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About the scholasticism of Marxism by the People’s Socialist Party of Laborers (Russia, Moldova, Belarus, Kazakhstan)

Note: This article was translated from Russian
The viewpoints of the article expressed by the author don’t necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the US Friends of the Soviet People

Introduction

The left swamp is stirring again. I can feel it in the water, I can feel it in the ground, and now I can smell something in the air. A long time has passed, and everyone, who moved into this swamp before, fell apart a long time ago. May readers forgive me for this free interpretation of the legendary Goblin (Dmitri Puchkov, a famous Russian blogger), let’s get down to business!

Since the PSPL – People’s Socialist Party of Laborers is healthy and vigorous and continues to actively carry out its work, of course, there continue to be all sorts of clever dogmatists who show off in our direction for the purpose of self-promotion. Moreover, if previously the representatives of such dogmatic groups approached the matter seriously – it was obvious that they were at least generally familiar with Marxism – then now the dogmatist has become emasculated. Reading opuses like the one we’ve seen recently, one gets the impression that these people have read a couple of fairly brief works, grabbed some quotes from the Internet, and, like all dogmatists, of course, declared themselves as having learned all the truth (just like Eugene Dühring!).

Before we get to the main part, we would like to make a few important clarifications. The first has to do with the meaning of leftist squabbles. There is no meaning. Regularly we see small groups of people trying to make something of themselves. The easiest way to do this, of course, is by starting scandals with similar groups. By groups, we do not mean the whole groups in VK (a popular Russian social media), i.e. the general masses of their members, but the small number of people who write such ambiguous articles, who are, in fact, the administrators of these numerous groups. We have already seen more than once how such groups have tried to promote themselves in this dirty way, but the result has always been the same. Their own internal contradictions caused them to fall apart sooner or later, to cease their activities, to be absorbed by others, etc. This is why the tactics of the leftist squabbles may, surely, seem so correct to them, since in the beginning, they gain the fruits of hype; but in the long run, they only show what a sad state the leftist movement in Russia is in. Instead of engaging in practical useful work, many of our leftists prefer to engage in a “who has the longer dialectics?”

The second point is directly related to the topic of the article. The casus belli of the dogmatist tactics is always one – to accuse someone of revisionism. So, being convinced that they have understood Marxism absolutely correctly, that they have learned everything they can, they claim to know the truth. If someone has a discrepancy with their “truth,” this is the very reason for the accusation of revision. At the same time, I think it is necessary to disclose the essence of this definition. Otherwise, if you look at the attitudes of many leftists and what they say about each other, you get a picture of revision on every corner.

Revisionism is the radical transformation of certain provisions of an idea in order to decompose and ultimately destroy the original foundations of that idea. Why is it dangerous? Because if the fundamental components of an idea are abandoned, it is essentially another idea – everything seems clear here. What can be called the fundamental components of Marxism? It is, of course, dialectical materialism, from which the idea of the class struggle emerges, and the goal toward which it leads, a classless society. The rejection of this method, idea, and goal is what has been done, for example, by social democrats in many countries of the world; this is why they are called revisionists. We, the members of the PSPL, have never abandoned any of the components. However, we have always pointed out that these basic components must be applied in relation to the present because conditions have changed somewhat since the original works were written, that is, 150 years ago.

And here we encounter what a couple of years ago was labelled dogmatism. Dogmatism is the opposite of revisionism, the other side of the coin that would pay the “Judas” of Marxism, just so long as the classical theory remains in disrepair. Basically, dogmatism means abandoning the development of theory; it is not a question of revising the foundations at all, as written above, but of any change at all. The point is that dogmatists simply turn a blind eye to all the changes that have taken place in the world over the last 100-150 years, relative to the time when Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin wrote their work. It is, in fact, a glaring paradox that people who supposedly use dialectic materialism are in fact postulating a metaphysical and unchanging state of society. To justify their arguments, dogmatists, of course, resort to quoting the classics. And this approach is too reminiscent of medieval scholasticism, when philosophers and scientists did not try to discover something new, but simply memorized “absolute truths.” Well, be my guest, then we’ll refer you to a couple of books we hope you’ve read…

The second contradiction of the dogmatists is their understanding of the need to develop theory (only in words, of course) and, at the same time, their rejection of any development. Dear comrades, have you ever heard anything new from them at all? Any concrete proposals? We haven’t. Although all of them will say in one voice “the theory must be developed!” because somehow it is awkward to say the opposite… And there are several options: they are either afraid to develop the theory or do not want to, or primitively do not understand how it must be done. After all, it’s so nice to be in a safe haven, everything is known here, and they don’t want to pay attention to the dark lacunas. So, all they have to do is throw themselves at others, those who try to say a single new word. And it doesn’t matter which one; if it’s not in the “holy writ,” then it’s a revision!

Now closer to the point. Why is it necessary to develop a theory? The answer is obvious because the world is changing, and the conditions of our existence are changing. In order to develop an idea, one must not be afraid to criticize it. All immutable truths must be questioned and pass the test of this criticism. If they don’t survive, they are the shadow of the past.

This is literally what Engels writes in his analysis of the French Enlightenment philosophers’ work: “No external authority of any kind was recognized by them. Religion, the understanding of nature, society, the state system – everything was subjected to the most merciless criticism” (F. Engels, “The Development of Socialism from Utopia to Science”). In other words, the only way to save Marxism in our neoliberal world is to criticize it, which is unthinkable for dogmatists. Criticize it for the same reason we wrote above–the world is changing. “The great thinkers of the eighteenth century, as well as all their predecessors, could not step out of the framework that their own epoch placed before them. Although Hegel, along with Saint-Simon, was the most universal mind of his time, he was still limited, first, by the inevitable limits of his knowledge, and second, by the knowledge and outlook of his epoch, just as limited in scope and depth” (F. Engels, The Development of Socialism from Utopia to Science). And strangely enough, the classic authors were well aware of the limitations of their thinking: “We are probably still almost at the very beginning of human history, and the generations that will have to correct us will, we must assume, be much more numerous than those generations whose knowledge we have the opportunity to correct now, treating them with an overweening attitude” (F. Engels “Anti-Dühring”).

In other words, no matter how brilliant we think the classic authors were, we must admit that they also could not go beyond their era, they were not clairvoyants, although they tried to analyze the development of society in the future. Only contemporaries or descendants, but certainly not ancestors who lived 150 years ago, can analyze any particular society to the fullest extent. Or again, let us present Engel’s quote: “Thus, the ultimate causes of all social changes and political upheavals must be sought not in the humans’ minds, not in their increasing understanding of eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the mode of production and exchange; they must be sought not in philosophy, but in the economy of the corresponding epoch. Hence, it also follows that the remedies for the evils discovered must also be available, in a more or less developed form, in the changed production relations themselves. We must not invent these means but discover them in the present material facts of production” (F. Engels, The Development of Socialism from Utopia to Science).

Dogmatists, unfortunately, suffer just the same – they try to find answers in the old, albeit good, philosophy rather than in the economics of our era. They take pre-packaged tools and try to apply them now, the sad result of which we see. When we were contesting these invectives against us in the disputes, someone reproached us by saying that we were orthodox Marxists and that we only refer to Marx and Engels. We will not go into the fact that this is the direct opposite of the revision (these comrades have to define what they accuse us of!), we will give the arguments of Lenin and Stalin here and below in their entirety.

Lenin, in his “Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder,” reminded readers of Marx’s words that “Our theory is not dogma but a guide to action.” Stalin also promoted this thesis widely: “Marxism is not a dogma, but a guide to action” (J. Stalin’s Complete Works Vol. 8 “On Some General Questions”). In this same article he, in fact, writes about what we said above: “We cannot demand from Engels or Marx, no matter how brilliant thinkers they were, that they envisaged all the possibilities of class struggle in the period of pre-monopolistic capitalism” (J. Stalin’s Complete Works Vol. 8 “On Some General Questions”).

And here we can note several things that Lenin departed from in the development of the theory: he put forward the idea of the possibility of revolution in a single country and advocated an alliance with the peasantry. Marx had neither, which makes sense. Marx and Engels, who lived in Europe, saw that the revolutions that took place there (in 1830 and 1848) took over many countries in a chain, and they concluded that the markets of different countries were inextricably linked, which meant that, like dominoes, power would sprinkle under the pressure of revolutions. On this basis, they denied the possibility of revolution in a single country. As you know, this did not stop Lenin, although it must be said that many of his contemporaries did not support him in this. For us, of course, from the future, it is easy to judge, saying “well, of course, he was right,” because we know how things turned out, but then his theory had a lot of opponents. It’s the same story with the peasantry. In Europe, they were much more affluent than in Russia, and Marx viewed them as a rural petty bourgeoisie.

But Lenin here, as we know, developed Marxism, not led it into revision, although he seemed to have made two significant departures from orthodox Marxism. So why do we think he developed the theory? It is because he has proven himself right in practice. And, in fact, all our arguments here about who is right and who is wrong will be nothing more than air pollution. Only practice will show who is right and who is wrong.

The introduction became bigger than the dogmatists’ article about us, but what can we do if it is necessary to explain such elementary things?

The proletariat and the classes that precede it.

In the Marxist tradition, there is an opinion that anyone who sells his ability to work is a proletarian. And even the classics wrote something to this effect. Here, for example, is an excerpt from Marx’s “Capital”:

“Thus, the owner of money can only turn his money into capital if he finds a free worker on the commodity market, free in the double sense: in the sense that the worker is a free person and has his labor power as a commodity.” It would seem that here is the proletarian. An ordinary worker who sells his own labor power, but as you know, the devil is in the details. Let us cite this quotation in full.

“Thus, the owner of money can only turn his money into capital if he finds on the commodity market a free worker, free in the double sense: in the sense that the worker is a free person and has his labor power as a commodity and that, on the other hand, he has no other commodity to sell, he is free of all the objects necessary to exercise his labor power.” After reading this quotation in its entirety, we realize that the proletariat is a class of poor people, people deprived not only of the means of production but also of the means and instruments of labor, i.e., of all that can be used as means of production. The proletarian can live only by selling his own labor power, he has no other means of earning a living, and he cannot use his own means of labor in his work, because the bourgeoisie owns them directly.

Perhaps, this is purely our speculation? Could it be that we are simply trying to “deform” Marxism and adjust it to our vision? Well, let us then take Marx’s other works, namely the ” Communist Manifesto “: “The proletariat, the class of modern workers, who can only exist when they find work, and find it only as long as their labor increases capital. Because of the increasing use of machines and the division of labor, the labor of the proletariat has lost all independent character and, at the same time, all attraction to the worker. The worker becomes a mere appendage of the machine, requiring from him only the simplest, most monotonous, most easily learned techniques. The cost of the worker is therefore reduced almost exclusively to the means of life necessary for his maintenance and the continuation of his race. Modern industry has transformed the small workshop of the patriarchal craftsman into the large factory of the industrial capitalist.” What does all this say? That, dear reader, the class of the proletariat emerged precisely as the factory worker. It is precisely as it happened in history that people who had no other means of earning a living went to work in factories and plants, often the peasants who had come to town. So, it is not surprising that they were deprived of any property. As long as there is work, he lives. As soon as a man is kicked out of his workplace, he is doomed to starvation. No allowance or part-time work was possible at that time.

Here is another definition, this time from the “Principles of Communism”, which confirms this idea: “The proletariat is that social class which earns its living exclusively by selling its labor and does not live off the profits of any capital, a class, happiness and sorrow, life and death, whose entire existence depends on the demand for labor.”

Now, let’s move on to another question. Were there “free wage laborers” before the proletariat? You may be surprised, but yes, there were.

The answer to this question is found there in “Principles of Communism”: “What is the difference between the proletarian and the manufactural worker? The answer: a manufactural worker of the 16th and 18th centuries possessed almost everywhere else the instruments of production: his loom, a spinning wheel for his family, and a small plot of land that he cultivated in his leisure hours. The proletarian has none of this. The manufactory worker lives almost always in the countryside and is in a more or less patriarchal relationship with his landlord or employer. The proletarian, for the most part, lives in the big cities and has a purely monetary relationship with his employer. Large industry wrests the manufactory worker from his patriarchal conditions; he loses the last property he still possessed, and only then is he transformed by virtue of this into a proletarian.”

And now we finally come to the manufactory workers, who – oh, my goodness! – were also wage laborers. But here is the question, how did their transformation into proletarians happen? Why did the previous class, which had the means of labor in their hands, lose them, how did they turn into a class of absolutely poor people, living only by selling their own labor power? The answer is the Industrial Revolution, which simply devalued their tools. I think everyone understands that the worker with his hand machine is not capable of competing with the factory. That is, physically his tool has not disappeared, but it has depreciated in relation to its use for profit.

And if we talk about modern hired workers (about whom we will discuss later), they are much closer to the manufactural workers by virtue of the fact that they have such property, which has value in the matter of making a profit with its help. This possibility is due to many qualitative changes in society and to those processes that dogmatists, unfortunately, do not want to notice. And one of these processes is deindustrialization. For them, it has either remained unnoticed or they do not give it a significant role, and the distinctive features of the proletariat from another class of wage laborers are also overlooked.

And what did Lenin say about the proletariat and the other exploited masses, perhaps he has a “proletariat in the broad sense”? Let us turn to the work “The Great Cause,” (“Velikii Pochin”) from which our grief theorists for some reason also decided to tear out only part of it. Let us look at the quote in full: “The dictatorship of the proletariat, if we translate this Latin, scientific, historical-philosophical expression into simpler language, means this: Only a certain class, precisely the urban and in general the factory and industrial workers, is able to lead the whole mass of the workers and exploited in the struggle to overthrow the yoke of capital, in the course of the overthrow itself, in the struggle to hold and consolidate victory, in the creation of a new, socialist, social order, in the whole struggle for the complete destruction of classes. To assume that all the working masses are equally capable of this work would be an empty phrase or an illusion of the premodern, pre-Marxist socialist. For this ability is not given by itself, but grows historically and grows only out of the material conditions of big capitalist production. Only the proletariat possesses this ability, at the beginning of the road from capitalism to socialism. It is able to accomplish its gigantic task, first, because it is the strongest and most advanced class of civilized societies; second, because in the most developed countries, it constitutes the majority of the population; third, because in backward capitalist countries, like Russia, the majority of the population belongs to the semi-proletariat, that is, to people who spend part of the year in proletarianism, who constantly earn their living, in a certain part, by working for hire in capitalist enterprises.”

Oh no, what is it? Half proletarians? No… It is not possible. Perhaps, Lenin is a revisionist and does not understand Marxism. Well, in general, of course, here we are referring to the very peasants we wrote about above. And so the question is, how did these gentlemen read Lenin? Perhaps we will not find an answer to this question. I think everyone understands that now, first of all, no one goes to work in the cities from the villages on a seasonal basis. Secondly, everyone who works in the city now, as a rule, here and owns a certain property, as for a couple of centuries (and revolutions), the former peasants in the cities settled down.

Well, from the same work: “It is clear that for the complete destruction of classes, it is necessary not only to overthrow the exploiters, landlords, and capitalists, not only to abolish their property, it is also necessary to abolish all private ownership of the means of production, we must destroy both the difference between town and countryside and the difference between people of physical and people of mental labor. This is a very long job.” Pay attention to mental labor. It will come in handy in describing today’s Laborers.

Laborers.

So, we hope that the reader now completely understands what the proletarian class was; now let us examine why today’s wage laborers in developed countries are not proletarians.

In those capitalist countries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries where there remained significant vestiges of feudalism, there were landlords as non-main classes, increasingly fused with the bourgeoisie. This is the time that the British economist John Gobson, and Lenin after him, dubbed the time of imperialism. In this epoch the accumulated class contradictions literally reached their limits. The persisting system of social relations could no longer withstand such tension, and the resolution of these contradictions was found in a series of socialist revolutions. However, they, as we know, did not take place everywhere. In most European countries the resolution of class contradictions was solved not by a social revolution, but by qualitative changes in the structure of the capital system itself. Under the pressure of the accumulating material contradictions that served as prerequisites for its change in society, the bourgeoisie was forced to deny some of its capital to solve these very contradictions that had arisen. So, one of the preconditions was, for example, the fear that revolution might take place in their country as well.

The sacrifice of part of the capital by the bourgeoisie led to the resolution of the conflicts that arose in society (although, of course, we must understand that this is temporary) and, accordingly, to the new structure of the capitalist system, which, because of its own dialectic, also generates a new class antagonism. Thus, we see that, in fact, the resolution of this contradiction found itself in two different forms: the first is socialism, and the second is a new form of capitalism. The development of capitalism led to changes in the class structure of society, but like any other reforms of capitalism before it, contrary to the claims of social democrats, they did not eliminate class antagonisms, but only created new ones. The most important of these changes are connected, on the one hand, with the process of growth of monopolistic capitalism and its outgrowth into state-monopolistic capitalism, and, on the other, with the development of the scientific and technological revolution. Of course, the socialist revolutions also played a separate role.

If in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, rural workers and poor peasants went to the city for factory work and replenished the working class, already in the second half of the twentieth century, after the new Scientific and Technological Revolution, there is the erasure of the difference between city and countryside, mental and physical labor, the widespread automation of production. The socialist revolutions played a huge role, as has already been said, in greatly improving the situation of workers around the world. This improvement was both material and legal.

Another important process that took place in the second half of the twentieth century was the deindustrialization of advanced countries. This process was a direct consequence of the socialist revolutions and technological progress. European workers with better living conditions, higher wages, and benefits, forced European and then American capital to start looking for cheap labor in third-world countries, and unfortunately, their search was successful. Western companies began to take their industrial production to these countries, where workers had not yet achieved rights and freedoms, where they could still be paid a penny and receive no benefits. This is the very natural development of capitalism.

What about the laborers who remained in the metropolis? As the industrial sector was rapidly shrinking, people began to move into the new service sector, which was only developing at the time. This was further facilitated by new technologies, computerization, the rise of the Internet, etc. We will not describe all this in detail here; if you are interested, you can read our article on this subject: https://vk.com/@nsdr_ru-deindustrializaciya-v-sovennom-mire, we will only note that at present the share of services in the GDP of advanced countries (USA, Germany, Japan, France, etc.) is from 78% to 68% (Source: https://gkh-centre.ru/share-service-sector/). The same applies to the percentage and involvement of the working-age population in this sphere.

Thus, the majority of wage laborers in developed countries are employed precisely in the service sector, not in industrial production, as was the case with the proletarians. Why is this important? Very simply: proletarians produced industrial goods, laborers produced services. And the separation of this new branch of production changes everything fundamentally. The production of an industrial commodity requires machines, and factories, in other words, a rather expensive set of means of production. It is inconceivable that a proletarian could get his hands on such a “gift” from capitalism. This means that in the sphere of industrial production, the worker himself could not compete with the capitalist, even if he tried to be a craftsman by producing the same commodity. We should recall that this is exactly how the class of manufactural workers perished; even with the little property they had, they could not compete with the large factories.

The situation seems different now. Today’s wage workers in the service industry, with their knowledge (and, after all, the success of the revolutions ensured us a basic free education) and some property (the appearance of which we also owe to the revolutions), could easily compete with large companies. Teachers, doctors, programmers, etc., now have every opportunity (and many take advantage of it) to engage in part-time work in their professions separately from their main employment. This, of course, primarily concerns the younger generation, which is “up to date” with computers and the Internet. You can see the situation when teachers moonlight as tutors and doctors provide services separately from medical institutions. We are not even talking about freelance programmers. It is not uncommon for people to rent out their real estate (rooms or apartments). And there are many more such examples.

To summarize, we can say that all these changes and processes that occurred in society in the XX century led to the emergence of a new class – the laborers. And it would be strange if such significant processes as de-industrialization and another nano-technological revolution did not affect the changes in the economy and society. Today’s laborers are no longer “completely indigent,” but are in their position much closer to the manufactural workers than to the proletarians. The key to the emergence of this new class was the mass involvement of people in the service industry and the emergence of property, without which they would not be able to earn an additional income. In this case, we are talking about what in leftist discourse is usually called personal property: apartments, houses, cars, telephones, computers, cameras, etc. All this property is usually acquired by people and used for personal needs: we live in our apartments, drive our cars, and play Red Alert 3 on our computers. However, the service industry allows people to use their personal property as tools to produce services.

Separately, it is worth mentioning the issue of the intelligentsia, which many perceive as a class, which is still not entirely true. The social composition of the intelligentsia is not homogeneous. Its upper class is actually fused with the ruling class of the big bourgeoisie. They serve it, lead a similar lifestyle, and are just as disconnected from the people; another part of the intelligentsia, engaged in the so-called “free labor” professions (those who defend their interests in the market, such as bloggers), is close in its ideological position to the petty bourgeoisie with its liberal outlook. At the same time, a considerable part of the intelligentsia, especially teachers, scientists, and doctors, is not only ideologically close to the working class but is directly part of it. At the same time, we must understand that the intelligentsia as a whole does not occupy such a special position in the economic system. Intellectuals can belong both to the bourgeois class and to the working class. What they have in common is that they are people of intellectual labor.

In addition, it is worth noting that in today’s world, many wage laborers, such as civil servants, doctors, scientists, and medics working in the public sector, do not increase any capital (which is perhaps the main function of proletarians in relation to the capitalists for whom they work). If we take our public services, even with all their faults, we get a picture of wage laborers not at all engaged in increasing capital. I’m talking about public health care, education, and various officials. All of them, of course, are wage laborers, but the services they produce for their direct “clients” are free. We can say, of course, about our health insurance and other taxes, but this is a completely different scheme. By examining a patient and doing his direct work, for which he is paid, the therapist does not increase anyone’s capital; the situation is the same with doctors in other professions, teachers, and a number of civil servants. They will receive the same salary regardless of how many people they serve. This situation arose solely because of the Soviet legacy when everything in our country was state-owned.

To back this up with facts, we made a Google questionnaire. The purpose of the survey was to find out how the situation of wage laborers had changed over the last twenty years. More specifically, what they have gained or what they may, on the contrary, have lost over that time. And the data we got is quite interesting. Most of the participants in the survey were Russian citizens, but there were also citizens of Kazakhstan and Ukraine. People of hired labor from a wide variety of professions participated in this survey. Here are some examples: lawyer, promoter, history teacher, sales manager, engineer, courier, sales consultant, vocal teacher, a laborer in Siberian nursery, therapist, etc. In general, as you can see, the list is quite diverse. 50% of those surveyed are people in their 20s and 30s. 33% of respondents have 1-4 years of experience, and 23.4% have 5 to 20 or more years of experience. 72% of respondents have higher or specialized secondary education. That is, the survey mostly involved workers in the prime of life and with most of their education.

Now the question is fundamentally important. As you remember, one of the most important criteria for defining the proletariat was that the proletarian has no property. He turns into a proletarian, losing “the last property he still possessed.” Let’s look at what today’s wage laborers own, what they have gained, and what they have lost.

The reader can clearly see the difference between how much people have gained and how much they have lost. We chose several options for personal property, such as an apartment, a computer, a telephone, a car, a plot of land, and a camera. We chose these because in one way or another with the help of such property you can receive a certain income, i.e. they can be considered as a tool of labor.

33% of respondents use their property with one or another regularity to generate income. For 50% of respondents the acquired property increased labor productivity, i.e., it became easier and more comfortable for them to get to work, or they started to work from home (this is not counting quarantine). And something perhaps very important:

45.5% of workers had never thought about using their property to go into business. Only 36.4% of those surveyed had thought about it. More than 50% had never taken out a mortgage or thought about it, but it must be said that 50% also had financial savings. For the rest, the data is very different. For example, there are answers like “20 thousand savings from a scholarship” or “about 300 thousand in cash”.

The proletarians had no property and worked with tools provided by the capitalist. Now often workers, even when they are employed, use their own property in their work. Take Yandex Taxi and Yandex Food, where the car and the phone belong to the worker, not to the company. Moreover, for the capitalists, it is extremely profitable, in the case of cabs, at least they do not need to take care of their vehicle park and maintain it.

What conclusions can we draw from this information?

This leads us to the conclusion that we cannot speak of the proletariat in the sense of which the classics of Marxism wrote. But the question immediately arises “can there be another understanding? ” A clear designation is given, with clear criteria regarding property and its place in production. Specifics and explanations are given about the difference between the proletarians and the other classes, and it is specified that the working classes, those who bring direct benefit to society through their labor, have always existed and have been in poverty. However, this did not make proletarians from them. The proletariat as a class was shaped by certain production conditions, as the classics pointed out specifically. These conditions did not exist before, and they do not exist now in developed countries. The process of de-industrialization in the second half of the twentieth century and the withdrawal of commodity production to the Third World, the transition of developed countries, mainly to the service sector, created a completely new economic situation. We must not forget the essential role of socialist revolutions throughout the twentieth century. The bourgeois world of the nineteenth century was made possible not only by the industrial revolution but also by the political bourgeois revolutions.

Similarly, the socialist revolutions of the twentieth century had a significant impact on the development of modern society. Without them, the modern world would not be possible. It may still be capitalist, and it may still be unjust, but it is much closer to socialism than it was a hundred years ago. Not analyzing and ignoring the contributions of the socialist revolutions, the emergence of socialist states, their successes, etc., would be the greatest our mistake. We are not now speaking out against the nineteenth-century factory capitalists, nor against the social problems they created. We are up against capitalists who appeared on the ruins of the socialist system, which dictates in many respects other conditions and other problems.

And this is where the conflict with the dogmatists begins. I’m talking about the Marxists, who have taken a very original approach to modernity. To ignore change altogether, one would have to be too narrow-minded to look up from a 170-year-old manuscript. The originality of the dogmatists’ approach is that they did not study modern society according to the advanced science of their time, as Marx and Engels once did. They only tried to apply everything written by the classics to the modern world. And they became so enlightened that in the end, they proclaimed that there is a proletariat in the narrow sense and a proletariat in the broad sense. The proletariat in the narrow sense is supposedly the factory workers, and the proletariat in the broad sense is, in fact, all wage laborers in general! It is, in fact, difficult to imagine greater nonsense. I don’t know what clever person thought it up, but the classics of Marxism never wrote anything like this. Unfortunately, this view of the broad and narrow sense of the proletariat has found a very lively echo in today’s leftist community. It has gone so far as to be accepted as truth and fervently defended, while this position is of very little use.

It all comes down to whether we agree with Engels’ definition. And the fact is that we do agree; we do not think it at all correct to abandon the essence which the classics put into the proletariat. And it is because we agree with them that we conclude that the proletariat in developed countries is almost non-existent. Otherwise, if the dogmatists want to revise the concept of the proletariat to reach modern workers, what prevents them from revising other concepts of the Marxist idea, such as socialism (its vision), capital, class, etc.? Otherwise, it would be gibberish, turned upside down.

I would like to quote an interesting statement on this subject by the Russian sociologist Alexander Tarasov: “Our ‘leftists’ constantly confuse the concepts of ‘proletariat’ and ‘working class’. However, these are not the same thing. There was a working class in the Soviet Union, but this working class (after the NEP) was not the proletariat. The proletariat is the dialectical pair of the bourgeoisie; if there is no bourgeoisie, there is no proletariat. Even Soviet propagandists knew this, which is why they never called Soviet workers “proletarians. The proletarian is not simply someone who does not own the means of production and capital and is forced to sell his labor force (live on his wages) so as not to starve to death. First of all, it is he who is employed in the productive sector of the economy – otherwise, in our country even a sexton or a deacon in a church would be, ridiculously enough, considered a ‘proletarian’! Secondly, he is someone who, having lost his job, in the near future (in the near future, that is, within weeks, and in the worst case, days) faces the prospect of starvation (and the situation is even more tragic if he has to support a family). Consequently, a man who owns a house (which he can rent out, even part of it, and get an income from); a man who owns a car which makes it possible to “cash in” or “go to tax” (or to rent to another, and get an income from this too); a man who has a plot of land, an even somewhat visible bank account, property inherited from relatives, shares, etc., cannot be considered a proletarian. Finally, a worker who loses his job but is not in danger of starving to death – because of unemployment benefits, social benefits, etc. – also cannot be considered a proletarian. Our (and often foreign) ‘leftists’ are ready to designate programmers, for example, as ‘proletarians,’ while the normal programmer usually has a choice (he chooses his employer), whereas in the case of the true proletarian, it is the other way around.”

It turns out that we have two options, so to speak, two chairs: the materialist and the idealist. Either we can work with the reality we have and not scare off the average citizen by convincing them that they are all proletarians, or we can put the idea in the first place, and then it will work itself out somehow. In the second case, we obtain something in the spirit of formal logic: the peasant Nikita has a wagon, and its main quality is that it serves as transportation. But then he noticed that there was a railroad not far from his village. Nikita was an intelligent man, but, like most peasants, not particularly literate. And then he sees: a locomotive is driving along the railroad. Nikita, of course, does not know how a steam engine works, but it became obvious that people have invented some kind of new… wagon. Yes, big and fast, but… it rides, doesn’t it? It carries people and goods, so it’s a cart! After a while, when Nikita grew old, new wagons appeared… how should I say, personal ones… for four people – he just sat down and drove. It’s a miracle. And towards the end of his life – fantastic – flying wagons! It is a pity, of course, that Nikita did not live till the middle of the XX century – he would have looked at wagons flying into space… In other words, nobody will forbid us to call it all ” wagons” in a broad sense, but it won’t make much difference.

This is what the dogmatists are trying to do with today’s wage laborers: a class that is oppressed? Oppressed. Sell their labor? Yes, they do. So it turns out that we are all proletarians. But why, if before the proletarians, there were oppressed classes that were forced to work by non-economic means, that is, by direct violence, and these were different classes, such as slave, peasant, etc., why can there not be two classes of wage laborers? Although there is no need to go far, it was already so, the manufactural workers and shopkeepers were in essence wage laborers, but they were not proletarians, that is, it turns out that modern workers are already the fourth class of people in wage labor.

Having analyzed the available material, we arrive at the idea that the proletarians have now been replaced by a class of laborers. We must draw the line at once and say that the emergence of a new class in no way changes the fact that this class remains as oppressed a class as the proletarians before it, which means that no damping of the class struggle can or should be out of the question.

Just as once a slave was given land because it was profitable, so now it is quite profitable for the capitalist to have the laborer use his property by working for him. Having this property does not turn the worker into a petty bourgeois, since the worker’s main income, of course, comes from his main job as an employee. Property allows him only to receive additional income. The petty bourgeoisie, as we know, does not work for hire; it works for itself, though it may not exploit the labor of others. I would like to pay special attention to the Internet (and all of its analogs), which, it seems to me, Marxists don’t take into account at all. It allows people to offer their services hundreds if not thousands of times more effectively. There was nothing like this in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, nor could there have been.

The emergence of property in people and the improvement of their property situation after the social revolutions is an inevitable process. It would be strange if the proletariat remained in the same oppressed and depressed state after the proletarian revolution. For 50% of those surveyed, the acquired property has improved their situation. And this process should not be seen as some evil bourgeois dream of enrichment. I think few of our homegrown Marxists would want to live in communal housing. Nor should workers be seen as a mythical middle class. In general, the division into upper, middle, and lower classes is a definition of the lowest order, introduced to please the ruling class.

To summarize, let us briefly describe the main features of “laborers”:

1. Availability of the means of labor.

2. Predominantly employment in the service sector.

3. Ability to earn extra income, in addition to selling one’s own labor force.

4. The line between physical and mental labor is almost erased.

5. Not all laborers create surplus value.

6. Work for hire.

Why are laborers a revolutionary class?

Laborers, like any other class, has their own objective economic and social interest. It is utter nonsense for dogmatists to say that only a class with nothing to lose can be revolutionary. The bourgeoisie had plenty to lose when they became a revolutionary class. It is the same with today’s laborers. It is not the presence or absence of property that makes them a revolutionary class, but their social situation, which enters into sharp contradiction with their role in production. For all the fact that it is laborers who create all the goods that we enjoy, they do not dispose of them, and herein lies the contradiction (which applies to the entire class system of exploitation). It is in the objective interest of laborers to create a society in which they are not enslaved by mortgages and debts, as the current capitalist system forces them into. Laborers need a society without debt collectors who take away their possessions. They need a society in which they won’t have to fear job cuts, layoffs, endless inflation, and all the other pleasures of capitalism. They need a society in which they can control the production and distribution of social products. In other words, the direct interest of the laborers is socialism. The only and main obstacle to this goal is private capital. This is why laborers are the revolutionary class. To abolish private capital and create a society of not imaginary but real stability, without fear of tomorrow – this is their interest. Our interest.

Political Pluralism

Perhaps, the strangest thing that dogmatists in the theory of people’s socialism are picking on is our thesis on pluralism. The classics never wrote that the future socialist state should be led by the dictatorship of one party while banning the others. Yes, that’s how the historical process turned out, which had its pluses as well as its obvious minuses. And the odd thing is that dogmatists defend one-partyism as the next infallible truth from “holy scripture”. Although there is nothing in that scripture itself about one-partyism. They – in their mental simplicity, of course – assume that THE ONE TRUE PARTY will appear which will lead everyone, and which will never be wrong, so it can be given undivided power. Just as strange seems as their thesis is that if we stand for the interests of one class, then this class can only have one party. As you can see, it is taken completely out of thin air. The very fact of the existence of a huge number of bourgeois parties (although the bourgeois class seems to be one, even if it is divided into strata), as well as an equally large number of leftist parties of all stripes, the dogmatists also prefer to completely ignore. Once again they only talk about wishful thinking, but this time without being able to pass it off as reality, because the actual existence of an n-number of left-wing parties with plenty of conflicts between them doesn’t allow them to do so. It is easier for them to believe that THAT PARTY will appear…

But let us fantasize with them, let us suppose it does appear. This is a great red stable (everyone there from small to large is trained). And they will even come to power in one way or another, eliminating the bourgeoisie and private capital. And what if at some point, with the change of generations, such a party starts to make mistakes…? Oh, that’s a whole song! What the dogmatists there do not offer, from increased propaganda to the physical destruction of all those who do not agree with the party.

Then we are asked if we are against Trotskyism. Of course, we are against it. That is why we have organized conferences in our city parties, where we dissected Trotskyism and explained why we disagree with it. It’s quite obvious that we don’t agree with Trotskyism if we have found our own organization and are developing our own idea. If we agreed with Trotskyism, we’d probably just go to the RWP (Revolutionary Workers’ Party). But why on earth would we advocate its prohibition?

And it is not about the left-wing opposition or what happened in the 1920s. It is about any opposition at all because it is a counterbalance to the political force that is in power. Why this is necessary, we wrote above – there are no infallible political parties and leaders. Everyone makes mistakes sooner or later. No number of purges will keep a party with absolute power from the new Khrushchevs and Gorbachevs. They can at most postpone their appearance. As for factionalism in the party, we have always been categorically against it, which is enshrined in our Charter. You do not agree with our ideas? Go ahead, join another party, or form your own.

Besides, we have always wondered what these smart guys are going to do with an infinite number of leftist organizations in Russia and the CIS countries. Maybe, of course, they, again, assume that THE SAME TRUE PARTY will appear and that all leftists will join it. But in fact, we are well aware that no such party will appear, and this is nothing more than their fantasy. Any leftist organization which succeeds at least somewhat, but seems “revisionist” in some way, would immediately brand it and, of course, would never think of joining it. They would rather choke on their own bile than acknowledge their wrongness and the successes of others.

In other words, we only want to bring the theory in line with reality. A huge number of socialist parties and organizations have formed in the former Soviet Union, most of them in Russia. As we understand it, dogmatists believe that all these organizations should either merge without question into THAT TRUE PARTY, or they should be banned. This formulation of the question is absolutely childish these days because it is not even a question of theory. It is a matter of concrete political practice, which is completely absent from people who do not step outside of the Internet.

In the event of any left-wing party coming to power that the dogmatists disagree with, something tells me they wouldn’t really want to be banned. They would probably prefer to be allowed to act legally, not to be persecuted, and not to have their freedom of speech restricted. No, of course, maybe they would be much happier hiding out in safe houses, we don’t know. But seriously, their claim to know the absolute truth reeks of hypocrisy. We should not shift the philosophical notion of pluralism to the notion of pluralism of opinion in politics. Every other Marxist cries out that his or her vision of Marxism is the right one, and of course, many of them disagree with each other.

With this approach, their proverbial logic becomes clear: if there is one truth, which is indisputable, then there can be no different opinions about it, which means that only one theory is correct, which means that only one super-Marxist, whom the universe will probably send us, can know the truth just right. They are waiting for this mission (or maybe they are trying on his role) and are ready to bow to the deity. All those who disagree with him obviously just don’t understand “the truth” and are generally idealists.

We have already noted more than once that in absolutely all one-party systems there has been a merger of the party with the state apparatus. There are no exceptions, not at all. This is an unavoidable consequence of the fact that you can only engage in legal politics if you are a member of a party (which is one). As you understand not all people who want to engage in politics will share the ideas of that party. So, they will mimic, and no amount of repression (as history shows again) will help. The purges could only serve to delay the decomposition of the party, but they could not stop it. What can you say, if the people with whom Stalin directly ruled the country, just a few years after his death began to reshape everything. Or you can take the example of Mao, who also completely “cleaned up” the party. No, again, dogmatists always have an answer to this – let’s kill more people. But you know, we are not satisfied with that answer. If you’ve come forward to build a bright communist future, a society where there should be no exploitation, no disasters, no justice, etc., then be kind enough not to start with blood. If you can’t listen to your opponent and constructively oppose him by arguing for what is right, but simply offer him a bullet in the forehead, it seems to me that you should consider either your own psychological instability or your utter inability in the political arena.

And don’t mess around with any half-measures. “But purges in the party are not necessarily repression, you can be expelled from the party, etc.” All kinds of trials and expulsions from the Party are ridiculous half-measures. Why? Very simple. Dogmatists will expel many dissatisfied people and will not let them back into politics (because it is possible to enter it through this one and only legal party). And do they really think that all of these excluded wills abandon their intentions to engage in politics and change society according to the model they like? It is more than logical that many will not, most likely they will try to organize themselves somehow. And what do you do with such groups and leaders in a one-party system? Prison, madhouse, firing squad, and we’re back to square one. Therefore, comrades, all those who advocate a one-party system, the lack of real pluralism of opinion will sooner or later lead the party to political repression, including against their comrades.

The deep delusion of supporters of a one-party system is that they think that by eliminating other parties, they will eliminate the contradictions in politics and society. But in fact, this approach leads to hidden contradictions, which in fact are much more dangerous than the obvious ones. Now that there are leftist parties of all sorts, we have nothing to fear from a Kentucky chicken lover strolling into our ranks. He will simply go and join the RRP. In other words, the political adversaries are in plain sight and the contradictions between them and us are resolved on a legal and open political field. In the USSR, such a field did not exist, many issues were resolved behind closed doors, not without party intrigue, which generally led to hidden contradictions, which accumulated over the years. It was these hidden contradictions that led to the events of 1991.

We were not without accusations of social democracy. As we know, social democracy is understood as a branch of the left that has rejected the idea of class struggle and revolution since the beginning of the 20th century and has essentially made compromises with the bourgeoisie. Well, this is just in case, so that the reader knows. Whoever finds something like this in our Program or in our articles will get 100 rubles! Of course, we will demand it from the dogmatists, because they slander us for nothing.

As for our idea that any leftist could end up in power in an election (oh my God, elections from different parties!), that is also completely wrong. This is either an unwillingness to understand what we are writing about or a deliberate twisting of our words. We have repeatedly pointed out that the leftist pluralism we are talking about does allow for different leftist parties, but on the condition that none of them advocate the restoration of the market. And beyond this issue, the left has quite enough issues to disagree with each other. Together we crush the bourgeoisie, we adopt a plan for the economic development of the country. But in everything else, be my guest, we have different opinions, and nothing to merge your crayfish with our pike.

So, yes, indeed, we can undersign that the main thing for us is to abolish the bourgeoisie as a class, eliminate private ownership of the means of production, and return the country to the path of socialism. As for which party (or coalition of parties) will be there, it is a secondary question. As Lenin rightly wrote: “The transition from capitalism to communism will certainly be marked by an enormous abundance and variety of political forms, but it will inevitably have the same essence: the dictatorship of the proletariat” (Lenin “State and Revolution”). I do not know whether it is necessary to explain to the reader that if the bourgeoisie as a class has been liquidated, it has probably been liquidated by some other class through its dictatorship, that is, its undivided domination of the state and society. In our time, of course, we are already talking about the dictatorship of the workers. But the point is that one of the political forms of the socialist state, the one-party state, has become obsolete, and we are merely proposing a new one. It is all according to Lenin.

We are told that if the National Bolsheviks or left liberals win, we (the NSDR) will be de-communized. But even here the dogmatists are deceiving because, in essence, it makes no difference to us whether the left-liberals or the dogmatists prohibit us. And if they are afraid of losing to the left liberals, Trotskyists, and others in a fair competition, it means that they somehow have little confidence in their idea, since they think that people will support the left liberals more than they will support themselves. So, the question of multi-partyism is much more complex and multifaceted than our opponents realize. But I’m afraid it will be difficult for the dogmatists to get out of the narrow framework they are so fond of formulating in the phrase: “There are two classes…”

Economics.

One of the main merits of Marx and Engels is the discovery of the source of the capitalists’ wealth – it is, of course, the unpaid labor of the workers, which is referred to as surplus value. Simply put, the classics explained the parasitic nature of the bourgeoisie, where a small group of people lives at the expense of the rest of society. However, if we deny such a parasitic system, we must offer something in its place, and the classics did, but they only described the essence of economics under socialism in general terms. The specifics of how the economy should work under socialism were already proposed by Soviet economists.

As you know, one of the ideas we are putting forward is a restoration of the Soviet OGAS (National Automated System for Computation and Information Processing) project with modern additions. This system should help greatly reduce the bureaucratic apparatus and all its advisory costs. But the dogmatists don’t like it either. Literally cite their words: “Reducing the state apparatus is certainly a great idea, given how bloated it was under capitalism. But why do we need the OGAS for this, when many officials are simply unnecessary, and if we remove them, nothing will change? All these deputies, assistant deputies, and so on. Everyone receives a salary, and not a small one, but their efficiency is very low. This is the case with top officials. But the staff of small officials is being cut, and one has to work for two or even three others because the bourgeoisie does not want to support them.”

And so indeed! Here it is, a unique solution to the problem of a bloated state apparatus. So, we need to get rid of more managers and hire more executives, although in its essence this only sounds like a bloated state apparatus and not the other way around. Moreover, this is exactly the rhetoric with which this project was buried in the 1960s. For example, the head of the Central Statistical Office (CSO), V.N. Starovsky, opposed the OGAS system. His objections boiled down to demagogic arguments that the CSО was organized on Lenin’s initiative, and it coped with the tasks assigned to it. To counterbalance this system, the economic scientists Liberman, Belkin, Birman proposed an alternative economic system, as simple and ingenious as the dogmatists suggested, namely, to increase the work of the local bodies and redistribute the economic connection across the country; ultimately, due to the lack of computing power and the ability of the existing system to cope with the increasing number of enterprises, this led to the shortage of many goods in the union and then to its economic death.

At the same time, the use of the OGAS system will require not just a redistribution of human resources within the state apparatus, but its fundamental and qualitative change, the creation of technically competent specialists from classical clerks who will be engaged in the maintenance and support of such a large-scale information system. However, the above statement does not end the claims of dogmatists, further, they write:

It is strange to rehabilitate the OGAS in the XXI century because it was invented considering the technologies of the middle of the XX century. Why it is needed now, when Marxists, having taken power, can develop something incomparably better than OHAS, is not very clear. For the sake of the ‘fight against bureaucracy’? So, the old, capitalist bureaucracy will be disbanded anyway, and a new, socialist bureaucracy will be formed. Are you confused by the words “bureaucracy” and ‘socialist’ in the same sentence? Well, then say “bureaucracy” and it will make more sense. Officials are just as much a tool of the ruling class as, for example, the military or special services.”

Literally in the next paragraph, we are already being reproached that the OGAS is outdated, why are we digging into these outdated concepts? But apparently, these gentlemen read our program half-eyed and did not bother to analyze it thoroughly, because, surprisingly, we are talking about the same thing. If you take our program verbatim, it says the following: “The system will be redesigned to take into account the latest developments in the field of economics and information technology and will bring control over the activities of officials and state-owned enterprises to a completely different level.

In fact, it means just using the very idea of OGAS, the nationwide automated system of accounting and information processing to implement which we suggest using all the power of scientific and technological progress available to people today. Very strange would look at the idea of creating a system of state accounting in the XXI century on a tube computer mid-20th century, as proposed in the original draft.

No less ridiculous is their statement that the old capitalist bureaucracy will be dissolved and replaced by a new socialist bureaucracy. Firstly, it is obvious that these people are obviously ignorant of history because in 1917 the Bolsheviks were faced with the urgent problem of not having enough personnel, while you have to work with the old bureaucracy and the old specialists, whether you like or not. Secondly, in fact, it does not really matter what kind of bureaucracy it is, its essence is always the same and boils down to the fact that the bureaucracy is in charge of many public issues, and, if possible, takes something away for itself, which is why it is not loved. This was the case in ancient China, the late monarchies of Europe, and the bourgeois states of the new times, and so it was in the USSR. It was by no means the bourgeois bureaucracy that ruined the latter. It was our homegrown socialist bureaucracy. You can say as much as you like that by the 1980s it had already become bourgeois, but then the question arises: how did this happen? And it is addressed to the earlier generations up to Stalin. So it makes no sense to talk about socialist and capitalist bureaucracy, the difference is immaterial.

It is also worth noting that the OGAS is primarily a tool whose task is to facilitate economic regulation and optimize economic processes in the country, not a panacea for all economic problems. And to consider it, and even more, to criticize it in isolation from the entire socialist method of production is unreasonable and simply stupid. However, through the criticism of the OGAS, there was also a parallel criticism of “mathematical models” and “cybernetic systems”, saying that under Lenin and Stalin, there was nothing of the kind and everything worked well. This is a very strange judgment because anyone would immediately raise the question, but how was this economy created? How did the concept of vertical and horizontal combined industries come about? And the governing bodies of these industries?

Well, as much as we would like to, it was science and mathematical models that formed the basis of this system. More specifically, the mathematical model created by the German mathematician Carl Ballod, described in his book “The State of the Future” on the example of modern Germany. The main task of his concept was formed, as follows:

“The present work sets itself the task of investigating the social order from the point of view of expediency, of establishing whether the present development of technology and science, applied to the total national economy, in conjunction with the natural factors (natural productive forces), permits such a considerable expansion of production as would ensure the general well-being of the nation. For, as a matter of fact, the core and essence of the social question are to create better conditions of existence for the people, to significantly improve their situation.” This work was based on the synergy of scientific and technological progress in the field of natural sciences and humanities and social sciences with a thorough economic analysis of all spheres of production in Germany at the time of writing this book (1920).

In other words, it would not be enough to revive the planned economy of the 1950s for us to immediately live without regard to all the technical innovations and scientific achievements of later eras.

Conclusion.

So, what can we say about all of the above? Obviously, time passes, and the dogmatists do not change. The same reluctance to develop theory, the same unwillingness to go beyond “sacred scripture,” but the same keen desire to declare everyone around us wrong. It already reaches the point of being banally ridiculous when people tell us that the word “people” has no specificity, no class. If these honorable comrades had bothered to study our materials, they might have seen that we give quite an outline of the class formulation of “people,” referring back to the way Vladimir Ilyich defined it in this way: “In Europe in 1871, in no country on the continent did the proletariat constitute the majority of the people. “A ‘people’s revolution’ that really draws the majority into a movement could only be such a revolution if it included both the proletariat and the peasantry. Both classes constituted ‘the people’ at that time.” (V.I. Lenin, “The State and the Revolution”). In other words, the people are the working classes, the exploiting class stands above and apart from the people. Thus, the bourgeoisie, let alone the oligarchs, cannot be considered “the people” in the social sense of the term that we use.

Somewhere along the line of thought, the dogmatists – apparently because their imagination had run out – made a very faint claim that doctors, teachers, lawyers, etc., render all sorts of services. Amazing! And the proletarians in the different factories created different goods… and then what? We advise comrades to study how many people are involved in services and how many in industry, then maybe they will realize that it is not the workers without the proletariat who cannot carry out revolutionary changes, but just the opposite (although this will depend on each individual country, since the class correlation in countries is different). Just think about the Russian revolution and think about whether the workers without the support of the peasantry would have been able to consolidate their power or not. This, of course, assuming that the peasants are in the vast majority.

So here are comrades another dogmatism, the same as always, they have nothing new, so it is boring to read their opuses about the same thing from time to time. And they are scarce not only with ideas and criticism, but also with the approach to work in general. As we noted at the beginning, there are countless such groups of dogmatists, in the name of legion. It is like a faceless mass that purposely calls itself anything, as long as it is not original. Salvation Unions, Bolsheviks, Marxists, and other countless names from the past that do not reflect anything new, as if left-wing milieus were frozen not only in the stone of theory, but also in the stone of the names of political organizations. It is especially funny when in any abbreviated name they add a (b) at the end (Bolshevik). It would be the same if we were called PSPL(b). But what is the point?

Although even here their logic is very simple, this is their attempt at “legitimacy. That is to say, the True Left were the Bolsheviks, so in order to give themselves “weight” they can be called exactly the same! It doesn’t really matter why they were called that, now it’s just a signboard for “legitimacy”, just like the Communist Party of Russia calls itself the Communists. But as you know, whatever you call a ship, that’s how it sails! True, before the Bolsheviks no one in Russia had ever called themselves by that name, and it was a completely new name … but never mind. In other words, it is the dogmatists who have such worship tradition, which forms the framework of their thinking.

If we go back to Marx’s thesis, popularized by Stalin, that “our theory is not a dogma but a guide to action,” we can say that the dogmatists proved to be his complete opponents. Contrary to this quite sensible message, they chose a different path, the path of the scholasticism of Marxism. What did Engels write about? “In really scientific writings one usually avoids such dogmatic-moralistic expressions as delusion and truth” (F. Engels, “Anti-Duhring”). What do dogmatists say? “All truths have already been discovered by Marx and Engels, hands off, you damned revisionists!”

Such an approach is painfully reminiscent of something humanity has already encountered in the knowledge of the truth – medieval scholasticism. Medieval scholastics believed that all that man needed to know, all truth, was already contained in scripture. Their task was to reinforce with arguments of reason what God reveals to man through faith. It was not necessary to observe society, to conduct experiments, but simply to formulate the question clearly and respond with some statement from the church fathers. In this way, true knowledge could be attained, as the scholastics believed.

Scholastics always opposed scientists who tried to prove new truths by experience; they believed that experience was unnecessary and even harmful, for the knowledge gained by experience might disagree with what is contained in sacred scripture, and consequently cast doubt on the truth of the Christian faith. As you can imagine, people who questioned Christian “truth” were not stroked on the head at the time. One of the main charges brought against the Italian monk Giordano Bruno was his doctrine of the infinity of the universe and the multiplicity of worlds (which contradicted the teachings of Aristotle, on which the scholastics still relied). Bruno was burned in order to preserve the “truth.”

Now replace the word Christianity with Marxism, and faith with, say, dialectic materialism, and you get a typical Marxist dogmatist quoting scripture. Just as scholasticism has proven to be a useless punditry, disconnected from real life, so the “punditry” of dogmatists is of no use whatsoever.

A literal religious faith in a sinless doctrine of truth, intolerant of any dissent, is the essence of medieval Christian scholasticism. How, one might ask, does this approach differ from that of the dogmatists? Nothing. They consider their “truth” above any reason, above critical thinking, which makes no sense or which, in their view, is simply wrong. All they can say is: “you just got Marxism wrong!” But here, as another classicist already wrote, “Who are the judges?” Who determines who got it right and who got it wrong? Of course, every dogmatist sees himself as a great judge and almost an apostle. All this squabbling about who is the “more correct” Marxist in essence makes no more sense than arguing with the Chinese Red Guards over who is the more correct follower of Chairman Mao.

In saying that Marxism should be developed, none of them bothered to write a critique in the direction of the classics. A sin, so to speak. At a time when their works are full of places that could be considered blatantly wrong and outdated. And so that no one has any doubts, we will cite Engels’ indisputably erroneous judgments: “The Franco-Prussian War marks a turning point of an entirely different significance from all previous ones. In the first place, weapons are now so improved that new progress, which would have the meaning of any upheaval, is no longer possible. When there are guns from which it is possible to hit a battalion as far as the eye can discern it, when there are guns from which it is just as possible to aim and hit an individual man within sight, with less time required to load than to aim, then allfurther improvements for field warfare are indifferent. Thus, in this direction, the era of development is essentially over.” (F. Engels, “Anti-Duhring”)

I think that anyone familiar with the history of weapons development understands that Engels’ prediction, to put it mildly, turned out to be erroneous. He did not witness the mass use of machine guns, he did not see flamethrowers, aviation, tanks–the list goes on up to nuclear weapons, with all their refinements. Each of these innovations brought qualitative changes in battle tactics and warfare as a whole. The indisputable truth in this matter can only be that development as such is limited only by the limits of human capabilities and nothing more. And it is very strange that Engels, who seems to have a better understanding of dialectics than we do, allowed progress to stop.

Here is another example of Engels’ indisputable error. “Secondly, this war has forced all the continental great powers to introduce the reinforced Prussian Landwehr system and thereby to impose on themselves a military burden under the weight of which they must collapse in a few years… Rivalry among the individual states forces them… More and more seriously universal military conscription thereby teaches the whole people the skills of wielding weapons, so that the people are able at some point to exercise their will in defiance of the military commanders. And that moment will come as soon as the mass of the people – the rural and urban workers as well as the peasants – have their will. At this point the monarch’s army turns into the people’s army, the machine refuses to serve, and militarism perishes by virtue of the dialectic of its own development.” (F. Engels, “Anti-Duhring”)

Indeed, the increasing armament and rivalry between countries led to World War I and, in a number of countries, to revolutions in which armed workers and peasants who had once been part of regular armies played no small part. But this prediction proved correct only in the short term. As we know, with the development of armaments and the advent of atomic weapons, many countries have already abandoned universal military conscription. That is, there will no longer be the people’s army of which Engels wrote. Could he have foreseen this? No, he could not.

Let’s take another important specific issue – the question of the state. If we approach this question strictly from the Marxist-Leninist position, then any state has only one function – the suppression of the oppressed class and only one fate – extinction. No other functions of the state were considered by them. Of course, neither the classics nor Lenin ever encountered the socialist state and could not evaluate it. Lenin wrote clearly about what the workers needed – they needed a withering state. We fundamentally disagree with this. Even though Lenin defends the possibility of revolution in a single country, contrary to what Engels wrote, before he came to power, he did not ask the question that workers’ power would have to be defended, to defend the revolution from reaction from outside and that without a state these are impossible.

Stalin already looked at the question differently. Stalin’s doctrine of a socialist state was formulated in March 1939 in his report to the 18th Congress of the CPSU(b). In the report, Stalin said that many people ask the question, “Why do we still have a state, if the exploiting classes were destroyed,” because, according to Marxist theory, the state should not exist. And only Stalin, as a man who was confronted with the implementation of the theory in practice, was able to give some concrete answers.

To begin with, Stalin speaks of the underdevelopment of Marxist theory on this issue. The underestimation of various problems “arose on the ground of the incompleteness and insufficiency of certain general provisions of Marxism’s doctrine of the state. It has spread because of our impermissibly careless attitude to questions of the theory of the state … We have forgotten Lenin’s most important instruction about the theoretical duties of Russian Marxists, designed to develop further the theory of Marxism.”

And then Stalin explains the different functions of the state, not just one, which the classics before him focused on. Moreover, it should be noted that he of course already speaks of the functions of the socialist state. Among these functions: “Instead of the function of repression, the state now has the function of protecting socialist property from thieves and plunderers of the public good… The second function is the defense of the country against attacks from outside. The third function was the economic-organizational, cultural-educational work of the organs of our state, with the aim of developing the sprouts of a new, socialist economy and re-educating the people in the spirit of socialism. Now the main task of our state inside the country consists in peaceful economic-organizational, cultural-educational work.”

We have cited these very examples because they show most clearly and concretely the errors and shortcomings of the classics. In the case of the state, Stalin points out the flaws in the theory. I wonder how many dogmatists would venture such a strong statement? As for the examples of armaments, we took these two examples, because we hope that everyone will agree on the opinion that, yes, of course, Engels was wrong. Although, frankly, it seems to us that dogmatists will be able to say that we “got it wrong” if they want to.

Again, many of Engels’ arguments can only be called a mistake from the perspective of people who now live in the twenty-first century. The classics could only analyze the society, and in particular the development of military science, that they saw in their era. It is one thing to correctly assess reality, another thing to correctly predict the development in the future. And while the classics were right almost everywhere in their analysis of the reality of their time, they had more difficulty in their analysis of the future. And this is in no way an accusation, it is quite normal. The task of a true Marxist is not to predict the future, but to correctly analyze the present in order to change it for the better for the workers.

However, as we have said, it is a sin for dogmatists to criticize Marxism. They see much more value in criticizing each other without realizing that no one has any use for them. If we advocate the development of theory, then it is necessary to criticize it, finding weaknesses, outdates, or maybe not correct at all. If we are to engage in theoretical work, then we must do just that. Since dogmatists do not do this, all their arguments, covered in dust and mothballs, echo from centuries past.

Dogmatists, in fact, do not stray far from idealism. They take the Marxist idea as it was a century and a half ago and apply it without change to modernity. That is, this idea for them is something ideal, on which everything in this world should be based. They do not analyze modern society, but immediately take a ready notion of that society, which was described by classics, and through these smudged glasses they look at us now.

In addition, we see that they use only those quotations which are profitable for them, turning a blind eye to the glaring contradictions of their ideas in other quotations. But the war of quotations, oddly enough, also makes little sense, we remind ourselves once again: to change society, one need not look for truths in old philosophical books – one must look for them in an analysis of contemporary society. This is why dogmatists are essentially idealists, merely wishful thinking. They do not start from the object environment of reality in development, but from an idea, or rather, from the way the society of a century and a half ago was described with the help of this idea. Time after time such Marxists make the “survivor’s mistake,” not understanding what the reason for the failure and unpopularity of Marxists is in the 21st century. They will look for whatever reasons they want, but of course the thought of a real and concrete development of the theory will not occur to them. The metaphysical prison of their own consciousness is the fate of dogmatists.

Our fate and task, as people’s socialists, is to cheerfully continue our work, to develop the theory and to defend our ideas. More and more people join our ranks, more city branches we open. All of this is the fruit of our practical work over the past couple of years. There are still many challenges ahead of us, but we are ready for them.

The people are paramount! People’s socialism will prevail!

Authors: Bolkonsky A. Razuvanov I. Volkov V.

Translation: Robert Jordan

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