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Lenin on Socialism and the Party in the Long Revolution

  • Neil Harding
Chapter

Abstract

The Long Russian Revolution climaxed in the Red Army overthrow of the Kronstadt Commune in March 1921, and with it died the idea of freedom as universal participation in all the aspects of deciding and implementing public policy. This, Marx’s idea of the socialism of the Paris Commune, had been ardently embraced by Lenin as constitutive of both the means and the goal of the revolution in Russia. It breathed the ethos and practice of the soviets, which were the revolution’s real driving forces and the source of its international appeal. By 1921, the Bolsheviks were isolated both internationally and internally. Peasants were in revolt, towns depopulated, the proletariat decimated by war, hunger and disease. Industry was at a virtual standstill. Bolshevik support had shrunk disastrously. It was in this setting that a new legitimating rationale was appealed to that had some warrant in Marx’s accounts of the dictatorship of the proletariat, but derived more from Bukharin’s analysis of the deep costs of revolution and the consequent leading role of the Party/State in redeeming them. As the minoritarian monopoly capitalists had sustained their class power through control of the state apparatus and the heights of the economy, so the Communists could only keep the glimmer of socialism alive by doing likewise. They would, however, have to redefine socialism itself. It was no longer the realization of a mode of free activity and being, it was, rather, a condition of things. It inhered in the rational application of investments, the acquisition of managerial expertise, and the discipline and organization of labor best fitted to the extraction of the maximal production of goods from scarce resources. Socialism would stand or fall as a more rational and scientific mode of production than capitalism.

Keywords

Socialism Revolution Party Marxism Imperialism Bukharin Commune Dictatorship Factory committees Soviets Workers’ opposition Kronstadt rebellion Intellectuals Dialectics 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil Harding
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SwanseaSwanseaUK

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