Category Archives: Science

Friedrich Engels on Morality

engels-5

“We therefore reject every attempt to impose on us any moral dogma whatsoever as an eternal, ultimate and forever immutable ethical law on the pretext that the moral world, too, has its permanent principles which stand above history and the differences between nations. We maintain on the contrary that all moral theories have been hitherto the product, in the last analysis, of the economic conditions of society obtaining at the time. And as society has hitherto moved in class antagonisms, morality has always been class morality; it has either justified the domination and the interests of the ruling class, or ever since the oppressed class became powerful enough, it has represented its indignation against this domination and the future interests of the oppressed. That in this process there has on the whole been progress in morality, as in all other branches of human knowledge, no one will doubt. But we have not yet passed beyond class morality. A really human morality which stands above class antagonisms and above any recollection of them becomes possible only at a stage of society which has not only overcome class antagonisms but has even forgotten them in practical life. And now one can gauge Herr Dühring’s presumption in advancing his claim, from the midst of the old class society and on the eve of a social revolution, to impose on the future classless society an eternal morality independent of time and changes in reality.”

 –  Friedrich Engels, “Anti-Dühring”

On Closed Speech of Khrushchev at the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU

large

George Gruenthal

Book Review:  Khrushchev Lied, by Grover Furr

Prof. Grover Furr has done a great service to Marxist-Leninists and all revolutionaries and to all those who are interested in historical truth. He has picked out 61 major statements from Khrushchev’s 20th Congress speech, checked them against other material, especially from the Russian archives that have recently been made public, and found that they are all lies. He gives extensive quotes from primary sources, as well as from internet web-sites that give English translations of the source material. Thus, he has made available and translated a wealth of material, especially valuable for those who do not read Russian.

In order to make the book more readable, Furr has divided it into two parts. In the first, with 221 pages, he presents each of 61 statements and the basic material that refutes them. In the second part, an Appendix of 194 pages, Furr presents additional documentation to back up the refutations. Thus, people who want to read the ‘short version’ can read only the first part; those who want the full details may find it easiest to read each chapter together with the corresponding chapter in the Appendix.

I will give several examples of Furr’s revelations to provide an idea of the scope of his book.

1) Khrushchev claimed that ‘Stalin acted not through persuasion, explanation and patient cooperation with people, but by imposing his concepts and demanding absolute submission to his opinion. Whoever opposed this concept or tried to prove his viewpoint and the correctness of his position was doomed to removal from the leading collective and to subsequent moral and physical annihilation.’

There are many facts that contradict this. We will mention only one, by Marshal Zhukov on military matters, which Furr quotes: ‘After Stalin’s death appeared the one about how he used to take military and strategic decisions unilaterally. This was not the case at all. I have already said above that if you reported questions to the Supreme Commander with a knowledge of your business, he took them into account. I know of cases when he turned against his own previous opinion and changed decisions he had taken previously’ (both quotes, Furr, p. 245).

2) Khrushchev implied, without actually stating it, that Kirov was killed by or on the orders of Stalin. Furr points out that very little of the material on Kirov’s murder has been published, or even made available to researchers. He does note that the well-known author on Soviet history, J. Arch Getty, pointed out that several Soviet and post-Soviet commissions had tried and failed to find evidence that Stalin was behind Kirov’s murder. Former Soviet General Sudoplatov, who provided much information (or misinformation) on Soviet activities to the West after the fall of the Soviet Union, stated in 1996: ‘No documents or evidence exist to support the theory of the participation of Stalin or of the apparat of the NKVD in Kirov’s assassination… Kirov was not an alternative to Stalin. He was one of the staunchest Stalinists. Khrushchev’s version was later approved and used by Gorbachev as part of his anti-Stalin campaign’ (p. 274).

3) Khrushchev claimed that Stalin was responsible for mass repressions in the late 1930s. But Furr points out that Khrushchev himself was guilty of mass repressions, both as Party head in Moscow and then as Party head of the Ukraine. Furr quotes from a note that Khrushchev sent to Stalin: ‘Dear Iosif Vissiaronovich! The Ukraine sends [requests for] 17,000 – 18,000 [persons to be] repressed every month. And Moscow confirms no more than 2,000 – 3,000. I request that you take prompt measures. Your devoted N. Khrushchev’ (p. 259). Furr thinks that Khrushchev was responsible for more repressions than anyone else except for Ezhov (Yezhov).

4) Furr points out that Stalin was always in favour of dealing with Trotskyites and other agents as individuals, not through mass repression. He also proposed carrying out political education of leading Party officials. Some of this has been known for a long time to those not blinded by bourgeois-Trotskyite propaganda. Stalin discussed this in ‘Mastering Bolshevism,’ in which he called for each of the leading Party cadre to select temporary replacements for themselves while they attended courses in Party history and ideology (see Furr, p. 280-281). As to the question of mass repression, Stalin stated: ‘how to carry out in practice the task of smashing the German-Japanese agents of Trotskyism. Does this mean that we should strike and uproot not only the real Trotskyites, but also those who wavered at some time toward Trotskyism; not only those who are really Trotskyite agents for wrecking, but also those who happened once upon a time to go along a street where some Trotskyite or other had once passed? At any rate, such voices were heard here at the plenum. Can we consider such an interpretation of the resolution to be correct?

‘No, we cannot consider it to be correct. On this question, as on all other questions, there must be an individual, differentiated approach. You must not measure everyone by the same yardstick. Such a sweeping approach can only harm the cause of struggle against the real Trotskyite wreckers and spies’ (p. 282, Furr’s emphasis).

In this connection it is also worth reading the section of Zhdanov’s speech at the 18th Party Congress in 1939, Amendments to the Rules of the C.P.S.U.(B.), on eliminating mass purges. This is not discussed in Furr’s book, but is available in the archives of Revolutionary Democracy at www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/zhd.htm.

5) After Khrushchev came to power, he and his supporters began a process of ‘mass rehabilitations’ of many high-level officials who had been repressed earlier. Without doing any investigation to see who was actually innocent of any crimes and who was really guilty, people were simply declared innocent. In so doing, crucial statements of people who had admitted their guilt were sometimes totally distorted to make them appear to be claiming innocence.

One example of this is a letter to Stalin written by Gen. Iakir, who had been found guilty of treason along with Marshal Tukhachevskii and was soon to be executed. Marshal Zhukov read from this letter at the CC Plenum in June of 1957 (the Plenum at which the ‘anti-Party bloc’ of Malenkov, Molotov and Kaganovich were expelled from the CC). However, a more complete version of the letter has since been published, in 1994. Zhukov had omitted from the text the words printed below in bold:

‘Dear, close com. Stalin. I dare address you in this way because I have told everything and it seems to me that I am once more that honourable warrior, devoted to Party, state and people, that I was for many years. All my conscious life has been passed in selfless, honourable work in the sight of the Party and its leaders. – then I fell into a nightmare, into the irreparable horror of treason… The investigation is finished. The indictment of treason to the state has been presented to me, I have admitted my guilt, I have repented completely. I have unlimited faith in the justice and appropriateness of the decision of the court and the government. Now each of my words is honest. I die with words of love to you, the Party, the country, with a fervent belief in the victory of communism’ (pp. 214-215).

Zhukov tries to turn an admission of guilt into a proclamation of innocence. It would be hard to imagine a more dishonest example of falsifying a quotation.

6) In 1936, Ezhov took over as head of the NKVD after the removal and later execution of Yagoda for being a member of the Rightist conspiracy. Ezhov had many people, including many who were innocent, arrested and executed from 1937 to 1938. This period was colloquially known as the Yezhovshchina. Ezhov was removed from his post in late 1938 and was arrested and executed the following year. He was replaced by Beria, who put an end to the mass arrests and, after investigations, had many innocent people released from prison. It was this writer’s understanding that Ezhov had been executed simply for taking a heartless, bureaucratic attitude towards these mass arrests.

In the last few years, however, many of the transcripts of the interrogations of Ezhov have been published, and Furr refers readers to the English translations of these on the Internet. They show that Ezhov organised these mass arrests and executions ‘to cover up his own involvement in the Rightist conspiracy and with German military espionage, as well as in a conspiracy to assassinate Stalin or another Politburo member, and to seize power by coup d’état’  (p. 57). Furr includes some 15 pages of documents on Ezhov’s case in his Appendix.

7) We shall shortly move on to areas dealt with in Furr’s book, and particularly some of the fables about Stalin’s behaviour during World War II.

However, we would like to first point out a short but fascinating account of the behaviour of the Trotskyites in the Spanish Civil War. Furr quotes Gen. Sudoplatov:

‘The Trotskyites were also involved in actions. Making use of the support of persons with ties to German military intelligence [the ‘Abwehr’] they organised a revolt against the Republican government in Barcelona in 1937…. Concerning the connections of the leaders of the Trotskyist revolt in Barcelona in 1937 we were informed by Schulze-Boysen…. Afterward, after his arrest, the Gestapo accused him of transmitting this information to us, and this figured in his death sentence by the Hitlerite court in his case’ (p. 269).

Schulze-Boysen was a German citizen who spied for the Soviet Union from within the SS. The Nazi military court which tried and executed him for this espionage confirmed Sudoplatov’s statement.  It declared: ‘At the beginning of 1938, during the Spanish Civil War, the accused learned in his official capacity that a rebellion against the local red government in the territory of Barcelona was being prepared with the co-operation of the German Secret Service. This information, together with that of Pöllnitz,’ [a member of the ‘Red Orchestra,’ the famous Soviet anti-Nazi spy ring] ‘was transmitted by him to the Soviet Russian embassy in Paris’ (p. 270).

8) Let us now take up some of Khrushchev’s lies, since repeated by many others, about Stalin’s actions during the war.

a) The first is that Stalin was not prepared for the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union. There is no question that Stalin knew that Nazi Germany would eventually attack the Soviet Union. The Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact was signed to delay that attack for as long as possible. Furr points out that, in these circumstances, Stalin could not have carried out a mobilisation of Soviet forces, as that would have given Hitler the opportunity to declare war and possibly make a deal with the Western allies. He quotes a statement from a German General-Major Marks in 1940 that ‘The Russians will not do us the favour of attacking us first’ (p. 88). Moreover, the Soviet Union could not rely on British warnings of an impending attack, since Britain clearly wanted to set Hitler against the Soviet Union, and then possibly make a deal with Hitler.

b) Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union in the early hours of June 22, 1941. In his speech, Khrushchev blamed Stalin for allegedly ignoring information about the impending attack. He quoted a statement by a Soviet Captain, Vorontsov, that had contained information from a Soviet citizen, Bozer, that ‘Germany is preparing to invade the USSR on May 14.’ This information is contained in a letter by Admiral Kuznetsov to Stalin of May 6, which has now been published in full. The letter concludes with Kuznetsov’s statement that  ‘I believe that this information is false, specifically directed through this channel with the object of reaching our government in order to find out how the USSR would react to it’ (pp. 344-345).

c) In his speech, Khrushchev also told of a German citizen who crossed the border with the Soviet Union on the eve of the invasion and stated that the Soviet Union would be attacked at 3 AM the following morning, June 22. Khrushchev claims that ‘Stalin was informed of this immediately, but even this warning was ignored..

Furr points out that the warning was not ignored, that the information was transmitted to Moscow as quickly as possible considering the need to find a reliable translator and to verify the information. In fact, after the attack the statement by the German soldier, Alfred Liskow, a self-declared communist, was published by Pravda and made into a leaflet to undermine the morale of the German soldiers by letting them know that there were opponents of the war and Hitlerism, friends of the Soviet Union, in their ranks.

Furr also refutes Khrushchev’s statement, again repeated by many others, that Stalin was demoralised at the beginning of the war and that he had withdrawn from any activities in those first days. Furr points out that the logbooks of visitors to Stalin’s office show that Stalin was extremely active in those days and quotes from Dimitrov, as well as Zhukov and the anti-Stalinists Volkogonov and Sudoplatov, all of whom testified to Stalin’s activity in the first days of the war.

Khrushchev also denigrated Stalin’s abilities as a wartime commander. In response, Furr quotes military figures such as Marshals Zhukov, Vasilevsky and Golovanov, all of whom testified in their memoirs not only to Stalin’s great abilities as wartime commander but also to the great respect felt for him by other commanders at the front.


To conclude, I would like to add a few remarks on Furr’s standpoint, his position and views toward Stalin and Soviet socialism.

Furr is an objective researcher and scholar, although he clearly also is sympathetic to Stalin and the Soviet Union under his leadership. In this way he is different from other researchers such as J. Arch Getty who, although he is not a sympathiser of socialism, was one of the first researchers in the post-Stalin period to dispel some of the myths behind the general anti-communist depictions of Stalin as some sort of ogre.

It is certainly necessary for researchers who adopt a proletarian class stand to start from objective facts; otherwise one becomes an idealist who wants the world to correspond to his ideological views, instead of vice-versa. Throughout the book, Prof. Furr starts from objective facts and follows them to their conclusions, which lead to a clear demonstration that Khrushchev lied throughout his ‘secret speech’ in 1956.

However, Furr does not go much beyond this conclusion. He correctly states that the facts overturn the ‘anti-Stalin paradigm’ that has been basic to much of the anti-communist view of Soviet history, both in the Soviet Union and the rest of the world, since the middle of the last century. But he barely discusses the significance of this. For example, there is little mention of the fact that Khrushchev’s speech was accepted by a large part of the international communist movement, that this led to the split in this movement between Marxist-Leninist forces and revisionists a few years later, and that the struggle between them is still of great significance for the world communist movement today.

Of course, one cannot rebuke Furr for not taking up a task that he had no intention of taking up. Furr does briefly discuss what he sees as the reasons for Khrushchev’s attack on Stalin in Chapter 12: ‘Conclusion: The Enduring Legacy of Khrushchev’s Deception.’ He says: ‘Stalin and his supporters had championed a plan of democratisation of the USSR through contested elections. Their plan seems to have been to move the locus of power in the USSR from Party leaders like Khrushchev to elected government representatives. Doing this would also have laid the groundwork for restoring the Party as an organisation of dedicated persons struggling for communism rather than for careers or personal gain. Khrushchev appears to have had the support of the Party First Secretaries, who were determined to sabotage this project and perpetuate their own positions of privilege’ (p. 200).

He then mentions other so-called ‘reforms’ that were carried out after Stalin’s death. These include: a shift towards ‘market’-oriented reforms; a shift from heavy industry, production of the means of production, towards light, consumer industry; from the Marxist-Leninist view that war is inevitable as long as imperialism exists to the avoidance of war with imperialism at any cost; a de-emphasis on the vanguard role of the working class in the revolution; the view that capitalism could be overcome through ‘peaceful competition’ by parliamentary means; and an abandonment of Stalin’s plan to move towards communism, classless society.

This writer is in agreement with the need to prevent the party from becoming an organisation of careerists. However, it is not at all clear that ‘contested elections’ would prevent bureaucratisation. (Besides, in choosing candidates for the Soviets, there were discussions of different candidates all along this line. For more on this, see the fascinating chapter of Sam Darcy’s memoirs: ‘How Soviet Democracy Worked in the 1930s’, in Revolutionary Democracy Vol. XI. No. 2, Sept. 2005, available at: www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv11n2/darcy.htm.). Rather, this writer thinks it would be more important to reinforce the Party maximum (maximum salary that a Party member was allowed to receive, regardless of what position he held) and limit other material privileges available to Party leaders. Nor is it clear why moving the ‘locus of power’ from Party leaders to government representatives would increase democracy. This writer thinks that it would have been more important to strengthen the struggle against revisionism. For example, the necessary fight against Titoism seems to have been itself carried out in a bureaucratic way, compared to the way the struggles against Trotskyism and Bukharinism were carried out in the 1920s. That may be why the Soviet Union and all the Eastern European countries except for Albania followed the path of Titoism less than a decade later. However, this is all the subject for much further debate.

‘Khrushchev Lied’ is available from Erythrós Press at: www.erythrospress.com/store/furr.html

Source

Friedrich Engels on Scientific Socialism

blog_507_1_engels-crop

“But the old idealist conception of history, which was not yet dislodged, knew nothing of class struggles based upon economic interests, knew nothing of economic interests; production and all economic relations appeared in it only as incidental, subordinate elements in the ‘history of civilization.’

The new facts made imperative a new examination of all past history. Then it was seen that all past history, with the exception of its primitive stages, was the history of class struggles; that these warring classes of society are always the products of the modes of production and of exchange — in a word, of the economic conditions of their time; that the economic structure of society always furnishes the real basis, starting from which we can alone work out the ultimate explanation of the whole superstructure of juridical and political institutions as well as of the religious, philosophical, and other ideas of a given historical period. Hegel has freed history from metaphysics — he made it dialectic; but his conception of history was essentially idealistic. But now idealism was driven from its last refuge, the philosophy of history; now a materialistic treatment of history was propounded, and a method found of explaining man’s ‘knowing’ by his ‘being,’ instead of, as heretofore, his ‘being’ by his ‘knowing.’

From that time forward, Socialism was no longer an accidental discovery of this or that ingenious brain, but the necessary outcome of the struggle between two historically developed classes — the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Its task was no longer to manufacture a system of society as perfect as possible, but to examine the historico-economic succession of events from which these classes and their antagonism had of necessity sprung, and to discover in the economic conditions thus created the means of ending the conflict. But the Socialism of earlier days was as incompatible with this materialist conception as the conception of Nature of the French materialists was with dialectics and modern natural science. The Socialism of earlier days certainly criticized the existing capitalistic mode of production and its consequences. But it could not explain them, and, therefore, could not get the mastery of them. It could only simply reject them as bad. The more strongly this earlier Socialism denounced the exploitations of the working-class, inevitable under Capitalism, the less able was it clearly to show in what this exploitation consisted and how it arose. but for this it was necessary —  

to present the capitalistic mode of production in its historical connection and its inevitableness during a particular historical period, and therefore, also, to present its inevitable downfall; and

to lay bare its essential character, which was still a secret. This was done by the discovery of surplus-value.

It was shown that the appropriation of unpaid labor is the basis of the capitalist mode of production and of the exploitation of the worker that occurs under it; that even if the capitalist buys the labor power of his laborer at its full value as a commodity on the market, he yet extracts more value from it than he paid for; and that in the ultimate analysis, this surplus-value forms those sums of value from which are heaped up constantly increasing masses of capital in the hands of the possessing classes. The genesis of capitalist production and the production of capital were both explained.

These two great discoveries, the materialistic conception of history and the revelation of the secret of capitalistic production through surplus-value, we owe to Marx. With these discoveries, Socialism became a science.”

 – Friedrich Engels, “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific”

Engels on the Dialectics of Nature

91fe1

“It is, therefore, from the history of nature and human society that the laws of dialectics are abstracted. For they are nothing but the most general laws of these two aspects of historical development, as well as of thought itself. And indeed they can be reduced in the main to three:

The law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa;
The law of the interpenetration of opposites;
The law of the negation of the negation.”

 – Friedrich Engels, “Dialectics of Nature”

Karl Marx on Religion

6a00d8341bffd953ef017d3c137735970c-800wi

“The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

– Karl Marx, Introduction to “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”

The Beijing Olympics and the Question of Tibet

448153Vijay Singh

In the run-up to the Olympic Games which are to be held in the Beijing, US imperialism is conducting a campaign of disinformation against the nationalities policies in Tibet using the remnants of feudalism such as the Dalai Lama as their instrument, alongside the normal imperialist accredited newspapers, ‘human rights institutions’ and Hollywood film personalities. It is a familiar game which was last played out in the Reagan years when the US carried out a similar political exercise against its imperialist rival before the Moscow Olympics and which peaked with the US boycott of the games. The US campaign today needs to be seen for what it is: an attempt to politically undermine the Chinese state in its ‘own’ backyard and to accelerate further the half-century long path of ‘market socialist’ development in China and to push for the casting-off of the shell of the people’s democratic state. It is also part of the US endeavour to militarily encircle from land and sea a country which it sees as a dangerous imperialist rival. Within China agency reports speak of an upsurge of Han chauvinism which is a reflex of the disturbances in Tibet and the recent round of the denigration of China by the US. The promotion of internecine strife of the nationalities and religions is an integral part of the politics of US imperialism across the globe.

No amount of US propaganda from the universities and newspapers can wipe away the fact that after the revolution of 1949 the Chinese people assisted in the democratic transformation of Tibetan society. The People’s Republic of China helped to abolish feudalism, it introduced land reform, abolished slavery, emancipated the serfs, ended the Buddhist lama theocratic despotism and carried out the economic transformation of Tibetan society bringing it out of medieval tyranny and darkness into the light of the twentieth century, introducing the benefits of industrial society and democratic transformation, of state and co-operative economic institutions; food, shelter, and clothing; literacy, education, and social security amongst the Tibetan masses. It is a supreme irony that the United States which oppresses the Afro-American and Puerto Rican nations within its state frontiers, exploits the colonial, semi-colonial and dependent countries around the planet, and has a destructive policy towards democracy and secularism should point its finger at China. Democratic opinion must understand these policies for what they are.

The early years of the revolutionary movement in China saw the Communist Party pursue an exemplary approach and programme with regard to the national question. Mao Zedong in his capacity as President of the Central Executive Committee of the Chinese Soviet Republic in 1931 and in his speech at the Second Soviet Congress in 1934 in blunt terms denounced the national oppression under the rule of the Chinese militarists and the landlords as well as the oppression by the ruling classes of princes, living Buddhas and lamas of the smaller nationalities and their surrender to imperialist colonisation. He well understood the exigency of uniting the oppressed nationalities such as the Mongolians, Tibetans, Koreans, Annamites, the Miao and many others around the Soviets in China in order to strengthen the revolution against imperialism and the Kuomintang. [1] Mao commended the Constitution passed by the First Soviet Congress held in 1931 in Juichin, Kiangsi, which in its 14th article said that ‘Soviet China recognises the complete self-determination of the minorities who may go so far as to secede and form independent free states.’ (Emphasis in the original.) The Soviet Chinese Constitution of 1931 argued that the ‘free union of nationalities will replace national oppression’. This implied the creation of a federal ‘Union of Soviet Republics’ along the lines of the Soviet Union, a democratic state structure which was based upon the views of Marx in relation to the Irish question.

Such an approach was maintained up to the founding of the People’s Republic of China. A tremendous social, economic and political revolutionary transformation took place in the minority national territories after 1949. But in terms of the resolution of the national question it cannot be said that a full democratic solution was accomplished. The contiguous areas of the Tibetan-speaking peoples were not administratively united after liberation while in Inner Mongolia the Mongolian people were administratively separated. The Communist Party of China and the People’s Democratic state shrank from the promised construction of a free union of nationalities in which the right of national-determination would be recognised up to the point of secession. By this method the nationalities of Mongolia, Tibet, Sinkiang and elsewhere were subordinated to the majority Han Chinese, and the latter now became a constitutionally privileged nation which could direct the destinies of the nationalities which inhabited the vast areas of the People’s Republic of China. The nationalities of Mongolia, Tibet and Sinkiang as elsewhere which formed the numerical majority in their ancient national territories were now designated as ‘national minorities’. This broad picture became apparent in the Constitution of 1954 and it was to be reproduced in the subsequent Fundamental Laws which were promulgated by the Chinese state. The unity and integrity of the territories of the Chinese state and not the free union of the nationalities based on the right of self-determination of the peoples became the basic fundamental constitutional principle. In this manner the CPC’s political approach to the national question having moved away from Marxism now came to approximate to the views of Sun-Yat-sen and the Kuomintang.

The camp of socialism and democracy which spanned a dozen states witnessed a fundamental break in its economic policies in the years between 1954 to 1958 which became typified by the ascendant role of ‘market socialism’ in the Soviet Union, People’s China and the majority of the people’s democracies. These years also saw corresponding theoretical, political and ideological transformations in which the treatment of the national question was an important component part. This gave way to interesting paradoxes. The Soviet Union in its Fundamental Law in form right through to its self-destruction in 1991 maintained the basics of the Leninist-Stalinist principles on the national question. But the communist parties aligned to the CPSU quickly abandoned the Marxist approach to the national question after 1953, particularly the democratic principle of national self-determination. The CPUSA for example repudiated the application of this principle with reference to the Afro-American nation which had been elaborated by Lenin, Stalin and the Comintern. On our own doorstep the CPI in the mid-nineteen-fifties dispensed with the understanding that India was a multi-national state in which the right to secession had to be accorded as the basis of a voluntary union of people’s democratic republics and after some moments of hesitation after its foundation the CPI (M) also essentially fell in line with what it termed the Soviet revisionist ideology of the CPI. Step by step the CPI and the CPI (M) effected an harmonious rapprochement with the ‘nationalist’ doctrines of the Congress Party. These corresponded to the economic requirements of the big bourgeoisie and its multi-national market in India which had been put together by Sardar Patel by the arm-twisting of the feudal princely states and appropriate ‘non-violent’ ‘police actions’.

The Communist Party of China as already noted had broken with the Marxist approach to the national question after liberation. But the revolutionary communist parties and organisations which were formed in the 1960s and which were aligned with Beijing and Tirana in the main have upheld Leninist-Stalinist principles on the right of nations to self-determination. The CPI (ML) tradition right from its inception returned to the earlier pre-revisionist understanding of the CPI and accepted the right of secession particularly with reference to Kashmir and the nationalities in the north-east region of the Indian state which having been fighting for their national emancipation.

Paradoxes apart, a widespread intermeshing and intermingling of the opportunist ideological currents has emerged on the nationality question to justify the abandonment of the Marxist views. It is inferred from the active role of US and German imperialism in the destruction of the Soviet and Yugoslav Federations in the 1990s that the right of national self-determination and secession facilitates the work of imperialism and so has to be discarded. Secessionism it is said has become a preferred tool of US imperialism. And there can be no doubt that despite the restoration of capitalism in the USSR by the late 1950s and the liquidation of the people’s democracy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia at the end of the 1940s, the preservation of the federal structures in these states was formally progressive, and it is clear that they constituted important barriers to the penetration of the leading world imperialist powers such as the US and Germany. The ‘new’ arguments against the recognition of the democratic right of national self-determination in the contemporary period are only a reiteration of the policies of the international communist movement of the Khrushchev period and, going further back still, the notions of right-wing social-democracy in the earlier part of the 20th century. The Bolsheviks, who also fought against imperialism when Soviet Russia had to fight the multitude of foreign armies on Soviet soil who were allied to the white army in the time of the civil war, upheld the principle of the union of nations based on the right to self-determination. It was on this basis that the free federation of nations was constructed in Soviet Russia and later the Soviet Union. The Bolsheviks clearly established that the struggle for socialism in multi-national countries was inextricably linked with the recognition of the right of the peoples to self-determination: one of the expressions of the right to decide one’s future was the formation of a federative republic.

The recent statement by the CPI (M) leader Prakash Karat on Tibet expresses in a succinct manner the ideological framework of contemporary right-wing social-democracy on the national question. Karat entirely omitted any allusion to Marxism or democracy while criticising the views of the Hindu fascist BJP which had chimed in with the US anti-China campaign on the Lhasa disturbances. Karat, basing his arguments on ‘nationalist’ logic, reminded the BJP that by raising the question of an independent Tibet they were ‘doing a disservice to our own country’ for this would raise secessionist demands in India: ‘Are we going to support a free Nagaland? Or a free Jammu and Kashmir? Or those other secessionist demands?’ So there you have it: the democratic right to national self-determination may not be recognised within the multi-national Chinese state as the mention of this right can threaten the frontiers of the existing multi-national Indian state. This position Karat tells us must apply around the world in Europe (Chechnya, Kosovo), China or any Asian country as it negatively impinges on the sovereignty of nations in the ‘name of human rights’ and ‘ethnic minorities’. [2] It is interesting to note how Karat merges the notion of the ‘state sovereignty’ of multi-national states with the idea of the ‘national sovereignty’ of nation-states, denying in this manner in real terms the notion of ‘national sovereignty’ for those nations who choose to opt for the construction of nation-states. Taken to its logical conclusion this stand implies that any national struggle against imperialist rule cannot be supported as this affects the ‘national sovereignty’ of the imperial power. The CPI (M) sees itself as the guardian of the state frontiers of India and for its defence it is willing to sacrifice the last Meitei, Naga and Kashmiri. It was Stalin who stated that those who do not recognise the right of peoples to free self-determination cannot be regarded as democrats let alone be considered as socialists. [3] It is on the basis of this understanding that the views of the CPI (M) on the national question must be judged.

The current attacks of US imperialism and its supporters on the Tibet policy of the People’s Republic of China must be opposed while defending the basic democratic principle of national self-determination. The struggle against US imperialism must not be utilised to propagate or justify views alien to Marxism on the national question.

Footnotes:

1. Report of the President of the Central Executive Committee of the Chinese Soviet Republic, Before the Second National Soviet Congress, Mao-Tse-Tung, January, 1934, in: Victor A. Yakhontoff: ‘The Chinese Soviets,’ New York, 1934, pp. 249-283.

2. ‘Free Tibet? Karat utters the K-word’, The Telegraph, Kolkata, April 1, 2008.

3. J. Stalin, Works, Vol. 4, FLPH, Moscow, p. 3.

From Revolutionary Democracy, Vol. XIV, No. 1, April 2008

Karl Marx on Materialism, Base and Superstructure and Relations of Production

67km1

“In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.”

– Karl Marx, “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy”

Frederich Engels’ Speech at the Grave of Karl Marx

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the 14th of March, at a quarter to three in the afternoon, the greatest living thinker ceased to think. He had been left alone for scarcely two minutes, and when we came back we found him in his armchair, peacefully gone to sleep — but for ever.

An immeasurable loss has been sustained both by the militant proletariat of Europe and America, and by historical science, in the death of this man. The gap that has been left by the departure of this mighty spirit will soon enough make itself felt.

Just as Darwin discovered the law of development or organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.; that therefore the production of the immediate material means, and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.

But that is not all. Marx also discovered the special law of motion governing the present-day capitalist mode of production, and the bourgeois society that this mode of production has created. The discovery of surplus value suddenly threw light on the problem, in trying to solve which all previous investigations, of both bourgeois economists and socialist critics, had been groping in the dark.

Two such discoveries would be enough for one lifetime. Happy the man to whom it is granted to make even one such discovery. But in every single field which Marx investigated — and he investigated very many fields, none of them superficially — in every field, even in that of mathematics, he made independent discoveries.

Such was the man of science. But this was not even half the man. Science was for Marx a historically dynamic, revolutionary force. However great the joy with which he welcomed a new discovery in some theoretical science whose practical application perhaps it was as yet quite impossible to envisage, he experienced quite another kind of joy when the discovery involved immediate revolutionary changes in industry, and in historical development in general. For example, he followed closely the development of the discoveries made in the field of electricity and recently those of Marcel Deprez.

For Marx was before all else a revolutionist. His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the first to make conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the conditions of its emancipation. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success such as few could rival. His work on the first Rheinische Zeitung (1842), the ParisVorwarts (1844), the Deutsche Brusseler Zeitung (1847), the Neue Rheinische Zeitung (1848-49), the New York Tribune (1852-61), and, in addition to these, a host of militant pamphlets, work in organisations in Paris, Brussels and London, and finally, crowning all, the formation of the great International Working Men’s Association — this was indeed an achievement of which its founder might well have been proud even if he had done nothing else.

And, consequently, Marx was the best hated and most calumniated man of his time. Governments, both absolutist and republican, deported him from their territories. Bourgeois, whether conservative or ultra-democratic, vied with one another in heaping slanders upon him. All this he brushed aside as though it were a cobweb, ignoring it, answering only when extreme necessity compelled him. And he died beloved, revered and mourned by millions of revolutionary fellow workers — from the mines of Siberia to California, in all parts of Europe and America — and I make bold to say that, though he may have had many opponents, he had hardly one personal enemy.

His name will endure through the ages, and so also will his work.

Frederick Engels on Thomas Malthus and Overpopulation

tumblr_lcltgtRv7C1qzn0deo1_500

“The struggle of capital against capital, of labour against labour, of land against land, drives production to a fever-pitch at which production turns all natural and rational relations upside-down. No capital can stand the competition of another if it is not brought to the highest pitch of activity. No piece of land can be profitably cultivated if it does not continuously increase its productivity. No worker can hold his own against his competitors if he does not devote all his energy to labour. No one at all who enters into the struggle of competition can weather it without the utmost exertion of his energy, without renouncing every truly human purpose. The consequence of this over-exertion on the one side is, inevitably, slackening on the other. When the fluctuation of competition is small, when demand and supply, consumption and production, are almost equal, a stage must be reached in the development of production where there is so much superfluous productive power that the great mass of the nation has nothing to live on, that the people starve from sheer abundance. For some considerable time England has found herself in this crazy position, in this living absurdity. When production is subject to greater fluctuations, as it is bound to be in consequence of such a situation, then the alternation of boom and crisis, overproduction and slump, sets in. The economist has never been able to find an explanation for this mad situation. In order to explain it, he invented the population theory, which is just as senseless – indeed even more senseless than the contradiction of coexisting wealth and poverty. The economist could not afford to see the truth; he could not afford to admit that this contradiction is a simple consequence of competition; for in that case his entire system would have fallen to bits.

For us the matter is easy to explain. The productive power at mankind’s disposal is immeasurable. The productivity of the soil can be increased ad infinitum by the application of capital, labour and science. According to the most able economists and statisticians (cf. Alison’s Principles of Population, Vol. I, Chs. 1 and 2), “over-populated” Great Britain can be brought within ten years to produce a corn yield sufficient for a population six times its present size. Capital increases daily; labour power grows with population; and day by day science increasingly makes the forces of nature subject to man. This immeasurable productive capacity, handled consciously and in the interest of all, would soon reduce to a minimum the labour falling to the share of mankind. Left to competition, it does the same, but within a context of antitheses. One part of the land is cultivated in the best possible manner whilst another part – in Great Britain and Ireland thirty million acres of good land – lies barren. One part of capital circulates with colossal speed; another lies dead in the chest. One part of the workers works fourteen or sixteen hours a day, whilst another part stands idle and inactive, and starves. Or the partition leaves this realm of simultaneity: today trade is good; demand is very considerable; everyone works; capital is turned over with miraculous speed; farming flourishes; the workers work themselves sick. Tomorrow stagnation sets in. The cultivation of the land is not worth the effort; entire stretches of land remain untilled; the flow of capital suddenly freezes; the workers have no employment, and the whole country labours under surplus wealth and surplus population.

The economist cannot afford to accept this exposition of the subject as correct; otherwise, as has been said, he would have to give up his whole system of competition. He would have to recognise the hollowness of his antithesis of production and consumption, of surplus population and surplus wealth. To bring fact and theory into conformity with each other – since this fact simply could not be denied – the population theory was invented.

Malthus, the originator of this doctrine, maintains that population is always pressing on the means of subsistence; that as soon as production increases, population increases in the same proportion; and that the inherent tendency of the population to multiply in excess of the available means of subsistence is the root of all misery and all vice. For, when there are too many people, they have to be disposed of in one way or another: either they must be killed by violence or they must starve. But when this has happened, there is once more a gap which other multipliers of the population immediately start to fill up once more: and so the old misery begins all over again. What is more, this is the case in all circumstances – not only in civilised, but also in primitive conditions. In New Holland [The old name for Australia. – Ed.], with a population density of one per square mile, the savages suffer just as much from over-population as England. In short, if we want to be consistent, we must admit that the earth was already over-populated when only one man existed. The implications of this line of thought are that since it is precisely the poor who are the surplus, nothing should be done for them except to make their dying of starvation as easy as possible, and to convince them that it cannot be helped and that there is no other salvation for their whole class than keeping propagation down to the absolute minimum. Or if this proves impossible, then it is after all better to establish a state institution for the painless killing of the children of the poor, such as “Marcus” has suggested, whereby each working-class family would be allowed to have two and a half children, any excess being painlessly killed. Charity is to be considered a crime, since it supports the augmentation of the surplus population. Indeed, it will be very advantageous to declare poverty a crime and to turn poor-houses into prisons, as has already happened in England as a result of the new “liberal” Poor Law. Admittedly it is true that this theory ill conforms with the Bible’s doctrine of the perfection of God and of His creation; but “it is a poor refutation to enlist the Bible against facts.”

Am I to go on any longer elaborating this vile, infamous theory, this hideous blasphemy against nature and mankind? Am I to pursue its consequences any further? Here at last we have the immorality of the economist brought to its highest pitch. What are all the wars and horrors of the monopoly system compared with this theory! And it is just this theory which is the keystone of the liberal system of free trade, whose fall entails the downfall of the entire edifice. For if here competition is proved to be the cause of misery, poverty and crime, who then will still dare to speak up for it?

In his above-mentioned work, Alison has shaken the Malthusian theory by bringing in the productive power of the land, and by opposing to the Malthusian principle the fact that each adult can produce more than he himself needs – a fact without which mankind could not multiply, indeed could not even exist; if it were not so how could those still growing up live? But Alison does not go to the root of the matter, and therefore in the end reaches the same conclusion as Malthus. True enough, he proves that Malthus’ principle is incorrect, but cannot gainsay the facts which have impelled Malthus to his principle.

If Malthus had not considered the matter so one-sidedly, he could not have failed to see that surplus population or labour-power is invariably tied up with surplus wealth, surplus capital and surplus landed property. The population is only too large where the productive power as a whole is too large. The condition of every over-populated country, particularly England, since the time when Malthus wrote, makes this abundantly clear. These were the facts which Malthus ought to have considered in their totality, and whose consideration was bound to have led to the correct conclusion. Instead, he selected one fact, gave no consideration to the others, and therefore arrived at his crazy conclusion. The second error he committed was to confuse means of subsistence with [means of] employment. That population is always pressing on the means of employment – that the number of people produced depends on the number of people who can be employed – in short, that the production of labour-power has been regulated so far by the law of competition and is therefore also exposed to periodic crises and fluctuations – this is a fact whose establishment constitutes Malthus’ merit. But the means of employment are not the means of subsistence. Only in their end-result are the means of employment increased by the increase in machin-epower and capital. The means of subsistence increase as soon as productive power increases even slightly. Here a new contradiction in economics comes to light. The economist’s “demand” is not the real demand; his “consumption” is an artificial consumption. For the economist, only that person really demands, only that person is a real consumer, who has an equivalent to offer for what he receives. But if it is a fact that every adult produces more than he himself can consume, that children are like trees which give superabundant returns on the outlays invested in them – and these certainly are facts, are they not? – then it must be assumed that each worker ought to be able to produce far more than he needs and that the community, therefore, ought to be very glad to provide him with everything he needs; one must consider a large family to be a very welcome gift for the community. But the economist, with his crude outlook, knows no other equivalent than that which is paid to him in tangible ready cash. He is so firmly set in his antitheses that the most striking facts are of as little concern to him as the most scientific principles.

We destroy the contradiction simply by transcending it. With the fusion of the interests now opposed to each other there disappears the contradiction between excess population here and excess wealth there; there disappears the miraculous fact (more miraculous than all the miracles of all the religions put together) that a nation has to starve from sheer wealth and plenty; and there disappears the crazy assertion that the earth lacks the power to feed men. This assertion is the pinnacle of Christian economics – and that our economics is essentially Christian I could have proved from every proposition, from every category, and shall in fact do so in due course. The Malthusian theory is but the economic expression of the religious dogma of the contradiction of spirit and nature and the resulting corruption of both. As regards religion, and together with religion, this contradiction was resolved long ago, and I hope that in the sphere of economics I have likewise demonstrated the utter emptiness of this contradiction. Moreover, I shall not accept as competent any defence of the Malthusian theory which does not explain to me on the basis of its own principles how a people can starve from sheer plenty and bring this into harmony with reason and fact.  

At the same time, the Malthusian theory has certainly been a necessary point of transition which has taken us an immense step further. Thanks to this theory, as to economics as a whole, our attention has been drawn to the productive power of the earth and of mankind; and after overcoming this economic despair we have been made for ever secure against the fear of overpopulation. We derive from it the most powerful economic arguments for a social transformation. For even if Malthus were completely right, this transformation would have to be undertaken straight away; for only this transformation, only the education of the masses which it provides, makes possible that moral restraint of the propagative instinct which Malthus himself presents as the most effective and easiest remedy for overpopulation. Through this theory we have come to know the deepest degradation of mankind, their dependence on the conditions of competition. It has shown us how in the last instance private property has turned man into a commodity whose production and destruction also depend solely on demand; how the system of competition has thus slaughtered, and daily continues to slaughter, millions of men. All this we have seen, and all this drives us to the abolition of this degradation of mankind through the abolition of private property, competition and the opposing interests.  

Yet, so as to deprive the universal fear of overpopulation of any possible basis, let us once more return to the relationship of productive power to population. Malthus establishes a formula on which he bases his entire system: population is said to increase in a geometrical progression – 1+2+4+8+16+32, etc.; the productive power of the land in an arithmetical progression – 1+2+3+4+5+6. The difference is obvious, is terrifying; but is it correct? Where has it been proved that the productivity of the land increases in an arithmetical progression? The extent of land is limited. All right! The labour-power to be employed on this land-surface increases with population. Even if we assume that the increase in yield due to increase in labour does not always rise in proportion to the labour, there still remains a third element which, admittedly, never means anything to the economist – science – whose progress is as unlimited and at least as rapid as that of population. What progress does the agriculture of this century owe to chemistry alone – indeed, to two men alone, Sir Humphry Davy and Justus Liebig! But science increases at least as much as population. The latter increases in proportion to the size of the previous generation, science advances in proportion to the knowledge bequeathed to it by the previous generation, and thus under the most ordinary conditions also in a geometrical progression. And what is impossible to science? But it is absurd to talk of over-population so long as “there is ‘enough waste land in the valley of the Mississippi for the whole population of Europe to be transplanted there” [A. Alison, loc. cit., p. 548. – Ed.]; so long as no more than one-third of the earth can be considered cultivated, and so long as the production of this third itself can be raised sixfold and more by the application of improvements already known.”

– Frederick Engels, “Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy”

Grover Furr on the Objective Study of Soviet History and Challenging the Bourgeois-Trotskyist Paradigm

grover-furr

“Political prejudice still predominates in the study of Soviet history. Conclusions that contradict the dominant paradigm are routinely dismissed as the result of bias or incompetence. Conclusions that cast doubt upon accusations against Stalin or whose implications tend to make him look either “good” or even less “evil” than the predominant paradigm holds him to have been, are called “Stalinist.” Any objective study of the evidence now available is bound to be called “Stalinist” simply because it reaches conclusions that are politically unacceptable to those who have a strong political bias, be it anticommunist generally or Trotskyist specifically.

[….]

No researcher today, no matter how anti-Soviet, dismisses Soviet evidence just because it is Soviet. Evidence from Soviet archives is routinely regarded as valid.

[….]

The testimony of the defendants at the three Moscow “Show” Trials is routinely dismissed as false. The defendants are said to have been threatened, or tortured, or in some other way induced to confess to absurd crimes which they could not have committed. This is all wrong.

There is no evidence worthy of the name that the defendants were threatened, or tortured, or induced to give false confessions by promises of some kind. Under Khrushchev, again under Gorbachev and, in fact, right up to this day the official stance of both Soviet and Russian regimes has been that the defendants’ confessions are false. The investigative materials, all but a small fraction of which are still classified in Russia today, have been scoured for any evidence that would discredit the Trials and prove the defendants’ confessions were false. But no such evidence has been discovered. For this reason we can be reasonably confident that no such evidence exists. 

[…]

In the case of a few of the more prominent defendants, Zinoviev and Bukharin, there is good evidence that they were not threatened or badly treated.

Most people who disregard the confessions of the defendants at the Moscow Trials have never studied the transcripts of these trials. They dismiss them because they have been told that the defendants’ confessions were fabricated. In reality, there is no evidence that this is so. As we shall see, the evidence given in those confessions is in fact corroborated by the archival material which is the main subject of this study. And in any event the confessions of the Moscow Trials defendants must be accorded the same respect as the rest of the evidence, or as any evidence. It must be identified, collected, and studied.

[….]

Given the absence of any evidence that these confessions were false, and given the logical progression from more detail in the secret documents to the least detail in public ones, any objective student would conclude that we should consider these confessions genuine unless and until evidence to the contrary should be discovered. But the practice among most scholars of this period of Soviet history is to do precisely the opposite. Any evidence that tends to support the theory that Trotsky or any of those accused of espionage, sabotage, conspiracy to overthrow the government or treasonable contacts with foreign governments did in fact so conspire, is routinely dismissed. The evidence itself is not evaluated.

There is never any reason to “dismiss” – to refuse to consider – any evidence. All evidence needs to be evaluated on its own merits and in conjunction with the rest of the evidence available, as we have done here.

[….]

We predict that regardless of the evidence neither staunch anticommunists nor Trotskyists will ever accept that Trotsky did in fact collaborate with Germany and Japan. The “Cold War” paradigm of Soviet history during Stalin’s time depends upon theconstruction of Stalin as an evil man who was killing innocent people and destroying the communist movement. If Trotsky and, by implication, the oppositionists who worked with him were guilty of what they were charged with and to which most, though of course not Trotsky, confessed, then this “Cold War” paradigm of Soviet history is dismantled.”

  – Grover Furr, “Evidence of Leon Trotsky’s Collaboration with Germany and Japan” quotations taken from pages 9 – 149.

Bill Bland: The National Question in Britain

UK-2005

By W.B.Bland (“Communist League”, London UK)
for The National Committee for Marxist-Leninist Unity (Britain).

Introduction

Geographically, the British Isles consists of two main islands: Great Britain and Ireland.

Great-Britain consists of three communities: those of England, Wales and Scotland.

There is general agreement among those who regard themselves as Marxist-Leninists that the people of Ireland constitute a nation, a nation distinct from the nation (or nations) occupying the island of Great Britain. Politically, however, Ireland is divided into two separate states; the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is nominally independent, but is in reality dominated by British imperialism, is a neo-colony of British imperialism. Northern-Ireland is politically a part of ‘the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’, is a colony of British imperialism. Progressive people support the unification and the right to self-determination, to independence, of Ireland.

This article is concerned with two questions:

1) whether the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England constitute separate-nations, or whether they form part of a single British nation; and

2) whether separate Marxist-Leninist Parties should be formed in Scotland, Wales and England, or whether there should be a single Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Britain.

The Definition of a Nation

The English word ‘nation’ is derived from the Latin ‘natio’, originally meaning:

” birth, hence a creature’s entire offspring at one time, hence a clan’s offspring, hence a people’s, hence that people itself”.

(Eric Partridge: ‘Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English’; London; 1966; p. 428).

Marxist-Leninists define the term ‘nation’ as follows:

A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture”. 

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 307).

To constitute a nation, a community must possess all the above characteristics:

“It is sufficient for a single one of these characteristics to be lacking and the nation ceases to be a nation. . . . It is only when all these characteristics are present together that we have a nation”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 307, 308).

Furthermore, a nation is a:

“. . . historical category belonging to a definite epoch, the epoch of rising capitalism. The process of elimination of feudalism and development of capitalism is at the same time a process of the constitution of people into nations”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 313).

In order to determine, therefore, whether the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England constitute separate nations, it is necessary to determine whether each of these communities possesses all the characteristics listed by Stalin. If it does not, it is not a nation.

Firstly,

” a common-language is one of the characteristic features of a nation”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 304).

Clearly, the people of England possess a common language — English. The minority languages which once existed in England — Manx and Cornish — have long been extinct. Manx is a Celtic language:

“formerly spoken on the Isle of Man but now extinct”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1994; p. 802)

while Cornish is a Celtic language:

” . . formerly spoken in Cornwall, in south-western Britain; it became extinct in the 18th or early 19th century as a result of displacement by English”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1994; p. 640).

The people of Wales, for the most part, also speak a common language. But this is not Welsh, a Celtic language which is spoken by only a small and declining minority of the population, mainly in the rural areas. According to official figures, the proportion of the population of Wales and Monmouthshire speaking only Welsh has declined from 508 thousand (28.6%) in 1891 to 26 thousand (1.0%) in 1961.

(‘Census of England and Wales: 1891, Volume 4: General Record’; London; 1893′ p. 82; ‘Census 1961: Wales (including Monmouthshire): Report on Welsh Speaking Population)’; London; 1962; p. viii; Charlotte A. Davies: ‘Welsh Nationalism in the 20th Century: The Ethnic Option and the British State’; New York; 1989; p. 39).

The people of Scotland, for the most part, also speak a common language. But this is not Scottish Gaelic (Erse), which is spoken only by a small and declining minority of the population, mainly

“. . . along the north-west coast of Scotland and in the Hebrides islands”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’. Volume 10; Chicago; 1994; p. 566)

According to official figures, the proportion of the population of Scotland speaking only Gaelic has declined from 44 thousand (1.1%) in 1891 to 1 thousand (0.02%) in 1961. (‘Census of Scotland: 1891’, Volume 1: London; 1892; p. xxi; ‘Statesman’s Year Book: 1998-1999’; London: 1998; p. 1,411;

Charles W. J. Withers: ‘Gaelic in Scotland: 1698-1981: The Geographical History of a Language’; Edinburgh; 1984; p. 239).

Furthermore,

” . . many of those recorded as monoglots were old women”.

(Charles W. J. Withers: ibid.; p. 238).

Thus, the common language of the people of Scotland is, for the most part, English.

Secondly,

“. . . a common territory is one of the characteristic features of a nation.”

(Josef V. Stalin: op. cit.; p. 305).

Clearly, the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England each have a common territory. The people of Britain — that is, of Scotland, Wales and England combined — also possess a common territory.

Thirdly,

“. . . a common economic life, economic cohesion, is one of the characteristic features of a nation”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 306.)

As Stalin makes clear, a community possesses ‘economic cohesion’ when its economic life is welded together by well-established physical ties (means of communication, division of labour, financial bonds, etc.) so as to form a single economic whole which, if it does not exist at a particular moment in the form of a separate state, is capable of such separate existence without significant disruption of its economic life.

If, on the other hand, one community is welded to another by well established physical ties, which date back to the rise of capitalist society or beyond, so that they form in combination a single economic whole and their separation would cause significant disruption to the economic life of both, then neither of these communities considered separately possesses economic cohesion.

Scotland, Wales and England have been welded together for many centuries. As early as the 12-13th centuries:

“Edward I of England established authority over Wales”,

(‘Cambridge Encyclopaedia’; Cambridge; 1997; p. 1.126).

and the ‘Statute of Wales’ of 1284:

“.. . annexed Wales to the crown of England”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1994; p. 126).

Then, following the victory of the Welsh noble Henry Tudor (who became Henry VII of England) over Richard III at Bosworth Field in 1485, Wales was finally

“. . . politically united with England at the Act of Union, 1535”.

(‘Cambridge Encyclopaedia’; Cambridge; 1997; p. 1.126).

In the case of Scotland, James VI of Scotland was the great-great-grandson of Henry VII of England and the legitimate successor of Elizabeth I:

“On Elizabeth’s death in 1603, he was recognised as the rightful king of England. Thus the Crowns of England and Scotland were united”.

(‘Encylopaedia Amercana’, Volume 24; New York; 1977; p. 419).

The formal union of the two kingdoms of Scotland and England

” . . . was achieved in 1707..”

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1994; p. 116).

by the ‘Treaty of Union’ of that year.

London is the financial, communications and cultural centre of Britain. There is a common market throughout Britain -the same branded goods are on sale in branches of the same multiple stores in Inverness, Swansea and Manchester. Scottish, Welsh and English capital is inseparably blended into British capital. There is no ‘English monopoly capital’, no ‘English imperialism’; there is British monopoly capitalism, British imperialism. The separation of Scotland, Wales and England would cause great disruption of the economic life of all three communities, as a result of these long-standing physical ties. Thus, Scotland, England and Wales taken separately do not possess economic cohesion, and so are not nations. Britain, however, does possess economic cohesion.

Fourthly,

“. . .a common psychological make-up, which manifests itself in a common culture, is one of the characteristic features of a nation”.

(Josef V. Stalin: op. cit.; p. 307).

Clearly, Britain has, for the most part, a common culture. There are, it is true, immigrants to Britain who have brought with them aspects of other national cultures. In Scotland and Wales, too, cultural elements exist which appear to be distinctively ‘national’ in character. In the case of Scotland, one thinks of Highland dress, of the bagpipes and of such Highland sports as tossing the caber. In the case of Wales, one thinks of the harp and the Eisteddfodds. It must be noted, however, that these ‘national’ elements in the cultures of Scotland and Wales are of significance mainly in the rural areas, and that they are survivals from the past which are declining in importance in relation to the culture of Scotland and Wales as a whole.

For the most part, therefore, Britain has a common culture.

To sum up: the communities of Scotland, Wales and England do not possess all the essential characteristics which go to make up nations, and so do not constitute separate nations. The community of Britain, however, does possess all the essential characteristics which go to make up a nation. Despite, therefore, the existence of declining survivals of pre-national languages and cultures in Scotland and Wales, Britain constitutes a nation, a single nation.

That Britain constitutes a single nation is not only a logical deduction from Stalin’s general principles on the nation, it is Stalin’s explicit view:

“The British, French, Germans, Italians and others were formed into nations at the time of the victorious advance of capitalism and its triumph over feudal disunity.

But the formation of nations in those instances at the same time signified their conversion into independent national states. The British, French and other nations are at the same time British, etc., states. Ireland . . . did not participate in this process”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’. Volume 2; Moscow; 1952; p. 313-14).

“The British, French, Germans and Italians were formed into nations at the time of the victorious development of capitalism and its triumph over feudal disunity”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p. 16).

“In the West — in Britain, France, Italy and, partly, Germany — the period of the liquidation of feudalism and the constitution of people into nations coincided, on the whole, with the period in which centralised states appeared”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Report on the Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question, 10th Congress of the RCP (B), in: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p. 33).

“Hence the necessity for a stubborn, continuous and determined struggle against the dominant-nation chauvinism of the ‘Socialists’ of the ruling nations (Britain, France, America, Italy, Japan, etc.”

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Foundations of Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 152).

“Such nations must be qualified as bourgeois nations. Examples are the French, British, Italian, . . . American and other similar nations”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The National Question and Leninism’, in: ‘Works’. Volume 11; Moscow; 1954; p. 353).

A ‘Black Nation’-within Britain?

In October 1979, a meeting in London called with the aim of setting up an Afro-Asian-Caribbean organisation in Britain adopted a resolution which declared:

“We now virtually face a two nation situation in Britain, one comprising the majority (i.e., indigenous whites), and the other a loose conglomeration of people originating from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa…These negative and hostile political activities have forced the predictable separate ‘National’ identity among our people”.

(Resolution of Meeting called to form an Afro-Asian-Caribbean Organisation, in: Harpal Brar: ‘Bourgeois Nationalism or Proletarian Internationalism?’; Southall; 1998; p.73).

Basing himself on the Marxist-Leninist interpretation of the national question put forward by Stalin, Brar correctly writes off the concept of separate ‘black and white nations’ in Britain:

“If we apply Stalin’s rigorously scientific definition to that ‘loose conglomeration of people originating from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa’, to wit, the black population of Britain, can we say that this ‘loose conglomeration’ constitutes one nation and that another nation is constituted by ‘the majority, i.e., the indigenous whites’? Most emphatically we cannot.

What common language do the black people of Britain speak? We find that either they do not speak a common language at all, for some speak Bengali, others speak Punjabi, yet others Hindi, others still Arabic and a multitude of other Asian and African languages; or, to the extent that they speak a common language, this is none other than the English language, the language they share with the majority, i.e., ‘the indigenous whites’, if you please. Thus it can be seen that if the community of language is one of the characteristics of a nation, this characteristic is either found wanting among the blacks of Britain or it is a characteristic which they share with the whites.

Take the question of territory. What common territory do the black people in Britain inhabit? It is clear that they do not. They are spread throughout the British Isles. . . . To the extent that they . . . inhabit a common territory, they are obliged no less to share this common territory with the ‘indigenous whites’ as well. So, once again, we find that the attempts of our esteemed gentry to conjure up two nations out of a figment of their own imagination smash their heads against the stone walls of mistress reality.

Is there an internal economic bond which welds the various components of the black population in Britain into a single national whole as distinct from the internal economic bond which welds all the people? . . . Is there, in other words, a community of economic life, of economic cohesion, specific to black people? Once again, to the misfortune of the authors of the resolution, we have to answer this question in the negative.

And when we come to the question of the ‘specific spiritual complexion’, the ‘peculiarities of national culture’, and the psychological make-up of what the authors, in a truly Freudian slip, correctly describe as ‘the loose conglomeration’, matters are wonderfully chaotic.

After all this, what is left of the . . . ‘nation’ constituted by a ‘loose conglomeration of people originating from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa’? Nothing but the blackness of their skin, which is not . . . a characteristic of a nation . . . From this it is not difficult to see how senseless, platitudinous, ignorant and futile are the attempts of this gentry artificially to constitute two nations in this country – one black and one white. . . .

Thus it is clear that the black population of Britain does not constitute a separate nation”.

(Harpal Brar: ibid.; p. 76-77, 79).

Assimilation is:

“. . . socio-cultural fusion, wherein individuals and groups of differing ethnic heritage acquire the basic habits, attitudes and mode of life of an embracing national culture”.

(‘Webster’s Third International Dictionary of the English Language’; London; 1961; p. 132).

and, in the course of time, the black population of Britain will, like other immigrants of the past, be assimilated into the British nation:

“Despite the obstacles of racial discrimination, and overcoming these obstacles, the black population is sooner or later bound to be assimilated and form part of the British nation, in exactly the same way as the assimilation of earlier migrants took place. . . . Black people, far from constituting a separate nation, are bound to be absorbed into the British nation”.

(Harpal Brar: op. cit.; p. 79).

Of course, this assimilation is not a one-way process:

“The black people . . ., while being assimilated over many generations, are bound to impart variety and richness to the British culture. . . . British culture (as indeed other cultures) has undergone and is constantly undergoing transformation while still remaining British. . . . Take just one example: the British diet. Engels already in the 19th century noted it had become spicy as a result of Britain’s trading position and it has become spicier still since the arrival of black workers in Britain. . . . This, however, is only a trivial example. The most important contribution of black people is to the development of British democratic and working-class culture through their struggle against racial and national oppression, and through their struggle against exploitation and their support for proletarian and liberation movements all over the world”.

(Harpal Brar: ibid.; p. 84).

Wherever one finds black separatism, Brar notes,

“One can be sure of the presence of a white liberal lurking around the corner to give a helping hand to his disadvantaged black brother. So it is in this case. The high priests of black separatism . . . receive, not unexpectedly, full support for their bourgeois, divisive and anti-proletarian madness from . . . the liberal bourgeois Ken Livingstone”.

(Harpal Brar: ibid.; p. 43).

For example, writing in the ‘Morning Star’, the newspaper of the revisionist ‘Communist Party of Britain’, of 12 August 1993, Livingstone refers to:

“the rise of racism and the extreme right in Europe today”,

(Ken Livingstone: ‘Strength in the United Fight’, in: ‘Morning Star’, 12 August 1993; p. 5).

and writes:

“The fight against these twin evils must be led by the black and other minority communities who are the target of racist attacks. . . .Because black and minority communities are the first target of racists and fascists, these communities must have the leading role in the antiracist and anti-fascist movement”.

(Ken Livingstone: ibid.; p. 5).

Thus, according to Livingstone, the struggle against racism must be led, not necessarily by the best anti-racists, but by black people whether or not they are, as individuals, the best people to do this. As Brar correctly points out, under the programme of the Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA) and Livingstone, white people can join the struggle against racism only:

‘ . . . as mere auxiliaries”.

(Harpal Brar: op. cit.; p. 4).

This, despite being euphemistically called ‘black self-organisation’, is in fact, racial discrimination, is, ultimately, racial separatism. Writing in the ‘Morning Star’ of 7 February 1994, Bennie Bunsee makes this clear when he says:

“The situation is intensified as black people, in their pilgrimage toward black liberation, realise that every aspect of their oppression . . . leads them to assert their national identity and historical personality, based upon their own history, language, culture and civilisation, as they try to break away from the clutches of Western influence”.

(Bennie Bunsee: ‘Taking Hold of the Reins’, in: ‘Morning Star’, 14 February 1994; p. 6).

Bunsee concludes another article in the ‘Morning Star’ of 16 August 1993, with separatist sentiments which could well have emanated from the fascist British National Party:

“Allied to this demand of black people is the rejection of concepts like ‘integration’ and multiracialism or multiculturalism “.

(Bennie Bunsee: ‘A Right to Self-Organisation’, in: ‘Morning Star’, 16 August 1993; p. 7).

Brar justly comments:

“Ever since the founding of the ARA, the ‘Morning Star’ has’ provided every facility to the leaders of the ARA to help them propagate their reactionary, divisive ideology of black separatism”.

(Harpal Brar: op. cit.; P. 28).

and correctly notes that

“. . . the struggle against racism requires the joint efforts of the entire proletariat, without distinction . . . . The ARA have set their face against this, the only correct way of fighting racism”.

(Harpal Brar: ibid.; p. 11).

The Development of Nations

A nation,

“. . . like every historical phenomenon, is subject to the law of change, has its history, its beginning and end”.

(Josef V.Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Marxism; 1953; p. 307).

In fact, nations are a product of the development of capitalist society:

“Modern nations are a product of a definite epoch — the epoch of rising capitalism. The process of elimination of feudalism and development of capitalism is at the same time a process of the constitution of people into nations”.

(Josef V. Stalin: “The Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p. 16).

Nations did not exist prior to the development of capitalist society:

“How could nations have arisen and existed before capitalism, in the period of feudalism, when countries were split up into separate, independent principalities which, far from being bound together by national ties, emphatically denied the necessity for such ties? . . . There were no nations in the pre-capitalist period, nor could there be, because there were as yet no national markets and no economic or cultural national centres and, consequently, there were none of the factors which put an end to the economic disunity of a given people and draw its hitherto disunited parts into one national whole”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The National Question and Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 11; Moscow; 1954; p. 351).

The development of communities to nationhood goes through three fundamental stages:

firstly, that of the tribe;

secondly, that of the pre-nation or nationality;

and thirdly, that of the nation.

The English word ‘tribe’ is derived from the Latin ‘tribus’, tribe. and has the meaning of

“A group of persons forming a community and claiming descent from a common ancestor’.”

(‘Oxford English Dictionary’, Volume 18; Oxford; 1989; p. 503).

It is the typical form of community under primitive communism and, as has been said, is based upon kinship.

With the development of tools and techniques, classes appear and primitive communism gives way to slavery and then to feudalism:

“In conformity with the change and development of the productive forces of society in the course of history, men’s relations of production, their economic relations, also changed and developed.

Five main types of relations of production are known to history: Primitive communal, slave, feudal, capitalist and Socialist”.

(‘History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union: Short course Moscow’; 1939; p. 123).

As the tribal community disintegrates, tribes come together into federations and kingdoms; a common language, based on one of the tribal languages, appears; a common psychology and a common culture emerge. This process leads to the eventual development of a new type of community: the pre-nation or nationality — a community based no longer on kinship, but on geographical location. A pre-nation has a common territory, a common language, and a common culture; it does not, however, possess economic cohesion. A pre-nation is the typical form of community under slavery and feudalism.

“Of course, the elements of nationhood . . . did not fall from the skies, but were being formed gradually, even in the pre-capitalist period. But these elements were in a rudimentary state and, at best, were only a potentiality, that is, they constituted the possibility of the formation of a nation in the future, given certain favourable conditions. The potentiality became a reality only in the period of rising capitalism, with its national market and its economic and cultural centres”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The National Question and Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 11; Moscow; 1954; p. 351).

With the development of capitalism within the framework of feudal society, the development of pre-national characteristics was accelerated, and alongside this the process of establishing economic cohesion throughout the territory of the pre-nation. This latter process transforms the pre-nation into a nation:

“With the appearance of capitalism, the elimination of feudal division and the formation of national markets, nationalities developed into nations”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Concerning Marxism and Linguistics’, in: ‘Selected Works’: Tirana; 1979; p. 511).

As Stalin said, the development of a pre-nation into a nation is not inevitably completed. It is completed only:

” . . . given certain favourable conditions”.

(Josef V. Stalin:- ‘The National Question and Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 11; Moscow; 1954; p. 351).

When, for example, two or more pre-nations are in course of development on adjacent territories, their development towards separate nationhood may be arrested at a certain stage and give way to fusion, to their merging into a single nation. This single nation will have the language and culture of one of the pre-nations participating in this fusion, and the languages and cultures of the other pre-nations participating in the fusion will gradually disappear:

“Linguistic crossing cannot be regarded as the single impact of a decisive blow which produces its results within a few years. Linguistic crossing is a prolonged process which continues for hundreds of years. . . . .

Further, it would be quite wrong to think that the crossing of, say, two languages results in a new, third language. . . . As a matter of fact, one of the languages usually emerges victorious from the cross, retains its grammatical system and its basic word stock, and continues to develop in accordance with its inherent laws of development, while the other language gradually loses its quality and gradually dies away”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Concerning Marxism in Linguistics’, in: ‘Selected Works’; Tirana; 1979; p. 523).

As will be shown, this has been the pattern of development, of the British nation, which has evolved from the fusion of several pre-nations – principally those of Scotland, England annd Wales.

The Development of the British Nation

For geographical and ethnical reasons, the development of pre-nations in the British Isles took place principally in six distinct regions: in the Isle of Man, in Cornwall, in Scotland, in Wales, in England generally and in Ireland.

The Development of the Manx Pre-nation

The Manx pre-nation developed in the Isle of Man, in the Irish Sea, and:

“. . . became attached to Norway in the 9th century. In 1266 it was ceded to Scotland, but it came under English control in 1406 when possession was granted to the Stanley family (the Earls of Derby) and was later purchased by the British”.

(‘Statesman’s Yearbook: 1998-99’; London; 1999; p. 1,482).

The Manx language was:

“. a member of the Goidelic group of Celtic languages”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998; p. 802).

The Manx pre-nation did not complete its development to nationhood, but was absorbed. into the English pre-nation and, later, in the 19th century, into the British nation. The Manx language:

” . . . was displaced by English”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia-Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998; p. 802). 

and is:

“. . . now extinct”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998; p. 802).

The Development of the Cornish Pre-nation

The Cornish pre-nation developed in the extreme south-west of the English mainland, in Cornwall.

After the Norman Conquest of England in 1066:

“the indigenous manors of Cornwall were taken over to form the basis of an earldom”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1998; p. 642).

and in 1337, the Duchy of Cornwall:

“. . . was created by royal charter by Edward III for his eldest son, Edward the Black Prince”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1998; p. 642).

Since then:

“the monarch’s first-begotten son at the time of his birth”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1998; p. 642).

has been created Duke of Cornwall.

The Cornish pre-nation did not complete its development into nationhood, but merged into the English pre-nation and, later, in the 18th century, into the British nation. Since then, Cornish:

“has not been spoken as a living language”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1998; p. 642).

The Development of the Scottish Pre-nation

By the middle of the 9th century, the tribal kingdoms of the Scottish mainland had been united into:

“A largely Celtic monarchy”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 10; Chicago; 1998 p. 562).

Then, in the 13th century, England

“. . . attempted to impose direct English rule over Scotland”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 10; Chicago; 1998 p. 562).

but in the 14th century was forced to recognise:

“Robert Bruce . . . as King Robert I of Scotland’.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 10; Chicago; 1998 p. 562).

The Shetland and Orkney Islands, north of the mainland of Scotland, were from the 9th century:

“. . . ruled by Norway and Denmark”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 8; Chicago; 1998 p. 1,001).

but in the 15th century became part of the Scottish pre-nation when they:

“. . . passed into Scottish rule . . . in compensation for the nonpayment of the dowry of Margaret of Denmark, queen of James III”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 8; Chicago; 1998 p. 1,001).

The Scottish pre-nation did not complete its development to nationhood, but merged with the developing English pre-nation.

The Development of the Welsh Pre-nation

The Welsh pre-nation had, by the 13th century, developed to the point where the old tribal kingdoms had been united under Llewellyn ap Grufydd, who:

“. . . proclaimed himself Prince of Wales and received the homage of the other Welsh princes.”

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998 p. 427).

In the 16th century:

“Wales was incorporated within the realm of England”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 12; Chicago; 1998 p. 461).

and its native culture underwent:

” . . . progressive Anglicisation”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 12; Chicago; 1998 p. 461).

so that the Welsh pre-nation did not complete its development to nationhood, but merged with the English pre-nation and, later, into the British nation.

The Formation of the English Pre-Nation

By the 10th century, the English pre-nation had developed to the point where the West Saxon king, Athelstan, had become:

“. . . the first king to have direct rule of all England”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1998 p. 29).

The development of the English pre-nation was interrupted in the 11th century by the Norman Conquest. The feudal system introduced into England by the Normans differed fundamentally from that on the European Continent in that its estates consisted of:

” . . . manors scattered through a number of shires”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1998 p. 31).

thus making the lords much weaker relative to the central (royal) state power. This contributed greatly to the early rise of capitalism in England.

The civil war which broke out in Britain in the 17th century:

“. . . was a class struggle, was revolutionary and was progressive. . . .The bourgeoisie of the 17th Century. . . . just because they were the historically progressive class of their time, . . . could not but fight for their own rights and liberties without also fighting for the rights and liberties of all Englishmen and of humanity as a whole”.

A.L. Morton: ‘A People’s History of England’; London; 1979; p. 229).

The Fusion of the Welsh and English Pre-nations

In 1276, Edward I of England:

“invaded Wales and subjugated Llewellyn in 1276-77”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998 p. 427).

In 1485, Henry Tudor, the grandson:

” . . . of Owen Tudor, a Welsh squire”,

defeated and killed Richard III of England,

” . . . at the Battle of Bosworth. Claiming the throne by just title of inheritance and by judgment of God in battle, he was crowned on October 30″.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 5; Chicago; 1998 p. 839).

As a result:

“. . . it was widely felt in Wales that at last a true Welshman by origins and upbringing ruled in London”.

(Graham Jones: ‘A Pocket Guide: The History of Wales’; Cardiff; 1990; p. 47).

And when Wales was:

“. . . politically united with England at the Act of Union, 1535”,

(‘Cambridge Encylopaedia’; Cambridge; 1997; p.1,126).

“. . . articulate Welshmen were fully convinced that the political incorporation of England and Wales . . . had been a conspicuous success story. . . . Affluent and educated Welshmen confidently declared that the assimilation of England and Wales had been a happy and gladsome marriage of equals”.

(Geraint H. Jenkins: ‘The Foundation of Modern Wales: 1642-1780’; Oxford; 1993; p. 301).

The Fusion of the Scottish and English Pre-nations

James VI of Scotland was the:

” . . . great-great-grandson of Henry VII (of England — Ed.) and the legitimate successor of Eliizabeth I. . . . On Elizabeth’s death in 1603, he was recognised as the rightful king of England. Thus the crowns of England and Scotland were united”.

(‘Encylopedia Americana’, Volume 24; New York; 1977; p. 419).

Scotland and England:

” . . . remained separate kingdoms under a single monarch — except for the brief period during the English civil war when the monarchy was deposed — until 1707″.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 10; Chicago; 1993; p. 563).

The union of the two kingdoms of England and Scotland was:

“. . . strategically as well as economically desirable. That union was achieved in 1707”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1994; p. 116).

The Treaty of Union of 1707:

” . . . was the immediate product of the exclusion of developing Scottish mercantile interests from England’s expanding imperial trade”.

(Michael Keating & David Bleiman: ‘Labour and Scottish Nationalism’; London; 1979; p. 21).

Following this,

“. . . during the Victorian age, Scotland enjoyed a prosperity so great by comparison with that of the past that unionist sentiment seemed likely to destroy Scottish national self-conciousness altogether”.

(Harold J. Hanham: ‘Scottish Nationalism’; London; 1969; p. 11).

The Formation of the British Nation

The development of the Scottish pre-nation and of the Welsh pre-nation did not proceed to the formation of nations. It was interrupted in such a way that these pre-nations fused with the developing English pre-nation to form the British-nation.

The Development of the Irish Nation

The Irish pre-nation was developing across the Irish Sea, but had not had yet reached the point of the formation of a united kingdom when the forces of Henry II of England of England:

“invaded Ireland in 1171”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 6; Chicago; 1998; p. 379).

and Henry:

” . . . proclaimed himself overlord of the entire island”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 6; Chicago; 1993; p. 379).

In January 1801, Ireland was politically united with Britain in:

“. . . the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 6; Chicago; 1993; p. 380).

Despite the continuing foreign oppression, capitalism — and with it, the Irish nation — continued to develop. By the 19th century, these developments had given rise to an Irish national movement:

“In the West, Ireland responded to its exceptional position by a national movement”,

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 315).

And:

” . . an Irish provisional government was proclaimed in 1916″.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 6; Chicago; 1993; p. 380).

In order to defeat the Irish national movement, the government collaborated with the Protestant settlers in the north of the country (Ulster) to impose in 1920 partition of the country into two parts:

” . . Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland, each to have its parliament and each to retain representatives in the British parliament”.

(William L. Langer (Ed.): ‘An Encyclopedia of World History: Ancient, Medieval and Modern’; London; 1972; p. 984).

When the people in the south refused to accept this position, the British government:

“. . . granted (Southern — Ed.) Ireland Dominion status as the Irish Free-State (Northern Ireland retaining the right of keeping the existing arrangement”.

(William L. Langer (Ed.): ibid.; p. 984).

In April 1949:

“. . . the REPUBLIC OF IRELAND was officially proclaimed in Dublin”.

(William L. Langer (Ed.): ibid.; p. 1,177).

In the following month, the British government adopted legislation:

“. . . recognising the independence of the republic, but affirming the position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom”.

(William L. Langer (Ed.): ibid.; p. 1,177).

Thus, Northern Ireland is, in fact, a colony of British imperialism, while the nominally independent Republic of Ireland, is in fact a British neo-colony.

Marxist-Leninists have always regarded British rule over Ireland (or any part of Ireland) as unacceptable colonial oppression and fought for the right of the Irish nation to self-determination:

“What shall we advise the English workers? In my opinion they must make the repeal of the Union’ (i.e., the separation of Ireland from Great Britain) . . . into an article of their pronunziamento“.

(Karl Marx: Letter to Friedrich Engels, 30 November 1867, in: Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘On the Right of Nations to Self-Determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 276).

“Marx, in proposing in the International a resolution of sympathy with the ‘Irish nation’ and the ‘Irish people’ preaches the separation of Ireland from Great Britain”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘On the Right of Nations to Self-Determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 279).

“It was precisely from the standpoint of the revolutionary struggle of the English workers that Marx in 1869 demanded the separation of Ireland from England”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ”The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 274).

Pseudo-Nationalism

Within Britain — excluding Northern Ireland — there are no national tasks to be accomplished:

“In those advanced countries (England (i.e., Britain — Ed.) , France, Germany, -etc.) the national problem has been solved for a long time; . objectively, there are no ‘national tasks’ to be fulfilled”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘A Caricature of Marxism and “Imperialist Economism”‘, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 295).

In:

“The advanced countries of Western Europe the bourgeois, progressive, national movements came to an end long ago”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 275).

But if the communities of Scotland, Wales and the black inhabitants of Britain are not nations, are not oppressed nations under the ‘foreign rule’ of the English, if there are no national tasks to be fulfilled within Britain, what is the real character of so-called Scottish, Welsh and black nationalism?

Clearly, they are spurious-nationalisms.

In a genuine struggle for national liberation, workers and national capitalists of the oppressed nations have a certain temporary, common interest. But Scottish, Welsh and black workers and capitalists have no such common interests. The political effect of this pseudo-nationalism is, therefore, to preach class-collaboration in circumstances which make such class collaboration the opportunist surrender of the interests of the working class to those of the capitalist class:

“From this it is not a far cry to ‘common ground for joint action’ on which the bourgeois and the proletarian must stand and join hands as members of the same ‘nation”‘.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Social-Democratic View of the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 1; Moscow; 1952; p. 38).

Marxist-Leninists understand that the cause of the special problems of Scottish, Welsh and black workers is the existence of British monopoly capital. Thus, the aim of British Marxist-Leninists is to lead a united British working class to overthrow the rule of British monopoly capital.

Political organisations which put forward the concepts of Scottish, Welsh or black ‘nationalism’ in Britain are objectively seeking to divert the working class from building class unity and from their real enemy, British monopoly capital, towards an imaginary enemy: ‘England’.

A Single Marxist-Leninist Party for-Britain?

The second question to be discussed in this article is: whether separate Marxist-Leninist Parties should be formed in Scotland, Wales and England, or whether there should be a single Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Britain.

This second question is in no way dependent upon the first question already dealt with, namely, whether the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England form separate nations or whether they form parts of a single British nation.

This is because Marxist-Leninists have always held that there should be one — and only one — Marxist-Leninist Party for each state (.excluding any geographically separate colonies):

“Every party desiring to affilate to the Communist International must bear the name: Communist Party of such and such a country (Section of the Third, Communist International)”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: “The Conditions of Affiliation to the Communist International’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 10; London; 1946; p. 205).

The 2nd Congress of the Communist International adopted in July 1919 the following thesis on Party organisation:

“There shall be in each country only one single unified Communist Party”.

(2nd. Congress of the Comintern: ‘Theses on the Role of the Communist Party on the Proletarian Revolution’, in: Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘The Communist International: 1919-1943: Documents;, Volume 1; London; 1971; p. 135).

Already in April 1917 Stalin had said:

“Experience has shown that the organisation of the proletarians of a given state on national lines tends only to destroy the idea of class solidarity. All the proletarians of a given state must be organised in a single, indivisible proletarian collective”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Report on the National Question, 7th (April) Conference of the RSDLP (B), in: ‘Works’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1953; p. 58).

This principle applies equally in the case of multi-national states (states which include within their frontiers more than one nation) as in the case of states which embrace a single nation. Tsarist Russia, for instance, was a multi-national state, and Lenin and Stalin fought unreservedly for the principle of a single Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Russia:

“We want to draw together the proletarians of the different nations. What should we do? Split up the proletarians of all Russia into separate parties and you will achieve your aim!, answer the Federalist Social-Democrats. . . .

The Social-Democratic (i.e, Marxist-Leninist — Ed) Party which functions in Russia calls itself ‘Rossiiskaya’ (All-Russian — Ed.) and not ‘Russkaya’ (Russian — Ed).. Obviously, by this it wanted to convey to us that it will gather under its banner not only Russian proletarians, but the proletarians of all the nationalities in Russia, and, consequently, that it will do everything possible to break down the national barriers that have been raised to separate them”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Social-Democratic View of the National Question’, in: ‘Works’. Volume 1; Moscow; 1952; p. 36, 41).

In accordance with this principle, Lenin and Stalin consistently expressed strong opposition to similar moves to establish separate Marxist-Leninist Parties in other multi-national states:

“The idea of national autonomy creates the psychological conditions for the division of the united workers’ party into separate parties built on national lines. Austria, the home of ‘national autonomy’, provides the most deplorable examples of this. As early as 1897 . . . the once united Austrian Social-Democratic Party began to break up unto separate parties. . . . There are now six national parties”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 342-43).

And, of course, once the principle of separate national Marxist-Leninist parties within a multi-national state is accepted, it becomes logical to work for the splitting of other organisations of the working class, such as the trade unions, into separate national bodies:

“The breakup of the party is followed by the breakup of the trade unions, and complete segregation is the result. In this way the united class movement is broken up into separate national rivulets”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 343).

The Marxist-Leninist principle on this question is thus quite clear:

There should be one — and only one Marxist-Leninist Party for each state
(excluding any colonies geographically separated from it). And this principle applies equally to multi-national states as to states which embrace a single nation.

As we have seen, Scotland, Wales and England are not separate states, but form part of the state of the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’. This state includes ‘Northern Ireland’, which is a British colony geographically separated from the mainland of Britain.

It follows that, according to Marxist-Leninist principles, there should be one — and only one — Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Britain, embracing Scotland, Wales and England.

Conclusions

According to Marxist-Leninist principles,

1) Scotland, Wales and England are not separate nations, but form part of a single British nation; and

2) there should not be separate Marxist-Leninist Parties for Scotland, Wales and England, but a single Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Britain.


Author: W.B. Bland
The Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau
NCMLU


NOTE: The second part of this article, dealing with the question of devolution within Britain, was to be written later in 1999. To the knowledge of either the Communist League or the NCMLU – this task was never undertaken.

____________________________________________________________________

BIBLIOGRAPHY

2nd CONGRESS OF COMINTERN: ‘Theses on the Role of the Communist Party on the Proletarian Revolution’, in: Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘The Communist International: 1919-1943: Documents’, Volume 1; London; 1971.
BRAR, Harpal: ‘Bourgeois Nationalism or Proletarian Internationalism?; Southall; 1998.
DAVIES, Charlotte A.: ‘Welsh Nationalism in the 20th Century: The Ethnic
Option and the British State’; New York; 1989.
HANHAM, Harold J.: ‘Scottish Nationalism’; London; 1969.
JENKINS, Geraint H.: ‘The Foundation of Modern Wales: 1642-1780’; Oxford; 1993.
JONES, Graham: ‘A Pocket Guide: The History of Wales’; Cardiff; 1990.
KEATING, Michael & BLEIMAN, David: ‘Labour and Scottish Nationalism’; London; 1979.
LANGER, William L. (Ed.): ‘An Encyclopaedia of World History: Ancient, Medieval and Modern’; London; 1972.
LENIN, Vladimir, I.: ‘On the Right of Nations to Self-Determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 4; London; 1943.
– ‘The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935.
– ‘A Caricature of Marxism and “Imperialist Economism”‘. in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5′; London; 1935.
– ‘The Conditions of Affiliation to the Communist International’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 10; London; 1946.
MORTON, A. L.: ‘A People’s History of England’; London; 1979.
PARTRIDGE, Eric: ‘Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English’; London; 1966,
STALIN, Josef V.: ‘The Social-Democratic View of the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 1; Moscow; 1952
– ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953.
-Report on the National Question, 7th (April) Conference of the RSDLP, in: ‘Works’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1953.
– Report on the Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question, 10th Congress of the RCP (B), in: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953.
– ‘The Foundations of Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 6; Moscow; 1953.
– ‘The Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953.
– ‘The National Question and Marxism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 11; Moscow; 1954.
WITHERS, Charles W. J.: ‘Gaelic in Scotland: 1698-1981: The Geographical
History of a Language’; Edinburgh; 1984.
‘Encyclopaedia Americana’; New York; 1977.
‘Cambridge Encyclopaedia’; Cambridge; 1997.
‘Census of England and Wales: 1891, Volume 4: General Record’; London; 1893.
‘Census of Scotland: 1891, Volume 1; London; 1892.
‘Census 1961: Wales (including Monmouthshire): Report on Welsh Speaking Population’; London; 1962.
‘Morning Star’.
‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’; Chicago; 1994, 1998.
‘Statesman’s Year Book: 1998-1999’; London; 1998.
‘Webster’s Third International Dictionary of the English Language’; London; 1961.

Source

Friedrich Engels on the Evolution of the Human Diet

friedrich-engels-german-socialist-with-karl-marx-one-of-the-founders-of-modern-communism

“Labour begins with the making of tools. And what are the most ancient tools that we find – the most ancient judging by the heirlooms of prehistoric man that have been discovered, and by the mode of life of the earliest historical peoples and of the rawest of contemporary savages? They are hunting and fishing implements, the former at the same time serving as weapons. But hunting and fishing presuppose the transition from an exclusively vegetable diet to the concomitant use of meat, and this is another important step in the process of transition from ape to man. A meat diet contained in an almost ready state the most essential ingredients required by the organism for its metabolism. By shortening the time required for digestion, it also shortened the other vegetative bodily processes that correspond to those of plant life, and thus gained further time, material and desire for the active manifestation of animal life proper. And the farther man in the making moved from the vegetable kingdom the higher he rose above the animal. Just as becoming accustomed to a vegetable diet side by side with meat converted wild cats and dogs into the servants of man, so also adaptation to a meat diet, side by side with a vegetable diet, greatly contributed towards giving bodily strength and independence to man in the making. The meat diet, however, had its greatest effect on the brain, which now received a far richer flow of the materials necessary for its nourishment and development, and which, therefore, could develop more rapidly and perfectly from generation to generation. With all due respect to the vegetarians man did not come into existence without a meat diet, and if the latter, among all peoples known to us, has led to cannibalism at some time or other (the forefathers of the Berliners, the Weletabians or Wilzians, used to eat their parents as late as the tenth century), that is of no consequence to us today.

The meat diet led to two new advances of decisive importance – the harnessing of fire and the domestication of animals. The first still further shortened the digestive process, as it provided the mouth with food already, as it were, half-digested; the second made meat more copious by opening up a new, more regular source of supply in addition to hunting, and moreover provided, in milk and its products, a new article of food at least as valuable as meat in its composition. Thus both these advances were, in themselves, new means for the emancipation of man. It would lead us too far afield to dwell here in detail on their indirect effects notwithstanding the great importance they have had for the development of man and society.

Just as man learned to consume everything edible, he also learned to live in any climate. He spread over the whole of the habitable world, being the only animal fully able to do so of its own accord. The other animals that have become accustomed to all climates – domestic animals and vermin – did not become so independently, but only in the wake of man. And the transition from the uniformly hot climate of the original home of man to colder regions, where the year was divided into summer and winter, created new requirements – shelter and clothing as protection against cold and damp, and hence new spheres of labour, new forms of activity, which further and further separated man from the animal.”

– Frederick Engels, “The Part Played By Labour In the Transition of Ape to Man,” (1876)

The Communist League: Marxism and Class: Some Definitions

marxstr

A paper from the COMMUNIST LEAGUE (Britain)

The Concept of Social Class

The concept of social class as “a division or order of society according to status (‘The Oxford English Dictionary’, Volume 3; Oxford; 1989; p. 279) is a very ancient one, the English word ‘class’ being derived from the Latin ‘classis’, meaning each of the “… ancient divisions of the Roman people” (Charles T. Onions (Ed.): ‘The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology’; Oxford; 1985; p. 180). Servius Tullius, king of Rome in the 6th century BC, organised a classification system which divided citizens into five classes according to wealth”. (‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 10; Chicago; 1994; p. 455).

The Marxist Definition of Class

Marxist-Leninists accept the concept of social class put forward above, but hold that a person’s social class is determined not by the amount of his wealth, but by the source of his income as determined by his relation to labour and to the means of production.

“Classes are large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production, by their relation (in most cases fixed and formulated by law) to the means of production, by their role in the social organisation of labour, and, consequently, by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and their mode of acquiring it”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘A Great Beginning: Heroism of the Workers in the Rear: ‘Communist Subbotniks’ in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 29; Moscow; 1965; p. 421).

To Marxist-Leninists, therefore, the class to which a person belongs is determined by objective reality, not by someone’s opinion.

On the basis of the above definition, Marxist-Leninists distinguish three basic classes in 19th century Britain:

“There are three great social groups, whose members… live on wages, profit and ground rent respectively”.

(Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1971; p. 886).

These three basis classes are 1) the proletariat or working class, 2) the bourgeoisie or capitalist class and 3) the landlord class, respectively.

The Landlord Class

Marxist-Leninists define the landlord class as that class which owns land and derives its income from ground rent on that land:

“Land becomes… personified and… gets on its hind legs to demand… its share of the product created with its help…: rent”

(Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1971; p. 824-25).

With the development of capitalist society, however, the landlord class progressively loses its importance and a new class emerges — the petty bourgeoisie. Thus, in a developed capitalist society, there are still three basic classes, but these are now: 1) the capitalist class or bourgeoisie; 2) the petty bourgeoisie; and 3) the working class or proletariat:

“Every capitalist country… is basically divided into three main forces: the bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Constitutional Illusions’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 6; Moscow; 1964; p. 202).

The Bourgeoisie

The English word ‘bourgeoisie‘ is derived from the French word ‘bourgeoisie’ meaning “… the trading middle class” (Charles T. Onions (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 110) as distinct from the landlord class.

Marxist-Leninists define the bourgeoisie or capitalist class as

“…the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labour”.

(Friedrich Engels: Note to: Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’ in: Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 204).

The capitalist class includes persons whose remuneration may come nominally in the form of a salary, but which is in fact due to their position in the capitalist class (e.g., the directors of large companies). It also includes persons who are not employers, but who serve the capitalist class in high administrative positions:

“The latter group contains sections of the population who belong to the big bourgeoisie: all the rentiers (living on the income from capital and real estate…), then part of the intelligentsia, the high military and civil officials, etc.”

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘The Development of Capitalism in Russia’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1960; p. 504).

It also includes the dependents of these persons.

The Proletariat

The English word ‘proletariat‘ is derived from the Latin ‘proles’, meaning ‘offspring’, since according to Roman law a proletarian served the state “… not with his property, but only with his offspring” (Charles T. Onions (Ed.): ibid.; p. 714).

Marxist-Leninists define the proletariat or working class as

“…that class of modern wage labourers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labour power in order to live”

(Friedrich Engels: Note to the 1888 English Edition of: Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 204).

In modern society, “… the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class”. (Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’ in: Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 216) so that, in producing the proletariat, the bourgeoisie produces “… its own gravediggers”. (Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’ in: Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 218).

The ‘Middle Class’

The term ‘middle class’ is used by Marxists — including Marx and Engels themselves — in two different ways:

Firstly, in the historical sense,

“… in the sense of… the French word ‘bourgeoisie that possessing class which is differentiated from the so-called aristocracy”

(Friedrich Engels: Preface to ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England: From Personal Observation and Authentic Sources’, in: Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 4; Moscow; 1975; p. 304).

Secondly, when speaking of modern capitalist society, with the meaning of petty bourgeoisie’, discussed in the next section.

The Petty Bourgeoisie

Between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, stands the petty bourgeoisie:

“In countries where modern civilisation has become fully developed, a new class of petty bourgeois has been formed”

(Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’ in: Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London,’ 1943; p. 231).

The English term ‘petty bourgeoisie’ is an anglicisation of the French term ‘petite bourgeoisie’, meaning ‘little bourgeoisie’. Marxist-Leninists define the petty bourgeoisie as a class which owns or rents small means of production which it operates largely without employing wage labour, but often with the assistance of members of their families:

“A petty bourgeois is the owner of small property”

(Vladimir I. Lenin: Note to: ‘To the Rural Poor’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 2; London; 1944; p. 254).

As a worker, the petty bourgeois has interests in common with the proletariat; as owner of means of production, however, he has interests in common with the bourgeoisie. In other words, the petty bourgeoisie has a divided allegiance towards the two decisive classes in capitalist society.

Thus, the ‘independent’ petty bourgeois producer

“… is cut up into two persons. As owner of the means of production he is a capitalist; as a labourer he is his own wage- labourer”.

(Karl Marx: ‘Theories of Surplus Value’, Part 1; Moscow; undated; p. 395).

and consequently petty bourgeois

“…are for ever vacillating between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie”.

(Joseph V. Stalin: ‘The Logic of Facts’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 4; Moscow; 1953; p. 143).

This divided allegiance between the two decisive classes in modern capitalist society applies also to a section of employed persons — those who are involved in superintendence and the lower levels of management — e.g., foremen, charge-hands, departmental managers, etc. These employees have a supervisory function, a function is to ensure that the workers produce a maximum of surplus value for the employer. On the one hand, such persons are exploited workers, with interests in common with the proletariat (from which they largely spring); on the other hand, their position as agents of the management in supervising the efficient exploitation of their fellow employees gives them interests in common with the bourgeoisie:

“An industrial army of workmen, under the command of a capitalist, requires, like a real army, officers (managers) and sergeants (foremen, overlookers) who, while the work is being done, command in the name of the capitalist”,

(Karl Marx: ‘Capital: An Analysis of Capitalist Production’, Volume 1; Moscow; 1959; p. 332).

“The labour of supervision and management… has a double nature. On the one hand, all labour in which many individuals cooperate necessarily requires a commanding will to coordinate and unify the process…. This is a productive job…. On the other hand, this supervision work necessarily arises in all modes of production based on the antithesis between the labourer, as the direct producer, and the owner of the means of production. The greater this antagonism, the greater the role played by supervision”.

(Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1971; p. 383-84).

Because of this divided allegiance, which corresponds to that of the petty bourgeoisie proper, Marxist-Leninists place such employees (and their dependents) in the petty bourgeoisie. For the same reason, Marxist-Leninists also place persons in the middle and lower ranks of the coercive forces of the capitalist state — the army and police — (and their dependents) in the petty bourgeoisie.

The Polarisation of Capitalist Society

Because of the small size of their means of production, petty-bourgeois are in constant danger of sinking into the proletariat:

“The lower strata of the middle class… sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because their diminutive capital… is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists, partly their specialised skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production”.

(Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’ in: Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 213).

“The working class gains recruits from the higher strata of society… A mass of petty industrialists and small rentiers are hurled down into its ranks”.

(Karl Marx: ‘Wage-Labour and Capital’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943′ p. 280).

and even the old, once highly respected petty bourgeois professions become proletarianised:

“The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage-labourers”.

(Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’, in: Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 208).

Thus, as capitalist society develops, it becomes increasingly polarised into two basic classes — wealthy bourgeois and poor proletarians:

“Society as a whole is more and more splitting up… into two great classes facing each other — bourgeoisie and proletariat”.

(Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’, in: Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 205-06).

“Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, moral degradation, at the opposite pole”.

(Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy’. Volume 1; Moscow; 1959; p. 645).

The Peasantry

The English word ‘peasant is derived from the Latin ‘pagus’, meaning a “… country district”. (Charles T. Onions (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 660) and is defined as “… one who lives in the country and works on the land”. (The Oxford English Dictionary’, Volume 11; Oxford; 1989; p.402).

The above definition excludes the landlord class from the peasantry since, even if a landlord ‘lives in the country’ he does not work on the land’, but derives his income from ground rent.

The peasantry do not form a class of society, but consist of a number of different classes which live in the country and work on the land:

“It is best to distinguish the rich, the middle and the poor peasants”

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘To the Rural Poor: An Explanation for the Peasants of what the Social-Democrats want’ (hereafter listed as ‘Vladimir I. Lenin (1903’), in ‘Selected Works’, Volume 2; London; 1944; p. 261).

The peasantry is composed of:

Firstlyrich peasants, or rural capitalists, who employ labour, that is, who exploit poorer peasants:

“One of the main features of the rich peasants is that they hire farmhands and day labourers. Like the landlords, the rich peasants also live by the labour of others…. They try to squeeze as much work as they can out of their farmhands, and pay them as little as possible”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin (1903: ibid.; p. 265).

Sometimes rich peasants are called ‘kulaks’, a word derived from the Russian ‘kulak’, originally meaning a “… tight-fisted person”. (‘The Oxford English Dictionary’, Volume 8; Oxford; 1989; p. 543).

Secondly, the middle peasants or the rural petty bourgeoisie, who own or rent land but who do not employ labour. Speaking of the middle peasantry, Lenin says:

“Only in good years and under particularly favourable conditions is the independent husbandry of this type of peasant sufficient to maintain him and for that reason his position is a very unstable one. In the majority of cases the middle peasant cannot make ends meet without resorting to loans to be repaid by labour, etc., without seeking subsidiary’ earnings on the side”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘The Development of Capitalism in Russia’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 1; p. 235).

Thirdly, the poor peasants or rural proletariat. The poor peasant lives

“… not by the land, not by his farm, but by working for wages…. He… has ceased to be an independent farmer and has become a hireling, a proletarian”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin (1900): op. cit.; p. 265-67).

Sometimes Marxist-Leninists describe poor peasants as “… semi-proletarians“, (Vladimir I. Lenin (1900): ibid.; p. 267) to distinguish them from urban proletarians, regarded as ‘full’ proletarians.

‘Neo-Marxism’

‘Revisionism’ is “… a trend hostile to Marxism. within Marxism itself”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Marxism and Revisionism’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 15; Moscow; 1963; p. 32). In other words, a revisionist poses as a Marxist but in fact puts forward a programme which objectively serves the interests of a bourgeoisie:

“The revisionists spearheaded their struggle mainly against Marxism-Leninism… and replaced this theory with an opportunist, counterrevolutionary theory in the service of the bourgeoisie and imperialism”

(Enver Hoxha: Report to the 5th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 4; Tirana; 1982; p. 190).

Despite all the torrents of propaganda levelled against it, Marxism- Leninism still retains enormous prestige among working people all over the world. It is for this reason that many modern revisionists call themselves ‘Neo-Marxists’ or ‘Western Marxists’ — claiming that they are not revising Marxism, but merely bringing it up to date, bringing into the age of the electronic computer which Marx and Engels never knew.

In general, ‘neo-Marxists’ pay their loudest tributes to Marx ‘s early writings, before he became a Marxist. ‘Neo-Marxism’ is essentially a product not merely of universities, but of the worst kind of university lecturer who equates obscurantism with intellectualism. One sees admiring students staggering from his lectures muttering ‘What a brilliant man! I couldn’t understand a word!’.

Even sociologists sympathetic to ‘neo-Marxism’ speak of “… the extreme difficulty of language characteristic of much of Western Marxism in the twentieth century”. (Perry Anderson: ‘Considerations of Western Marxism’; London; 1970; p. 54).

But, of course, this obscure language has a great advantage for those who use it, making it easy to claim, when challenged, that the challenger has misunderstood what one was saying.

Much ‘Neo-Marxism’ is an eclectic hotchpotch of Marxism with idealist philosophy — giving it, it is claimed, a ‘spiritual aspect’ lacking in the original. A typical example is the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre who writes: “I believe in the general schema provided by Marx” (Jean-Paul Sartre: ‘Between Existentialism and Marxism’; London; 1974; p. 53), but — and it is a big ‘but’ — it must be a ‘Marxism’ liberated from “… the old guard of mummified Stalinists”. (Jean-Paul Sartre: ibid.; p. 53). And how, according to Sartre, is this ‘liberation’ to be effected? By merging it with the existentialism of the Danish idealist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard! “Kierkegaard and Marx… institute themselves… as our future”. (Jean-Paul Sartre: ibid.; p. 169).

However, this paper is concerned only with revisionist theories which are based on distortions of the Marxist-Leninist definition of class.

In particular, it will be concerned with ‘neo-Marxist’ definitions of the proletariat which narrow and restrict it as a class. While to these ‘neo-Marxists’ the proletariat may still be, in words, ‘the gravedigger of capitalism’, they portray it as a gravedigger equipped with a teaspoon instead of a spade.

The Unemployed

Some ‘neo-Marxists’ exclude the unemployed from the proletariat on the grounds that someone who is not working cannot be regarded as a member of the working class!

But Marx explicitly characterises the unemployed as the “… industrial reserve army” (Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production Volume 1; Moscow; 1959; p. 628) as part of the working class, as “… a relative surplus population among the working class”, (Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1974; p. 518) and speaks of “… the working class (now actively reinforced by its entire reserve army)”. (Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1974; p. 414).

Clearly, therefore, the founders of Marxism did not exclude the unemployed from the working class.

Non-Productive Labour

Other ‘neo-Marxists’ exclude all workers engaged in non-productive labour from the working class.

Certainly, for the purpose of analysing the complexities of capitalist society, Marx differentiated labour into productive and unproductive labour. According to Marx, “… only that labour is productive which creates a surplus value“. (Karl Marx: ‘Theories of Surplus Value’, Part 1; Moscow; n.d.; p 45).

It is on this basis that the Greek revisionist Nicos Poulantzas excludes non-productive workers from the working class:

“I have a rather limited and restricted definition of the working class. The criterion of productive and unproductive labour is sufficient to exclude unproductive workers from the working class”.

(Nicos Poulantzas: ‘Classes in Contemporary Capitalism’; London; 1975; p 119, 121).

Poulantzas therefore assigns non-productive workers to the “… new petty bourgeoisie” (Nicos Poulantzas: ibid.; p. 117) asserting that “… the new petty bourgeoisie constitutes a separate class” (Nicos Poulantzas: ibid.; p. 115).

But

“… the distinction between productive and unproductive labour has nothing to do… with the particular speciality of the labour”

(Karl Marx: ‘Theories of Surplus Value’, Part 1; Moscow; n.d.; p 186).

The same kind of labour may be productive or unproductive:

“The same labour can be productive when I buy it as a capitalist, and unproductive when I buy it as a consumer”.

(Karl Marx: ‘Theories of Surplus Value’, Part 1; Moscow; n.d.; p. 186).

For example, a teacher in a private school is engaged in productive labour (in the Marxist sense of the term), because his labour produces surplus value for the proprietors of the school. But a teacher in a state school, working under identical conditions, is engaged in unproductive labour, because his labour does not create surplus value.

Furthermore, many kinds of unproductive labour, such as the labour of clerical workers in a capitalist production firm,

“… while it does not create surplus value, enables him (the employer — Ed.) to appropriate surplus value which, in effect, amounts to the same thing with respect to his capital. It is, therefore, a source of profit for him”.

(Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1971; p. 294).

Thus the question of whether an employee is engaged in productive or unproductive labour has no relevance to the question of whether he belongs to the proletariat.

The ‘Labour Aristocracy’

In developed capitalist states,

“… the bourgeoisie, by plundering the colonial and weak nations, has been able to bribe the upper stratum of the proletariat with crumbs from the superprofits”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: Draft Programme of the RCP (B), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 29; Moscow; 1965; p. 104).

Superprofits are profits

“… obtained over and above the profits which capitalists squeeze out of the workers of their ‘own’ country”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: Preface to the French and German Editions of ‘Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 22; Moscow; 1964; p. 193).

Marxist-Leninists call employees in receipt of a share in such super profits “… the labour aristocracy”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 194).

Some ‘neo-Marxists’ exclude employees who share in superprofits from the proletariat. Thus, according to the London-based ‘Finsbury Communist Association’, in Britain “… the proletariat consists of the workers on subsistence wages or below” (Finsbury Communist Association: ‘Class and Party in Britain’; London; 1966; p. 4).

However, Lenin defines the labour aristocracy as a part of the proletariat, as a “… privileged upper stratum of the proletariat”, (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Imperialism and the Split in Socialism’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 23; Moscow; 1965; p. 110) as “… the upper stratum of the proletariat”, (Vladimir I. Lenin: Draft Programme of the RCP (B), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 29; Moscow; 1965; p. 104) as “… the top strata of the working class”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘How the Bourgeoisie utilises Renegades”, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 30; Moscow; 1965; p. 34).

Furthermore, while Lenin characterises the ‘labour aristocracy’ as “… an insignificant minority of the working class”, (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Under a False Flag’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 21; Moscow; 1964; p. 152) the ‘Finsbury Communist Association’ presents it as “… the overwhelming majority of Britain’s workers” (Finsbury Communist Association: ‘Class and Party in Britain’; London; 1966; p. 5).

Thus, according to the ‘Finsbury Communist Association’, the British imperialists pay the overwhelming majority of Britain’s workers’ above the value of their labour power. Since there is not even a Marxist-Leninist party, much less a revolutionary situation, in Britain at present, this can only be out of the sheer goodness of their hearts!

Clearly the ‘neo-Marxist’ picture of imperialism bears no relation to reality. It merely lends spurious support to the false thesis that, since the workers in developed capitalist countries are ‘exploiters’, the future for socialism lies only in the less developed countries in the East!

Conclusion

The most urgent task facing Marxist-Leninists today is to rebuild unified Marxist-Leninist parties in each country, united in a Marxist-Leninist International.

But such parties, and such an international, can be built only on the basis of agreement on Marxist-Leninist principles.

Perhaps agreement to accept a few simple definitions put forward long ago by the founders of Marxism-Leninism, and to reject their revisionist distortions, might constitute a small step in that direction.

Albert Einstein: “Why Socialism?”

einstein.left

May 1949

Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has—as is well known—been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called “the predatory phase” of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and—if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous—are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supra-national organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: “Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?”

I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?

It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.

Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept “society” means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society—in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence—that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is “society” which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word “society.”

It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished—just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human being which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly-centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time—which, looking back, seems so idyllic—is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production—that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods—may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production—although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the “free labor contract” for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from “pure” capitalism.

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers’ goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition. Since, under present circumstances, free and unhindered discussion of these problems has come under a powerful taboo, I consider the foundation of this magazine to be an important public service.

Source

J.V. Stalin on “National Marxism” and the General Laws of Socialism

joseph-stalin-1949

11th July 1949

“You speak of Sinified socialism. There is nothing of the sort in nature. There is no Russian, English, French, German, Italian socialism, as much as there is no Chinese socialism. There is only one Marxist-Leninist socialism. It is another thing, that in the building of socialism it is necessary to take into consideration the specific features of a particular country. Socialism is a science, necessarily having, like all science, certain general laws, and one just needs to ignore them and the building of socialism is destined to failure.

What are these general laws of building of socialism.

1. Above all it is the dictatorship of the proletariat the workers’ and peasants’ State, a particular form of the union of these classes under the obligatory leadership of the most revolutionary class in history the class of workers. Only this class is capable of building socialism and suppressing the resistance of the exploiters and petty bourgeoisie.

2. Socialised property of the main instruments and means of production. Expropriation of all the large factories and their management by the state.

3. Nationalisation of all capitalist banks, the merging of all of them into a single state bank and strict regulation of its functioning by the state.

4. The scientific and planned conduct of the national economy from a single centre. Obligatory use of the following principle in the building of socialism: from each according to his capacity, to each according to his work, distribution of the material good depending upon the quality and quantity of the work of each person.

5. Obligatory domination of Marxist-Leninist ideology.

6. Creation of armed forces that would allow the defence of the accomplishments of the revolution and always remember that any revolution is worth anything only if it is capable of defending itself.

7. Ruthless armed suppression of counter revolutionaries and the foreign agents.

These, in short, are the main laws of socialism as a science, requiring that we relate to them as such. If you understand this everything with the building of socialism in China will be fine. If you won’t you will do great harm to the international communist movement. As far as I know in the CPC there is a thin layer of the proletariat and the nationalist sentiments are very strong and if you will not conduct genuinely Marxist-Leninist class policies and not conduct struggle against bourgeois nationalism, the nationalists will strangle you. Then not only will socialist construction be terminated, China may become a dangerous toy in the hands of American imperialists. In the building of socialism in China I strongly recommend you to fully utilise Lenin’s splendid work ‘The Immediate Tasks of Soviet Power’. This would assure success.”

—  J.V. Stalin, Sochinenia, Tom 18, Informatsionno-izdatelskii tsentr ‘Soyuz’, Tver, 2006, pp. 531- 533.

Translated from the Russian by Tahir Asghar

Source