[OPE-L] Worlds Apart? (Socialism in Marx and early Bolshevism)

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Sat Jan 14 2006 - 08:39:24 EST

An article from _Economic & Political Weekly_ by Paresh Chattopadhyay.
Are these perspectives really, as Paresh suggests, worlds apart?

In solidarity, Jerry


     EPW Special Articles December 31, 2005

                  Worlds Apart: Socialism in Marx and in Early Bolshevism

                  A Provisional Overview

                  This paper is concerned with socialism purely as a
theoretical category, leaving aside the historical
movements and acts that have occurred in its name.
"Early Bolshevism" refers to Bolshevism before Stalin's
consolidation of power. Marx's notion of post-capitalist
society - "communism", "socialism", "society of free and
associated producers" - envisaged a society that has
left behind all the vehicles of exploitation and
oppression of the old society, such as state, commodity
production, money, wage labour, to name the principal
ones. This is contrasted with the notion of socialism as
it appears in the writings of the early Bolsheviks -
Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin and Preobrazhensky. It turns
out that the socialism emerging from the works of these
avowed "Marxists" is the exact opposite of the socialism
one finds in Marx's extant texts.

                  Paresh Chattopadhyay

            Socialism or communism, conceived theoretically, was
considered by Marx (and Engels) as simply the theoretical
expression of the workers' struggle against capital towards
their own emancipation. The present paper, however, is
concerned with socialism purely as a theoretical category,
leaving aside the historical movements and acts that have
occurred in its name. "Early Bolshevism" refers to Bolshevism
before Stalin's consolidation of power, that is, Bolshevism,
which still appears in a most favourable light to the majority
of the so-called "Marxist" left. Basically we are concerned
with the important relevant writings of arguably the four
best-known representatives of Bolshevism of the period: Lenin,
Trotsky, Bukharin and Preobrazhensky. This paper is simply a
rapid overview of the theme.

            In brief, Marx's perspective of the society after capital,
that is, socialism or communism (same in Marx) is immensely
emancipatory. This is what he calls the "union of free
individuals", based on the "associated mode of production". As
opposed both to the forcible union of the producers with their
conditions of production (as in pre-capitalism) and to the
non-voluntary separation between the two (as in capitalism),
socialism signifies reunion of the producers with their
conditions of production at a higher level (compared to their
union on a narrow basis within a limited circle in "primitive

            A socialist or communist society is the outcome of the
workers' self-emancipatory revolution against capital, not to
be confused with the so-called seizure of power by the working
class, far less the seizure of power by a group in its name.
This is not a momentary but an "epochal" event comprising a
whole "period of revolutionary transformation" during which
the bourgeois mode of production and, along with it, the whole
bourgeois social order with wage labour, commodity production
and state are superseded. The workers' installation of (their
own) power is only the "first step" in this "long and painful"
trajectory.1 On the other hand, the necessary material
conditions of the rise of the future society are created
within capitalism by capital itself, and without these
conditions any attempt at exploding the existing society would
be only Don Quixotic, as Marx wrote in his 1850s manuscripts.2

            In all hitherto existing societies community has in fact stood
as an independent power against singular individuals and
subjugated them. It was, as Marx calls it, a "false" or
"illusory" community. In the "union of free individuals" for
the first time there arises the "true" community where
universally developed individuals dominate their own social
relations. Individuals in the new society are free in a sense
unknown hitherto. Going beyond "personal dependence" of
pre-capitalism as well as "material dependence" of capitalism,
"social individuals" attain their "free individuality" in this
union of free individuals.3 It is, as Marx calls it, a
"complete elaboration of the human interiority", and "the
development of human energy as an end in itself".4 In the
"associated mode of production" (AMP), as Marx designates the
new mode of production, there is voluntary and unmediated
union of individuals dominating their own products as well as
unconstrained union of producing individuals with their
conditions of production. As a result commodity production as
well as the wage system go out of existence.

            In the AMP along with the transformation of the old relations
of production there is also the transformation of ownership
relations, which are only the juridical expression of the
social relations of production. All hitherto existing class
societies have been marked by private ownership of the means
of production where "private ownership" signifies
non-ownership of the means of production by society's
majority. This is what Marx calls "private ownership of a part
of society" or "class ownership".5 This class ownership under
capital appears as separation of the producers from the means
of production (this is unique to capitalist society). This
signifies of course the separation of the great majority of
society from the means of production. Now this capitalist
private ownership could take different forms: ownership by
private individuals, ownership by what Marx calls "associated
capitalists" or ownership by the state.6 However, private
ownership in question remains invariant with respect to these
different forms. Capitalist class ownership under its
different forms disappears only with the disappearance of the
capitalist production relations yielding place to direct
collective appropriation of the conditions of production by
society itself.

            We must not consider state ownership of the conditions of
production as equivalent to social appropriation of the
conditions of production, inasmuch as state exists - whatever
its nature -only as an institution which has autonomised
itself from society. Real (as opposed to juridically enacted)
appropriation by society itself (that is, the collective body
of producers) can take place only with the disappearance of
the state. It is quite relevant to recall here Marx's high
praise for the 1871 communards for having made the revolution
against state as such, not this or that kind of state.

            We come to exchange relations of the Association. With the
transformation of society's production relations, its exchange
relations - that is both individuals' exchanges with nature
and individuals' social exchanges among themselves - are also
transformed. As regards the first, in the new society, freed
from the mad drive for accumulation - production for
production's sake as Marx calls it - of the old society and
with the unique goal of satisfying human needs, the socialised
individuals rationally regulate their material exchanges with
nature with the least expenditure of force and carry on these
exchanges in the conditions most worth of and in fullest
conformity with their human nature.7

            Coming to exchange relations among individuals, first let us
note that in any society the labour of the individual
producers creating useful objects for one another has, by that
very fact, a social character. However, in a society of
generalised commodity production, where products result from
private labours executed in reciprocal independence, the
social character of these labours - hence the reciprocal
relations of the creators of these products - are not
established directly. Their social character is mediated by
exchange of products taking commodity form. The social
relations of individuals take the form of social relations of
their products, confronting the producing individuals as an
independent power, dominating them.

            With the inauguration of the Association there begins the
process of collective appropriation of the conditions of
production by society, as noted earlier. And with the end of
private appropriation of the conditions of production there
also ends the need for the products of individual labour to go
through exchange taking the commodity form. In the new society
individual labour is directly social from the beginning. In
place of exchange of products taking the commodity form (as in
the old society) there is now "free exchange of activities"
among "social individuals" determined by their collective
needs and aims on the basis of collective appropriation. In
the Association, in contrast with the capitalist society, the
social character of production is presupposed, and
participation in the world of products is not mediated by the
exchange of reciprocally independent labours or of products of
labours.8 Here the labour of the individual is posited as
social labour from the outset. In a well-known text, which
needs reemphasising, Marx asserts that in the "communist
society as it has just come out of capitalist society" that
is, in its very "first phase" the producers "do not exchange
their products and as little does labour applied on these
products appear as value".9

            Turning to distribution in the Association, the basic
distribution in any society is the distribution of the
conditions of production from which follows the distribution
of the products of these conditions. Now, the "distribution of
the conditions of production is a character of the mode of
production itself".10 Hence with the transformation of the
capitalist mode of production (CMP) into the associated mode
of production (AMP), the old mode of distribution is also
transformed. Now, for any society, the distribution of the
conditions of production really boils down to the allocation
of society's total labour time (including dead and living
labour) across the economy in definite proportions
corresponding to its needs. Equally, society's total time
employed on production (including related activities) has to
be economised in order to leave maximum non-labour time for
the enjoyment and self-development of society's members. "All
economy", indeed, is "finally reduced to the economy of
time".11 However different societies execute the economy of
time and the allocation of labour time to different spheres of
activities in different ways. Under capitalism the allocation
of society's labour time is effected through the exchange of
products taking the commodity form, but in the Association the
problem is solved through direct and conscious control of
society over its labour time without the need for social
relations of persons to appear as social relations between

            The economy of society's global time employed in material
production (and related activities), generating disposable
time thereby, acquires a new meaning in the Association. This
surplus labour time beyond the time required for labourers'
material needs, instead of being appropriated by a small
minority in the name of society now becomes society's free
time for creating the basis of all-round development of the
"socialised individuals". The distinction between necessary
and surplus labour time loses its earlier meaning. Necessary
labour time would now be measured in terms of the needs of the
associated individuals not the needs of valorisation and
remain the creative substance of wealth. But as Marx
emphasises in one of his early 1860s manuscripts, the free
time, disposable time, is the wealth itself - in part for
enjoying the products, in part for "free activity which,
unlike labour, is not determined by the compulsion of an
external finality which has to be fulfilled whose fulfillment
being either a natural necessity or a social obligation".13

            Turning to the distribution of the total social product in the
"Republic of Labour", it is first divided between the
production needs and the (direct) consumption needs of
society. As regards the share for production needs, it is
divided again between replacement and extension of society's
productive apparatus on the one hand and society's insurance
and reserve funds (not in value form) against uncertainty on
the other. The rest of the social product serves collective
consumption - health, education, provision for those not able
to work - and personal consumption. As regards the mode of the
distribution of the means of personal consumption among
society's labouring individuals, these latter, having ceased
to sell their labour power, no longer receive the returns to
their labour in wage form. Instead, they receive from their
own Association some kind of a token indicating each one's
labour contribution to production (including related
activities) enabling the person to draw from the common stock
of means of consumption an amount costing the same amount of
labour. Given the disappearance of commodity production, these
tokens are not money; they do not circulate.14

            This principle of equivalent exchange, apparently parallel to,
but not the same as, what prevails under commodity production,
since "form and content" have both changed, cannot be avoided
at the very initial stage of the Association just coming out
of the womb of capital. This process is wholly overcome only
at a higher stage of the Association when all the springs of
cooperative wealth flow more fully based on the all round
development of the socialised individuals along with the
development of the forces of production. Only at that stage
can the principle of equivalent exchange yield its place to a
new principle: "from each according to one's ability to each
according to one's needs".15

            (Early) Bolshevism
            From Marx's notion of the post-capitalist society - appearing
in Marx's texts in equivalent terms such as "communism",
"socialism", "Republic of Labour", "Union of free
individuals", "cooperative society", "society of free and
associated producers", etc - envisaged as a society which has
left behind all the vehicles of oppression and exploitation of
the human of the old society, such as state, commodity
production, money, wage labour, to name the principal ones,
let us pass on to the notion of socialism as it appears in the
writings of the early Bolsheviks, all of whom, it is necessary
to stress, considered themselves as the followers of Marx. We
deal successively with Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin and
Preobrazhensky. The treatment will be necessarily brief.

            Totally unlike Marx, Lenin makes a distinction between
socialism and communism equating them, respectively with the
first and the second phase of communism (following Marx, Lenin
could have as well distinguished between the first and the
second phase of socialism). Corresponding to this distinction
Lenin distinguishes between two transitions - the first from
capitalism to socialism, the second from socialism to
communism. Naturally, this distinction, too, nowhere appears
in Marx. The distinctions in question, apparently merely
terminological and innocent looking, had far reaching
consequences, which were far from innocent. These became
convenient instruments for legitimising and justifying the
ideology and every act of the Party-State from 1917 onwards in
the name of (building) socialism, which was stressed as the
need for the immediate future, and thus shelving all the vital
aspects of Marx's immense emancipatory project of the post
capitalist society off to the Greek calends of the never-never
land of communism, thereby metamorphosing Marx's project of
socialism (communism) into an unalloyed utopia.

            Lenin conceives socialism basically in terms of ownership form
of the means of production rather than in terms of the
(social) relations of production. And he posits 'social
ownership' of the means of production (in socialism) against
capitalism's private ownership uniquely in the sense of
"private ownership of separate individuals".16 Here again
Lenin is several steps backward compared to Marx. For Marx
juridical relations (forms) have no independent existence,
they simply arise from the economic, that is, production
relations. In other words it is the production (economic)
relations which determine the ownership relations and their
specific forms, not inversely. Secondly, Marx had already
shown on the basis of his close observation of capitalism's
development how its forms of ownership changed in response to
the needs of capital accumulation. The ownership form of which
Lenin speaks was indeed the initial form in capitalism,
directly taken over from the Roman law. However, in the course
of capital's development the requirements of capital's
accumulation dictated a change in the ownership form from
individual to collective capitalist ownership, which signified
"abolition of private ownership within the capitalist mode of
production itself", as Marx clearly noted. The relevant texts
of Marx were already available quite some time before Lenin
wrote his text from which our citation comes. Lenin's concept
of private ownership was of course the dominant concept in the
Second International "Marxism" taken over from bourgeois
jurisprudence. Similarly, social ownership in Lenin (for
socialism) does not mean society's ownership that is, direct
appropriation by society itself. It is rather state ownership
where the state is by supposition a working class state.17
This identification of state ownership with ownership by the
whole society is, again, absent from Marx's texts. Indeed, far
from social ownership being identical with (working class)
state ownership, socialism - even in its Leninist
identification with Marx's lower phase of communism - excludes
not only individual private ownership of the means of
production but also (working class) state ownership, inasmuch
as the first phase of the Association arrives on the
historical scene only at the end of the transformation period
coinciding with the end of the proletariat and its political
rule ("state" if you like). The mode of appropriation becomes
for the first time directly social. This is the real social
ownership that Marx envisages.

            As regards exchange relations in socialism, Lenin's position
is not without ambiguities. In some writings he speaks of
"suppression" of commodity production with the end of
capitalism,18 while in other writings he speaks of "socialist
exchange of products" and denies the commodity character of
state factory products "exchanged" against peasants'
products.19 We know from Marx that in the very first phase of
the Association (Lenin's "socialism"), "producers do not
exchange their products". We also know that exchange of
products is replaced in the new society by the "free exchange"
of "activities".

            The scope of distribution in the new society is very narrow in
Lenin. He is far and away from the range of Marx's
preoccupation in this regard. He is not concerned with the
allocation of productive resources among different branches of
activity nor with the corresponding problem of the best way to
allocate society's total labour time or with the division of
this time between necessary (labour) time and free time for
the associated producers with far reaching emancipatory
consequences. Lenin is almost exclusively concerned with the
distribution of the means of consumption among the society's
individuals. Here he follows literally Marx's "Marginal Notes"
(1875) discussed above. At the same time Lenin takes liberty
with Marx's text. Referring to what Marx calls (remaining)
"bourgeois right" in the lower phase of the Association
(Lenin's "socialism"), Lenin envisages equality of "labour and
wage" for the citizens, now transformed into "hired employees
of the state" (sluzhashchikh po naimu) where, further, the
enforcement of "bourgeois right" would, according to him,
necessitate the presence of the "bourgeois" state.20 This is
indeed a strange reading of Marx's text with serious
implications. First, the transformation of the producing
citizens into hired employees of the state receiving wage as
remuneration would simply mean that the citizens instead of
being wage labourers of private enterprises, are now wage
labourers of the state (calling the state a workers' state
does not change the character of citizens' labour as wage
labour). In the same text that Lenin (mis-) reads, Marx
denounces the wage system as a "system of slavery". In fact
the distribution of the means of consumption through labour
tokens has nothing to do with their distribution through wage
remuneration. As regards hired labour, let us recall that in
his famous Inaugural Address to the International, Marx
opposes "hired labour" to "associated labour". In fact Marx
had already called the "state.employing productive wage
labour" "capitalist".

            Continuing with the problem of distribution of the means of
consumption in socialism (Marx's lower phase of the
Association) Lenin refers to the not yet superseded "bourgeois
right" (Marx) in this connection and insists on the need of
the existence of "bourgeois state" to enforce this right. This
latter is Lenin's own gloss and is nowhere to be found in
Marx's extant texts. In fact the antagonistic relation between
state and freedom (essence of the "union of free individuals")
was a constant in Marx at least beginning with his polemic
with Ruge right up to his last theoretical writing (also a
polemic). But why should in any case the enforcement of
"bourgeois right" require a state, and that, too, a "bourgeois
state" in a society which arises only after the last form of
political power held by the proletariat has evaporated along
with the proletariat itself after a long revolutionary
transformation period! Even with the "bourgeois right"
remaining Marx envisages society itself, not any special
political apparatus, undertaking the task of distributing the
means of consumption in the very first phase of the
Association. Even when Marx speculates on what kind of
transformation will the state form (Staatswesen) undergo in
communism, he immediately adds the meaning of this
speculation: which social functions will be left there that
are analogous to the present day state functions. First note
that this speculation about the future of state functions
applies to communism as such, not simply to its first phase,
which is Lenin's concern in the context of "bourgeois state"
enforcing the "bourgeois right".

            This speculation about the analogy of present day state
functions for communism no more signifies the existence of
state in communism (at any stage) than the parallelism with
equality of commodity exchange for distribution in the lower
stage of communism signifies the existence of commodity
production in the first stage of the Association (as many
readers of Marx think). Indeed, Lenin's logic is baffling.
Inasmuch as the lower phase is inaugurated only after the
transformation period when after it has destroyed the
bourgeois state the proletariat disappears along with its own
"state", the existence of a bourgeois state in this phase
would signify, in the absence of the bourgeoisie (Lenin's
assumption)), that the (non proletarian) workers would
themselves recreate the bourgeois state after having
liquidated their own.

            Trotsky's approach to socialism is predominantly juridical. In
order to establish socialism the principal task is to win the
fight against private capital, which means abolishing
"individual ownership" of the means of production. With the
most important industries in the hands of the workers' state,
class exploitation ceases to exist taking capitalism along
with it. However Trotsky at the same time affirms that the
struggle between "state capital and private capital"
continues, the abolition of capitalism through the elimination
of individual ownership of a means of production

            For Trotsky capitalism is a system of private (individual)
ownership in the means of production and market regulation of
the economy. Consequently socialist economy appears as a
centralised, directed economy in which a general plan would
establish the allocation of society's material means of
production and (living) labour among different branches of the
economy. In other words, a socialist economy is a planned
"state economy" where planning would mean abolition of the

            Thus Trotsky's image of socialism directly follows from his
specific concept of capitalism. Inasmuch as capitalism is
conceived primarily in terms of a specific ownership form and
a specific form of circulation, and not (primarily) in terms
of specificity of the social relation of production, socialism
is also envisaged simply as the abolition of those forms of
ownership and circulation. Thus socialism appears as
(proletarian) state ownership of the means of production with
central planning, and not as a "union of free individuals"
based on social appropriation as opposed to private ownership
in both its basic forms, individual and collective (including
state) ownership. What is important for Trotsky is what he
calls the "class nature" of the state. If the state is in the
hands of the working class - clearly substituted by party -
then, despite the presence of commodity categories and wage
labour, there is no exploitation and thus no capitalism,
although the latter's "forms" still persist.23 That by
socialism Trotsky is far from meaning a "union of free
individuals" is also clear from the way he envisages the
organisation of labour and its allocation across the different
branches of the economy of the new society. This organisation
and this allocation are not effected directly by society
itself as in Marx; on the contrary, they are done by the state
through its central(ised) planning. The whole process involves
workers' subordination to the state and state's coercive power
over the workers. Confronted by the Mensheviks, Trotsky, in
one of his writings concedes that "there will be no state and
no coercive apparatus in a socialist regime".24

            Bukharin's point of departure for analysing the transition
period is "state capitalism" - reached by capitalism in its
latter day "organised" capitalism - which is supposed to have
already eliminated the market along with anarchy of
production, giving rise to what he calls "a new type of
production relations". After distinguishing socialism from
communism he makes the transitional system the repository of
some of the basic characteristics of Marx's "lower phase of
communism". In this transitional system with the proletarian
nationalisation of the means of production there arises the
"state form of socialism" and the process of creating surplus
value ceases.25 Bukharin denies the relevance of Marxian
categories of capitalism for the transitional society.
According to him, to the extent that "conscious social order"
replaces "spontaneity", the commodity is turned into a product
together with the collapse of the monetary system. Hence there
is no value or price; profit (surplus value) disappears. As
mentioned earlier, already under state capitalism commodity
tends to disappear "within the country" though the anarchy of
production is reproduced in the world at large.26 The
substance of this argument, we know, later reappears among the
theorists of "state capitalism" in Stalinist Russia.

            Not without contradicting himself Bukharin holds that when
under a (proletarian) state economy the products of labour
continue to be exchanged in their price form prices are simply
explained away as purely formal, without value content. In the
same way, as regards labourers' remuneration under proletarian
dictatorship, which appears as wage the latter according to
Bukharin, is really a "phenomenal magnitude" or an "outer
shell" in monetary form without any "content".27 Bukharin
seems not to be aware that if there is no wage form of
remuneration there is no wage labour that is, there is no
proletariat and, consequently, no proletarian dictatorship.
Hence there is no need for a revolutionary transformation
period between capitalism and socialism. A change in the
ownership form and state form is sufficient for Bukharin to
wish away wage labour and thereby the capitalist mode of
production. Bukharin in fact continually confuses the
transition period with what Marx calls the "lower phase of
communist society". He does this by inverting the materialist
method. That is, he first makes production relations a
derivative of ownership relations - which in Marx's terms are
simply the "juridical expression" of production relations.
Even here he does not distinguish between ownership relation
and ownership form; secondly, private ownership for him means
only individual private ownership, excluding what Marx
considers as collective (class) ownership; thirdly, he
identifies state ownership with social ownership and hence
state ownership for him signifies abolition of private
ownership. Bukharin's position on socialism and transition to
socialism could, without much difficulty, be explained in
terms of an attempt at rationalising the policies pursued by
the new regime of which he was one of the leaders and to which
he was ideologically committed. However, in a text relatively
free from the need of such rationalisation, penned on the
occasion of the 50th anniversary of Marx's death, and
Bukharin's last discussion on socialism, he clearly
distinguishes between socialism and transition to socialism.
Dealing with socialism in the Leninist (non Marxian) sense of
the "lower phase of communism" he enumerates its six basic
characteristics: (1) less than full development of the
productive forces, (2) non-suppression of the difference
between mental and physical labour, (3) distribution according
to labour, not need, (4) continuation of the residue of
"bourgeois right" (5) residues of hierarchy, subordination and
state, (6) absence of commodity character of labour's
product.28 Needless to add, the fifth characteristic given
here finds no place in Marx's text.

            It is clear that though there is an improvement in Bukharin's
latter position compared to his earlier one, still in common
with what we find in the writings of his distinguished
colleagues, we do not find any explicit affirmation that
socialism, even understood in Lenin's specific sense of the
lower phase of communism, is already a "union of free
individuals", without any authority, state or otherwise,
outside of what is freely self imposed by the associated

            Preobrazhensky, in his principal work, designated as "economic
theory of the USSR", considers the "soviet" economy as a
"socialist-commodity" economy with a commodity sector and a
state sector (identified as socialist sector). In this economy
there are two regulators - law of value and the principle of
planning. The fundamental tendency of the latter takes the
form of "primitive socialist accumulation" (PSA). The two
regulators operate in a relation of antagonism. The law of
value operates "spontaneously" in the unorganised (non-state)
economy, while within the organised (state) sector - where the
state is the monopoly producer and the unique buyer of its own
products - the law of value ceases to operate. In its turn PSA
signifies accumulation of material resources in the hands of
the state, drawn from sources external to the state economy.
PSA operates through the "exploitation of pre-socialist forms"
by the socialist (that is, state system) of economy. This is
how PSA strives to eliminate the law of value.29

            Preobrazhensky distinguishes between PSA and SA, the socialist
accumulation, that is, extended reproduction of the means of
production and labour power on the basis of surplus product
created within the socialist, that is, the state sector. The
principal mechanism of the "exploitation of the pre-socialist
forms" by the proletarian state is the transfer of this
surplus product from agriculture to (nationalised) industry by
way of non-equivalent exchange.

            Like Bukharin before him, Preobrazhensky also denies the
relevance of the categories of Capital for the
"socialist-commodity economy", since these categories are
valid only for the capitalist-commodity economy. Thus, for
Preobrazhensky, within the planned economy of the USSR there
is really no commodity production. Prices used in inter-trust
transactions have only a "purely formal character". Commodity
categories really exist only in the transactions of the state
sector with the private sector. By the same reasoning the
value form of the surplus product and the wage form of labour
remuneration arising from the economic operations within the
state sector are made to disappear.30 (Stalin would later take
over these ideas).

            It should be clear that Preobrazhensky's ideas about the new
society logically follow from his two fundamental assumptions:
first, the identity of social ownership and (proletarian, that
is communist party ruled) state ownership and, second, the
identity of socialist economy with (proletarian, that is
communist party ruled) state economy. Thus confounding the
ownership form and production relation, Preobrazhensky could
speak of the "socialist relations of production of the state
economy" of the USSR. For Preobrazhensky the period that the
transitional economy will take before capitalism is changed
into socialism is exactly the period that the transitional
economy will take to nationalise the principal means of
production. The only problem remaining after this
near-complete "stateisation" would be the development of the
productive forces.

            The reasons given by Preobrazhensky to deny the
commodity-character to labour power and the products of labour
in general within the state sector of the
"socialist-commodity" economy are basically the same as those
proffered earlier by Trotsky and Bukharin. These involve a
number of assumptions - explicit or implicit. First,
determination of society's production relations by ownership
relations; secondly, equating the capitalist ownership
relation to a particular ownership form, namely individual
private ownership; thirdly, identifying the substitution of
private individual ownership by (proletarian, that is
communist party ruled) state ownership with the abolition of
capitalism itself along with its fundamental categories
leaving only its contentless forms. The categories such as
prices and wages really disappear simply because they cease to
behave "spontaneously" and are regulated by central planning,
far removed from the direct domination by the immediate
producers. This is a complete inversion of Marx's (and
Engels's) "new materialism".

            One could safely conclude that the socialism that emerges from
the works of these avowed "Marxists" turns out to be the exact
opposite of the socialism which one finds in Marx's extant
texts. Two central points of this Bolshevized socialism -
ultimately rooted in the Lassalle-Kautsky tradition of the
Second International - are first, an amalgam of state and
society where the state under the communist party rule -
passing for a proletarian state - subordinates society and,
secondly, the idea that ownership relations determine
production relations and that the juridical abolition of a
specific form of capitalist ownership, that is, private
individual ownership of the means of production signifies the
abolition of capitalism itself, even if its value and wage
categories persist - explained away as mere "forms" without
exploitative content.

            In other words, the Bolshevised socialism is a state under the
absolute rule of the communist party, passing for a
proletarian state, owning the means of production under the
appellation of "public ownership" and employing wage labour
whose products take the commodity form. Needless to stress,
this statist socialism based on wage slavery is the exact
antipode of Marx's immensely emancipatory socialism conceived
as a "union of free individuals" without private ownership of
either variety - individual or collective - without state,
without commodity production and without wage labour, which
springs naturally from the "womb" of capital itself. These
avowed disciples of Marx have indeed quasi-successfully turned
his human-emancipatory post-capitalist project into a pure

            Email: paresh.chattopadhyay@internet.uqam.ca


            [An earlier version of the paper was presented to the annual
conference of Historical Materialism in London in early
November 2005. A different version of the paper is forthcoming
in Hungarian translation in the Budapest journal Eszmelet. We
are grateful to N Krishnaji for his encouragement.]

             1 Marx 1966, pp 76, 186; 1987, 110.
             2 Marx 1953, p 77.
             3 1953, pp 75, 593; 1987 p 109; 1932, p 536.
             4 1953, p 387; 1973a, p 536; 1992, p 838.
             5 1966, p 73; 1956, p 21; 1992, p 843.
             6 1973b, pp 101, 236; 1992, p 502.
             7 1992, p 838.
             8 1953, pp 77, 88.
             9 1966, p 178.
            10 900; 1966, p 180.
            11 1953, p 89.
            12 See Marx's letters to Engels and Kugelmann, January 8 and
11, 1868.
            13 1953, pp 595-96; 1962, pp 255-56.
            14 1987, p 109; 1966, pp 177-78; 1973b, p 358.
            15 1966, pp 179-80.
            16 Lenin 1982a, pp 300, 302.
            17 1982b, pp 711, 712, 714, 716.
            18 1962, p 151; 1963, p 121.
            19 1964, pp 275-76.
            20 1982a, pp 302, 306, 307-08.
            21 Trotsky 1963, p 187; 1972, pp 239, 245; 1984, p 226.
            22 1984, pp 220-22, 229.
            23 1963, pp 256-58; 1972, pp 233, 245, 271-72. For an
interesting discussion see Bongiovanni 1975, pp 179-80.
            24 1963, p 254.
            25 Bukharin 1970, pp 72, 116, 119.
            26 1970, pp 16, 33.
            27 1970, p 145.
            28 1989, p 417.
            29 Preobrazhensky 1926, pp 62-63, 72, 94, 122, 152, 154.
            30 1926, pp 160, 182, 212, 220.


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