Without more unions, without a militant, politically independent and class-conscious working class, any gains in regards to healthcare, pay, and other necessary reforms will be attacked with the utmost scrutiny by the ruling class. The bourgeoisie will declare such reforms a failure despite its successes, horrendously attack it and look only at its faults. It will undo such progress, privatize, and fool the masses into loving the fact that they are essentially being robbed.
Reforms can come in our current society only by the ruling class, particularly by the liberal bourgeoisie, making concessions to the workers who threaten independence from the two party system. Political movements are de-radicalized by the democrats and turned into a reluctant concession out of fear at best, or totally destroyed by the henchmen of the bourgeoisie at worst.
Political radicals and leaders who were persecuted by the ruling class in life are canonized, turned into harmless icons and stripped of their radical message by that same ruling class after death. By owning the mainstream media, which are in essence for-profit institutions, the ruling class shapes public opinion. It scorns reform, and fools the masses into hating that while benefits the overwhelming majority of society and embracing that which only benefits the top 1%.
“Freedom of press” is our slogan too, but their “freedom of press” is subject to the domination of those with capital, those who own the earth, and those who wish to continue and defend this exploitative system, giving the opposition not an ounce of real criticism.
Democracy at work, along with the grand notions of equality that founded the liberal republics are shaken off and dismissed as ‘socialism’. So long as capital rules, so long as the leftover surplus produced by 100,000 is dictatorially owned by, and given to a tiny minority consisting of 10-20 people in board rooms, so long as there are oppressor classes and private property, slogans of “democracy, equality, liberty” will be just that- slogans.
Tell me, what liberty is enjoyed by the homeless person, the unemployed, by those who toil 50 hours a week and still live in hunger and poverty, who live in constant fear of losing their job, their home, their food. What liberty is that? True liberty can only exist where there is no systematic exploitation of one person over another, where there is no unemployment, homelessness or poverty. True liberty can only be attained not through formal declaration but by a fight against the oppressors and exploiters of the earth!
True liberty can exist only in a socialist society, transforming formal declarations of the rights of man, of human rights, from mere formal recognitions and into material reality. True liberty can only exist where there is no state, where there is no ruling class. Onward to socialism!
I decided to write this after I saw on a conservative facebook page an image of 2 flags. One of the Soviet Union, and the other of Nazi Germany. It read, “Why is one of these flags and its followers shamed and banned whereas it killed 20 million people, and the other is seen as embodying equality and justice, and it killed 50 million?” At the top, it read COMMUNISM = FASCISM. My blood boiled, but not for the reasons you would think (i.e. historical revisionism, support of Stalin, etc.) This page was comparing fascism to communism, not fascism to Stalinism. It completely lacked any in-depth analysis of the ideological foundations of Soviet Marxism and German National Socialism alike. I will here show the absurdity of this argument, I am arguing openly as a communist, but moreover as a Trotskyist. I take a very critical view of the USSR, it’s totalitarianism, its crimes, its lack of liberty and democracy. I will show how these ideological trends are not only not the same, but often the exact opposite of one another, and no, it’s not what you think.
First, let us look broadly at the two ideologies, Fascism is inherently authoritarian by nature while communism (moreover the pursuit of communism) is much more ideologically diverse. Fascism by default is a totalitarian system of government enforcing a system of state-capitalism, while Marxism-Leninism is typically a totalitarian institution of state-capitalism in the pursuit of communism. But what is Marxism-Leninism? Marxism-Leninism is the ideological system you think of when you hear the word communism, it was the core ideology at the heart of all the 20th century Marxist states (USSR, China, Cuba, Albania, Romania, etc.) You may know it by its other name, used by critics on the communist left such as myself to refer to it in its pure form: Stalinism. The Stalinist legacy of Marxism-Leninism was diluted in the USSR after Khrushchev’s reforms and ‘de-Stalinization’ in the USSR (as I will cover later), however, communist leaders Enver Hoxha and Mao Zedong maintained a much more Stalinist form of Marxism-Leninism after Stalin’s death, calling it Anti-Revisionist Marxism-Leninism, or just Anti-Revisionism. This anti-revisionism is what I am referring to when I say Marxism-Leninism. Though there are few Marxist-Leninists today that reject Stalinism as there were in the later USSR (Khrushchev and co.)
Both Fascism and Stalinism embody a system of over-centralization of state power and totalitarianism. In fact, the criticism of Stalinism is not left to the liberal intellectuals and rightists. It’s most militant critics are actually found on the communist left. The term ‘Marxism-Leninism’ was developed by Joseph Stalin after the death of Vladimir Lenin in the USSR. Stalin pursued a highly authoritarian variant of Leninism after Lenin’s death, the USSR was subjected to what Trotsky called a ‘bureaucratic degeneration’ of the Soviet Union, making it what he called a ‘degenerated/ deformed workers state’. Trotsky? Who’s that? Leon Trotsky was the co-leader of the October Revolution, next to Lenin he was the most important figure in the 1917 revolution. Consequently, Trotsky, a bolshevik to the core, was among the first to criticize the totalitarian nature of Stalinism, its inherent lack of democracy and fundamental rights of citizens, its criminal justice system, overuse of state-terror and bureaucratic nature. He referred to the USSR not as a socialist state, but as a degenerated workers state in desperate need of political, not social revolution. Trotsky is still vilified by Marxist-Leninists today, saying the man who wrote The Revolution Betrayed was actually himself a traitor. But I will not entertain this notion of the demonization of such a hero of liberty.
It is not entirely fair to blame Stalin for the USSR’s bureaucratic degeneration, the material conditions of early Russia are largely responsible for what happened. Lenin repetitively said that without the revolution in Germany that the socialist revolution was doomed, that Soviet Russia was doomed, for socialism in one country alone was impossible. After the October revolution, it was invaded by a coalition of 14 countries (including the US and UK, mind you), it was in the midst of a famine, it had just gotten out of the first world war, 2 revolutions, a civil war, and a foreign invasion. It was completely isolated and surrounded by hostile capitalist foreign powers on all sides. Authoritarian degeneration, some would say, was inevitable in such conditions. To make matters worse the overwhelming majority of early Russia was illiterate, barefoot and living in extreme poverty. Nevertheless, Lenin and Trotsky attempted to lead the country out of economic and political disaster, taking no more than a workman’s wage while doing so.
Contrary to popular belief, Lenin never once wrote about or suggested a one-party state. In fact, the USSR was a multi-party state up to 1924 (the year of Lenin’s death) during the New Economic Policy (where state-regulated capitalism was favored over state-capitalism) when the Mensheviks took up blatant counter-revolutionary positions that they felt they had to temporarily suspend it. When Lenin died, Stalin rose to power and never re-established a multi-party system. Up until Stalin’s rise to power, there had been no mention by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg or any other Marxist thinker of a one-party state. It is purely a vestige of Stalinism, one that still haunts the world to this day in Cuba, China, etc. In fact, if you read Lenin’s writings on the party it is very clear that it was not to be the only political or ideological force guiding the country, freedom of open criticism and disagreement was to be encouraged, as was freedom of speech, press, striking and protest by default. His proposed system (in his book The State and Revolution) was actually extremely democratic, even more so than the United States or Europe is today, it was based largely on Marx’s analysis of the Paris Commune, one of Marx’s few writings of what a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat (of the working class, of the majority) instead of a capitalist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, would actually look like. I think it doesn’t even need to be said that Stalinism proved to embody the exact opposite of this proposed system. Lenin’s vision of a truly democratic society could tragically not have been realized in backward Russia, so he had to pursue a different path. Nonetheless, I cannot help but laugh when people mention a one-party dictatorship when I mention Lenin’s name, Lenin would have and probably did, roll over in his grave when Stalin came to power and did the things he did.
The economic system of the USSR, from a class and Marxist analysis, was actually a system of state capitalism, not socialism. Though many socialists still debate if it really was since the USSR was, at least in theory, the dictatorship of the proletariat. But what is state capitalism? And how does it differ from socialism? State capitalism is a system where the state, owning the means of production, acts as the capitalist. The worker is still exploited but by the state instead of a private capitalist. In essence, the state acts as the capitalist. Socialism is quite different, as Trotsky said, “socialism needs democracy like the human body needs oxygen”. To explain this more clearly here is a basic (and I do mean basic) analysis of how a capitalist enterprise works, from a Marxian economic perspective of course:
Under state capitalism, the relation between Labor and Capital remains the same, the board of directors (or planners) is selected by the state instead of by wealthy shareholders. Under socialism, the BoD would be democratically elected (assuming we are speaking of a corporation). There is no real difference between being oppressed by a private capitalist and by the state. Lenin and Trotsky understood that state capitalism was a necessary prerequisite to socialism in the USSR and that it could only be achieved under the following conditions. 1.) In an advanced country having undergone a period of capitalist (or state capitalist) development, and 2.) Only on an international scale, capitalism is an international system, so too must be socialism.
In the 1930’s, after the USSR had undergone strenuous hardships, Stalin, now leader of the state, had to make a political decision. On one hand, he could have been honest and formally declared that the USSR had achieved a system of state capitalism, that the people would have to endure God knows how many more decades of rapid industrialization and hardships, or he could lie. So Stalin did what politicians do, he lied. He went to the Soviet people, who were tired and overworked, who had transformed their country from one of the poorest agricultural countries in the world into a budding industrial superpower in a hitherto unseen level of rapid industrialization, and he lied. He declared that “Socialism has been achieved!” Well, Stalin didn’t ‘achieve’ anything of the sort, he declared it. This goes hand in hand with Stalin’s theory of ‘Socialism in one country’ which he developed after it seemed that the revolution in Germany wasn’t going anywhere.
The USSR was alone and would remain alone largely until the second World War. Stalin had solidified power, through purges and state terror, and through constructing a massive and bureaucratic state apparatus. This is largely the reason for the confusion of what the term socialism actually means today. We Trotskyists uphold the original Marxist definition of socialism advocated by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky and Connolly instead of the state-capitalist definition upheld by Stalin, Mao, Hoxha, and co. When people today advocate socialism, oftentimes they are advocating state-capitalism or worse still, social democracy (regulated capitalism, or as I like to call it ‘capitalism with pretty flowers’). We uphold the older definition, the one of genuine workers democracy (both politically and industrially) which is possible to be almost immediately realized in the U.S. and Europe today without undergoing a long period of state capitalism as was the case in the backward USSR. Because we already are living in an advanced capitalist society, such a period of transition would not be necessary.
In the USSR there had been forced collectivization, mass repressions, and purges of both the Communist Party and the population at large- and yes, a lot of people died, unlike the historical revisionist Marxist-Leninists we do not deny this. In the time that this was occurring we communists did not remain silent. Those who identified themselves as Marxist-Leninists, which was the prevailing trend of 20th century Marxism, sided with Stalin. And who could blame them? The only people who understood what was going on were those bolsheviks and dissidents who were exiled or fled from the USSR. The Soviet Union offered a tempting alternative to capitalism, even if it wasn’t the socialism fought for by Marx and Lenin despite its appearance. Leon Trotsky was one of those exiles. He was the co-leader of the revolution, and he was exiled under Stalin’s orders. He founded the Marxist ideological trend of Trotskyism, of which I am a part. In fact, it was we Trotskyists who were persecuted and scapegoated more than any other group in the USSR, next to of course the Kulaks and former capitalists. Trotsky remained a dedicated Leninist and Marxist till the end when he was assassinated under Stalin’s orders. Apart from Stalin, he was the last significant Bolshevik who participated in the October revolution still alive. The rest had been executed by Stalin’s orders. Trotsky did not shy from comparing Stalinism (Marxism-Leninism) to fascism, and particularly to the rising Hitler’s form of government, and neither do I. Trotsky often referred to the Soviet secret police as the ‘Gestapo’.To compare the two would not be a wrong analysis. In fact after Stalin’s death, his successor Khrushchev gave an infamous speech to the Communist Party congress accusing Stalin of the crimes that Trotsky had been accusing him of his whole life.
In fact, even Leninism as an ideological trend was rejected by many communists at the time. For instance, many Marxist and socialist groups sided with Marx’s original analysis, that socialism could only come about in most advanced capitalist countries at the end of capitalist development due to its own internal contradictions. They took on the view that Russia must undergo a phase of natural capitalist development before it could achieve socialism, despite its (as they would say) premature socialist revolution. In fact, this cannot be entirely disputed. There is no doubt that we are living in the times Marx spoke of today, and many socialists assert (myself included) that the USSR never transcended state-capitalism.
Then there are the anarchists. Anarcho-communism is a belief held by anarchists that anarchism can only be achieved in a classless, communist society. We may have our disagreements on the state, but they are certainly communists all the same. They are the epitome of anti-authoritarianism. When people compare ‘communism’ to fascism I cannot help but laugh in light of this fact alone. People do not realize that libertarian socialism, libertarian Marxism, and anarcho-communism are popular ideological trends among communists today.
Marxism-Leninism, anarcho-communism, Leninism, Trotskyism, Luxemburgism, Libertarian Marxism, Marxism-De-Leonism, etc. are but different systems of getting to socialism as an economic system, and finally to communism. Communism itself is the mortal opposite of fascism, it has of course never been achieved anywhere on earth. I can’t think of a moneyless, classless, stateless society where people work freely “from each according to their ability” and take freely “to each according to their needs”. The system itself is in essence, anarchism, or at least embodying an extremely decentralized government without an oppressive state organ. Marx never wrote a ‘master plan’ for communism. His work was on the analysis of capitalism as an economic system, not on building a communist society, this explains the radically different approaches to such a system, and yes, some of them were tragically totalitarian and should never be repeated in human history. We, communists, do not deny this fact. If you condensed everything he ever wrote down to say ~50 volumes, only about 10 pages would describe what a communist system would actually look like. He always said when asked about the future, “I do not have a crystal ball”. Now that we have defined the ideological foundations of Soviet Marxism and what we commonly refer to as 20th century communism, we can accurately compare and contrast communism and fascism.
In a nutshell, all National Socialists defend Hitler and defended Hitler during his rise to power. Not all communists defend Stalin nor did they in his rise to power. The difference is that communism can be as authoritarian as Nation Socialism (in the form of Marxism-Leninism, especially in its anti-revisionist variants in Maoism or Hoxhaism), but it can also be as libertarian as anarchism. The difference is inherent to the moral ineptitude of National Socialists and Stalinists alike. But as we have demonstrated, there are quite many among us, communists to the core, who are appalled at all forms of totalitarianism, including that of Stalinism and the 20th century Marxist states. We do not need to embrace historical revisionism to justify our views and aims, though the fascists and Stalinists certainly do. In denying the material conditions inherent to Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany alike, they make fools of themselves. There are but two possibilities for a neo-Nazi and an ardent Stalinist. 1.) They embrace historical revisionism (i.e. alternative historical analysis such as genocide denial) to justify their views, in which case they are naive, ignorant and generally historically illiterate, or 2.) They reject historical revisionism, accepting the totality of what occurred (the crimes central to the ideology of National Socialism, that unlike Stalinism is to Marxism, Naziism is to National Socialism), and are in and of themselves; immoral, heartless, unempathetic, deluded and potentially psychopathic. Either way, we have here a wretched or at the very least misguided human being either totally incapable of empathy and remorse or of thinking objectively for himself in light of overwhelming evidence.National Socialism (Naziism) and fascism are intrinsically authoritarian forms of government, there are no libertarian variants or less authoritarian versions of it, unlike the much more diverse ideological school of communism. It is authoritarian to its core and worse still, this authoritarianism is not a means to an end such as communism, but it is an end in and of itself.
So yes, to compare anti-revisionist Marxism-Leninism to fascism is not a nuanced analysis, however, to compare communism to fascism most certainly is. To fly the Soviet flag often signals support for the October Revolution and its historical significance. It can also mean support of the Soviet Union up to Lenin’s death or during its much later reforms. To fly the Nazi flag or support its ideology is inherent to supporting Hitler. While to support the ideology of communism is absolutely not inherent to, nor is the support of Stalin implied. I hope I have sufficiently explained the absurdity of such a comparison to you, thank you for taking the time to read this somewhat lengthy polemic.
First, let us address the police as they exist today, to put it bluntly, the police don’t exist for your protection, they exist to solidify the ruling classes’ hold on power. They do this by solidifying the rule of the state and thereby of the existing social order and current mode of production which is inherently exploitative in nature. They might be your friends now, going around the cities and towns promoting a false sense of communal solidarity. They may converse with you, help you, hell they may even save your life. But all of this is a mirage, masking their real purpose which isn’t all that hidden if you simply look closely. They exist solely to act as agents of the bourgeois state. On behalf of the state, they are granted the sole legitimate monopoly on violence in our society, thereby they are in many ways, the essence of the very state itself. They aren’t there to be your friend, though they may very well be so. They exist yes to prevent violent crime (which is the sole justification for their existence) but moreover to act as agents of capitalist exploitation. Look at this both now and in historical context. Who is there when the working class rises up and demands better working conditions? Who is there to intimidate and arrest when the people rise up in protest against injustice? Who was there to beat and kill when the workers demanded to join a union or to end child labor? Who is there to intimidate when the people stand up in the thousands against an unjust police killing or state corruption? Who is there to intimidate, to beat, imprison and kill when you act against their interests, against the interests of the ruling class? It is none other than the police force!
Sure they may seem your friend today, but when ‘shit hits the fan’, as they say, and 70% of the population declares itself in opposition to the current social conditions, it will be they who raise their baton and gun against the very people they are supposedly there to protect. As Trotsky correctly said, “The worker who becomes a policeman in the service of the capitalist state, is a bourgeois cop, not a worker.” They, as an institution, are always on the wrong side of history, I make no false gestures of communal solidarity with them. They serve no other purpose but to maintain and exploitative social system. To be more direct, what would happen if the workers banded together, rebelliously making up the majority of the population, and took the means of production which they toil day and night with from the capitalist who exploits them? Even if 80% of the people were in support, they would show up and beat, nay, kill those very workers! They would have no mercy! Historically this has always been the case. Show me one example where the police were on the right side of history!
But oh! You say that the police act against violent crime and therefore they are justified in their actions! But this is a meager excuse for the horrendous injustices brought about by the bourgeois state, and particularly its cronies (i.e. the police). We do not wish to abolish the police entirely today, but we do on the other hand wish to strip it of all its political attributes at once. In this way the police force, as it exists today, ceases to exist. How? Let us look to Marx’s writings on the Paris Commune as an example. Thus we transfer from focusing on the policing institutions that exist today in bourgeois society, to what will exist in the future socialist society:
“The Commune was formed of the municipal councillors, chosen by universal suffrage in the various wards of the town, responsible and revocable at any time. The majority of its members were naturally working men, or acknowledged representatives of the working class…. The police, which until then had been the instrument of the Government, was at once stripped of its political attributes, and turned into the responsible, and at all times revocable, agent of the Commune. So were the officials of all other branches of the administration. From the members of the Commune downwards, the public service had to be done at workmen’s wages. The privileges and the representation allowances of the high dignitaries of state disappeared along with the high dignitaries themselves…. Having once got rid of the standing army and the police, the instruments of physical force of the old government, the Commune proceeded at once to break the instrument of spiritual suppression, the power of the priests [as in separation of church and state]*…. The judicial functionaries lost that sham independence… they were thenceforward to be elective, responsible, and revocable”
But what all does this mean? It means for the first time ever, the establishment of legitimate democracy. Both in the political and industrial sense (socialism). In The State and Revolution, Lenin further clarifies:
“Democracy is a form of the state, it represents, on the one hand, the organized, systematic use of force against persons; but, on the other hand, it signifies the formal recognition of equality of citizens, the equal right of all to determine the structure of, and to administer, the state. This, in turn, results in the fact that, at a certain stage in the development of democracy, it first welds together the class that wages a revolutionary struggle against capitalism–the proletariat, and enables it to crush, smash to atoms, wipe off the face of the earth the bourgeois, even the republican-bourgeois, state machine, the standing army, the police and the bureaucracy and to substitute for them a more democratic state machine, but a state machine nevertheless, in the shape of armed workers who proceed to form a militia involving the entire population.”
The police in class society, admit it or not, is an inherently political institution. What Marx, and later Lenin proposes, is to strip the policing institutions of these very political attributes. But how does this work exactly? No longer will the police force be an oppressive apparatus of the state, no longer shall it act to hold down the majority of the population but is instead to be responsible to them. The organs of the police shall be democratically elected by the proletariat, responsible to them and at all times revocable. They will act only to solve serious crimes and arrest dangerous criminals, and by serious, it is meant violent.
But who then is to suppress counter-revolution on account of the overthrown bourgeoisie? This has already been answered, an armed militia involving the entire population (and you thought we communists were against guns)! In this way, it is the population at large acting as the state through its various militias which are inherently democratic in nature. The police can be instantly recalled by the people themselves, no longer can the police raise its batons to the working people en mass. If they rise up then they rise up, and no state institution shall stop them as it will be the will of the overwhelming majority of the people. But if the counter-revolutionaries rise up to bring back the overthrown oppressive order, then the whole population, through the armed militias, rises up and stops them, by force if necessary. Thus it is the majority acting to suppress the already withering away minority, and not a minority (acting through the police) acting to suppress the majority (the proletariat).
Obviously, it must be said, this was not, and likely could not have been done in the early Soviet Union. Indeed Lenin, due to the material conditions of early Russia, had to abandon this (what was at the time a) utopian ambition of a truly democratic society. However, in modern times, such a system is possible. And we communists hold it to be much preferable to the existing mode of exploitation. So we Leninists look back to the USSR as a tragic attempt at revolutionizing a society to get to such a point where this was possible, and we Trotskyists view it as a degenerated workers state after Lenin’s death under which the Stalinist bureaucracy abandoned Lenin’s original ambitions and betrayed the revolution, as the society envisioned by Lenin was never actually attempted even on a small scale by the Stalinist bureaucracy. Even when taking into accound the civilian police under Stalin, they could not and did even later attempt to do away with the police force, and never to strip it of its political attributes. Also, it must be said, socialism itself as an economic system was never actually achieved either in these workers states!
So now I ask you in closing, wouldn’t you prefer to strip the police of its political attributes? Wouldn’t you prefer a police force you can democratically elect, that was responsible to you and instantly recallable at all times? Wouldn’t you prefer a police force going only after serious, violent crimes? I think most sane people would. The police today are a hindrance to social progress, and moreover to a truly democratic society. They are not your friend. A better world is possible my friend, but not under capitalism! The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains, now more than ever!
See Karl Marx, The Civil War in France (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 2, Moscow, 1973, pp. 217-21). (Also in State and Rev (below) pp. 26)
See Vladimir Lenin, The State and Revolution (Lenin Internet Archive (marxists.org) 1993, 1999, pp. 58).
To see this visually explained check out this video:
I recently came across a comment on The Philosophical Salon about the CIA’s deliberate attacks on the intellectual left. It reads “Who supports communism anymore? Those who have never lived the communism”. Now, ignoring the obvious grammatical mistakes in this assertion let me begin to address this person’s concern, and show why it is absolutely preposterous.
People who support communism today actually have read Marx and understand the huge differences between Stalinism and the socioeconomic and political system Marx advocated. People who support communism today understand Marx believed proletarian revolution would come about only once capitalism had reached its peak stage of development in the most advanced countries int eh world first,(say in 30 years) instead of in the poorest country in the world, (1917 Russia) in an isolated revolution which could not support democracy or socialism, (industrial democracy) and where Stalinist bureaucratic degeneration was practically inevitable under such conditions.
Not to say I don’t idealize the October revolution as a general historical event, I most certainly do. What emerged from the October revolution? The writings of Lenin in The State and Revolution could not be implemented in backward Russia, that is a fact. What Lenin did was try to build the foundation on which such a society could eventually come about. This is why Lenin implemented the NEP (New Economic Policy), a system of state-capitalism as a necessary prerequisite to socialism. It was unfortunately cut short by Stalin once he came to power, the multi-party political system which existed up to 1924 (the year of Lenin’s death) was abolished and never returned. Soon the Stalinist bureaucracy emerged and the hopeful embers of October were snuffed out. Marx believed in the inevitability of proletarian revolution in the most advanced capitalist countries at the end of capitalist development, but October was not the revolution Marx foresaw as inevitable, as anyone can clearly see.
“But wasn’t Stalin doing what Marx advocated? Building a Marxist utopia?” Anyone who’s read Marx, or even Lenin’s The State and Revolution can tell you what an absurd statement that is. Let’s look at a few examples. Did the USSR get rid of the military and police force to replace it with armed militias instantly recallable of and by the people? No. Were all elected officials instantly recallable at any time and receive no more than a workman’s wage? No, they weren’t even democratically elected as the necessary preconditions for democracy simply weren’t there. Lenin and Trotsky, before the bureaucratic degeneration of the October revolution, did, however, take no more than a workman’s wage for their role in leading the country. Did the USSR utilize a system where the workers, and not the state had democratic control over enterprise (socialism)? No, it was the state that controlled industry, a form of state-capitalism as a necessary prerequisite to socialism. In essence, the USSR remained staunchly state-capitalist until, as Trotsky would call it, the inevitable dissolution of the Stalinist bureaucracy. Contrary to Stalin’s infamous declaration, any Marxian economist can tell you that the idea of 1930’s Russia having a socialist economic system was preposterous. Should I even mention the genuine worker’s revolts in Hungary, Germany, and Czechoslovakia against the Stalinist system, that aimed at genuine socialism against Stalinism, and not at capitalist restoration against socialism? I could go on and on.
Also to equate Stalinism with communism is such an ignorant thing to say. It’s not too different from equating fascism with capitalism. It is to say this highly authoritarian system which advocated the preservation of capitalism is no different than what capitalism actually is, it is an absolutely absurd statement to say that Stalinism is the same thing as communism. Furthermore, the method to get to communism, as we have stated, is not inherently through this totalitarian system whose sheer brutality and inefficiency we all know too well. In fact, most communists are highly critical of the Stalinist system and its legacy on the left. In Nazi Germany, all national socialists supported what Hiter was doing. His actions were the perfect embodiment of the Nazi ideology. Why then, in the USSR were millions of communists sent to the gulag, deported and killed for saying that Stalin betrayed the revolution, that he betrayed Marxism? Why then did characters like Leon Trotsky, bolsheviks to the core, emerge to condemn the horrific abuses of Stalin’s power? To compare communism with fascism is equally absurd. If you assert such a comparison then I should be able to compare anarchist communism with fascism, right? By your logic, I could compare two ideologies which could not be more opposite as being the same. Fascism is a highly authoritarian form of capitalism, and Stalinism (Marxism-Leninism) is a highly authoritarian form of socialism, moreover of the road to socialism. I won’t say that one is worse than the other, I have no patience for lesser evilism. We have enough of that in the two-party US as we speak. To compare the two, in your mind might make sense, but good lord it couldn’t be more wrong.
Perhaps even more importantly, we are living in the time Marx spoke of, that is- not 1917 but today, what is happening in the world today is exactly what Marx wrote about. He is more relevant now than he ever was in the 20th century. It can be said that the workers have nothing to lose but their chains, now more than ever. They still have a world to win. The time is ripening by the hour. Wealth inequality is higher now than it was in the 1920’s and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down, wages haven’t risen with productivity since the 1970’s, the most brutally efficient capitalists in the world are not in the US, Europe, or Latin American but in China. Democracy and capitalism will be, in the not too distant future, completely incompatible. Everything Marx wrote about the inevitable future of the capitalist system is happening today. So to answer the question, pretty much anyone who reads and understands Marx would see the logic in supporting communism today.
Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to enter into the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. This is absolute, there are no exceptions. You cannot be a kind exploiter or a generous thief. It is one or the other. There is some room for a gray area for the moral, but ineptitude is the state of the moral capitalist. If a capitalist set up his business in a way that attempted to please God he would at once be found insane and made a joke of by his business rivals. It is impossible for such a man to exist. Exploitation is exploitation. There is no generous exploitation, no just injustice. This is absolute. This is not to say people cannot change. For they certainly can, such is the foundation of Christianity. But to continually exploit the poor for personal profit and to serve God at the same time is impossible. This is inseparable from the Christian faith. Christ spoke more of material wealth and greed than anything else. Christianity is supposed to be the religion of the exploited and oppressed, not the exploiter and the oppressor. Let’s take it back to its roots, a religion of radical emancipation of the poor and oppressed.
James Connolly outlines this general sentiment quite well in his work Socialism Made Easy. He does a much better job explaining the necessity of socialism to the Christian faith than I. I have included his section on Religion below:
BUT SOCIALISM IS AGAINST RELIGION. I CAN’T BE A SOCIALIST AND BE A CHRISTIAN.
O, quit your fooling! That talk is all right for those who know nothing of the relations between capital and labor, or are innocent of any knowledge of the processes of modern industry, or imagine that men, in their daily struggles for bread or fortunes, are governed by the Sermon on the Mount.
But between workingmen that talk is absurd. We know that Socialism bears upon our daily life in the workshop, and that religion does not; we know that the man who never set foot in a church in his lifetime will, if he is rich, be more honored by Christian society than the poor man who goes to church every Sunday, and says his prayers morning and evening; we know that the capitalists of all religions pay more for the service of a good lawyer to keep them out of the clutches of the law than for the services of a good priest to keep them out of the clutches of the devil; and we never heard of a capitalist, who, in his business, respected the Sermon on the Mount as much as he did the decisions of the Supreme Court.
These things we know. We also know that neither capitalist nor worker can practice the moral precepts of religion, and without its moral precepts a religion is simply a sham. If a religion cannot enforce its moral teachings upon its votaries it has as little relation to actual life as the pre-election promises of a politician have to legislation.
We know that Christianity teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we also know that if a capitalist attempted to run his business upon that plan his relatives would have no difficulty in getting lawyers, judges and physicians to declare him incompetent to conduct his affairs in the business world.
He would not be half as certain of reaching Heaven in the next world as he would be of getting into the ‘bughouse’ in this.
And, as for the worker. Well, in the fall of 1908, the New York World printed an advertisement for a teamster in Brooklyn, wages to be $12 per week. Over 700 applicants responded. Now, could each of these men love their neighbors in that line of hungry competitors for that pitiful wage?
As each man stood in line in that awful parade of misery could he pray for his neighbor to get the job, and could he be expected to follow up his prayer by giving up his chance, and so making certain the prolongation of the misery of his wife and little ones?
No, my friend, Socialism is a bread and butter question. It is a question of the stomach; it is going to be settled in the factories, mines and ballot boxes of this country and is not going to be settled at the altar or in the church.
This is what our well-fed friends call a ‘base, material standpoint’, but remember that beauty, and genius and art and poetry and all the finer efflorescences of the higher nature of man can only be realized in all their completeness upon the material basis of a healthy body, that not only an army but the whole human race marches upon its stomach, and then you will grasp the full wisdom of our position.
That the question to be settled by Socialism is the effect of private ownership of the means of production upon the well-being of the race; that we are determined to have a straight fight upon the question between those who believe that such private ownership is destructive of human well-being and those who believe it to be beneficial, that as men of all religions and of none are in the ranks of the capitalists, and men of all religions and of none are on the side of the workers the attempt to make religion an issue in the question is an intrusion, an impertinence and an absurdity.
Personally I am opposed to any system wherein the capitalist is more powerful than God Almighty. You need not serve God unless you like, and may refuse to serve him and grow fat, prosperous and universally respected. But if you refuse to serve the capitalist your doom is sealed; misery and poverty and public odium await you.
No worker is compelled to enter a church and to serve God; every worker is compelled to enter the employment of a capitalist and serve him.
As Socialists we are concerned to free mankind from the servitude forced upon them as a necessity of their life; we propose to allow the question of all kinds of service voluntarily rendered to be settled by the emancipated human race of the future.
I do not deny that Socialists often leave the church. But why do they do so? Is their defection from the church a result of our attitude towards religion; or is it the result of the attitude of the church and its ministers toward Socialism?
Let us take a case in point, one of those cases that are being paralleled every day in our midst. An Irish Catholic joins the Socialist movement. He finds that as a rule the Socialist men and women are better educated than their fellows; he finds that they are immensely cleaner in speech and thought than are the adherents of capitalism in the same class; that they are devoted husbands and loyal wives, loving and cheerful fathers and mothers, skilful and industrious workers in the shops and office, and that although poor and needy as a rule, yet that they continually bleed themselves to support their cause, and give up for Socialism what many others spend in the saloon.
He finds that a drunken Socialist is as rare as a white black-bird, and that a Socialist of criminal tendencies is such a rara avis that when one is found the public press heralds it forth as a great discovery.
Democratic and republican jailbirds are so common that the public press do not regard their existence as ‘news’ to anybody, nor yet does the public press think it necessary to say that certain criminals belong to the Protestant or Catholic religions. That is nothing unusual, and therefore not worth printing. But a criminal Socialist – that would be news indeed!
Our Irish Catholic Socialist gradually begins to notice these things. He looks around and he finds the press full of reports of crimes, murders, robberies, bank swindlers, forgeries, debauches, gambling transactions, and midnight orgies in which the most revolting indecencies are perpetrated. He investigates and he discovers that the perpetrators of these crimes were respectable capitalists, pillars of society, and red-hot enemies of Socialism, and that the dives in which the highest and the lowest meet together in a saturnalia of vice contribute a large proportion of the campaign funds of the capitalist political parties.
Some Sunday he goes to Mass as usual, and he finds that at Gospel the priest launches out into a political speech and tells the congregation that the honest, self-sacrificing, industrious, clean men and women, whom he calls ‘comrades,’ are a wicked, impious, dissolute sect, desiring to destroy the home, to distribute the earnings of the provident among the idle and lazy of the world, and reveling in all sorts of impure thoughts about women.
And as this Irish Catholic Socialist listens to this foul libel, what wonder if the hot blood of anger rushes to his face, and he begins to believe that the temple of God has itself been sold to the all desecrating grasp of the capitalist?
While he is yet wondering what to think of the matter, he hears that his immortal soul will be lost if he fails to vote for capitalism, and he reflects that if he lined up with the brothel keepers, gambling house proprietors, race track swindlers, and white slave traders to vote the capitalist ticket, this same priest would tell him he was a good Catholic and loyal son of the church.
At such a juncture the Irish Catholic Socialist often rises up, goes out of the church and wipes its dust off his feet forever. Then we are told that Socialism took him away from the church. But did it? Was it not rather the horrible spectacle of a priest of God standing up in the Holy Presence lying about and slandering honest men and women, and helping to support political parties whose campaign fund in every large city represents more bestiality than ever Sodom and Gomorrah knew?
These are the things that drive Socialists from the church, and the responsibility for every soul so lost lies upon those slanderers and not upon the Socialist movement.
For more Connolly check out: Marxist.net (CWI source)
Also, there is a section on Marxists.org