Academic journal article Geopolitics, History and International Relations

Was There Socialism in the Ussr? regarding Myths in Russian Historiography

Academic journal article Geopolitics, History and International Relations

Was There Socialism in the Ussr? regarding Myths in Russian Historiography

Article excerpt

This theme is not new for the study of historiography and has been an object of stormy discussions, especially at the end of the 1980s-first half of the 1990s when Eastern Europe and the USSR rejected "socialism." Those times passed about 20 years ago, but the term itself continues widely used by scholars and politicians for the characteristics of the social system that once existed in Russia and several other countries. Nevertheless, it seems obvious that there was never any socialism there nor would it have been possible even from the point of view of Marxist theory itself. We will try to prove our point of view.

First, it should be understood above all from the terminology, for which we turn to the reference literature. Here is how the concept of "socialism" is seen during the declining years of the USSR by an encyclopedic dictionary:

SOCIALISM, the first, or lowest phase of communism. For the first time S. prevailed in the SSSR as a result of the Great October Socialistic Revolution, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, industrialization, socialistic transformation of the village economy and cultural revolution. . . . This society, in which the means of production is in the hands of the people, and forever is ended the exploitation of man by man, social oppression, the power of a privileged minority, poverty, and illiteracy of millions of people ... a true democracy is established and developed - power being exercised for the people and by the people themselves . . . humanistic Marxist-Leninist ideology truly dominates.1

Thus, according to the point of view of official Soviet Marxism, socialism is society arriving to replace capitalism. The economic base of the new formation is public property, and the social base is a working class free from exploitation, to which the political power belongs; in the spiritual sphere proletarian ideology (Marxism-Leninism) reigns. Now we will see whether such a society was formed in the USSR, using for analysis all the same usual Marxist methodology and terminology.

We will begin with the fact that the character of any society is determined by the dominant type of ownership, and authority belongs to the primary owners of the means of production. Thus, in a slave society the ownership and authority belonged to the slave owners, in a feudal society, to the feudal lord, and so on. From the theoretical point of view, for the realization of socialism as a social formation, it is necessary to fulfill at least two conditions: to make a worker the owner of the means of production and to provide him full personal freedom. But did the worker obtain his ownership of the means of production in our country after October 1917? To this question it is necessary to give an unequivocally negative answer. The ownership, though propagandistically called "popular," was transferred from personal and corporate owners into the hands of the state. This is a generally accepted fact today. Thus, alienation of the worker from the means of production was preserved. The latter circumstance in any society always has one natural result: one or another form of exploitation. And it existed in the USSR; according to the data of modern economists, the norm of exploitation of the worker under "socialism" was several times higher than in the capitalist West2 True, an explanation is not usually given as to why such occurred in the country where "socialism has won." As it is represented to us, the chief reason was the total economic monopoly of the state, which through directive determined the level of wages and prices. In the West such monopoly did not exist, and the worker had the possibility of choice and flexibility for his working power, which he strove to sell to the capitalist as costly as possible. In the USSR there was a uniform state pay scale, and full-scale competition between independent owners of the means of production to attract a more qualified work force, as well as free departure from the country, were absent. …

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