1930s >> 1930 >> no-307-march-1930

Answer to a Correspondent: Is there Socialism in Russia?

                                                  Stepney, E.l.


Comrade Editor,
The S.P.G.B. are professed Marxian socialists, yet their attitude towards Russia refutes that. If Russia was a capitalist country, would it tolerate the Communist International (the continuing of Marx’s First International), which agitates and organises workers throughout the world? Teach, too, in schools Marxian economics, and the solidarity of the workers of the world; try to stamp out illiteracy, and endeavours whenever possible to raise the standard of living for the workers. As for the inevitableness—according to economic laws of development—for Russia adopting capitalistic economy, as in the French revolution, the times are different; France, then, was in an environment of just developing Industrialism, Russia with its potential productiveness—in a world of highly developed capitalism—and admitted, by its aid can quickly obtain the prerequisites for Communism. It is doing so in fulfilling the five years’ plan of development with resolute determination. Marx in the “Communist Manifesto” proposed certain measures to be adopted when the proletariat achieved power; Russia, when the revolution occurred, adopted those measures. Socialism is being prepared in Soviet Russia; the capitalist world is hostile to it; Socialists generally, and professed Marxian Socialists in particular should at least innovate, from capitalist hostility to Socialist help to the . Workers’ Republic.—Yours, etc.,
Jack Miller.
Our correspondent has evidently not troubled to acquaint himself with the Socialist Party’s attitude towards the Russian Bolshevists. We state as a fact that the economic system in Russia is capitalist. Our correspondent does not attempt to give direct evidence to prove the contrary, but introduces a number of irrelevant statements to show that the other Governments are hostile to the Russian Government. Even if it were true, that hostility would not prove that there is socialism in Russia. Antagonism between Capitalist governments arising out of conflicting interests is a permanent feature of Capitalism. Has our correspondent forgotten the Great War? Or does he perhaps think that the war proved that one side or the other was Socialist?
We have never denied that the Bolshevists would have liked to introduce Socialism if they could. What we do say is that they have not introduced Socialism and cannot do so. They are endeavouring to speed up the development of State Capitalism.
Mr. Miller asks if a Capitalist country would tolerate the Communist International “which agitates and organises the workers throughout the world.”. In the February Socialist Standard we showed how the Communists “agitate and organise” the workers in this country to vote for Ramsay MacDonald. Does our correspondent think that the toleration of these activities in this country proves that we have Socialism here? Further, we flatly deny that Marx ever advocated such practices as voting for anti-Socialists as a method of attaining Socialism.
With regard to illiteracy, every Capitalist government compels the children of the workers to attend school. The difference between good intentions and the actual achievements which Russia’s backward development permits, is illustrated by the figures of illiteracy. The Soviet Union Year Book shows that between 1920 and 1926 the proportion of literate people had been increased from 466 per 1,000 only to the very low figure of 667 per 1,000. (Page 474, 1929 Year Book.)
We are not aware that we have based our attitude towards Russia on what happened in France in 1789.
Our correspondent refers to measures mentioned by Marx in the Communist Manifesto. May we remind him that the detailed measures referred to were intended for the actual situation in Europe in 1847. They might be appropriate if the internal condition of Russia is similar to that of some central European states 82 years ago. Is that our correspondent’s contention?
Mr. Miller says that the “Capitalist world is hostile” to Russia. In the 1929 Soviet Union Year Book (Page 43—70) are particulars of the relationship between the Russian Government and the other Capitalist Governments. The number of Commercial and other Treaties, Agreements, and Conventions with foreign governments numbered 26. The Russian Government had abroad 15 ambassadors in European capitals, 1 in America (Mexico) and 7 in Asia. Twenty countries had embassies in Moscow. Fifteen countries had consuls in Russia, and the Russian Government had consuls in 26 foreign countries. So much for “hostility.”
Our correspondent would have been more accurate had he said that the Russian Government represents Capitalist interests which bring it into a greater or less degree of conflict with some other governments. But that is true of all Capitalist states in their relationship with each other.
Editorial Committee.