128 Soviet Project

128 Soviet Project - The Soviet Union Under Stalin and...

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The Soviet Union Under Stalin and Khrushchev (sov) 1. Marxism and the Russian Experience Marxism contends that labor is the source of all value. Capitalism is a system in which owners do not pay workers the full value of their labor; they hold on to it either for their own use or to invest in other enterprises which will enable them to exploit the labor power of other workers. Marx argued that once workers, who make up the vast majority of the population in an advanced industrial economy, recognized this situation and acted upon it, they would be able to overthrow the owners and to own and run their enterprises cooperatively and to enjoy the full fruits of their labor. Since workers would no longer be dependent on the owners to survive, workers would finally be able to exercise the right to speak freely without worrying about what their employers' would say. Lenin reinterpreted Marxism to fit early twentieth-century Russia, a repressive regime based upon a peasant economy. First, faced with a police state, Lenin argued that the Communist party which opposed it had to be a secret, hierarchical organization. While argument and discussion were permissible within the party before a policy was laid down, once the party, drawing upon the "science" of Marxism, set a policy, there was no room for debate. Party discipline was based on both the historical situation--a tsarist police state--and a belief in the infallibility of its science of society. Second, borrowing from the experience of Western European socialist parties, Lenin (implicitly) argued that Marx had been wrong about workers. Workers were primarily interested in bread-and-butter issues and would not on their own risk all to overthrow their bosses and establish socialism. Only the party, led by intellectuals versed in the Marxist science of society, could see clearly what needed to be done to make a revolution and to establish a socialist society; this insight would not come from workers themselves. The party was to be a vanguard ; it was not, in democratic fashion, to act in the workers' expressed interests. It was instead to bring workers to consciousness of their "true" interests and to lead them into battle. Third, early twentieth-century Russia was far from the kind of industrial nation in which Marx had envisaged the workers' revolution taking place. And, in fact, in such countries as Great Britain, Germany and the United States, the chances for socialist revolution looked slim: the class of property-owners was too strong and the class of workers too divided or too content. Therefore Lenin proposed that in a nation like Russia at the dawn of industrialization, the proletariat could take advantage of its weak bourgeoisie and make
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a revolution. As the proletariat was weak before industrialization, the party would carry out the roles of both bourgeoisie and proletariat in the Marxist project. Instead of inheriting an industrial system as in Marx's model, Lenin's Communists would use their control of society to make such an industrial economy. This threefold legacy of Leninism would form the basis of the Stalinist state: a secretive, hierarchical
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128 Soviet Project - The Soviet Union Under Stalin and...

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