The philosopher, social scientist, historian and revolutionary, Karl Marx, was undoubtedly one of the most influential figures to emerge from the 19th century. His social, economic and political ideas gained rapid acceptance in the socialist movement after his death in 1883. This very success, however, has meant that the original ideas of Marx have been modified and his meanings adapted to a great variety of political circumstances through other revolutionary leaders and theorists; notably Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. Though the two changed Marxism in their own way Lenin followed the policies more closely.
Karl Marx co-authored several works with Friedrich Engels worked to practically apply the humanitarian concepts of the German philosopher Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach. Feuerbach, as an atheist attempted to explain religious phenomenon as a product of natural human feelings and "unrestricted subjective tendencies. Feuerbach's Atheism had a strong influence on Marx/Engels, who continued to discredit religion and follow with and build upon Feuerbach's concepts of subjective reality and materialism in future works.
Marx, however, was not without doubt on the theories of those he studied and those he developed himself and it was this doubt that led him into further study. It was this open and objective view to his own theories that brought Marx to the conclusion that legal relations and political forms originated in the material conditions of life - which Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (another early influence of both Marx and Engels), following the example of English and French thinkers of the eighteenth century, encompassed within the term "civil society and that "the anatomy of this civil society... has to be sought in political economy." Marx's studies on this subject led him to the general conclusion that became the guiding principle of his further studies. In his own words:
"At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production... From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.
This is part of Marx's idea of historical materialism, where human society has developed through "tribal society to the growth of cities (with their government, slavery and private property) and to feudal estates relying on oppressed serfs. given that "This history requires, first, human survival through eating, drinking, clothing and shelter, necessarily leading to the making of things, reproduction and social cooperation. Marx explained that this history led to a form of slavery know as division of labor; Exemplified in the structure of families where each member has his/her own duties to fulfill. Marx continues to relate this history the industrial revolution that would occur in his lifetime where society is more clearly separated into two separate classes. The thoughts and ideas developed by Marx to counteract this division and solve the disparity between the spread of wealth and property are what comprise the newly created economic movement known as socialism; a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
In application, this principle means that the present organization of society must be destroyed (even through violent revolution, if necessary, because only through such destruction can a better political, economic, and social organization be achieved. To establish this new format of society, working men (henceforth referred to as the proletariat) must be organized and take up the struggle against the capitalists who defraud them. Thus the actors in this drama are the social classes -- the proletariat is arrayed against capitalism and the upper class (bourgeoisie.) This struggle, according to Marx and Engels, will end in victory for the proletariat, that is, in the triumph of universal Socialism.
At this point Marx's and Engels policies began the transformation into the well known theories of Communism. As touched upon earlier, one Marx's critiques of the capitalist system was that it divided society into two distinct castes (the Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie). It was after this understanding that Engels, in The Principles of Communism, defined communism as the doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat, "Bourgeoisie vs Proletariat, revolution of the proles (Proletariats) leading to casteless, egalitarian society.
All of these thoughts and theories culminated in the creation of the Manifesto of the Communist Party. The manifesto, co written by marx and engels, is the embodiement of many of the central principals of Marxism. In short summary, these principles include the history of society as a struggle of classes, the alignment of the communist party with the Proletariats, various forms of communism and socialism, and a position of communism in relation to the opposition parties of the era. In more detail, the manifesto lays out a detailed plan that serves as a useful base of comparison for future events. It was a foundational work that had and influence on future political figures such Lenin and Stalin.
1. The expropriation of landed property and the use of rent from land to cover state expenditure;
2. A high and progressively graded income-tax;
3. A abolition of the right of inheritance;
4. The confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels;
5. The centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by the establishment of a state bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly;
6. The centralization of transport in the hands of the state;
7. An increase in the state ownership of factories and instruments of production, and the redistribution and amelioration of agricultural land on a general plan;
8. Universal obligation to work and creation of labour armies especially for agriculture;
9. The unification of agricultural with industrial labour, and the gradual abolition of the differences between town and country;
10. The public education of all children. Abolition of factory labour for children in its present form. Unification of education with economic production.
Unfortunately due to political hindrances Marx was unable to see the fulfillment of the principles he stood for. These principles, however, would still lead to various revolutions in Russia's history through other methods and political figures. After the death of Marx, his influential ideas led to the creation of formal political parties, the first of which was the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP). The majority faction of the RSDLP was a group called the Bolsheviks (at the time named for their party majority) headed by none other than Vladimir Lenin. The Bolsheviks took power during the Russian Revolution of 1917 (giving Lenin a position at the uppermost echelons of power) and created the Soviet Union.
Lenin did not follow Marx's theories and plans exactly (no leader has or likely ever will) nevertheless, he took the fundamental theories of Marxism and shaped them to fit the needs of the changing circumstances of his country at the time of the Russian Revolution. In this way, the principles of the Bolsheviks were a foundation of Marx expanded with the architecture of Lenin.
In the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Engels and Marx portrayed communists as "the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others. This specific definition summarizes some of Lenin's essential principles. Lenin saw the Communist Party as a small group of elites who ruled over the proletariats for their own good. This group of elites, chosen because of their intellect and understanding of Marxist policy, given the task of instituting the principles of socialism through any means necessary, including violence. The authoritarian aspect of Leninism appeared also in its insistence upon the need for a "proletarian dictatorship following the seizure of power, a dictatorship that in practice was exercised not by the workers but by the leaders of the Communist Party. This he described as "The dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., the organization of the vanguard of the oppressed as the ruling class for the purpose of suppressing the oppressors This authoritarian elitism of a dictatorship over the proletariat rather than a dictatorship of the proletariat was one Lenin's significant departures from Marxism. Conversely, this departure bared the same motives as Marx; "...for the poor...for the people...restrictions on the freedom of the oppressors, the exploiters, the capitalists. Lenin's use of a small committed group created a level of organization and efficiency that might not have been otherwise possible. Considering that the merely the process and not the outcome of Marx and Lenin's plans were different,
The theories of Marx predicted a revolution that was supposed to happen in an industrialized and capitalistic nation. At the time of Lenin, Russia was neither of those two. When the Russian economy struggled Lenin created the NEP (New Economic Policy). By putting this into action in Russia they took a step back from communism to capitalism. Marx would be rolling over in his grave at the sound of such action, since he believed that passage to communism was a one-way road. Yet, Lenin, being a practical man, believed "a few steps back would lead to a giant leap forward. These are the key revisions of Marx made by Lenin.
Lenin and his companions faced a difficult challenge when attempting to socialize Russia. They were unable to completely utilize the works of Marx since his were aimed at the industrialized nations such as Britain and Germany. To suit his purpose Lenin bent Marx's theories. These modifications were used to deal with Russia's backwards people and government and to jump over the capitalist phase. Trotsky, while disagreeing on some of Lenin's theories, agrees with the most and became a loyal companion to the Bolsheviks. Leninist-Marxism became the blueprint for the USSR.
By 1922 Lenin had become keenly aware that degeneration of the Soviet system and party was the greatest danger to the cause of Socialism in Russia. He found the party and Soviet state apparatus hopelessly entangled in red tape and incompetence. Even the agency headed by Stalin that was responsible for streamlining administration was, in fact, less efficient than the rest of the government. The Soviets of Workers' and Peasants' Deputies had been drained of all power, which had flowed to the centre. Most disturbing was the Great Russian chauvinism that leading Bolsheviks manifested toward the non-Russian nationalities in the reorganization of the state in which Stalin was playing a key role. Moreover, in April 1922 Stalin won appointment as general secretary of the party, in which post he was rapidly concentrating immense power in his hands. Soviet Russia in Lenin's last years could not have been more remote from the picture of Socialism he had portrayed in State and Revolution. Lenin strained every nerve to reverse these trends, which he regarded as antithetical to Socialism, and to replace Stalin.
In the spring of 1922, however, Lenin became ill. In April his doctors extracted a bullet he had received from the assassin's gun in August 1918. He recovered rapidly from the operation, but a month after the incident he partially he lost his ability to speak and became partially paralyzed. In June he made a partial recovery and threw himself into the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the federal system of reorganization he favoured against Stalin's unitary scheme. However, in December he was again incapacitated by semiparalysis. Although no longer the active leader of the state and party, he did muster the strength to dictate several prescient articles and what is called his political "Testament, dictated to his secretary between Dec. 23, 1922, and Jan. 4, 1923, in which he expressed a great fear for the stability of the party under the leadership of disparate, forceful personalities such as Stalin and Trotsky. On March 10, 1923, another stroke deprived him of speech. His political activity came to an end. He suffered yet another stroke on the morning of Jan. 21, 1924, and died that evening in the village of Gorki Leninskiye.
Following the death of Lenin, there was a power struggle for a political replacement. He joined an underground revolutionary group and sided with the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party in 1903. A disciple of Vladimir Lenin, he served in minor party posts and was appointed to the first Bolshevik Central Committee (1912). He remained active behind the scenes and in exile (191317) until the Russian Revolution of 1917 brought the Bolsheviks to power. Having adopted the name Stalin, he served as commissar for nationalities and for state control in the Bolshevik government (191723). He was a member of the Politburo, and in 1922 he became secretary-general of the party's Central Committee. After Lenin's death (1924), Stalin overcame his rivals, including Leon Trotsky, Grigory Zinovyev, Lev Kamenev, Nikolay Bukharin, and Aleksey Rykov, and took control of Soviet politics. In 1928 he inaugurated the Five-Year Plans that radically altered Soviet economic and social structures and resulted in the deaths of many millions. In the 1930s he contrived to eliminate threats to his power through the purge trials and through widespread secret executions and persecution. In World War II he signed the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact (1939), attacked Finland, and annexed parts of eastern Europe to strengthen his western frontiers. When Germany invaded Russia (1941), Stalin took control of military operations. He allied Russia with Britain and the U.S.; at the Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam conferences, he demonstrated his negotiating skill. After the war he consolidated Soviet power in eastern Europe and built up the Soviet Union as a world military power. He continued his repressive political measures to control internal dissent; increasingly paranoid, he was preparing to mount another purge after the so-called Doctors' Plot when he died. Noted for bringing the Soviet Union into world prominence, at terrible cost to his own people, he left a legacy of repression and fear as well as industrial and military power. In 1956 Stalin and his personality cult were denounced by Nikita
Stalin was a ruthless leader. He adapted Marx's policies in various ways to suit his own power and needs. One specific popular instance of this deviation is evident from a speech delivered by Gregori Aleksandrov at the Lenin memorial meeting in Moscow. Aleksandrov is the chief of the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist (Stalinist) Party. Present at his speech were the elite of the bureaucracy and all the members of the Political Bureau.
In the speech
"Theories developed by Marx in the middle of the nineteenth century could not be accepted unchanged by Lenin. Lenin developed the idea that Marxists could not regard the theory of Marx as inviolable, and that that theory must constantly absorb the new experience of history and exert a transforming influence on the development of society. He accurately foresaw that the forces of reaction abroad would attempt to destroy the Socialist Soviet Union.
"The establishment of a powerful and flourishing Socialist land had been possible only, the speaker explained, because the theory of building a Socialist society in a single country was put into effect. There were two aspects of this policy. There were internal obstacles to be swept away and dangers from abroad to be met. Today there was no force within the Soviet Union capable of preventing the further development of Socialism and its gradual transition to Communism. Vigilance against attack from without had necessitated the rejection of the Marxist theory of the withering away of the State, based on the assumption of international Socialism and the adoption of the Stalin theory of building a strong State with a powerful army and its own military science capable of winning in war and achieving the military and diplomatic consolidation of victory. (The Times, February 1st, 1946).
Here, in a finished form, is that vulgarisation of the ideas of Marxism against which Lenin fought all his life. The attempt to drag Lenin in as an opponent of Karl Marx is a vilification of the memory of the orthodox Marxist, Lenin. Lenin fought his whole life against the narrow, nationalist conception of "Socialism in one country.
Stalin's Previous Position
Stalin himself wrote in 1924, in his book Foundations of Leninism: this of course, before he said exactly the reverse:
"Can we succeed and secure the definitive victory of Socialism in one country without the combined efforts of the proletarians of several advanced countries? Most certainly not. The efforts of a single country are enough to overthrow the bourgeoisie: this is what the history of our revolution proves. But for the definite triumph of Socialism, the organisation of socialist production, the efforts of one country alone are not enough, particularly of an essentially rural country like Russia; the efforts of the proletarians of several advanced countries are needed. So the victorious revolution in one country has for its essential task to develop and support the revolution in others. So it ought not to be considered as of independent value, but as an auxiliary, a means of hastening the victory of the proletariat in other countries. (Stalin, Theory and Practice of Leninism, issued by the C.P.G.B., 1925).
Fruits of "Socialism in One Country
This theory of "Socialism in one country has been shown to be false both internally and externally. The Communist International, from being an instrument of revolution, was reduced to an instrument of foreign policy for the Soviet bureaucracy. Thus, as a consequence, the revolution in other countries met disaster after disaster and because of this, inevitably resulted in war on the Soviet Union. Today the Communist International has been thrown into the dustbin.
The victory of the Soviet Union in war does not solve the basic problems of the Soviet Union. The policy of Stalin is preparing inevitably a third world war. All the efforts of Stalinism to gain "military and "diplomatic consolidation against her "alliesBritain and Americawill in the end result in the same disaster as did the Stalin-Hitler pact. As Lenin so clearly pointed out, war will continue so long as capitalism exists in the rest of the world. Thus, the theory of "Socialism in one country far from building socialism free from interference, prepares new and greater catastrophes for the Russian and world working class.
Socialism needs no state
Stalinism cannot show a single line in Lenin which would justify the rejection of the Marxist theory of the withering away of the state. Just the contrary. Lenin's little masterpiece State and Revolution categorically refutes this revisionism. The argument that a strong state is necessary because of the danger of intervention from without, is palpably false. If socialism really had been achieved in the Soviet Union, there could be no question of intervention on the part of the capitalist world. On the contrary, the capitalists would be powerless economically, militarily and politically in the face of a socialist society. This would be because socialism would achieve such an enormous development of the productive forces that America's vast productive facilities would seem puny by comparison.
Such a system, far from requiring an enormously strengthened state, as Lenin taught in the above mentioned work, would need no state at all. The necessity of the state does not arise from the danger of military interventionbut from the inequalities within society, and to regulate the antagonisms that arise from these inequalities. Lenin called the state a capitalist survival. Far from seeing the need for a constant strengthening of the state and of the army, Marx and Lenin expounded the idea of the "armed people replacing the standing army, pouring scorn on the opportunists and the Mensheviks who argued the need for a military caste and a civil bureaucracy standing above the people.
Lenin on the State
Lenin would have stood aghast at such a revision, even in the early stages of the dictatorship of the proletariat. We quote from Lenin:
"The proletariat needs the statethis is repeated by all the opportunists, social-chauvinists and Kautskyists, who assure us that this is what Marx taught. They 'forget' however, to add that, in the first place, the proletariat, according to Marx, needs only a state which is withering away, i.e. a state which is so constituted that it begins to wither away immediately, and cannot but wither away; and secondly, the workers need 'a state, i.e., the proletariat organised as the ruling class.'
"The state is a special organisation of force; it is the organisation of violence for the suppression of some class. What class must the proletariat suppress? Naturally, the exploiting class only, i.e. the bourgeoisie. The toilers need the state only to overcome the resistance of the exploiters, and only the proletariat can direct this suppression and bring it to fulfilment, for the proletariat is the only class that is thoroughly revolutionary, the only class that can unite all the toilers and the exploited in the struggle against the bourgeoisie, in completely displacing it. (State and Revolution, Lenin, Collected Works, page 168).
Lenin was not satisfied with explaining how the state would wither away under Socialism, but laid down concrete measures, not for socialism be it noted, but even for the establishment of a workers' statethe dictatorship of the proletariat.
"The workers, having conquered political power, will break up the old bureaucratic apparatus, they will shatter it to its foundations, until not one stone is left upon another; and they will replace it with a new one consisting of these same workers and employees, againstwhose transformation into bureaucrats measures will at once be undertaken, as pointed out in detail by Marx and Engels: (1) not only electiveness, but also instant re-call; (2) payment no higher than that of ordinary workers; (3) immediate transition to a state of things when all fulfil the functions of control and superintendence, so that all become 'bureaucrats' for a time, and no one, therefore, can become a 'bureaucrat'.
The Stalinist State
Not a single one of these conditions is in existence in Russia today. The Soviets have been abolished and a parliamentwithout the advantages of bourgeois democracy, free elections of contending parties and candidateshas taken their place. Instead of the dissolution of the army into the armed people, we have a caste of privileged military bureaucrats living on higher standards in relation to the Russian soldiers than even the generals in the capitalist countries in relation to their rank and file. The rule of no payment for officials higher these that of a worker was long ago abolished. And high state officials and bureaucrats have greater differences with the people in privileges and wages than even in the capitalist countries. "The functions of control and superintendence have long ago disappeared and an all-powerful caste of bureaucrats in state and factory orders the workers' lives.
As if to make quite certain of answering traitors such as Stalin and Aleksandrov in advance, Lenin had written:
"The possibility of such destruction [of bureaucracyE.G.] is assured by the fact that Socialism will shorten the working day, raise the masses to new life, create such conditions for the majority of the population as to enable everybody, without exception, to perform 'state functions', and this will lead to a complete withering away of every state in general. "The more democratic the 'state' consisting of armed workers, which is 'no longer a state in the proper sense of the word', the more rapidly does every state begin to wither away.
Thus we see that Lenin's position is just the opposite to that of Stalin and his mouth-piece Aleksandrov. To attempt to separate Marx from Lenin is to betray all the teachings of Leninism, in the name of Lenin. Stalin, the anti-Marxist, for the first time here openly proclaims his break with Marxism through one of the stooges. Up to now the Stalinists have made a pretence of basing themselves on the Marxist theory of the state. For years they have slandered and vilified Trotsky because he foretold the inevitable break with Marxism. This open break will make the road considerably easier for the Trotskyist movement in its approach to members of the Communist Parties who suffer from illusions that Stalinism is Marxism.
The break with Lenin's internationalism led to the theory of "Socialism in one country. This in its turn has led now to the open break with Marxism on the question of the state. This fundamental breach with the ideas of Marx and Lenin prepares the way for the complete abandonment of any pretence of standing on the programme of Bolshevism, which was always based on the teachings of Marx.
Now that the danger of military intervention has receded into the background, the workers, especially the youth of the Soviet Union will be asking, even if in mottled tones, why the Marxist and Leninist theory is not working out; what need is there for the highly paid generals and bureaucrats in the army and civilian life? The workers will be saying: Isn't it about time that they who have lorded over us for the past 20 years, should start to make themselves scarce and "wither away?
Considering that the merely the process and not the outcome of Marx and Lenin's plans were different,