Socialists' Critique on Leninism-Stalinism

In this post, I present some of the major arguments from my favorite books critiquing Leninism-Stalinism. It is important to note that while this post provides a summary of the key arguments, it cannot replace the depth and complexity of the books themselves. I highly recommend reading the entire books to gain a full understanding of the arguments presented and the sources and data used to support them. Nevertheless, this post provides a starting point for those interested in learning more about the critiques of Leninism-Stalinism from different perspectives.

1. Class Theory and History by Richard D. Wolff

Richard Wolff's book "Class Theory and History" critiques the Soviet Union in several ways. Here are some of the main points: 

  1. The Soviet Union failed to achieve socialism: Wolff argues that the Soviet Union was not a socialist society, as it claimed to be, because workers did not have control over the means of production. Instead, the state bureaucracy controlled the economy, which led to inefficiencies, shortages, and a lack of worker autonomy.
  2. The Soviet Union was a form of state capitalism: Wolff contends that the Soviet Union was a form of state capitalism, in which the state functioned as a capitalist, exploiting workers and extracting surplus value from them. He argues that this was not a new form of society, but rather a continuation of the capitalist system, with the state replacing private capitalists as the primary exploiter.
  3. The Soviet Union was an authoritarian state: Wolff criticizes the Soviet Union for being an authoritarian state that suppressed dissent, repressed workers' rights, and denied basic freedoms to its citizens. He argues that this was a consequence of the state's control over the economy and its need to maintain its power.
  4. The Soviet Union failed to create a classless society: Wolff argues that the Soviet Union did not create a classless society, as it claimed to be doing, but rather created a new ruling class in the form of the state bureaucracy. He contends that this new ruling class was not accountable to the working class and did not act in the interests of the people.
  5. The Soviet Union was unable to innovate: Wolff argues that the Soviet Union was unable to innovate because of its centralized planning and lack of incentives for individual workers and businesses. He contends that this was a major reason for the country's economic stagnation.
Wolff's critique of the Soviet Union is that it failed to achieve its goals of creating a socialist, classless society because of its authoritarianism, lack of worker control, and inability to innovate. He argues that the Soviet Union was not a new form of society, but rather a continuation of the capitalist system in a different form, with the state replacing private capitalists as the primary exploiter.

2. Guillotine at Work by Gregory Maximoff

Some of the arguments made by Gregory Maximoff in "Guillotine at Work" against Leninism-Stalinism and the Soviet Union:
  1. The Bolsheviks betrayed the socialist ideals of the Russian Revolution by creating a centralized, authoritarian state.
  2. The Bolsheviks' suppression of other leftist groups, such as anarchists and left socialists, played a major role in the consolidation of their power.
  3. The Bolsheviks' use of violence and repression against political opponents undermined the democratic values of the revolution.
  4. The Soviet state's control over the economy and means of production led to inefficiencies, shortages, and a lack of worker autonomy.
  5. The Soviet Union's forced requisition of grain from peasants contributed to famine and other social problems.
  6. The Bolsheviks' emphasis on centralized control undermined workers' self-management and decentralized decision-making.
  7. The Soviet Union's political system was undemocratic and authoritarian, with power concentrated in the hands of a small group of party leaders.
  8. The Soviet Union's state bureaucracy functioned as a new ruling class that exploited workers and suppressed dissent.
  9. The Soviet Union's policy of "socialism in one country" led to a focus on industrialization at the expense of agricultural development and the needs of rural communities.
  10. The Soviet Union's emphasis on industrialization created environmental problems and led to a disregard for ecological concerns.
  11. The Soviet Union's suppression of national and ethnic identities led to tensions and conflicts within the country.
  12. The Soviet Union's policy of exporting revolution to other countries led to intervention in the internal affairs of other nations and contributed to international tensions.
  13. The Soviet Union's violent suppression of dissent and rebellion, such as the Kronstadt rebellion, contributed to the erosion of socialist ideals and the consolidation of authoritarian rule.
  14. The Soviet Union's ultimate failure to create a truly socialist, classless society marked a major disappointment for the hopes and dreams of the Russian Revolution.

3. State Capitalism in Russia by Murray Bookchin

Here are some points I noticed
  1. Industrial nationalization per se is not considered capitalist or progressive.
  2. Economic relationship of men to the productive forces must be explained by the economic relationship between men.
  3. Russian capitalism found little sustenance due to its belated appearance in the world market and internal market inhibited by feudal relations.
  4. The bourgeoisie was compelled to cement many of its ties with the Czarist regime.
  5. Prospect of an internal market, free from feudal restrictions, was discussed.
  6. The focus of all Russian political activity was the countryside.
  7. Differences between the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution were highlighted.
  8. Three issues in discussing Russia as a state capitalist society: existence and weight of competition, anarchy bred by the 'Plan', and difficulties, disproportions, and crises in reproduction created by competition for sources of raw material and skilled labor.
  9. Maladjustments of the system take the form in "factional" struggles, disputes, liquidations, and regroupings.
  10. Russian managers have little independence and are unable to manipulate the size of their plant or inventories or take advantage of market situations.
  11. Nearly every detail of the industrial process requires state approval, which affords a restricted picture of the official administration of industry.
  12. The capitalists of Russia maintain variegated relationships among themselves.
  13. Stalinist society is more centralized than elsewhere, but by the same token, influence, power, exploitation, and competition are more severe.
  14. Planning in Russia has either been grossly exaggerated or totally misunderstood, and in practice, planning cannot be confined to orders but requires continual checking in every phase of production.
  15. Russia is integrally tied to capitalist development and represents a form of state capitalism.
  16. The backwardness of Russia cannot be used as an excuse to justify contemporary excesses.
  17. Under capitalism, backwardness has its own laws that govern Russia, like Germany, Italy, and Spain.
  18. The analysis of Russia as a state capitalist system presents a challenge that parallels developments in capitalist societies like England and America.


Why Soviet Union crushed socialist revolution in Hungary?

The Soviet Union crushed the socialist revolution in Hungary in 1956 for a variety of reasons, including:

Control: The Soviet Union was determined to maintain control over its satellite states in Eastern Europe, and Hungary was no exception. The Soviet leadership saw the revolutionary movement in Hungary as a threat to their authority and feared that it could inspire other uprisings across the region.

Ideological differences: Despite being socialist, there were significant differences between the Soviet and Hungarian leaderships' approach to socialism. Hungary's revolutionary movement sought to create a more democratic, decentralized form of socialism, which was seen as a direct challenge to the Soviet Union's centralized, authoritarian system.

Who were leading thinkers and activists in Hungarian Revolution?

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a complex and diverse movement, with many different thinkers and leaders. Some of the main thinkers and leaders of the Hungarian Revolution include:

  • Imre Nagy: Nagy was a Hungarian Communist politician who became the leader of the country during the revolution. He was a reformist who sought to create a more democratic and decentralized form of socialism in Hungary.
  • Gyula Horn: Horn was a Hungarian Communist politician who played a key role in the revolution. He was a reformist who advocated for greater democracy and decentralization in Hungary.
  • János Kádár: Kádár was a Hungarian Communist politician who took over the leadership of the country after the Soviet Union crushed the revolution. He was a hardliner who imposed strict control over the country and abandoned many of the reformist ideals of the revolution.
  • Árpád Göncz: Göncz was a Hungarian writer and politician who became the president of Hungary after the fall of Communism. He was a key intellectual figure during the revolution and advocated for greater freedom and democracy in Hungary.
  • István Bibó: Bibó was a Hungarian philosopher, politician, and activist who played a key role in the revolution. He wrote extensively on the need for greater democracy and the dangers of Soviet domination.
  • Miklós Haraszti: Haraszti was a Hungarian writer and journalist who was active in the revolutionary movement. He was a key voice for free speech and democracy in Hungary and later became a prominent human rights activist.

    These are just a few examples of the many different thinkers and leaders who played a role in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The movement was diverse and complex, and it involved people from many different backgrounds and political persuasions who came together to demand greater freedom and democracy in Hungary

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