolution," Stalin makes a long insert in which he formulates his main conclusion:

"In general, the victory of socialism (not in the sense of final victory) is unconditionally possible in one country.” 

On the other hand, the existence of two diametrically opposed social systems causes a constant threat of capitalist blockade, other forms of economic pressure, armed intervention, and restoration. The only guarantee of the final victory of socialism, those. guarantee against restoration, is, therefore, a victorious socialist revolution in a number of countries. However, it does not follow from this that it is impossible to build a complete socialist society in such a backward country as Russia without "state aid" (Trotsky) from countries more technically and economically developed. Stalin continued

“It follows from this, that the country of the workers' dictatorship, which is the main base of the international revolution, must regard itself as its most powerful lever and support; on the other hand, the party of the proletariat ruling in it must make every effort to build a socialist society in the conviction that this construction can and will certainly be victorious if the country can be defended against all attempts at restoration. In other words, by a correct policy, both in relation to the peasantry within the country and in the field of international relations, the RCP must overcome all the difficulties arising from the slowdown in the pace of the world revolution” [1702]. 

The final conclusion, only in an extremely concise form, clearly and distinctly repeats what Lenin spoke about more than once, including in the Testament. At the same time, clearly dividing the question of the sufficiency of the forces of the revolution for the victory of socialism over capitalism within the country and the question of the victory of the socialist revolution in a number of other developed capitalist countries as a condition for the final victory of socialism in the USSR, Stalin attached to the assessments and conclusions of V.I. Lenin finished view. This is important to understand the essence of the problem. This is all the more important since this formulation was directed against those who began to oppose both Lenin and Marx on this issue. The front of the confrontation was clearly defined. 

Soon, Stalin, using the views of Marx, new to the Bolsheviks, on the path of development of the socialist revolution, took an important step in the development of the Leninist concept of the socialist revolution in Russia. To Lenin's argumentation, based solely on the concept of the proletarian revolution, Stalin adds Marx's argumentation, based on a different understanding than Lenin's of the uniqueness of Russia's historical path, on a different vision of the possibilities for the development of the socialist revolution in the USSR. And immediately the prospect of relations with the peasantry appeared differently from what had been thought before. To understand the essence of the difference, it is enough to compare two quotes. 

At the Eleventh Congress, Lenin said:

“The peasant gives us a loan... But this loan cannot be inexhaustible. You need to know this and, having received a loan, still hurry up. You need to know that the moment is approaching when the peasant country will not extend further credit to us, when it ... will ask in cash, "" now we have no other way out ... with Russian capitalism, with that which is growing out of small peasant farming. .. there will be a battle in the near future, the date of which cannot be precisely determined. Here the “last and decisive battle” is to come, there can be no more detours, either political or any other” [1703].

Lenin's last articles, dictated at the beginning of 1923, do not negate these assessments and forecasts. 

Stalin now thought differently. In May 1925, summing up the results of the conference of the RCP (b), he said:


“There are two ways of developing agriculture: the capitalist path and the socialist path ... both the proletariat and, in particular, the peasantry are interested in the development going along the second path, along the socialist one... Hence the community of interests of the proletariat and the peasantry, covering up the contradictions between them... The main thing now is not at all to kindle a class struggle in the countryside. The main thing now is to rally the middle peasants around the proletariat, to win them over again. .. The main thing is to build socialism together with the peasantry, necessarily together with the peasantry and necessarily under the leadership of the working class, for the leadership of the working class is the main guarantee that construction will proceed along the road to socialism ”(our italics. - BC) [1704]. 

Stalin's innovation must be appreciated. Previously, it was considered an axiom that only the proletariat (urban and rural) was interested in socialism. Its class interest leads to the socialist transformation of the countryside and agriculture. Now Stalin declares that the peasant is interested in this no less, perhaps even more than the proletariat. The connection with the views of Marx is obvious.

 The differences in the assessment of the socialist potential of the Russian peasantry and in the views on the prospects for relations with the peasantry are so significant that one can speak of a new concept of the socialist revolution in Russia based on a creative combination of the results of Lenin's analysis of the experience of the revolution and Marx's ideas. 

The new concept of the socialist revolution was distinguished from Lenin's first and foremost by a different (inherent to Marx) assessment of the socialist potential of the Russian peasantry. And from the ideas expressed by Marx about the socialist revolution in Russia, the new concept was distinguished by a combination of the first (proletarian) and second (conditionally "community-peasant") schemes of the socialist revolution. K. Marx suggested that Russian revolutionaries not lose sight of the opportunities that Russian Marxist revolutionaries have in the form of a rural community. 

Over the past 40 years, Russia has gone very far in its development. Capitalism developed, the community weakened, but did not disappear. It became possible to organically combine proletarian socialism with the socialist potential of the Russian peasantry. However, here lay a layer of problems that Marx did not think about. Here were hidden new, previously unknown opportunities for the development of the socialist revolution in the USSR. 

The task of transforming NEP Russia into socialist Russia had to be solved in harsh international conditions, so the question of the time of this transformation, the pace of socialist transformations acquired the character of a vital condition for its successful solution. Meanwhile, Marx proceeded from the recognition of the fact of the slow development of the Russian socialist revolution since it would be based on the slow ("gradual") evolution of the rural community in the direction of creating collective farms [1705]. 

The factors limiting the pace of economic development and socialist transformations were recognized as the insufficient industrial development of Russia, the technical and cultural backwardness of the Russian village, which was forced to place its hopes in technical re-equipment on the technical assistance of developed capitalist countries. We find similar assessments in Lenin. At the end of the civil war, when the full extent of the ruin was not yet realized, when Lenin hoped to quickly implement the GOELRO plan (report on concessions at a meeting of the activists of the Moscow organization of the RCP (b) on December 6, 1920), he admitted:

 “America and other capitalist countries grow in their economic and military power devilishly fast. No matter how we gather our forces, we will grow incomparably more slowly ” (our italics. - V.S.) [1706].

 Like this! All conceivable high rates of development, according to Lenin, would still be lower than in the developed capitalist countries! 

The mere transference through decades of Marx's advice and assessments and their mechanical application to Soviet reality by Bukharin led to the inevitable and dangerously reassuring conclusion about the admissibility of a snail's pace of development, about a kind of "doomed" country to the victory of socialism, about the participation in this process of the entire peasantry, including fist. As a result - to a deep distortion of the ideas expressed by Marx. 

The high rates of development of the socialist revolution were an organic part of the first—the proletarian—scheme of its development. It is obvious that Bukharin treated Marx's thoughts with confidence, but was unable to master them creatively. He could not descend

 "from the heights of pure theory to Russian reality"[1707]. 

It seems that he underestimated the opportunities that opened up for the politician in recognizing the existence of a socialist potential in the Russian peasantry. And this inevitably fettered, limited the use of those opportunities for the development of the socialist revolution, which were generated by the development of capitalism in Russia. Obviously, this was the "Achilles' heel" in the system of views that Bukharin developed. No wonder Lenin argued with him on this issue. In the pamphlet The Economy in Transition (May 1920), Bukharin, speaking of the beginning of the collapse of the world capitalist system, wrote that it "began with the weakest economic systems with the least developed state-capitalist organization." It is clear that in this case only Russia could be implied. Lenin, reading this pamphlet, underlined the words "the weakest" and made a remark in the margins relating to them:

"Wrong: with “medium weak". Without a certain height of capitalism, we would not have succeeded” [1708].

 According to Lenin, the limited pace of the development of the revolution was dictated by the impossibility of increasing the burden on the peasants, not only because of the low efficiency of their small-scale individual farming, but also because of the impossibility of increasing the withdrawal of material and financial resources from the countryside in view of the threat of breaking the class alliance with them. Bukharin agreed with this. 

Stalin, in contrast to him (this is clear from the subsequent struggle between them), believed that the peasant, as long as he is interested in the victory of socialism, for the sake of his own interests, should go to the maximum mobilization of all his forces. Production cooperation made it possible to ensure both the social evolution of the peasantry and the mobilization of all its forces to ensure this evolution****. 

If for the mass of peasants the mentality born, developed, and preserved by the rural community seemed vital, if the peasants were interested in the development of agriculture along the socialist path no less, and almost more than workers, then the task of preparing mass production cooperation (collectivization) became relevant.

 Collectivization plans, shelved by the Bolsheviks after the transition to the NEP, received a new life. At the same time, collectivization now appeared in a different form than before, when it was believed that the collective farms were for the poor, for the middle peasant - marketing and credit cooperation. Without the middle peasant, who made up approximately 60% of the peasantry, no collectivization could be considered mass and could not radically solve those social, economic, and political problems on which the success of the socialist revolution depended. Without the participation of the middle peasant, collectivization could not provide the country with the volume of agricultural products and money to the treasury that was needed, could not ensure the technical re-equipment of agriculture on the required scale and the socialist transformation of the countryside. And this is understandable: outside this work, the largest and economically strongest section of the working peasantry, the middle peasant, would have remained. The necessary economic and socio-political effect could only be given by mass collectivization of the countryside. Collectivization was the second revolution to bring socialism to the countryside, a revolution carried out "from above" as Marx had foreseen.

 The mass collectivization of the peasants, despite all the difficulties and shortcomings, and sometimes mistakes (“excesses”, etc.) accompanying its implementation, has become a peaceful alternative to the

“last and decisive battle” with “capitalism... which grows out of a small peasant economy ”(our italics. - AS.) [1709].

 Mass collectivization prevented the process of "production" of capitalism by the petty-bourgeois countryside, isolated the kulaks from the bulk of the peasantry, and thereby facilitated the struggle against the underdeveloped rural bourgeoisie. It opened up a new perspective for the individual peasant to improve his economic and social position. An alternative to it was the struggle against the kulaks growing out of the peasantry, like the heads of a hydra. But in the countryside, in which the path to the kulaks is the only way to a better life, the “last and decisive battle” with capitalism, which is growing “out of the small peasant economy,” is not just a fight against the kulaks, it is the deprivation of hope for the middle peasant (even and illusory) to a serious improvement in their life situation. 

Therefore, the struggle of the dictatorship of the proletariat with the rural bourgeoisie, without the development of mass collectivization, would inevitably incite the middle peasants of the countryside against it, would unite them with the rural bourgeoisie in the struggle against Soviet power. The exhaustion of the political confidence of the Soviet government and the presentation by the peasantry of a "promissory note" for payment, the danger of which Lenin warned, would become a reality. As a result - the failure of the NEP, the prospect of a return to the policy of neutralizing the middle peasants and a new bloody civil war in which the victory of the dictatorship of the proletariat would be more than doubtful. 

The participation of the middle peasant in mass collectivization made it possible to make the class alliance of workers and peasants a much more durable and effective means of the socialist transformation of society than it was before under the domination of small individual farming. The new approach to the peasantry made it possible to solve the problem of accumulating financial resources for the implementation of the socialist reconstruction of the national economy and the industrialization of the country. Thanks to mass collectivization, it was easier to direct the flow of financial resources coming from the countryside, from agriculture to the state bank, bypassing the pocket of the private owner, and put them at the service of socialism in its struggle against capitalism. Through the collective farms, it was easier to send a stream of new equipment to the countryside, therefore, to start raising labor productivity, marketability, to ensure the growth of production volumes, which, in turn, led to an increase in the flow of material and financial resources coming from the countryside, and expanded the possibilities for financing the national economy.

 The development of relations between the state (for example, through the MTS) and the collective farms made it possible to reduce (or limit the growth) the sphere of monetary relations between them, freeing the village from some of the worries of increasing its own production capacities (horses, harness, plow, harrow, fodder grain, etc.). etc.), which also made it possible to make additional and ever-increasing withdrawals of money and grain from the countryside for the needs of the industrialization of the country and the tractorization of agriculture. 

The city received funds for the development of industry, partly used to provide jobs and housing for peasant sons and daughters, whom their native village and family “squeezed out” into the city, not being able to feed and provide for them (“agrarian overpopulation”). In the city, in the conditions of industrialization, they got the opportunity not to get by somehow on a mix regular unemployment benefit, but to participate in the technical re-equipment of their own village, returning the debt of the city to their fathers and mothers, making their work easier with machines.

 The village, despite the lack of funds in it, received modern agricultural machinery and could begin to build up its technical strength and increase the production of agricultural products. The problem of accumulations was also resolved, without which all discussions about the industrialization of the country would have remained empty talk.

 There was a real opportunity to ensure such high rates of economic development that had previously seemed impossible. It turned out to be possible to set and solve the problem of overcoming the 50-100-year lag behind the country in the field of technology from the developed capitalist countries in 10 years. Not for records, of course. To defend its existence among hostile states, to strengthen the positions of socialism in the world, to serve as the basis for the development of the socialist revolution in the world and to fulfill the role of the "shock brigade of socialism."

 While preparing the second edition of his biography, Stalin entered the following words in italics into the text of the book. 

“Based on Lenin’s instructions, Stalin developed provisions (this word was inserted by him instead of the word “teaching.” - BC) on the socialist industrialization of our country.” “Stalin developed and put into practice the theory of the collectivization of agriculture »[1710]. 

 This is how Stalin understood his contribution to the solution of the issue that Lenin pondered until his last opportunity to work, without solving it. As can be seen, Stalin placed his contribution to the development of the problems of the socialist transformation of agriculture higher than his contribution to the solution of the problems of the industrialization of the USSR. It seems that he was right in this assessment of his contribution to the development of this most complex theoretical and political issue. 

Summing up all that has been said, we can conclude that Lenin was not mistaken in Stalin. The problem, the solution of which V.I. Lenin devoted his last letters, notes, and articles to the task of transforming NEP Russia into socialist Russia has been accomplished.  

* It must be said that F. Engels did not agree with K. Marx on this issue (Marx K., Engels F. Selected works. M, 1986. V. 4. S. 485-509). Since Marx's views on this problem remained unknown or little known to Russian Marxists, it was Engels who exerted a decisive influence on the formation of their views. 

** The fundamental provisions and assessments of this letter by K. Marx and, what is especially important, its rough drafts are not found in Lenin's documents, so it can be assumed that Lenin knew nothing about them. 

*** Initially, after the crossed-out sentence, Stalin wanted to insert the following (then he crossed out this text): “As long as the lonely country of the proletarian revolution is surrounded by bourgeois-imperialist countries, it is in danger of bourgeois restoration, it is in danger of direct or disguised military intervention, financial blockade and other economic measures of pressure of the old bourgeois states on the young proletarian state” (RGASPI. F. 558. Op. 1. D. 3359. L. 11).

 **** It is impossible to agree with the opinion (Yu.S. Aksenov) that “the theory of the possibility of the victory of socialism in a previously backward country that broke through the “chain of imperialism” was given in the most concentrated form by N.I. Bukharin in 1929 in the report "Lenin's Political Testament". It was in it that the well-known "triad" was formulated: industrialization, population cooperation and the cultural revolution, as well as the pressing problems of building the party-state apparatus. The author hints that Stalin "stole" from Bukharin both this theory and this "triad": "All this was then included in the "Short Course in the History of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks" and became the theoretical foundation of the "Stalinist model of socialism"" ("Stalinskaya model of socialism ": formation, development, collapse (1920-1928). "Round table" // Questions of the history of the CPSU. 1990. No. 12. P. 42). 


[1682] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 45. S. 309.  

[1683] This was discussed in Zinoviev's article "On Bolshevization" ("Pravda", January 13, 1925), in the book "Leninism" (1925) and in the original version of the article "Philosophy of the Epoch" (1925). See: XIV Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (b). Stenographer. report. pp. 498-501.  

[1684] Marx K., Engels F. Selected. op. T. 6. M, 1987. S. 79–80.  

[1685] Ibid. pp. 58–59.  

[1686] Ibid. pp. 71–72.  

[1687] Ibid. pp. 63, 67.  

[1688] Ibid. pp. 59–60.  

[1689] Ibid. pp. 76–77.  

[1690] Ibid. pp. 65–66, 69. 

[1691] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 45. S. 379, 380, 381.  

[1692] Ibid. S. 377.  

[1693] See: Marx K. Engels F. Selected. op. T. 4. M., 1986. S. 493, 498–509. 

[1694] Trotsky L. Towards socialism or capitalism. Ed. 2nd. M.; L., 1925. S. 65-67; He is . 1905. Twenty years later. M; L., 1926. S. 12-13.  

[1695] XIV Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (b). Stenographer. report. pp. 135-136.  

[1696] Ibid. pp. 498–500.  

[1697] The attempts made in the literature to explain the rapid evolution of one of the ideologists and leaders of the "Left Communists" into an ideologist of the right deviation in the Communist Party cannot be considered successful (see: Gorelov I.E. Nikolai Bukharin. M, 1988; Emelyanov Yu.V. Notes about Bukharin: Revolution. History. Personality. M., 1989; Kun, M. Bukharin. His Friends and Enemies. M., 1992; Tsakunov S. V. The development of N. I. Bukharin's economic views after the transition to NEP // Bukharin: man, politician, scientist, M, 1990). 

 [1698] XIV Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (b). Stenographer. report. S. 135.  

[1699] Marx K., Engels F. Selected. op. T. 6. S. 63.  

[1700] Stalin I.V. Op. T. 6. S. 362-375, 395, 398-401.  

[1701] RGASPI. F. 558. Op. 1. D. 3359. L. 6.  

[1702] Ibid. L. 15.  

[1703] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 45. S. 77, 83.  

[1704] Stalin I.V. Op. T. 7. S. 111, 123–124. 

[1705] Marx K., Engels F. Selected. op. T. 6. S. 63, 73, 77.  

[1706] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 42. S. 61. 

[1707] Marx K., Engels F. Selected. op. T. 6. S. 63.  

[1708] Lenin's collection. T. XL. M., 1985. S. 425; Bukharin N.I. Problems of the theory and practice of socialism. M., 1989. S. 171, 454. 

[1709] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 42. S. 83. 

[1710] News of the Central Committee of the CPSU. 1990. No. 9. S. 118, 120.

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