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The Daily Worker and Lenin on Equal Pay

In a recent broadcast Mr. Attlee referred to the great and growing gulf between rich and poor in Russia. Commenting on this statement the Daily Worker (5/1/48) made the following lowing assertion. “To give a responsible manager the same salary as an unskilled worker is no part of socialist policy, as Attlee knows.” Of course both the Daily Worker and Mr. Attlee could agree on this as they are both responsible for the delusion that state capitalism is Socialism. However, Lenin expressed different views, as the Daily Worker claims to support Lenin’s views its writers should at least remember what they were, even if it was impossible to realise them under the bureaucratic despotism that Lenin advocated.

In August, 1917, a few months before the Bolsheviks obtained power, Lenin published “The State and Revolution” (Allen and Unwin). A few extracts from this little book will make clear his views on the point under discussion. After making copious quotations from Marx’s “Civil War in France” concerning equal pay, the abolition of bureaucracy and the importance of universal suffrage, Lenin makes the following comments (all italics are Lenin’s):-

“The control of all officials, without exception, by the unreserved application of the principle of election and, at any time, recall; and the approximation of their salaries to the ‘ordinary pay of the workers’ – these are simple and ‘self-evident’ democratic measures, which harmonise completely the interests of the workers and the majority of peasants; and, at the same time, serve as bridge, leading from Capitalism to Socialism.” (p. 46.)

“But there must be submission to the armed vanguard of all the exploited and labouring classes – to the proletariat. The specific ‘bossing‘ methods of the State Officials can and must begin to be replaced – immediately, within twenty-four hours – by the simple functions of managers and clerks – functions which are now already quite within the capacity of the average townsman and well be performed for a working man’s wage.

“We must organise production on a large scale, starting from what has already been done by Capitalism. By ourselves, we workers, relying on our own experience as workers, must create an unshakable and iron discipline supported by the power of the armed workers; we must reduce the role of the State officials to that of simply carrying out our instructions; they must be responsible, revocable, moderately paid ‘managers and clerks’ (of course, with technical knowledge of all sorts, types and degrees). This is our proletarian task. With this we can and must begin when we have accomplished the proletarian revolution.”

… … … … … … … … … … … … … “But the mechanism of social management is here already to hand. We have but to overthrow the capitalists, to crush with the iron hands of the armed workers the resistance of these exploiters, to break the bureaucratic machine of the modern State – and we have before a highly technically-fashioned machine freed of its parasites, which can quite well be set going by the united workers themselves, hiring their own technical advisers, their own inspectors, their own clerks, and paying them all, as indeed, every ‘State’ official, with the usual workers’ wage. Here is a concrete task immediately practicable and realisable as regards all trusts, which would the workers of exploitation and which would make practical use of the experience (especially in the task of the reconstruction of the State) which the Commune has given us. To organise our whole national economy like the postal system, but in such a way that the technical experts, inspectors, clerks and indeed, all persons employed, should receive no higher than the working man, and the whole under the management of the armed proletariat – this is our immediate aim. This is the kind of State and economic basis we need. This is what will produce the destruction of Parliamentarism, while retaining representative institutions.” (Pages 51 to 53.)

So wrote Lenin, but thirty years later his disciples glorify unequal payment as the principle of Socialism. This was the inescapable result of Lenin’s ingrained distrust of the workers and Blanquist belief the value of bureaucratic, authoritarian centralism that placed complete power in the hands of a small central committee.