50 Years Ago: Russia was never socialist
When the Russian Revolution took place in 1917, the Socialist Party of Great Britain pointed out that it would not result in Socialism, but in a development of capitalism. We laid great emphasis on the fact that Russia, being still very backward, was not ripe for Socialism. The population of Russia was composed chiefly of peasants. How could they, illiterate and individualistic in outlook, have any understanding of Socialism, or any desire for it?
Whilst we were urging these views, other parties, claiming to represent the working class, asserted that the Bolsheviks had discovered a short cut to Socialism. They ignored the lessons of history, which show that there are no short cuts, that society passes through various phases and that none of these phases can be “jumped” in the course of society’s evolution. They ignored the past failures of workers to establish Socialism by intelligent minorities. After claiming to be “Marxists”, they paid little real attention to the theories of Marx and Engels.
Alas, thanks to these parties (chiefly the Communist Party and the Independent Labour Party) a legend was created, a legend that Russia was Socialist.
[From an article “Aspects of Russia” published in the Socialist Standard December 1937 ]