The Future of Communist Society


The programme of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, published on 30 July 1961, is the third document of its kind. Russian Social-Democracy adopted its first programme in 1903; it had been written in large part by Plekhanov, who submitted it to the second Congress of the party. In many respects it resembled the Erfurt programme of the German Social-Democrats (1891), the Heinfeld programme of the Austrian party (1899), and the Guesde-Lafargue programme of the French Socialists, published back in the eighteen- eighties. On some issues it was more radical; it pointed to the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat, but it did not consider this an immediate prospect. The 1903 document consisted of two parts, a maximum programme, and a minimum programme dealing with the immediate political and social tasks of Russian social-democracy. It was the 'bourgeois revolution' that was on the agenda; the question how and how quickly it would be followed by a socialist revolution had not yet been doctrinally settled. Some of the participants were not altogether happy about this; one Akimov-Makhnovets proposed twenty- two amendments and modifications, and the Mensheviks did not really want the programme to be taken literally; Plekhanov certainly did not like to be reminded in later years of the fact that he had recommended on this occasion limitations on universal suffrage and on political freedom in general, on the ground that salus revolutionis suprema lex.

By 1919 both parts of the programme were clearly out of date, and the Eighth Congress of the Russian Communist Party in March 1919, in the middle of the civil war, adopted a new programme prepared by Bukharin, Lenin, and a few others. This dealt with such current problems as the expropriation of the expropriators, and the establishment of the rudiments of a planned economy. In its preamble it called for war against the 'bourgeois distortions' of socialism which were said to have gained the upper hand in various socialist parties, trends described as opportunist and chauvinistic. The programme showed great optimism with regard to the future of the revolution: 'We have the greatest confidence in the victory of the world proletarian revolution'; the course of the revolution in Germany, Austria-Hungary, and other countries had shown that a new era had begun. The discussion centred on some minor points; Bukharin wanted to limit the discussion of imperialism to current problems, while Lenin insisted on including once again the theoretical part of the 1903 programme, which contained an analysis of pre-imperialist capitalism, although in the interval his own analysis of the development of finance capitalism had in part rendered the old theses obsolete.

Between the second and the third programme forty-two years have passed, years which witnessed radical changes inside the Soviet Union and in the world in general. So far-reaching were these changes that . . .

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Naum Jasny
  • Peter Wiles
  • Alfred Zauberman
  • George L. Kline
  • John Hazard
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1962


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