Category Archives: Socialist Revolution

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on the Mongolian People’s Republic

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Mongolian People’s Republic

(Bugd Nairamdakh Mongol Ard Uls).

The Mongolian People’s Republic (MPR) is a state in Central Asia bounded by the USSR and the People’s Republic of China. Area, 1,565,000 sq km. Population, 1,377,900 (early 1974). The capital is Ulan Bator. Administratively, the country is divided into aimaks; Ulan Bator and Darkhan form separate administrative units (see Table 1).

Table1

The MPR is a socialist state and a people’s republic. The present constitution, adopted on July 6, 1960, proclaims that all power in the republic belongs to the working people. Socialist ownership of the means of production and the socialist economic system constitute the economic basis of the social system.

The highest organ of state power and the sole legislative body is the Great People’s Khural, popularly elected by secret ballot for a four-year term on the basis of universal, equal, and direct suffrage. One deputy is elected for every 4,000 inhabitants. The Great People’s Khural ratifies and amends the constitution, establishes the basic principles of domestic and foreign policy, and approves national economic plans, the state budget, and reports on the implementation of the plans. Between sessions of the Great People’s Khural, the highest state body is the Presidium, elected by the Khural and headed by a chairman, deputy chairmen, and a secretary. The highest executive and administrative body is the government of the MPR, the Council of Ministers, which is designated by the Great People’s Khural.

The local governing bodies in the aimaks, cities, and urban districts are khurals of deputies popularly elected for three-year terms. The khurals elect executive bodies from among the deputies. All those citizens who have attained the age of 18 may vote.

The judicial system of the MPR includes the Supreme Court, aimak and city courts, and special courts for criminal cases involving the military. There are also aimak circuit courts and district courts. The Supreme Court and the special courts are elected by the Great People’s Khural for a four-year term, and the other courts are elected by the corresponding khurals. People’s assessors participate in the consideration of cases. Supervision over the observance of legality is exercised by the procurator of the MPR, who is appointed for a four-year term by the Great People’s Khural, and by aimak, city, district, and military procurators appointed by the procurator of the MPR.

Terrain. The MPR is situated in steppe, semi desert, and desert regions of the temperate zone in northeastern Central Asia. A large part of the country lies at elevations of 1,000 to 2,000 m, with mountains predominating in the west and northwest and high plains in the east. The most important ranges are the Mongolian Altai, reaching 4,362 m on Mount Munkh-Khairkhan Ula and stretching for 1,000 km; the Gobi Altai; and the Khangai. The Khentei Upland occupies the central part of the country. The mountains have gentle, smooth slopes and crests, and their bases are often covered by thick talus mantles. Sharp peaks occur only in the highest ranges. The Gobi, one of the world’s largest deserts,extends into the country from the south and southeast. Several isolated volcanic massifs tower above the desert in the southeast, forming the Dariganga volcanic region. In the north and the northwest there are several vast, relatively deep intermontane basins and valleys, the largest of which are the Great Lakes Depression, the Valley of Lakes, and the depression occupied by the valleys of the Orkhon and Selenga rivers. The eastern part of the country consists of plains descending toward the northeast. In the southern and southeastern parts of the Gobi and the Great Lakes Depression, areas covered by sand total about 30,000 sq km.

Geological structure and minerals Mongolia belongs to the Central Asian system, part of the Ural-Mongolian Geosynclinal Belt. The system is divided into two distinct regions, a northern Caledonian and a southern Hercynian. There aretwo types of Paleozoic geosynclinal structures: those in which basic volcanism has played the leading role and those with sialic volcanism. Orogenic Molasse formations are associated with superimposed structures. Granitoids are extensively developed. Tectonics are of the foldblock type, with plutonic fractures, frequently accompanied by ultrabasites; the linear structures of the south are isolated. During the Paleozoic the geosynclines migrated and underwent rejuvenation from north to south.

Mesozoic and Cenozoic formations, filling the downwarps and grabens, are represented by volcanic and sedimentary rocks in the east and amagmatic strata in the west. Remains of dinosaurs have been found in the continental rocks of the Mesozoic.

Important minerals include deposits of coal in the Upper Paleozoic and Mesozoic rocks of superimposed depressions and grabens (Tabun-Tologoi, Sharyn-Gol, Nalaikha). There are deposits of iron ore in Lower Paleozoic siliceous and siliceous-volcanic formations (Tamryn-Gol, Baiangol). The largest of the explored deposits of tungsten are at Buren-Tsogt and Ikh Khairkhan. Tungsten, copper, and molybdenum ores (Erdenituin-Obo) and deposits of fluorite (Berkh) are associated with the Mesozoic metallogenic age. Phosphorite deposits associated with carbonate deposits of the Upper Riphean and Vend have been discovered around Lake Khubsugul. The country also has deposits of gold, tin, zinc, piezoelectric quartz, asbestos, gypsum, granite, and other minerals.

Climate. The climate is dry, markedly continental, and temperate, and there are great seasonal and daily fluctuations in temperature. Winters are cold and sunny, with little snowfall. January temperatures average35°C (minimum,50°C) in the north and10°C in the south. Summers are warm and short. The average July temperature ranges from 18° to 26°C, reaching a maximum of 40°C. The north receives 200–300 mm of precipitation annually and the extreme south (especially the southwest), less than 100 mm. The mountains receive as much as 500 mm of precipitation annually, with the maximum occurring in summer. There are glaciers in the Mongolian Altai, and sporadic permafrost occurs in the northern part of the country.

Rivers and lakes. The largest river, the Selenga (flowing for about 600 km in the MPR), drains into the Arctic Ocean, and the large Kerulen and Onon rivers drain into the Pacific. The largest rivers of the interior are the Dzabkhan and the Kobdo. The annual runoff totals about 30 cu km. The rivers are fed chiefly by rain and snow; floods occur in spring and summer. Many large lakes are found in the tectonic depressions in the west. The largest saline lakes are Ubsu-Nur, covering 3,350 sq km, and Khirgis-Nur, and the principal freshwater lakes are Khubsugul, with an area of 2,620 sq km and a maximum depth of 238 m, and Khara-Us-Nur. There is year-round navigation on Lake Khubsugul and in the lower reaches of the Orkhon and Selenga rivers.

Soils and flora. Chestnut soils cover more than 60 percent of the country’s area, and brown soils with considerable salinization are also widespread, chiefly in the Gobi Desert. Chernozems are found in the mountains, and meadow soils occur along river valleys and in lake basins. More than 2,000 plant species have been identified. The plains of the north and northeast support grass and forb steppes of feather grass, Leymus chinensis, Koeleria, wheatgrass, Stipasplendens, and wormwood, with an admixture of caragana in places. Vegetation in the semideserts and deserts of the south and southeast includes feather grass, Stipa splendens, and saltworts. Tracts of saxaul are found in these mideserts. The most northerly desert region on earth is in the Great Lakes Depression. Forest steppe landscapes are characteristic of the mountain regions, the northern and northwestern slopes support forests of larch, cedar, pine,spruce, and birch. On the Khentei Upland and in the mountains adjoining Lake Khubsugul there are tracts of coniferous taiga. Forests occupy about 10 percent of the country’s territory. Groves of poplars, willows, and bird cherries grow along river valleys.

Fauna. There are more than 100 species of mammals in the MPR. The most common animals are rodents, including marmots, gerbils, jerboas, hamsters, and field mice. Tolai hares and pikas are found everywhere, and muskrats have been acclimatized. Sables, squirrels, flying squirrels, and Siberian chipmunks inhabit the forests. Ungulates include the wild ass and several antelopes—the Persian gazelle, Mongolian gazelle, and saiga. The forests harbor roe deer and maral, and elk and musk deer are found in the Khentei Upland. Wolves and foxes are numerous. Commercially valuable animals include the Mongolian gazelle, boar, lynx, squirrel, sable, and marmot. Such animals as the wild camel, Przhevalsky’s horse in the Gobi Desert, and the Gobi bear are almost unknown outside Mongolia. Taiga flora and fauna are protected in the Bogdo-Ula (Choibalsan-Ula) Preserve in the Khentei Upland, near Ulan Bator.

Natural regions. The Mongolian Altai has predominantly mountain steppe landscapes. The Great Lakes Depression consists of a series of plains occupied by semideserts and deserts, a melkosopochnik (region of low hills), and numerous lakes. The Khentei-Khangai region has mountain steppe and forest steppe landscapes. The East Mongolian region consists chiefly of steppe plains combined with stretches of melkosopochnik and volcanic uplands. The Gobiregion is dominated by semidesert and desert plains (with some depressions and a melkosopochnik ), covered in places with pebbles and rock debris.

REFERENCES

Amantov, V. A., et al. “Osnovnye cherty tektoniki Mongolii.” In Orogenicheskie poiasa. Moscow, 1968.
Mongol’skaia Narodnaia Respublika. Moscow, 1971.
Geologiia Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1973.
Murzaev, E. M. Mongol’skaia Narodnaia Respublika, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1952.
Bespalov, N. D. Pochvy Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki. Moscow, 1951.
Iunatov, A. A. Osnovnye cherty rastitel’nogo pokrova Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Bannikov, A. G. Mlekopitaiushchie Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki. Moscow, 1954.
Kuznetsov, N. T. Vody Tsentral’noi Azii. Moscow, 1968.
Gungaadash, B. Mongoliia segodnia. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from Mongolian.)

E. M. MURZAEV (physical geography) and N. G. MARKOVA (geological structure and minerals)

Khalkha Mongols, numbering 901,200 persons (1969 census), constitute 75.3 percent of the population. Other Mongolian-speaking groups—Derbets (34,700), Baits (25,500), Zakhchins (15,000), Olets (6,900), and Torguts (7,100)—have joined with the Khalkhas to form a socialist nation. Khalkhas and the related Dariganga (20,600) live primarily in the central and eastern regions of the country, and the Derbets, Baits, Zakhchins, Olets, and Torguts inhabit the western regions. In the north live Mongolian-speaking Buriats (29,800), and the northwest is inhabited by Turkic-speaking Kazakhs (62,800; almost all live in the Kazakh national Baian-Ulegei Aimak), Tuvinians (15,700), and a small number of Khotons. Russians (22,100) are concentrated in the cities and in several rural settlements in the Selenga, Central, Khubsugul, and Bulgan aimaks. The official language is Mongolian. Believers among the population are Lamaist Buddhists. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

The country has a high natural population growth rate, averaging 2.8 percent a year between 1963 and 1971. About 60 percent of the population is under 30 years of age. The work force numbered 507,000 persons in 1970, of whom 58.7 percent were employed in agriculture, as compared with 70.1 percent in 1960. There were 93,700 industrial workers in 1969, as compared with 14,800 in 1940. The social composition of the population has changed radically during the years of people’s rule. Between 1956 and 1969 the proportion of industrial and office workers and their families increased from 25.9 percent to 56.4 percent of the total population, and the proportion of members of agricultural associations and handicrafts cooperatives increased from 11.1 percent to 43.5 percent. Population density is very low, averaging less than one person per sq km; the population is particularly sparse in the Gobi. In 1972 about 54 percent of the population lived in rural areas and about 46 percent in cities. Between 1956 and 1971 the urban population grew from 183,000 to 604,000; urban dwellers account for about half the population in Selenga, Eastern, and East Gobi aimaks (52 percent, 49 percent, and 51.5 percent, respectively). The largest city is Ulan Bator (303,000 in 1973, including Nalaikha), and cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants are Darkhan, Choibalsan, Kobdo, Tsetserleg, and Muren.

The primitive communal system and the first states (to the 13th century A.D.). The earliest traces of human habitation in Mongolia date from the end of the Lower Paleolithic, about 200,000 to 100,000 years ago (sites in the southern Gobi regions). Upper Paleolithic sites in the central, Gobi, and eastern regions (40,000 to 12,000 years ago) indicate that a matriarchal clan system had evolved. In Neolithic times, from about the fifth to the third millennium B.C., the chief occupations were hunting and fishing. Agriculture probably arose in eastern and southern Mongolia in the late Neolithic and early Aeneolithic. Copper and bronze articles were produced between the second and the middle of the first millennium B.C., as exemplified by the Karasuk culture and the culture of “grave slabs” and “reindeer stones” (stelae depicting running reindeer).

At the end of the Bronze Age and beginning of the Iron Age (first millennium B.C.), the Mongol tribes took up nomadic livestock raising, and the patriarchal clan system developed. Private property appeared in the fourth and third centuries B.C. as livestock became the property of individual families, and barter was introduced. Tribes united to form confederations, whose social structure exhibited “democratic” features (the rise of chiefs and a military elite), attesting to the disintegration of the primitive communal system and the beginning of feudal society. The first tribal confederation in Mongolia was that of the proto-Mongol Hsiungnu (third century B.C. to the first century A.D.), whose material culture has become well known through excavations conducted in the 1920’s by Soviet archaeologists under the leadership of P. K. Kozlov and excavations by Mongolian archaeologists in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In the first century A.D., the Hsiungnu confederation disintegrated and was succeeded by the Sienpi (Hsienpi) confederation. The process of feudalization continued between the fourth and tenth centuries in the Juan-Juan, Turkic, Uighur, and Kirghiz khanates.

The period of the Khitan state, also known as the Liao empire, which flourished from the tenth to the 12th centuries, constituted the final stage in the transition to feudalism. The Khitan state encompassed part of present day China as well as Mongolia. The collapse of the Liao empire in 1125 led to the formation of early feudal principalities and khanates in Mongolia. The basic means of production, the nomad grazing land (nutuk ), became the exclusive property of the feudal elite (noions), and the bulk of direct producers was gradually transformed into the feudally dependent arat class of nomadic herders. The creation of a strong centralized state capable of establishing and enforcing feudal relations by means of a powerful coercive apparatus became historically inevitable. Such a state was created at the beginning of the 13th century through the amalgamation of numerous Mongol tribes, khanates, and principalities under the noion Temiijin, who succeeded in subjugating rival noions.

Mongolia in the feudal period (13th to early 20th centuries). In 1206, Temiijin was proclaimed great khan, or Genghis Khan, at the great kurultai (assembly) of Mongol noions. His domestic policy was aimed at centralizing the state administration in the interest of the feudal lords and consolidating the autocratic rule of the khan. He sought to make land and pasture the property of the state, personified by the great khan. Land grants, called khubi, were bestowed on the noions in return for military service. These grants were similar to the Near Eastern iqta. Free movement by the direct producers was prohibited, which in effect bound them to the land. Genghis Khan created a unified army (comprising virtually the entire male population) under a centralized command and a personal aristocratic guard of many thousands, both based on harsh military discipline. The slightest insubordination or display of cowardice was punished by death.With the consolidation of feudalism, the formation of a single Mongol nation was completed.

Created in the interest of the noion class, which sought to enrich itself through feudal exploitation and the outright plunder of other countries, the military-feudal state embarked on a path of expansion and conquest. The wars of conquestof Genghis Khan, begun around 1210, were continued by his successors. Northern China, the Tangut state, Middle Asia, Transcaucasia, and Iran were conquered by the mid-13th century, and the Mongol-Tatar yoke was established inRus’. A vast state was formed, known as the Mongol feudal empire. The conquest of China was completed in the 1270’s by Kublai Khan, who founded the Yuan dynasty.

The wars of conquest of Genghis Khan and his successors, which brought great misery to the subjugated peoples and enriched the Mongol feudal lords, had a negative influence on the development of Mongolia itself and causeddecline in its productive forces. Lacking a unified economic base and torn by internal contradictions, the Mongol empire began to disintegrate. In 1368 the Mongol feudal lords were driven out of China, and the battle of Kulikovo in 1380 initiated the overthrow of the Mongol-Tatar yoke in Rus’. In the second half of the 14th century the Mongol state in Iran and Transcaucasia fell, and the conquerors met a similar fate in Middle Asia. The empire of the Mongol feudal lords disappeared in the last quarter of the 14th century.

In the ensuing period of feudal fragmentation the basic socioeconomic and political unit of society was the feudal domain— a khanate or principality (otok) belonging to a descendant of Genghis Khan as his hereditary property (umchi)State ownership of land and the system of conditional grants (khubi), which had existed during the empire, gave way to private feudal landed property and unconditional land grants (umchi). The unified early feudal Mongol state was replaced by a multitude of independent khanates and principalities requiring markets to barter livestock and animal products for the agricultural and handicrafts commodities of settled peoples. At this time China alone could provide this market, but it had little interest in such trade. Mongolia reached the point of economic crisis. The Mongol rulers attempted to impose barter on the Chinese authorities by force. The western Mongol (Oirat) feudal lords, separated from China by vast distances and by the eastern Mongol principalities, were at the greatest disadvantage. A protracted struggle over the trade routes to China developed between the feudal lords of eastern and western Mongolia.

Twice during the 15th century attempts were made to overcome feudal fragmentation and reestablish a unified Mongol state, first by the Oirat ruler Esen Khan (ruled 1440–55) and later by the Mongol Daian Khan (ruled c. 1479 to c. 1543).However, the states they created broke up immediately after their deaths, since the social and economic preconditions for unity were lacking. After the death of Daian Khan, Mongolia was divided into Southern and Northern Mongolia,separated by the Gobi Desert. Shortly thereafter, Northern Mongolia was subdivided into Western (Oirat) and Eastern (Khalkha) Mongolia with the boundary running along the Altai Mountains. This territorial division reflected the formation of distinct Mongolian-speaking feudal groups and nations that began in the 15th century. Subsequently these different groups followed separate lines of historical development. In the 16th century there were more than 200 khanates and principalities in the three parts of Mongolia.

In the last quarter of the 16th century the khans and princes of Southern Mongolia and later those of Khalkha were converted to Lamaist Buddhism. The princes of Western Mongolia were converted in the early 17th century, and shortlythereafter Lamaism became the state religion. Within a short time the church grew into a powerful feudal landowner.

The late 16th and early 17th centuries saw the expansion of the Manchu feudal lords, who in 1616 created a state headed by Nurhachi on the territory of present day northeastern China. Taking advantage of the fragmentation of Mongolia,the Manchu in 1634 destroyed the Chahar Khanate, the largest in Southern Mongolia, and in 1636 the noions of Southern Mongolia accepted the suzerainty of the Manchu ruler Abahai (ruled 1626–43). Southern Mongolia came to be called Inner Mongolia, in contrast to Khalkha Mongolia (present day MPR), which the Manchu called Outer Mongolia.

An Oirat feudal state arose in Western Mongolia in the 1630’s. In 1640 an assembly of Mongol khans and princes met in Dzungaria (Western Mongolia) with the aim of settling domestic feuds and unifying their forces to repel Manchu aggression. This unity proved to be short-lived. Especially acute was the conflict between the Oirat Khanate and the Khalkha noions, cleverly encouraged by the Manchu. In 1688 the Khalkha feudal lords, routed by the Oirat khan Galdan (ruled 1671–97), declared themselves subjects of the Ch’ing dynasty (1644–1911), founded by the Manchu after their conquest of China. The Manchu promised the Khalka protection against the Oirats. The Khalkha’s subjugation to the Manchu was confirmed in 1691 at the Dolonnor assembly of noions of Inner and Outer Mongolia. The Oirat Khanate, relying on the friendly neutrality of Russia, defended its independence in a stubborn struggle and remained the only independent Mongol state. From 1755 to 1758 a broad anti-Manchu liberation movement headed by the Oirat prince Amursana and the Khalkha noion Chingunzhab (Chingunjav) developed in Khalkha and Dzungaria. But the movement was suppressed because of its lack of organization and the vacillations of the noion class. In 1758 the Manchu destroyed the Oirat state, slaughtering more than half a million inhabitants. All of Mongolia came under the rule of Ch’ing China, and the Mongols found themselves under dual oppression, owing obligations not only to the noions and the church but also to the Manchu conquerors. To perpetuate its domination, the Ch’ing dynasty sought to isolate Mongolia from the outside world, primarily from Russia. Direct trade between Mongols and Russian merchants was banned by decrees issued in 1719 and 1722, and it was not resumed until the early 1860’s.

In the mid-19th century capitalist Europe “discovered” China. Mongolia was “discovered” at the same time and like China was rapidly drawn into the world market. Usurious Chinese capitalists poured into Mongolia. Unequal trade exhausted the already weak Mongolian economy. The large-scale livestock raising of the noions could not develop normally under these conditions, and income fell.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries feudal Mongolia became the object of imperialist struggle in the Far East. The main rivals were Japan and tsarist Russia, although Great Britain, the USA, and Germany were also interested. The Ch’ing dynasty began extensive colonization of Mongolia, eliminating the vestiges of the Mongol princes’ autonomy and placing the administration of the country in the hands of its own bureaucracy, supported by Manchu-Chinese garrisons. This policy provoked the resistance not only of the arats but also of the noions, whose position as a ruling class was thus undermined. The overthrow of Manchu domination and independence became nationwide goals. The Russian Revolution of 1905–07 and the growth of the revolutionary movement in China contributed to the revolutionary situation in Mongolia. Anti-Manchu uprisings became larger and more frequent. In the southwestern part of the Kobdo District of Outer Mongolia a movement led by the arat Aiushi assumed broad dimensions, but in general the struggle was directed by the noions.

In the summer of 1911 a secret assembly of high feudal lords convened in Urga (present day Ulan Bator) decided to send a secret mission to St. Petersburg to negotiate for Russian aid in creating an independent Mongolian state. But theRussian government advised Mongolia to seek autonomy within China, promising the noions Russian aid in return for privileges in the country. The overthrow of the Ch’ing dynasty and the formation of an independent Mongolian monarchy headed by the bogdo-gegen (the head of the church) were proclaimed in Urga in 1911. On Dec. 16, 1911, the bogdo-gegen formally assumed the khan’s throne. For more than three years the government established by the bogdo-gegen unsuccessfully sought recognition of Mongolian sovereignty by the Great Powers. In the end it was obliged to accept autonomy within China, which was confirmed by the Kiakhta Treaty of 1915.

Mongolia since 1917. THE VICTORY OF THE REVOLUTION OF 1921 AND THE ACHIEVEMENT OF GENERAL DEMOCRATIC GOALS. The victory of the October Revolution in Russia and the formation of the Soviet state in 1917 opened the way for the revolutionary renewal of Mongolia. The reactionary noion class, however, was hostile to the victory of the socialist revolution in Russia. The government of the bogdo-gegen closed the border with the RSFSR, refused to receive Soviet diplomats, maintained ties with representatives of the former tsarist regime, and in the spring of 1918 permitted Chinese militarist forces to enter the country. It concealed from the people the August 1919 appeal of the Soviet government to the people and government of Outer Mongolia in which the Soviet government renounced all unequal treaties between tsarist Russia and Mongolia, recognized Mongolia’s right to independence, and proposed establishment of diplomatic relations. In November 1919 the Mongolian government renounced autonomy, turning the country into a refuge for Russian White Guards and a base for anti-Soviet intervention, and in 1920–21 it supported the Japanese protege Baron R.F. Ungern von Sternberg, who occupied the country and established a military dictatorship.

Only a successful anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolution could save the country from outright colonial enslavement. Preparations for such a revolution were begun. Progressive representatives of the arat class and progressive elements among other strata of the population, led by D. Sukhe-Bator and Kh. Choibalsan, established two underground revolutionary groups in Urga in the fall of 1919. In 1920 the two groups united to form a single revolutionary organization called the Mongolian People’s Party. Seeking to establish a direct link with Soviet Russia, the Mongolian revolutionaries sent representatives to Irkutsk and Moscow in the summer of 1920. Working under the terrorist regime of the Chinese and later the Ungern invaders, the members of the Mongolian revolutionary organization disseminated propaganda and organized the masses, laying the foundation for a people’s revolutionary army in preparation for a nationwide armed uprising.

The First Congress of the party, held in Kiakhta in March 1921, formally established the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP), called the Mongolian People’s Party prior to 1925. In accordance with the resolutions of the congress, the Provisional People’s Government was formed on March 13, and the staff of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Army was confirmed; Sukhe-Bator was appointed commander in chief. On March 18 revolutionary troops liberated the city of Maimachen (present day Altan-Bulak) from the occupation forces. In June 1921, Red Army units entered Mongolia at the request of the Provisional People’s Government to assist in the struggle against Ungern’s bands. On July 6 the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Army and Soviet troops liberated Urga. On July 10, 1921, the Central Committee of the party adopted a resolution to transfer central authority to a permanent people’s government.The revolution triumphed. Power was entrusted to people’s khurals, which became the political foundation of the Mongolian state. A dictatorship of the toiling arat class, led by the party and drawing on the support and aid of the working class of Soviet Russia and the international communist movement, was established by legislation.

All state affairs were conducted by the people’s government, although from 1921 to 1924 Mongolia formally remained a limited monarchy headed by the bogdo-gegen. This situation resulted from the strong influence of the church on the masses and the need to unite all patriotic forces in the anti-imperialist struggle. The people’s government carried out a number of anti-imperialist and anti-feudal reforms. Debts to foreign merchants and usurers, primarily Chinese, were canceled, land was nationalized, serfdom and feudal titles and privileges were abolished, and local self-government was democratized. In the course of the revolution social lines were more clearly defined, and the class struggle intensified, as was reflected in the counterrevolutionary conspiracies of Bodo (1922) and Danzan (1924), which were crushed by the people’s government.

Mongolia’s ties with Soviet Russia were strengthened and expanded. Of paramount importance was a Mongolian delegation’s meeting with V. I. Lenin in November 1921. Lenin’s views on the possibility of noncapitalist development in Mongolia determined the political course of the party and the people’s government. The party joined the Comintern as a sympathizer. On Nov. 5, 1921, a Soviet-Mongolian friendship agreement was signed in Moscow.

The Third Congress of the party, held in August 1924, established as the general party line the noncapitalist development of the country. The socioeconomic measures between 1921 and 1924 under the leadership of the party strengthened the people’s state and created the preconditions for the establishment of a republican system in Mongolia. The first Great People’s Khural, held in November 1924, proclaimed Mongolia a people’s republic and ratified the first constitution of the Mongolian People’s Republic.

The people’s government did all it could to stimulate the growth of productive forces, relying on the aid of the Soviet state. In December 1921 the Mongolian Central People’s Cooperative (Montsenkoop) was formed; in June 1924 the Mongolian Commercial and Industrial Bank was established; and in December 1925 monetary reforms were carried out and a national currency, the tugrik, was issued. Through the efforts of the state and the cooperatives the first industrial enterprises were built, and modern transportation and communications systems were established.

The country’s noncapitalist development toward socialism was opposed by right-wing deviationists from 1926 to 1928. The rout of the rightists at the Seventh Congress of the MPRP, held from October to December 1928, was a major victory for the Leninist basic line of the party. In the early 1930’s foreign capital was expelled from the country’s economy, and a state monopoly over foreign trade was established. The taxation policy, the strengthening of Montsenkoop, and the aid of Soviet trade organizations ensured the fulfillment of these objectives.

For a long time former feudal lords held strong positions in the economy, owning more than one-third of all livestock in 1924. In 1929 the expropriation of large feudal holdings began, and the livestock and property of former feudal lords became the property of poor peasants and the people’s state. The elimination of the feudal lords as a class took place amid a fierce struggle. The forces of reaction employed various forms of resistance, ranging from small-scale sabotage to armed uprisings in 1932. The reactionaries took advantage of the errors of the ultra-left leadership in the party and the state between 1929 and 1932. Ignoring the real situation, the ultra-leftists proclaimed the transition of the revolution to the socialist stage and began to implement a policy that caused serious economic and political difficulties. The third Extraordinary Plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the MPRP (June 1932) condemned the distortions that had been permitted and attempted to restore the party’s general line. The Ninth Congress of the MPRP, held in September and October 1934, approved the decisions of the Extraordinary Plenum.

Emancipation from colonial dependence and the abolition of feudal relations gave impetus to the development of the productive forces. The country’s livestock increased by 36 percent between 1929 and 1940. State and cooperative industry arose, chiefly coal mining, the production of electric energy, and the processing of agricultural raw materials. Automotive, railroad, and air transport developed. Between 1934 and 1939 the retail trade increased 2.5 times and exports 2.3 times; imports doubled. The main sources of revenue were the state and cooperative sectors: taxes and imposts collected from the population accounted for only 16.7 percent of revenues in 1940.

Against the background of a complicated international situation resulting from Japan’s aggressive policy, a Soviet-Mongolian gentlemen’s agreement on mutual aid in the event of an attack on one of the parties was concluded in November 1934. The oral agreement was confirmed by the Soviet-Mongolian Protocol on Mutual Assistance signed in March 1936. The Japanese troops that invaded Mongolia near the Khalkhin-Gol River in May 1939 were vigorously resisted by the Mongolian Army and the Soviet troops that came to its aid. In August 1939 the Japanese were completely routed.

By 1940 the country’s social structure had been fundamentally changed through revolutionary reforms. The class of feudal lords had disappeared, and the arats had become a class of free small producers. A national working class was emerging (numbering about 15,000 workers in 1940), and a working-class intelligentsia was developing. Small-scale and socialist enterprises were the basic economic unit. The socialist sector encompassed state and cooperative industry, mechanized transport, the financial system, and state and cooperative commerce. There were centers of socialist production in agriculture as well, the goskhozes, but small-scale production predominated. Capitalist elements also persisted in agriculture—large livestock-raising farms based on the hiring and exploitation of labor. In commerce these elements were represented by private merchants. In general, however, capitalist enterprises played an insignificant role in the national economy. The people’s government pursued a policy of limiting and displacing these elements. During the general democratic stage of development a cultural revolution took place with the aim of overcoming feudal vestiges in the people’s consciousness and establishing a revolutionary world view and progressive culture.

The achievements of the general democratic stage were summed up at the Tenth Congress of the MPRP held in March and April 1940 and at the Eighth Great People’s Khural in June 1940. The congress adopted a new party program,and the Eighth Great People’s Khural promulgated a new constitution reflecting the profound socio-economic changes that had occurred in the republic.

CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIALISM. Having fulfilled the general democratic tasks of the revolution by 1940, the country entered a new, socialist stage. The main tasks now became the acceleration of the rate of growth of productive forces, the voluntary formation of production cooperatives out of individual arat farms throughout the country, the creation of a single socialist system for the national economy, and the further development of the cultural revolution.

The transition to the socialist stage took place during World War II. From the first day of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, the Mongolian people, the MPRP, and the government of Mongolia took a consistently internationalist position of supporting the just cause of the peoples of the USSR and giving them much moral and material aid. This position was set forth in the Declaration of the Joint Session of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the MPRP,the Presidium of the Lesser Khural, and the Council of Ministers of the MPR on June 22, 1941. Thousands of tons of food, warm clothing, the savings of Mongolian working people, and thousands of head of cattle were contributed to the Red Army. During the war, 32,000 horses were sent by the Mongolian people as a gift to the USSR. The workers of Mongolia sent several trainloads of gifts to the fronts of the Patriotic War. The Revolutionary Mongolia Tank Column and the Mongolian Arat Air Squadron, which fought in battles against fascist German troops, were built with money collected by the working people of Mongolia. The economic policy of the MPRP and the people’s government was oriented toward the fullest utilization of local resources and the satisfaction of the country’s needs through domestically produced products. The MPR participated directly in the rout of the Japanese aggressors, declaring war on Japan on Aug. 10,1945. Its 80,000-man army fought a heroic campaign across the Gobi Desert to the Gulf of Liaotung, making its contribution to the common cause of victory.

In 1944 the government of Mongolia abolished the restrictions on the electoral rights of former feudal lords and persons who had previously exploited the labor of others, granting them the right to elect representatives to organs of people’s power and to be eligible for election. In 1949 elections by stages were replaced by direct elections and open voting by secret ballot. The country’s international position was strengthened. Its sovereignty was confirmed at the Yalta Conference in 1945. Fraternal relations with the USSR were strengthened. The Treaty on Friendship and Mutual Assistance Between the USSR and the MPR and the Agreement on Economic and Cultural Cooperation were signed in February 1946. In 1948, Mongolia began to establish diplomatic relations with the other socialist states, and economic and cultural cooperation with these countries expanded.

The postwar period was marked by great achievements in socialist construction. In 1947 the Eleventh Congress of the MPRP adopted a resolution calling for long-term planning of the national economy and culture and ratified the directives for the first five-year plan (1948–52). The session of the Great People’s Khural held in July 1954 elected Zh. Sambu (died 1972) chairman of the Presidium of the Great People’s Khural and formed a government headed by lu.Tsedenbal.

In the following years the national economy developed according to the second five-year plan (1953–57) and the three-year plan (1958–60). The development of industry brought about the growth of the working class. In 1960 the number of industrial and office workers was 5.9 times greater than in 1940. At the country’s socialist stage of development the working class became the leading force in the construction of a new society.

Beginning in 1955 agricultural production cooperatives were organized on a large scale. By the spring of 1959, virtually all the country’s arat farms had joined agricultural associations. The plenum of the Central Committee of the MPRP held in December 1959 announced that with the completion of the organization of the arat class into production cooperatives, socialist productive relations had triumphed in all spheres of the national economy. This meant that the country had made the transition to the socialist social system and that the party’s general line of noncapitalist development toward socialism had been successful. The historic victories of the Mongolian people were reflected in the new constitution ratified in July 1960 at the first session of the fourth convocation of the Great People’s Khural.

The Fourteenth Congress of the MPRP, held in July 1961, confirmed that the country had entered the period in which the construction of socialism was being completed. The fullest development of the material and technical base of socialism was now the main goal. The congress approved the directives of the third five-year plan (1961–65). The new program of the MPRP, adopted by the Fifteenth Congress in 1966, reflected the successes that had been achieved and defined the tasks for transforming the country into an industrial-agrarian state. The directives of the fourth five-year plan (1966–70) for the development of the national economy and culture were approved. The successful fulfillment of the plan raised the level of Mongolia’s economy and culture to a still higher level.

The Sixteenth Congress of the MPRP, held in June 1971, summed up the achievements of the 50-year struggle of the working people to overcome the country’s backwardness and their efforts to ensure the victory of the socialist path of development. The congress approved the directives for the fifth five-year plan for the development of the national economy and culture (1971–75), which were successfully, carried out. Over these five years the gross national product increased by 44.5 percent, the national income by 38 percent, and the volume of industrial production by 55.2 percent. The Seventeenth Congress of the MPRP, held in June 1976, adopted the Guidelines for the Development of Mongolia’s National Economy for 1976–1980. The new five-year plan’s chief goal is to ensure a further growth of social production, to raise its efficiency, and to improve the quality of work in all sectors of the economy and culture,thereby achieving a steady improvement in the people’s living standard and cultural life.

Mongolia’s foreign policy aims at securing peaceful conditions for the construction of socialism and strengthening the unity and cohesion of the world socialist system. The republic supports the national liberation struggle of peoples and the revolutionary struggle of the working class of the capitalist countries, and it promotes the preservation and strengthening of peace and the security of nations. Observing the principles of equality, mutual respect, and nonintervention in domestic affairs, Mongolia is pursuing a policy of establishing and developing relations with nonsocialist states regardless of their social system. The republic supports the USSR’s proposals for general and complete disarmament (1959 and 1962). It signed the Moscow Treaty of 1963 banning the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, outer space, and under water, the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons (1968), and the treaty on the ocean floor(1970). It supports the Arab countries’ struggle against Israeli aggression, the struggle of the peoples of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, the proposals of the Korean Democratic People’s Republic for the peaceful unification of Korea, the anti-imperialist struggle of the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, collective security in Asia, and the struggle of progressive forces for peace and security in Europe. Mongolia has been a member of the UN since 1961 andmember of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance since 1962. By 1975 it had established diplomatic relations with 75 countries and trade relations with more than 20. It belongs to 62 international organizations, 19 of which are governmental, and since 1969 it has been a member of the Disarmament Committee. Soviet-Mongolian relations are governed by the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, signed in January 1966. Mongolia has also signed treaties on friendship and cooperation with a number of other socialist countries.

SOURCES

Bichurin, N. Ia. Zapiski o Mongolii, vols. 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1828.
Bichurin, N. Ia. Sobranie svedenii o narodakh, obitavshikh v Srednei Azii v drevnie vremena, vols. 1–3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950–53.
Rashid-ad-Din. Sbornik letopisei, vol. 1 (books l-2)-vol. 3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946–60.
Drevnemongol’skie goroda. Moscow, 1965.
Kozin, S. A. Sokrovennoe skazanie: Mongol’skaia khronika 1240 g., vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941.
Puteshestviia v vostochnye strany Plano Karpini i Rubruka. Moscow, 1957.
Pokotilov, D. Istoriia vostochnykh mongolov v period dinastii Min, 1368–1634: Po kitaiskim istochnikam. St. Petersburg, 1893.
Pozdneev, A. M. Mongol’skaia letopis’ “Erdeniin erikhe”: Podlinnyi tekst s perevodom i poiasneniiami, zakliuchaiushchimi v sebe materialy dlia istorii Khalkhi s 1636 g. po 1736 g. St. Petersburg, 1883.
“Shara Tudzhi”mongol’skaia letopis’ XVII v. Translated by N. P. Shastina. Moscow-Leningrad, 1957.
Altan-Tobchi: Mongol’skaia letopis’ XVIII v. Translated by P. B. Baldanzhapov. Ulan-Ude, 1970.
Khalkha Dzhirum: Pamiatnik mongol’skogo feodal’nogo prava XVIII v.Translation and commentaries by S. D. Dylykov. Moscow, 1965.
Russko-mongol’skie otnosheniia 1607–1636: Sbornik dokumentov. Moscow, 1959.
Sovetsko-mongol’skie otnosheniia 1921–1966: Sbornik dokumentov. Moscow, 1966.

REFERENCES

Marx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed. vol. 3, pp. 150–57; vol. 8, pp. 567–68; vol. 12, pp. 509, 724; vol. 29, p. 154.
Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. vol. 22, p. 189; vol. 26, p. 318; vol. 44, pp. 232–33.
Tataro-mongoly v Azii i Evrope: Sbornik st. Moscow, 1970.
Istoriia Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1967.
Bartol’d, V. V. Turkestan v epokhu mongol’skogo nashestviia, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1898–1900.
Vladimirtsov, B. la. Obshchestvennyi stroi mongolov. Leningrad, 1934.
Maiskii, I. M. Mongoliia nakanune revoliutsii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1959.
Zlatkin, I. la. Mongol’skaia Narodnaia Respublika—strana novoi demokratii. Moscow, 1950.
Zlatkin, I. la. Ocherki novoi i noveishei istorii Mongolii. Moscow, 1957.
Zlatkin, I. la. Istoriia Dzhungarskogo Khanstva. Moscow, 1964.
Mongol’skaia Narodnaia Respublika. Moscow, 1971.
50 let narodnoi revoliutsii v Mongolii. Moscow, 1971.
50 let Narodnoi Mongolii: Polveka bor’by i truda (collection of articles). Moscow-Ulan Bator, 1971.
Narody-brat’ia: Sovetsko-mongol’skaia druzhba. Vospominaniia i stat’i. Moscow, 1965.
Gol’man, M. I. Problemy noveishei istorii MNR v burzhuaznoi istoriografii SShA. Moscow, 1970.
Novgorodova, E. A. Tsentral’naia Aziia i karasukskaia problema. Moscow, 1970.
Ocherki istorii Mongol’skoi narodno-revoliutsionnoi partii. Moscow, 1971. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Choibalsan, Kh. Izbr. stat’i i rechi (1921–1951), vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Tsedenbal, lu. Izbr. stat’i i rechi, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Shirendyb, B. Mongoliia na rubezhe XIX-XX vekov. Ulan Bator, 1964.
Shirendyb, B. Narodnaia revoliutsiia v Mongolii i obrazovanie Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki, 1921–1924. Moscow, 1956.
Shirendyb, B. Minuia kapitalizm. Ulan Bator, 1967.
Shirendyb, B. Istoriia Mongol’skoi narodnoi revoliutsii 1921. Moscow, 1971. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Tudev, B. Formirovanie i razvitie rabochego klassa Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki. Moscow, 1968. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Bugd Nairamdakh Mongol Ard Ulsyn tuukh, vols. 1–3. Ulan Bator, 1966–70.
Natsagdorzh, Sh. Khalkhyn tuukh. Ulan Bator, 1963.

E. A. NOVGORODOVA (to the third century B.C.), G. S. GOROKHOVA (from the third century B.C. to the 13th century A.D.), and I. IA. ZLATKIN (from the 13th century)

The Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP; Mongol Ardyn Khuv’sgalt Nam) was organized at the First Congress, held Mar. 1–3, 1921. Until 1925 it was called the Mongolian People’s Party. In January 1976 it numbered more than 67,000 members and candidate members. The country’s trade unions were organized and amalgamated at the first congress of trade unions in 1927. In 1976 they had a membership of about 300,000, and since 1949 they have belonged to the World Federation of Trade Unions. The Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League, established in 1921 and numbering more than 140,000 members in 1976, belongs to the World Federation of Democratic Youth. Other organizations include the Committee of Mongolian Women, established in 1933; the Federation of Mongolian Organizations of Peace and Friendship, established in 1959; the Society for Mongolian-Soviet Friendship, established in 1947;the Mongolian Peace Committee, established in 1949; and the Mongolian Committee of Solidarity With the Countries of Asia and Africa, established in 1957.

A. A. POZDNIAKOV

As a result of the People’s Revolution of 1921, Mongolia embarked on the path of socialist development, bypassing the capitalist stage. Under the people’s government Mongolia was transformed from a backward agrarian-feudal country  with nomadic livestock raising into a rapidly developing socialist agrarian-industrial state. Extensive cooperation with the USSR and, in the postwar period, with other socialist countries as well played an important role in building the material and technical base of socialism and in developing industry, agriculture, transportation, communications, and other branches of the national economy. Mongolia maintains both bilateral and multilateral economic ties with the socialist countries in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). Within the international socialist division of labor, the republic specializes in producing food and light industry products—primarily processed raw materials of livestock raising. Mongolia supplies the world market with leather, wool, leather and wool articles, meat products, and casein.

Agriculture accounted for 19.6 percent of the national income in 1973, industry for 24.1 percent, construction for 12.6 percent, transportation and communications for 7.2 percent, and trade for 34.4 percent. The fifth five-year plan (1971–75) was inaugurated in 1971.

Agriculture. As a result of fundamental socioeconomic reforms, socialist productive relations dominate agriculture. There are two kinds of socialist property—cooperative (agricultural associations, called SKhO) and state (goskhozes). Along with traditional livestock raising, crop farming has become an important branch of agriculture. In 1972 livestock raising accounted for 83.4 percent of the gross agricultural product and crop cultivation for 16.6 percent. The ratio of livestock to inhabitants is one of the highest in the world. About 24.6 percent of the cultivated area, 95 percent of the pastures, and 75 percent of the livestock belong to the cooperative sector, comprising 272 SKhO’s at the end of 1972. Some 22.2 percent of the livestock is the personal property of SKhO members. The SKhO’s are the main suppliers of livestock products. The state sector, consisting of 35 goskhozes, owns 75.4 percent of the cultivated area, 3 percent of the pastures, and 4 percent of the livestock. It accounts for four-fifths of the total output of cereals and for a substantial quantity of potatoes, vegetables, and fodder crops. The goskhozes also raise pedigree livestock. The main farming operations on the goskhozes are largely mechanized. At the end of 1972 there were 6,300 tractors, as compared with 1,700 in 1960. Various measures are being taken to raise the level of agriculture, particularly animal husbandry,including the construction of livestock buildings and watering facilities, the irrigation of pastures, and the development of a mixed-feed industry.

LIVESTOCK RAISING. Sheep raising, the leading branch of animal husbandry, is well developed throughout the country, but especially in the western and central regions. Cattle are raised primarily in the northeastern and northern regions.Goats are raised in the west, camels chiefly in the south and southeast, and yaks and khainaks in mountainous areas. Horses are bred throughout the country. Hog and poultry farms are being established on the outskirts of towns. Fur farming is also important. (See Tables 2 and 3 for the number of livestock and the products of livestock raising.)

Table2

CROP CULTIVATION. Between 1955 and 1972 the sown area increased from 62,900 hectares (ha) to 475,000 ha through the opening of virgin land. Cereals and legumes occupy 88.4 percent

Table3

of the sown area; fodder crops, 10.7 percent; potatoes, 0.6 percent; and vegetables, 0.3 percent. (See Table 4 for the yield of principal crops.)

Table4Industry. Owing to Mongolia’s particular historical and socioeconomic development, the country’s socialist industrialization began with the creation of branches of the light and food industries. Between the 1940’s and 1960’s, along with such traditional branches as the production of textiles, clothing, and leather footwear, branches of the heavy industry also developed, including the mining, electrical energy, woodworking, building-materials, and metalworking industries.(See Table 5 for the branch structure of industry.)

Table5

Most industrial enterprises are small or medium in size. Between 1941 and 1950 the annual growth rate of the gross industrial product averaged 6.9 percent; from 1951 to 1960, 10.8 percent; and between 1961 and 1970, 9.7 percent.Overall, the gross industrial product increased 13.8 times between 1940 and 1970. In 1972 industry contributed more than one-third of the country’s social product. Almost the entire industrial output, 96.8 percent in 1972, was produced by the state sector. In 1973 producer goods accounted for 49.7 percent of the gross industrial output and consumer goods for 50.3 percent.

MINING AND ELECTRIC POWER. The main branch of mining is the extraction of coal, chiefly lignite. Most of the coal is mined at the Sharyn-Gol open pit mine near Darkhan, producing more than 1 million tons annually; the Nalaikha mine, with an annual capacity of 600,000 tons; and the Adunchulun open-pit mine near Choibalsan, with an annual capacity of 200,000 tons. There are a number of smaller strip mines in the Under-Khan region and elsewhere. Electric energy is produced by steam power plants, of which the largest is at Darkhan. In 1967 a unified power system was built in the Central Region with the aid of the USSR.

Tungsten and fluorspar (fluorite) are also extracted. In 1973 construction began on an ore-concentration combine for processing the output of the copper-molybdenum mine at Erdenetiin-Obo, Bulgan Aimak.

MANUFACTURING. The light and food industries account for about half the gross industrial output and employ about half the country’s industrial workers. Among the largest enterprises is the industrial combine at Ulan Bator with eight factories, including a wool-washing plant, tanneries processing large hides and kidskin, and factories producing leather articles, felt, worsted cloth, and footwear. Other large enterprises include meat-packing plants at Ulan Bator and Choibalsan, flour milling combines at Ulan Bator and Sukhe-Bator, and the Ulan Bator mechanized bakery. The woodworking combines at Ulan Bator and Sukhe-Bator and other forestry enterprises use local lumber, cut chiefly in the north (754,000 cu m in 1972). Important enterprises of the building materials industry include the prefabricated housing combine at Ulan Bator and the cement and brick plants at Darkhan. Other products include furs, sheepskin coats, carpets, pharmaceuticals, and glass and porcelain articles. There is a printing industry. The country’s three major industrial areas are the Ulan Bator, Darkhan-Selenga (center, Darkhan) and Eastern regions (center, Choibalsan). (See Table 6 forthe output of the principal industrial products.)

Table6

Transportation. Railroad transport accounted for about three-fourths of the total freight turnover in 1972. The railroad system is 1,400 km long. The main railroad is the Trans-Mongolian, which crosses the country from north to south. About one-fourth of the total freight is transported by motor vehicle. Most roads are unpaved. There is navigation on Lake Khubsugul and on the Selenga and Orkhon rivers. The Civilian Air Transportation Board was established in 1956. Ulan Bator has an international airport.

Foreign trade. Economic and scientific-technical cooperation and trade with the socialist countries (members of COMECON, which Mongolia joined in 1962) are an important factor in the development of the national economy. With the aid of the socialist countries a number of major enterprises have been constructed, including electric power plants at Ulan Bator and Darkhan (USSR), Ulegei (Czechoslovakia), and Kharkhorin (Poland); the shaft and open-pit mines atSharyn-Gol, Nalaikha, and Adun-Chulun (USSR); the Ulan Bator motor vehicle repair plant (USSR); woodworking and prefabricated housing combines at Ulan Bator and a building materials combine at Darkhan (USSR), and a cement plant at Darkhan (Czechoslovakia). Other enterprises built with the assistance of the COMECON countries include a silica brick plant (Poland), a carpet factory (German Democratic Republic), leather enterprises (Czechoslovakia), a sheepskin coat factory (Bulgaria), a garment factory (Hungary), meat-packing plants (USSR, German Democratic Republic, and Bulgaria), and wool-washing factories (USSR). The COMECON countries are also helping Mongolia in exploring and developing mineral deposits.

A foreign trade monopoly was instituted in 1930. In 1972 the socialist countries, chiefly members of COMECON, accounted for about 99 percent of Mongolia’s foreign trade; the USSR’s share amounted to 85 percent. The first trade agreement with the USSR was signed in 1923; Soviet-Mongolian agreements on economic cooperation and trade agreements for 1971–75 were concluded in 1970. Trade with the COMECON countries is regulated by five-year agreements.

The main exports are livestock, meat and meat products, wool, hides and leather goods, and minerals. The main imports are machines and equipment, petroleum products, ferrous metals, chemical products, foodstuffs, and consumer goods. The monetary unit is the tugrik. According to the exchange rate of the State Bank of the USSR in April 1974, 100 tugriks equaled 22 rubles 50 kopeks.

I. KH. OVDIENKO

Growth of prosperity. The living standard and cultural level of the population have been rising steadily. Between 1940 and 1972 the national income increased 5.9 times, and in 1972 about 70 percent of the national income was allocated for goods and services. Production of consumer goods increased seven fold between 1950 and 1971. The standard of living of the working people is rising owing to higher wages for industrial and office workers (increasing by 27 percent during the fourth five-year plan from 1966 to 1970), the higher income of members of agricultural associations (by 240 million tugriks), and the rapid growth of the social consumption fund (by 19.9 percent). The average monthly wages of industrial and office workers increased 1.2 times between 1960 and 1972. The wage rates of workers in a number of branches of material production have risen.

In 1971 wages of up to 300 tugriks a month were declared exempt from income tax, and tax rates for monthly wages of more than 300 tugriks were reduced by approximately 20 percent. The salaries of certain categories of low-paid workers in agricultural associations were raised by an average of more than 15 percent.

The proportion of the social consumption fund allocated for the payment of pensions, allowances, and benefits and for free services has increased substantially. Industrial and office workers and the members of agricultural associations receive old age pensions. Between 1966 and 1970, old age pensions increased by an average of 20 percent, with the amounts ranging from 150 to 600 tugriks. Men 60 years of age and women 55 years of age (for jobs injurious to health,55 and 50 years, respectively) who have worked more than 20 years (or more than 15 years in unhealthy jobs) are eligible for pensions. In 1971 the allowance for mothers with many children was increased.

Much attention is devoted to the protection of labor. Paid vacations, disability pensions, and leaves for temporary disability have been instituted. The eight-hour workday and the six-day week are standard.

Measures have been taken to improve the working and living conditions of the rural population. The funds from which members of agricultural associations are paid for their labor have been increasing, and the members’ income from cooperative farming is growing. The prices paid by the state for the main products of livestock raising have increased, and incentive increments on products exceeding the plan for state procurements have been established.

Between 1960 and 1972 the per capita retail commodity turnover increased by 38 percent, with the per capita turnover of foodstuffs increasing by 67 percent. Up to 40 percent of the state budget is spent for social and cultural purposes excluding capital construction. In 1972 the per capita expenditure for social and cultural services was 37 times that of 1940. Free education is provided in general schools, vocational schools, technicums, and higher educational institutions in both cities and rural areas. Kindergartens, nurseries, boarding schools, hospitals, maternity homes, and other medical institutions are maintained by the state. The housing supply is continuously increasing; about 150,000 sq m of housing were constructed in 1971–72. Various measures are being taken to improve the living conditions of rural workers.

D. BATSUKH

REFERENCES

Ocherki ekonomiki Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki. Moscow, 1969.
Ovdienko, I. Kh. Sovremennaia Mongoliia. Moscow, 1964.
Gungaadash, B. Mongoliia segodnia: Priroda, liudi, khoziaistvo. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Roshchin, S. K. Sel’skoe khoziaistvo MNR na sotsialisticheskom puti. Moscow, 1971.
50 let MNR: Statistich. sb. Ulan Bator, 1971.
Statisticheskii ezhegodnik stranchlenov Soveta ekonomicheskoi vzaimopomoshchi 1973. Moscow, 1973.

Mongolia’s armed forces, the Mongolian People’s Army (MPA), consist of ground troops, antiaircraft units, and border troops. The minister of defense exercises direction over the army, which is maintained by universal conscription. The period of active military service is three years, and the draft age is 19 years. Armaments include missiles of various types, modern tanks, artillery, jet aircraft, and engineering, radar, and other military equipment. The first regular units were organized in early 1921. Between May and August 1939 the MPA, along with Red Army troops, took part in the rout of the Japanese forces that attacked the republic near the Khalkhin-Gol River. In August 1945 the MPA and Soviet Armed Forces defeated the Kwantung Army of imperialist Japan. March 18 is observed as the anniversary of the MPA’s formation. On Mar. 18, 1921, Mongolian troops won their first major victory, liberating the city of Maimachen, present day Altan-Bulak, from the invaders.

The hardships of nomadic life in pre-revolutionary Mongolia and the prevalence of infectious and venereal diseases resulted in high morbidity and mortality rates (including infant mortality) compared to other Oriental countries.

In 1972 the birth rate was 39.3 per thousand inhabitants, and the overall mortality rate, 10.8 per thousand inhabitants (the corresponding figures in 1921 were 25 and 30). The infant mortality rate was 73.4 per thousand live births in 1970,compared to 500 in 1921. The average life span doubled between 1919 and 1969, rising to 64.5 years (62.5 years for men and 66.33 for women).

The incidence of infectious diseases decreased sharply under the people’s government. Smallpox, plague, typhus, and recurrent fever have been completely eradicated, and malignant anthrax, rabies, spinal meningitis, and trachoma have been reduced to isolated cases. Between 1965 and 1970 alone the incidence of diphtheria declined 7.2 times; brucellosis, 4 times; typhoid, 1.9 times; and dysentery, 1.7 times. The incidence of poliomyelitis in 1969 was 26 times less than that in 1963. Among parasitic diseases helminthiases predominate.

Mongolia has a state public health system providing free medical care for the entire population. In 1973 there were more than 350 hospitals with some 12,000 beds, or 9.6 beds per thousand inhabitants (in 1925 there was only one hospital with 15 beds). The country also had 164 polyclinics in 1971. The population of goskhozes, agricultural associations, and relatively inaccessible regions is served by 97 medical stations staffed by doctors and 846 stations run by medical assistants (1970). Maternity hospitals, obstetrical stations, maternity and children’s consultation clinics, child nutrition facilities, nurseries, and kindergartens have been established under the people’s government. Pregnant workingwomen are given a paid leave of 45 days both before and after delivery. Under the law mothers receive payments upon the birth of twins, and there are other benefits for mothers with many children. In 1970, 92 percent of pregnant women and 94 percent of children under the age of one were being regularly examined at dispensaries.

In 1972 there were about 2,500 doctors (one for every 520 persons), compared with two doctors in 1925 (one for every 325,900 persons); 93 dentists; 700 pharmacists; and about 8,000 intermediate medical personnel. Medical specialists are trained by the Mongolian State Medical Institute, founded in 1942 as the medical faculty of the Mongolian State University and functioning since 1961 as an independent institute. It has departments of medicine, pediatrics, hygiene, stomatology, and pharmacy, a division of dentistry, and advanced training courses for physicians. Intermediate medical personnel are trained at three medical technicums (in Ulan Bator and in the East Gobi and Gobi-Altai aimaks) and six schools (in Ulan Bator and Darkhan and in the Arakhangai, Kobdo, and Eastern aimaks). The country has many mineral springs, called arshans, at which health resorts for working people have been built. The largest resorts are Zhanchivlin, Gurvannur, Otgon Tenger, and Khudzhirt. In 1970 public health expenditures totaled about 106 million tugriks.

V. V. SHUVAEV

Veterinary services. Under the people’s government, Mongolia’s veterinary service, aided by Soviet specialists, has been highly successful in controlling epizootic diseases among livestock. Plague and peripneumonia of cattle,infectious pleuropneumonia of goats, and sheep pox have been wiped out. In 1966–68 specialists from COMECON assisted Mongolian veterinarians in carrying out a diagnostic examination of all livestock to determine the incidence of the most dangerous anthropozoonoses—glanders, brucellosis, and tuberculosis. A comprehensive program for eradicating these diseases was worked out. Other common diseases include scabies of sheep and camels, necrobacillosis, swine plague, and such helminthiases as coenurosis, echinococcosis, and cysticercosis.

The state veterinary service is under the Ministry of Agriculture. Veterinary preparations are produced at pharmaceutical plants in Songino and Kobdo. Research is conducted at the Research Institute of Livestock Raising, the Agricultural Institute, and the Central Veterinary Hygiene Laboratory of the Republic. Veterinarians are trained at the Agricultural Institute of Ulan Bator, and veterinary assistants are trained at four technicums. In 1970 there were 900 veterinarians.

S. I. KARTUSHIN

In prerevolutionary Mongolia, less than 1 percent of the population was literate. The only schools in the country were the datsans attached to Buddhist monasteries, which taught primarily Tibetan, Buddhist philosophy, and astrology. After the victory of the People’s Revolution of 1921, the popular government began to organize a state system of public education. The Decree on the Organization of Elementary Schools was adopted in August 1921, and the Regulations for Elementary Schools were ratified the same year. In 1927 the Regulations for Secondary Schools were approved, banning private schools and providing for the creation of genuinely national state schools in which Mongolian would be the language of instruction. In 1921–22, 12 elementary schools and a seven-year school (in Ulan Bator) were established, with an enrollment of 400 children.

The organizational principles of public education were set forth in the party’s second program, adopted by the Fourth Congress of the MPRP in 1925. General secular schools were to be established for all children, regardless of sex or nationality. Instruction was to be free, compulsory, and coeducational for all children up to 18 years of age, and corporal punishment was abolished. One of the goals of education was to inspire devotion to the party and the nation. During the first years of the people’s government, the development of public education was complicated by a shortage of money for the organization of mass education, a lack of teachers, and a lack of experience in organizing schools. The first teacher-training courses were inaugurated in 1922. In the late 1920’s, the training of teachers in Soviet schools began. Standard curricula were introduced in 1933. The Lamaist clergy stubbornly resisted the introduction of secular education, and until the late 1930’s, monastic schools existed alongside state schools. In 1933, monastic schools had an enrollment of 18,000 students.

From the first years of the people’s government adult education courses were given at all schools and in all military units, industrial enterprises, and farm organizations. In 1941 a new alphabet was introduced, based on Cyrillic.nationwide movement arose whose slogan was “Each literate person, teach at least three illiterates.” By the end of the first five-year plan (1952), illiteracy had been virtually eradicated among adults.

In 1955 the Central Committee of the MPRP and the Council of Ministers of the MPR adopted the resolution On Universal Compulsory Elementary Education of School-age Children, and in 1958 they adopted the resolution On the Introduction of Universal Compulsory Seven-year Education in the Cities and Aimak Centers. Adult education was further advanced through an extensive network of seasonal and general evening schools and schools for people working in shifts. The new party program adopted at the MPRP’s Fifteenth Congress in 1966 called for the immediate establishment of universal lower secondary education for all school age children. The program also envisaged a subsequent transition to universal upper secondary education. In 1972–73 a new secondary school curriculum was introduced, providing for three years of instruction in elementary schools, eight years in lower secondary schools, and ten years in upper secondary schools. In the 1973–74 school year there were 549 schools of all types, with an enrollment of 274,300.

A system of vocational training was organized in 1964 to train skilled workers. In 1972 there were 20 vocational schools with 8,700 students. Between 1965 and 1970 more than 20,000 workers were trained in 70 specializations.

In 1924 the first special secondary schools were established, whose teachers were Soviet educators and specialists. In 1970 there were 11,100 persons studying in 19 technicums, including several medical, veterinary and agricultural schools and schools of finance and economics, trade, polytechnical education, and railroad transport.

Public higher education was initiated in 1940 with the opening of the Pedagogical Institute in Ulan Bator. In 1942 the Mongolian State University was established with the aid of the USSR. Initially the university had three departments—medicine, veterinary science, and pedagogy. By 1972 the university had departments of physics and mathematics, chemistry and biology, social sciences (training specialists in philosophy, history, and law), economics, and philology.With the aid of UNESCO the Polytechnic Institute was created in 1969 under the auspices of the university. Several of the university’s departments have grown into independent institutes of pedagogy (1951), agriculture (1958), and medicine (1961). In the 1972–73 academic year, 8,900 students were studying in higher educational institutions. By 1970 more than 15,000 Mongolian specialists had been trained in higher and special secondary institutions of the USSR; more than 4,000 Mongolian students were receiving training in the USSR in 1973.

Ulan Bator is the site of the State Public Library (founded in 1921, 1 million volumes), the country’s largest library, the State Central Museum, the V. I. Lenin Museum, the Central Museum of the Revolution, the Museum of Religion, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of the Reconstruction of Ulan Bator, and the D. Natsagdorzh Museum.

REFERENCE

Baldaev, R. L. Narodnoe obrazovanie v Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respub-like. Moscow, 1971.

L. M. GATAULLINA

Natural and technical sciences. In feudal Mongolia scientific knowledge was acquired primarily in astronomy, medicine, and agriculture. Under the people’s government, there have been notable scientific advances. Contacts with Soviet scientists were established in 1921, and in 1929 an agreement on cooperation was signed by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the Committee of Sciences of the MPR. During the 1930’s and 1940’s research in the natural sciences was oriented toward the needs of the national economy. Joint expeditions of Mongolian and Soviet scientists were organized to study the country’s flora and fauna, geography, and geology, and Soviet scientists helped train national scientific workers.

The 1950’s and 1960’s saw the development of branches of science dealing with agriculture. Zoological and botanical research by Mongolian scientists was aimed at increasing livestock productivity and improving breeds, treating and preventing animal diseases, efficiently using feed resources, and improving farming methods. An outstanding achievement was the development of a new breed of Orkhon sheep under the direction of T. Aiurzan, corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR. This breed has a semi-fine fleece and is raised for meat and wool. Karakul sheep are being acclimatized in the Gobi regions. A new breed of goats is being developed for fleece by crossing local goats with Don goats from the USSR. Academician Ts. Toivgo’s studies of cattle have played a significant role in improving animal husbandry. Problems of camel breeding are also being studied. Productive strains of cereals, vegetables,and fruit adapted to the country’s severe climatic conditions have been developed by Kh. Zunduizhantsan, M. Ul’zii, and E. Shagdar, corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR. Mongolian biologists are engaged in the study, classification, and systematization of Mongolia’s flora and fauna. Important works include the Index to the Plants of Central Mongolia, Aromatic Plants of the MPR, and Game Animals of the MPR and Their Protection.

During the 1960’s theoretical and practical research in chemistry and agricultural chemistry expanded. The Institute of Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR has studied the distribution of trace elements in the soil, compiled cartograms showing the occurrence of these elements in a number of regions, and made recommendations for using trace element fertilizers in farming, and for adding vitamins to certain foodstuffs. Considerable geochemical and biochemical research has been undertaken. A notable contribution is the monograph Biochemistry of Food Plants of Mongolia.

Working closely with specialists from the COMECON countries, Mongolian geologists have discovered many deposits of various minerals and compiled geological and tectonic maps of the MPR. Mongolian geographers are studying permafrost and defining the country’s natural and economic zones. Works have been published on the physical geography of Mongolia (Sh. Tsegmid) and on economic geography (B. Gungadash). Hydrometeorological research is being conducted by a special scientific research institute and more than 60 meteorological, aerological, and hydrological stations, constituting the MPR’s hydrometeorological service.

Since 1956, Mongolian physicists have been working at the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research in Dubna. The Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, established in 1961, studies seismicity, magnetism, and the spread of radioactive fallout. Astronomical research includes observation of the sun’s corona and prominences, and artificial earth satellites are tracked. The Institute of Mathematics, founded in 1968, has a computer center and studies problems of theoretical and applied mathematics.

Among notable achievements in medicine are the development of scientific principles of combatting epidemic diseases and advances in the treatment of rheumatism and other diseases. Folk medicine and the properties of local medicinal plants are being studied, and preparations made from wild plants are used extensively in medical treatment.

I. I. POTEMKINA

Social sciences. PHILOSOPHY. After the formation of the Mongol state in 1206, shamanism, the hitherto unchallenged religion of the Mongol tribes, began to give way to Buddhism. The philosophical treatises of Buddhist monks began to reach Mongolia, and the first such Mongolian work, Loda Chzhaltsan’s Explanation of the Knowable, was written in the 13th century. By the 16th and 17th centuries, Lamaist Buddhism had become the official religion in the Mongol state. The work of the most important Mongolian philosophers—who wrote commentaries to Buddhist philosophical treatises—dates from this period. Robzhamba Sodnom Vanzhal was the author of a textbook on logic and dialectics called the Sun’s Ray. Agvan Dandar Lkharamba (of Alashan) offered his own interpretation of the problem of “alien animation” posed by the Indian logician Dharmakirti. Agvan Baldan analyzed various Indian philosophical schools and currents in his three-volume history of Indian philosophy, written in 1846 as a commentary to the History of Indian Philosophy by Gunchen Chzham’ian Shadp Dorchzhe, the great Tibetan scholar and philosopher of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In the first half of the 18th century Chzhan-chzha Khu-tug-tu compiled a Tibetan-Mongolian dictionary of philosophical terms known as the Dictionary for Sages. Zhanzha Rol’bi Dorzhi wrote a two-volume work on the history of Indian philosophy, and one of Sakhar Lubsan Sul’tim’s main works was a commentary to the Theory of Thought by the Indian philosopher Asanga.

Under the influence of the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, Marxist-Leninist ideas began to spread in Mongolia, becoming the ideological foundation of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party. In their studies Mongolian philosophers and sociologists offer theoretical generalizations based on the experience of socialist construction in the MPR. Philosophers are trained by the department of Marxism-Leninism and philosophy of the D. Sukhe-Bator Higher Party School in Ulan Bator.

P. I. KHADALOV

HISTORY. The earliest example of Mongolian feudal historiography is the anonymous chronicle Mongolyn nuuts tobcho (Secret History), written at the earliest in 1240. The historical writings of the 14th to 16th centuries have not survived, but the events of this period were reflected in works dating from the 17th to 19th centuries, notably the anonymous Alton tobchi (The Golden Button), Sagan Setsen’s Erdeniin tobchi (The Jeweled Button), Rashipuntsug’s Bolor erikhe (The Crystal Beads), and Galdan’s Erdeniin erikhe (The Jeweled Beads). Biographies of Lamaist leaders and Mongolian translations of Tibetan and Chinese historical literature also appeared at this time. From the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when Lamaism became the dominant ideology, Mongolian feudal historiography developed under clerical influence. A critical, anti-Manchu tendency appeared in Mongolian historiography in the middle of the 19th century in the writings of Inzhinash. An 11-volume history of Mongolia, essentially continuing the tradition of feudal historiography, was written but not published under the feudal-theocratic monarchy from 1911 to 1919. There was a considerable body of historical literature in Tibetan by such scholars as Sh. Damdin.

Marxist-Leninist methodology became firmly established in Mongolian historiography after the victory of the people’s revolution in 1921. In the 1920’s and 1930’s the classics of Marxism-Leninism were translated into Mongolian; historical material was collected and historians were trained. Primary attention was devoted to the publication of sources and to archaeology, and the first secondary-school history textbooks were written. The works of the older generation of historians which appeared at this time—those of Kh. Maksarzhab, L. Dendeb, A. Amor, G. Navannamzhil—provided an objective account of Mongolian history, particularly for the period from 1911 to 1919. However, their work suffered from insufficient analysis and generalization. A notable exception was the collective work on the history of the Mongolian people’s revolution written in 1934 by Kh. Choibalsan, G. Demid, and D. Losol.

Several monographs and collective works on history were published in the 1940’s and 1950’s, including the one-volume History of the MPR, a joint work of Mongolian and Soviet scholars. This work, published in 1954, treats the history of the country from earliest times to the 1950’s. A second edition, in Russian, was published in Moscow in 1967. Marxist-Leninist methodology triumphed after a sharp struggle against the vestiges of feudalism and the influence of bourgeois and petit bourgeois ideology in historical research. During the 1960’s and 1970’s historical science entered a new stage. It assumed a greater role in the communist upbringing of the working people, drawing scientific generalizations from experience and revealing the laws of the history of the Mongolian people. The number of highly qualified historians, some trained in the USSR, increased; the scope of historical problems expanded; and the scientific and theoretical level of historical works rose.

Outstanding historical works of the late 1960’s include the basic three-volume History of the MPR (1966–70) and a synthesis of party history entitled Studies in the History of the MPRP (1967; Russian translation, 1971). Other importantstudies were B. Shirendyb’s works on Mongolia’s socioeconomic development at the turn of the century and on the people’s revolution and the formation of the MPR; Sh. Natsagdorzh’s works on the history of the arat movement and the history of Khalkha; B. Tudev’s work on the history of the Mongolian working class; and N. Ishzhamts’ work on the Mongolian people’s liberation struggle in the 18th century. Among the questions treated were the history of the Khitans, predecessors of the Mongols; the origin of the Mongol tribes; the role of Chinese merchants and moneylenders in Mongolia; the country’s foreign relations in the 19th and 20th centuries; and the history of Lamaism. Eminent historians include Kh. Perlee, D. Gongor, M. Sanzhadorzh, Sh. Sandag, and S. Purevzhav. Ts. Damdinsuren’s monograph on the historical roots of the epic about Geser Khan was published in 1957. The works of Mongol authors who wrote in Tibetan and of Mongolian feudal historgiography were studied by Sh. Bira. A wealth of archaeological material on the Paleolithic and Neolithic, the Bronze Age, and the early tribes and states on the territory of the MPR was gathered in the course of expeditions, particularly the Soviet-Mongolian historical-cultural expedition of 1969–71. This material was the basis for works on the ancient Turkic peoples (N. Ser-Odzhav), the history of shamanism (Ch. Dalai), and the life and economy of the Darkhats (Ch. Badamkhatan). Sources and documents on the country’s history, the revolution, and the building of socialism are being published.

The main centers for the study of history are the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, established in 1961; the Institute of Party History under the Central Committee of the MPRP, founded in 1955; and the department of history of the Mongolian State University, organized in 1942. Works by Mongolian historians are published in Tuukhiin tsuvral, the yearbook of the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences, issued since 1961, and the journals BNMAU-yn Shinzhlekh ukhaany akademiin medee, issued since 1961, and Namyn am’dral, published since 1923.

M. I. GOL’MAN

ECONOMICS. The economic thought of feudal Mongolia was reflected in annals, laws, and contemporary works on economics, which proclaimed the immutable economic prerogatives of the khans, noions, and other feudal lords and contained much information on the economy and life of the Mongols. Economic works discussing herding and giving advice on managing everyday affairs appeared in the 18th century. The most important of these works was To-Van’s Admonitions (1853). At the beginning of the 20th century, progressive leaders called for overcoming economic backwardness and argued the necessity of developing industry and agriculture.

The anti-imperialist, anti-feudal revolution of 1921 laid the foundation for the development of Marxist economic thought. Between the 1920’s and 1940’s Mongolian economists directed their efforts primarily toward working out concrete economic programs, economic legislation, and problems of long-range socioeconomic development. In 1934 a collective work was published by Kh. Choibalsan, D. Losol, and D. Demid, analyzing Mongolian economic conditions prior to the revolution and the popular government’s first economic measures in the postrevolutionary period. From the late 1950’s scientific economic studies were promoted by directives of party congresses and decisions of plenums of the Central Committee of the MPRP on economic questions. Between the 1950’s and the early 1970’s Mongolian economists studied the country’s economic history (B. Shirendyb, Sh. Natsagdorzh), socialist construction (N. Zhagvaral, U.Kambar, B. Gungaadash, P. Nergui), agricultural economics (D. Dugar, S. Zhadamba, D. Moebuu), the economics of industry, construction, and transport (D. Zagasbaldan, D. Maidar, Ch. Sereeter, Ts. Gurbadam), the formation and development of the Mongolian working class (B. Tudev), domestic and foreign trade (P. Luvsandorzh, M. Pelzhee), and finance (O. Tsend, B. Dolgorma).

The main centers of economic science are the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences and Gosplan (State Planning Committee) of the MPR, the Higher Party School under the Central Committee of the MPRP, and the Mongolian State University. The economics journal Ediin zasgiin asuudal, the organ of the Central Committee of the MPRP, has been published since 1959. Economic material is also published in the journals Namyn am‘dral (since 1923), BNMA U-yn Shinzhlekh ukhaany akademiin medee (since 1961), and Shinzhlekh ukhaany am’dral (since 1935).

S. K. ROSHCHIN

JURISPRUDENCE. Mongolian legal scholars study problems relating to the organization and activity of the people’s khurals (S. Zhalan-aazhav, E. Avilmed) and other questions concerning the development of the socialist state. A leading authority on legal history is Sodovsuren. Textbooks on civil law and procedure have been published in Russian. Labor law has been extensively studied in connection with the preparation and adoption of the labor code in 1973, and problems of the law of agricultural associations are being examined. In criminal law and procedure Zh. Avkhia has written on crimes against the individual and R. Gunsen on crimes against socialist property. G. Sovd has publishedcourse on criminal law, and a textbook on criminal procedure has been written by Zh. Avkhia, B. Davaasambuu, and Ts. Buzhinlkham in collaboration with Soviet scholars.

Research in jurisprudence is conducted by the Division of Philosophy and Law of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, the Institute of Philosophy, Sociology, and Law of the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, the Institute for the Study of the Causes and Prevention of Crime under the Procuracy of the MPR, and the law department of the Mongolian State University. The legal journals are Ardyn tor and Sotsialist khuul’es.

Scientific institutions. A system of scientific institutions was organized after the victory of the people’s revolution in 1921. The Scientific Committee was established in 1921 and renamed the Committee of Sciences of the MPR in 1929.At first the committee studied historical and philological problems, but from the late 1920’s it became increasingly active in scientific and economic research. In the 1930’s sectors for the study of national economic questions were organized within the committee, including offices of farming, livestock raising, and geology. In 1961 the committee was reorganized to form the Academy of Sciences of the MPR, the country’s main center for research in the social and natural sciences. In addition to the Academy of Sciences, more than 30 research institutions under various ministries and government departments conduct scientific work, including institutes of livestock raising and veterinary medicine,plant breeding and farming, and fodder and pastures (all under the Ministry of Agriculture), as well as institutes of pedagogy, medicine, and construction. Scientific work is coordinated by the State Committee on Science and Technology and by the Academy of Sciences of the MPR.

REFERENCES

Shirendev, B. “Mongol ornoo tal burees n’ tanin sudlakhyg khicheezh baina.” Shinzhlekh ukhaan am’dral, 1971, no. 6.
“Ard tymniig uilchlegch Shinzhlekh ukhaan 50 zhild.” Zaluuchuudyn unen, February 17, 1971.

In 1972 there were 12 central and 18 local newspapers and a number of magazines whose total circulation exceeded 1 million copies. The leading newspapers and magazines are published in Ulan Bator. The daily Unen (Truth), published since 1925 and with a circulation of 113,000 in 1975, is the organ of the Central Committee of the MPRP and the Council of Ministers of the MPR. The monthly magazine Namyn am’dral (Party Life), published since 1923 and withcirculation of 25,000 (1975), is the organ of the Central Committee of the MPRP. The newspaper Khudulmur (Labor), founded in 1930 and published three times weekly, is the organ of the Central Council of Trade Unions of the MPR (circulation in 1975, 60,000). Zaluchudyn unen (Young People’s Truth), a newspaper founded in 1924 and published three times weekly (circulation in 1975, 60,000), is the organ of the Central Committee of the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League. The newspaper Novosti Mongolii (News of Mongolia) has been issued twice weekly since 1947. Its Russian-language edition had a circulation of 10,000 in 1975, and its Chinese edition, 1,000. Mongol uls (Mongolia),monthly illustrated magazine devoted to social and political affairs, literature, and the arts, has appeared since 1956 (circulation of Mongolian-language edition, 12,000 in 1975; Russian edition, 19,000; English edition, 1,000). The quarterly Mongolyn emegteichud (Mongolian Women), founded in 1925, had a circulation of 30,000 in 1975.

In 1957 a government telegraph agency, the Mongolian Telegraph Agency (MONTsAME), was established. The agency supplies the Mongolian press, radio, and television with information on foreign affairs and publishes a newspaper and information bulletins in English and French. Radio broadcasting, begun in 1934, is controlled by the State Committee for Information, Radio, and Television of the Council of Ministers of the MPR. There are two radio centers, one at Ulan Bator and the other at Ulegei. The radio center at Ulan Bator broadcasts in Mongolian on two programs (21 hours daily). Broadcasts in Russian, Chinese, English, French, and Kazakh are transmitted regularly (30 hours a week).

A television center went into operation in Ulan Bator in 1967. Since 1969 telecasts to Ulan Bator have been relayed by the Orbit space telecommunications station. Three television programs—a national program and two Orbit programs—are broadcast six days a week.

A. A. POZDNIAKOV

Mongolian folklore has a wealth of genres, including songs, epic songs, heroic legends, tales, iorols (good wishes), magtaals (eulogistic songs), surgaals (precepts), legends, riddles, proverbs, and sayings. Strong folkloric traditions account for the vitality of Mongolian epic literature, famous for the legend of Geser Khan and the folk epic Dzhangar (also found among the Kalmyks) about the flourishing land of Bumba and its hero and defender, Dzhangar. Epigraphsfrom the 12th and 13th centuries and the inscriptions on the cliffs of Khalkha Tsokto-taidzhi (1580–1637) attest to the great influence of folk songs and to the epic quality of Mongolian poetry. The work known as the Golden Horde Birch-bark Manuscript (early 14th century; Hermitage, Leningrad) provides examples of dialogue folk songs. The first known Mongolian written work, the Secret History (not earlier than 1240), by an anonymous author or group of authors, is both a historical and a literary work. The literature of the 13th and 14th centuries has survived only in fragmentary form in later works, chiefly 17th-century chronicles. These chronicles contain the famous Legend of Argasun-khuurch, Conversation of the Orphan Boy With the Nine Knights of Genghis Khan, and Legend of the Rout of the Three Hundred Taidzhiuts. Among later works incorporated in the chronicles are the 15th-century Lament of Togontemur and Legendof the Wise Mandukhai, The Khan’s Wife and the 16th-century Tale of Ubashi-khun-taizh. Three 17th-century chronicles are outstanding for their literary qualities: the anonymous Yellow Story, Lubsan Dandzan’s Golden Legend, and Sagan Setsen’s Jeweled Button.

A notable feature of original 19th-century Mongolian literature is the diversity of its genres. Inzhinash (1837–92) wrote the historical trilogy The Blue Chronicle and the novel of everyday life The One-story Pavilion. Khuul’ch Sandag wasmaster of folk satire in verse. Outstanding poets included D. Ravzhaa (1803–56), Gulransa (1820–51), Ishdanzanvanzhil (1854–1907), Luvsandondov (1854–1909), Khishigbat (1849–1916), and Gamal (1871–1916). Genden Meeren (1820–82) wrote the allegorical tale Dog, Cat, and Mouse. These works are marked by democratic anti-feudal tendencies.

Literature in translation flourished from the time of the Yuan empire, which lasted from the 1270’s to 1368. Among the translated works were Santideva’s narrative poem Kalila and Dimna, an Iranian version of the Pancatantra; One Hundred Thousand Songs by the Tibetan hermit poet Milaraiba, and the collection of aphorisms Subashita. The 108-volume Kanjur, containing not only scholarly treatises but also works on linguistics, versification, and rhetoric, and the 225-volume Tanjur, a commentary to the Kanjur, were translated for several centuries and printed in the 18th century. The afterwords to some translations name the translator. Choidzhi-odser, for example, wrote the verse afterword and commentary to his translation of the Bodhicaryavatara (14th century). Many tales and stories of Indian origin circulated widely, such as the Tales of the Vampire, the Pancatantra stories, and the legend of King Vikramaditya. Chinesenovels were transmitted orally. Especially popular were Shih Nai-an’s Water Margin, Lo Kuan-chung’s Three Kingdoms, Wu Ch’eng-en’s Monkey, and Ts’ao Hsiieh-ch’in’s Dream in the Red Chamber, and the short stories of P’u Sungling.

After the People’s Revolution of 1921 the young literature of Mongolia, drawing upon folklore, absorbed the best traditions of the literary heritage and expanded its ties with progressive world literature, primarily with classical Russian and Soviet literature. New genres developed, among which drama held a special place. A group of revolutionary writers banded together in 1929, forming the Mongolian Association of Revolutionary Writers in 1930. The new literature was inaugurated with the revolutionary songs Shive Kiakhta and Red Banner and with amateur plays on topical subjects (Sando amban’ 1922). Outstanding plays were written by D. Natsagdorzh (1906–37), one of the founders of contemporary Mongolian literature, and the talented writers S. Buiannemekh (1902–37), M. ladamsuren (1902–37), Sh. Aiusha (1904–37), and D. Namdag (born 1911). The first Mongolian novellas were published in the 1920’s, notably Lake Tolbo by Ulaan-otorch (pseudonym of Ts. Dambadorzh, 1900–34) and The Rejected Maiden by Ts. Damdinsuren (born 1908). Most of Natsagdorzh’s best works were written in the 1930’s—poetry, stories, lyrical miniatures, several plays, including the first national musical drama, Three Sorrowing Hills, and the first chapters of the story The Unthreaded Pearl. Damdinsuren wrote verses and the narrative poem My Gray-haired Mother (1934), expressing love for his mother and devotion to his homeland. Although they were profoundly national writers who continued folk traditions, Natsagdorzh and Damdinsuren were influenced by progressive foreign literature. Their works represent the first successes of socialist realism in Mongolian literature.

Many new poets and prose writers emerged in the 1940’s and 1950’s. The rout of Japanese forces near the Khalkhin-Gol River in 1939, the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union (1941–45), and the MPR’s participation in the defeat ofthe Kwantung Army in the autumn of 1945 were portrayed in many works, and Mongolian-Soviet friendship became a dominant theme. Solidarity with the Soviet people was a central motif in the works of S. Dashdendev (born 1912), D. Tsevegmed (born 1915), Ch. Lkhamsuren (born 1917), P. Khorloo (born 1917), and D. Tarva (born 1923). National drama developed, and Mongolia’s past was evoked in the plays of Namdag, Ts. Tsedenzhav (born 1913), and B. Baast(born 1921). Folk plays were written by Ch. Oidov (1917–63) and plays on contemporary themes by D. Sengee (1916–59), E. Oiuun (born 1918), Ch. Lodoidamba (1917–70), and L. Vangan (1920–68). Sengee is also known for his many fine verses, songs, and narrative poems and his story “Aiuush” (1947) about a hero of the MPR.

A significant achievement of the 1950’s and 1960’s was the development of the novel, supplanting poetry, as the dominant genre. B. Rinchen (born 1905) and Lodoidamba wrote the first Mongolian novels. Mongolian society of the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries is portrayed in Rinchen’s novel Dawn on the Steppe (books 1–3, 1951–55). Lodoidamba’s novel In the Altai (1949) depicts a geological expedition and the molding of the new man. Lodoidamba’s most popular novel, Transparent Tamir (books 1–2, 1962–67), is a vast, multilevel work portraying the people’s revolution of 1921 and the lives of the toilers of Mongolia. Other novels dealing with the revolution are Troubled Years by Namdag, Grief and Happiness by Ts. Ulambaiar (born 1911), and Red Sun by Dashdendev. Outstanding novelists today are Zh. Purev (born 1921), L. Tudev (born 1935), and S. Dashdoorov (born 1935). The central theme in Tudev’s novels is socialist Mongolia and the passionate desire to create a new life (Mountain Stream, 1960; Migration, 1964).

The novella and short-story genres continue to develop. In Baast’s collections of short stories contemporary problems are intertwined with themes from the history of the revolution. The stories of M. Gaadamba (born 1924) deal with moral questions. The women writers Oiuun and S. Udval (born 1921) portray the lives of Mongolian women. Udval is best known for her short-story collection We Will Meet You (1965). The novellas of D. Miatmar (born 1933)— We and the Earth(1965), The Miller (1966), and The Miller’s Daughter (1966)—are imbued with humanitarian ideas. Ethical and moral problems are explored in Damdinsuren’s short-story collection Strange Wedding (1966). S. Erdene (born 1929) is a master of the psychological, lyrical short story. His best works are the short-story collection Dust From Under the Hooves (1964) and the novellas Year of the Blue Mouse (1970) and Grass Beneath the Snow (1971). The stories and novellas of the 1960’s and early 1970’s are devoted to actual conflicts and goals and portray heroes united by socialist ideas.

Among outstanding contemporary poets are Ts. Gaitav (born 1929), the author of the narrative poems Lenin Is With Us (1963), Karl Marx (1964), Sukhe-Bator (1967), and Friedrich Engels (1973); B. lavuukhulan (born 1929), a master oflyric and civic poetry; and Ch. Chimid (born 1927), a poet, prose writer, and playwright. Other noteworthy poets include D. Purevdorzh (born 1933), Sh. Surenzhav (born 1938), P. Purevsuren (born 1939), Sh. Dulma (born 1934), and M. Tsedendorzh (born 1932).

In the 1970’s many foreign works were translated into Mongolian. The works of contemporary writers, while preserving national traits, attest to the influence of progressive world literature.

The Union of Writers of the MPR regulates literary life; five congresses of Mongolian writers have been held. The Union of Writers publishes the journal Tsog (since 1944), the newspaper Utga zokhiol urlag (since 1955), and the literary miscellany Collection of Inspired Words (since 1929). The writings of young people are published in the yearbook Snowdrop.

REFERENCES

Vladimirtsov, B. “Mongol’skaia literatura.” In the collection Literatura Vostoka, issue 2. Petrograd, 1920.
Mongolo-oiratskii geroicheskii epos. Petrograd-Moscow, 1923.
Gerasimovich, L. K. Literatura Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki 1921–1964 godov. [Leningrad] 1965.
Mikhailov, G. I. Literaturnoe nasledstvo mongolov. Moscow, 1969.
Mikhailov, G., and K. latskovskaia. Mongol’skaia literatura. Moscow, 1969.
Shastina, N. P. “Obraz Chingiskhana v srednevekovoi literature mongolov.” In the collection Tataro-mongoly v Azii i Evrope. Moscow, 1970.
Shastina, N. P. “Povest’ o spore mal’chika-siroty s deviat’iu vitiaziami Chingisa.” In the collection Strany i narody Vostoka, issue 11. Moscow, 1971.
Kara, D. Knigi mongol’skikh kochevnikov. Moscow, 1972.
Voprosy literatury, 1973, no. 12. (Issue devoted to the literature of the MPR.)
Luhsan, Danzan. Altai tobchi (The Golden Tale). Introduction, commentary, and appendixes by N. P. Shastina. Moscow, 1973. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Molodye poety Mongolii (collection). Introductory article by K. latskovskaia. Moscow, 1973. (Translated from Mongolian.)
Pesni aratov. Iz mongol’skoi narodnoi poezii. Compiled by G. Mikhailov and translated by N. Grebnev. Moscow, 1973.

K. N. IATSKOVSKAIA

The earliest works of art found in Mongolia, dating from the early Bronze Age, include depictions of animals engraved or painted on rock and copper and bronze knives decorated with pictures of animals, at first lifelike and later stylized. From the beginning of the Iron Age stylized figures of animals (such as running deer), in the Scythian animal style appear on bronze articles and “deer stones” (grave pillars or slabs). Imported and locally made utensils, fabrics, felt rugs,and decorated harnesses dating from the late first century B.C. and early first century A.D. have been found in the burial mounds of the Hun aristocracy in Noin-Ula. On metal articles, fanciful figures of wild animals in a refined animal style are frequently accompanied by insets of stones or colored paste. Hun cities had a square layout and were enclosed by earthen ramparts. They included artisan quarters, the palaces of rulers, and dwellings.

During the ascendancy of the Turkic khanate in the sixth to eighth centuries, handicrafts developed. Harnesses and weapons were covered with designs in which floral elements predominated. Memorial sculpture, represented by malestone figures at graves and stelae on tortoise-shaped bases, became widespread. Realistic depictions, such as the head of the statue of Kiul’-Tegin, existed alongside stylized representations, chiefly of animals, exemplified by the engravings on the grave slab of Kiul’-Tegin. Remains from the time of the Uighur khanate (745–840) include the ruins of the capital, Ordu-Balyk, later called Khara-Balgas, which had a regular layout, defensive structures, houses, and temples. Also dating from this period are reliefs on stone stelae and ceramics with stamped patterns.

Under the Khitan, from the tenth to 12th centuries, many cities were built. The cities generally had a square layout and were surrounded by moats and earthen ramparts. They were dissected by one or more streets lined with administrative buildings, temples, and homes; yurts and tents stood in the areas that were not built up. Excavations of the city of Bars-Khot I (tenth to 12th centuries) have uncovered the remains of a Buddhist temple and pagodas,reflecting both local traditions and Chinese influence, altars, and clay figures of divinities and animals. The ruins of the palace of Khan Ugedei and the heathen temples uncovered at Karakorum date from the time of the formation of the Mongolian feudal state and the rise of the Mongolian feudal empire in the late 12th and first half of the 13th centuries.

Between the 16th and the early 20th centuries the felt yurt with a wooden frame was the main type of dwelling in the Mongolian khanates and principalities. With the spread of Lamaism from the late 16th century many monasteries and temples were erected. Religious buildings made of wood appeared—frame structures with plank roofs that resembled yurts. Brick religious structures based on Chinese models and stone buildings of the Tibetan type were also erected. Oustanding examples of such architecture may be found in the monasteries of Erdenidzu and Amur-Baiaskhulantukhite. “Mixed” temples, combining Mongolian and Chinese, Tibetan and Chinese, or Tibetan and Mongolian features, have been preserved in the monasteries of Da-Khure and Gandan in Ulan Bator. Distinctive memorial structures, called suburgans, were developed, exemplified in the Bodisuburgan in Erdenidzu.

Painting of the 16th through early 20th centuries is represented by Buddhist compositions executed in gouache pigments on canvas and by wall paintings on dry plaster with engraved outlines. The influence of Tibetan, Chinese, and Nepalese painting is reflected in the strictly canonical composition, delicate drawing, and vivid colors of Mongolian art. The basic materials used in temple sculpture were clay, wood, and papier-mache, although the largest statues of deities and lamas were cast in bronze, brightly painted, and gilded. An important sculptor of the second half of the 17th century was Dzanabazar. In the late 19th century secular painting developed, including portraits, pictures of Mongolian everyday life and landscapes, and satirical works (Sharav).

In applied art, utensils and clothing were adorned with animal, floral (since the 13th century), and geometric designs. Embroidery and applique work on clothing and leather footwear was distinguished by a combination of contrasting colors. By the mid-17th century embossed and engraved bronze and silver articles of high quality were produced. Other important crafts were woodcarving (animal figurines and ornamental boxes) and the production of papier-mache masks of deities.

With the formation of the Mongolian People’s Republic in 1924, the country embarked on civil and industrial construction, the reconstruction of old cities (Ulan Bator), and the building of new cities and settlements with regular layouts (Darkhan, Nalaikha, and Sain-Shand) with the aid of the USSR. The centers of aimaks and somons (districts), such as Choibalsan and Tsetserleg, were built on the sites of monasteries. Public buildings of the 1920’s and 1930’s show the influence of Soviet constructivism. During the 1940’s and early 1950’s the facades of public buildings, for example, the university in Ulan Bator (1943–46), were decorated with porticoes, colonnades, and indigenous designs. Since the mid-1950’s buildings adapted to local climatic conditions have taken on clarity of spatial composition, notably the Shilen Baishin Exposition Pavilion built in Ulan Bator in 1964. Industrial methods of construction have been use dextensively in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

In the 1920’s, the painter Sharav and later his student Manibadar transformed Mongolian art, creating works on contemporary subjects and often employing chiaroscuro and linear perspective. Since the early 1950’s the range of subjects treated by such artists as ladamsuren, Sengetsokhio, and Damdinsuren has broadened, and national painting techniques have been successfully combined with European styles. The first oil paintings were executed by Choidog, Tsevegzhav, Gava, Tsultem, and Amgalan. Graphic art (S. Natsagdorzh, Sosoi) and sculpture (Choimbol, Zhamba) have flourished since the mid-1950’s. In applied art the production of porcelain and various kinds of ceramics and bonecarving are developing alongside traditional crafts.

REFERENCES

Zhivopis’ Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki (album). Moscow, 1960.
Shchepetil’nikov, N. M. Arkhitektura Mongolii. Moscow, 1960. (Bibliography.)
Sovremennoe iskusstvo Mongolii (catalog). Moscow, 1968.
Maidar, D. Arkhitektura i gradostroitel’stvo Mongolii. Moscow, 1972.

L. A. EVTIUKHOVA (ancient art), N. M. SHCHEPETIL’NIKOV (architecture of the 13th to 20th centuries), and O. N. GLUKHAREVA (fine and applied art of the 13th to 20th centuries)

The ancient traditions of Mongolian musical culture were passed on by the khurs (khur players), uligers (bards), duus (soloists), and khogzhims (instrumentalists). Mongolian folk music, based on the pentatonic scale, consists of songs,epics, and instrumental music. Folk songs are single-voiced, and there are two kinds: the slow “long” songs, called urt-duu, which have a large range and rich ornamentation, and the “short” songs, called bogino-duu, which are simpler in rhythm and composition. Songs are sung to the accompaniment of folk instruments, the most important of which are the limbe (a kind of flute), the morin khur and khuchir (bowed stringed instruments), the shanza (played with a plectrum),and the eochina (cymbals).

The first Mongolian revolutionary song, “Shive Kiakhta” (The Capture of Kiakhta Fortress), was written in 1921. It was followed by “Red Banner,” “Song of the Airplane,” and other songs by outstanding composers and bards; notably Ishdulam’s “Lenin Our Teacher” and “The Song of Lenin and Sukhe-Bator,” U. Luvsan-khurchi’s “Marx and Lenin,” and M. Dugarzhav’s “Song of Sukhe-Bator.” Professional music originated and developed under the people’s government.The first musical dramas arose out of the dialogue songs of the bards. In 1942 the State Musical-Dramatic Theater was founded in Ulan Bator for staging musical dramas. The first symphony orchestra, formed in 1945, became the State Symphony Orchestra in 1950. In the 1940’s and 1950’s young composers, singers, conductors, and chorus masters received their musical education in the USSR and other socialist countries.

In 1963 a group of performers from the State Musical-Dramatic Theater formed the State Opera and Ballet Theater, which during the 1960’s and 1970’s staged many European classical and contemporary operas and ballets, as well as works by the Mongolian composers S. Gonchiksumla, B. Damdinsuren, L. Murdorzh, D. Luvsansharav, and E. Choidog. The theater’s conductor is Zh. Chulun and its ballet master is B. Zham’iandagva. The People’s Song and Dance Ensemble of the MPR, founded in 1950, has performed many times in the USSR and in European, Asian, and African countries. The State Symphony Orchestra performs classical and contemporary symphonic works and encourages new works by Mongolian composers. The Union of Composers was founded in 1964, and the State Philharmonic Society was organized in 1972. A school of music and choreography has been established in Ulan Bator.

REFERENCES

Smirnov, B. F. Muzykal’naia kul’tura Mongolii. Moscow, 1963.
Smirnov, B. F. Mongol’skaia narodnaia muzyka. Moscow, 1971.
Kondrat’ev, S. A. Muzyka mongol’skogo eposa i pesen. Moscow, 1970.

S. N. RIAUZOV

Theatrical art in Mongolia dates from ancient times. The Mongols’ dances, particularly the bieleg dance, and rituals associated with marriage, birth, and harvest festivals contained elements of dramatization. Later these elements were incorporated into the tsam, a religious play that arose in the 17th century with the spread of Buddhism in Central Asia, and into the secular court theater. Princes maintained court theaters, where talented enserfed arats were taught to sing, dance, and play musical instruments. Court plays were presented annually, and puppet performances were given in the streets during New Year celebrations. The first public play, The Moon Cuckoo, was presented in the 1830’s.

After the triumph of the people’s revolution and the proclamation of the people’s republic in 1924, amateur theater groups flourished. Musical-dramatic groups that later developed into professional theaters were organized in Ulan Bator in the 1920’s. Plays were staged in the tradition of folk presentations. A drama studio was founded in Ulan Bator in 1930 and reorganized as the Central Mongolian State Theater in 1931; in 1942 it was renamed the State Musical-Dramatic Theater. The theater’s repertoire includes plays by Mongolian playwrights (D. Natsagdorzh, S. Buiannemekh, Sh. Aiuush, M. ladamsuren, D. Namdag, Ch. Oidov, and Ch. Chimid), Soviet plays and Russian and European classics. The Mongolian theater has assimilated the experience of the Soviet theatrical school. In 1963 the State Musical-Dramatic Theater was divided into the State Opera and Ballet Theater and the D. Natsagdorzh State Drama Theater. The Central Children’s Theater opened in Ulan Bator in 1950, and the Puppet Theater was founded in 1948. There are musical-dramatic theaters in various aimak centers, including Ulegei, Kobdo, Ulangom, and Choibalsan.

REFERENCE

Uvarova, G. Sovremennyi mongol’skii teatr, 1921–1945. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.

Circus. Indian fakirs performed at the courts of the country’s spiritual rulers from the 16th century. Itinerant Chinese circuses displayed their art in the cities, at first in the streets and later in special open areas. During folk holidays competitions were held in horsemanship, wrestling, and archery. A professional Mongolian circus was established after the proclamation of people’s power in Outer Mongolia. A sports group was organized in Ulan Bator in 1934, several members of which studied circus arts in the USSR from 1936 to 1939 (Radnabazar, Gombo, and Natsag). Upon returning to the MPR, they became the organizers and leading artists of the first professional Mongolian circus. A building for circus performances opened in 1941. Other Mongolian circus artists noted for their many-faceted talent are Danzan and Damdinsuren, Maiia Norovtseren, Sandag, Tsrendulam Minzhin, Erdenetsetseg, Kh. Tsendaiush, and Ts.Tserendorzh. Directors include Zh. Damdisuren, Niamdash, Ichinnorov, and Natsag, who offers not only individual numbers but also extended presentations based on a single theme and children’s plays. The Mongolian circus has been greatly assisted by Soviet circus artists and the State School of Circus and Vaudeville Art. The new building of the Mongolian State Circus was opened in Ulan Bator in 1971. Mongolian performers participated in the Druzhba (Friendship)Program, together with circus artists from Bulgaria, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Poland, Rumania, the USSR, and Czechoslovakia.

A. IA. SHNEER

The Mongolkino film studio, established in Ulan Bator in 1935, initially released documentaries, producing its first feature film in 1937. The development of a national cinematic art and the training of film artists were greatly aided by the work of Soviet cinematographers in Mongolia and by the participation of Mongolian actors and cameramen in producing such Soviet films as Son of Mongolia (1935, director I. Z. Trauberg), His Name Is Sukhe-Bator (1942, directors A. G.Zarkhi and I. E. Kheifits), and Steppe Heroes (1945, director lu. V. Tarich).

An important Mongolian film is Two Herdsmen (1955), directed by Ts. Zandra. The outstanding films What Hinders Us (1956), If Only I Had a Horse! (1959), The Call of the Heart (1966), and Transparent Tamir (1970, based on the novel by G. Lodoidamba) were directed by R. Dorzhpalam, the last of these in collaboration with Ch. Dolgosuren. Outcome (1968), directed by A. I. Bobrovskii and Zh. Buntar, was produced jointly with the USSR. Envoy of the People (1959), Flood (1966), and Harsh Morning (1969) were directed by D. Zhigzhid, and In the Den (1973) was directed by B. Sumkhuu. Three feature films and about 30 documentaries were released in 1973.

The leading film actors are G. Gombosuren, D. Ichinkhorlo, Ts. Dashnamzhil, L. Lkhasuren, D. Gombozhav, Ts. Tsevegmid, Z. Tsendekhu, and T. Tsevenzhav. Other noteworthy figures are M. Bolod, Ts. Navan, and B. Damdorzh, who make documentaries; the scriptwriter L. Vangan; and the composer D. Luvsansharav.

EMEP: 20th anniversary of the CIPOML celebrated in Istanbul

ICMLPO20th

The 20th anniversary of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and organisations (CIPOML) has been celebrated in Istanbul on 23 November.
20 member parties and organisations took part in the celebrations, organised by the Labour Party (EMEP).

The Celebration started at 4pm and lasted five hours. It started with a minute’s silence in the name of comrades lost in revolutionary struggle and struggle for socialism, followed by revolutionary songs of the Labour Chorus. The last piece sang by the chorus, the International, was sang together by thousands.

The opening speech of the Celebration was by Selma Gürkan, the leader of EMEP. In her speech, Gürkan gave examples of current struggles in different countries between the working classes and the bourgeoisie and stated that the victory will belong to the workers. Drawing attention to developments in the Middle East, Gürkan stressed that the Kobani resistance increased the determined struggle of peoples in the Middle East and the world.

Following Gürkan’s speech, representatives of the member parties and organisations of CIPOML have each been called to the stage and introduced. Raul Marco, the leader of the Spanish Communist Party (ML), has given a speech to represent CIPOML member organisations.

Raul Marco said “We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of CIPOML in Nazım Hikmet’s country.” He continued to say “Our determination to raise Marxist-Leninist struggle in the international arena continues. Our organisation is today an international reference. We should support our parties and organisations work. We need to ensure our international publications reach a wide audience.”

Next, it was Jilani Hammami, MP of the Tunisian People’s Front who took to the stage. Jilani started by saying “I’m a member of a nation scanning the horizon looking for the star of freedom and socialism”. After stating that the elections in Tunisia are the most critical to date she continued to say “we will never give our determination for revolution up” and finished by saying “victory is always in the horizon”.

Joint leader of the PYD, the leader of the Kobani resistance, Asya Abdullah was next to join the celebration through Skype. In pointing to 25th November ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women’, she stressed the important role of women in Kobani. She continued to say “Women fighting against IS also fight for the freedom of women. Our struggle will be victorious in Kobani”.

When the joint chair of HDP – representing the Peoples’ Democratic Conference (HDK) that also includes EMEP – Selahattin Demirtaş took to the stage, the venue was filled with the slogan of “long live peoples’ solidarity”. Demirtaş said that we’re at a time where the struggles in the Middle East are coming to fruition “Kobani is the marker of this. The fight continues on the streets of Kobani between YPG, the representatives of the oppressed and IS, the representatives of imperialism. Of course the victor will be the line of freedom. Free women will be the victors. They will bury that barbarian movement just like in Stalingrad.”

WORKERS RESISTANCE ON ITS WAY TO THE INTERNATIONAL

Various workers staging resistances and strikes in factories in Istanbul also joined the CIPOML celebration. Workers’ organisations in distant cities sent their supporting statements. İstanbul-Tuzla shipyard workers saluted CIPOML celebration with slogans of “End illegal killings at work” and “End the exploitation of foreign workers.” Health sector workers also saluted the celebration with their message of “funding for health, not war”.

Workers’ and public workers’ unions such as the Revolutionary Workers’ Unions Confederation (DISK) and the Public Workers’ Unions Confederation (KESK) were also represented by their leaders and managers.

The celebration continued late into the night with concerts from various groups.

Source

Guevaraism: the Theory of the Guerrilla Elite

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An analysis of the theories of Regis Debray as propounded in “Revolution in the Revolution?”, and their relevance to the revolutionary struggle in Latin America.

By Cmde MS on behalf of MLOB.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN Red Vanguard Volume 1, 1968

THE THEORY OF THE GUERRILLA ELITE
Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION
BOURGEOIS OUTLOOK AND SPONTANEITY
CLASS ANALYSIS IN SOUTH AMERICA: THE “THIRD” WAY
THE ROLE OF THE INDIVIDUAL – THE MAXIMUM LEADER -FIDELISM
THE “FOCO” AS SUBSTITUTE FOR THE PROLETARIAN PARTY
PEOPLE’S WAR WITHOUT THE PEOPLE
“LEFT” AND RIGHT IN LATIN AMERICA
ASSESSMENT OF THE CUBAN REVOLUTION

Introduction

Regis Debray, a “private student of revolutionary theory and practice,” has written a book which purports to offer a “third way” to revolution. It is a “third way” which all Marxist-Leninists have hitherto failed to perceive, a “scientific truth” awaiting its release at the hands of this roving French philosophy student fresh from the cloisters of the “Ecole Normale Superieure.”

In their introduction to this book, Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy, the American sponsors of Debray, claim that the revolution in Latin America:

“will not and cannot follow one or another of the patterns, traced out by the two great revolutionary upheavals of the first half of the twentieth century. The Latin American revolution is taking a third way, the first stages of which already been revealed in the Cuban experience.”

(“Revolution in the Revolution?” Penguin Books, 1968)

On the basis of this claim for a “third way,” these American liberals with a touch of rouge on their cheeks rush to proclaim the ultimate outcome of this breach in the wall of proletarian hegemony, the anti-Marxist-Leninist content of the loquacious petty-bourgeoisie of our time: that “still other revolutionary patterns may be possible” – ranging from the Yugoslav to the Chinese variants of the new syndicalism.

Debray’s book seeks to lay the basis for such radical revisions by spurning Marxist-Leninist theory in every one of its essential tenets: replacing proletarian hegemony and discipline by petty-bourgeois hegemony and anarchical relations, replacing class by individuals, proletarian parties by “focos” of undisciplined petty bourgeois insurectionists, historical materialism by naïve mechanical materialism, scientific analysis by sweeping presumptiousness.

Like countless other renegade products which attack Marxism-Leninism, this book has been received favourably by the bourgeoisie. In that it offers a way to “make revolution” from scratch, learning by the simple empirical process of trial and error and rejecting the Marxist-Leninist scientific method of the universality of contradiction and the unity of theory and practice, it serves them well. For if the “third way” of Debray were to remain unchallenged and be applied in practice, it would result in the most tragic setbacks and useless losses to the revolutionary cause in Latin America.

Indeed, the Bolivian adventure which cost Debray his liberty and Guevara his life was merely the latest in a long series of defeats and annihilations for which the addicts of spontaneity who exist in the national liberation fronts of many Latin American countries are responsible. It is for this reason that it is essential to deal with Debray’s claims in some detail. On the first page we read:

“One began by identifying the guerrilla struggle (in Cuba – Ed.) with insurrection because the archetype – 1917 – had taken this form, and because Lenin and later Stalin had developed several theoretical formulas (sic) based on it – formulas which have nothing to do with the present situation and which are periodically debated in vain, such as those which refer to conditions for the outbreak of an insurrection, meaning an immediate assault on the central power.”

(Ibid.-p.19)

NOTE: Because Debray’s “theories” have been endorsed by the Cuban leadership and because he uses the term “we” throughout his text, references to Debary and the Cuban leadership are interchangeable, except where otherwise specified.

No doubt we are supposed to be eternally grateful for Mr. Debray’s clarification of Lenin on the “formulas” for an insurrection, i.e, “an immediate assault on the central power.” This statement is to set the tone for disclaiming Leninism by alluding to Lenin as someone who, from 1900 to 1917, contributed nothing to the struggle in Russia but the cry “insurrection” without any of the detailed handiwork which Debray claims as his own discovery.

Unfortunately, of course, Mr Debray has not understood Lenin, or Marxism, on this elementary point. The involved and rich experience, of the tactics and strategy of “making revolution” the Marxist-Leninist way are a closed book to Debray (as a student of bourgeois philosophy still in his early twenties, this is not surprising) who assumes throughout that such wild and unqualified statements, can serve as the starting point for his even wilder flights of innovation around them.

Lenin and Stalin remain (despite the distortions of petty-bourgeois innovators such as Debray who wish not to see that which deflates the balloon of their pretentiousness) the most notable of those few proletarian leaders who have successfully led the working people through to the seizure of state power and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is distinct from that seizure of power by the national bourgeoisie in alliance with the peasantry, usurping the leading role of the proletariat, which masquerades as “the dictatorship of the proletariat” in some corners of the globe – and to the building of socialism. Given this historically unique position, we can assume that the definitions and experiences of Lenin and Stalin, hold important lessons for us in establishing further theoretical and practical bases of proletarian dictatorship without which there can be no socialism – in our respective countries.

In every fundamental essential, Debray betrays not only his divergence from these principles, but his total ignorance of them.

BOURGEOIS OUTLOOK AND SPONTANEITY

When he deals in detail with the specific conditions in the countries of the Latin American continent, he refers to the divisions existing between the revisionists and trotskyites in the liberation fronts of these countries. These divisions, which have been responsible for many defeats – notably the failure of the Cuban general strike in 1958 – Debray seeks to solve, by going over to the purely military front and brushing ideological and political questions aside. He ignores the fact that leadership involves the clarification of a line in theory and the consolidation of the forces around that theory in action. Lenin subjected anti-Marxist-Leninist theory and practice to a ruthless critique on every front, this struggle bearing fruit in the undisputed leading role of the Bolsheviks at the crucial turning points in the Russian revolution. Debray seeks to cancel out the role of theory and to advocate some kind of idealised and subjectivised “action” as the unfailing panacea guaranteeing victory. He quotes petty detail after petty detail, generalises them to the level of the universal in order to justify his “revolutionary” theories revising a whole arsenal of genuine revolutionary theory painstakingly accumulated throughout a century or so of arduous struggle by valiant proletarian fighters the world over.

Not once does he justify his claims against Marxist-Leninist theory – we are presented merely with surface details and Debray’s own brand of arrogant ignorance of the harsh facts of the struggle against imperialism. Thus, in justification of the “spontaneous inevitable progress of history”:

“The reverses suffered by the Latin American revolutionary movement are truly minor if one measures them in terms of the short period of time which is the prologue to the great struggles of tomorrow, if we take into account the fact that the few years which have passed correspond to that period of ‘takeoff’ and re-adjustment through which all revolutions must go in their early stages. Indeed, what seems surprising is that guerrilla movements have been able to survive so many false starts and so many errors, some inevitable and others not. According to Fidel, that is the astonishing thing, and it proves the extent to which the movement is impelled by history. In fact, we must speak not, so much of defeat as of a certain explicable stagnation and lack of rapid development, the consequences of, among other things the inevitable blunders and errors at this stage of exploration, of revolutionary conceptions and methods which are new, (our emphasis – Ed.) in spite of their deceptive kinship with other international experiences. . . .Of all these false starts, the Latin American is the most, “innocuous.”

(p.23)

This “innocuous” record has involved the annihilation of “half a hundred revolutionary organisations” on the Latin American continent, since the Fidelista upsurge!

On an even more alarming scale, on page 2 the cry of the petty bourgeois intellectual reveals itself in full swing in its justification of spontaneity, taken to the lengths of advocating the pleasures and benefits of a blissful ignorance of theory. In this assertion, Debray is typical of the worst philistine intellectual who steeps himself in book learning but condescends to the “masses” in their ignorance – in such a way he seeks to preserve the prestige of learning which can only stand up when contrasted with the “low level” of the masses. Anathema to Debray are the forces of the organised proletariat with their developed theory:

“One may well consider it a stroke of good luck that Fidel had not read the military writings of Mao Tse-tung before disembarking on the coast of Oriente; he could thus invent, on the spot and out of his own experience, principles of a military doctrine in conformity with the terrain. … all the theoretical works on people’s war do as much harm as good. (This includes General Giap, Lenin! –Ed). They have been called the grammar books of the war. But a foreign language is learned faster in a country where it must be spoken than at home studying a language manual.”

(p.20-21).

And, when dealing with the dangers of “imitation from past experiences”:

“All the more reason to remain aware of the inversion of which we are victims when we read theoretical works.”

(p.59).

So, we have here the claim that theoretical knowledge is a hindrance and that spontaneous “trial and error” is the only guide to revolutionary action. Likewise, political struggles through programmes, fronts, alliances – the essential and inevitable shifts and deployments of forces in the complex struggle to win the working people for revolution are not necessary. Those who claim they are,

“… believe that revolutionary awareness and organisation must and can in every case precede revolutionary action.”

(p.82)

This is carried to the lengths of noting (we presume with favour – otherwise why point it out?):

“A significant detail: during two years of warfare, Fidel did not hold a single political rally in his zone of operations.”

(p.53).

Thus we are dealing with a defence of spontaneity, (a spontaneity which yet Debray makes a show of criticising in others) where spontaneity takes as its fundamental precept:

“.. the armed struggle of the masses against imperialism is capable of creating by itself, in the long run, a vanguard capable of leading the peoples to socialism.”

(p.126).

CLASS ANALYSIS IN SOUTH AMERICA: THE “THIRD” WAY

In order to justify his anti-Marxist-Leninist theories, Debray has to claim a “unique” class situation in Latin America:

“… the irony of history has willed, by virtue of the social situation of many Latin American countries, the assignment of precisely this vanguard role to students and revolutionary intellectuals, who have had to unleash, or rather to initiate, the highest forms of class struggle.”

(p.21)

No doubt his studies at the Ecole did not include a syllabus on Marxism-Leninism. Debray, is about to proceed upon the unfolding of his “new” theories of revolution, applicable only to Latin America:

Firstly, that the leading instigating role of the intellectuals and students is unique. From this assumption he intends to demonstrate, that a new concept of the vanguard, a “foco” (a small band of guerrillas with allegiance to one “leader”) follows logically, and from this that the normal political channels should be ignored and give place to armed struggle as an end in itself.

However, his claim for uniqueness of situation in Latin America is a red herring raised in order to conceal his anti-proletarian, thoroughly bourgeois thinking. For in Russia the revolutionary students and intellectuals also initiated the struggle against imperialism and capitalism: it was they who formulated the theory of the vanguard party and the strategy of the world’s first proletarian revolution. And it is here that we come to the crux of the difference between those petty-bourgeois forces which, when declassed and pushed into the ranks of the working class, overcome their bourgeois thinking and thoroughly embrace the proletarian world view and its revolutionary struggle; and those who fail to identify themselves with the aims and aspirations of the majority class. These latter merely use their new class position to air their own minority grievances against capitalism, objectively striving to climb back to their former class position, sowing confusion and propagating theories in the process which act against the tide of revolutionary struggle.

There are of course, vast differences between the aims of those intellectuals who led the way in Russia and the aims of those in Latin America who advance Debray to be their spokesman. The intellectuals in Russia worked for the hegemony of the proletariat in the socialist revolution and, as its necessary preliminary, in the bourgeois democratic revolution.

Debray and those he represents, are that section of the petty bourgeoisie which stand for the hegemony of bourgeois ideology and the petty bourgeois forces, not for a socialist revolution and not even for the final victory and, consolidation of the national democratic revolution. For in the epoch of imperialism, this can only be led by the proletariat in alliance with the poor and middle peasantry if it is to be consolidated and is to prepare the around for the transition to the socialist revolution. The petty bourgeois and bourgeois view is for the holding of the revolutionary process at the stage of the national democratic revolution, in order that the groundwork for capitalism may be sown and the path towards the re-incorporation of the nation into the imperialist sphere once again be laid. They seek to prevent that national democratic revolution from being turned into the stream which feeds the proletarian revolution by crying “against dictatorship,” “against bureaucracy,” thus serving the interests of the national bourgeoisie.

And so, Debray’s claims that his “third way” is the new form of worker-peasant revolutionary alliance:

“What gives the guerrilla movement the right to claim this political responsibility as its own and for itself alone? The answer is: that class alliance which it alone can achieve, the alliance that will take and administer power, the alliance whose interests are those of socialism – the alliance between workers and peasants. The guerrilla army is a confirmation in action of this alliance; it is the personification of it alone can guarantee that the people’s power will not be perverted after victory.”

And

“… This progressive petty bourgeoisie must… commit suicide as a class in order to be restored to life as revolutionary workers, totally identified with the deepest aspirations of their people.”

(p.111).

Yet despite these claims, we find that the real picture is very different.

In order to make his thesis workable Debray has to provide the vanguard leadership without which this class alliance cannot be consolidated. He performs this conjuring trick by taking the current “left” revisionist emphasis on the countryside in opposition to the cities, to its most illogical conclusion to date: all who live in cities are bourgeois, all who live in the mountains are proletarian, and hegemony in the struggle belongs to the petty bourgeois rural guerrillas who become the vanguard “proletariat” of Debray’s imagination.

This is one of his more remarkable “additions” to Marxist-Leninist theory:

“….As we know, the mountain proletarianises the bourgeois and peasant elements, and the city can bourgeoisify the proletarians, The tactical conflicts that are bound to arise, the differences in the evaluation and line, conceal a class conflict, in which the interests of the proletariat are not, paradoxically enough, on the side which one would expect. It was possible to resolve these conflicts rapidly in Cuba, and the advance towards socialism was undertaken as quickly as it was after taking power because Fidel, from the first day, demanded, won, and defended hegemony for the rural guerrillas” (our emphasis – Ed; p.75).

He quotes approvingly Guevara’s muddled thesis in the same vein:

“These differences (ie, between the plain (the town) and the sierra (the countryside) – Ed.) go deeper than tactical divergences. The Rebel Army is already ideologically proletarian and, thinks like a dispossessed class; the city remains petty bourgeois, contains future traitors among its leaders, and is very influenced by the milieu in which it develops.”

(Guevara , quoted by Debray on p.77).

In this strange system of Marxism, the city, wherein labour and toil, the wage slaves of capitalism, has thus been conveniently disposed of to make way for leadership by that more revolutionary the petty bourgeoisie!

In further imaginative vein, the “back to nature” aspirations of the dilettante petty-bourgeois fleeing from the terrors of the era of machinofacture and proletarian organisation are eulogised:

“Such are the mental reactions of a bourgeois, and any man, even a comrade, who spends his life in a city is unwittingly bourgeois in comparison with a guerrillero…. Not to have any means of subsistence except what you yourself can produce, with your own hands (? – We read elsewhere in his treatise that equipment and supplies were pilfered in raids on villages – MS-Ed) starting from nature in the raw. … The city dweller lives as a consumer. As, long as he has some cash in his pocket, it suffices for his daily needs.”

(p.68)

“Nothing like getting out to realise to what extent these lukewarm incubators (the cities – Ed.) make one infantile and bourgeois. In the first stages of life in the mountains, in the seclusion of the so-called virgin forest life is simply a daily battle in its smallest detail: especially is it a battle within the guerrillero himself to overcome his old habits, to erase the marks left on his body by the incubator – his weakness.”

(p.69)

Really, Mr Debray – speak for yourself! No doubt it is a delightful element of “free choice” for the coddled petty bourgeois to remove himself temporarily to the more ascetic hardship of the mountains! But even capitalist economists have had to acknowledge that the daily lot of the proletarian is one which requires him to sell his birthright, his freedom, his expectancy of life precisely in order to obtain that little “cash in his pocket” without which he would be too dead to have any “daily needs!”

Also, in magical vein, we are told that:

“Under these conditions (guerrilla experience Ed) class egoism does not long endure.. Petty bourgeois psychology melts like under a summer sun ..”

(p.110).

Would that this were so!

From a reference he makes to Castro on the subject of the inherent qualities of “the people” we can draw only the conclusion that the term refers to the peasantry alone (p.112). And of course this is as it must be, for despite the loud claims, these theories bear absolutely no relation to the proletariat whatsoever.

The fig-leaf cover required to normalise this petty bourgeois leadership and masquerade it under the false cloak of a “worker-peasant alliance” leading to socialism was the verbal trick of claiming that a handful of petty bourgeois guerrillas, through their relationship to their “means of production” in the rural environment – the “dispossessed class” – were the proletariat leading the peasantry.

This makes the formula complete. But no amount of verbal juggling can make these theories any other than what they really are –

Namely, the laying of the foundations of the dictatorship of the national bourgeoisie in Latin America with all the jargon that goes with it:

  • the abstract and classless theory of “armed revolution”;
  • the purely military “foco”;
  • the primacy of spontaneity and,
  • the overall aim of “the happiness of the people” divorced from any concrete class analysis.

A typical petty bourgeois phenomenon is the spurning of class analysis and political theory. The bourgeoisie has its class theory, just as the proletariat has. But the petty bourgeoisie has no independent ideology because it is a transitional class, a virtual hybrid ideologically – part bourgeois and part proletarian in its advocacy of ideology according to the fortunes of which major class appears likely to benefit it most. That is the reason for the sweeping idealist phrases which are utterly classless. It therefore vacillates opportunistically, avoiding the statement of a political position because it does not know at any one stage in the movement of class struggle which side it will need to be on.

Thus the claims of the Debrayists are not new. Always and everywhere they have been part of the arsenal of the petty bourgeoisie in attempting to further their social and class aims – and they are theories which are inimical to the hopes and aspirations of the only truly revolutionary class, the proletariat; theories which at root and beneath the libertarian cover are nothing but a vicious attack on the proletariat and its class mission.

THE ROLE OF THE INDIVIDUAL – THE MAXIMUM LEADER – FIDELISM

If the character of the theories we have outlined are correct, it will follow that, in place of proletarian discipline and democratic centralism, petty bourgeois individuality will be enthroned. And this is so. We read:

“The city, Fidel says, ‘is a cemetery of revolutionaries and resources’… A leader cannot go down to the city to attend a political meeting: he has the politicos come up to discuss and make decisions in a safe place up above: otherwise he sends an emissary. Which presupposes, in the first place, recognition of his role as responsible leader, the willingness to give him the resources with which to exercise his leadership – if not, he takes them himself. It implies, above all, the adoption of an open and explicit strategy.”

(p.67).

“This reconstitution (of the “party” Ed.) requires the temporary suspension of ‘internal’ party democracy and the temporary abolition of the principles of democratic centralism which guarantee it.”

(p.101).

Furthermore, the conventional party only brings with it “the plethora of commissions, secretariats, congresses, plenary sessions, meetings etc”. These are the cause of “the vice of excessive deliberation” which “hampers executive, centralised and vertical methods, combined with the large measure of tactical independence of subordinate groups which is demanded in the conduct of military operations (p.101).

In other words, discipline and organisation, which are the main manifestations of proletarian organisation, ‘hamper’ the freedoms of the petty bourgeois leaders, who wish to answer to no strata or section of the population – and indeed, by their very hybrid class position, do not directly represent any. To these military adventurists, the primacy of political struggle which is supplemented by military struggle, is the source of all evils. It brings with it the necessity for disciplined leadership, political discussion of strategy, the difficult work of actually involving the working people in struggle. All these tasks are anathema to the Debrayists and their foolhardy bands of “trial and error” revolutionaries.

But we have only proceeded a little way in our analysis.

We have now to deal with the real reason why Debray has thought it necessary to throw all previous historical experience overboard, to decry and reject any lessons from the revolutions of Russia, China and Vietnam, the theories of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin; to throw the leading role of the proletarian party overboard. It is because:

“In Cuba, military (operational) and political leadership have been combined in one man: Fidel Castro.”

(p.96)

It is because of:

“the line of action of which Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, is the incarnation.”

(p.119)

Throughout the text is peppered with glowing references to “Fidel says,” rather like the childrens’ nursery rhyme. Thus, speaking again of “the leader” and his qualities:

“In brief, no detail is too small for a politico-military chief: everything rests on details – on a single detail – and he himself must supervise them all.”

(p.89)

What a staggering piece of nonsense! In contradistinction to even the Blanquists, who claimed that a small elite could liberate the people, we have the ridiculous adolescent hero-worship that one man – one “maximum-leader,” the “incarnation,” is our hope for socialism. Mr. Debray claims with pride that this leader, combining all qualities,” is the startling innovation that has been introduced” into the theory of Marxism-Leninism. We must indeed confess ourselves startled at such a turn of events – when the personal feelings of a twenty-year old whose transference to maturity had been stunted inside the portals of a bourgeois temple of philosophy – are put forward as the basis for a world-view involving the fate of millions!

But it would appear that in the sierras under the sway of “Fidelism,” in place of the proletarian party and its healthy collective discipline, that body representing the best qualities of a class, such inverted and ingrown petty bourgeois acts of hero worship are commonplace. For Guevara himself, on the basis of his experiences with Fidel, stated that “the aim is for all qualities to be united if possible, in one person.” This maximum leader,” as the world knows, has not been slow to bask in the limelight of glory and rise to the heights of demagogy which this mystical cult has presented to him.

Thus we are dealing with an idealisation of the petty bourgeoisie, an idealisation which can only finish up in extremely deep water.

And it does, for such baseless hero-worship and unquestioned allegiance to one “leader” is the very essence of bourgeois class thinking, when confronted with the problem of misleading and subjugating vast social forces for its own ends. It represents a crisis in the leadership of a historically obsolescent class when the normal, logical, although unequal, system of maintaining its power is threatened from below. This initial demagogy of the “maximum leader” often appears too ridiculous to take seriously. But beneath it, lies the sabre of a force which is responsible to no constitution, to no labour laws, no checks by the working people, no power other than to itself. All too often it has finally resulted in bloodbaths not only involving the working class but any other strata which have got in the way of a totally destructive and anarchic force.

The seeds of such theories of an independent armed force, are present in the thinking of the Debrayist petty bourgeoisie:

“It has been proved that for the training of revolutionary cadres the people’s war is more decisive than political activity without guerrilla experience. Leaders of vision in Latin America today are young, lacking in long political experience prior to joining up with the guerrillas. It is ridiculous to continue to oppose ‘political cadres’ to ‘military cadres’, ‘political leadership’ to ‘military leadership’. Pure ‘politicians’ who want to remain pure – cannot lead the armed struggle of the people; pure ‘military men’ can do so, and by the experience acquired in leading a guerrilla group, they become ‘politicians’ as well. The experience of Cuba and, more recently, of Venezuela, Guatemala, and other countries demonstrate that people – even petty bourgeois or peasants – are more quickly and more completely moulded by experience of guerrilla warfare than by an equal amount of time spent in a training school for cadres – a consequence, as far as men are concerned, of the essentially and totally political character of guerrilla warfare.”

(p. 88-89).

This dominant military force will be naturally, young – since the old are, well – they are “alas… old” and worn out:

“In Latin America, wherever armed struggle is the order of the day, there is a close tie between biology and ideology. However absurd or shocking this relationship may seem, it is none the less a decisive one. An elderly man, accustomed to city living, (do workers retire at the age of 40? – MS-Ed) moulded by other circumstances and goals, will not easily adjust himself to the mountain nor – though this is less so – to underground activities. In addition to the moral factor – conviction – physical fitness is the most basic of all skills needed for waging guerrilla war; the two factors go hand in hand. A perfect Marxist education is not, at the outset, an imperative condition. That an elderly man should be proven militant – and possess a revolutionary training – is not, alas, sufficient for coping with guerrilla existence, especially in the early stages. Physical aptitude is the prerequisite for all other aptitudes (?? – MS-Ed); a minor point of limited theoretical appeal, but the armed struggle appears to have a rationale of which theory knows nothing”.

(p. 101)

Thus it is brawn, not the creative brain; political ignorance, not understanding; youth and fitness, not experience which constitutes Debray’s “master race” of revolution.

Such is the demagogy which wears the mask of “Marxism.” It is this monstrous deformation which results from the failure to build a vanguard party based firmly on the alliance between the working class and peasantry in the conditions of a national democratic struggle. For with this party denigrated, with the proletarian role usurped and the peasantry dragged in as fodder to back up and strengthen the inherently vacillating national bourgeoisie, the net result can only be, once foreign imperialist domination is overthrown, the imposition of the dictatorship of this national bourgeoisie fully confirmed in its class role – a national bourgeoisie forced to adopt the fascist-type “maximum leader” principle in order to maintain its hold over the vast masses of the people and obtain its surplus value from an underdeveloped economic system by screwing up the rate of exploitation – free from the bugbear of any organised opposition and defence by the working people of their own interests.

This is precisely the same demagogy which we see today stretching from China to Indonesia and Cuba: with the party of the proletariat destroyed, the national bourgeoisie walks into its repressive role, and the proletariat is denigrated viciously as “a bourgeois force” in order to cover up the real bourgeois nature of these leaders. There is an exact parallel with the Chinese national bourgeoisie and its assumed “leftism”: the “‘cultural revolution,” which aims to destroy the proletarian vanguard party.

THE “FOCO” AS SUBSTITUTE FOR THE PROLETARIAN PARTY

We have already had a pretty rounded introduction to the theories of Debray.

It comes as no surprise therefore, that for Debray the Marxist-Leninist theory of the vanguard party of the proletariat, must give place to yet another unique contribution to “Marxism-Leninism”; that is, the theory of the immaculate conception, or the spontaneous begetting, of the vanguard nucleus.

Thus:

“The vanguard party can exist in the form of the guerrilla foco itself. The guerrilla force is this party in embryo. This is the staggering novelty introduced by the Cuban Revolution.”

(p.105)

“The people’s army will be the nucleus of the party, not vice-versa. The guerrilla force is the political vanguard in nuce, and from its development a real party can arise …. That is why at the present juncture, the principal stress must be laid on the development of guerrilla warfare and not on the strengthening of existing parties or the creation of new parties.”

(p.115).

“Eventually the future People’s Army will beget the party of which it is to be, theoretically the instrument: essentially the party is the army.”

(p.105).

Just as a vanguard party is not necessary in the struggle, one can also dispense with political education of the mass of the-working people:

“(the system of political commissars)… does not appear to correspond to Latin American reality. … The people’s army is its own political authority. The guerrilleros play both roles indivisibly. Its commanders are political instructors for the fighters, its political instructors are its’ commanders.”

(p.114).

For in place of the scientific truths of Marxism-Leninism, we are offered a set of maxims mouthed parrot-like by “revolutionaries” whose proudest claim is their rejection of the historical experience of the revolutionary peoples in struggle and their philistine ability to “invent,” on the spot, ‘the great truths, which are hereinafter valid for all time:

“In many countries of America the guerrilla force has frequently been called the ‘armed fist’ of a liberation front, in order to indicate its dependence on a patriotic front or on a party. This expression, copied from models elaborated elsewhere – principally in Asia – is at bottom, contrary to the maxim of Camilo Cienfuegos: ‘The rebel army is the people in uniform’.”

(p.65)

What duplicity. A handful of petty bourgeois adventurers, who are a law unto themselves, constituting a “foco” which preserves its independence from the people because the mass of the people “contain many potential betrayers of the revolution,” are put up as the true representatives of the workers’ and peasants’ best interests, as the substitute for a party of the working masses. Such are the lengths to which these arrogant petty bourgeois will go in their task of attacking the fundamental and only guide to action of the masses, in whatsoever corner of the globe: the scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism.

And, of course, Debray, in addition to his ignorance of Marxism or Leninism, is completely at sea on the facts of the Cuban revolution and its outcome, as we shall see in more detail later. Suffice it here to say that he is under the totally erroneous impression that the “theories” he claims to have unearthed, were actually borne out in practice:

“Around this nucleus, and only because it already had its own politico-military leadership, other political forces have been able to assemble and unite, forming what is today the Communist party of Cuba, of which both the base and the head continue to be made up of comrades from the guerrilla army. The Latin American revolution and its vanguard, the Cuban Revolution, have thus made a decisive contribution to international revolutionary experience and to Marxism-Leninism.”

(p.105)

Obviously no one has told him that so weak, so undisciplined and so politically inept was this guerrilla force when faced with the directly political tasks of managing a “state of the working people” that its first action was to call in the aid of the revisionist Popular Socialist Party, a party which had played a completely traitorous role in the struggle against Batista, to help them man the heights of political power.

Debray devotes a good percentage of his book to attacks on those revisionists (such as of the Popular Socialist Party) – attacks which are justified to a certain extent – but what cannot be justified is his attempt to make of the sell-out which the Cuban revolution was to become a model of “Marxism-Leninism”, every unprincipled turn of which must be copied throughout the Latin American continent.

When the Cuban leadership granted Mr. Debray full facilities to study the Cuban revolution and its history that is, employed him to embroider a myth and bury the facts they chose wisely. They chose a representative of that privileged section of the petty bourgeoisie which devotes all its time and energies to the renegade task of attempting to destroy the only theory and practice which can liberate all the oppressed social classes by a revolution which will end for ever the unequal privilege whereby those who create wealth and culture are robbed by those who make of it a reactionary metaphysical mystique.

PEOPLE’S WAR WITHOUT THE PEOPLE

We begin, as usual, with a claim of uniqueness for the Latin American situation.

The discovery of this “new” path has led to many errors, but these are inevitable “at this stage of exploration, of revolutionary conceptions and methods which are new in spite of their deceptive kinship with other international experiences” (p.23). The aim of the armed foco is to build up “through guerrilla warfare carried out in suitably chosen rural zones a more mobile strategic force, nucleus of a people’s army and future socialist state” (p.25).

Of course this armed spontaneity diverges radically from all other successful experiences to date – and, naturally, has met with innumerable failures. Therefore, we have to have a scapegoat. Upon this scapegoat are blamed residual “imported” errors, that explain the “inevitable” errors on the “new” path. He makes this scapegoat, the dangerous “imported political conceptions” of Vietnam and elsewhere, with such out-of-context claims as the “subjection of the guerrilla force to the party” (p.25) contentions, which are not applicable to the “historical and social conditions peculiar to Latin America.” (p.56)

He notes that:

“… in Vietnam, the Communist Party was the organisational nucleus from which and around which the people’s army developed.”

(p.47).

But:

“Differences between Vietnam and Latin America lead to the following contrast: whereas in Vietnam the military pyramid of the liberation forces is built from the base up, in Latin America on the other hand, it tends to be built from the apex down; the permanent forces first (the foco), then the semi-regular forces in the vicinity of the foco, and lastly or after victory (Cuba) the militia.”

(p.50)

Of course, such a radical turning on its head is not clarified in any way. It is simply taken for granted.

Another “irrelevant” theory to Debray, employed as it has been in all the successful national liberation struggles of our time, is that the guerrilla forces should aim to be so integrally a part of the people that they remain unnoticed “like a fish in water”;

“The occupation and control of rural areas by reaction or directly by imperialism, their vigilance today greatly increase should rid a given group of armed propagandists of all hope remaining unnoticed like a fish in water’.”

(p.51)

And another “unique” point:

“Let us not forget, that the class enemy carries out selective assassination on a large scale in Latin America – kill the leaders and leave the rest alive.”

(p.66)

Really, Mr Debray, one would think from such a statement that imperialist oppression itself is completely unique to Latin America. Yes this elitist militarist theory is nonsense.

It has been put forward in order to cover up the essential heresy which lies beneath the claims to a “people’s army”; by inventing a uniqueness which prevents the application of the theory of people war, as it is understood by all genuine representatives of the working people, it is hoped to cover up the fact that this was the work of a handful of insurgents who bear no relationship whatsoever to the real aspirations and political requirements of the forces in struggle against imperialism.

In a vulgarisation of the role of the guerrilla we read:

“It must have the support of the masses or disappear; before enlisting them directly, it must convince them that there are valid reasons for its existence so that the ‘rebellion’ will truly be – by the manner of its recruitment and the origins, its fighters a ‘war of the people.”‘

(p.46)

and:

“….. the only conceivable line for a guerrilla group to adopt is the mass line; it can live only with their support, in daily contact with them.”

(p.110)

But behind this thin “mass line” lies the real reason why Debray has found it necessary to reject the experience of people’s war in Vietnam, Laos, etc. It is a reason which completely removes the class basis and pins his theory down as a justification of the individualism, instability and shallowness of the petty bourgeoisie. For Debray rejects the concept of a fixed base of support, i.e. a mass-base amongst the people, for individualistic nomadism, without any social base.

“the guerrilla base is, according to an expression of Fidel, the territory within which the guerrilla happens to be moving; it goes where he goes. In the initial stage the base of support is in the guerrilla fighter’s knapsack.”

(p.64)

“During the first stage (of the guerrilla war Ed.), clearly the hardest to surmount and the most exposed to all sorts of accidents, the initial group experiences at the outset a period of absolute nomadism.”

(p.31)

A fine “people’s war,” one of the main aims of its elitist liberating mission being to achieve independence from the people (as opposed to the Marxist-Leninist thesis of the necessity to build the revolutionary independence of the working people from their exploiters):

“The revolutionary guerrilla force is clandestine. It is born and develops secretly. The fighters themselves use pseudonyms. At the beginning they keep out of sight, and when they allow themselves to be seen it is at a time and place chosen by their chief (sic). The guerrilla force is independent of the civilian population in action as well as in military organisation; consequently it need not assume the direct defence of the peasant population.”

(p.41).

With a further display of arrogant elitism and incredible lack of faith in the forces they claim to represent, we read:

“Constant vigiliance, constant mistrust, constant mobility – the three golden rules. All three are concerned with security. Various considerations of common sense necessitate wariness towards the civilian population and the maintenance of a certain aloofness. By their very situation (? MS-Ed) civilians are exposed to repression and the constant presence and pressure of the enemy, who will attempt to buy them, corrupt them, or to extort from them by violence what cannot be bought… . ‘We hid our intentions from the peasants’, Che relates, and if once of them passed near the scene of an ambush, we held him until the operation was completed. This vigilance does not necessarily imply mistrust: a peasant may easily commit an indiscretion and even more easily, be subjected to torture.”

(p.43)

Thus the claim that these theories are a more highly developed form of “people’s war” begins to look slightly ludicrouswhen the guerilla foco is fighting not only the imperialist enemy but completely isolated from and antagonistic to the mass of the working people, and peasants, the only possible base in a people’s war against imperialism.

In this scheme of things the working people and peasantry serve merely as fodder for the adventurist, personally gratifying, military gambles of the unstable, dissatisfied petty bourgeoisie. We begin to see why the solidarity of the Vietnamese people in their genuine people’s war is anathema to the Debrayists, and why they constantly warn of the dangers of “imitating the Vietnamese experience.”

So Debray has disposed of the class base of a genuine revolutionary movement, of its wholehearted dedication to and identification with the exploited and oppressed classes;

Debray has disposed completely of the alliance of the two major oppressed classes, proletariat and peasantry, which when welded together into an invincible alliance, constitute the only force which can resolutely oppose and defeat imperialism by classing the proletarian forces of the cities as “bourgeoisie”;

Debray has cancelled out the role of political struggle by scorning the tasks of building a revolutionary movement around a programme, forging alliances, educating the people for struggle, organising, agitating propagating in the course of building this powerful force of the working masses, and revealed his thoroughly bourgeois content by ignoring the vital and indispensable role of the general staff of a revolution, its vanguard party;

And at the tail end of this rejection of all that constitutes a genuine revolutionary force, his guerrilla focos resemble nothing more than bandit groups, cut off from the oppressed people to such an extent, that at a certain stage of their reckless ill-conceived adventures they are forced to break the cardinal principle of genuine people’s war – never to steal the property of the workers and peasants by advocating raids – on villages for supplies:

“It is less risky and safer for a guerrilla group to make raids on neighbouring villages from its own base in order to obtain foodstuffs and field equipment.”

(p.70).

It is now quite clear why so many Fidelista focos have floundered and been wiped out. For by elevating guerrilla struggle (or their completely militarist inversion of it) to an end in itself, as opposed to a stage in the struggle which it really is, and by advocating that a handful of “dedicated determined men,” maintaining their aloofness from the vast mass of the working people, ignoring political questions” with the same blindness as mediaeval mystics, can overthrow the considerable might of imperialism, they cut the very ground from under their feet and lead those who follow them to almost certain defeat and massacre.

Debray claims that the great misconceptions which exist concerning the Cuban revolution are the reasons for so many failures in recent years on the Latin American continent. He claims his book is the vehicle which distils the true essence of that revolution and lays down its theory for the edification of all like-minded insurgents. It has been pointed out that the essence he has distilled, besides its dangerous implications, bears very little resemblance to the actual course of the Cuban revolution add the lessons which are to be learned from it.

We must therefore now look at that Cuban experience and distil from it our own essence – one which has been processed according to the scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism.

“LEFT” AND RIGHT IN LATIN AMERICA

What is the fundamental malaise which is responsible for such anti-Marxist-Leninist rubbish as the Debray theories being purveyed with some seriousness in Latin America? It lies, surely, in the classic division between right and “left” which has – we now borrow Mr. Debray’s phrase – revealed itself in a very obvious form due to certain more heightened conditions in Latin America.

Debray takes as his point of departure the right revisionist betrayal over many decades in Latin America, and seeks to counter-pose his leftist theories as the way forward.

But whereas the right deviation seeks to tie the class forces of the proletariat and its allies to bourgeois ideology and practice in such a way as to transform the party into an instrument of foreign imperialism, the comprador bourgeoisie and the feudal reactionary classes;

Its leftist counterpart, the “left” revisionist deviation, also reflects, the influence of bourgeois ideology and practice within the class forces of the proletariat, but in this case adapted to the class needs of the national bourgeoisie.

The national bourgeoisie has an objective interest, at least for a time, in the victory of the national democratic revolution, but wishes to achieve that victory under its class leadership and not under that of the proletariat and its allies.

It therefore needs to make use of revolutionary phraseology, the best form of which is provided by the petty bourgeois left distortions of Marxism of which Debray’s teachings are typical.

These deviations are able to take an extreme and clear form within the contradictory framework of political institutions in Latin America. The apparently organic and established character of the state frameworks in most Latin American countries has resulted from the early formal independence won against Spanish colonial rule which resulted in an earlier development of semi-colonial forms of domination by USA imperialism. This has seduced the majority of the revisionist parties in those countries into believing that the doctrine of “peaceful transition” could be applied there without the disguise of leftist phraseology and lip service to guerrilla and other violent forms of struggle. As a consequence, right revisionist policies in Latin America have met with the most abject failure of any in the world, driving those parties, in a number of instances – the best known being that of Batista’s Cuba – to degenerate into direct, tools of foreign imperialism and indigenous comprador reaction.

This history of open right-revisionist betrayal and errors is the main factor determining the current swing to the “left” in a diametrically opposed direction. This history counterposes “peaceful legal advance without violence” and the militarist spontaneity of “military struggle without politics.”

It represents a classic manifestation of the spontaneous division between “left” and right. We say spontaneous, because these extremes occur in the vacuum-left, when genuine scientific analysis and the revolutionary leadership which results from it are lacking. A right deviation delivers the working people and peasantry helpless to the massacre of imperialist guns and without any means of defence. Whilst leftism provokes isolated violence and brings down the full force of imperialist violence on an inadequately steeled and prepared nucleus, divorced from the mass of the people but involving these forces in the bloodshed which accompanies their defeat.

These complementary deviations have wreaked havoc within the national liberation fronts of the Latin American continent and make more essential the return to a class analysis as the basis for a scientific theory of revolution.

Certain countries of the Latin American continent have been viewed by right revisionism as possessing sufficient formal trappings of democracy to justify a full programme based on electoral advance to socialism by peaceful means, such as Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica and Brazil.The remaining long-standing open dictatorships have necessitated right revisionist programmes of a more militant type, albeit singularly lacking in any guide to action to overthrow the repressive regimes, but relying on the hope that “democratic rights” would be established under restrained “mass pressure.” It is therefore to the statements of the Communist Parties of the former category that we should turn for the clearest expression of “parliamentarism” on the Latin American continent.

A reference to the Costa Rican Communist Party’s “competition” some years ago makes the right revisionist position very clear.

Here instead of the vanguard party thriving in a situation of heightened class struggle, we are presented with the novelty of a “vanguard party” which finds itself losing ground; when objective class struggle is seen as a nuisance factor which has interfered with the prime task of the ingrown little organism’s race to achieve a per capita paper representation in some imaginary “democratic institution” – whilst all comprehension of the realities of class remains blissfully outside its scope.

It does not require a very detailed knowledge of the situation Costa Rica to understand that the way to salvation of the Costa Rican working People does not lie through such “struggle” as advocated by the “Costa Rican People’s Vanguard”:

“A competition in the sphere of organisation, education, propaganda and finances has been conducted by the Party in five of the seven Provinces of Costa Rica. … Judging by the results it looked as if the target advanced by the Ninth Congress (doubling the membership) would be realised without much difficulty. However, unforeseen circumstances arose which hampered the work of building Party.

The first was the Caribbean Crisis last October and the wave of repressions that came in its wake. Our newspaper was banned and the activity of the Party was restricted in one way or another . . . .

Owing to the repressions in the Pacifico Sur party membership has shown no increase. However, despite these negative factors and the intensified repressions in connection with the talks between the presidents of the Central American countries and President Kennedy in March 1963, the competition conducted by the five provinces was, on the whole, satisfactory.. . . . .

It is clear to us that when international tension increases and the war danger grows, repressions are intensified and democratic liberties curtailed, and the growth of the Party slows down….Hence we are waging a constant struggle for peace, against the restriction of democratic freedoms.

This, of course, does not lead us to the opportunistic conclusion that we can fight and win only in conditions of legality and extensive utilisation of democratic rights. However, the fact remains that in the present conditions the most favourable climate for Party growth is international detente, since this makes it easier to defend the democratic gains of the working people.”

(Oscar Vargas: World Marxist Review: Oct 196,3; p.61-2).

The trite rejection of opportunism offered by Vargas does not invalidate the charge which any honest militant must make against such a grossly renegade strategy as is offered by the Costa Rican “vanguard.” For of course, such a logic is clear. Imperialism, class struggle, brings the threat of repression which hampers the work of building an electoral party in conditions of class peace. Therefore a status quo of peace between labour and capital is vital if this work of conservation, the buffer preventing class confrontation can go on.

The theme was repeated in Chile, the same reformist dreams of “The British Road to Socialism” being applied to a situation where striking workers were murdered, where any substantiation to the claim to a “democratic facade” had been ripped away a decade ago by the brutal dictatorship of Gonzalez Videla which outlawed the Communist Party and subjected it to persecutions all too familiar under the heel of open reaction, and where any democratic facade exists merely as a perfected weapon for ensuring the continuation of bourgeois dictatorship by drawing to its assistance in this conspiracy the renegade “leaders” of the working people.

Thus the Chilean Communist Party leadership hotly denied any revolutionary intentions ascribed to it:

“What is needed … is to secure a turn to the left in national policy. . . .

Through the medium of parliament, municipal councils and public meetings, the Party constantly advances and supports all projects and measures designed to benefit the people. Reactionaries in the ranks of the Christian Democrats accuse the Communists of seeking bring down the government in order to take its place. But the resolute stand taken by the Communists has demonstrated the baselessness of this and has shown that the Communists are prompted by neither opportunist nor narrow tactical considerations.”

(World Marxist Review: November 1965; p.47)

The whimpering denial of opportunism appears like a Judas mark in the programmes of these guilty men who commit every anti-proletarian crime it is possible to imagine given that they propose and preach class peace in a continent whose peoples subsist in indescribable conditions of brutalising poverty and misery. Yet with every increase in reactionary terror, the subservience of these handmaidens of the bourgeoisie increases in proportion. Each decisive parliamentary defeat, such as occurred in Chile in 1964, is followed by an ever more eager act of grovelling to an ever more contemptuous, corrupt, and confident bourgeoisie.

The Brazilian Communist Party, the leading mouthpiece of right revisionism in Latin America had a carefully mapped out plan for “utilising democratic rights and liberties.” In 1964 it was striving by means of a system of “structural reforms” to win power by:

“. . . establishing a national and democratic government and laying the groundwork for far-reaching changes that would ensure complete political and economic liberation and pave the way for socialism,”

believing that:

“the basic task of the vanguard forces in the struggle for structural reforms now is to build up the national and democratic movements. It is along these lines that we envisage the possibility of a peaceful revolution.”

(World Marxist Review: Jan 1964; p.22)

However, these hopes were not to be realised. The coup which overthrew Goulart in 1964 and installed the rule of the generals smashed the “democratic” illusions of these men of peace, and the naive veneer given to the theoretical estimation of the Party’s errors, attempts to draw attention from the fact that the leaders of the Brazilian Party, especially Prestes, are well versed enough in political manoeuvring not to suffer the lack of experience they claim. Thus, analysing the errors of the Communist Party:

“We ourselves had not been prepared politically and ideologically and had not prepared the masses to repulse the violence of reaction. As a result of a not altogether correct formulation of the Fifth Congress which took as its guidelines the thesis of the 20th Congress of the CPSU, we inaccurately assessed the possibilities of the ‘peaceful path’, seeing revolution as an idyllic process, free of clashes and conflicts.

Due to this incorrect assessment the leadership failed to see the danger signals. Instead of calling on the masses to fight the danger of a rightist coup, it continued to demand the holding of plebiscite.”

(C Prestes: World Marxist Review; June 1968; p-17).

“Although we sensed a certain tension (! Ed) we failed to act accordingly”.

(World Marxist Review, February 1965; p.28)

Despite the “self-criticism” of the above – conducted purely in the realm of the senses though it is – the conclusion of the right revisionists is a remarkable piece of un-dialectical nonsense. For the failure to prepare for violent struggle, to see through the bluff, of parliamentary ‘legality’, were mistakes of a “leftist” character!

“The Sixth Congress rejected the view that the main mistakes made by the Party were the consequence of a right deviation and noted that they were, on the contrary, mistakes of a leftist, putschist and petty bourgeois character.”

(C Prestes: World Marxist Review; June 1968; p.17)

This massacre of the truth is necessary because, despite their “self-criticism,” despite the objective failure of their line, despite the setbacks to which their opportunism has led, they still intend to pursue their “peaceful” cause. The coup which installed a “semi-fascist political regime” will be destroyed through:

“Active opposition and vigorous mass actions (which) will reduce the regime’s socio-political basis and could lead to its defeat by non-violent means. Democratic action can compel the reactionary and defeatist minority to retreat and restore democratic rights.”

(Ibid.; p.18)

Of course, “it may turn out too, that the Party and the people will be compelled to resort to other, more elementary and particular forms of armed struggle.” But we can rest assured that the right revisionist leadership of the Brazilian Communist Party will do everything in its power to be true to the spirit and the letter of the passive “may” and place it far behind in its list of priorities.

Such is the face of right revisionism in Latin America.

It has been against this background of betrayal that the working people and peasant masses have been compelled to resort to spontaneous armed struggle – struggle which was, and largely remains, outside the framework of control of the revisionist parties of the right. In those countries where such armed struggle has already taken root and the masses of the working people are beginning to be drawn into the struggle against semi-colonial dictatorship and foreign imperialist oppression, the further result of this has been that those, communist parties subservient to Soviet right revisionism have been forced to pay lip service to armed struggle and modify their more blatant parliamentary transition formulas in a bid to regain the influence within the armed liberation fronts which previously they were threatened with losing completely.

In its wider context, this pragmatic and opportunist response to the spontaneous growth of armed struggle reflects the shift in policy on the part of the Soviet revisionist leadership which has taken place since Khrushchev’s overthrow – a shift away from “all-round cooperation with US imperialism” to one of striving for the establishment of independent spheres of influence in areas hitherto comprising sectors of the US sphere. Within the overall task of developing this policy, a certain independent sphere of operations in relation to the national liberation movements of the underdeveloped colonial and semi-colonial sectors of the world has been allotted to the so-called “centrist” bloc of revisionist communist parties and “socialist” states, of which Cuba is one, and has given rise to the need for lip-service to armed national liberation struggle to be admitted to the platforms of some, though by no means all, of the Latin American communist parties under the influence of Soviet revisionism.

An example of this is offered by the criticism of the 20th Congress formulations on peaceful transition and peaceful coexistence made by the Brazilian right revisionist leader, Prestes. The alternative to the long discredited right revisionist formulations put forward is the flexibly leftist slogan of “armed struggle as a tactic, democratic constitutional advance as a strategy”. With its perceptible overtones of Kautsky and Bernstein, this formulation neatly solves the dilemma of how to maintain the long-cherished peaceful transitional shibboleths of right revisionism, now becoming so tarnished, simply by reversing Marxist-Leninist theoretical principles and relegating to armed struggle a subordinate tactical role serving the main strategy of seeking to secure minor palliatives to the increasingly oppressive life of the working people through reforms and the ballot box.

The outcome of these opportunist policy manoeuvres has been that, utilising the dominant hold which they exercise over the apostle of “violent struggle” in Latin America, Fidel Castro and the Soviet revisionist leadership has been able to control the transition to support for “centrist” revisionist policies on the part of certain Latin American Communist Parties without loosening in any way their traditional control over the leaderships of those parties – and even in some cases to increase it through the prestige added by the accession of Castroite “centrist” revisionism to the overall force available to Soviet policy needs.

As for “left” revisionism and Trotskyism, these take many forms in Latin America. The case of Guevara and Debray, who take an “ultra-leftist” position themselves, while condemning the trotskyites as revisionists, has already been analysed. The lessons of their position, i.e. of an armed struggle divorced from any political and class organisation of the working people, have been borne home most clearly following the collapse of Guevara’s mission in Bolivia. So much so, that Arguedas, a firm sympathiser of the guerrillas, wrote as his epitaph to Guevara:

“… he failed because he did not have the support of the peasants and because the Bolivian people did not know the action programme of the guerillas.”

A lesson so elementary that it should hardly have required the sacrifice of so many aspiring national liberation fighters to make it known. And indeed, the lessons of this, collapse of “ultra-leftist” method and morale accompanying Guevara’s experiment were not lost on those forces which represent the national bourgeoisie with more perception than Guevara. They can have acted as yet one more forceful argument for Castro strengthening his “centrist”‘ position.

Trotskyism in Latin America – as represented particularly in Guatemala and Peru is “left” opportunism which claims a “theory” of socialist revolution. This “theory” completely denies the national democratic stage of the revolution in a colonial-type country and insists that “socialist revolution”‘ is at any given moment on the order of the day.

Its effect is to isolate the genuine revolutionary forces from class allies who stand objectively for the national democratic revolution, and without whose added weight imperialism cannot be defeated and the national democratic tasks achieved. In practice, however, they resort to all manner of semi-anarchist, syndicalist and outright irridentist ideologies in order to win bases amongst the peasantry and urban poor, purveying such illusions as the direct growth of the village peasant-commune into socialism, the romanticism of the primitive subsistence economy and so on.

In strategy and tactics, their aim is to sow the usual kind of confusion associated with their name, advocating peaceful legal advance in the manner of the right revisionists whenever and wherever an actual revolutionary situation is close at hand, and pressing for ultra-revolutionary forms of struggle whenever and wherever the revolutionary tide is temporarily on the ebb turn. Thus they contribute directly to rendering the more militant vanguard forces an easy and isolated target for imperialist guns. Within these overall perspectives of betrayal, however, the “socialist revolution” for which they aim is, as with the right revisionist communist parties, in essence a peaceful one.

Thus all of these trends, “left” or right, spell defeat and betrayal for the revolutionary aspirations of the working people of Latin America and the decimation of their actual or potential organisations, of struggle.

At the helm of all this confusion and betrayal, seeking to unite the political manifestations of bourgeois and petty bourgeois thinking within the forces of the developing national democratic and socialist revolutions of Latin America under the one “super revolutionary” centre, has stood the Cuban revisionist leadership. They have encouraged every kind of anti-proletarian and anti-Marxist-Leninist theory and practice, inspiring the most infantile forms of petty bourgeois leftism, and nationalist euphoria; and finally, they have resolved the failure of both “left” and right revisionism into the doctrine of a “centrist” revisionism, a position which has emerged as a specific heritage of the Cuban-revolution.

It is to an analysis of the Cuban development itself, therefore, that we must now turn.

ASSESSMENT OF THE CUBAN REVOLUTION

The Cuban Revolution represented a phenomenon with two contradictory sides.

One was the fundamentally positive fact that US imperialist domination over Latin America had been breached for the first time, and a nation free of US imperialist oppression and ranged in struggle against it now stood as a symbol of anti-imperialist liberation struggle for the peoples of the continent.

The second and negative side was that, from its inception, the Cuban Revolution was carried through not under the leadership of the working class in alliance with the poor peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie but under that of forces representing the national bourgeoisie. This epoch is characterised by the onset of a world pre-revolutionary situation and the beginning of the disintegration of the imperialist world system. Therefore, this class basis can only serve its fundamental class interest and achieve, the construction of a form of capitalist society in the newly emerged nations, in as much as it succeeds in manoeuvring with the offer of its neo-colonial and comprador services between the various competing imperialist groups. This is a strategy which leads sooner or later to the incorporation of the newly-independent nation, willy-nilly, into the sphere of influence of another imperialist group, most likely one which is hostile to the imperialist power from which independence had originally been won.

The economic in-viability of Cuba – a fundamental feature inherited from the one-sided development imposed by US imperialist domination in the past – together with its geographically isolated position and economically unbalanced character, placed Cuba in a precarious position which rendered its newly-won independence highly vulnerable.

Debray seeks in his book to paint a glowing and utopian picture of the Castro leadership which completely ignores the historical facts and sets out to enshrine every trite phrase and thought of this leadership as valid “scientific truths.” It remains a quite obvious fact however, that Castro and those who fought with him to overthrow Batista were not Marxist-Leninists. Castro claims that the “Marxism-Leninism” of the Cuban leadership was learned during the course of the struggle. The absence of scientific revolutionary principle guiding a clear strategic perspective – fundamental necessities in any revolutionary process, whether national democratic or socialist in character, in which the working class fulfils the leading role and which is guided by a genuine Marxist-Leninist vanguard party – and the opportunist manoeuvring to which that absence inevitably leads.

These are all explained away by Debray, with the claim that the revolutionary process was undergoing a justifiable period of “trial and error” – not, be it understood, trial and error in the application of Marxist-Leninist science to the revolution but quite abstractly in the search for a “Cuban form of Marxism.”

Castro and the inceptive forces of the guerrilla movement which he led were urban petty bourgeois revolutionists acting objectively as the leading representatives of the Cuban national bourgeoisie. The rebellion based on the Sierra Maestra drew to the ranks of the rebel army recruits from the peasantry, the mass base of the petty bourgeoisie and, in the absence of a leading role fulfilled by the working class, formed the social arsenal of the national bourgeoisie.

The movement claimed to be a liberal alternative to the tyranny of Batista, the stench of whose corruption was believed by Castro to be a constant source of embarrassment to the United States – the diaries of Guevara in his Bolivian campaign imply that, in begging aid from US monopoly interests under the threat that US holdings would be confiscated in the event of victory in Bolivia if support for the insurgents were not forthcoming. In this he was merely repeating methods prominent in the early stage of the Cuban revolution itself. The “left” revisionists of the Castro/Guevara stamp, attempt to explain these away as “tactical” covers for their real “Marxist” aims.

Throughout the course of the struggle Castro increasingly won the support of the urban petty bourgeoisie and middle classes – the involvement of the working class taking place considerably later. The tone of the Castro leadership on the role of the working class, was that the working class should be thankful for its liberation at the hands of the petty bourgeois intelligentsia and peasantry. However, support for the rebels against the tyranny of Batista was sufficiently overwhelming in its scope to cause the United States, refrain from any serious attempt to maintain Batista in power by overt force, and to give only that amount of aid to Batista which would preserve US face with lesser tyrants of the Batista stamp throughout Latin America. Although a covert attempt using Cuban exiles to restore a US colonial-type puppet regime was launched later, with the abortive Bay of Pigs landing. These were the factors which assisted the seizure of power by the Castro leadership in 1959.

The victory of 1959 brought Castro his first lessons in the attempt to carry through reforms of a national and democratic character in the epoch of imperialism.

Whilst at the comparatively early stage of establishing his bases in the Sierras, Castro had approached the lawyer, Urrutia, with an offer that he should form a government when victory was won – an offer which was accepted and implemented in 1959. Urrutia was a representative of the nascent Cuban national bourgeoisie, but nevertheless one of the first acts of his government was to approach US imperialism with assurances that his government intended to continue the semi-colonial status of Cuba, and to maintain the traditional agrarian structure of the economy and economic dependence on the US. It was only the rejection of these assurances by the US and the latter’s refusal to recognise the Castro regime which compelled the subsequent alignment with the Soviet Union.

As for Castro himself, it was a typical and in view of the later developments, an ironic expression of the spirit of the expediently opportunist freebooter that he was ready and willing to place his services at the disposal of the highest bidder, that he did not conceive of taking any initiative in the political and state affairs, of the new government.

All the evidence shows that Castro did not wish to govern on behalf of any defined class. He saw his role as that of a latter-day Garibaldi effecting a purely military liberation on behalf of abstract “liberty, equality and fraternity” and then handing over power to a vague and undefined “liberal intelligentsia”, i.e., to elements of the national bourgeoisie which, at that stage, had no conception of the revolution winning for them full national independence from US imperialism, and who merely wished to extend somewhat the scope of their economic holdings and the degree of their participation in and control over the state and administration.

According to the terms of the Urrutia government’s approach to the US, agrarian landlordism, the security of US holdings in both agriculture and such service industries as existed and the corresponding structure of feudal and comprador relations, were to remain essentially untouched and only subjected to a degree of mild reform. Only the short-sighted rejection by the US of these proposals for the reform of the semi-colonial structure of Cuba as it had existed under the corrupt and brutal reign of Batista finally compelled Castro and his followers both to take up themselves the reigns of state and to implement measures designed to secure independence from the USan independence the only available economic foundation for which was, ultimately alignment with the Soviet neo-imperialist bloc.

Amongst the first measures enacted was the land reform – a step which was essential if the base of peasant support was to be maintained. The confiscation of large holdings, particularly those owned by foreign capital, brought down the wrath of US imperialism.

For Castro the second dilemma and the second lesson had begun.

Despite numerous manoeuvres to outwit the Imperialists and to prevent their hostility and inevitable embargos on trade, the US in traditionally short-sighted fashion, declared its hostility and began to threaten Cuba with economic reprisals. Castro, countering this blackmail as best he could, entered into trade agreements with the Soviet Union, intending to walk the tightrope of a balance between the two blocs which would ensure Cuba’s economic future without drastic political shifts.

However, the breach was forced by US imperialism with the cutting of the quota for the import of Cuban sugar, forcing Castro to look elsewhere for cheaper supplies consequent upon the loss of US dollars. There followed a train of reprisals and counter-reprisals culminating in the Soviet offer to buy Cuban sugar (at an unspecified price) and to meet the Cuban demand for oil. The refusal of the US to refine Soviet oil, was met by Castro’s nationalisation of the key US interests in Cuba as a final and irrevocable reprisal. The course of Castro’s future was now set – a future which had originally never been intended or planned; but which had developed piecemeal out of the course of events. By 1963, according to Castro, the trade balance with the Soviet Union had risen to over one hundred million dollars.

This nationalisation, as we are now informed by the Cuban “Marxist- Leninists”, represented the “socialist revolution.”

However, in reality it represented an inevitable move which Castro, representing the national bourgeoisie, was forced to make given that he was fighting for his economic life and needed to trade with whomsoever would offer these services. But dependence on trade with the Union and being totally at the mercy of the defence protection, of the “nuclear umbrella” brought with it the expected penalty. Castro, the man who had hitherto publicly denounced Marxism-Leninism and denied any affinity with “communists” now began to air his brains in public and to take the first carefully rehearsed steps towards embracing Marxism-Leninism as avidly as he was later to embrace Khruchshev.

The previous emphasis on the role of the intellectuals as the leading force in the revolution, and as the “liberators of the working class” was now dressed up in a more conventional “Marxist-Leninist” disguise to accord with the announcement of the “socialist revolution” albeit a multifarious class definition typical of national bourgeois “socialism”:

“the labouring masses, the farmers, the student masses, the masses of the poor, the underprivileged mass of our nation, significant portions of the middle class, sections of the petty bourgeoisie, intellectual workers, made Marxism-Leninism their own, made the struggle for the Socialist Revolution their own.”

(F Castro: “Castro Denounces Sectarianism”, March 1962, p.13)

One of the penalties for the alignment with the Soviet Union was the loss of middle class support – a section which had supported Castro whole-heartedly during the struggle for power. These now filed in large numbers to Miami, plotting counterrevolution, and thereby weakening considerably the already overstrained technical and administrative cadre force and heightening social tensions. It was, at this point that the other long arm of revisionism, that from within Cuba itself, came into its own.

The history of the Cuban Communist Party offers an appalling record: of opportunism and class betrayal.

Based mainly on the urban working-class and aimed at building a mass social-democratic party, engaged in negotiations for economic improvements to the exclusion of almost all other forms of struggle and bound up with unprincipled agreements and alliances with whatsoever dictator happened to be in power, it was only to be expected that it could play no role in the struggle to overthrow Batista. Denouncing Castro as a mere adventurer, in the early days of the guerrilla struggle, and effectively assisting the sabotage of all attempts by the guerrillas to mobilise urban strikes,it only changed its tactics in the later stages, when the victory of Castro was already clearly inevitable. At this stage, certain leading revisionists were sent to join the guerrillas, with the aim of establishing the first bridgehead within the revolutionary forces in preparation for the later penetration of the right-revisionist party into the anti-imperialist front and the newly-founded national democratic state.

In the period immediately following the seizure of power, the clear anti-communist content of the half-hearted national democratic revolution which was “spontaneously developing,” effectively blocked the entrance of careerist-minded revisionist party members into positions of influence in the state. But this situation changed radically when apathy began to strike the middle class and comprador-orientated bourgeoisie after the confiscation of their property and the establishment of the open alliance with the Soviet Union, and especially after significant numbers of these strata had begun to desert to the Florida mainland. In the chaos of Castro’s “spontaneously developing” revolution the tried and tested organisation men of the revisionist party were drafted in large numbers in an effort to stem the growing confusion and pull together the basis of a workable economic and political system – matters which Castro had formerly considered could be left to merge spontaneously with the passage of time.

Thus arose the third of Castro’s dilemmas.

He had given up the political initiative almost completely. The revisionists, “always intent on mere political questions,” as Debray spurningly pointed, out, had after all played one better than the child of spontaneity, Castro. The price Castro had to pay for a viable political and, administrative apparatus was the achievement by the right-revisionists of an increasingly dominant role in party and state, despite their history of betrayal during the struggles leading to the overthrow of Batista.

Through a combination of external pressure from the Soviet Union, including economic blackmail, and internal penetration by the agents of Soviet revisionism, the indigenous revisionist leaders, Castro and his old guard of insurrectionists were gradually out-manoeuvred and sewn up in a web of inexorable dependence and commitment. No doubt, this was to the horror of the existentialist coterie of sun-seekers of the Sartre ilk who had seen in the Cuban development, the embodiment of their ideas about a liberal spontaneous revolution giving birth to an anarchistic utopia around which they could spin the subject matter for countless bestsellers.

The merciless straitjacket of unequal colonial-type economic relations, together with the necessity for a heavy defence programme in the face of the increasingly aggressive posture of US imperialism in the period prior to the 1962 crisis, represented further pressures inexorably pushing Cuba into dependence on the Soviet Union. The ominous features of the limited crop economy, had once again begun to dominate economic development.

The political counterpart of this situation of dependence, expressed the reciprocal need of the Soviet revisionist world centre to “explain” the obvious contradiction of a successful armed revolution taking place in an epoch the main feature of which was allegedly “the peaceful co-existence of states with differing social systems.” This was reflected in the corresponding determination of the Cuban right-revisionist party leadership to build and maintain the myth of Cuba as an example of “peaceful transition” in line with the precepts of the Khrushchevite international programme as laid down by the infamous 20th Congress Report:

“It was precisely in conditions of peaceful coexistence between states with different social systems that the socialist revolution triumphed in Cuba.”

(Letter of CC of CPSU to CC of CCP, March 30th, 1963. Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1965. p. 507).

From the crisis of 1962, the starting duplicity of Castro in adopting his new subservient position was revealed.

Castro, who was later to announce demagogically:

“We will never make ideological concessions, and we will maintain an unyielding Marxist-Leninist position.”

(F. Castro: “This is our Line Havana 1963; p.79)

Then begins Castro’s remarkable history –

of bear hugs with the chief spokesmen of modern revisionism followed by denunciations of those same spokesmen;

of his statements supporting “peaceful struggle” followed by statements supporting armed struggle;

and his steadily increasing subservient role assisting the propaganda line of the Soviet revisionists in the Great Debate, with the deceptively “principled”, contention that “Division in the face of the enemy was never a revolutionary or intelligent strategy”;

all culminating in the carefully timed attacks on the Chinese government over alleged “cut-backs” in the promised rice quota.

This latter ‘news’ on the rice quotas, was leaked on the eve of the Three Continents Conference in Havana in order to cause the maximum damage to the prestige of the Chinese party and state throughout the national liberation movements. It was intended to act as an ameliorative gesture,  to off-set the criticisms of those aspects of Soviet policy which reflected the residual influence of Khrushchevite doctrine, now inimical to Castro’s new role. It was intended to demonstrate to the Soviet neo-capitalist class in unequivocal terms just where the support and sympathy of the Cuban national bourgeoisie and its “centrist” revisionist representatives lay in regard to the growing struggle between the Soviet and Chinese leadership.

Castro, however, in his attempts to reconcile service to the interests of his indigenous class, the Cuban national bourgeoisie, with the fulfillment of a comprador role on behalf of Soviet neo-imperialism, has often proved a difficult and demanding pawn.

Castro has sought to retain as an essential ingredient of his “centrist” revisionist position, the right to criticism of Soviet policies wherever these tended to conflict with the long-term aims of the Cuban national bourgeoisie.

The Guevara adventure in Bolivia thus represented an attempt to raise the bargaining counter of the Cuban national bourgeoisie with Soviet right revisionism, and its failure merely confirming the inadequacy of “leftist” methods of struggle and the superiority of the “centrist” revisionist disguise. In almost all cases, the crux of these Castroite and Gueverist criticisms has been those aspects of Soviet policy reflecting the continuation of a Khrushchevite stance towards US imperialism or its comprador puppets in Latin America. However the necessity which the Castro leadership feels for the military and economic protection which the Soviet Union alone can provide against US threats of aggression compels them to lend their support to every fundamental policy statement and action of the Soviet leadership, and to place Cuba at its disposal as the base of operations for right revisionism on the Latin American continent.

It was under Castro’s auspices that the OLAS and Tricontinental Conferences were able to serve the policy aims of Soviet neo-imperialism, which envisage not only the building of “anti-imperialist” and, where necessary, armed national liberation movements under “centrist” revisionist leadership, but also the incorporation of existing national bourgeois or even comprador-bourgeois states and governments into its sphere of influence. This has already been effected, for example, with a certain measure of success in Peru. Thereby effecting the reciprocal utilisation of both rightist and “centrist” revisionist policy methods. In this way, the former implements the classical techniques of international diplomacy and “power politics” through the direct agency of the Soviet Union on behalf of its neo-imperialist aims;whilst the latter seeks to mobilise the working people and their movements of struggle in the same neo-imperialist cause by presenting the necessary “left” demagogic appeal.

Thus it is that, under the overall condition of a former semi-colony newly emerged from imperialist domination, with an urban and rural proletariat, labouring peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie amongst which revolutionary feeling is at a high level, any national capitalist class attempting to build a viable system of state capitalism can only hold out for itself any prospect of success provided that it can utilise to some degree the ideological strength and power for conviction and mobilisation of proletarian ideology and organisation of Marxism-Leninism.

This type of social development may be characterised in general terms as the demagogic abuse of the international working class and communist movement, of its world view, Marxism-Leninism, and of its organised strength and influence in order to bend them to the service of the enemies of the working class and socialism, amongst which the national capitalist classes of colonial-type countries emerging from imperialist domination must ultimately be placed, whatever class alliances may appertain in the period of the national democratic revolution.

In this light, the case of Cuba illustrates with convincing clarity an example of the harnessing of the potential or actual forces of the socialist revolution, the exploited and oppressed proletariat, poor peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie, to the task of establishing not the socialist system under the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat, but a system of centralised state capitalism of a bureaucratic and comprador type under the dictatorship, albeit concealed by demagogic “left” phraseology, of the national bourgeoisie, and under the conditions of intensified class struggle and heightened inter-imperialist competition typical of the contemporary advanced stage the disintegration of the imperialist world system.

CONCLUSION

The collaboration between “centrist” and right revisionism which forms the predominant basis of policy amongst a majority of Communist Parties of Latin America, with the “Communist Party” of Cuba acting as a comprador-type overseer on behalf of the Soviet Union, reflects the unsuitability of  a purer “left” revisionism as an ideological mask enabling the national bourgeoisie to gain control of the national democratic revolutions and to determine their development and the class composition of their forces in their own class interest, in at least the majority of states concerned and under the objective conditions as they have shaped themselves up till the present time.

Left revisionism tends to find the appropriate objective conditions for its application and a fertile subjective ground for its dissemination and growth primarily in national and political terrains in which not only the objective conditions for the onset of the national democratic revolution are present – this in itself is also a feature of the situation in many American states – but also where a militant and politically conscious working class and a more or less powerful Marxist-Leninist vanguard are, or at the least have been in the past, to some degree in control of the revolutionary process of at least participants in it.

In view of the progressive undermining and final liquidation of the world communist movement through modern revisionism since approximately 1943-45, the presence of such features in a national democratic revolutionary movement in a colonial or semi-colonial country since World War Two, in spite of a majority of the leadership having long since fallen into the hands of “left” revisionists, must be attributed to the persisting influence of the Communist International and the continuing presence in the leadership of the leading cadres trained by it during the period prior to World War Two.

These features are, of course, typical of the development of the Chinese revolution and of the Communist Party of China. They are almost totally absent from the histories of the national liberation and working class movements of the Latin American states and their communist parties.

Where, however, such a Marxist-Leninist leadership, or at least a Marxist-Leninist contingent within a “left” revisionist led party and movement, is present, its defeat and dismemberment is clearly an absolutely prime necessity if the national bourgeoisie is to succeed in its aim of wresting the leadership out of the hands of the Marxist-Leninists and of consolidating it in the sole hands of their revisionist representatives.

The fact that, in Cuba itself, no Marxist-Leninist party, or even a Marxist-Leninist contingent within the leadership of the party, was present requiring ideological penetration, dismemberment and capture, in order to transform that party as a whole into a tool of national bourgeois aims and aspirations, rendered it easier for the petty bourgeois representatives of the national bourgeoisie to control the direction.

It rendered it possible for the petty bourgeois representatives of the national bourgeoisie to win victory in the national democratic revolution by purely military means, without’ the fusion of political and military forms of struggle and without a political party and an organisational centre for the mobilization of the masses, through the sole agency of a small elitist guerrilla force of predominantly petty bourgeois composition, is also symptomatic of the objective conditions and subjective characteristics of the movements of the oppressed in at least the smaller and weaker states of the Latin American continental mainland.

In spite of the many features specific and peculiar to it, the Cuban revolution, however, was not an isolated, once for all time phenomenon. Still less does it represent an example of “specific national roads to socialism” beloved of Khrushchevian revisionist “theory.” It took place and won victory, on the contrary, precisely within the general context of:

“a world pre-revolutionary situation. As in all pre-revolutionary situations, the primary aim of the class struggles, including national liberation struggles, now beginning to unfold on a world-wide front between the world proletarian forces and the imperialist bourgeoisie is a struggle to determine which of these two fundamentally opposed world class forces shall win the allegiance of the intermediate exploited and oppressed classes and strata, of which the most significant are the peasant masses of the colonial periphery of imperialism and the petty bourgeois and professional middle strata in the developed imperialist countries which are undergoing a process of intensified proletarianisation, and so to achieve on behalf of its class interest the decisive strategic advantage in the coming final stages of the world proletarian socialist revolution.”

(Programmatic Manifesto of the Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain; p.22)

The upsurge of national liberation struggles and national democratic revolutions in the colonial and semi-colonial lands, including those of Latin America, forms one of the most prominent features in the process of disintegration of the world imperialist system at the present stage in the development of the general crisis of capitalism.

It is they which are contributing directly to the process of disintegration of the established imperialist power groups and to the break-up of the existing inter-imperialist balance of power, and which are effectively assisting in the formation of new imperialist-type power groups and a new inter-imperialist balance of power centred around the entry of the new neo-imperialist or state capitalist nations – primarily the Soviet Union, but including, at a lower stage of capitalist development, China and India, the total population resources of which alone amount to some 1,400 millions – into the already saturated capitalist world market.

As far as the future development of the world proletarian socialist revolution is concerned, the crucial issue confronting the national liberation movements at the present time is, however, the issue of which class shall lead the revolution, the national bourgeoisie or the working class.

On the outcome of this issue depends the solution to the question, of absolutely fundamental significance, as to:

“Whether or not the working people of the developing nations at present fighting for their liberation from imperialist colonial enslavement, for national independence and democratic rights and liberties, will succeed in bypassing the perspective of a more or less protracted period of capitalist development and will succeed in establishing new socialist states under the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat?”

Such a victory for the world proletarian socialist revolution  would so weaken the already intolerably unstable and crisis-ridden world capitalist system as to render its continued operation virtually impossible.

Alternatively, on the other hand, the victory of the national democratic revolution in the colonial-type lands would merely  lead to the establishment of new independent capitalist states which will thus provide a sorely needed extension to the total area and resources of the world capitalist system and so give it a new lease of life. This latter has already taken place in a whole number of formerly colonial or semi-colonial lands since the end of world war two, including People’s China, India, Egypt and, of course, Cuba.

The entire evidence provided by the experience of the new features in the development of the world proletarian socialist revolution since World War Two indicates strongly that

Only when the working class movements in the developed countries join with the working peoples of the colonial-type lands to form a common world-wide anti-imperialist front,

Only when powerful and influential Marxist-Leninist parties, capable of securing leadership over the entire revolutionary process in both types of countries have been built and are able to wield that decisive ideological and political initiative and influence which can ensure the leading role being fulfilled by the working class in both strategic world sectors, and so laying the basis for the uninterrupted transition of the national democratic to the socialist revolution in the colonial-type lands and for the victory of the latter in both; and, finally,

Only when the world Marxist-Leninist leadership of the world proletarian socialist revolution has developed to a point where a mighty Marxist-Leninist international is forged capable of uniting, integrating and directing the revolutionary struggles in both world sectors against the common imperialist class enemy, of elaborating a world strategic and tactical programme of general offensive on all fronts and in all sectors based on advanced scientific theory –

Then, and only then, will it be possible for the working people of any one sector, in the developed or the under-developed lands, to advance to the victory of the socialist revolution and so to bring the epoch of capitalism to its close and to commence anew, and on an infinitely higher level than previously, the epoch of world-wide socialist construction.

For the present; therefore, and until such time as the revolutionary proletariat in both the developed and the colonial-type lands, realise the primary and indispensable tasks of revolutionary leadership and organisation, particularly as regards the building of the Marxist-Leninist vanguard, the predominant influence in the national democratic movements in the underdeveloped colonial world sector is likely to remain in the hands of the national bourgeoisie and its petty bourgeois revisionist representatives.

But each and every such instance of a national arena of capitalist development being opened up, under the conditions of a congested and saturated capitalist world market, merely serves, in the longer or perhaps the shorter run, to add new components of mounting contradiction to the already unstable situation in the world capitalist system. The monopoly capitalists of the developed imperialist countries, faced with the shrinking of the relative size and resources of the colonial sector relative to the developed sector, are attempting to obtain a significant intensification of the rate of exploitation in both the colonial areas that remain and, in an effort to offset the inevitable decline in super-profits, in the developed countries themselves.

Only provided that Marxist-Leninist vanguard parties are built in both the developed and the colonially subjugated sectors of the world will this intensification of exploitation and oppression result in a qualitative raising of the level of class militancy and capacity for struggle of the working masses, to their revolutionisation.

In other circumstances, including those at present appertaining in which the leading influence is fulfilled by social democratic and right revisionist representatives of monopoly capital in the developed countries and by a combination of right, “centrist” and “left” revisionist representatives of the national or the comprador bourgeoisie in the colonial-type countries, the outcome of the world reactionary offensive now in preparation could equally well be a series of bloody defeats for the working people and their organisations of struggle and the descent of the blackest night of fascist repression that the world has yet seen.

The law of uneven development will undergo and is undergoing an equally profound and far reaching intensification of its mode of operation, thus accelerating the process of break-up of the existing imperialist and capitalist power groups and the formation of new ones anxious to secure a re-division of the total area and resources of maximum exploitation available to the capitalist world system, which are continually shrinking relative to the rapidly increasing rate at which capital tends to be amassed, and which are indispensable for securing that maximum rate of profit so essential if the inherent tendency under state monopoly capitalism for the rate of profit to fall is to be offset. These fundamental contradictions in their turn prepare the conditions for the outbreak of yet another imperialist world war more devastating both in its scope and its revolutionary effect than any previously known, and so also preparing for the transformation of that war, in area after area, country after country, into, socialist revolutions.

These are the profound and climactic contradictions which are even now accumulating under the surface of the world capitalist system, and it is against this background that the teachings of Guevara and Debray relative to the struggle in Latin America must be critically evaluated.

Marxism-Leninism teaches, and all experience of the world’s working class, and oppressed peoples in struggle confirms that only through the unity of the working class of all lands, forged through the exercise of leadership and an overall guiding function on the part of powerful Marxist-Leninist parties, and through the unity of all non-proletarian classes and, strata behind that Marxist-Leninist proletarian vanguard in a mighty world anti-imperialist united front, can victory in the national-democratic revolution in the colonial-type lands be secured in such a way as to ensure that that victory leads:

Not to the development and consolidation, on however temporary or unstable a basis, of new, independent neo-capitalist states (which will merely substitute exploitation by the established imperialist oppressor nations for exploitation by the indigenous national bourgeoisie and so assist in increasing, again on however temporary or unstable a basis, the total arena and resources of the world capitalist system and to lengthen by a span of a few years or decades its bloodthirsty, profit hungry life);

But that that victory will lead instead to the weakening and restricting of its arena, resources and span of life, to the choking of the arteries feeding it with the super profits which are its very life blood, to the formation of a mighty and growing chain of national democratic and socialist revolutions encircling it with a steel ring of proletarian power which steadily suffocates and finally annihilates it.

In the developed countries, it is bureaucratic social democracy, reformism, revisionism of the right and trotskyism which constitute the chief weapons of the monopoly capitalist class in frustrating and diverting the potential or actual revolutionary energies of the working class and working people.

In the colonial-type lands, it is “left” and, where appropriate, “centrist” revisionism, likewise assisted by trotskyite disruption, which fulfill this function. Within this international apparatus of counter-revolutionary disruption, a certain clearly definable division of labour can be discerned.

It is the function of social democracy and reformism in the developed countries, and of liberal-anarchist ideas of spontaneous revolution in the colonial type areas of maximum exploitation, to act respectively as the instruments for undermining the unity of the class forces themselves, of the mass base, potential or actual, of the developing class struggle and/or revolutionary movements.

On the other hand, it is the function of revisionist teaching – in developed countries mainly of the right, and in colonial-type lands mainly of either “left” or “centrist” varieties – to weaken the struggle waged by the most advanced and class conscious proletarian elements to forge powerful, steeled and united Marxist-Leninist vanguard parties without which the socialist revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat remain mere empty dreams, vistas of mechanical scheming or the subjective projection of idle wishes.

In the relationship between mass base and vanguard, it is the vanguard which must first be establish even if only in embryo, if the whole revolutionary process in a given country is to develop into the structure of proletarian power capable of incepting and carrying through the socialist revolution directly in the case of the developed countries, through the intermediate stage of the national democratic revolution in the case of the colonial-type lands.

In both these types of revolution, a clear kinship exists between the older variants of bourgeois ideology typical of a capitalist class in the period of its youth, represented by liberal spontaneity and anarchistic insurrectionism of the Garibaldist or Blanquist type, and the more sophisticated right, “left” and “centrist”‘ variants of revisionism which form typical anti-proletarian ideological weapons of an aspiring capitalist class in an underdeveloped country which is struggling for ascendancy and independence within a world environment and under the conditions of an epoch in which capitalism is lying mortally sick upon its deathbed.

Both deny the revolutionary historical mission of the proletariat;

Both deny the need for the violent, forcible overthrow of the rule of the capitalist class – “left” revisionism advocating the use of armed force solely against the comprador, imperialist-orientated section of the capitalist class in a colonial-type country;

Both deny the need for the independent revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat armed with scientific Marxist-Leninist theory.

The petty bourgeois insurrectionist theories of Guevara and Debray form the logical inheritance and continuation of the classical ideas of spontaneous revolt first developed by the European bourgeoisie in the 19th century. The characterisation of the bourgeois ideological basis and antecedents of “left” revisionism contained in the Report of the CC of the MLOB, “Proletarian Internationalism: The Key to Victory in Anti-Imperialist Struggle and Socialist Revolution”, is as applicable to the unsuccessful, misapplied and naive variant of “left” revisionism concocted Guevara and Debray out of the historically superceded lees of liberal anarchist theories of spontaneous “uprisings of the freedom loving people” as ever it was to the more astute variant of “left” revisionism devised by Mao Tse-tung:

“When we consider the development of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Europe, we find that the petty bourgeoisie , played a generally analogous role to the one it later came to play in the colonial national democratic revolutions of the epoch of imperialism. . .the prime need (of the capitalist class – Ed.) was to hold in check the independent revolutionary class aspirations of the proletariat, and to harness its energies to the task of the bourgeois democratic revolution whilst simultaneously preventing them from leading to the fulfillment of the revolutionary aim of socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. In all the developing capitalist nations of Europe to which the bourgeois democratic revolution spread in 1848-9, therefore, the leading role was played by bourgeois or petty bourgeois leaders..

‘Leftist’ phraseology and the rabble-rousing slogans of anarchism are always and everywhere the essential disguise of rightism, of policies designed to assist and strengthen the class position and forces of the capitalist class in the face of the growing or potential offensive of the proletariat. . . . Just as the counterpart in practice of the utopian theories of Proudhon were the state sweatshops for the unemployed workers of Paris established by Louis Blanc, similarly Mao Tse-tung’s leftist battle-cries directed at the emerging and developing, but as yet immature, proletarian classes and their potential petty bourgeois allies in the colonial lands have their essential counterpart in the so-called- “Three-way Revolutionary Committees”, in which the long-discredited.utopia of the “union of capital and labour”, is dragged from the oblivion to which Marx condemned it…”

(Proletarian Internationalism: Report of the CC of the MLOB in “Red Front”, March/April 1968; p.vii)

With the defeat of this peculiarly Latin American revisionist hybrid, the same demagogic mantle of revisionist deception has fallen upon the shoulders of the “centrist” revisionists headed by the Castro clique, acting as a semi-independent “left”-wing of the Soviet neo-imperialism. If this new and perhaps even more, insidious ideological and political weapon of the national bourgeoisies of the Latin American states is to be exposed and defeated and the hegemony of the working class and of scientific Marxist-Leninist theory in the Latin American revolutionary movement secured, a persistent-and wide-ranging struggle must be waged by the Marxist-Leninists of all lands against it.

There are no short cuts to the socialist revolution. The struggle to develop and change man’s social practice, and the thought processes which consciously guide that practice, is a protracted and arduous one. In the course of this struggle, the development of conscious revolutionary thought and practice on the part of the most advanced and consistently revolutionary class produced by history, the proletariat, is characterised at all stages by the close interaction of theory and practice, culminating in the scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism and of its fundamental theoretical guide to action, dialectical-materialism, and their embodiment in the vanguard class party of the new type.

This final embodiment of the science of socialist revolution and of socialist revolution as a science, when theory and practice become so united as to be indivisibly fused together, is precisely what the “social scientists” of the bourgeoisie are most concerned to frustrate and disrupt by whatever means they find to hand inherited from the theories and practice of pre-scientific utopian or reformist schools – and amongst these modern “mystical schoolmen” of piecemeal reform or spontaneous revolt must be included not only such representatives of the right as Khruschev, Togliatti or Gollan, but also such leftist figures as Debray, Guevara and Castro.

The struggle to build the vanguard Leninist party of the proletariat involves such tasks as the inner-movement struggle within the revisionist and reformist parties and organisations, work amongst all sectors of the working population to win them for a common front of struggle, actions at the most basic level to build militant, class-orientated organisations where previously none existed, the achievement of a correct balance between legal and illegal, armed and political, forms of struggle, and so on. At every level, the process is an extremely complex and many-sided one. It is a test which only those who genuinely uphold, the cause of the working class and working people are prepared to stand.

That is why Guevara, Debray and others present such a disillusioned picture to the world once they enter from the realm of their subjective fantasies into the world of class reality. In their “theory” the peasantry existed as an idealised force which could do no wrong; the grim reality of the Bolivian adventure revealed besides Debray’s dilettantism, the fundamental scorn for the peasantry into which Guevara’s earlier idealism was transformed as a consequence of his inability to change that reality. The diaries, with their self-pitying descriptions of ignorant and suspicious peasants threatening to betray the self-styled advance guard of the revolution constitute an elitist petty bourgeois testament which marks a disgaceful end for those who had claimed to aspire so high. And it is perhaps from this last fact that the final lesson of the Guevara-Debray affair can be most clearly drawn: that the subjective desires of any aspiring revolutionary are less than nothing in value to the revolutionary cause and will be cast aside as such if they are not based on Marxist-Leninist scientific theory.

By Cmde M.S. For the MLOB;

Dated 1968

Source

A Few Comments on ‘Critical Notes on Political Economy’ by Che Guevara

CheMuleFull

Rafael Martinez

On the 40th Anniversary of the Assassination of Che Guevara by US Imperialism

Here we present a brief review of the book ‘Apuntes criticos a la Economia Politica’ (Critical Notes on Political Economy), consisting of various materials written by Ernesto Che Guevara, published by Ocean Press, Melbourne, Australia 2006 (in Spanish). This was published in conjunction with the ‘Centro de Estudios Che Guevara’ in Cuba, where the original documents are located. This book presents a collection of materials, most of which were unpublished and, therefore, represent a very important reference point for further scrutiny of Guevara’s economic thought.

It is convenient to warn the reader about our point of view with regard to the completeness of the materials selected by the editors. It is our firm belief that the published materials offer an incomplete reference point to Guevara’s overall view of political economy and that, if taken in isolation, these texts can help obliterate the essence of his economic thought and his contribution to the early stages of the economic reforms in Cuba. We hold the opinion that this publication does not contain all the available unpublished materials/notes on economic and philosophic topics that Guevara left us before taking off to Bolivia. Last, but not least, we call on the reader to see Guevara’s bare and sketchy language in the concrete historical context and circumstances in which Guevara was forced to scribble his thoughts. We find that a number of statements, especially those written by Guevara as comments to his readings, are not necessarily as clear as one would have hoped, leaving room for misinterpretation and misrepresentation of Guevara’s true intentions.

The book offers the following unpublished materials, which constitute, according to the editors, all the written materials left by Guevara with regard to his unfinished work for the publication of a manual of political economy. This manual of political economy would have been a response to the Soviet textbook of political economy with which he had already polemicised in public discussions:

  • Tentative plan
  • Prologue: the need of this book
  • Biographical sketch of Marx and Engels
  • 10 questions on the teachings of a famous book (referring to the Soviet textbook of Political Economy, Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Spanish edition 1963)

These are followed by a lengthy appendix, some materials of which were also unpublished. The appendix starts with a selection of critical notes (unpublished) on economic-philosophic Marxist works, which we believe is a rather incomplete set of notes, given the fact that Guevara presented himself as a rather methodical and critical person who, as we see in the book, loved to scribble his thoughts as he read. We are eager to see the rest of Guevara’s annotations, particularly those related to Lenin’s works on the New Economic Policy, Stalin’s work, ‘Economic Problems…’ and Mao’s ‘On the Correct Handling of Contradiction’ among others. We believe that these materials would be crucial to reconstruct a more cohesive picture of the later stage of Guevara’s economic thought.

In our view, in these unpublished works Guevara does not contradict any of the principles of his economic thoughts formulated earlier in his published articles that have been available to the public for over 40 years. While consistent with the most relevant tenets of ‘Guevarism’ in political economy, this text is a most valuable document that reveals some remaining obscure aspects of Guevara’s economic thought and evolution. This document is particularly revealing and assists us in gaining further insight into the heart of Guevarism and its distinct idiosyncrasy. It most definitely assists us in further refuting the theses of neo-Trotskyism with regard to Guevara’s economic thinking and philosophy, which try to reconcile his criticism of the post-Stalin Soviet economic model with their anti-Stalinism. On the other hand, this new document further corroborates and sheds additional light on the negative aspects of Guevara’s economic thought. As a matter of fact, as will be seen below, these documents help us gain additional insight on Guevara’s interpretation of the dialectical method and how this leads him to commit serious mistakes of principle. In conclusion, this new set of documents sheds very important light on crucial aspects of Guevara’s writings and it will be instrumental in building a more comprehensive picture of the revolutionary’s economic thought, both in its glory and its misery, in its apogee and its defeat. This document is a mandatory source for those who wish to comprehend the intricacies of Guevara’s thought and its implications on questions of political economy of the transitional society in the conditions of Latin America.

In the foreword written as an introduction to the political economy textbook he planned to write he synthesises his point of view with regard to the progress made in the political economy of the transitional society. The essential points put forward in the foreword are consistent with the spirit behind his critical notes, indicating that he had already arrived at the basic tenets of this economic thinking. This paragraph bears witness to Guevara’s overall viewpoint on the state of Marxism-Leninism:

‘The immense amount of writings that he [Lenin – our note] would leave after his death constituted an indispensable complement to the works of the founders [Marx and Engels – our note]. Then the source became weaker and only some isolated works of Stalin and some writings from Mao Tse Tung managed to stand out as a witness to the immense creative power of Marxism. In his last years Stalin sensed the results of this backwardness in theory and ordered the publication of a manual accessible to the masses that would deal with issues of political economy up to our days’ (in ‘The need for this book’, p. 30).

Guevara worked on the manual of political economy in the period 1965-1966 during his stays in Tanzania and Prague, after stepping down from office in Cuba. These materials bear excellent testimony to one of the most complex periods of the thinker in which he finally rejected the model of economic development pursued by the socialist camp at the time and had reached the stage at which he formulated his own interpretation of the theoretical sources of that economic practice. Guevara had reached a point at which he felt ready to formulate a list of theoretical and practical problems that he believed had not been addressed by Marxists at the time, as he had the firm belief that the state of theoretical development was not appropriate to the objective conditions imposed by the revolutionary process. To understand his state of mind it is most relevant to emphasise Guevara’s disillusionment with the economic reforms in Eastern Europe (and the Soviet Union for that matter), which he criticised most of all:

‘The solution that people want to give in Poland is the free development of the law of value, i.e. the return to capitalism. This solution had already been applied in the Polish countryside, where agriculture was de-collectivised; this year, due to drought and other natural adversities, Polish agriculture is in worse shape than before, has had more serious problems, in other words, the place where the economic calculus leads to … is solving the problems using the same system, by enhancing the material stimulus, the dedication of people to their material interest, leading, in a way, to the resurrection of categories that are strictly capitalist. This is something that has been happening for a while, which Poland is now trying and I think it is also being tried in other socialist countries’ (in ‘Annexes’, pp. 321-322).

In addition, Guevara was of the opinion that the reforms in Eastern Europe were of similar quality to those implemented in Yugoslavia, which Guevara refers to as aberrations due to mistakes of principles:

‘Poland is going along the Yugoslav path, of course; collectivisation is reverted, private property inland is reinstated, a new system of exchange is established and contacts are maintained with the United States. In Czechoslovakia and Germany the Yugoslav system is under study in order to apply it’ (in ‘Annexes’, pp. 404-405).

On the other hand, we are inclined to believe that Guevara would have disagreed with the assertion that there was capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies in the sense implied by Marxist-Leninists. On pages 380-381 of the present volume he seems to agree with Sweezy’s rebuttal of the Chinese thesis about the capitalist character of Yugoslavia, indicating that he would rather agree with the statement that ‘Yugoslavia is moving towards capitalism’.

By openly objecting to the essence of the economic reform in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, Guevara alienates himself from the mainstream economic thought at the time. In doing so he becomes critical not only of the present but also of the past and as it becomes clearer to us now, he arrived at the belief that at the source of these economic deviations stands Lenin’s attitude towards the economics of the transitional society and the first steps of the construction of socialism:

‘In the course of our practical and theoretical investigation we have a clear suspect, with name and surnames: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’ (in the ‘Prologue’, p. 31).

Guevara is most likely a victim of the ideological confusion of the time in Cuba, which, in conjunction with the lack of materials in Spanish translation, may have created the pre-conditions for arriving at some dreadful conclusions. One of the most shocking pieces revealed by this document is Guevara’s rebuttal of some of Lenin’s theses on the construction of socialism in the Soviet Union. In particular, Guevara does not understand Lenin’s call for the New Economic Policy and its role in the prospective of socialist transformations in a predominantly petty-bourgeois country. To blame Lenin for the restoration, or to be more exact according to Guevara’s reasoning, for the process of restoration of capitalism at the time in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe is a reflection, among other things, of Guevara’s failure to grasp Lenin’s dialectical approach to the solution of contradictions in the transitional society:

‘It is a real fact that all the juridical superstructure of the current Soviet society comes from the New Economic Policy; in this the old capitalist relations are preserved, the old categories of capitalism, i.e., commodities exist, to a certain extent, profit and the interest that the banks appropriate exist and, of course, there exists the direct material interest of the workers’ (ibid., in ‘Some thoughts about the socialist transition’, p. 11).

To blame the New Economic Policy for the right-wing character of the economic reforms of the post-Stalin period shows how little Guevara understood of the essence of the transformation of the economic categories inherited from capitalism that occurred in the Soviet Union during the periods of transition to socialism and communism. This major mistake in Guevara’s economic thought is due to a number of circumstances. We believe that his idealist mistakes are to blame for this blunder. We should also take into account the fact that he was not acquainted with the Soviet materials on political economy and philosophy of the Stalin period. We emphasise this fact also because he was certainly not the only one affected by this shortcoming. As a matter of fact it affects many of those who take Stalin’s Economic Problems in isolation from the economic practice of socialist construction that this crucial work is a generalisation of. Without access to this documentation it is extremely hard to make a case in favour of the qualitative change of the character of the economic categories in the practice of the Soviet Union in the Stalin period. Unfortunately, so far the wealth of economic and philosophical materials published in major Soviet journals of the revolutionary period still remains in Russian only. At the time when the economic discussions under Guevara’s leadership had reached their apogee, a number of various ideological trends were tolerated and even published in the official Cuban press. Needless to say, these trends had institutionalised the fact that their analysis of the economic history of the Soviet Union was based on pseudo-bourgeois if not utterly bourgeois sources and that for them questions of dialectics and the Marxist method are as much abstract notions as they are alien to a bourgeois thinker. With this we do not mean to exonerate or excuse Guevara’s fundamental mistakes; however, we believe that this circumstance, together with preconceptions and ideological prejudices that became overwhelming and ubiquitous in ideological discussions at the time in Cuba, may have played a role in the formation of Guevara’s views on political economy.

What seemed at the time to be a relative obvious statement to many in Cuba, including Guevara himself, that the existence of commodity-money relations in the Soviet Union was inherited from the period of the New Economic Policy, is no more than a reflection of sheer ignorance of the complexity of the economic reality of the transitional society.

Guevara went further when he stated that the New Economic Policy was a requirement particular to the social and economic reality of post-revolutionary Russia and that Cuba, or any other country facing the tasks of revolutionary transformations, does not necessarily need to implement these policies. This statement is in principle correct. However, we think that Guevara may have wanted to make the issue of the disappearance of commodity-money relations a question of socialist education, rather than a question of the maturity of the relations of production and the development of the productive forces. We have certain evidence that Guevara does not necessarily agree with the fundamental principle of the objective character of the economic laws of the transitional society. Guevara’s seemingly correct statement against the absolutisation of the New Economic Policy as an intermediate and necessary step to the transition to socialism, as advocated by modern revisionism, seems to be considered by him from idealist positions. Here lies the core of Guevara’s deviation from the principles of Marxist-Leninist political economy. This does not necessarily deny the value of his fight against the tenets of modern revisionism, but it places severe restrictions on the value of his economic thinking.

It is extremely interesting to note that Guevara is aware of the evolution of the Soviet manual after the death of Stalin. He recognised that the manual changed both in its structure and its orientation as the Soviet economic structure evolved.

‘This manual has been translated into many languages and several editions have been published, undergoing pronounced changes in its structure and orientation as changes took place in the Soviet Union’ (in ‘The need for this book’, p. 30).

Unfortunately, we lack further detail on this reasoning, which would be crucial in evaluating Guevara’s understanding of the history of the political economy of the Soviet Union. We believe we have a fair idea of Guevara’s point of view with regard to the change of orientation (at least along general lines, i.e. Stalin’s line for the suppression of commodity-money relations as opposed to their expansion under the revisionist economic model). But we are not particularly clear about what particular aspects of the economic policies in the 1950s he would refer to as a change in orientation, since the economic reforms of September 1953 onwards affected many aspects of the Soviet economic structure. As discussed above, we believe that Guevara does not necessarily understand the qualitative changes of the economic relations in Stalin’s period and the economic discussions that led to the first draft of the political economy textbook.

Nevertheless, to acknowledge an evolution in Soviet economic thinking at the time is very important in analysing the intricacies of Guevara’s own evolution and for the significance of his economic thought. It certainly reinforces the progressive aspect of his economic thinking with respect to what was widely accepted as a dogma by Trotskyite and neo-Trotskyite ideologists. Guevara does not subscribe to the dogma advocated by those who attacked and still attack the Soviet Union from ‘left’-wing revisionist positions, that allegedly Khrushchevism-Brezhnevism represents a continuation of what is usually referred to as Stalinism. According to this reasoning a rift is established between Leninism and ‘Stalinism’ and the latter is understood as a deviation or even its antithesis, and was perpetuated after Stalin’s death. They do not recognise a qualitative change in the economic policies in the 1960s compared to the political economy embodied in the policies of Stalin’s period. On the contrary, they view the economic evils of Soviet modern revisionism as a result of ‘Stalinist’ thinking. Nothing can be more absurd from the point of view of Marxism-Leninism, and Guevara is not afraid to polemicise with those who imply a rift between Lenin and Stalin, whether explicitly or implicitly, by rebutting the Soviet revisionists’ claims of Stalin’s mistakes:

‘In the alleged mistakes of Stalin lies the difference between a revolutionary attitude and a revisionist one. He sees the danger enclosed in market relations and tries to break with it, while the new leadership is curved by the pressure of the superstructure and promotes the action of market relations by theorising that the use of these economic mechanisms may lead to communism’ (in ‘10 questions on the teachings of a famous book’, p. 214).

It is well known that Guevara had an overall supportive attitude towards Stalin’s Economic Problems. However, the present text bears witness to the fact that he disagrees with some of the points raised by Stalin in this work. We will not elaborate more on this point since we would not be adding much of substance to what has already been said about the idiosyncrasy of Guevara’s economic thought. Nevertheless, it would probably be helpful to give a quote in which Guevara clearly states his position with regard to Trotsky and Trotskyism:

‘I think that the fundamental stuff that Trotsky was based upon was erroneous and that his ulterior behaviour was wrong and his last years were even dark. The Trotskyites have not contributed anything whatsoever to the revolutionary movement; where they did most was in Peru, but they finally failed there because their methods are bad’ (in ‘Annexes’, p. 402).

We do not want to mislead the reader into believing that ‘Guevarism’ is a form of vindication of ‘Stalinism’. While appreciating the revolutionary character of Stalin’s contribution to political economy and demonising the tenets of modern revisionism, he also appears quite critical of Stalin’s deeds. Guevara concludes the above paragraph by bluntly making a terrible accusation:

‘Few voices oppose him publicly, showing this way the huge historical crime of Stalin: to have despised communist education and to have established a stiff cult of personality’ (in ‘10 questions on the teachings of a famous book’, p. 214). 

Here Guevara manifests a lack of erudition and originality in perpetuating one of the most common criticisms of Stalin’s legacy. To talk about Stalin’s alleged contempt for communist education reflects a profound lack of knowledge of the history of the Soviet Union. It is factually incorrect and most likely reflects again the lack of translated materials and a general ignorance of everyday life in the Soviet Union. In essence Guevara echoes a rather superficial interpretation of the history of the Soviet Union, which is essentially divorced from the point of view and methodology of historical materialism. Revisionist ideologists, just like bourgeois historians, try to explain the essence of historical periods based on the personality of leaders and ascribe whatever prominent aspect of social life to them. Unfortunately, Guevara mechanically propagates subjective thinking into his economic analysis and discredits his image unnecessarily. It is unlikely that Guevara made a conscious effort to seriously evaluate the essence of such statements and to make a more objective analysis of Stalin’s period. Here, Guevara propagates anti-Marxist reasoning to substantiate one of the central tenets of his economic theory: the inclusion of consciousness into economic relations and therefore to consider consciousness as part of the object of political economy.

This aspect of Guevara’s economic thinking is well known and is repeated in these new materials on numerous occasions. In a letter to Fidel Castro, Guevara explicitly states something that we already expected as a result of the analysis of his published works. We were aware of strong similarities between Guevara’s striving for communist education and the Maoist interpretation of the role of consciousness in the relations of production:

‘Communism is a phenomenon of consciousness, one does not reach it by jumping into the vacuum, by a change in the quality of production, or by the simple clash between the productive forces and the relations of production. Communism is a phenomenon of consciousness and the consciousness of man has to be developed…’ (in ‘Some thoughts about the socialist transition’, p. 11).

It is worth noting that Guevara’s denunciation of Stalin’s alleged contempt for education is quite similar to Mao’s argument in his critique of Stalin’s Economic Problems:

‘Stalin’s book from first to last says nothing about the superstructure. It is not concerned with people; it considers things, not people. Does the kind of supply system for consumer goods help spur economic development or not? He should have touched on this at the least. Is it better to have commodity production or is it better not to? Everyone has to study this. Stalin’s point of view in his last letter [Reply to comrades A. V. Sanina and V. G. Venzher – editor’s note] is almost altogether wrong. The basic error is mistrust of the peasants’ (Mao Tse Tung, A Critique of Soviet Economics, Monthly Review Press, New York and London, 1977, p. 135).

This strongly suggests that this aspect of Guevara’s economic thinking is not original, as some experts of his work insistently argue. It is evident that this aspect of his thinking is the result of the influence of various ideological trends that circulated in Cuba at the time. It is clear to us that Guevara made a serious effort in the course of his investigation to disentangle complex questions of political economy. In doing so the spectrum of literature he was exposed to could not have been as broad as one would have hoped. Unfortunately, Guevara is driven by the prejudice propagated by many different revisionist trends outside the Soviet Union, and within it after Stalin’s death, that allegedly the economic thought at the time was characterised by dogmatism (on the other hand, we are unclear as to what exactly Guevara meant by dogmatism). While being progressive in the main, Guevara uncritically takes for granted what the Bettelheims and Sweezys propagated in Cuba without proof (speaking of dogmatic thinking…).

‘After a long lethargy, characterised by the most outright apologetic, the XXth Congress of the CPSU made a leap, but not forward; constrained by the dead end that the hybrid system led to and pressed by the superstructure, the Soviet leadership took steps backwards that were complemented by the new organisation of industry. The lethargy is followed by repression; both have the same dogmatic character’ (in ‘10 questions on the teachings of a famous book’, p. 213).

Guevara on Collectivisation

This topic is probably the one in which this document gives us the most additional insight into Guevara’s economic thought. Guevara’s views on collectivisation are not really covered in the published materials available to us. One could only guess that for the sake of internal consistency Guevara would have advocated for a progressive stand with regard to the role of the state and the main relations of production in the countryside and his attitude with regard to modern revisionism on this question. It is fascinating to see confirmed this initial view that Guevara opposed the selling of the machine tractor stations to the collective farms. This policy had become default at the time of the Cuban revolution and was one of the most important aspects of the agrarian program of the revisionists around the world and was very much supported and even imposed by the Soviet revisionists.

It seems probable that Guevara was unaware of the fact that the Chinese leadership also advocated these policies at the time. According to various biographers of Guevara, at some point the contradiction between his economic policies and those instigated by the Soviet revisionists became so acute that the latter started to accuse Guevara of deviationism (Trotskyism, in particular) and that he in turn allegedly rebutted those accusations by arguing that if anything, he was closer to the Chinese with regard to the controversy. We do not want to debate the accuracy of the eyewitness’ accounts on which these authors based their assumptions about Guevara’s Maoism. What is clear to us, however, is that Guevara fundamentally deviates from mainstream Maoism on this question, probably without really knowing it.

Guevara raises one point correctly. It is a well-known fact that the relative weight of strictly private agricultural production of peasants was dropping with respect to the overall output of the collective farms, as reported by the Soviets at that time. This was due to the natural evolution created by the growing disparity of labour productivity between mechanised and manual labour and the fact that capital investment in general favoured the former for obvious reasons. Guevara is right in pointing to the fact that, at some point in the development of the collective system of production, the contradiction between the people’s property and the kolkhoz is not determined by the fraction of the means of production made up of private property of individual peasants.

‘Private property is being eliminated within the kolkhoz and, moreover the relative weight of collective property becomes overwhelming, but even if it was 100% the main issue still remains, the contradiction between the people’s property and the collective property’ (in ‘10 questions on the teachings of a famous book’, p. 185).

Here Guevara addresses the general problem of the contradiction between collective property and socialised property as a problem per se, which always remains as long as collective property has not merged into the property of the whole people. If put into historical perspective, Guevara’s attitude represents a great step forward with respect to the character of the agrarian reforms fostered by modern revisionism. Here Guevara is aware of a basic element in the Marxist-Leninist approach to the resolution of contradictions between the city and the countryside, contradictions that modern revisionism tried to obliterate and reduce to a question of the different level of development of the forces of production and productivity. Guevara correctly disagrees with such a postulate, thus reinforcing the overall progressive character of his economic thought. This is further strengthened by Guevara’s open rebuttal of one of the biggest attacks on socialism by the Soviet revisionists, namely, the selling of the machine tractor stations from the state to the collective farms in the late 1950s. After a section of the revisionist manual of political economy devoted to substantiating the selling of the machine tractor stations, Guevara writes:

‘This is a concrete example of the contradictions that become antagonistic between the social property and the individual collectivity. The MTS [Machine Tractor Stations – editor’s note] may have had bureaucratic deviations, but the superstructure imposed its solution: more autonomy, more wealth of their own’ (in ‘10 questions on the teachings of a famous book’, p. 187).

Nevertheless, one must always be careful with Guevara’s formulations. In fact, even though Guevara’s attitude to the revisionist plans for agriculture is overall progressive, one can never be cautious enough when dealing with this writings. Below we find a paragraph that may indicate that Guevara probably made his criticism for the wrong reasons:

‘Before, the need for commodity forms was explained by the existence of different forms of property. In practice the kolkhoz property acts as antagonist to the directly social property and therefore, the double character of labour is similar to that in capitalism. The double character of labour would disappear if this antagonism ceased to exist’ (in ‘10 questions on the teachings of a famous book’, p. 159).

The first sentence is not controversial. Guevara simple states that under Stalin the persistence of commodity categories in socialism was understood as a result of the presence of two forms of property under socialism: socialised or state property and collective property or the kolkhoz. Unfortunately, Guevara addresses the relationship between the collective property and socialised property as antagonistic. We cannot agree with this as a general statement. In the conditions of the restoration of capitalism the relationship between the state (no more socialised) and collective property is antagonistic and it definitely becomes similar to that in the countries of classical capitalism. However, as long as the state property is socialised, i.e., loosely speaking, the means of production is in the hands of the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat (regardless of the level of the development of the productive forces and the effective level of socialisation of the process of production), the relationship between the former and the kolkhoz system is not antagonistic. This type of statement is equivalent to saying that the relationship between the working class and the peasantry is a relationship of antagonism, which is definitely not true in the conditions of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Therefore, the double character of labour in the socialist system or in the transitional society is not driven by a relationship of antagonism.

Here one could argue that Guevara was implying that capitalist relations had been restored in the Soviet Union. He probably would have agreed to some extent with that statement. As a matter of fact, in the text of ‘10 questions on the teachings of a famous book’ he bluntly objects to the concept of the state of the whole people, a concept that was officially supported in the Soviet Union at the time, which clearly implies that he believed the dictatorship of the proletariat had been disbanded for good. Given the extent of Guevara’s criticism of the reforms in Eastern Europe and the fact that he openly talked about these as a regression with respect to earlier practices, one might be inclined to believe that perhaps Guevara was implying that capitalist relations had been restored to some extent in the countries of the former People’s Democracies and the Soviet Union. This might be the case, however, and very unfortunately, Guevara made the statement above in a general sense, as opposed to the case of the revisionist system alone. We are able to disentangle this by means of a short paragraph in the ‘Annexes’ written following a famous quote from Lenin’s On Cooperation that we insert here for the reader’s benefit:

‘By adopting NEP we made a concession to the peasant as a trader, to the principle of private trade; it is precisely for this reason (contrary to what some people think) that the co-operative movement is of such immense importance. All we actually need under NEP is to organise the population of Russia in co-operative societies on a sufficiently large scale, for we have now found that degree of combination of private interest, of private commercial interest, with state supervision and control of this interest, that degree of its subordination to the common interests which was formerly the stumbling-block for very many socialists. Indeed, the power of the state over all large-scale means of production, political power in the hands of the proletariat, the alliance of this proletariat with the many millions of small and very small peasants, the assured proletarian leadership of the peasantry, etc. – is this not all that is necessary to build a complete socialist society out of co-operatives, out of co-operatives alone, which we formerly ridiculed as huckstering and which from a certain aspect we have the right to treat as such now, under NEP? Is this not all that is necessary to build a complete socialist society? It is still not the building of socialist society, but it is all that is necessary and sufficient for it.” (V.I. Lenin, On Cooperation Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966, Vol. 33, pp. 467-468.)

To which Guevara, to our despair, bluntly objects:

‘I think this is a wrong conception. The fundamental mistake is to think that the collective character is above its private character, something that practice has ruled out. The cooperative is the result of an economic need; there is a class force behind it and its consolidation and to acknowledge it is to strengthen the class that Lenin so feared’ (in ‘Annexes’, p. 241).

Unfortunately, this reasoning is far from Marxist and reflects once again Guevara’s shallow understanding of dialectical materialism, without which a consistently Marxist treatment of political economy is simply not possible. Guevara is basically telling us, consciously or unconsciously, that the political union between the working class and the peasantry is not viable, even under the conditions of the dictatorship of the proletariat, by asserting that the collective sector acts as a private producer with respect to the socialised system. And if one reads his words literally one would have to conclude that Guevara does not see the progressive character of cooperation, however complex or simple, in the process of construction of the socialist economy. We are not even sure if Guevara thought carefully enough about the implications of such a statement.

Guevara on Mao

The present document sheds some light on the question of Guevara’s attitude towards Mao in a very revealing but brief passage, which touches upon a very important question in dialectical materialism. In particular, and possibly unconsciously, Guevara deals with one of the most distinct characteristics of Mao’s understanding of the interrelation of opposites in dialectical materialism. A more detailed analysis of this question has revealed a lot about the true essence of Mao’s understanding of the role of contradiction and equilibrium. Due to the lack of material the conclusions drawn here with regard to Guevara’s attitude towards Mao in general, and with respect to this aspect in particular, need to be taken with a grain of salt.

The revisionist conception of the role of commodity-money relations is ultimately related to questions of dialectical materialism, such as the role of contradiction and equilibrium. It is no coincidence to see both aspects linked one way or the other in the analysis of the political economy of modern revisionism. Conversely, we would expect that Guevara would have a well-defined attitude toward the question of contradiction and equilibrium in dialectics for consistency sake, due to the progressive character of Guevara’s conception of the political economy of the transitional society. As a matter of fact the analysis of Guevara’s economic thought indicates a well-defined system of thought, not always correct, but at least self-consistent. One excellent example of self-consistency is Guevara’s negative attitude toward selling the machine tractor stations to the collective farms, as discussed in the previous section.

Before moving to the citation per se, it is relevant to emphasise our lack of understanding of Guevara’s attitude towards the Chinese CP at the time of the controversy with the Soviets. The present document confirms accounts by various biographers of Guevara’s positive attitude towards Mao. And rightly so, as already mentioned above:

‘…Then the source became weaker and only … some writings from Mao Tse Tung managed to stand out as a witness to the immense creative power of Marxism’ (in ‘The need for this book’, p. 30).

As pointed out in the section on Guevara’s stand toward collectivisation, he fundamentally departs from the mainstream stand on this question advocated by the Chinese at the time. It is clear that he opposed the selling of the main means of production to the communes and, if he had a chance, he would have probably rejected the policies of self-reliance that Chinese agrarian policies were based upon. We have no evidence at this point whether Guevara had a chance to analyse the Chinese policies in the countryside and whether he had the opportunity to develop a debate with Chinese officials on this matter. We do have accounts of intense discussion with Soviet and Eastern European economists, especially Czechoslovaks, but we do not seem to have accounts of similar contacts with the Chinese. We are also aware of Guevara’s criticism directed at the Polish leadership. We believe that Guevara would have favoured the Chinese in the Sino-Soviet controversy given his critical attitude toward the Soviets in general and the new economic reforms in particular, which he calls revisionist. But it is not clear to what extent Guevara would have supported the economic policies of the Chinese leadership during the post-Stalin period. We simply lack any evidence. In this respect, it is also relevant to bear in mind that the ideological confusion reigning in the international communist movement at the time (the true nature of modern revisionism was not yet fully understood) had a strong impact on Guevara’s reasoning. The analysis of Guevara’s economic thought shows that he was also a victim of this ideological confusion.

The citation under study in this section belongs to a comment of Guevara allegedly written next to a number of paragraphs of Mao’s On Contradiction. This complicated section of the document needs to be understood within a historical context and, of course, within the context of the pamphlet in its entirety, as Mao’s paragraph quoted by the editors is not even necessarily relevant to Guevara’s footnote. The implications of Guevara’s citation go far beyond the particular topic discussed in the paragraphs of On Contradiction that the editors of the book have chosen to publish, for understandable reasons, as will be discussed below. Guevara writes:

‘… For the Chinese the fundamental contradiction lies between imperialism and the oppressed world, because the latter are the basis for the existence of imperialism. Imperialism can exist without socialism but not without the exploitation of the peoples where the main struggle is for the people’s liberation. On the other hand, there can be no equilibrium between antagonistic opposites [our emphasis]; the socialist countries are antagonistic opposites of the imperialist countries; although they represent a solution of an earlier contradiction (exploited and exploiters) on a national scale, they do not solve the contradiction on an international scale’ (in ‘Annexes’, p. 243).

Guevara’s citation is open to all sorts of speculation. Needless to say, our analysis is for obvious reasons not necessarily unbiased. There are two relevant aspects that we deem necessary to comment on here. Firstly, Guevara points out the position of the Chinese with regard to what they believe are the main contradiction in the class struggle. Guevara voices one of the points that Mao insisted on in his work On Contradiction, that of the existence of a principal aspects of the contradiction, which determines the character of the contradiction and its most important manifestations:

‘Of the two contradictory aspects, one must be the principal and the other the secondary. The principal aspect is the one that plays the leading role on the contradiction. The quality of the thing is mainly determined by the principal aspect of the contradiction that has taken the dominant position’ (Mao Tse-Tung, On Contradiction, International Publishers, New York, 1953, p. 36).

While Mao’s analysis of the role of imperialism in China in On Contradiction is overall correct, the exaggeration of the contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nations, between rich and poor, eventually assisted the Chinese leadership in supporting and further developing the anti-Marxist theory of the three worlds (which by the way was not an invention of the Chinese leadership). To argue that the main contradiction is the antagonistic contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nations, in the historical conditions of China at the time when the pamphlet was written, is correct. However, to exaggerate the dominant role of this contradiction by idealising and absolutising that relationship unavoidably leads revisionism to disregard the antagonistic class relations between the national bourgeoisie and the oppressed people, to disregard the internal contradictions, as secondary and therefore not relevant, following Mao’s stiff attitude toward secondary contradictions. This idealisation leads to the schematic representation of the division of the world into three types of countries, regardless of social formation, which is anti-Marxist in its core. By idealising the relationship between imperialism and the oppressed nations, between rich and poor nations, such relationships are ripped off their class character and turned into classless concepts, as classless as the mechanical division of the world of exploited and exploiters into the three worlds.

It is not clear to us what Guevara is actually implying by his remark. We do not even know if this conclusion is biased by discussions with Chinese comrades at the time or if it is just an overall comment on the pamphlet, written for his own benefit. Most likely Guevara agrees with the statement. Nevertheless and secondly, what is of particular relevant in our analysis is Guevara’s statement that ‘there can be no equilibrium between antagonistic oppositess, which we find truly remarkable, for the lack of a better word.

In order to appreciate the relevance of Guevara’s statement it is necessary to recall the specifics of Mao’s understanding of the role of contradiction and the dynamics that determine the interaction between the opposites in that contradiction. In contrast to the classical Marxist-Leninist understanding of the concept of qualitative and quantitative change, Mao introduces two forms of movement in On Contradiction:

‘The movement of all things assumes two forms: the form of relative rest and the form of conspicuous change. Both forms of movement are caused by the mutual struggle of the two contradictory factors contained in a thing itself. When the movement of a thing assumes the first form, it undergoes only a quantitative but not a qualitative change, and consequently appears in a state of seeming rest… Such unity, solidarity, amalgamation, harmony, balance, stalemate, deadlock, rest, stability, equilibrium, coagulation, attraction, as we see in daily life, are all the appearance of things in the state of quantitative change’ (On Contradiction, p. 48).

According to Mao, there exist two types of motions, through which qualitative and quantitative changes manifest themselves. Qualitative changes take place through more or less violent motions and quantitative changes take place through relatively slow motions. From the point of view of a purely mechanical approach with regard to, for example, the transition of matter from one state into another and vice-versa, this reasoning would not necessarily provoke strong objections. However, Mao’s reasoning does have serious implications generally speaking, and in particular turns the Marxist-Leninist understanding of the dynamics of the opposites of contradictions into a theory of mechanical equilibrium between them, which is broken when antagonistic contradictions are resolved through qualitative changes or upheavals. According to this reasoning, the accumulation of quantitative changes is viewed from the point of view of harmony among the opposites of the contradiction. Harmony is broken when qualitative changes occur; harmony, however, is the form through which the interrelation of the opposites of the contradiction manifests itself between periods of upheavals. This mechanical interpretation of the understanding of the interrelation between quantitative and qualitative changes is not an innovation of Mao. As a matter of fact, this type of thinking had been extensively developed and applied to the theory of class struggle and political economy by Bogdanov and Bukharin in the Soviet Union.

To understand Bogdanovism and how his theory of equilibrium was adapted by Bukharin to questions of the political economy of the transitional society is crucial to comprehend the theories of market socialism advocated by modern revisionism. Bogdanov was one of the objects of criticism by Lenin in Materialism and Empirio-Criticism and Stalin fought all this life against remnants of Bukharinism in political economy. In essence, the basic philosophical and theoretical tenets of modern revisionism are inspired by Bogdanov’s postulates formulated in his work Universal Science of Organisation – Tektology (1913-1922). Tektology has been highly praised by bourgeois scholars as a precursor of a whole trend of bourgeois ‘natural philosophy of organisation in complex systems’. As Bogdanov put it, ‘the aim of Tektology is the systematisation of organised complexes’ through the identification of universal organisational principles: ‘all things are organisational, all complexes could only be understood through their organisational character’. The starting point of Bogdanov’s Tektology was that nature has a general, organised character, with one set of laws of organisation for all objects. Two aspects of Bogdanov’s contributions were central in the development of the first theories of right-wing revisionist political economy in the 1920s: first, Bogdanov’s metaphysical concept of the law of organisation of a complex system (i.e. the economy of the transitional society) through the identification of universal organisational principles; secondly, the need for equilibrium of the complex system and the environment. Bogdanov believed he had developed a more complex conception of equilibrium, different from the purely mechanical conception, which considered that any complex system should correspond to its environment and adapt to it. But in practice Bogdanov’s postulates were implemented by a trend of Soviet economists in the 1920s, including Bukharin as the leading member of the future right-wing opposition to the plans for massive collectivisation and the gradual liquidation of commodity-money relations in the Soviet economy. In the 1920s the concept of ‘law of labour expenses’ circulated among wide circles of Soviet economists. This concept was exposed at the time as no more and no less than the law of value, dressed up in the form of the Bogdanovite law of organisation of a complex system. The law of labour expenses, according to Bukharin, would be a general law (applicable to all historical epochs and modes of production) that establishes the proportions of labour. In the modes of production based on commodity-money relations, the law of value would be the manifestation of this general law. Under socialism, according to Bukharin, the law of labour expenses would act ‘naked’ without using the form of the law of value. In the end, the regulator of labour exchange under socialism would be the principle of exchange of equal labour (values in the commodity economy). In essence, Bukharin propagated the use of the law of value as the regulator of the proportions of labour in the socialist economy, which is a mercantilist approach to the questions of political economy of the transitional society. The observation of the ‘law of labour expenses’ provides proportionality and, therefore, the necessary equilibrium of the complex system. Bukharin’s energetic opposition to the policies of collectivisation and massive industrialisation was based on the belief that the economic disproportions created by the systematic violation of the ‘law of labour expenses’ (i.e. the law of value) would disturb this abstract concept of economic equilibrium. The theories of market socialism that emerged after the Great Patriotic War and became the official theoretical foundation of the new regime after Stalin’s death is just a sophisticated version of Bogdanov/Bukharin’s ‘law of labour expenses’.

It is not within the scope of the present article to deal with this question in detail. This topic will be covered in more depth in the near future. Nevertheless what is relevant to the present discussion is to point out that Mao’s On Contradiction opens the way to conceiving the concept of harmony of opposites. These features of Mao’s philosophical thinking blossom further and adopt openly revisionist manifestations in a later work, On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People in 1957, in which the harmony of the proletariat and the national bourgeoisie is considered feasible. It is very possible that Guevara was also acquainted with this later work of Mao, as it had become one of Mao’s most publicised works, especially at the time when Maoism was emerging as an ideological trend independent of mainstream revisionist ideology. The fact that Guevara explicitly denies the possibility of harmony of opposites strongly indicates that he was acquainted with this work.

By this we do not want to imply that Guevara had reached a point in his theoretical investigations at which he was in a position to systematically expose the tenets of what’s known today as the theory of Maoism. On the contrary, Guevara agrees with Mao on the role of ideology in the political economy of socialism. Their conceptions of the object of political economy in the transitional society do not differ significantly in their essence. It is in this aspect where Guevara’s economic theory stumbles into serious problems. This central shortcoming of Guevara’s economic thought prevents him from fully and consistently grasping the theory of political economy developed by Lenin and Stalin.

Within the context of the quotation under scrutiny, Guevara is obviously protesting against the theory of peaceful coexistence between what he refers to as socialist countries and imperialism. While internal antagonistic contradictions were in the main resolved by the socialist revolutions, the class contradictions between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie continue mainly under the form of the antagonistic relationship between socialism and imperialism. As a matter of fact, internal contradictions are intimately connected to the antagonistic relations with the imperialist world.

The citation presented above is followed by a hopelessly wrong and rather absurd sentence, to say the very least:

‘Finally, the law of uneven development is a law of nature, not of the dominant social system; therefore, the socialist countries also develop unevenly, which transforms itself through commerce into unequal exchange, or in other words, into the exploitation of some socialist countries by others.’

This sentence is not necessarily relevant to the above discussion. However, we bring this quotation up to make more evident the fact that our investigation on the heart of Guevara’s thought is far from understood and is plagued with pitfalls and inconsistencies. This statement is a blemish on the reputation of Guevara’s thought. To state that the uneven development of socialist countries is a necessary economic law is consistent with stating that the development of socialism spontaneously engenders exploitation of man by man, and therefore, the construction of communism is a hopeless illusion and lacks scientific substantiation both philosophically and from the point of view of political economy. Let us hope for the best, that Guevara was just being sarcastic. Unfortunately, whether this was the case or whether he was trying to make a point will probably remain a mystery to us.

Source

Helen Yaffe – Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara: A Rebel against Soviet Political Economy

Che_SClara

Helen Yaffe is author of Che Guevara: The Economics of Revolution 

In January 1962 Guevara told colleagues in Cuba’s Ministry of Industries (MININD): ‘In no way am I saying that financial autonomy of the enterprise with moral incentives, as it is established in the socialist countries, is a formula which will impede progress to socialism’.[1] He was referring to the economic management system applied in the Soviet bloc, known in Cuba as the Auto-Financing System (AFS). By 1966, in his critique of the Soviet Manual of Political Economy, he concluded that the USSR: ‘is returning to capitalism.'[2] This paper will demonstrate that Guevara’s analysis developed in the period between these two statements as a result of three lines of enquiry: the study of Marx’s analysis of the capitalist system, engagement in socialist political economy debates and recourse to the technological advances of capitalist corporations.[3] At the same time Guevara was engaged in the practical experience of developing the Budgetary Finance System (BFS); an alternative apparatus for economic management in MININD.

Guevara was head of the Department of Industrialisation and President of the National Bank in 1960 when all financial institutions and 84% of industry in Cuba were nationalised. His BFS emerged as a practical solution to problems thrown up by the transition from private to state ownership of industrial production. Cuba had an unbalanced, trade dependent economy dominated by foreign interests, principally from the United States. The production units which passed under the Department’s jurisdiction ranged from artisan workshops to sophisticated energy plants. Many faced bankruptcy while others were highly profitable. Guevara’s solution was twofold: first, to group entities of similar lines of production into centralised administrative bodies called Consolidated Enterprises. This allowed the Department to control the allocation of scarce administrative and technical personnel following the exodus of 65-75% of managers, technicians and engineers after 1959; and second, to centralise the finances of all production units into one bank account for the payment of salaries, to control investment and sustain production in essential industries which lacked financial resources. With the establishment of MININD in February 1961, the BFS evolved into a comprehensive apparatus which embedded these organisational structures in a Marxist theoretical framework, to foster Cuba’s industrialisation, increase productivity and institutionalise collective management.

Advanced technology

Guevara set up the BFS with compañeros who understood the internal accounting practices, administrative centralisation and productive concentration of US corporations and their subsidiaries in Cuba. Guevara examined the documentation from these companies as they fell into state hands. He was impressed with their management structures, the use of centralised bank accounts and budgets, determinate levels of responsibility and decision-making, and departments for organisation and inspection.[4] He told colleagues that the BFS had an accounting system similar to the pre-1959 monopolies operating in Cuba, with their efficient control systems: ‘it’s not important who invented the system. The accounting system that they apply in the Soviet Union was also invented under capitalism.'[5]  

Guevara first travelled to the USSR in 1960. His deputy Orlando Borrego recalled that they visited an electronics factory which did accounts by abacus. Having studied the US-owned Cuban Electricity Company, Shell, Texaco and other corporations which used the latest IBM accounting machines, Guevara was struck by the backwardness of Soviet techniques. He believed that advances achieved by humanity should be adopted without fear of ideological contamination.

With the imposition of the US blockade, Cuba was forced to buy factories from the socialist countries, especially the USSR. This assistance was essential, but the relative backwardness of the equipment clashed with Guevara’s desire for advanced technology transfers. He did not criticise the Soviets for this backwardness per se. Rather, he complained about the contradiction between the high level of research and development in military technology and low investment applied to civilian production. He objected to their ideological resistance to appropriating advances made in the capitalist world. This was a costly mistake in terms of development and international competitiveness.[6] For example: ‘For a long time cybernetics was considered a reactionary science or pseudo-science… [but] it is a branch of science that exists and should be used’.[7] He added that in the US the application of cybernetics in industry had resulted in automation – an important productive development.

Basing a management system for socialist transition on capitalist technology was consistent with Marx’s stages theory of history, which predicted that communism would emerge from the fully developed capitalist mode of production. Marx showed how the tendency to concentration of capital, that is, to monopoly, was inherent in the system. Therefore, the monopoly form of capitalism was more advanced than ‘perfect competition’. The Soviet system originated from predominantly underdeveloped, pre-monopoly capitalism. A socialist economic management system emerging from monopoly capitalism could be more advanced, efficient and productive. The origin of the BFS was the multinational corporations of pre-1959 Cuba and it was therefore more progressive than the AFS which was adapted from pre-monopoly Russian capitalism.

Marx’s analysis of the law of value

While Guevara argued for the adoption of advanced technology he opposed the use of capitalist mechanisms to determine production and consumption. He challenged the Soviet’s reliance on capitalist categories to organise the socialist economy, particularly the operation of the law of value. The dispute about the law of value in transition economies is central to the question about the feasibility of constructing socialism in a country without a fully developed capitalist mode of production. It is integral to problems of accumulation, production, distribution and social relations. Communism implies a highly productive society in which conditions exist for distribution of the social product based on need, not surplus-generating labour time. However, the countries which have experimented with socialism have been underdeveloped, lacking the productive base for the material abundance implied by communism. The Soviet solution was to rely on the operation of the law of value to hasten the development of the productive forces, applying the profit motive, interest, credit, individual material incentives and elements of competition to promote efficiency and innovations. Guevara argued that these were not the only levers for fostering development. The BFS was the expression of his search for an apparatus to increase productive capacity and labour productivity without relying on capitalist mechanisms which undermine the formation of new consciousness and social relations integral to communism.

Between 1963 and 1965 these questions were examined in Cuba during the Great Debate on socialist transition. To the extent that commodity production and exchange through a market mechanism continued to exist after the Revolution in Cuba, it was clear to all participants in the Great Debate that the law of value continued to operate. The social product continued to be distributed on the basis of work done. However, the disagreements were about the conditions explaining the law’s survival, its sphere of operation, the extent to which it regulated production, how it related to the ‘plan’ and whether the law of value should be utilised or undermined, and if so, how. This discussion was linked to practical questions such as how enterprises should be organised, how workers should be paid and whether goods should be exchanged between state enterprises as commodities.

Guevara agreed that the law of value remained under socialism but argued that measures taken by the Revolution to undermine the capitalist market meant that the law could not serve as the dynamic catalyst to productivity and efficiency in the same way as it did under capitalism.[8] Socialisation of the means of production and distribution had ‘blunted’ the tools of capitalism.[9] Marx described a commodity as a good which changes ownership, from the producer to the consumer. Consistent with this definition, Guevara insisted that products transferred between state-owned enterprises did not constitute commodities because when they were transferred from one state factory to another there was no change in ownership. The state itself should be considered as one big enterprise.[10] For Guevara commodity-exchange relations between factories threatened transition, via ‘market socialism’, to capitalism. He stressed central planning and state regulation as substitutes to such mechanisms.

The Soviet’s argued that commodity production, the law of value, and money would disappear only when communism was achieved, but that to reach that stage it was necessary to use and develop the law of value as well as monetary and mercantile relationships. Guevara disagreed:

‘Why develop? We understand that the capitalist categories are retained for a time and that the length of this period cannot be predetermined, but the characteristics of the period of transition are those of a society that is throwing off its old bonds in order to move quickly into the new stage. The tendency should be, in our opinion, to eliminate as fast as possible the old categories, including the market, money, and, therefore, material interest – or, better, to eliminate the conditions for their existence.'[11]

For Guevara the task was not to use the law of value nor even hold it in check, but to define its sphere of operation and make inroads to undermine it – to work towards its abolition, not limitation. He developed many policies within the BFS to attempt just that.[12] In February 1964, Guevara concluded: ‘We deny the possibility of consciously using the law of value, basing our argument on the absence of a free market that automatically expresses the contradiction between producers and consumers… The law of value and planning are two terms linked by a contradiction and its resolution.'[13] For Guevara, centralised planning was the fundamental characteristic of socialist society. He conceded only: ‘the possibility of using elements of this law [of value] for comparative purposes (cost, “profit” expressed in monetary terms)’.[14]

The protagonists in Cuba were well-informed about the broader debate on incentives and financial autonomy contemporaneously underway in the eastern European socialist countries – a response to the problems of economic stagnation, low productivity and efficiency, particularly in comparison with economic growth in the developed capitalist world.  In July 1964 Guevara told colleagues that he had been reading analyses from the socialist bloc, including the resolutions of the 14th Congress of the Polish Communist Party: ‘The solution that they are proposing for these problems in Poland is the complete freedom of the law of value; that is to say, a return to capitalism.'[15] Commenting on the push to ‘liberalise’ the socialist economies Guevara said: ‘The theory is failing because they have forgotten Marx’.[16] Instead of Capital, the Soviet Manual of Political Economy had been turned into a bible.

Marx characterised the psychological or philosophical manifestation of capitalist social-relations as alienation and antagonism; the result of the commodification of labour and the operation of the law of value. For Guevara, the challenge was to replace the individuals’ alienation from the productive process, and the antagonism generated by class relations, with integration and solidarity, developing a collective attitude to production and the concept of work as a social duty. Capitalist competition created the drive to increase productivity through technological innovations and increasing exploitation. Alienation and antagonism increase with productivity. Under socialism, the development of the productive forces could be less accelerated, but it should be accompanied by a growth of consciousness. For Guevara, efforts to change consciousness must be incorporated into socialist transition at the earliest stage.

Critique on the Soviet Manual of Political Economy

In April 1965, Guevara left Cuba to lead a Cuban military mission in the Congo. The guerrillas were defeated and Guevara stayed in Tanzania and the Czech Republic between 1965 and 1966 where he began work on a comprehensive analysis of the political economy of socialist transition. In preparation for this work, Guevara took notes on the Soviet Manual, applying his theoretical arguments expounded in the Great Debate to that text. The notes were not written for publication, nor brought together as text. They were comments responding to specific paragraphs of the Manual; notes to himself, including indications of areas for further study.[17]  

Guevara criticised the Manual’s mechanistic adaptation of classical Marxist conceptions of class relations between the bourgeoisie and the working class, without considering the effects of imperialism which created a privileged working class in the advanced capitalist countries as well as beneficiary sectors in the exploited nations. He denounced as opportunism the Manual’s attempts to air-brush the inherent violence of class struggle integral to the transition from capitalism to socialism.

Turning to the period of transition, Guevara argued that the USSR’s Kolkhoz collective farm system was not a characteristic of socialism and that cooperatives were not a socialist form of ownership – they generated a capitalistic superstructure which clashed with state ownership and socialist social relations imposing their own logic over society. Guevara systematically refuted the so-called laws of socialism cited by the Manual, particularly the law of constant rising worker productivity – which he called an outrage: ‘It is the tendency that has driven capitalism for centuries.'[18]  He condemned as ‘dangerous’ the Soviet’s policy of peaceful co-existence and economic emulation with the advanced capitalist countries and pointed to serious disagreements between the socialist countries, blaming them on unequal exchange and the imposition of capitalist categories in trade relations.[19]

While declaring his daring, respect, admiration and revolutionary motives, Guevara announced that Lenin was the ultimate culprit because the New Economic Policy (NEP) which he had been forced to introduce in 1921 imposed a capitalist superstructure on the USSR. The NEP was not installed against small commodity production, Guevara stated, but at the demand of it. Small commodity production holds the seeds of capitalist development. He was certain that Lenin would have reversed the NEP had he lived longer. However, Lenin’s followers: ‘did not see the danger and it remained as the great Trojan horse of socialism, direct material interest as an economic lever.'[20] This capitalist superstructure became entrenched, influencing the relations of production and creating a hybrid system of socialism with capitalist elements that inevitably provoked conflicts and contradictions which were increasingly resolved in favour of the superstructure – capitalism was returning to the Soviet bloc.[21]

Guevara’s notes offer a profound criticism of Soviet political economy. He himself warned that some would misinterpret his proposed work as rabid anti-communism disguised as theoretical argument, but asserted that the inability of bourgeois economics to criticise itself, pointed out by Marx at the beginning of Capital, was seen in contemporary Marxism. He dedicated his work to Cuban students who go through the painful process of learning ‘eternal truths’ in eastern European manuals. He concluded that: Humanity faces many shocks before final liberation, but we cannot arrive there without a radical change in the strategy of the first most important socialist powers.[22]

Conclusion

This paper has summarised the analysis which led Guevara to forewarn the collapse of socialism in the socialist bloc. He made an important contribution to both the theory and practice of constructing socialism. He hoped to persuade socialist countries to gradually replace capitalist mechanisms during transition and offered alternative policies to serve this function. His warnings were not heeded and, for the reasons which Guevara predicted, among others, capitalism returned to all those countries. In Cuba, his analysis was revisited in the mid-1980s in the period known as Rectification which pulled the island away from the Soviet model before it collapsed, arguably contributing to the survival of Cuban socialism.

Notes

[1] Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, ‘Reunion Bimestrales’, 20 January 1962, in El Che en la Revolución Cubana: Ministerio de Industrias, tomo VI. La Habana: Ministerio de Azúcar, 1966, 147.

[2] Guevara, Apuntes Críticos a la Economía Política. La Habana: Ciencias Sociales, 2006, 27 & cited by Orlando Borrego in El Camino del Fuego, la Habana: Imagen Contemporánea, 382.

[3] This paper assumes knowledge of the laws governing the operation of the capitalist system expounded by Marx in Capital.

[4] Miguel Figueras, interview, 27 January 2006, Enrique Oltuski, interview, 15 February 2006 & Alfredo Menéndez, interview, 17 February 2005.

[5] Guevara, Bimestrales, 21 December 1963, 420.

[6] Guevara, Bimestrales, 14 July 1962, 289.

[7] Guevara, Bimestrales, 28 September 1962, 318-9.

[8] Guevara, ‘On the Concept of Value’ in Bertram Silverman (ed) Man and Socialism in Cuba: The Great Debate, New York: Atheneum, 234.

[9] Guevara, ‘Socialism and Man in Cuba’ in Silverman (ed) Socialism, 342.  

[10] Guevara, ‘On the Budgetary Finance System’, in Socialism, 143.

[11] Guevara, Budgetary, 42. Guevara’s italics.

[12] My book, Che Guevara: The Economics of Revolution, details these policies.

[13] Guevara, Budgetary, 143.

[14] Guevara, ‘The Meaning of Socialist Planning’ in Socialism, 109.

[15] Guevara, Bimestrales, 11 July 1964, 505.

[16] Guevara, Bimestrales, December 1964, 566-9.

[17] First published in Havana, February 2006 as Apuntes, cited above.

[18] Guevara, Apuntes, 52.

[19] Guevara, Apuntes, 91-2, 185-6, 192-3.

[20] Guevara, Apuntes, 112.

[21] Guevara, Apuntes, 27.

[22] Guevara, Apuntes, 25-28 & Borrego, Camino, 381-383.

Source

Che Guevara and the Political Economy of Socialism

Ernesto Che Guevara visiting the tractor factory in Brno, Czechoslovakia, October 27, 1960.

Rafael Martinez

Che Guevara is widely known to the world as the romantic-idealist revolutionary. The economic thought of Che Guevara has not really been widely publicised as the Argentinean born revolutionary is commonly known for his works on the guerrilla warfare, whose underlying idealist and voluntarist approaches to the struggle of the oppressed masses against capitalism and imperialism have been exposed and rejected altogether by the Marxist-Leninists. It is most appropriate, however, to pay special attention to Guevara’s economic works, as his contribution to the economic transformation of Cuba during the early stages of the revolutionary process was central and was highly criticised by the ideologists of modern revisionism, both within and outside the country.

Che participated in making up the agrarian reform law in 1959. In October 1959 he was appointed director of the Department of Industrialisation, which was created by INRA (Instituto Nacional de la Reforma Agraria or National Institute of the Agrarian Reform). At that time most of the industry was still in the hands of private owners. Guevara undertook the task of studying the economy of the island and establishing the guidelines of building up Cuban industry. According to Orlando Borrego, author of ‘Che el camino del fuego’ (Imagen Contemporanea, Havana 2001), the department started off without a single industry under its jurisdiction nor a ‘budget of its own to finance supplies, investments and other expenses’ to manage the few companies that passed to its jurisdiction later in the year. In November 1959 Guevara was appointed head of the National Bank, although he never stopped overseeing the work of the department of industrialisation to where he returned within the next year.

It is not till October 1960, when the Cuban Government decrees the immediate nationalisation of commercial and industrial enterprises including the sugar cane industry, that the Department of Industrialisation becomes a full-fledged body for the organisation of industrial production on a massive scale. His leadership in the Department of Industrialisation led Guevara to become the Cuban minister of industry in February 1961, which had the task to organise state industry following massive nationalisation.

At this point Guevara faces the challenging task to organise most of the country’s industrial production on the basis of an ill-defined (from the point of view of socialist construction) revolutionary process. Despite the success of the anti-imperialist struggle undertaken by the Cuban Revolution, its leadership lacked knowledge of the political economy of Marxism-Leninism. Che Guevara, without any doubt, is the member of the Cuban leadership who takes most seriously the study of political economy, which he did in parallel to all the administrative and organisational tasks that he was assigned by the Cuban Revolution. The study of Marxist political economy and the economic discussions that were triggered during the process of organisation of the Cuban industry become the central topic in Guevara’s life during the first half of the ‘60s. This period of exploration and creativity comes for the most part to an end when, in 1965 Che renounces his responsibilities as the Minister of Industry, following a heated economic debate, referred to by many as the ‘Great Debate’, which reached its climax in 1963-1964.

Strong divergences between the pro-Soviet economic line and Guevara’s plan of industrialisation brought to an end the participation of the Argentinean revolutionary in the internal affairs of the Cuban revolution. Guevara embarks on a ‘quixotic’ military campaign to aid and create revolutionary processes in Africa and Latin America, which concludes with his assassination in Bolivia, in 1967.

Castro remembers Che in a well-known speech given in 1987, in the midst of the so-called process of rectification, by denouncing a number of gross deformations in the economic life of the island and corruption of moral standards. Castro calls upon the population with an appeal of the highest moral standards embodied by the life of the great revolutionary, and admits to the negative consequences of departing from Che’s economic thought:

‘Che was radically opposed to using and developing capitalist economic laws and categories in building socialism. He advocated something that I have often insisted on: Building socialism and communism is not just a matter of producing and distributing wealth but is also a matter of education and consciousness’ (Fidel Castro in ‘Che Guevara, Economics and politics in the transition to socialism’, Pathfinder, New York, 2003, p. 39).

In the midst of open appeals to revive what many in Cuba call the ‘Che’s dream’ a lot of confusion is fostered about the interpretation and originality of Guevara’s economic thought. Twenty years after his assassination, Cuban scholars Fernando Martinez Heredia, and specially, Carlos Tablada, revived the discussions concerning Guevara’s contribution to the practice of socialist construction in Cuba and to the economic theory of the transitional epoch in general. Unfortunately, most scholars in Cuba consider Guevara’s economic thought in isolation from the theory of political economy of socialism developed before the revisionist political economy became widely accepted in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies of Eastern Europe in the 1960s.

Outside the country, efforts have been made to reconcile Guevara’s economic thought with Trotskyism and neo-Trotskyite tendencies. Neo-Trotskyite elements around the world, not without encouragement from within Cuba, try to portray Guevara’s economic thought as a reaction to the economic line imposed by the bureaucratic castes in the Soviet Union, by completely ignoring, more correctly suppressing, Guevara’s open support to Stalin in questions of the construction of socialism. It is silenced that Guevara quoted Stalin on multiple occasions in his economic works published in Cuba and the fact that the core of his economic theory, the budgetary finance system, bears strong similarities to the economic ‘model’ of development, which had become ‘standard’ in the former People’s Democracies of Eastern Europe during the post-war period up until Stalin’s death. Trotskyism, neo-Trotskyism and many in Cuba exacerbate Guevara’s idealist mistakes present in both his political and economic thoughts and turn Che into some sort of humanist socialist, who de facto suppressed the weight of the objective character of the economic laws of socialism in favour of a leading role of socialist education and consciousness (which, unfortunately, is true to a considerable degree).

Discussions about the controversial role of Che Guevara in the Cuban revolution during the early stages of the construction of the new economy have been revived in recent years. More and more unpublished documents are slowly coming to light. One of the most significant efforts developed in this direction is led by the Centro de Estudios Che Guevara, based in Havana and located in the house where Guevara and his family used to reside during the first half of the sixties. This association possesses direct access to Guevara’s personal library, which contains numerous volumes in which he used to make annotations. Ambitious plans have been revealed to publish nine volumes with materials covering numerous aspects of the political life of Che Guevara, which hopefully will throw important light on the evolution of Guevara’s thought as a Marxist.

One of the most enlightening documents published in recent years corresponds to a letter sent by Che, while based in Tanzania, to Armando Hart Dávalos on the need to publish in Cuba works on philosophy. The authenticity of this letter does not seem to be controversial as it was published in a Cuban journal and made available to the public. In this letter Guevara outlines a basic plan for the publication of texts in philosophy, subdivided into 8 groups:

In Cuba there is nothing published, if one excludes the Soviet bricks, which bring the inconvenience that they do not let you think; the party did it for you and you should digest it.

It would be necessary to publish the complete works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin [underlined by Che in the original] and other great Marxists.

Here would come to the great revisionists (if you want you can add here Khrushchev), well analyzed, more profoundly than any others and also your friend Trotsky, who existed and apparently wrote something (Che Guevara, Letter to Armando Hart Dávalos published in Contracorriente, Havana, September 1997, No. 9).

In the present article we will try to briefly cover the main elements of Guevara’s economic thought by means of establishing analogies with the Marxist-Leninist economic theory of the transitional society. Further, we will discuss the absurd allegations of Trotskyism that the Soviet revisionist leadership inflicted on Guevara. We will conclude with a brief exposition of what are, in our opinion the two major mistakes committed by Guevara in his economic works: idealism and mechanicism.

Budgetary System versus Financial Self-Management

At the centre of Guevara’s economic thought stands the budgetary system, which Che implemented in the enterprises organised by the ministry of industry between 1961 and 1964. The budgetary system is formulated by Guevara as a reaction against what had been established in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies of Eastern Europe under the system of economic accounting (usually referred by us as market-like economic accounting, in order to distinguish it from the more generic concept of economic accounting), which the followers of post-Stalin Soviet revisionism posed as a model of development in Cuba. It is within the context of the revision of the Marxist-Leninist principles of the political economy of socialism by the Soviet revisionist leadership that the study of Guevara’s budgetary system needs to be analysed and appreciated.

Despite strong elements of mechanicism and schematism inherent to Guevara’s presentation for a case in favour of the centralisation of industrial production and the establishment of forms of management and interrelations between individual producing subjects and the state, the budgetary system embodies the means, however primitive, which served the purpose for the application and success of the centralised planned principle of the economic development in a backward country. This is the rationale behind Guevara’s formulations, which represents in the main the basic prerequisite for a more or less rapid industrialisation of the island, which he considered to be the highest priority within the process of socialist construction.

Many in Cuba portray Guevara’s budgetary system elaborated for the specific conditions of Cuba, which in a sense Che ‘invents’ a particular model that suits his more or less utopian view of the transition to the socialist society. Thus Guevara’s thinking is studied in isolation from the historical epoch, which corresponds to the epoch of the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies. At most, Guevara’s economic thinking is viewed as an alternative to the ‘neo-Stalinist’ command-administrative system undertaken by the Soviet leadership. This view was revitalised in Cuba towards the end of the 1980s when the Soviet economy and the whole so-called ‘socialist’ system showed clear signs of decomposition. It is enlightening, however, to see that some leading economists in the island do admit that Guevara’s economic thought did not come out of the blue:

‘In retrospective, the budgetary system is a contribution of great value. We would not say – and you know it well – that Che invented the budgetary system. It already came from the socialist countries; in the Soviet Union for a period of time the budgetary system ruled many aspects of the economy’. (Carlos Rafael Rodriguez in ‘Che Guevara, Cuba and the Road to Socialism’, New York, 1991, pp. 39-30. Translated from Spanish.)

Needless to say Rodriguez refers to the socialist economic model developed under Stalin. Rodriguez, however, wrongly attributes to Guevara the view that in the transition to higher forms of socialism, or full socialism, the budgetary system could be applied to the entire economy; the entire economy could allegedly function as one big enterprise, with one social fund to meet the needs of production and distribution. Much to the contrary, Guevara formulates the budgetary system as a means to meet the immediate needs posed by the organisation of the State industry and, as will be seen in the next section, admits to the existence of commodity-money relations between the state and other production objects, hence he admits the existence of forms of production other than state owned.

The budgetary system is conceived by Che as an opposite of the model established in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies of Eastern Europe after Stalin’s death. Guevara exposes the basic differences between the budgetary system and the market-type of economic accounting or so-called financial self-management, as early as in 1961, i.e. the very early stages of the socialisation of industry in the country. Guevara’s thinking in favour of the centralisation of the State industry predates the ‘Great Economic debate’, and it is clear to us that Che had conceived the budgetary system long before he sees himself engulfed in a heated discussion with the numerous supporters of financial self-management in the island. We have every reason to believe that he was in some more or less systematic way acquainted with the history of the Soviet economy and the general elements of the socialist economy during Stalin’s times.

Guevara rejects from the very beginning the concept of free enterprise within the socialist sector, which is embodied by the ability of the individual economic subject to act as a more or less independent producer, since

‘…in the socialist countries, the enterprise possesses a bank credit, acquires money, produces with the money that it receives, sells its production, and then grants to the State part of the profit and part of this profit is preserved for internal needs. The difference is that our company does not sell, but delivers products and workers are awarded through the State’ (Che Guevara, Conference ‘Economy and Plan’ of the People’s University, 1961. Translated from Spanish.)

In Guevara’s system the enterprise does not sell, as the commodity-money becomes effective both in form and content only when the product is alienated by an independent producer or the individual consumer. Guevara understands the retribution of the worker in the socialist enterprise as an operation, in which in essence the socialist toiler establishes an employer-employee relationship with the socialist state, bypassing the enterprise. We believe he considers this relationship from the point of view of the essence of the labour relationship, as in reality this relationship has unavoidably to take the form of employment via the individual enterprise.

As opposed to the revisionist system of financial self-management, labour circulates among the individual enterprises of the state sector and between the enterprises and the State via the form of allocation or assignments according to contracts stipulated by the socialist plan:

‘To elaborate a budget through which the enterprise will be assigned necessary funds by the state to make effective contracts…; and also to transfer to public accounts the revenue from sales.’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Collective Discussion: Unique Decision and Responsibility’, p. 3. Translated from Spanish.)

In Guevara’s system the enterprise functions as an aggregate of a larger enterprise, which does not possess financial resources with which to make its own decisions in terms of production and reproduction. Since the socialist enterprise:

‘The company does not have resources of its own; therefore its income is transferred to the national budget’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Considerations on Expenses’, p. 46. Translated from Spanish.)

Guevara is adamantly opposed to any form of exchange among socialist enterprises in the socialist sector other than allocation of resources. The circulation of labour within the socialised sector is viewed by Guevara as an aggregation of labour in a complex productive chain. In this system the enterprises are not able to establish labour exchange independently from the plan, since the entire productive activity of the enterprise is dictated by it. The state, in the form of the State Bank is the beginning and the end of labour flow concerning the productive activity of the socialist enterprise: it acquires the necessary financial means to acquire the means of production and it deposits the revenue in the Central Bank. These resources are then utilised by the socialist planning system to provide for extended reproduction of the individual productive unit, for capital investment or non-productive social needs. In this sense the enterprise does not extract profit per se; it transfers a positive balance between the production cost and the income and it is the socialist state which makes the final decision according to the plan as to the fate of this positive balance.

The concept of socialist planning in Guevara’s system is closely linked to the concept of profitability of the whole productive system. The effectiveness of the socialist economy is not the results of the mechanical summation of individual enterprises. A positive balance in the arithmetic sum of individual profits is possible in the capitalist system during times of expansion, although it becomes negative in times of recession. Regardless of the fact that the socialist productive system does not know recession or crises, the socialist productive system displays the greatest rates of growth not just because the arithmetic aggregation of individual profitability amounts to a positive balance. The advantage of the socialist mode of production over capitalism lies in the planned character of the economy, that the socialist state is in a position to decide at the scale of the whole productive system, not the coordination of individual producers but the regulation of labour flow among socialist enterprises. While it is of paramount importance that the productive unit be most profitable by means of maximum reduction of production costs, the efficiency of the economy needs to be assessed as a whole.

‘Since this system is based on the central control of the economy, the relative efficiency of an enterprise would become just an index; what really matters is the total profitability of the entire productive system’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Considerations on Expenses’, p. 48. Translated from Spanish.)

This concept, which is a more complex concept with respect to the profitability of the individual enterprise, had been stated explicitly by Stalin in Economic Problems. In arguing against the right-wing deviationists, the only way to understand that certain sectors of the economy may function without profit or even producing losses over a certain period of time is to introduce a more complex concept of profitability of the whole socialist economy:

‘If profitableness is considered not from the standpoint of individual plants or industries, and not over a period of one year, but from the standpoint of the entire national economy and over a period of, say, ten or fifteen years,… then the temporary and unstable profitableness of some plants and industries is beneath all comparisons with that higher form of stable and permanent profitableness which we get from the operation of the law of balanced development of the national economy and from economic planning…’ (J.V. Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR,Foreign Language Publishing House, Moscow 1952, pp. 28-29.)

Many have been led to believe that the establishment of socialised planning in certain areas of the State-owned sector during the transitional economy is a dangerous utopia. The transition to NEP is commonly used as a historical example, which allegedly illustrates that socialised forms of organisation do not correspond to the economic conditions given in a backward, agricultural country. Much to the contrary, not only the implementation of market-like economic accounting in the State industry is a relatively short-lived phenomenon in the economic history of the Soviet Union, it was soon realised that the NEP-style approach could lead to catastrophic consequences if the market-like economic accounting were to be imposed on all the areas of the State sector. Since the first stages of the transition from the economy of War Communism to the liberalisation of the Soviet economy, the Soviet leadership expressed worries that Lenin’s plans for the industrialisation of the country would be jeopardised if market relations were to be made effective in all the State-owned sectors. Already in 1923, the XII Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) expressed ample concerns:

‘On the other hand, heavy industry, which has barely entered in contact with the market and which depends completely on State contracts, needs for its reconstruction large and well-calculated financial resources from the State. This also applies to a great degree to railway and sea transport.’ (Decisions of the Soviet Government on Economic Questions, Moscow 1957, Volume 1, p. 380. Translated from Russian.)

Despite what right-wing revisionism led many to believe, the Soviet government since the early stages of the NEP established a line of demarcation within the sectors I and II of the economy. While light industry displayed significant growth during the early stages of the liberalisation of the economy, mostly due to the revival of market relations, heavy industry showed little or no signs of flourishing under the conditions of market-style economic accounting. If the market-type economic accounting were to be imposed on heavy industry, if the Soviet plan, regardless of the level of development of the forces of production and the correlation of forces within the various sectors of the economy and the weight of non-socialist forms of production, were to deny heavy industry large long-term financial assistance for a sustained process of re-production, this sector would be forced into recession. The plans for the speedy industrialisation of a vast and backward (both technically and culturally) country would be doomed and with it collectivisation and socialist construction.

‘The interrelations between light and heavy industries cannot be resolved by means of the market, as this would threaten to liquidate heavy industry in the next few years; heavy industry could recover, but this time as a result of the anarchic development of the market and on the basis of private property. (Ibid. p. 382. Translated from Russian.)

The socialist law of development, according to which the industry of means of production should develop faster than light industry and agriculture, necessarily leads a more or less significant fraction of the forces of production owned by the socialist state to operate according to laws of labour distribution and organisation different from those inherited from the capitalist form of production. While market relations to a considerable degree were temporarily allowed by the NEP to regulate production and labour distribution among more or less disseminated and independent economic units in the State industry, the Soviet State was forced since the beginning to define the concretisation of this law of socialist production, in a sense breaking with NEP itself. The establishment of socialist planning on the basis of the socialised mode of production in certain sectors of the economy holds absolute character. This principle holds regardless of the level of development of the forces of production in the economy of the country in transition to socialism as a whole. The level of socialisation of the State sector does strongly depend upon the concrete-historical conditions of the country in transition. However, the State is bound since the very beginning to establish a socialist planned principle to operate in a direct, socialised way (not by means of the market) on certain sectors of the economy, primarily on the sector I. This is the basic principle of the transitional economy that Guevara tried his best to uphold by advocating the budgetary system, as a system opposed to the system of market-type economic accounting proposed by the followers of Soviet revisionism in the island.

As will be touched upon in more detail, Guevara’s economic thought, the budgetary system that he advocated is completely opposed to Trotsky’s concealed right-wing economic theories. Trotsky opposed since the early stages of NEP, all the way till the end of his political career the establishment of a genuine planned principle in certain sectors of the State sector, by advocating the absolute and universal character of NEP:

But the New Economic Policy does not flow solely from the interrelations between the city and the village. This policy is a necessary stage in the growth of state-owned industry. Between capitalism, under which the means of production are owned by private individuals and all economic relations are regulated by the market –I say, between capitalism and complete socialism, with its socially planned economy, there are a number of transitional stages; and the NEP is essentially one of these stages.

Let us analyze this question, taking the railways as a case in point. It is precisely railway transportation that provides a field which is prepared in the maximum degree for socialist economy… The railway lines, not only those privately owned, but also the state-owned lines, settled their accounts with all the other economic enterprises through the medium of the market. Under the particular system this was economically unavoidable and necessary because the equipment and development of a particular line depends upon how far it justifies itself economically. Whether a particular railway is beneficial to the economy can be ascertained only through the medium of the market.’ (L.D. Trotsky, ‘The First Five Years of the Communist International’, Volume 2, New Park Publications, London, 1953, pp. 233-4.)

Guevara’s budgetary system is the means for the industrialisation of Cuba. One of the fundamental principles of the socialist economy is based on the development of industrial production, mainly heavy industry, as the basis and engine of the development of the socialist economy. Imperialist domination is based upon the concentration of industry and technology in the hands of imperialist corporations. Exploited countries are deprived of the means and necessary knowledge to secure the development of labour productivity, a key element to sustained development of the forces of production.

In order to overcome economic backwardness and the relations of dependence on the imperialist countries, i.e. the ultimate goal of a genuine process of national-liberation, it is imperative to turn around the character of economic relations with the outside world. This implies a deep re-structuring of the economies, which for long years have been geared towards fitting the economic needs of the imperialist countries, and to turn these countries into self-sufficient and prosperous socialist industrial ones. Genuine independence, true anti-imperialism is no more than rhetorical statements without massive policies of socialist industrialisation, which is the material basis for long-term and sustained independence.

Over a hundred years of national liberation movements have taught us that the socialisation of the means of production, as opposed to half-measures disguised by pseudo-socialist phraseology, is the only way towards national independence. Here lies the essence of the internationalist policies of the Soviet State during the post-war period.

The economies of dependent countries, such as Cuba back in the 1950s, are based upon the extraction and the early stages of manufacturing of raw materials. The main source of revenue of Batista’s Cuba was the export of sugar, whose price in the international market was out of the control of the country and, as repeatedly pointed out by the leaders of the Cuban revolution, undershot the actual value.

The only possible way that economically and culturally backward countries can attain economic and sustained political independence, lies in the development of heavy industry, which is the only possible way to lay the foundations for sustained economic growth. This fundamental point of the socialist construction lies at the centre of attention of Guevara’s economic thought and to it he devoted most of his practical and theoretical efforts while remaining in office.

Commodity-Money Relations and the Law of Value

In this section we will briefly cover Guevara’s understanding of the role of commodity-money relations and the law of value in the socialist industry. At this point we lack written materials to throw light on his attitude towards the agrarian reform performed during the early stages of the Cuban revolution. His understanding of the collectivisation of the large mass of petty producers is also unknown to us, although we hope that in the near future archival materials may be made available to the public in Cuba.

As illustrated in the previous section, at the centre of Guevara’s economic thought stands the model of budgetary system. This system is intimately related to Guevara’s understanding of the role of plan, which, as discussed, fundamentally differs from that envisioned by right-wing revisionism in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe. Much to the contrary, it bears close resemblance to the conception of economic planning, which prevailed in the Soviet Union before Stalin’s death and stands in line with the economic policies that had become ‘standard’ in the former People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe in the period of 1948-1953.

Guevara’s attitude to the role of market categories and relations are consistent with his understanding of plan and are very close to Stalin’s formulations in Economic Problems. Guevara explicitly denies the need for commodity exchange between socialist enterprises and categorically denies the commodity character of the means of production. He supports the correct view that commodity exchange involves change of ownership. Commodity exchange between state enterprises is viewed by the Argentinean as a contradiction per se, since in the budgetary system the socialist enterprise is an organic element of a bigger enterprise, the State. Within this system the labour among enterprises does not adopt the form of commodity exchange. Means of production, financial resources are not owned by the socialist enterprise, as the latter lacks its own account and revenue is automatically deposited in a socialised account. In this system, the means of production are allocated to a given production unit according to the needs and future perspective of economic development and dictated by a centralised plan.

Guevara does not deny the existence of commodity production and the coexistence of different modes of production. He supports Stalin’s views that commodity relations are not inherent to the socialist sector but that their existence is due to the presence of different forms of property within the Cuban economy. As opposed to the Soviet Economy in Stalin’s time, the Cuban countryside had not undergone the process of collectivisation of the petty producer. In the concrete-historical situation of Cuba, the incipient socialist industrial sector had to coexist with a large mass of independent producers. However, this concrete-historical circumstance does not prevent the socialist sector, however small and poorly organized, to operate under a different regulator of production than that operating in the countryside. Guevara writes:

‘We believe that the partial existence of the law of value is due to the remnants of the market economy, which also manifests itself in the type of exchange between the State and the private consumer’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘On the Budgetary System’, p. 95. Translated from Spanish).

This statement is very close to Stalin’s well-known statement given in Economic Problems:

‘But the collective farms are unwilling to alienate their products except in the form of commodities, in exchange for which they desire to receive the commodities they need… Because of this, commodity production and trade are as much a necessity with us today as they were thirty years ago…’(J.V. Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow 1952, p. 19-20.)

In addition, as pointed out by Guevara, there remains the need for commodity-money bonds between the State and the private producer, as the worker in socialism still receives a significant fraction of the social fund for the satisfaction of individual needs in money terms. The exchange between the state and the individual producer is performed under the form of a commodity exchange, as

‘…this transfer occurs when the product leaves the state sector and it becomes property of an individual consumer’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Considerations on Expenses’, p. 46. Translated from Spanish.)

With the socialisation of all the means of production and the liquidation of individual and collective forms of production, there would be no need for commodity-money exchange in socialism. As a matter of fact, the realisation of the socialist principle of distribution does not necessarily imply the existence of commodity-money relations, as a category of production. These views were ‘exposed’ and refuted by Soviet economists, who after a series of discussions re-wrote chapters in the Manual of Political Economy regarding the political economy of socialism.

Naturally, these views were also not shared by many economists in Cuba, as manifested in a more or less full-fledged controversial discussion during 1963-1964. For instance, Alberto Mora (Minister of Foreign Trade during that time) in 1963 openly attacked Guevara’s views, by comparing them with Stalin’s, which were published in Economic Problems. He rejected Guevara’s theses on the grounds that the most serious ‘scientific’ discussions held in the Soviet Union during the second half of the 1950s and early sixties indicated that Stalin’s views were wrong, that the law of value operates in socialism as a regulator of production, as the products in the socialist economy remain and will remain commodities all the way till communism:

‘When some comrades deny that the law of value operates in the relations among enterprises within the State sector, they argue that the entire State sector is under single ownership, that the enterprises are the property of the society. This, of course, is true. But as an economic criterion it is inaccurate. State property is not yet fully developed social property that will be achieved only under communism.’ (A. Mora, in ‘On the operation of the law of value in the Cuban Economy’, published in Man and Socialism in Cuba, Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 227).

The well-known Trotskyite economist, Ernest Mandel, who was very active during what he called the ‘Great Debate’ in Cuba, enters into a long-standing controversy with Charles Bettelheim, a French right-wing revisionist scholar. The latter also became active during the economic debate, this time as a fervent supporter of the ‘socialist-market’ conception advocated by the pro-Soviet economists in the island. Despite Mandel’s views that means of production in the socialist economy do not circulate as commodities, he is very keen on exposing Stalin’s views advocated by Guevara with regard to the causes of the law of value in the socialist sector. In the section of the ‘Historical conditions leading to the extinction of mercantile categories’ of a well-publicised article in Cuba, he states:

‘Although we have criticized several of comrade Bettelheim’s positions, we agree with him completely in rejecting Stalin’s theory that the basic reason for the mercantile categories in the Soviet economy is the existence of two forms of socialist property: ownership by the people (that is, the State) and ownership by more limited social groups (essentially the Kolkhozy)’. (E. Mandel, in ‘On the operation of the law of value in the Cuban Economy’, published in Man and Socialism in Cuba, Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 70.)

Mandel has an opinion of his own and does not need to refer to the Soviet pseudo-science to ‘expose’ Guevara’s ‘primitivism’. The author advocates that only the abundance of consumer goods, which are closely linked to the development of forces of production, will create the objective conditions for the abolition of commodity-money relations in the sphere of private consumption. Moreover, he seems to be proud that

‘The new program of the CPSU, approved by the XXII congress, incorporated this idea as set forth in our Traite d’Economie Marxiste’ (E. Mandel, in ‘On the operation of the law of value in the Cuban Economy’, published in Man and Socialism in Cuba, Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 71).

Guevara advocated the correct view that the law of value does not operate within the socialist sector as a regulator of production. He is able to grasp, unlike his detractors, a crucial element in the political economy of socialism:

‘We insist on the analysis of the cost, since part of our conception refers to the fact that it is not strictly necessary that cost of production and price coincide in the socialist sector’. (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Considerations on Expenses’, p. 47. Translated from Spanish.)

Guevara understood that the price setting in the socialist sector, as a quantifier of the flow of labour circulating among different subjects of the state industry, does not necessarily have to coincide with the cost of production. If the labour exchange between different sectors of the socialist economy were to be governed by the exchange according to equal value, less profitable or even not profitable enterprises would not be able to survive and the process of extended reproduction of the socialist economy would be brought to its knees. If the law of value is forced to operate as a regulator of the proportions of labour exchanged between enterprises in the socialist sector it would not be possible to overcome the disproportions between sectors of the economy, which are inherited from capitalism, let alone colonialism and neo-colonialism. This consequently leads to a more complex concept of profitability of the socialist economy, which was touched upon in the previous section, which Stalin formulated in Economic Problems and which Guevara embraces wholeheartedly.

It is true that the abstract formulation that prices in the socialist sector do not necessarily correspond to the cost of production contains within itself a strong potential and it represents a serious step forward in the evolution of the understanding of political economy of socialism. This statement represents a tremendous step forward with respect to the theories of right-wing revisionism, which does not conceive labour exchange outside the boundaries of commodity-money relations. However, this statement does solve right away the most intricate problem of the political economy of socialism, which is to concretise what are the actual proportions of labour that correspond to the historical-concrete situation and the development of the forces of production and forms of management of a given country. This is a titanic task that needs to be resolved by the revolutionaries of a given country, which Guevara genuinely and with the best of his abilities tried to solve for the concrete conditions of Cuba.

Guevara is an advocate of the strictest economic accounting, for the same reasons that Stalin criticised many Soviet managers and plan making for neglecting the operation of the law of value as a strong instrument for economic accounting in socialism. Indeed, accounting in value terms proves a powerful tool to evaluate the effectiveness of the socialist enterprise, and this is most appreciated by Guevara:

‘The cost would yield an index of the management of the enterprise; it is irrelevant that these prices are higher or lower than the prices in the socialist sector, or even, in some isolated cases, than those prices used to sell the product to the people; what matters is the sustained analysis of the management of the enterprise…, which is determined by its success or failure to reduce costs’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Considerations on Expenses’, p. 49. Translated from Spanish.)

At the end of the day, one of the fundamental goals of the enterprise in socialism as well as in communism

‘…reduces to a common denominator…: the increase of labour productivity as the fundamental basis for the construction of socialism and indispensable premise for communism.’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Considerations on Expenses’, p. 51. Translated from Spanish.)

In Guevara’s budgetary finance system, money within the socialist enterprise is used primarily as means of calculation, as a strong algebraic tool for determining the effectiveness of the enterprise, the correctness of the use of the resources granted by the State to the enterprise, a means to determine if the enterprise is doing enough to reduce costs, etc… In his very important article, ‘About the Budgetary System’ he exposes one of the most prominent differences between his conception and the role given to money by the pro-Soviet economists in Cuba within the so called ‘Economic Accounting’ system:

‘Another difference is the way money is used; in our system money operates as arithmetic money, as a reflection, in prices, of the management of the enterprise, which the central organs will analyze in order to control the functioning of the latter.’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘About the Budgetary System’, p. 80 Translated from Spanish.)

Guevara’s views are consistent with the well-known exposure of Notkin’s ‘marketist’ views by Stalin:

Why, in that case, do we speak of the value of means of production, their cost of production, their price, etc.?

Firstly, this is needed for purposes of calculation and settlement, for determining that the enterprises are paying or running at a loss, for checking and controlling the enterprises. …’ (J.V. Stalin, op. cit, p. 58-59.)

As the economic discussion in Cuba progresses and the contradictions between Guevara’s line and the pro-Soviet economists (including Charles Bettelheim) on the one hand, and the Trotskyite elements in Cuba (Cuban nationals as well as foreigners) on the other, Che has unavoidably to clash with the economic conception advocated by the Soviet revisionists. Towards the end of this discussion, in 1964 Guevara expresses himself in a more and more explicit and eloquent way regarding the differences between his model and the ‘market-socialist’ type of development advocated by the revisionists. The exposition of the differences, which at first, in 1961 Guevara had put in rather mild, almost academic terms, turns controversial and bitter in 1964, leaving no doubt that the contradictions had become irreconcilable and that the Cuban leadership would have to take a stand sooner rather than later. Whether the Soviet revisionist leadership demanded Guevara’s removal from his posts in the economy of the island, as a pre-requisite to sustained economic aid, or whether his detractors in Cuba played a leading role in the events that followed the economic discussions, remains a matter of speculation. Regardless, it is clear to us that Guevara engages in an important theoretical debate till the very end and was never curbed by the overwhelming wave of criticism triggered by his writings, which he faced almost alone. In addition, we can only imagine how upsetting to pro-Soviet and Trotskyite elements in the island it would be to accept that the leading economist, a holder of a key command position in the Cuban economy, dares, not once, not twice, but at least three times that we are aware of, to cite and defend Stalin’s works as an authoritative reference against his opponents.

Che openly and in print criticises the revisionist manual of political economy published in the Soviet Union in the early sixties, with regards to the insistence of the Soviet revisionists on developing commodity-money relations in socialism, let alone the transition to socialism. After a series of gradual changes operated in the economic literature of the 1950s followed by crucial economic discussions held towards the end of that decade, the Soviet economists published a new manual of political economy under the editorship of a leading economist, Ostrovitianov. In this important document all the products in socialism are proclaimed to be commodities, including the means of production (with the utterly inconsistent exemption of labour force), and the law of value, which is used in a conscious way by the socialist plan, operates as the regulator of proportions of labour among enterprises, whether state owned or cooperatives.

As opposed to Stalin’s plans for the gradual shrinkage of the sphere of operation of the commodity-money relations and categories, the Soviet revisionists envisioned a plan to further enhance the role of these in the economy and to provide the enterprises with more independence. The operation of the law of value will disappear only when the highest stage of communism is accomplished in a more or less distant future. Guevara rebels against the new theses advocated by the Soviet revisionist economists by rejecting altogether the plans for developing commodity-money relations in socialism, which are treated by us as a departure from the political economy of socialism developed by Lenin and Stalin:

‘Why develop? We understand that the capitalist categories are retained for a time and that the length of this period cannot be predetermined, but the characteristics of the period of transition are those of a society that is throwing off its old bonds in order to move quickly into the new stage.

The tendency should be, in our opinion, to eliminate as fast as possible the old categories, including the market, and, therefore, material interest – or better, to eliminate the conditions of their existence’ (Che Guevara, in Man and Socialism in Cuba, Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 142).

It is unfortunate, however, that Che’s reasoning is plagued with idealist assertions, according to which commodity-money relations allegedly embody within themselves the ideological burden of the capitalist society. As will be touched upon the next section, Guevara equates to a great extent commodity-money relations and categories with the concept of material incentive, which he understands as a mechanism aimed at motivating and enhancing labour productivity by the same means as used in capitalism. Material incentive and consciousness appear in Guevara’s thought as two poles of one of the main (if not the most relevant) contradiction in the process of socialist construction.

Guevara should not be accused of a left-wing attitude with regard to the role of commodity-money relations in socialism. Nowhere in Che’s writings can one find appeals to implement the policies of war communism in the Cuban economy. Much to the contrary, he is aware of the need to retain commodity-money relations for an undetermined period, as a result of the presence of a large mass of individual producers. Despite glaring idealist elements in Guevara’s thought we need to give him credit for identifying correctly the sphere of application of commodity-money relations and the fundamental reasons leading to the inevitability of the latter in the socialist transition in general and in the Cuban revolutionary process, in particular. In summarising the increasing contradictions between the line of thought and the economic reforms accomplished under his office, and the push for market relations advocated by the ‘marketists’ in Cuba Guevara states:

‘We deny the possibility of consciously using the law of value, in the conditions that a free market does not exist, which expresses directly the contradiction between producers and consumers; we deny the existence of the commodity category in the relation among state enterprises and we regard them as part of one big enterprise, the State (although in practice it does not happen yet in our country).’ (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘On the Budgetary System’, p. 96. Translated from Spanish.)

When Guevara admits to the fact that the state sector in Cuba does not function as a ‘one big enterprise’ he is most likely referring to the coexistence of the Ministry of Industry, the INRA and the Ministry of Foreign Trade, the latter two lead by Carlos Rafael Rodriguez and Alberto Mora, respectively, both rabid ‘market-socialists’. The latter had expressed their disagreement with Guevara’s plans for industrialisation of the island based on the argumentation that Cuba was not prepared for forms of economic relations consistent with developed stages of socialisation of the labour process. Rodriguez states as late as in 1988:

‘The budgetary system is closer to the future society… this system requires conditions that we will not be able to achieve in a long time’ (Carlos Rafael Rodriguez in Che Guevara, Cuba y el camino al socialismo, New International, New York, 2000, p. 42. Translated from Spanish.)

By arguing that Cuba was never (not even after 30 years of revolution) ready for higher forms of exchange between state enterprises, Rodriguez openly polemicises in 1988, as he used to do 25 years before, with Che’s assertion that products exchanged between state enterprises do not adopt the form of commodities.

Guevara to the very end sticks to his conception that the commodity-money relations are not inherent to the socialist economy, and especially to the socialised sector, which he tried so hard to build up since the very early stages of the Cuban revolution. Market relations come about as a result of the presence of important remnants of private producers and they are bound to disappear with them (both in form and content). Even though, Guevara refrains (to the best of our rather sketchy and fragmental knowledge of the evolution of Guevara’s thinking) from referring openly to his opinion with regards to the plans of collectivising the private producer, we believe that he would have advocated for a ‘Soviet-style’ type of bond between the socialised sector and the collective farms. As an advocate of retaining the main means of production outside the operation of commodity-money relations (i.e. means of production are not treated as commodities in content, regardless of the need to use value categories to assess the amount of labour involved in them), it seems natural that Guevara would have envisioned a concept pretty much like the machine tractor stations, as a main factor for the increase of labour productivity. We believe this statement is substantiated since the rational core of Guevara’s economic thought, despite strong elements of idealism and mechanicism, remains very close to the economic forms adopted in the Soviet Union under Stalin, which had become standard and were successfully applied with whatever modifications in the countries of People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe between the end of the 1940s and Stalin’s death. We have every reason to believe that Guevara was to a certain extent acquainted with Stalin’s Economic Problems and the basic differences of principle between the so-called Stalin model and the model of ‘market-socialism’ advocated by Rodriguez, Mora et al. in Cuba.

In probably his last article ‘Man and Socialism in Cuba’ a letter addressed to Carlos Quijano, editor-publisher of the Uruguayan weekly Marcha, written in early 1965, Guevara reiterates his position once more, leaving us no doubt that he stood for his principles till the very end.

‘Pursuing the chimera of achieving socialism with the aid of blunted weapons left to us by capitalism (the commodity as the economic cell, profitability, and individual material interests as levers, etc.) it is possible to come to a blind alley’ (Che Guevara, in Man and Socialism in Cuba,Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 342).

Unfortunately, Guevara does not give up certain elements of idealism that make his economic thought so distinct as well as vulnerable and inconsistent. This side of Guevara’s economic thought has been publicised the most both in Cuba by his detractors and outside Cuba by Trotskyism and neo-Trotskyism. The clear connection between a significant number of Guevara’s statements on political economy and the so-called ‘Stalinist’ model of socialist construction is very much silenced. Che’s writing are twisted by picturing his economic thought as a continuation of his idealist and voluntarist stand in questions regarding the interrelation between the masses, the party and the guerrilla warfare, for which he is most commonly known.

On Guevara’s Alleged Trotskyism

Guevara soon entered into conflict with the Soviet revisionist leadership. As we have seen above, Che acknowledges differences of principle, as early as 1961, between the economic model established in what he used to call socialist countries, and the plans for industrialisation he was advocating. Guevara’s economic reforms were bound to clash with the character of the agrarian reform and the plans suggested by the Soviet Union that Cuba was to remain primarily a sugar cane producer for longer than anticipated by Che. As the character of the Cuban revolution consolidated and the Cuban leadership accommodated to the economic relations between the island and the Soviet Union, it was necessary that Cuban economists align with the new political economy created by the revisionists.

Guevara’s plans soon met glaring resistance within Cuba. Due to the worsening of Guevara’s relations with the Soviet leadership, many in Cuba felt a great deal of embarrassment. According to several of Guevara’s biographers, the Soviets accused Che’s economic views of Trotskyism. It was just a matter of time before Che is to leave his post of Minister of Industry and that his plans for industrialisation of the island are to be revised in favour development based on the sugar cane industry.

Trotsky is usually portrayed as a ‘radical left-wing’, as an advocate of extreme measures with regard to resolution of contradictions both in politics and economics. Trotsky’s alleged push for the militarisation of the economy has led many to believe that Trotskyite economic theories are opposed to the politics of the New Economic Policy (NEP) with regard not only to the relations between the individual producer and the state sector but also with regard to the liberalisation of the state sector. In this section we will try to substantiate the fact, that Trotsky’s economic theory cannot be classified as left-wing; much to the contrary, it does not deviate significantly from the right-wing revisionism in questions of socialist construction and the role of commodity-money relations during that period.

The myth about Trotsky’s alleged leftist stand in resolving contradictions in the transitional period, conceals the true essence of Trotskyism in economic questions. Guevara’s economic thought has nothing to with Trotsky’s attitude to commodity-money relations and categories in the transitional period; their views are completely opposed to each other. Such allegations with regards to Guevara’s economic thought are unfounded and preposterous, to say the very least. As covered above, Guevara’s economic thought does suffer from serious elements of mechanicism, which does not make him a Trotskyite, as such mistakes were common to many economists in the Soviet Union during the Stalin period.

It is very interesting to observe how the Russian bourgeoisie is willing to appreciate in Trotsky the ‘virtues’ of a ‘market-socialist’, which many in the left movement do not seem to be able to grasp. To commemorate the 125th anniversary of Trotsky’s birth, a leading economic journal, Voprosi ekonomiki (‘Questions of Economy’) published an article under the title ‘Economic views of L.D. Trotsky’. In this article the authors attribute Trotsky’s heavy-handedness during the revolution and the civil war to the historical circumstances of that time, that in fact Trotsky had become one of the first to push for the liquidation of the policies of war communism and the liberalisation of the economy by allowing several forms of property to coexist for an indefinite period of time. The authors draw the bourgeois reader’s attention to Trotsky’s true and poorly publicised merit as being one of the first to advocate a mixed economic model for the transition to socialism:

‘The transition to NEP significantly changed Trotsky’s economic views. In a number of his works during that time he agitates in favour of the development of market relations, material stimulation, the understanding of the plan, as rigorous management in the sense of foreseeing and synchronising various sectors of social production. During the period of NEP Trotsky formulated a number of very important, even original ideas, namely: about the incompatibility of the methods of war communism in the conditions of NEP, about the need for each enterprise to have its own accounting balance, about the objective limitations to transferring resources from the agrarian sector to industry…’ (M. Voeikov and S. Dzarasov, ‘Economic Views of L.D. Trotsky’ in Voprosi Ekonomiki No. 11, 2004, p. 152).

Trotskyite economic doctrine seriously overlaps with Bogdanovism/Bukharinism in the understanding of the essence of the plan. Trotsky, in his renowned work ‘The Soviet Economy in Danger’, written in late 1932, starts off by equating one of the economic laws of the socialist economy and the transition to socialism, the planning principle with preconceived harmony of economic proportions:

‘However, light-minded assertions to the effect that the USSR has already entered into socialism are criminal. The achievements are great. But there still remains a very long and arduous road to actual victory over economic anarchy, to the surmounting of disproportions, to the guarantee of the harmonious character of economic life.’ (The Soviet Economy in Danger, in ’Writings of Leon Trotsky 1932’, Pathfinder Press, New York, 1973, p. 260. Our emphasis.)

The famous and infamous principle of equilibrium and harmony of the proportions of labour in the socialist economy is advocated by Trotsky in a rather unambiguous way. Within the eclectic framework of Trotskyism, centralisation of the economic policy alters the abstract principle of harmony of the economic processes. Trotsky, in his attempt to oppose the transition of the Soviet economy towards higher forms of economic organisation, comes around as a full-fledged right-wing revisionist, adding no more substance to the right wing opposition led by Bukharin/Rykov.

‘It is impossible to create a priori a complete system of economic harmony. The planning hypothesis could not but include old disproportions and the inevitability of the development of new ones. Centralized management implies not only great advantages but also the danger of centralizing mistakes, that is, of elevating them to an excessively high degree. Only continuous regulation of the plan in the process of its fulfillment, its reconstruction in part and as a whole, can guarantee its economic effectiveness’ (loc. cit.).

Trotsky’s ‘continuous regulation’ is the back door to substantiating his rebuff of the party’s line to shrink the operation of the commodity-money relations in the economy, which leads to the liquidation of capitalist exploitation in the country and the consolidation of the socialist economic laws. Once opponents, Bukharin and Trotsky converged into Bogdanovism as the construction of socialism progressed in the Soviet Union.

When Trotsky appeals to the impossibility ‘to create a priori a complete system of economic harmony’ it is implied that the central economic organs, are not in a position to undertake the tasks of centralised economic management, regardless of the development of the forces of production and the socialisation of the means of production. Deformations of the socialist economy inevitably take place as centralised decision-making overpowers workers’ democracy and a caste of administrators takes over as a ‘communist bureaucracy’. Once more, the objective character of the economic laws in general and the economic laws of socialism in particular, is overruled and loses its raison d’etre in the economic thinking of right-wing revisionism. Instead, Trotsky, as a poorly concealed right-wing revisionist, appeals on and on to the need for establishing harmony between the different branches of the socialist economy, which lies at the basis of his political economy.

Trotsky’s Bogdanovism is not a phenomenon of the 1930s; much to the contrary, it is inherent to his economic thinking from the very early stages of economic reforms in Soviet Russia. In summarising the developments in Soviet Russia since the victory of the October revolution, Trotsky states that the period of war communism had to end in order to restore equilibrium in labour exchange between the peasantry and the working class and between branches of the state sector, as:

‘Every economy can exist and grow only provided certain proportionality exists between its various sectors. Different branches of industry enter into specific quantitative and qualitative relations with one another. There must be a certain proportion between those branches which produce consumer goods and those which produce the means of production. Proper proportions must likewise be preserved within each of these branches. In other words, the material means and living labor power of a nation and of all mankind must be apportioned in accordance with a certain correlation of agriculture and industry and of the various branches of industry so as to enable mankind to exist and progress.’ (L.D. Trotsky, ‘The First Five Years of the Communist International’, Volume 2, New Park Publications, London, 1953, pp. 228.)

The postulate about proportionality of portions of labour among branches of the economy was conceived as a general, non-historic law that would apply to all economic systems. Marx’s considerations about the need for the establishment of certain proportions in which labour is exchanged in every economic system, and revised in a mechanical fashion by Bogdanov/Bukharin had a simple consequence in practice: the application of the law of value as a regulator of production was to be perpetuated in the socialist economy under the abstract consideration about the need for proportionality. This abstract concept is shared by Bukharin and Trotsky:

‘The problem of the proportionality of the elements of production and the branches of the economy constitutes the very heart of socialist economy’. (The Soviet Economy in Danger, p. 265.)

The ultimate goal of right-wing revisionism in questions concerning the transition to socialism is to provide every possible ideological means to perpetuate the economic relations of capitalism and to undermine the process of socialisation of the relations of production. In doing so, right-wing revisionism creates eclectic forms, Trojan horses in political economy. The postulate about the need of proportionality proved a euphemistic attack against the party line to curtail the operation of the law of value in the socialist sector and capitalist exploitation in the Soviet economy. By appealing to an abstract concept of proportionality without, leaving its concretisation as a loose end in the economic thinking, naturally leads to the perpetuation of relations of production existing hitherto. Abstract formulations in general, and in political economy in particular, without a concretisation within the concrete-historical framework inevitably render hollow abstractions, double-edged swords in the hands of revisionism.

Certainly, Trotsky casts out his disguise of a left-wing revisionist by bluntly stating:

‘The innumerable living participants in the economy, state and private, collective and individual, must serve notice of their needs and of their relative strength not only through the statistical determinations of plan commissions but by the direct pressure of supply and demand. The plan is checked and, to a considerable degree, realized through the market.’ (The Soviet Economy in Danger, p. 275. Our emphasis.)

Here, Trotsky makes an open appeal to the implementation of market relations as the ‘judge’ of the correctness or effectiveness of the economic policies developed by the plan makers. In other words, in the transitional economy the market is the beginning and the end of the economic system, the medium in which the struggle between the planned and market principles evolves into higher forms of development. It is within the market and according to the rules of the market that the superiority of the socialisation of the means of production is supposed to be put to the test. At some point in time the capitalist and petty bourgeois forms of productions will collapse under the inevitable overwhelming economic pressure of the socialised sector, at the time when it is able to develop higher forms of labour productivity. Trotsky, as a vulgar right-wing economist, therefore stands against what had been usually referred to by them as extra-economic measures to suppress the market principle in the economy, advocating instead a gradualist approach to the resolution of the contradictions between the socialist and other economic forms.

Trotsky’s economic thought is plagued with metaphysics; the metaphysical division of the economic system of the transitional society into the planned system and the market system holds a prominent place in the economic works of Trotskyism. This anti-dialectical approach to the economic processes had been already exposed in the mid 1920s in the Soviet Union by the majority of the party, including Bukharin/Rykov. But despite these differences, the left-wing and right-wing opposition agreed on the main proposition: let the market be the regulator of the labour exchange not only between industry and the countryside, but within the economic subjects of the socialist sector.

The idealist, metaphysical and non-historic postulate of proportionality of the elements of production is at the basis of the right-wing theories of Trotsky/Bukharin and gives them a certain semblance of self-consistency. The market represents the realm where the law of value, which is the concretisation of the postulate of proportionality, regulates the flow of labour among economic subjects, whether socialised or not. Needless to say, Trotsky is not the first to concretise the postulate of proportionality, which he had recently embraced, nor he was the first to establish such a line of thought. The appeal to preserve the commodity-money relations in the form that existed during NEP clearly predates Trotsky’s assertions about the need for proportionality. While we have to give credit to Bogdanov/Bukharin for their pioneering work in the descending line of modern revisionism, Trotsky does not deserve such an honour, as his contribution does not go beyond popularising the vulgar political economy of right-wing revisionism.

Apart from the metaphysical as well as mechanical idiosyncrasy of Trotskyite thought, which does not deserve to be the main topic of the present discussion, it is useful to bring out quotations like the following:

‘In this connection three systems must be subjected to a brief analysis: (1) special state departments, that is, the hierarchical system of plan commissions, in the center and locally; (2) trade, as a system of market regulation; (3) Soviet democracy, as a system for the living regulation by the masses of the structure of the economy.(The Soviet Economy in Danger, p. 273. Our emphasis.)

Far from sticking to left-wing orthodoxy, Trotsky sounds more like a Yugoslav Titoite, more like a pro-Western market liberal than anything else.

Trotsky takes a right-wing stand with regard to the role of NEP in the transition to socialism. Despite earlier attacks on the party to strengthen and develop further the economic and political link between the working class and the peasantry, Trotsky turns into a fervent advocate of the early forms of the transition to socialism adopted by the party. Moreover, he accuses the latter of liquidating the union between the working class and the peasantry. As a vulgar ‘market-socialist’, Trotsky considers the NEP as an inevitable step due to the significant weight of petty private production in the countryside, regardless of the concrete-historical conditions of revolutionary Russia:

‘The need to introduce the NEP, to restore market relationships, was determined first of all by the existence of 25 million independent peasant proprietors. This does not mean, however, that collectivization even in its first stage leads to the liquidation of the market.’ (The Soviet Economy in Danger, p. 275.)

The need for a transition to market relations between industry and the peasantry holds absolute character. According to Trotsky, due to the backwardness of the Russian peasantry and the level of mechanisation of labour in the countryside, the only possible form of peasant production with other producers is inevitably commodity-money relations. Trotsky’s mechanical and metaphysical thinking does not conceive of the socialist state and the individual peasant engaging in other forms of exchange, as well. Trotsky views the process of collectivisation as a forced administrative measure to unnaturally suppress the commodity-money bond between the city and the countryside. It is only through the evolution of the market, that certain conditions are created that the peasant feels it is more profitable to produce as a member of a larger production unit rather than remaining an individual producer. Hence it is believed that collectivisation should be performed by the forces of the market, that the market will suppress itself in a natural way.

Trotsky’s inevitability of market relations as the dominating bond between production agents during the transition to socialism does not reduce only to the interrelations between industry and the peasantry, much to the contrary:

‘This policy [NEP, our note] is a necessary stage in the growth of state-owned industry. Between capitalism, under which the means of production are owned by private individuals and all economic relations are regulated by the market – I say, between capitalism and complete socialism, with its socially planned economy, there are a number of transitional stages; and the NEP is essentially one of these stages’ (L.D. Trotsky, ‘The First Five Years of the Communist International’, Volume 2, New Park Publications, London, 1953, pp. 233).

NEP involved far more than the realisation of peasant production in a free market and the establishment of economic ties between the countryside and industry based on supply-demand. Never mind the cohabitation of the socialist sector with state capitalism and petty capitalist exploitation in both the countryside and the city; NEP introduced broad pro-market reforms within the socialist sector based on commercial accounting. It is true, however, that the expansion of commodity-money relations was seriously curtailed in the socialist sector in the second half of the twenties, which Trotsky viewed as a bureaucratic-administrative attack on the principles upon which Lenin allegedly conceived the path to socialist construction. It is here, where Guevara rebels against right-wing revisionism by advocating the right of the socialist state to determine the character of the relations of production and to regulate the proportions of labour exchange between branches of the state sector according to the global needs of the socialist state rather than the profitability of individual enterprises.

Much against Guevara’s views, Trotsky during the very early stages of NEP, during the transition from ‘war communism’ advocated the de-centralisation of the state sector:

‘The policy of a centralized bureaucratic management of industry excluded the possibility of a genuine centralized management, of fully utilizing technical equipment along with the available labor force.’ (L.D. Trotsky, ‘The First Five Years of the Communist International’, Volume 2, New Park Publications, London, 1953, pp. 230.)

As a result of the efforts to de-centralise state industry in 1921, especially light industry, as advocated by Trotsky, negative effects were felt soon, such as:

‘…violation of plan discipline, separatism; some state officials tried to replace the state plan organisation – VSNKh – by some ‘social organization of industry’’ (P.I. Lyashchenko, History of the People’s Economy of the USSR, Moscow 1956, Volume III, p. 153. Translated from Russian.)

Guevara supported the correct view that economic calculation does not necessarily imply market relations as factors determining production in the state sector, that economic accounting is not necessarily tied to commodity-money relations, as advocated by the supporters of the Soviet-style model in Cuba. Trotsky takes sides with Soviet revisionism:

After the administrative suppression of the NEP, the celebrated ‘six conditions of Stalin’ – economic accounting, piecework wages, etc. – became transformed into an empty collection of words. Economic accounting is unthinkable without market relations.” (The Soviet Economy in Danger,p. 276. Our emphasis.)

The history of the political economy of socialism has exposed the intimate link between the postulate of proportionality in the exchange of labour among different branches of the economy and the mechanical transportation of market relations to socialism. Metaphysics and mechanicism, common to the economic thought of right-wing revisionism, are closely interrelated with vulgar and superficial understanding of economic categories, which impels the ideologists of right-wing revisionism to equate exchange to commodity exchange and economic equilibrium to the operation of the law of value. The vulgar economic thought advocated by Trotsky and the right-wing opposition does not conceive another form of economic exchange other than commodity-money relations. It is not conceivable that the socialist state could establish a different content in the economic ties among objects of the socialist economy, which may violate the rigid principle of profitability of the individual enterprise. The ability of the planning bodies to establish labour exchange among socialist enterprises, which violates that principle, is viewed as a deformation, as a disproportion. Right-wing revisionism is unable to grasp and appreciate the great power in the hands of socialist planning to establish certain proportions of labour exchange that fit the needs and growth perspectives of the socialist economy, regardless of the overall level of socialisation of economy. In this sense, right-wing economists conceive the plan as a corollary of subjective (aprioristic, according to Trotsky) measures to organise, rationalise the labour exchange among profit-making individual enterprises. Guevara wholeheartedly rejects such a vulgar view of the plan, by advocating the right of the socialist planning to establish a different character of economic relations among the state enterprises, which does not necessarily follow the principle of profitability of the individual enterprise as the leading criterion for economic effectiveness.

Guevara openly exposed the view advocated by Trotsky and the ideologists of modern revisionism that economic accounting ‘is unthinkable’ without commodity money relations. Much to the contrary, Che advocated strict accounting, based on centralised responsibility and accountability of the management of the socialist enterprise, as a key element of the budgetary finance system, which lies at the centre of this economic thought. In his economic system economic accounting in the socialist sector is dissociated from the essence carried by commodity-money relations. Even though Guevara does not seem to grasp the dialectical evolution of market categories in socialism, his thought contains the basic elements to arrive at this understanding. Guevara’s accepts the correct view that the price, despite being a category inherited from the market economy, may be used within the socialist sector for calculation purposes. Hence, he does not reject the use of the form of market categories, which brings him closer to the Marxist-Leninist understanding developed by Lenin-Stalin. On the other hand, it is not clear to us that Guevara understood the evolution of the principle of economic accounting, which was introduced in 1921, through the NEP all the way to the massive collectivisation and the consolidation of the economic basis of socialism in the 1930s, all the way to the publication of Stalin’s Economic Problems. An analysis of the category of economic accounting shows that a deep change in the content had taken place which, despite the fact that the term was in use in the 1930-50s, reflected a different type of management to which Guevara’s budgetary system bears strong resemblance.

According to Tablada and Borrego, Che Guevara paid special attention to the analysis of the causes which led to the abolition of the war economy and the establishment of NEP. This issue is covered on multiple occasions in their books and has been the topic of a great deal of speculation, including allegations that Guevara accused Lenin of going too far in the development of market relations during the early stages of the NEP. Regardless of speculations, Che makes a strong case out of Lenin’s statements, in which NEP is considered as a retreat in the practice of the revolutionary process like the peace of Brest-Litovsk. It is evident, despite the wealth of confusion fostered by Guevara’s bourgeois, Trotskyite and neo-Trotskyite biographers, that Guevara does not consider NEP as an inevitable step in the transition to socialism, as a general and universal statement, but rather, a product of the historical-concrete conditions of revolutionary Russia. After quoting Marx, Lenin and Stalin (this article was written in 1964, when anti-Stalinism was already solidly established in the Soviet Union and the former People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe, with the exception of Albania), Guevara concludes:

‘As we see, the retreat that Lenin mentioned was due to the economic and political situation of the Soviet Union. These policies may be characterised as a practice, which is closely linked to the historical situation of the country, and, therefore, they do not hold universal character.’ (Che Guevara, ‘Che y la Economia’, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, Habana, Cuba 1993, p. 74. Translated from Spanish.)

The argumentation in favour of NEP-type of economic reforms as an unavoidable step in the transition process between capitalism and socialism is a fundamental element of the economic theory of right-wing revisionism, including Trotskyism, which Guevara rejected altogether. A historical example, which refutes NEP as a compulsory stage for new revolutionary states, is served by the first steps adopted by the People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe between 1948 and 1953. The governments of the People’s Democracies set an economic course based on the priority of heavy industry over other sectors of the economy. The policies of what bourgeois ideologists called the Stalinist economic model resulted in a spectacular growth of the socialist industry, a conditio sine qua non for a massive process of socialisation of means of production both in the city and the countryside. Even a vicious anti-communist publicist, such as F. Fejto, a Hungarian-born journalist based for a long time in France, admits:

‘Between 1949 and 1953, the industrial production of the six Comecon countries rose by 114 per cent, and in certain countries, like Hungary, where the ambitious planners knew no limits the results had been even more spectacular. Heavy industrial production increased fivefold; the engineering industry was seven times more productive in 1953 than in 1938. (F. Fejto, A History of the People’s Democracies, Penguin Books, 1977, p. 362.)

Further, Fejto elaborates on the very interesting case of the transition to socialism in Hungary, especially the events that followed the abrupt change of ‘gears’ imposed by the Soviet leadership weeks after the death of Stalin. In 1949 Hungary’s party, led by Matyas Rakosi, one of the most fervent supporters of Stalin’s policies, launched a campaign of collectivisation, which, although far from finalised, was well underway towards 1953. With Stalin’s death a swift change in the character of the Soviet leadership took place. The new Soviet leadership, at first initiated most likely by Beria, imposed on the leaders of the fraternal parties in Eastern Europe a line of forcible de-Stalinisation. The revisionist leadership ordered Eastern European leaders to slow down the tempo of industrialisation and to basically liquidate the process of ‘forcible’ collectivisation. In a number of countries, peasants were allowed to desert the collective farms (‘de-collectivisation’) if they wished to; private exploitation of land together with the restoration of the artisan class and private business. It was argued that the ‘Stalinist’ economic reforms had gone too far, that allegedly broad masses of the peasantry and the working class in those countries were frustrated at seeing that the unquestionable economic growth did not result in meaningful enhancement of the standards of living of the population, including that of the working class. There is no question that the ideological and organisational chaos induced by the policies of forcible ‘de-Stalinisation’ encouraged anti-communist elements within the middle classes, petty bourgeoisie and workers aristocracy to demonstrate compulsively, while entire party organisations proved hopeless, in disarray.

The Hungarian leader, Matyas Rakosi, did his best to stand up against Soviet revisionism and its supporters in the country; he succeeded in remaining in office till July 1956, when he was basically forced into exile by the Soviet leadership. Following orders from the Soviet revisionist leadership, in July 1953 Rakosi was forced to give up the post of Prime Minister, which passed to Imre Nagy, who even in the words of Fejto:

‘…revived Bukharinist ideas that had gone underground in Stalin’s lifetime’ (F. Fejto, A History of the People’s Democracies, Penguin Books, 1977, p. 363).

Certainly, Nagy was a fervent advocate of NEP-style treatment of the economic contradictions between the socialist sector, the peasantry and other petty producers. Soon after he gains office in July 1953, he launches a set of ‘liberalising’ measures, which became known as the ‘New Course’. In his last work, written in 1955, he states:

‘In a socialist society, when determining the tempo of economic development and the ratio between the various economic branches, the proportion between production and consumption and between consumption and stockpiling must be in harmony with the requirements of the basic economic law of socialism, guaranteeing a gradual advance of society’ (I. Nagy, ‘On Communism’, Frederick A. Praeger Publishers, New York, 1957, p. 98).

Nagy advocated ad nauseam the need for harmonic balance between the resources spent on sector A and sector B of the economy. The well-known concept of certain harmonic proportions invented by Bogdanov/Bukharin and plagiarised by Trotsky comes out again and again, as the back door to the development of commodity-money relations both in the socialist and non-socialist sectors, as a regulator of production. It is interesting, that unlike Bukharin/Trotsky, he uses Stalin’s citations of the mid twenties to substantiate the need to have NEP-style relations in the transitional economic system. In fact, by ‘basic economic law of socialism’ Nagy implies the well-known formulation given by Stalin in Economic Problems. This, however, does not prevent Nagy from remaining a vulgar right-wing economist, which Guevara’s economic thought has nothing to do with.

According to Nagy, the only bond that the socialist sector and the private producer can have in the early stages of the transition from capitalism to socialism is the market. It is only through the market that the process of socialisation of production can prove its advantages over capitalist forms of management and production. Nagy is explicit:

‘‘The NEP policy must be carried out unconditionally, as it means the establishment of increasingly closer relations in the exchange of goods between the city and the village, between the socialist industry and the system of small holdings producing for the market, facilitating the switch to a socialist system of agricultural farms on a large scale.’ (I. Nagy, op. cit., p. 82. Our emphasis.)

Nagy on and on bitterly complains about the staggering disproportions and ‘distortions’ inflicted on the Hungarian economy by Rakosi’s ‘clique’, referring to the fast development of heavy industry with respect to light industry, and especially the countryside. Nagy’s attack on Rakosi’s ‘clique’ becomes even more acute when touching upon the treatment of individual peasants and the collectivisation. He initially refers to Rakosi’s ‘clique’ as adventurous, later on as open left-wing ‘fanatics’ and deviationists. Finally, while quoting Lenin and Stalin’s works in the 1920s, taking their writings out of context, Nagy establishes a parallel between Rakosi’s struggle to uphold the principles of Marxism-Leninism, regardless of whatever mistakes in its implementation, and the Trotskyite left-wing opposition in the Soviet Union in the 1920s by appealing to:

‘The resolutions of the Bolshevik Party in the Fifteenth Congress, which were forged in the battle against the extreme ‘left-wing’ Trotskyist opposition…’ (I. Nagy, op. cit., p. 82.)

It is not the first time that right-wing opportunism portrays the struggle for the basic principle of centralisation of means of production in the construction of socialism as a left-wing, Trotskyite deviation. These allegations of Trotskyism that were thrown at Guevara are to be understood in the historical context, which corresponds to the time when right-wing revisionism, led by the revisionist leadership of in the Soviet Union, disbanded the ‘Stalinist’ plans for the socialisation of the means of production in industry and the countryside. Modern revisionism turned the state sector in the People’s Democracies into an aggregation of independently producing enterprises, which engage in labour exchange with other enterprises and the state via commodity-money relations; in the countryside the process of collectivisation was halted and reversed, and in some countries farm cooperatives were turned into independently producing enterprises, following the model imposed by the revisionists in the Soviet Union. It is in this context, that Guevara’s fight against followers of the Soviet economic model in Cuba, despite his mechanical and idealist mistakes, renders a substantiated critique against right-wing revisionist theories for the construction of socialism.

Guevara’s plans for the industrialisation of the Caribbean island need to be understood within the historical-concrete situation corresponding to the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and the People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe. Despite elements of idealism and mechanicism, Guevara’s model of budgetary finance system and his refusal to implement commodity-money relations and the law of value as the regulator of proportions among state enterprises bears strong resemblances with the economic system existent in the Soviet Union during the 1930-50s. Hence, it was natural that Guevara’s plans for industrialisation faced fierce resistance by Soviet revisionism and its followers in the island. It is evident to us, that allegations of Trotskyism or left-wing deviationism thrown by right-wing revisionists are utterly unfounded. Nevertheless, more investigation is needed to throw light on Guevara’s ideological evolution in the 1950s and early 1960s and on how he came to propose the budgetary finance system, as the fundamental pillar for the industrialisation in Cuba.

Idealism and Mechanicism in Che’s Economic Thought

Despite the progressive character of Guevara’s economic thought, and its invaluable positive impact on the economic discussion held in Cuba during the first half of the 1960s, which represents a courageous and more or less consistent and substantiated struggle against modern revisionism, Che’s thinking needs to be considered critically. Notwithstanding the substantiated struggle against the right-wing theories of socialist construction, which makes Guevara’s works most relevant materials for the study of questions related to socialist transformation, he is plagued with serious mistakes. Guevara’s eclecticism is inherent to his thought in general, and cannot be neglected when evaluating Guevara’s role in the Cuban revolution and the theory of socialist transformation.

Guevara’s mistakes in political economy can be classified into two groups: idealism and mechanicism. Idealist mistakes were committed by Guevara when evaluating the role of consciousness in political economy. When we refer to mechanicism in Guevara’s economic thought we mainly imply his failure to grasp the dialectical evolution of economic categories involved in commodity-money relations during the transitional epoch. Needless to say, Guevara’s mistakes have been extensively used by the bourgeoisie and the representatives of revisionist tendencies, such as Trotskyism and neo-Trotskyism to mystify the revolutionary and rip his contribution to the political science and political economy from its Marxist logical core and divorce it from a number of Marxist-Leninist principles, which Guevara tried to uphold in a more or less consistent manner.

Guevara’s mistakes in political economy have been used inside and outside the island to consider Guevara’s contribution to the economic transformations in the early stages of the Cuban revolution in isolation from the principles of socialist transformation adopted by the People’s Democracies during the post-war period, so demonised by modern revisionism. Guevara’s thought is portrayed by many as a specific phenomenon of the Cuban revolution, thus completely ignoring its strong links with the so called ‘Stalinist’ economic theories and modus operandi during the transitional period. Although we do not wish to portray Guevara’s economic thought as a faithful concretisation of the principles of Marxism-Leninism in the conditions of revolutionary Cuba in the 1960s, we feel it would be a serious mistake not to evaluate Guevara’s thought within the concrete-historical epoch corresponding to systematic violation of the principles of Marxism-Leninism, which led to the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and the liquidation of socialist construction in Eastern Europe. While evaluating critically Guevara’s economic thought and identifying areas of inconsistency, we feel compelled to appreciate and value the positive and progressive that Che upheld under very difficult conditions of struggle against imperialism and revisionism.

Idealism is present throughout Guevara’s works all the way till his last published work, ‘Man and Socialism in Cuba’. It leads Guevara to proclaim consciousness and education as primary with respect to the study of relations of production in the transitional economy, including the construction of communism. Impressed by the early philosophical works of young Marx, Guevara states:

‘The word conscious is emphasized because Marx considered it basic in stating the problem. He thought about man’s liberation and saw communism as the solution to the contradictions that brought alienation – but as a conscious act. That is to say, communism cannot be seen merely as the result of class contradictions in a highly developed society, contradiction that would be resolved during a transitional stage before reaching the crest. Man is a conscious actor in history. Without this consciousness, which embraces its awareness as a social being, there can be no communism.’ (Che Guevara, in ‘On the budgetary finance system’, published in Man and Socialism in Cuba, Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 124. Our emphasis.)

The role of consciousness and education is ubiquitously stressed by Guevara in his economic works as the leading factor in the transition to higher forms of economic organisation. In Guevara’s system political economy ceases to be an independent discipline, the objective character of the economic laws of the transitional society is secondary to the cultural formation of the new man. The economic laws of socialism, like those of capitalism, exist and evolve with the development of the forces of production and the historical conditions at times independently from the level of consciousness of the masses. In fact, in certain historical situations, the masses as a whole remain unaware of the economic essence of both revolution and counter-revolution.

The role of consciousness and education undoubtedly play a fundamental role in the construction of the new society. However, political economy remains an independent discipline and the study of the objective laws that govern it remains a titanic effort. Only scientific analysis and synthesis of the relations of production can make possible the sustained economic development necessary for the construction of the socialist and communist societies. As opposed to capitalism, during the course of the transition to socialism, objective and subjective conditions are given for the masses to participate consciously in the construction and scientific analysis and synthesis of the socialist construction. It is clear that the more conscious and active participation of the working class in the socialist construction, the more solid are the foundations of the socialist formation. It is clear too, that the more conscious the working class is about the essence of the economic transformation, the more robust is the economic development and the less influential are the forces of counter-revolution.

Economic development under socialism and the development of consciousness and socialist culture – two phenomena which go hand in hand. Generalisation on the basis of the history of the Soviet Union indicates that consciousness and socialist culture require a material basis, without which further economic development and further development of consciousness. However, according to Guevara consciousness and socialist education are supposed to be the primary engines of economic development in socialism:

‘The hopes in our system [budgetary finance system – our note] point to the future, towards a more rapid development of consciousness, and through consciousness, to the development of the productive forces’. (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Socialist plan: its meaning’, p. 147. Translated from Spanish.)

In Guevara’s system, socialist economic development is not really the engine of consciousness, but the other way around, consciousness is the source of socialist economic development. Guevara’s idealism turns voluntarist. In this respect, Che’s idealism may be compared to Mao’s idealist views in political economy, despite the fact that Guevara displays a significantly more progressive stand with respect to commodity-money relations than the latter. Mao, in his critique of Stalin’s Economic Problems, bitterly complains about the fact that the latter does not include the study of the superstructure in the analysis of the socialist economy:

Stalin’s book from first to last says nothing about the superstructure. It is not concerned with people; it considers things not people…

They speak only of the production relations, not the superstructure nor politics, nor the role of the people. Communism cannot be reached unless there is a communist movement’. (Mao Tsetung, A Critique of Soviet Economics, Monthly Review Press, New York and London, 1977, pp. 135-136.)

Guevara supports the wrong idealistic view that commodity-money relations per se and in general are a manifestation of the alienation of the human being in the process of production. Guevara interprets mechanistically and metaphysically the role and place of economic forms inherited from capitalism in the socialist economy:

‘The alienated human individual is bound to society as a whole by an invisible umbilical cord: the law of value. It acts upon all facets of his life, shaping his road and his destiny. (Che Guevara in ‘Man and Socialism in Cuba’, Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 340.)

One of the major and profound mistakes displayed by Guevara’s economic thought, a mistake common to many others who have genuinely claimed allegiance to Marxism-Leninism, is his failing to grasp Lenin’s and Stalin’s teachings with regards to the dying off of economic categories inherited from capitalism. These teachings may be succinctly expressed in Stalin’s well-known assertion in Economic Problems. In his answer to A. Notkin, Stalin stresses:

‘The fact of the matter is that in our socialist conditions economic development proceeds not by way of upheavals, but by way of gradual changes, the old not simply being abolished out of hand, but changing its nature in adaptation to the new, and retaining only its form; while the new does not simply destroy the old, but infiltrates into it, changes its nature and its functions, without smashing its form, but utilizing it for the development of the new. This, in our economic circulation, is true not only of commodities, but also of money, as well as of banks, which, while they lose their old functions and acquire new ones, preserve their old form, which is utilized by the socialist system.’ (J.V. Stalin ‘Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR’, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1952, p. 59.)

Guevara commits the colossal mistake, which has been more or less successfully exploited by neo-Trotskyism and other bourgeois ideologies, of mechanically and metaphysically extrapolating the character of the economic categories implemented during the NEP to later stages of the socialist construction in the Soviet Union. Guevara, de facto blames the adoption of such economic forms as economic accounting, profit, credit, etc. implemented in the 1920s for the right-wing deviationist economic theories that he was fighting in the 1960s, without appreciating the profound changes that operated in the content of those categories during the 1930-50s:

In the Soviet Union, the first country to build socialism, and those who followed its example, determined to develop a planning process that could measure broad economic results by financial means. Relations among enterprises were left in a state of more or less free play. This is the origin of what is now called economic calculus (a poor translation of the Russian term, that might better be expressed as auto-financing, or, more precisely, financial self-management).

Roughly speaking, then, financial self-management is based on establishing broad financial control over the enterprise activities, banks being the principal agencies of control. Suitably designed and regimented material incentives are used to promote independent initiative toward maximum utilization of productive capacity, which translates into greater benefits for the individual worker or the factory collective. Under this system, loans granted to socialist enterprises are repaid with interests in order to accelerate product turnover’. (Che Guevara, in ‘On Production Costs and the Budgetary System’, published in Man and Socialism in Cuba, Atheneum, New York, 1973, p. 114.)

It is clear that, the transition to socialism in the Soviet Union, which followed the implementation of market-type economic relations in most of the economy, had to carry within itself certain economic forms, which are inevitably inherited from capitalism. However, Guevara apparently fails to grasp the fact that the concept of economic accounting evolved dramatically over the years, as the character of the economic relations evolved. The concept of economic accounting never disappeared from the Soviet economic literature; however, its content evolved in time in order to accommodate the planned principle of the economy on the basis of socialised property and the liquidation of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois forms of production. The economic accounting of the more or less disseminated production subjects confined to the Soviet artels in the 1920s bears little resemblance with the economic accounting of highly concentrated Soviet industry in the 1930-50s. The character of the labour exchange among the different production subjects during the 1930-50s bear close resemblance to that of the budgetary finance system advocated by Guevara in the 1960s.

It is not clear to us, to what extent Guevara is able to appreciate the qualitative changes that operated in the interpretation of the content of economic categories over the history of the political economy of the Soviet Union. It is unclear whether Guevara sees the preservation in the Soviet Union of economic forms such us, economic accounting, profit, credit, banks, etc… as a sign of economic backwardness, or rather as a sign of the concrete historical conditions under which the transition to socialism took place in the Soviet Union. For instance, Guevara advocated the liquidation of the concept of credit in socialism, even though the form of credit was never liquidated in the Soviet Union:

‘In our system [the budgetary system – our note.] the Bank supplies a certain amount of resources to the enterprises according to the budget; here the interest rate is not present’. (Che Guevara, op. cit. in ‘Considerations on Expenses’, pp. 45-46. Translated from Spanish.)

The same applies to the economic category of profit, which was never liquidated in the Soviet Union but was categorically denied by Guevara within the context of the budgetary finance system in Cuba. Guevara seems to understand mechanically the economic relation of the State with socialised production subjects:

‘…because the State Enterprise in the conditions of Cuba, is just a centre for production. It has a budget, a budget for production; it should meet the goals of production and deliver its product to the Ministry of Domestic Commerce, or to other state industries. Thus, the enterprise does not have profit, does not have money; all the profit, all the difference between what was sold and the cost belongs to the Cuban state. The enterprise is reduced to production.’ (Che Guevara, Conference ‘Economy and Plan’ of the People’s University, 1961. Translated from Spanish.)

As a matter of fact, the history of the political economy of the Soviet Union has demonstrated that the principle of socialist planning on the basis of socialised forms of production does not contradict the implementation of such economic forms as profit, as long as the latter do not express the relationship between independent producers, but on the contrary is used as one of the indexes of economic effectiveness, etc… To state that profit is not the leading economic criterion in socialist industry is generally speaking correct. However to interpret the sole presence of the concept of profit, regardless of its relative weight in the definition of economic effectiveness, as a sign of economic backwardness is strictly speaking incorrect.

In his article ‘Bank, Credit and Socialism’ Guevara brilliantly exposes the vulgar and fetishist economic views of those in Cuba who did not understand the need to re-define the role of banks in a socialist economy and that the economic functions of the banks in capitalism cannot be mechanically transported to socialism. His conclusions are generally speaking correct, correct in the sense of abstract formulations. So are his conclusions with regard to commodity-money relations and the role of the law of value in the transitional economy. However, they are correct in the abstract and may turn dangerous if applied mechanically to concrete-historical conditions.

Unfortunately, the evaluation of Guevara’s economic thought is confusing and inconclusive since the budgetary finance system is conceived as a result of the struggle with right-wing economic theories, which absolutise the role of commodity-money relations. The budgetary finance system is without a doubt a reaction against right-wing economic theories and needs to be appreciated as such. Further investigations, possibly on the basis of archival materials, will hopefully throw valuable light on the role of mechanicism and metaphysics in Guevara’s economic thought.

Source

The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and the Anti-Jewish Plot

Solomon Mikhoels, chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, at the grave of Sholem Aleichem in New York in 1943.

Solomon Mikhoels, chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, at the grave of Sholem Aleichem in New York in 1943.

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #30, “Marx, Lenin and Stalin on Zionism.”

The Effects of The War Upon the Jews of the Soviet Union

As the Nazis entered the USSR in their war of aggression, they organised killing squads against the Jews of the former Pale of Settlement, within the USSR:

“The former ‘Pale of Settlement’ – fell under German occupation. In the territories annexed by the Soviet Union after September 1939 – the Baltic, eastern Poland, Bessarabia and the Bukovina – live 1,910,000 Jews; in the Ukraine, Byelorussia, the Crimea and other areas of the RSFSR overrun by the German forces are 2,160,000 Jews. Of these, 1.5 million manage to flee before the German troops arrive. More than 2.5 million are trapped, 90 percent of which live concentrated in less than 50 towns. In the months before the attack, the Nazi leadership has designed a method for these particular circumstances: the mobile killing units.. “Einsatzgruppen,”..of SS men, German police and local helpers… Outside cities with large Jewish populations, mass killings of unprecedented scope and speed take place – in Babi Yar outside Kiev, in Ponar outside Vilna, in the VII.Fort outside Kaunas. In the first five months of operation, the “Einsatzgruppen” shoot 100,000 Jews per month… about 2 million Jews are still alive after the first sweep in November 1941.. Jews are forced into “ghettos” and the population Aselected” for immediate killing, deportation or for forced labor. From 1942 onward, these ghettos are Aliquidated” and the remaining population shot. By the end of 1943, another 900,000 Jews are killed.”

WWW Site: “Beyond the Pale”; Op Cit; at:
http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/53.html

During the war anti-Semitic chauvinism continued to be expressed against the Jews despite high involvement of the Soviet Jews in the resistance:

“The Jews of the Soviet Union took an active part in the fight against Nazi Germany. About half a million served in the Red Army, and many volunteered for service at the front. Jewish soldiers ran an extra risk: when taken prisoner, they were bound to be shot immediately. An estimated 200,000 Soviet Jews died on the battlefield. During the war, the old anti-Semitic stereotype of Jews as cowardly soldiers was resurrected. Rumours circulated that Jews are “draft dodgers..” http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/53.html

The Soviet state took action to organise the Jewish partisans and fighters, and to publicise their actions in the West. This took the concrete from within the Soviet Union of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAFC). Its’ organisation was approved of, and supported by both Stalin and Beria.

“The Soviet authorities in April 1942 allow the establishment of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. Its aim is to organize political and material support for the Soviet struggle against Nazi Germany from the Jewish communities in the West.”

(See Web site at “Beyond the Pale”; Op Cit p.61: http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/61.html).

“One should bear in mind that attempts to organise an international Jewish committee in the Soviet Union during the first months of the War were sponsored by Beria, head of the Soviet Security Police. Individuals connected with the security apparatus also preformed a significant role within the Soviet Antifascist Committee which emerged in Spring 1942.”

Redlich Shimon:”Propaganda and Nationalism in Wartime Russia-The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the USSR, 1941-1948″; 1982; USA; p.11.

There is some dispute as to the origin of the idea of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee.

Two members of the “Bund,” from Poland, were imprisoned by the Soviets after the annexation of Eastern Poland under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, in 1939. These two men were Henrych Erlich and Wiktor Alter.

They proposed to set up an international Jewish Committee in the USSR. Upon the arrest of the two, international pressure mounted to release them. This included Polish socialists such as Wanda Wasilwska and the American Federation of Labor, and the British government. As a letter written from the Foreign Office explained, this would strengthen the hand of the “moderate Poles” led by General Sikorski:

“A letter from the British Foreign Office to the British Embassy in Moscow listed Erlich and Alter among eight outstanding Polish specialists whose release was sought by the British ‘to strengthen General Sikorski’s hand with his people,’ ie to bolster the moderate Poles.”

Redlich Shimon: “Propaganda and Nationalism in Wartime Russia-The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the USSR, 1941-1948”; 1982; USA; p.14.

But when Beria became involved in their case, the previously announced death sentences were lifted and they were released. They were then allowed to assist in the formation of the Committee. As Redlich points out, the Soviet Government was actively thinking about such steps, and a parallel Slav Committee, had already been created “within a few weeks after Hitler’s attack”. (Redlich Ibid; p. 11.)

Claims that Alter and Erlych were primarily responsible for a similar idea in respect of the Jews, are impossible to verify. It is however, certainly the case that both were then later executed.

Who would gain from their executions?

Although both of them were Bundists, and thus anti-Bolshevik, both were working towards the ridding of Poland from Nazi rule and the establishment of a democratic and social-democratic state in Poland. Their contacts with the Polish ambassador in Moscow, Professor Stanlsilaw Kot had assured their allegiance to:

“The New Plan.. Which will shape the fate of the future Europe in the spirit of political freedom social justice and national equality… Kot subsequently reported to his superiors in London that the “Bund delegates told me that the Soviet Government (NKVD) asked their assistance in spreading propaganda especially in America. They promised their help on condition that they would conduct the propaganda themselves, not as figure heads, and that it would be under the control of the (Polish) ambassador.”

Redlich Ibid; p. 24,

Despite evidence that is acknowledged, that they had established links with visiting social democrats such as Water Citrine of the British Trades Union Congress and members of the Soviet – British Trade Union Committee, it appears that Alter and Erlych were genuinely interested in the liberation of Poland.

They therefore objectively assisted the Soviet struggle.

It is clear then, that their murder did not objectively help the USSR.
Yet they were suddenly re-arrested on December 4th 1941.

Even Shimon Redlich, the anti-Marxist-Leninist historian of the JAFC, finds the arrests inexplicable, from the point of view of both Stalin and the desperate struggle of the USSR state against Hitlerism.

In the absence of further data, Alliance is forced to interpret this as another attempted sabotage (See above for other documented war time sabotage).

However the decision had been taken, somehow the fact of their executions; had subsequently to be explained to the world. Vyshinsky accused them of: “working on behalf of Germany.” Redlich Ibid; p. 30. This seemed to many to be a rather un-convincing allegation. There was considerable negative international response to their re-arrest. Workers circles in the USA especially, were split by the news of these two executions. However, the executions were indeed confirmed by Litvinov in early 1943, who stated that both of them had argued for a Peace with Germany. (Redlich Ibid; p. 33).

Further documentary data on this matter is still awaited.

However by the time the arrests of the Bund-ists, had occurred, a Jewish Anti-fascist Committee had been established.

Information provided in an internal party document, “Pursuant to the inquiry of Comrade Shumeiko” upon the JAFC, confirms that the Jewish Anti-fascist Committee in the USSR (JAFC) was formed soon after a rally organised in Moscow of the representatives of Athe Jewish people” Vaksberg A, Ibid, p. 107. It occurred after the:

“First antifascist radio broadcast political rally of representatives of the Jewish people, which was held in Moscow in August 1941. The Committee consists of 70 members … and its executive committee has 19 members.”

From Library of Congress site WWW: “The Jewish Antifascist Committee Jewish in the USSR”; Find at: http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/archives/jewi.html

In a memo of 21 June 1946: “To Comrade M.A.Suslov”; the members were itemised. The leading elements were in the main, long standing party members:

“1. Secretary of the Committee, whose duties (following the death of Comrade Shakhno Epshtein) are carried out by the writer I. Fefer, member of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) [VKP(b)] since 1919.
2. Deputy Secretary of the Committee, Comrade S.M. Shpige’glias, VKP(b) member since 1919 and formerly a party worker.”

Memorandum of JAFC ; 21 June 1946; To “Comrade M. A. SUSLOV, Director Section For Foreign Policy of the Central Committee Of the Communist Party”; At Library of Congress site on web: http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/archives/m2antfac.html

But, as a leading representative of the politburo, Solomon Lozovsky was the political representative. He was then Deputy Commissar of Political Affairs, and deputy chief of Sovinformburo. It was he who officially announced the formation of the committee, talking to foreign correspondents in Kuibyshev in April 1942:

“All the anti-fascist committees arose in connection with Hitler’s treacherous attack on the USSR.. The Jews have created an anti-fascist committee to help the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the USA.”

Redlich Op Cit; p. 40.

The JAFC published a paper- “Eynikayt“, from the summer of 1942, until late 1948. The key members of the JAFC included, Solomon Mikhoels (the Jewish actor, and Director of the Moscow Jewish State Art Theatre), Shakhne Epstein, the executive secretary, and Itzik Feffer was a poet as well as a Red Army Colonel; Ilya Ehrenburg the noted writer; David Bergelson the writer; Perets Markish the Soviet-Yiddish poet.

Of all these, undoubtedly the most popular figure in the JAFC was Solomon Mikhoels, famous for his stage roles and this Theatre. It is said that Stalin had nick-named him as “The Wise Solomon”, (Teller, Judd L: “The Kremlin, The Jews & The Middle East”; New York; 1957; p.41.”) though this is specifically repudiated by other sources. Rapport; Ibid).

After the victory of Stalingrad, in 1943, a tension erupted over a dual potential role for the JAFC:

Firstly, to defend Jewish refugees and provide assistance and rehabilitation to Jewish expatriates; and
Secondly to “activate” foreign Jewry for the defence of the USSR. (Redlich Ibid; p. 43-44).

The latter view predominated, and Mikhoels and Feffer were sent on a speaking tour of the West. They succeeded in convincing Jewish people in the West to support and donate to the Russian anti-war efforts:

“The Jewish Anti-fascist Committee in the USSR has sent during its entire existence one delegation, composed of Comrades Mikhoels and Fefer, to the United States, England, Canada, and Mexico. This delegations’s trip report has been published in the book: “The Jewish People against Fascism.”
Memorandum to Comrade Suslov; Ibid; AT:
http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/archives/m2antfac.html

The leading lights of the Western Jewish intelligentsia met them such as those of the American Committee of Jewish Writers & Scientists, with Albert Einstein, Sholom Asch, Lion Feuchtwangler, Howard Fast, Lilian Hellmann and others. The trip succeeded in raising funds for at Aleast one thousand aeroplanes and five hundred tanks and uniforms and food etc. Vaksberg Ibid; p.118

There is little doubt that Mikhoels and Feffer made a significant impact upon world Jewry, and garnered respect and enthusiasm for the USSR.

“In 1943 Solomon Mikhoels and the writer Itzik Feffer embark on a seven-month official tour to the USA, Mexico, Canada and Great Britain. They are received everywhere with great enthusiasm: for a long time, no official contact with one of the largest Jewish communities of the world had been possible. Especially in the United States, where many Jews have not forgotten their ties with Russia, the tour is a great success, and many millions of dollars are raised for the Russian war effort. The JAFC becomes the focal point of a national awakening for Soviet Jewry at a time when its very survival is in danger. Many Jews turn to the JAFC with requests for help, among them survivors from the Nazi camps who find their houses occupied upon their return.” WWW Site Beyond the pale:
http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/61.html

One important achievement of the JAFC was that several prominent Jews from all over the world came to the USSR as guests of the committee:

“Over two years, representatives of a series of foreign Jewish antifascist organizations have visited the Committee: Deputy Chairman of the Jewish Antifascist Committee of Bulgaria, Mr. Zhak Vradzhali; one of the leaders of the Union of Jews of Czechoslovakia, Mr. Rozenberg; representatives of Jewish organizations of France, Poland, et al. Recently Mr. Ben Zion Goldberg (Waife), the son-in-law of Sholem Aleichem, visited the Soviet Union. He is a prominent public figure in the United States, a member of the executive committee of the Soviet-American Friendship Society (headed by Lamont), chairman of the Committee of Jewish Scientists, Writers, and Artists of the United States (Albert Einstein is president of the Committee), vice-president of Ambidjan, the All-American Society for Aid to Birobidzhan (president of Ambidzhan– Steffenson). Mr. Goldberg is also a major American journalist.. Mr. Goldberg was received in Moscow by M. I. Kalinin and S. A. Lozovskii.. Met Soviet writers .. representatives of the Soviet Jewish community (at the Jewish Antifascist Committee in the USSR headquarters), with leaders of the State Jewish Theatre, with the chief rabbi of the Moscow Jewish congregation, Shliffer, and with leaders of the Red Cross, among others… During his stay in the Soviet Union, Mr. Goldberg dispatched via the Soviet Information Bureau 33 articles to the American, Canadian, English, Palestinian, Polish, and Yiddish press. The articles were extremely friendly toward the Soviet Union. Before his departure, Mr. Goldberg began to write a book in English entitled England, the Opponent of Peace, and a book in Yiddish entitled Jewish Culture in the Soviet Union.”

Memorandum to Comrade Suslov; Ibid; AT:
http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/archives/m2antfac.html

Further requests were being received by the USSR from prominent Jews in “several countries”:

“Such requests were received from: N. Goldman, the chairman of the executive committee of the World Jewish Congress; Dr. Stephen Wise, chairman of the American Jewish Congress; Louis Levine, chairman of the Jewish Union for Soviet Aid under Russian War Relief; Mr. Raiskii, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Presse Nouvelle in Paris; et al.”

Memorandum to Comrade Suslov; Ibid; AT:
http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/archives/m2antfac.html

At this stage, the Jewish AFC proposed a detailed plan to make the Crimea the site of a Homeland for oppressed Jewish people from all over the world, including all the refugees from the war.

This was proposed by the JAFC in a letter to Stalin dated February 15, 1944.

It seems that only part of this letter has been made public to date. That fragment reads:

“The creation of a Jewish Soviet Republic will once and forever, in a Bolshevik manner, within the spirit of Leninist -Stalinists national policy, settle the problem of the state legal position of the Jewish people and further development of their multi century culture. This is a problem that no one has been capable of settling in the course of many centuries. It can be solved only in our great socialist country.”

Cited From Literatunaya Gazeta July 7th; 1933.; By Sudoplatov Ibid; p. 286.

As mentioned above, Stalin had approved the formation of the committee. Even the virulently anti-Stalin figure Vaksberg notes that Stalin had written to the JAFC the following note:

“Please convey to the working Jews of the Soviet Union who collected an additional 33,294,823 rubles for the construction of air force squadron Stalin’s Friendship of the Peoples and tank column Soviet Birobidzhan my fraternal greetings and the gratitude of the Red Army J.Stalin”.

Vaksberg A; AStalin Against the Jews”; New York; 1994; p. 116.

Why therefore, as various Zionists state, should Stalin have turned against the JAFC? They allege “anti-Semitism.”

Was Stalin himself known to hold anti-Semitic views?

The major allegations made on a personal level about this charge are frankly ludicrous. Thus for instance, reliance upon Khrushchev and moreover upon an unclear source reveals this:

“The first symptoms of Stalin’s anti-Semitic policy are rooted in his personality and may be traced to the pre-revolutionary period. Many people who knew him well, such as Khrushchev, suggested that his Judaeophobia was pathological. Stalin’s struggle against Trotsky and his numerous Jewish supporters fuelled the anti-Semitic trends in the Kremlin dictator’s policy. ‘Anti-Semitism and anti-Trotskyism reared their heads simultaneously’, Trotsky wrote.”

Iakov Etinger, “The Doctors’ Plot: Stalin’s Solution to the Jewish Question”; in Editor: Yaacov Ro’i:”Jews & Jewish Life in Russia & the Soviet Union”; Ibid; p.103.

It is remarkable that Trotsky then, himself a Jew never commented that this was the reason for his “persecutions” in a more visible and public forum. Nor indeed do Trotsky’s followers including Isaac Deutscher his primary biographer use this charge. What else does Professor I. Etinger have for us?

“Stalin’s secretary, Boris Bazhanov, recollects that Stalin made crude anti-Semitic outbursts even when Lenin was still alive. In 1907 Stalin wrote a letter in which he referred to the Mensheviks as a ‘Jewish faction’ and to the Bolsheviks as a ‘truly Russian’ one.’ It would do no harm to us Bolsheviks if we staged a pogrom inside the party’, he suggested.”

Etinger, “The Doctors’ Plot,” Ibid; p. 104; citing V.Solov’ev, E. Klepikov, op cit p.216.

Other comments from Vaksberg, indicate the same source for other various anecdotes. But interestingly, the most virulent anti-Stalin Vaksberg records other facts that show Stalin was not anti-Semitic. So Vaksberg, although interspersed with sly digs and innuendoes throughout, must note that Stalin was vociferous against anti-semitism:

“The composer Dmitri Rogal-Levitsky… was in 1944 commissioned to orchestrate the new state anthem.. His notebooks .. Record the conversation (of a banquet)…

“Stalin asked how many conductors there were at the Bolshoi Theatre. They told him seven of whom three were Jews…

‘Do you have Nikolai Golovanov there?’ Stalin asked…
‘We were planning to entrust two or three productions to him’ began Tsazoksky… ‘And?’ Interrupted Stalin.
‘He refused.’
‘Good thing!’ Stalin said, striking a match.
‘I don’t like him… He’s an anti-Semite. Yes a real anti-Semite. A crude anti-Semite. He should not be allowed into the Bolshoi Theatre.. It’s like letting a goat into the cabbage patch,’ he said laughing.

Then the conversation turned. But a while later without any obvious connection, Stalin returned to the first theme:

‘But that Golovanov is an anti-Semite.’
‘I’ve not dealt with him in that sense.’
‘Don’t worry you will, if you let him into the Bolshoi Theatre… Golovanov is a real anti-Semite, a dangerous, principled anti-Semite.. You cannot let Golovanov into the Bolshoi Theatre. That anti-Semite will turn everything upside down.'”

Vaksberg A; “Stalin Against the Jews”; New York; 1994; p. 29-30.

Yet ultimately, Vasberg dismisses this all, as an elaborate facade behind which Stalin’s own “anti-Semitism” could be hidden. Vaksberg refers to Stalin’s daughter having “destroyed” Svetlana Alliluyeva’s first marriage because it had been to a Jew – Grigory Morozov (Moroz). Such personal testimony is liable to selective “filtering.” But even Svetlana’s own words are somewhat self-contradictory. She states that Stalin did not stand in her way regarding her marriage, but he refused to allow her husband to visit him. Perhaps the real reason that Stalin disliked him, was not that he was a Jew, but lies in what he told her:

“He’s too calculating, that young man of yours.. Just think it’s terrible at the front. People are getting shot. And look at him. He’s sitting it out at home.”

Alliluyeva, Svetlana, “Twenty Letters to a Friend”; New York; 1967; p.187.

It is true that Svetlana says later on, that Stalin told her that the “Zionists had thrown the first husband” into her way. (Alliluyeva, Svetlana, “Twenty Letters to a Friend”; Ibid; p.196). However the marriage appears to have failed of its’ own accord, Svetlana is quite clear on this.

The net definite “evidence” to prove the racism of Stalin must be in doubt by an open mind.

The real “proof” for the accusers, who convict Stalin of “anti-Semitism”- appears to lie in the matter of the so called “Zionists’ Plot” and the “Doctor’s Plot.”

Was Beria Personally an anti-Semite?

The same general problem is faced by Zionists, who although they accuse Beria of being an anti-Semite, confront and cannot explain data that in reality shows the opposite:

“There is also the mystery of Beria’s comportment towards Jews in Georgia. The New York Times correspondent Salisbury discovered in Tiflis Georgia in 1951, a Jewish ethnological Museum which featured painting depicting Jewish religious rites reconstructions of early Georgian synagogues, and a record of Jewish Soviet heroes in World War II. That the museum should have survived the liquidation of Jewish culture everywhere else in the USSR was curious; the information that Beria had inspired it was even more curious”. He had also sponsored in the 1920’s an occupational rehabilitation programme for Georgian Jewry. This programme included Jewish trade schools and farms.”

Teller Ibid; p. 91-92.

“There is also reason to believe that (Beria) was helpful to Jews in Georgia. The American journalist Harrison Salisbury who visited Georgia after the war, discovered that Beria as Georgian party leader, had instigated the establishment of a program for rehabilitating Georgian Jews. The program included a Jewish charitable society and a Jewish ethnological museum in Tbilisi. It might be added that Beria’s sisters’ husband was a Jew and that Beria had several Jews in his retinue: Mil’stein, Raikhmna, Mamulov, Sumbatov-Topuridze and N.I.Eitington to name a few. Although many Jews lost their jobs in the late 1940’s as a result of the anti-Semitic campaign, these men survived.”

Knight A; Ibid; p.147

Furthermore, it must be noted firstly that it was Beria, who after Stalin’s death – first repudiated the “Doctor’s Plot”, as being a sham:

“Beria’s position as chief of the security services and the police place him in an invidious position as the likeliest candidate for indictment and castigation for all persecutions that has taken place .. Stalin’s successors have fingered him as the author of the so-called Doctor’s Plot… Yet after Stalin’s death it was Beria who exposed the indictment which in itself, disputes his executioners’ contention that he was its author. The Minister of State Security the real boss of the secret police at the time that this evidence was manufactured, was Semyon D.Ignatiev, Beria’s political enemy. Although publicly pilloried for his central role in concocting the indictment, Ignatiev was restored to favour at the Kremlin immediately after Beri had been purged. The post-Beria Kremlin significantly had maintained that there was not anti-Semitic intent behind the doctor’s indictment.. Which in turn invites speculation that the charge might not have been dismissed had not Beria exposed them in his life time.”

Teller Ibid; p. 90-91.

“Not only did Beria denounce the Doctor’s Plot was a hoax after Stalin’s death, he also took it upon himself to attempt a revival of Jewish culture immediately after Stalin died.”

Knight A; Ibid; p.148.

Following this Pravda ran an editorial that stated:

“Every Soviet worker kolkhoz members and intellectual is under the protection of Soviet law. The citizens of the great Soviet state may be certain that all the rights guaranteed them by the Soviet Constitution are sacred and will be guarded by the Soviet Government…. Careful investigation had ascertained the fact that members of Riumin’s clique (responsible for the doctors libel -ed) had slandered the People’s Artist Mikhoels who was an upright communal worker.”

Teller Ibid; p. 125-126.

To Summarise:
Data does not support that the Marxist-Leninists Stalin and Beria were personally anti-Semitic. What of the revisionist politicans?

Khrushchev’s Attitude to the Jews

Khrushchev by several accounts, was well known to be an anti-Semite. Amy Knight puts it as follows:

“Khrushchev… first secretary in the Ukraine, favoured the dissolution of the Union of Jewish Writers Kiev, and the closure of Jewish literary journal.”

Knight M; Ibid; p.148.

That Stalin ensured that Khrushchev was in effect repudiated upon the issue of anti-Semitic pogromists was clear, when Malenkov was sent to the Ukraine to correct the “blindness” of Khrushchev to anti-Semitic abuses:

“Khrushchev’s case is different. Even before his name was generally known outside the USSR, he had acquired notoriety in the Jewish press… for an episode in Kiev when the war ended. He was then boss of the Ukraine. Jewish wartime refugees, braving the local populations; anti-Jewish animus and the Kremlin’s bruited displeasure, trickled back to their devastated homes in the Ukraine. One day in a scuffle over an anti-Semitic remark, two Red Army officers one Jewish and the other Ukrainian, fired their guns at each other. The Ukrainian died, and the result was a pogrom in Kiev. The Ukrainian was buried with military honours and Khrushchev marched in the funeral procession. The pogromists went unpunished until Malenkov arrived to restore order.”

Teller Ibid; p. 92.

This view is substantiated more recently by Knight’s biography of Beria:

“In May 1944 Mikhoels wrote a letter to Molotov complaining about discrimination against Jews in liberated Ukraine. On receiving a copy of the letter, Beria issued instructions to Ukrainian Party Chief Khrushchev to “take the necessary measures to improve the living and working conditions of Jews in the newly liberated areas.”

Knight M; Ibid; p.147

Mikhoels would pay a price for his request for intervention, addressed to the Marxist-Leninist Molotov. But who was it that wrote his bill?

The Murder of Solomon Mikhoels

As discussed above, Stalin had supported the JAFC and sent it congratulatory telegrams.

It seems though, that the general attitude inside the USSR to the JAFC changed after the war.

One of the signs of this change was that the previous plan to publish a book – the so called “Black Book” – cataloguing the Nazi genocide of the Jews, and the Jewish partisan struggles, was only brought to fruition in the USA but not in Russia:

“The contacts with American-Jewish organizations result in the plan to publish a Black Book simultaneously in the USA and the Soviet Union, documenting the anti-Jewish crimes of the Nazis and the Jewish part in the fighting and resistance. In 1944, the writer Ilya Ehrenburg sends a collection of letters, diaries, photos and witness accounts to the USA to be used in the book. The Black Book is published in New York in 1946. But no Russian edition appears. The typefaces are finally broken up in the printing press in 1948, a year in which the situation of Soviet Jews has once more deteriorated sharply.”

See WWW site: “Beyond the Pale”; page 61 at:
http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/61.html

But the death of Mikhoels – allegedly in a murder committed at the direct order of Stalin, is the event that is usually cited as the beginning of the alleged anti-Semitic campaigns of the Soviet USSR.

It is alleged by many, including Sudoplatov, that Stalin feared the potential power that Mikhoels would have, and had him assassinated in January 1948:

“Mikhoels .. had been at the heart of the discussions to establish a Jewish Crimean republic. Stalin feared that Mikhoels would unleash forces that could not be controlled and would lead to unpredictable political consequences. Stalin feared a truly independent Jewish homeland. Mikhoels had the stature of a leader with world recognition, and Stalin could not risk his developing his own power base. Mikhoels was murdered in January 1948, under the direct order of Stalin.”

Pavel & A Sudoplatov; with JL &LP Schecter:”Special Tasks”; Boston; 1995; p. 296.

But as noted in the foreword, Sudoplatov’s memoirs have been seriously discredited.

It is true that other sources also refer to the death of Mikhoels and all assume that Stalin “ordered the murder of Mikhoels.”

In fact, the mysterious death of Solomon Mikhoels in Minsk on January 13, 1948, served to rob the USSR of a valuable and respected figure. For all these other sources, this contradiction, is not apparently a difficult issue – since they all pre-judge Stalin as variously, mad, irrational, capricious.. etc.

However this line of reasoning is countered by the facts previously adduced.
(See Previous issues of Alliance on Personality Cult :(1) The Cult of
Personality (Talk at The Stalin Society (UK) May 1991) AT: http://ml-review.ca/aml/STALIN-TXT/WBBPERSONALITY1991.html2) Stalin – Myths and Reality: Talk intended for the Third ISML Conference Paris October 1999: http://ml-review.ca/aml/STALIN-TXT/WBBSTALINMYTHSPARIS1999.html

The most detailed source, of the actual last days of Mikhoels life, is found in Arkady Vaksberg. (ibid pp159-170). As Amy Knight points out, the assumption is usually made that Beria performed the killing:

“Many had assumed that Beria as responsible for the murder, since he oversaw the police apparatus.”

Knight A; Ibid; p.147.

However it seems that Beria related the facts of the case, in a letter to Malenkov, after the death of Stalin.

According to this letter, Beria questioned Abakumov in prison, where Abakumov had remained following Stalin’s death. Beria learnt that the key players were Ogol’tsev and Tsanava. Knight insists that Stalin “ordered” the killing:

“Stalin had ordered Abakumov to have Mikhoels killed, a task carried out by Deputy Minister of State Security S.I.Ogol’tsev and Belorussian MGB chief Tsanava. Mikhoels and his companion were lured into a car and taken to Tsanava’s dacha outside Minsk, where they were murdered. Their bodies were then dumped on the side of the road. When Beria learned of Tsanava’s complicity, he ordered his arrest along with that of Ogol’tsev.”

Knight A; Ibid; p.147.

In fact Knight reminds us that Beria had:

“Supported the idea in 1942 of creating the Jewish Anti-fascist Committee in order to harness the war efforts of Soviet Jews at home and abroad and had maintained direct contacts with JAFC leaders after that. Indeed he seems to be have been sympathetic to their cause.”

Knight A; Ibid; p.147.

But, she fails to remind us that Stalin had also supported Mikhoels and the JAFC.

So was ultimately responsible for the murder of Mikhoels?

It seems that the revisionist S.D.Ignat’ev (or Ignatiev) was heavily involved:

“It may not be a coincidence that in addition to First Secretary Gusarov… who was in the Belorussian CC Secretariat at the time of the Mikhoels murder: S.D.Ignatiev, who was to replace Abakumov as USSR MBG chief in mid-1951. Ignatiev later helped to fabricate the case against the doctors.”

Knight A; Ibid; p.148.

Who was pushing for action on the “anti-Zionist plot?”

Vaksberg claims that Abakumov was supported by Malenkov and Mikhail Suslov. We would argue that of these, Suslov was an out and out revisionist and at best, Malenkov was a vacillator.

On October 12, 1946 Abakumov (after having taken over from Vsevolod Merkulov, the Ministry of State Security) wrote a memorandum entitled: “On Nationalistic Manifestations of Some Workers of the Jewish Anti-fascist Committee”, accusing them of:

“Forgetting the class approach which has been replaced by an approach on national lines,” and of “establishing foreign contacts on the same national principles”. Also in foreign editions about the life of the Soviet Jews, it “exaggerated their contribution to the achievements of the Soviet Union in science, technology, and culture.” And finally a special section of the memo.. Noted that the committee “has taken on the function of the chief representative of the affairs of the Jewish population and intermediary between that populations and the Party-Soviet organs. The summary conclusion to the memo was that the Afurther activity of this committee is politically harmful and intolerable”.. The Minister was supported by one of the new members of the hierarchy.. Mikhail Suslov. In his appeal to Stalin on November 26th 1946, he also called for liquidation of the committee.”

Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.195

It was finally on March 1948 that Abakumov forwarded a report to the Central Committee arguing that JAFC leaders and Mikhoels had:

“conducted anti-Soviet nationalist activities.”

Knight A; Ibid; p.148.

This report went to the Central Committee and was copied to Stalin, Molotov, Zhdanov, and Kuznetsov.

By 20 November 1948, the Politburo adopted the resolution approving a decision of the Council Of Ministers to disband the JAFC.

This resolution was adopted after the sudden death of Zhdanov in August 1948, and thereafter the correct anti-cosmopolitanism campaign, was crudely transformed into the incorrect anti-Semitic campaign.
(For Bland’s article on the anti-cosmopolitanism article see: http://ml-review.ca/aml/CommunistLeague/COSMOPOLITANISM-COMPASS131-1998.HTM

Abakumov continued to send memos to Stalin over this issue, calling the JAFC a “hot-bed of Zionism” in a memo of the March 1, 1948. (Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.196. )

It was after September 3rd, 1948 that action was finally taken against the JAFC. On that date, it is alleged by Vaksberg and other bourgeois commentators that the “mass rallies” greeting Golda Myerson (later to be known as Golda Meir) in her post as the first Israeli ambassador, “frightened” Stalin.

Yet as Vaksberg himself states, in the spring of 1945 Stalin had allowed open and massive Jewish rallies to commemorate the Jewish dead of the war:

“On the recommendation of the World Council of Rabbis meeting in Jerusalem, Stalin permitted Moscow Jews to organise a memorial service for the six million Jewish victims of the Nazis…. Major governmental figures marshals, and generals and celebrated artists attended – over 20,000 people.. Raising over half a million rubles for the postwar restoration of the country. The solemn Kadish was repeated in 1946. In 1947 it was banned.”

Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.185.

By March 26th 1948, Abakumov had sent a memo to Stalin, Molotov and CC Secretaries Zhdanov and Kuznetsov entitled “On the Espionage and Nationalistic Activity of the Jewish Anti-fascist Committee”, stating that Mikhoels was:

“Known long before the war as an active nationalist, he was a kind of banner for nationalistic Jewish circles.”

Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.197-198.

On November 20th 1948, item no.81 on the agenda of the Politburo of the CC stated:

“On the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee: Confirm the following resolution of the Bureau of the Council of Ministers of the SSR: “The Bureau of the Council of ministers of the USSR instructs the MGB USSR to disband the JAFC immediately, because as the facts show, this Committee is the center of anti-Soviet propaganda and regularly provides anti-Soviet information to organs of foreign intelligence. In conjunction with this, the publishing organs of the Committee are to be shut down and the Committee’s files confiscated. For the time being no one is to be arrested.”

Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.198-199.

Thus far at any rate, the “facts” are not quite so obvious as made out by the Zionists who attack Stalin as anti-Semitic. There is a clear implication from Vaksberg, that a compromise decision had been made, with the final statement just cited, regarding an explicit counter-manding of further arrests.

Nonetheless, David Goldstein had already been arrested in September, and on December 24th Fefer was arrested. Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.200-201. Lozovsky was arrested on January 16th. Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.202.

A little complicating, but true, is that Salmon Lozovsky was also a hidden revisionist (partially discussed previously by Alliance – See Alliance issue Number 15); who had subverted correct trade union tactics in the Comintern and the trade union international Profintern (led by Lozovsky).

However, Alliance argues, until further evidence can be adduced, that the net effect of these arrests, was once more to alienate the Marxist-Leninist wing of the Bolsheviks Party from a section of the working class.

Moreover it served to strengthen the hand of international support for Israel, and to serve as an instrument of propaganda against the USSR.

It was the Writers Union under Alexander Fadeyev who pushed for a resolution that called for closing associations of Jewish writers and closing Yiddish almanacs. That the hand of the revisionists was heavy in making these decisions is made clear by Shimon Redlich in his history of the JAFC. He points out that another key revisionist involved was Boris Ponomorarev:

“Sources suggest that Boris N. Ponomorarev was personally active in the liquidation of the Committee. Ponomorarev, an ex-functionary of the Comintern, and Deputy Director of the prestigious Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute after the War, was appointed Deputy Director of the Sovinformuro in late 1948 or early 19489. When Lozovskii was arrested in late 1948 to early 1949, Ponomorarev became Head of the Bureau for a short while.”

Redlich Shimon: “Propaganda and Nationalism in Wartime Russia-The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the USSR, 1941-1948”; 1982; USA; p.167-8.

As Redlich points out, various hypotheses linking the affair with an alleged Malenkov-Zhdanov hostility; or to an attempt to discredit Beria; simply do not make any sense.

He is left only to explain it as Stalin’s fear of the international contacts that Soviet Jewry had built with overseas Jews. He himself acknowledges Stalin’s previous support of these contacts:

“Although encouraged and supported by Stalin at the time, these contacts were regarded in retrospect as dangerous and treacherous.”

Redlich S; Ibid; p.169.

Another potential “reason” leading Stalin to take this step, is cited by Redlich as the following:

“It is well known to Soviet official circles and to Stalin himself that the Committee had attempted to perform functions and took upon itself responsibilities far beyond the initial purpose of its establishment. Mikhoels and other top personalities of the JAFC approached various Soviet authorities both on matters concerning individual Jews and on Jewish cultural and national issues…. The JAFC was apparently regarded by Stalin as a structure which organised and expressed Jewish national interests and since he viewed such interests as a security risk to the regime, and to himself it seemed to him a matter of prime importance to wipe out this potentially dangerous organisation.”

Redlich S; Ibid; p.169-70.

Alliance finds that the evidence to date, suggests that Mikhoels was murdered, and was not the victim of an accident.

This is dealt with directly below, in a citation from Beria.

As to who was responsible, there continues to be disagreement.

Only one piece of evidence links Stalin to this directly.
That is evidence provided by the cross examination of Abakumov while he was imprisoned.

This was referred to above, from the biography of Beria by Knight (see page above). The full cited is the following, and is drawn from a document upon Abakumov, available in Russian only. Significant sections are cited from the English text of a piece by Iakov Ettinger, based on reports in Russian cited by Stoliarov:

“Col.-Gen. V. S. Abakumov, Minister of State Security from 1945-1…Russian researcher Kirill Stoliarov summed up the results of his painstaking and profound study of the materials in the case of State Security Minister Abakumov in his book “Golgofa” (Calvary).”

Iakov Etinger:”The Doctors’ Plot: Stalin’s Solution to the Jewish Question”; in Editor: Yaacov Ro’i: “Jews & Jewish Life in Russia & the Soviet Union”; citing Storilaov; Ibid.

After Stalin’s death, Beria investigated the Mikhoels events further. It emerged again from Abakumov’s testimony, still being in jail, that Abakumov had asserted not only that Mikhoels had been killed, but that Stalin had ordered him to perform this murder:

“Meanwhile Beria made another move. On 2 April 1953 he sent a letter to the party Presidium addressed to Malenkov stating:

“An examination of the materials in the Mikhoels case has revealed that in February 1948, in Minsk, former USSR MGB Deputy Minister Ogol’tsov and former Belorussian MGB Minister Tsanava carried out an illegal operation to liquidate Mikhoels on orders from USSR MGB Minister Abakumov.. In this connection Abakumov has been interrogated at the MVD and explanations have been received from Ogol’tsov and Tsanava. Abakumov gave the following evidence…
“As far as I can remember, in 1948, the head of the Soviet government I. V. Stalin gave me an urgent assignment – to promptly organize the liquidation of Mikhoels by MGB personnel and charge specially selected people with the task. Then it came to our knowledge that Mikhoels and his friend, whose name I do not remember, had gone to Minsk. When this was reported to Stalin he immediately ordered us to carry out the liquidation in Minsk…After Mikhoels was liquidated Stalin highly praised the operation and ordered that the people who had performed it be decorated, which was carried out.”

Etinger I: Ibid; p. 120-121; Citing :’Argumenty i Fakty 2′; 1992.

Beria’s letter then outlines that the murder of Mikhoels was disguised by crudely staging a motor vehicle accident:

“The letter goes on to describe in detail how Mikhoels was “liquidated”. There were several options for eliminating Mikhoels: a) a car accident, b) running him over with a lorry in a deserted street. Since neither gave a 100 per cent guarantee the following course was decided upon: to invite Mikhoels, through one of our agents, to visit an acquaintance of his late at night, provide a car from the hotel he was staying in, allegedly to drive him there, take him to Tsanava’s dacha and liquidate him. Then the body was to be put in an out-of-the-way deserted street and run over by a lorry. And that is how it was done. To keep the matter secret, agent Golubov, who accompanied Mikhoels on this fatal visit, was also done away with (they were run over by a lorry near the dacha). At the end of the letter Beria declared:

The MVD deems it necessary:
a) to arrest and initiate proceedings against former USSR Deputy MGB Minister S. I. Ogol’’tsov and former State Security Minister of Belorussia L. F. Tsanava,
b) to repeal the Supreme Soviet decree conferring honours on the participants in the murder of Mikhoels and Golubov.”

Etinger I: Ibid; p. 120-121; Citing: ‘Argumenty i Fakty 2’; 1992.

In Conclusion: Alliance argues the following:

1. If it is agreed that Beria was a Marxist-Leninist, his letter indicates the primary responsibility for the attacks on the JAFC are laid on the door of low level operatives S. I. Ogol’tsov and L. F. Tsanava.

2. Backing up these individuals but at a higher level were the revisionists Malenkov and Suslov and Ponomoranev. Of these the first, was possibly a “vacillator” but the other two were definitely revisionists.

3. There remains the matter of Stalin. We argue that Stalin had nothing to gain by the murder of Mikhoels, that his “ego” definitely did not require this as bourgeois sources claim; and that it was not in his interests. However Abakumov’s testimony “fingers” Stalin. What then? Barring a “mistake” upon Stalin’s part, we suggest the following two possibilities:

i) Abakumov’s testimony cannot be simply discounted. We argue, that his testimony on the so called “Doctor’s Plots” shows him to be a basically honest individual (see below);
We further argue that if this is the case, then on the earlier issue of the JAFC, he was mis-led on the matter of Stalin’s orders;
Beria’s ‘testimony’ was ‘extracted’ by Khrushchev who of course went on to kill Beria.

OR:

ii) Another possibility exists: That Beria for some reason lied about Abakumov’s testimony. If so two possible reasons for this can be adduced:
Either Beria was NOT a Marxist-Leninist;
OR Beria decided that as a Marxist-Leninist – what was critical was that as far as possible the security apparatus be purged of revisionists in order to fight on for Marxism-Leninism. He may have reasoned that Stalin was dead and Abakumov was virtually dead anyway.

We believe the data thus far shows that Beria was a consistent Marxist-Leninist.
We believe therefore that the most likely conclusion is that Abakhumov was tricked by the revisionists into effecting Mikhoels murder.

It is very remarkable that the newer generation of revisionist leaders of the USSR – those who actually dissolved the state- held a Politburo Commission and declared the direct responsibility to lie with Malenkov.

It is pretty inconceivable that these individuals who hated Stalin, would not publicise evidence linking Stalin with this issue if it in truth existed:

“A Politburo Commission created by Mikhail Gorbachev and chaired by Alexander Yakovlev came to the conclusion on late 1988 that the “direct responsibility for the illegal repression of people arrested in the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee case was borne by G.M.Malenkov, who was directly involved in the investigation and trial.” Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.202-3.

The Case of Polinya

The wife of Molotov – Polina Zhemchuzhina – was Jewish. She had held high ranking posts for the Bolsheviks such as People’s Commissar of the Fish Industry, head of the State Perfume Trust, as well as being on the Bolshevik Central Committee. It is alleged that she incurred Stalin’s’ wrath as she had been the last person to see Nadezdha Allilueva alive before she committed suicide. This according to Vaksberg was the reason for her removal from the Central Committee for “failure in work.” Previously she had received a reprimand for neglect and, for allowing in 1939, some German spies to penetrate her area. According to Golda Meir’s testimony, Polinya “wished the Zionists in Palestine well” saying:

“If things go well for you, then things will be good for the Jews the whole world over.”

Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.188.

This conversation was monitored and the Central Committee was informed. According to Vaksberg, Stalin reportedly told Molotov:

“It is time for you to divorce your wife.”

Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.189.

It is important to recognise that as so often, the primary source for this conversational tit-bit of information is the revisionist Khrushchev.

In late 1948 the Molotovs were divorced, and in February 1949 Zhemchuzhina was arrested.

Prior to this, some bizzare personal charges including one of an extraordinary adultery involving a juniro employee, and espionage were laid at a meeting of the Politburo.

However even Vaksberg, is in agreement that various documents were indeed missing, from the Ministry of Light Industry textile branch, then being run by Zhemchuzhina.

Nonetheless the various charges against Zhemchuzhina also included:

“Being present at the memorial service at the synagogue on March 14th, 1945; enjoying the nationalistic play Freileks produced by the Jewish bourgeois nationalists Mikhoels at the Jewish Theatre; and of attending the funeral of Mikhoels.”

Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.192.

It is likely that some of these latter minor charges are true. Whether that made her an enemy of the state is debateable in the view of Alliance currently. But it is notable that Zhemchuzhina never repudiated Stalin, even after years in prison (Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.192).

It seems most likely that both she and Molotov were aware that there were inner-party battles going on that explained the turn of events.
In fact although Stalin is blamed for these events, it is most unclear why Molotov should have been targeted. For not only did his wife suffer imprisonment, but observers agree that he himself was demoted in rank although he remained within the Politburo. (Knight M; Ibid; p.147).

Alliance argues then, that the general aim of the revisionists to take over leading positions of state power was assisted by the direct and in-direct attack upon Molotov – as far as we know a reliable Marxist-Leninist, while Stalin was alive.

Source

The Formation of the Soviet Jewish Homeland – Birobidzhan

birobidzhanmap

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #30, “Marx, Lenin and Stalin on Zionism.”

Russian Jewry prior to the revolution had been intensely persecuted. The Russian census of 1897 had enumerated 5,215,800 Jews – of whom nearly 2 million emigrated between the years 1881 and 1914. (Zvi Gitelman: p. 1; Introduction to Robert Weinberg: “Stalin’s Forgotten Zion-Birobidzhan & the Making of A Soviet Jewish Homeland, An Illustrated History 1928-1996.” Berkeley 1998 ).

The majority that stayed were left in the “Pale of Settlement.” The majority were peasants and earned their living from agriculture. But since they were banned from owning any land, they were condemned always to be at the poorest status of peasantry. By the beginning of the First World War, about 50,000 Jews (3% of the total Jewish population of the Russian Empire) were tilling agricultural land. Most Jews were engaged in commerce, manufacturing and services – mainly in a petit bourgeois capacity. (Weinberg Ibid, p. 18.)

Subject to the worst racism and pogroms, the Jewish leaders were split as to how to deal with this. One section argued they should readily embrace the limited reforms offered by some of the Tsars – and assimilate completely. At the extreme were those advocating conversion to Christianity. Another “moderate” section however wanted to modernise the Jewish traditions and including a dropping of the Yiddish language for Hebrew. These were known as the maskilim (enlighteners) and their movement as the Haskalah (enlightenment).

Others in reacting to the pogroms of Tsar Alexander III (1881-94) and Nicholas II (1894-1917) argued for a completely separate Jewish state. This tradition, led by such as the physician Leon Pinsker, became known as shivat zion (Return To Zion). In the midst of this was the Jewish Bund whose positions have been already discussed above.

After the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, the situation of the Jewish people was considered as part of the overall question of the minorities within the Soviet Union. Within a year the Bolsheviks had organised Jewish Sections within the Communist party (Evreiskie seketsii or Evsektsii or Yevsektsii). A commissariat for Jewish Affairs was set up known as Evkom. It was placed within the Commissariat of Nationalities, headed by Stalin. The language question was resolved in favour of Yiddish this being the language of the Jewish masses and not Hebrew.

There is no doubt that the correct Soviet policy of restricting the medium of the religious Hebrew language and encouraging Yiddish was at least in part responsible for the rapid assimilation of the USSR Jews:

“The Yevsektsii also campaign against the Hebrew language. In their eyes, Hebrew is the reactionary language of the Jewish bourgeoisie, whatever its content, and has to be eliminated in favour of Yiddish, the language of the Jewish proletariat. Hebrew schools and printing are closed. At the end of the 1920’s, Hebrew becomes the only language which is officially outlawed in the Soviet Union. Jewish religious education is now impossible. The only permitted expressions of Soviet-Jewish life are secular Yiddish education, literature, press and theatre… The newly established Yiddish schools are very popular at first. But as only few secondary school and no university courses are in Yiddish, their numbers decline. At the end of the 1930’s, they have completely disappeared. With the almost complete elimination of organized Jewish religious and communal life, the Yevsektsii have become redundant and are dissolved in 1930.”

WWW site “Beyond the Pale”; A History of Soviet Jews;
http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/index.html

The same source makes the point that many of the Yevsektsii were later persecuted as “nationalists”:

“During the Stalinist purges of the late 1930’s, most of its members are accused of having had “nationalist tendencies”, and are deported or killed.”

“Beyond The Pale”; Ibid.

But the point has been repeatedly proven in the pages of Alliance, that the purges of the 1930’s were not under the control of Stalin, but the hidden revisionists such as Yezhov. They were aimed at the alienation and or physical elimination of the best Bolsheviks from the party. A policy of Korenizatsiia (“Implanting Bolshevism in the non-Russian masses”) was launched. Stalin’s view at the Commissariat of Nationalities was to stimulate cultural diversity, if it was “National in form and socialist in content”. (Cited Weinberg p.15)

As Gitelman puts it, the promotion of the Yiddish culture was – and remains – a unique experiment:

“This would be done by having party and government institutions operate in their language and educating their children with a Bolshevik content but a national form, as Stalin put it. For Jews this meant the creation of networks of Yiddish schools, newspapers, journals, and theatres. Two academic institutions operating in Yiddish were set up in Kiev and Minsk. Courts, trade unions and even party cells were encouraged to operate in Yiddish. This was the only time in history that a state invested heavily in Yiddish institutions and the promotion of Yiddish culture.”

Gitelman Ibid; p. 6-7.

According to Gitelman, largely speaking, the Jews rejected this effort to build a Jewish state. But this view is countered by Weinberg – who has become the most visible historian of the Birobidzhan:

“The notion of a Jewish homeland appealed to many Soviet Jews, and the Birobidzhan project was intended to undercut the Zionist focus on Palestine.”

Weinberg Ibid, p.13.

Weinberg’s book corroborates the view that a general interest was definitely present. In any case, if Gitelman’s view is accepted, Gitelman explains the lack of interest as being due to the power of the assimilation offered by the new Soviet state. For Gitelman, the main reason was an embrace of Russian language and the opportunities given by the revolution:

“Traditional Jews saw it as an attempt to replace authentic grassroots Judaism with an ersatz product imposed Afrom above”.. Those uninterested n traditional forms of Jewishness saw no reason to remain loyal to Yiddish culture when the broader horizons of Russian culture beckoned to them. Jews rushed to take advantage of the educational and vocational opportunities the revolution had given to them. Clearly Russian was much more useful than Yiddish.”

Gitelman Ibid; p. 6-7.

This confirmed the views of Lenin and Stalin – that once the Jews were allowed to play a part in society in free democratic manner – links to the past would be eroded. Gitelman draws an explicit parallel to the dying of Yiddish as a language in America.. where English was the key to assimilation. Gitelman’s states that on this basis:

“The idea of a territory in which Yiddish would be the dominant language as Birobidzhan, had limited appeal to Soviet Jews in the 1920’s.”

Gitelman, Ibid, p.7.

But as Weinberg argues, nonetheless there were still many Soviet Jews who retained the belief in a separate entity. In May 1934 that the Jewish Autonomous region was set up. It was located as Map 2 shows, in remote and poorly populated area of the Soviet Far East. In this setting it would not displace indigenous peoples. Of course this was in contrast to the creation of the future Israel which displaced the Palestinians in a brutal manner. To this end the plan was evolved to settle 100,000 Jews in agricultural colonies.

In Hard Copy form only:
MAP 2: From page 15 Weinberg Ibid.

By the early 1920’s the number of poor Jewish unemployed in the USSR was high. Around Belarus, in the city of Gomel it was about 70%. (Cited Weinberg Ibid; p. 16).

In addition, many of the petit bourgeoisie of the Jewish population had to be brought into the socialist economy. Since the petit bourgeois nature of their work had in the majority of Jews, been continually eroded by the socialist policies of collectivisation in both manufacturing and agriculture, a question arose of the “productivization” of Jewish life. Weinberg comments:

“Given the devastated condition of Soviet industry in the 1920’s government officials focused on agricultural resettlement as a strategy. Despite the long-term objectives of presiding over an industrialised society, the Kremlin in the 1920’s could not pursue a concerted policy of industrialisation that could absorb significant numbers of economically marginal Jews. The publication of two issues of the journal Evreiskii krest’ianin (The Jewish Peasant) in 1925 and 1926 underscores this official interest in Jewish land settlement.”

Cited Weinberg Ibid; p. 19.

In the 1920’s therefore two organisations were set up, OZET (Society for the Settlement of Jewish Toilers on the Land) and KOMZET (Committee for the Settlement of Jewish Toilers on the Land). OZET was controlled by KOMZET members, who examined conditions for settlement in Ukraine, Belarus, and the Crimea. After 1928, attention focused on the formation of a Jewish Autonomous Region (J.A.R).

Jews from the Shetls (Shetls were the villages or ghettoes where large numbers of Jews were concentrated) were moved to the area. By 1930, some 47,000 Jewish families were working in agriculture in the Soviet Union.
The 1928 decision to make the Biro-Bidzhanskii district a JAR – took in a region the size of Belgium. It had been annexed in 1858 by Russia. The Biro and the Bidzhan were tributaries of the river Amur. The population consisted then of “several hundred” indigenous Siberians and some settlers – Russians, Cossacks, Koreans and Ukrainians over the late 19th-early 20th century. There was some early resistance from 1924, until the decision was finally taken in 1928, to have the Biro-Bidzhanskii district as the site of the JAR. This resistance, from some activists in KOMZET, argued that it was too far from the current pockets of Jewish populations. Many Jews argued that Birobidzhan was preferable to Palestine, since it was within an area they already had roots – an argument put by I.Sudarskii in 1930 in the book “Birobdizhan And Palestine”. (Cited Weinberg Ibid; p. 22).

Moreover the Ukraine Belarus and Crimea were becoming crowded and the Far East resources had not been sufficiently tapped. This meant that the Soviet Government made conditions attractive for Jews to move there:

“Many in the Kremlin were interested in creating a Jewish national territory within the borders of the Soviet Union… Soviet policy in the 1920’s aimed at normalizing the status of non-territorial minorities by establishing official enclaves.”

Cited Weinberg Ibid; p. 21-22.

Official USSR sanction for the project was given by President Mikhail Kalinin:

“It is completely natural that the Jewish population.. Strives to find its place in the Sov