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Revolutionary Socialism. Marxist-Leninist Countries at height of Cold War. Overview. Leninism and the Vanguard Party Trotsky and the Permanent Revolution Stalin and Socialism in One Country Mao and Third World Revolutions. The Goal.

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  • Leninism and the Vanguard Party
  • Trotsky and the Permanent Revolution
  • Stalin and Socialism in One Country
  • Mao and Third World Revolutions
the goal
The Goal

“The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of ground -- what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?” -- Communist Manifesto

the goal5
The Goal
  • Because capitalism has generated these enormous productive forces, we can envision a world where we can use that social production for social welfare.
Capitalism doesn’t allowus to enjoy the leisure timemade possible by the increased productivity ofcapitalism. Socialism will.


Leisure Time

the goals
The Goals
  • The Communist Manifesto includes a variety of goals -- long and short term -- of the communist movement
  • Long term goals include:
    • Abolition of Private Property
    • Community of women
    • “True” Freedom & Democracy
the goals8
The Goals
  • It also includes some short term goals, including:
    • graduated income tax
    • abolition of inheritance
    • centralized credit, communication
    • free education for children
    • abolition of child labor laws
the roads to socialism
The Roads to Socialism
  • Marx and Engels helped unify the socialist movement in Europe
  • With their death, and the resolute failure of capitalism to collapse as expected, leadership of the worker’s movement looked for ways to hasten the advent of socialism
roads to socialism
Roads to Socialism
  • In their writings, Marx and Engels sometimes support democratic change, and sometimes the need for violent revolution
  • Various wings of the socialist movement look to ground their policies in the writings of Marx and Engels
  • Why?
roads to socialism11
Roads to Socialism
  • The key is the claim to have developed a “scientific” socialism
  • What’s special about “science”?
roads to socialism12
Roads to Socialism
  • You can’t dispute the law of gravity
  • You can’t argue withscience
  • So, the socialists afterMarx attempt to use the method to supporttheir policy prescriptions
evolutionary socialism
Evolutionary Socialism
  • One road to socialism that eventually becomes social democracy argues that the change from capitalism to socialism will be a protracted affair and that we need to use democratic means to achieve a democratic society
evolutionary socialism14
Evolutionary Socialism
  • Eduard Bernstein(1850-1932)
  • German social democrat
  • Best known for “revisionist” theory of Marx (as opposed to Lenin’s “orthodox” Marxism
evolutionary socialism15
Evolutionary Socialism
  • Bernstein argues that a really “scientific” approach would take new evidence and modify the theory to conform to the science
  • Points out that capitalism has not developed in the manner predicted by Marx
  • Argues for the need to re-examine Marx’s presuppositions and modify (or revise) the theory to accommodate the new reality
evolutionary socialism16
Evolutionary Socialism

“That the number of the wealthy increases and does not diminish is not an invention of bourgeois ‘harmony economists,’ but a fact established by the boards of assessment for taxes, often to the chagrin of those concerned, a fact which can no longer be disputed…”

evolutionary socialism17
Evolutionary Socialism

“One has not overcome Utopianism if one assumes that there is in the present, or ascribes to the present, what is to be in the future. We have to take working men as they are. And they are neither so universally pauperised as was set out in the Communist Manifesto, nor so free from prejudices and weaknesses as their courtiers wish to make us believe. They have the virtues and failings of the economic and social conditions under which they live. And neither those conditions nor their effects can be put on one side from one day to another.”

evolutionary socialism18
Evolutionary Socialism
  • In other words, we need, as Marx and Engels suggested, to take people as they actually are, not as we want them to be and work with the real materials we have
  • Most workers, as it turns out, have more to lose than their chains and may be unwilling to make the leaps to socialism that we would like
evolutionary socialism19
Evolutionary Socialism
  • That means we need to slow things down, and work to improve the conditions now and set the stage for bigger changes to come
evolutionary socialism20
Evolutionary Socialism

“Constitutional legislation…is stronger than the revolution scheme where prejudice and the limited horizon of the great mass of the people appear as hindrances to social progress, and it offers greater advantages where it is a question of the creation of permanent economic arrangements capable of lasting; in other words, it is best adapted to positive social political work.”

evolutionary socialism21
Evolutionary Socialism
  • In other words, we may be on a long and winding road to socialism, freedom, and democracy
revolutionary socialism22
Revolutionary Socialism

The other road to socialism may be considerably shorter, and that’s by violent revolution

revolutionary socialism23
Revolutionary Socialism
  • V.I. Lenin(1870-1924)
  • Leader of the Russian revolution of 1917, the first successful Marxist revolution in the world
revolutionary socialism24
Revolutionary Socialism
  • Argued no need to “revise” the theory of scientific Marxism to conform to new facts
  • Rather, we need to use the theory to explain new facts
  • Marx and Engels saw communism as a global struggle, and Lenin sought to apply their analysis to global capitalism
revolutionary socialism25
Revolutionary Socialism
  • Capitalism has morphed into Imperialism, as Marx and Engels predicted it would
  • It has survived because it has managed to “buy off” its own worker

class at the expense

of the poorer countries in the world

revolutionary socialism26
Revolutionary Socialism

“Monopolies, oligarchy, the striving for domination and not for freedom, the exploitation of an increasing number of small or weak nations by a handful of the richest or most powerful nations-- all these have given birth to those distinctive characteristics of imperialism which compel us to define it as a parasitic or decaying capitalism.”

-- “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism

revolutionary socialism27
Revolutionary Socialism
  • It’s the “decaying” stage, in the sense that imperialism can only work for so long
  • The Bourgeoisie will quickly run out of poor countries to exploit
  • When the world is fully divided up, the contradictions of capitalism that have been buried by imperial conquest will return to the forefront
revolutionary socialism28
Revolutionary Socialism
  • In other words, the scientific study of capitalism reveals that capitalism has evolved into Imperialism, a stage at which capitalist countries conquer and exploit lesser developed countries
  • This exploitation allows capitalists to bribe their own proletariat
revolutionary socialism29
Revolutionary Socialism
  • When the world is divided up, the richest countries will either have to fight each other to conquer and control the poorer areas


revolutionary socialism30
Revolutionary Socialism
  • The class struggle will play out first as national struggles in the poorer countries
  • Loss of the colonies will then mean return of the class struggle at home in the capitalist countries
revolutionary socialism32
Revolutionary Socialism
  • Because the revolutionary class has been distracted, we need to begin the revolution on the periphery of the capitalist states
  • The working class, though, in the peripheral states is not yet fully developed, in most areas it is “pre-capitalist”


revolutionary socialism33
Revolutionary Socialism

“At this point, we wish to state only that the role of vanguard fighter can be fulfilled only by a party that is guided by the most advanced theory.”

-- Lenin, “What is to be Done?”

revolutionary socialism34
“The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labour legislation, etc.”

-- What is to be Done?

Revolutionary Socialism
revolutionary socialism35
Revolutionary Socialism

“Working-class consciousness cannot be genuine political consciousness unless the workers are trained to respond to all cases of tyranny, oppression, violence, and abuse, no matter what class is affected – unless they are trained, moreover, to respond from a Social-Democratic point of view and no other.”

the vanguard party
The Vanguard Party
  • The only way we can get the working class to move beyond the “trade union” mentality is if we have a political party that speaks on its behalf and acts in its interest
the vanguard party37
The Vanguard Party

“Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from without, that is, only from outside the economic struggle, from outside the sphere of relations between workers and employers.”

-- What is to be Done?

the vanguard party38
The Vanguard Party
  • The role of the Communist Party then, is to act as a revolutionary force to develop the class consciousness of the working class
  • As a revolutionary force, the party will then fight for the interests of the working class
  • The revolution will begin in the periphery and spread, creating a crisis within capitalism which in turn will raise the class-consciousness of the proletariat in capitalist countries and usher in the socialist future
the vanguard party39
The Vanguard Party

“And the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., the organization of the vanguard of the oppressed as the ruling class for the purpose of suppressing the oppressors, cannot result merely in an expansion of democracy…

the vanguard party40
The Vanguard Party

“the dictatorship of the proletariat imposes a series of restrictions on the freedom of the oppressors, the exploiters, the capitalists. We must suppress them in order to free humanity from wage slavery, their resistance must be crushed by force….”

the vanguard party41
The Vanguard Party

“Democracy for the vast majority of the people, and suppression by force, i.e., exclusion from democracy, of the exploiters and oppressors of the people-- this is the change democracy undergoes during the transition from capitalism to communism.”

russian revolution
Russian Revolution
  • In the wake of the collapse of the Tsarist regime in Russia, a provisional government was established in Moscow (March 1917)
  • Then in October 1918, the Bolsheviks, a faction within the revolutionary movement in Russia that was led by Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, etc., seized control of St. Petersburg (renamed Petrograd) and declared the establishment of a socialist republic
russian revolution43
Russian Revolution
  • In the wake of the Bolshevik takeover, widespread civil war breaks out (1918-1922) before the Bolsheviks could consolidate power
  • Eventually Lenin and the Bolsheviks triumph and establish the first Marxist government in the world
russian revolution44
Russian Revolution
  • The triumph of Bolshevism put the Russian working class at the forefront of history
  • Much optimism in creating a new form of social organization, one free of oppression, exploitation, and alienation
  • The Bolsheviks, the proletariat, and Russia are leading the world into a freer, more democratic, more egalitarian form of social organization
russian revolution45
Russian Revolution
  • 1918 Constitution of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) captures this optimism nicely
    • See particularly:
      • Chapter 2, article 3
      • Chapter 3, article 4
      • Chapter 5, articles 9-11, 13-22
russian revolution46
Russian Revolution
  • The thinking is that this revolution will serve as something of an example for the proletariat across the capitalist countries
  • For this to occur, though, the vanguard party needs to organize and engage on an international scale
  • The party needs to build alliances across national borders
  • Lenin dies in 1924, which leads to intense power struggle to find a successor to guide and protect the revolution
  • The failure of proletarian revolutions to materialize beyond Russia causes major theoretical and political crises within Bolshevik leadership
  • Main factional rift is whether the socialist future can be created in one country and then spread, or if instead it requires a global advance first
  • Stalin and his supporters argue for the former; Trotsky and his supporters argue for the latter

“With regard to countries with a belated bourgeois development, especially the colonial and semi-colonial countries…the complete and genuine solution of their tasks of achieving democracy and national emancipation is conceivable only through the dictatorship of the proletariat as the leader of the subjugated nation, above all of its peasant masses.” -- Trotsky, The Permanent Revolution

  • Trotsky was ally of Lenin’s during Russian Revolution (1917)
  • Initially served as Foreign Minister for the USSR, but eventually became head of the military and navy (1918-1920)
  • After Lenin’s death (1924) he loses an intraparty power struggle to Stalin
  • Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)
  • Josef Stalin (1878-1953)
  • Leaves Russia and ends up in Mexico where he continues his writing and political activities on behalf of the 4th International
  • Convicted in abstentia (1936) in “show trial” of conspiring to kill Stalin
  • Assassinated by Soviet agent in Mexico City (ice pick to head while he was reading in his study)
  • Once Stalin wins the power struggle, he quickly moves to consolidate power
  • To defend the revolution, he cracks down on dissent (real or imagined) and sets about centralizing power in the communist party and in the state
  • In order to safeguard the revolution and secure the way to the bright future of socialism, all the forces of society must be under control of the communist party*

*recall, the communist party represents the interests of the working

class, and that the working class is everybody

  • To that end, the media, the schools, and the arts all must be marshalled and deployed in ways which advance the socialist agenda and defend the regime from counter revolutionaries, revisionists, capitalists and other enemies of socialism

“In the Union of Socialist Soviets the workers and peasants government has called upon the whole mass of the population to help build a new culture – and it follows from this that the responsibility for mistakes, for hitches, for spoilage, for every display of middle-class meanness, for perfidy, duplicity and unscrupulousness lies on each and all of us. That means our criticism must really be self-criticism; it means that we must devise a system of socialist morality as a regulating factor in our work and our relationships.” -- Maxim Gorky, “Soviet Literature”

  • In 1932, a formal policy governing the arts was introduced, and in 1934, the Soviet Writers Union officially endorsed the new policy: Socialist Realism
  • The stated purpose of socialist realism was a call for artists to depict the world of the proletariat in a dignifying, optimistic and intelligible manner
  • The point of art was not simply to interpret or reflect the world of the working class, but rather to help change it for the better
  • Abstract art, formalism, etc. were dismissed
  • Beginning in 1934, Stalin initiates massive purges of those believed to be betraying the revolution
  • Millions of people are killed either directly (through execution) or indirectly (through famine created by the executions and government policies)
  • 1936 new Constitution meanwhile...
the permanent revolution
The Permanent Revolution

“Insofar as capitalism has created a world market, a world division of labor, and world productive forces, it has also prepared the world economy as a whole for socialist transformation.”

-- Permanent Revolution

the permanent revolution60
The Permanent Revolution

“The dictatorship of the proletariat which has risen to power as the leader of the democratic revolution is inevitably and very quickly confronted with tasks, the fulfillment of which is bound up with deep inroads into the rights of bourgeois property. The democratic revolution grows over directly into the socialist revolution and thereby becomes a permanent revolution.”

the permanent revolution61
The Permanent Revolution
  • Capitalism needed to introduce the ideas of liberty and democracy in order to protect private property
  • But in treating private property relations as a “natural” right, rather than a social construct, capitalism perverts the true meaning of “democracy” and liberty
the permanent revolution62
The Permanent Revolution

If we want true freedom and democracy, then we need to substitute the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie” with the “dictatorship of the proletariat.”

  • If we are going to have true democracy,


  • If true democracy requires a roughly equal distribution of wealth,


  • If a roughly equal distribution of wealth requires the abolition of private property,


  • We need a revolution, because democracy is unlikely to get things done on the necessary scale.

“The enemy will not perish of himself. Neither the Chinese reactionaries nor the aggressive forces of U.S. imperialism in China will step down from the stage of history of their own accord.”

So violent revolution is necessary, and …

  • If Lenin is correct, and the proletariat in the capitalist states has become corrupted
  • Then the socialist revolution can only begin in the periphery, in pre-capitalist states
  • Mao Zedong(1893-1976)
  • Leader of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Revolution
  • Came to power in 1949, led China until his death in 1976

“If there is to be revolution, there must be a revolutionary party. Without a revolutionary party, without a party built on the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary theory and in the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary style, it is impossible to lead the working class and the broad masses of the people in defeating imperialism and its running dogs.”


Mao’s idea was that out on the periphery, where there is no real industrial working class, the vanguard party can lead the peasant class to topple regimes which support imperialist countries or the imperialists themselves


“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”


“Every Communist must grasp the truth, ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.’"


So the struggle for democracy then begins with the peasant and working classes of the lesser developed countries, in the form of national liberationmovements initially.

  • Literature and the arts serve an important role here in helping to reach and educate a relatively illiterate population
  • Indeed, the Chinese Constitution (Article XXII) mandates socialist realism as the official art of the country
  • But as the revolutionary parties of the world succeed in linking up, the communist revolution will eventually come to the industrialized west
  • Capital will have no where left to run, no place to exploit
  • Without that escape valve, capitalists can no longer buy off their own working class

The proletariat in the industrialized countries will become increasingly radicalized and increasingly class conscious

  • And at that point the communist revolution will triumph and the dictatorship of the proletariat begins
  • Democracy and freedom will reign!