Lenin had trampled upon internal democracy and advanced a message to non-proletarian Bolsheviks ~ “To wait for the Congress of Soviets is idiocy, for the Congress will give nothing, and can give nothing; to wait for the Congress will be utter idiocy or sheer treachery”. (V I Lenin, The Crisis Has Matured, Collected Works, Vol 26, pp. 74-85,Progress Publishers, Moscow,1972). The Leninists’ claim that he had consistently adhered to the concept of “Alll power to Soviets” was far from true.
Dictatorship of the proletariat was also distorted by Lenin who unabashedly defended the concept of dictatorship of the Bolshevik Party. In his speech at the first All Russia Congress of Workers in Education and Social Culture on 31 July 1919, he put it bluntly: “When we are reproached for having established a dictatorship of one party and, as you have heard, a united socialist front is proposed, we say, ‘Yes, it is a dictatorship of one party! This is what we stand for and we shall not shift from that position because it is the party that has won, in the course of decades, the position of vanguard of the entire factory and industrial proletariat”. Bolshevik rule was thus totalitarian. This runs counter to the basic emphasis on liberty in Marx’s Associated Mode of Production, suggesting that Marxian socialism was synonymous with Communism.
Lenin’s concept of socialism as ‘early’ or ‘first’ stage of Communism is another blatant aberration in the ciontext of the Marxian perception. For Marx, socialism, Communism, the republic of labour, society of free and associated producers or simply association or cooperative society and (re)union of free individuals are identical concepts, each of which is based on “associated mode of production” as opposed to capitalism’s “commodity mode of production” in post-capital society. In the Critique of the Gotha Programme Marx spoke of two stages of Communism.
Lenin and his followers perceived socialism as “ social ownership” of the means of production and termed socialism as “ownership by the working class state”. So he introduced such terms as “socialist state” and ‘commune state’ alternately.. This is a brazen deviation from Marx’s fundamental emphasis on the society itself and not the state, which disappears in a classless society. In his reckoning, the state for him was the (collective) owner of the means of production. Paresh Chattopadhyay who authored the main chapter in the Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism (ed Stephen A Smith), categorically states.
“A socialist or Communist society is the outcome of the workers’ self-emancipatory revolution against capital, not to be confused with the so-called seizure of power by the working class, far less the seizure of power by a group in its name. This is not a momentary but an ‘epochal’ event comprising a whole ‘period of revolutionary transformation’ during which the bourgeois mode of production and, along with it, the whole bourgeois social order with wage labour, commodity production and state are superseded.”
Furthermore, Lenin contradicted himself by discovering a ‘workers’ state’, a ‘socialist state or ‘commune state’. In State and Revolution, he wrote, “When there is state there can be no freedom, but when there is freedom there will be no state”. In a letter on 12 April 1871, Marx unequivocally explained to Dr Ludwig Kugelmann: “If you look at the last chapter of my Eighteenth Brumaire you will find that I say that the next attempt of the French Revolution will be no longer, as before, to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one hand to another, but to smash it, and this is essential for every real people’s revolution on the continent.” Thus he was opposed to any kind of state .
Under Bolshevik rule, no attempt was made to replace the capitalist mode of production by an associated mode of production. Workers used to receive wage in exchange of labour, sold by them. In contrast, Marx looked forward to “superseding of the economical conditions of the slavery of labour by the conditions of free and associated labour as the progressive work of time” in the new society.
Bolshevized socialism was rooted in the Lassalle-Kautsky tradition of the Second International, that thought that a mix of state and society where the state under the Communist party rule would theoretically be a proletarian state, thus subordinating society to state. Bolshevik means majority. Maxim Litvinoff, the Bolshevik government’s first plenipotentiary representative in Britain wrote in his book, The Bolshevik Revolution ~ Its Rise and Meaning that “Bolshevik “ is a bastardised word signifying a person belonging to ‘the majority.
It was coined after the first split of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1903, when the more moderate wing was left in a minority and the revolutionary wing gained a majority of votes”. But it was always in minority both in pre-split RSDLP and Duma.
The Bolshevik triumph on 7 November 1917 was, according to Rabinowitch , “carried out by a small, united, highly authoritarian and conspiratorial organisation controlled by Lenin and subsidised by enemy Germany” (Alexander Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power in Petrograd: Centennial Reflections, Economic and Political Weekly, 4 November 2017). This perception is shared by Western historians, contrary to the inspired Soviet historiography and a reflex of ‘Soviet authoritarianism’. John Spargo in the preface to his book, Bolshevism ~ Enemy of Political and Industrial Democracy mentions an “inverted form of Czarism”.(Concluded)
(The writer is a veteran journalist and commentator)