Lenin Correcting Bukharin on Experts Under Socialism

“But when Comrade Bukharin said there were people who were receiving salaries of 4,000 and they ought to be put up against a wall and shot, he was wrong. We have got to find such people. We have not very many posts where people get 4,000. We pick them up here and there. The whole point is that we have no experts, that is why we have got to enlist 1,000 people, first-class experts in their fields, who value their work, who like large-scale industry because they know that it means improvements in technology. When people here say that socialism can be won without learning from the bourgeoisie, I know this is the psychology of an inhabitant of Central Africa. The only socialism we can imagine is one based on all the lessons learned through large-scale capitalist culture. Socialism without postal and telegraph services, without machines is the emptiest of phrases. But it is impossible to sweep aside the bourgeois atmosphere and bourgeois habits all at once; it needs the kind of organisation on which all modern science and technology are based…

When Bukharin said he could not see the principle, he was missing the point. Marx envisaged buying up the bourgeoisie as a class. He was writing about Britain, before Britain had imperialism, when a peaceful transition to socialism was possible—it certainly is not a reference to the earlier type of socialism. We are talking not about the bourgeoisie but about recruiting experts. I have given one example. One could cite thousands. It is simply a question of attracting people who can be attracted either by buying them with high salaries or by ideological organisation, because you can’t deny the fact that it is they who are receiving all the high wages…

But if I say we are going to pay from 1,500 to 2,000 a month, that’s a step back… And when they say, when Bukharin says, this is no violation of principle, I say that here we have a violation of the principle of the Paris Commune. State capitalism is not money but social relations. If we pay 2,000 in accordance with the railway decree, that is state capitalism.”

 — Lenin, Session of the All-Russia C.E.C., April 29 1918.

One response to “Lenin Correcting Bukharin on Experts Under Socialism

  1. It depends on the country and whether the center of gravity of its economy is agrarian, industrializing, or highly technological. In the last category, for example, it would be quite feasible that a socialist regime should tell the experts that they will continue to have a comfortable living but will not get the same increases in income as the majority of working people. Furthermore, the incomes of the very highest paid experts can be reduced, the funds going directly into an increase in the minimum wage in order to show everyone that we are all better off when there are No Rich, No Poor.

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