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#15174569
Is Bolshevik Communism really Marxist?
Many thinkers, politicians and simply people have tried to answer this very old question. Right-wing authors are content to ascribe the label “Marxist” to Bolshevism for they hope that the crimes and absurdities of Bolshevism will discredit the Marxist theory that they hate for other reasons (its insistence on exploitation or its atheism for instance). Left-wing authors are divided: Bolsheviks and their supporters claim Marxism because they think to find in it a sort of legitimacy. Other left wing authors consider this claim as an imposture.

I think that the answer to our question depends entirely on the definition you give to the term “Marxist”. And it is possible to find reasonable definitions of Marxism which confirm either that bolshevism is Marxist or that it is not. But a definition does not make a theory. So, this approach does not put us on the right way to understanding.

But is our basic question not badly formulated? Is the right question not rather: if Marx had lived in the twentieth century, would he had approved or disapproved the Bolshevik system? My answer is in two stages. Firstly, the new formulation brings us in an exercise of speculation, for we don’t find in Marx’s work elements that unquestionably settle the case. But, secondly, as it is unavoidable, let us speculate.

Marx advocated a classless society. Was Stalinist or post Stalinist communism in Russia and in the satellite countries a classless society? I would answer “No”. Was it on the way to become one? I would again answer “No”. The very interesting book of Michael Voslensky “Nomenklatura” (1984) has revealed to the world the hidden ruling class in USSR: this class aimed certainly not at disappearing, as the socialist State in Marx’s theory.

This is the main reason why I agree with the theory of an imposture. To be sure, it is not excluded that Marx would have approved Bolshevik communism. As a simple human being, he could have been inconsistent. But without more precise information, I would prefer the consistency option.

But after all, is all this so important? The fundamental question must be: is Russian communism a model to follow? The opinion of Marx could be interesting, but not more than yours and mine. And here, the answer needs, I think, no speculation.
#15174580
I think the question is kinda flawed ?
"Is Bolshevek Communism really Marxist" ?
It's like arguing whether a horse is better than a pack donkey for carrying freight. There are pros and cons, but the question is kinda moot, because we have moved on and both methods are archaic and irrelevant in todays world. Thus it is with Bolshevekism and Marxism. Neither work very well compared to the alternative of capitalism.
#15174631
I'd say that the most-immediate *precedent* to the Bolshevik Revolution ('October Revolution') itself, was the *February* revolution of the same year, 1917. The February Revolution was anti-monarchical and anti-war, but mostly it was about providing food to assuage people's *hunger*:



The main events of the revolution took place in and near Petrograd (present-day Saint Petersburg), the then-capital of Russia, where long-standing discontent with the monarchy erupted into mass protests against food rationing on 23 February Old Style (8 March New Style).[4] Revolutionary activity lasted about eight days, involving mass demonstrations and violent armed clashes with police and gendarmes, the last loyal forces of the Russian monarchy. On 27 February O.S. (12 March N.S.) mutinous undisciplined garrison forces of the capital sided with the revolutionaries. Three days later Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, ending Romanov dynastic rule and the Russian Empire. A Russian Provisional Government under Prince Georgy Lvov replaced the Council of Ministers of Russia.

The revolution appeared to have broken out without any real leadership or formal planning.[5] Russia had been suffering from a number of economic and social problems, which compounded after the start of World War I in 1914. Disaffected soldiers from the city's garrison joined bread rioters, primarily women in bread lines, and industrial strikers on the streets. As more and more troops of the undisciplined garrison of the Capital deserted, and with loyal troops away at the Front, the city fell into chaos, leading to the Tsar's decision to abdicate under his generals' advice. In all, over 1,300 people were killed during the protests of February 1917.[6]



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_Revolution



And:



We could hear women’s voices: ‘Down with the high prices!’ ‘Down with hunger!’ ‘Bread for the workers’… Masses of women workers in a militant frame of mind filled the lane. Those who caught sight of us began to wave their arms, shouting, ‘Come out!’ ‘Stop work!’ Snowballs flew through the windows. We decided to join the revolution.62

The next day the movement had grown to involve half the city’s 400,000 workers, with processions from the factories to the city centre, and the slogans had changed from, ‘Bread!’ to, ‘Down with the autocracy’, and, ‘Down with the war.’ Armed police attacked the protests and the government tried to use the many thousands of troops in the city’s barracks, waiting to go to the front, to break them up. But on the fourth day of strikes and demonstrations a wave of mutinies swept through the barracks. Masses of workers and soldiers intermingled and swept through the city’s streets with guns and red flags, arresting police and government officials. Regiments sent by train to restore order went over to the revolution on entering the city. A desperate attempt to return to the city by the tsar was thwarted by railway workers. Similar movements swept Moscow and other Russian cities. The tsar’s generals told him there was no chance of maintaining order anywhere unless he abdicated.



Harman, _People's History of the World_, p. 413
#15174883
Gardener wrote:I think the question is kinda flawed ?
"Is Bolshevek Communism really Marxist" ?
It's like arguing whether a horse is better than a pack donkey for carrying freight. There are pros and cons, but the question is kinda moot, because we have moved on and both methods are archaic and irrelevant in todays world. Thus it is with Bolshevekism and Marxism. Neither work very well compared to the alternative of capitalism.


It is true that the question here asked is not of immediate practical use. But it had its place in the history of ideas, which is an important and interesting field. And today's ideas are the heirs of ideas of yesterday.
You are probably not looking for an alternative to capitalism. I am. I agree with you that communism is a wrong way and that Marxism does not help us to find the right way. But I have personal ideas about the solution. Market economy has my favours, but I have imagined a system to integrate it with a special kind of collective ownership, without totally suppressing private ownership. Notice that I an not alone in this research as shown by the article here linked.
Bardan & Roemer
#15174895
Monti wrote:
It is true that the question here asked is not of immediate practical use. But it had its place in the history of ideas, which is an important and interesting field. And today's ideas are the heirs of ideas of yesterday.
You are probably not looking for an alternative to capitalism. I am. I agree with you that communism is a wrong way and that Marxism does not help us to find the right way. But I have personal ideas about the solution. Market economy has my favours, but I have imagined a system to integrate it with a special kind of collective ownership, without totally suppressing private ownership. Notice that I an not alone in this research as shown by the article here linked.
Bardan & Roemer



So who owns the factory and the land that it's located on?
#15174898
You will get an answer. Now, I can already insist on the fact that there are multiple ways to organise that, not just one. And will you seriously read the article of Bardhan & Roemer (not just have a look on it) ? For me it is a clue that you are really interested in the answer you expect from me.
#15174904
Monti wrote:
You will get an answer. Now, I can already insist on the fact that there are multiple ways to organise that, not just one. And will you seriously read the article of Bardhan & Roemer (not just have a look on it) ? For me it is a clue that you are really interested in the answer you expect from me.



Can I pay a membership fee to join your club, too -- ?


x D


Here, don't bother -- chew on this for awhile....


Centralization-Abstraction Diagram of Political Forms

Spoiler: show
Image
#15176397
ckaihatsu wrote:So who owns the factory and the land that it's located on?


I had promised an answer and it will happen. You can already find a first part of my answer in my new article "Market Socialism: The Solution of the Future?" in the field "Socialism". Later, another article will complete it.
#15176398
Monti wrote:
I had promised an answer and it will happen. You can already find a first part of my answer in my new article "Market Socialism: The Solution of the Future?" in the field "Socialism". Later, another article will complete it.



And where do I send the check for a 10-year subscription to this fine periodical of yours -- !


x D
#15176411
Okay, here's the objection that I have to the market socialism approach -- it still retains *exchange values*.

I see that premise as a non-starter, because once you rely on 'pricing', you either need the hands-off *market* mechanism, meaning that things are back to current capitalism, or else you need a hands-*on* kind of *planning*, which means a Stalinistic bureaucratic elite of separatist professional administrators, who *don't* produce commodities for society themselves, meaning that everyone *else* has to produce commodities for society, and for the bureaucrats.



dependence of supply and demand on the full price system suffices. He is also among the firsts to introduce variables technical coefficients in the general equilibrium: these are determined so as to minimise cost.



https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/64255



Socialism / communism really needs to get past commodification *altogether*, both *economic* commodification -- meaning exchange values and all market exchanges -- and also *political* commodification, meaning elitist power structures of both state and corporations, wherein one has social 'status', and privilege, according to *rank* in that power structure.
#15176691
ckaihatsu wrote:Okay, here's the objection that I have to the market socialism approach -- it still retains *exchange values*.

I see that premise as a non-starter, because once you rely on 'pricing', you either need the hands-off *market* mechanism, meaning that things are back to current capitalism, or else you need a hands-*on* kind of *planning*, which means a Stalinistic bureaucratic elite of separatist professional administrators, who *don't* produce commodities for society themselves, meaning that everyone *else* has to produce commodities for society, and for the bureaucrats.







Socialism / communism really needs to get past commodification *altogether*, both *economic* commodification -- meaning exchange values and all market exchanges -- and also *political* commodification, meaning elitist power structures of both state and corporations, wherein one has social 'status', and privilege, according to *rank* in that power structure.



Our way to think is corrupted by habit, which- it is said- becomes a second nature. We were always taught that what is not capitalism is socialism and vice-versa. Everybody tends to think in terms of systems. I prefer another perspective: institutions. Institutions which are typical of capitalism can cohabit with ones which are typical of socialism. And the question whether the result is socialist or capitalist is not very interesting. My “solution” consists in building a real market competition between firms which are owned in one way or another by the community but have an autonomous management. For social justice, ownership is the key point, well more than management or the price system.

It is obvious that this system does not aim at classless society or perfect equality. But inequality must go down radically. How? Firstly, if the State owns, say 80% of the national capital, it can distribute dividends (equally) to all citizens. Secondly, the management, freed from the obligation to serve private capital, would be more sympathetic to workers’ s interests, so the more that I recommend the presence of workers delegates in the boards of directors (one half of votes).

Collective ownership of the economy would not be 100% but a little less because founders of new firms may be allowed to own them. But there would be no inheritance.
#15176693
Monti wrote:
Our way to think is corrupted by habit, which- it is said- becomes a second nature. We were always taught that what is not capitalism is socialism and vice-versa. Everybody tends to think in terms of systems. I prefer another perspective: institutions. Institutions which are typical of capitalism can cohabit with ones which are typical of socialism. And the question whether the result is socialist or capitalist is not very interesting. My “solution” consists in building a real market competition between firms which are owned in one way or another by the community but have an autonomous management. For social justice, ownership is the key point, well more than management or the price system.

It is obvious that this system does not aim at classless society or perfect equality. But inequality must go down radically. How? Firstly, if the State owns, say 80% of the national capital, it can distribute dividends (equally) to all citizens. Secondly, the management, freed from the obligation to serve private capital, would be more sympathetic to workers’ s interests, so the more that I recommend the presence of workers delegates in the boards of directors (one half of votes).

Collective ownership of the economy would not be 100% but a little less because founders of new firms may be allowed to own them. But there would be no inheritance.



Are you indicating any of the following -- ?


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_emulation

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stakhanovite_movement


I guess my concern is that if you keep the *dynamics* the same, then people will continue to act in the interests of *capital accumulation*, which is inseparable from *labor exploitation*.

Why should anyone favor this *statism* of yours when workers will continue to be exploited in the name of the *state*, instead of in the name of *corporations* -- ?
#15176726
ckaihatsu wrote:Are you indicating any of the following -- ?


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_emulation

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stakhanovite_movement


I guess my concern is that if you keep the *dynamics* the same, then people will continue to act in the interests of *capital accumulation*, which is inseparable from *labor exploitation*.

Why should anyone favor this *statism* of yours when workers will continue to be exploited in the name of the *state*, instead of in the name of *corporations* -- ?


I understand your concern; it is not illegitimate. But it is an important reform that remuneration of capital would go to all citizens. And it is important that delegates of wage-earners should be present in the boards of directors for having a control on the remuneration of the management.
#15176747
Monti wrote:
I understand your concern; it is not illegitimate. But it is an important reform that remuneration of capital would go to all citizens. And it is important that delegates of wage-earners should be present in the boards of directors for having a control on the remuneration of the management.



Nationalization / radical-reformism.
#15180804
ckaihatsu wrote:And where do I send the check for a 10-year subscription to this fine periodical of yours -- !


x D

Monti wrote:

I had promised an answer and it will happen. You can already find a first part of my answer in my new article "Market Socialism: The Solution of the Future?" in the field "Socialism". Later, another article will complete it.


Here is the answer I promised. You will find it in my new article in the field "socialism".
#15181143
Monti wrote:Marx advocated a classless society. Was Stalinist or post Stalinist communism in Russia and in the satellite countries a classless society? I would answer “No”. Was it on the way to become one? I would again answer “No”. The very interesting book of Michael Voslensky “Nomenklatura” (1984) has revealed to the world the hidden ruling class in USSR: this class aimed certainly not at disappearing, as the socialist State in Marx’s theory.


I think, it would be far better to read the primary source to answer this question. I mean Trotsky (early 30-s).
What he does not say however is that any such project whatsoever is doomed to be NOT marxist.
But Mayakovsky is the one who gives the full answer (1926):

Marx from his own portrait wrote:“The philistine threads have entangled the Revolution. Philistine life is more terrible than Wrangel. Twist the canaries' heads - so that communism was not beaten by canaries! "[/b]
#15181196
Sandzak wrote:
No. Bolshevism is a party dictature, whereas the Kronstadt rebellion wanted true marxism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kronstadt_rebellion



Here, have some *context* with that....



The bitter price: the seeds of Stalinism

The failure to spread the revolution left Russia isolated, and it had to suffer not just a material blockade but all the horrors of foreign invasion by some 16 armies, civil war, devastation, disease and hunger. Industrial production sank to a mere 18 percent of its 1916 figure, and the small rump of the working class which remained in the cities could only feed itself by travelling to the countryside to engage in individual barter with peasants. As typhus spread and even cannibalism appeared, the Bolsheviks increasingly held on to power through a party regime rather than as direct representatives of a virtually non-existent working class. That they survived says an enormous amount about the revolutionary courage and endurance of the workers who still made up the bulk of the party. But that did not stop them having to pay a political price for survival.

This was shown starkly in March 1921 when sailors in Kronstadt, the naval fort outside Petrograd (St Petersburg), rose up, blaming the revolutionary government for the incredible levels of poverty. Kronstadt had been one of the great centres of Bolshevik strength in 1917, but its composition had changed as old militants went to fight in the Red Army and were replaced by men fresh from the countryside. The rising could not present any programme for overcoming poverty, since this was not a capitalist crisis caused by the existence of wealth alongside poverty but rather the product of a whole country impoverished by civil war, foreign invasion and blockade. There was not one class living in affluence and another in starvation, but simply different degrees of hunger. The generals of the old regime, only finally defeated in civil war a few months before, were waiting for any chance to stage a comeback, and a few eventually established friendly relations with some of the Kronstadt rebels. Time was not on the revolutionary government’s side. The ice surrounding the fortress was melting and it would soon become difficult to recapture.122 All these factors gave the Bolsheviks little choice but to put down the rising—a fact recognised by the ‘workers’ opposition’ inside the Bolshevik Party, who were in the forefront of those to cross the ice to take on the sailors. Yet Kronstadt was a sign of the wretched conditions to which isolation and foreign intervention had reduced the revolution. It could only survive by methods which owed more to Jacobinism than to the Bolshevism of 1917.



Harman, _People's History of the World_, pp. 446-447
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