Among the proudest claims of communist regimes is the unity of theory and practice, which is said to prevail in their domains. 1 This unity claim does not derive from an actual comparison of Marxist theory and communist practice. It is a quasi-religious a priori, meant to produce adoration rather than inquiry. The insistence and repetition with which the assertion is put forth makes one suspect that the Party knows its problematic nature and, thus, “doth protest too much.” 2 Nowhere, of course, do the theory and the practice of government fully coincide—not in the Western democracies and not in the Third World. Nowhere, however, do they diverge as much as they do in the realms of communist rule.
The identical set of Marxist theoretical propositions has always been employed to justify the most disparate policies and actions of communist governments—if necessary by “reinterpreting” the theory. Endless scholastic sophistries have been manufactured in attempts to conceal what is so clearly visible: the disunity of theory and practice. When Lenin changed his mind about the role of the labor unions in the economy and the role of the workers in government, he could, of course, not admit that there had been a change.
In a tortuous casuistry, Lenin sought to prove that the sentence in the party program that he had written on trade-union control of the national economy did not mean what it patently said. The sentence, “the trade unions must concentrate in their own hands the complete administration of the entire national economy, ” meant, he said, the top direction of the economy, but not the specific branches of industry, which should be run by managers. And…he turned full circle from his