Socialism - been tried?

Sent to the Shields Gazette, 8/02/07

Dear Sir,

The anonymous patriot (7th February) - so proud to stand up for what he believes in that he hides behind a veil of anonymity - regurgitates the hackneyed old argument against those advocating real socialism. He announces that socialism has been tried and failed and to hammer home his claim points the finger of proof to the former Soviet Union.

It seems that one of the pitfalls of being a socialist is to forever have the “its been tried and failed” argument brandished in your face as soon as you announce your political standpoint. The Gazette even helped with the slur by printing a photo of Lenin alongside the shy patriot’s anti-socialist diatribe.

Once again, I am neither a Leninist, a Trotskyist nor a Stalinist and I believe socialism has existed nowhere. I maintain, as ever, that the Soviet Union was state capitalist and that Lenin was simply an opportunistic distorter of Marx’s ideas, oblivious as to what socialism meant.

In The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat it (1917), Lenin wrote: “Socialism is merely state capitalist monopoly which is made to serve the interests of the whole people.”

A year later, in Left Wing Childishness… he wrote: “State capitalism would be a step forward…if in approximately six months’ time state capitalism became established in our republic, this would be a great success.”

In state capitalist Russia, the role of the state was to act as the functionary of capital in the exploitation of wage labour. The bureaucratic elite who ran the state lived in comfort and privilege as a result of the exploitation of the working class.

The essential thing is not to point to individuals and say “look, there is the capitalist class”, but to be able to point to the exploitative social force of capital which, in Russia, was represented by the state machine.

And just for the record, the Bolsheviks never abolished the wages system or commodity production. The state controlled key industries and production took place when only viable to do so. Russia traded according the dictates of international capital and, like every other capitalist state, was prepared to go to war to defend its economic interests. Russia was no, more socialist than Hitler was a humanitarian.


John B

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