The Marxist view of Russia

Those who understand the Marxian theory of social development have no illusions about Russia. Even in 1918 it was obvious that Socialism, as a democratic classless society, could not be set up there. Economically, Russia was too backward. Politically, the mass of the people were either ignorant of or opposed to Socialism. In other words, Russia was not ripe for Socialism. Marx had concluded that it was not possible for countries to skip the necessary stages of their social development by “bold leaps or legal enactments”. The Bolshevik bid to do this, to avoid capitalism by leaping from backward Tsarism straight into Socialism by means of a dictatorship, was doomed to fail and led not to Socialism but to a brutal state capitalism in which the former professional revolutionaries turned into a new privileged and exploiting class. Russia has got nothing to do with Socialism or Marxism, though of course a Marxist analysis can be made of the class society there.

Many from Lenin to Mao and Guevara do stand for minority insurrection leading to minority rule and this is accepted by many, supporters and opponents alike, as “Marxism”. But this was not Marx’s own view of the socialist revolution. He held that Socialism could only be set up when the immense majority of workers wanted it. This socialist majority should win political power (through the ballot-box where possible) and use it to carry out the social revolution. It is true that a few times Marx did refer to the “dictatorship of the proletariat” but it is obvious from the contexts that this was merely another way of saying “rule of the workers” which Marx insisted could only be based on democracy. Lenin is the man responsible for twisting this phrase to mean dictatorship over the proletariat for that is what his “vanguard party” set up in Russia.

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