Monday, June 20, 2011

The Balance Sheet of October

This is an excerpt from a book highlighting the pluses and minuses of the Russian Revolution. It shows even a deformed socialism as Stalinism, will make great gains, that can't be met by capitalism.

By Ted Grant
July 2008



The Advances of the Planned Economy

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be.
Alfred Tennyson.


The Russian Revolution of 1917 was one of the greatest events in history. If we leave aside the heroic episode of the Paris Commune, for the first time millions of downtrodden workers and peasants took political power into their own hands, sweeping aside the despotic rule of the capitalists and landlords, and set out to create a socialist world order. Destroying the old Tsarist regime that held sway for a thousand years, they had conquered one-sixth of the world's land surface. The ancien régime was replaced by the rule of a new democratic state system: the Soviet of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies. It heralded the beginning of the world revolution, inspiring the hopes and dreams of millions who had lived through the nightmare of the first world war. Notwithstanding the terrible backwardness of Russia, the new Socialist Soviet Republic represented a decisive threat to the world capitalist order. It struck terror in bourgeois circles, who rightly regarded it as a threat to their power and privileges, but comforted themselves with the notion that the Bolshevik regime was likely to only last a matter of weeks. The nationalised property relations that emerged from the revolution, the foundations of an entirely new social system, entered into direct conflict with the capitalist form of society. Despite the emergence of Stalinism, this fundamental antagonism existed right up until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Even today events in Russia continue to haunt world politics, like some Banquo's ghost that continually overshadows the festivities of the capitalist class.

Read the rest here



RENEGADE EYE

16 comments:

Thersites said...

Grow up!

Here about the beach I wander'd, nourishing a youth sublime

With the fairy tales of science, and the long result of Time;

When the centuries behind me like a fruitful land reposed;

When I clung to all the present for the promise that it closed:

When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see;

Saw the Vision of the world and all the wonder that would be.--

Ross Wolfe said...

No one will deny that Stalin's command economy had crucial oversights in its planning, and that this was exacerbated by forced collectivization and the chaos that it created. The Soviet Union's perennial problem was that it focused too much of its energies on heavy industry and machine-manufacturing and later on defense spending and the arms race, never on consumer goods. But then again, it was being pressured and opposed by most of the rest of the civilized world, North America and Western Europe. It also had the misfortune of having to pay to bail out most of the other backwards communist nations that were its dependents. Not to mention a long and costly war in the asshole of the world, Afghanistan. We're learning that lesson in Afghanistan now, and we don't even have to face militias backed by another major world power like the Soviets did.

Thersites said...

...and we don't even have to face militias backed by another major world power like the Soviets did.

How much money does the West send to the Middle East in return for something almost as useless to them as sand in the desert?

Thersites said...

Osama bin Laden's personal wealth is likely more than the entire amount that the US CIA gave the mujahadeen to defeat the USSR.

Renegade Eye said...

Farmer: It is not important, how much $$ the US gave the Afghan Islamists. This post is too important, to be diverted.

In three decades, the Soviet Union came up from being a rural, illiterate country, to a world power, with historically unprecedented growth. Even a degenerated Stalinist government, can make gains with a nationalized economy.

Ross: I'm aware of the problems with Stalinism, and above all with bureaucratic planning. Even a degenerated socialism, can outperform capitalism.

Ross Wolfe said...

There is an extent to which "planning" became ideological, especially in the West following the 1917 Revolution. Sociologists in Germany, France, England, and America all became intoxicated with the idea of a perfectly "administered" society, with bureaucratic apparatuses in place to "correct" or "control" the crisis-ridden volatility of capitalism that had taken place up till their time. They devised elaborate models of how groups of people behave, and tried to institute rational incentives and social programs to better shore up the foundations of society. Keynesianism was one outcome of this, though it was hardly Keynes alone and hardly confined to the sphere of economics. This sort of planning, Fordist planning, is pernicious in the worst possible sense.

A democratically decentralized planned economy, with the technologies presently available in the most advanced countries of the world, would outstrip the wildest fantasies of capitalist production. And not only would the unemployment problem be solved, but emancipation from labor in the traditional sense would also be in store. The goal of the working-class must be a classless society, and thus they must aim at their own self-abolition as a class. Freedom from want, freedom from disease, freedom from hunger or toil -- these must be the ultimate goals of society. And as utopian as it sounds, even immortality must be the benchmark.

Ross Wolfe said...

Oh yeah, Ren, if you'd like to see some really interesting Soviet films about collectivization, I would definitely urge you to watch Старое и новое (The Old and the New, also called The General Line) and Земля (The Soil or Earth). The first is by the cinematic master Sergei Eisenstein, from 1929, while the second is by the Ukrainian filmmaker Aleksandr Dovzhenko, from 1930. Both try to portray the advantages of collectivization, hoping to encourage peasants to voluntarily join together in order to produce in common. Eisenstein's film was left incomplete, as it was begun in 1927 and was clearly pro-Trotskyist in its message. Stalin thus never saw the first film, but was not too pleased with the second film, either, considering it to be too "intellectualized."

I believe you can download them both. The Old and the New contains a sequence with a building designed by the famous Swiss modernist architect Le Corbusier.

Thersites said...

This sort of planning, Fordist planning, is pernicious in the worst possible sense.

We finally agree upon something.

...all became intoxicated with the idea of a perfectly "administered" society, with bureaucratic apparatuses in place to "correct" or "control" the crisis-ridden volatility of capitalism that had taken place up till their time.

---

A democratically decentralized planned economy, with the technologies presently available in the most advanced countries of the world, would outstrip the wildest fantasies of capitalist production. And not only would the unemployment problem be solved, but emancipation from labor in the traditional sense would also be in store. The goal of the working-class must be a classless society, and thus they must aim at their own self-abolition as a class. Freedom from want, freedom from disease, freedom from hunger or toil -- these must be the ultimate goals of society. And as utopian as it sounds, even immortality must be the benchmark.

You don't see the contradiction? You bash anyone who sets a goal other than your own.

I don't want immortality. I don't want an idle life, and I don't want to debilitate humanity by giving it "purposes" other than each individual's own. As the late great Isaiah Berlin stated in his letter to George Kennan, "“the one thing which no utilitarian paradise, no promise of eternal harmony in the future within some vast organic whole will make us accept is the use of human beings as mere means – the doctoring of them until they are made to do what they do, not for the sake of the purposes which are their purposes, fulfillment of hopes which however foolish or desperate are at least their own, but for reasons which only we, the manipulators, who freely twist them for our own purposes, can understand.”

The ONLY way to avoid the perniscious planners is to allow the INVISIBLE HAND to do it's work.

The myth of the administrators of the commons (Garrett Hardin) is a myth for precisely THAT reason.

Thersites said...

Don Quixote must be permitted to tilt at windmills. The "mad" should not be treated as fodder for the gulag, or worse "euthanized" for the greater benefit of mankind.

Thersites said...

Luke 4, 1:13

1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.

3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.

4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.

8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:

10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:

11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.

Thersites said...

Any more volunteers for the post of servant to the Grand Inquisitor?

The Sentinel said...

Renegade Eye:

"In three decades, the Soviet Union came up from being a rural, illiterate country, to a world power ..."

And how many people were murdered in the process?

But in all reality, the USSR was always a ramshackle tinpot hellhole that had to literally fence its people in to stop them from escaping not just the murderous tyranny, but the hopeless grinding poverty - and the same applied to any country that they ever annexed.

If it were not for massive 'capitalist' US (and to some degree British) aid and equipment during WW2, the USSR would most likely have collapsed in 1942, buckling under their own inadequacy and incompetence.

Any real technology they had, they either traded for, stole or coerced.


Ross Wolfe:

"if you'd like to see some really interesting Soviet films about collectivization"

Here are two films you must certainly should see about the horrific reality of collectivising:

Clip

Clip

In fact I seriously recommend you watch this one to fully grasp what it is you are championing (if you didn't already know)

Film

sonia said...

Ross,

"Earth" is a masterpiece (although it has very little to do with the actual collectivization - it presents a fairy-tale version where good Communists are killed by evil kulaks - the reality was quite different). Old And New is one of Eisenstein's weakest films, nowhere near Potemkin or Alexander Nevski. But there is a memorable montage sequence involving a cream-making machine.

Ted Grant's article is total gibberish: "Despite the terrible blow to agriculture by Stalin's forced collectivisation in the early 1930s, from which agriculture never fully recovered, progress was made, allowing Russia to feed her population adequately."

It makes no sense. If the agriculture NEVER FULLY RECOVERED, how could that be progress ?

I think Grant relied on Soviet statistics (which were total fiction) and paints a completely incoherent picture of Soviet achievements. The truth is that while the Soviet Union managed to excel in a few selected fields (space travel, tanks, AK-47 rifles, etc.), it was done at the expense of most economic fields (especially agriculture and light industry).

The Sentinel said...

Sonia

the Soviet Union managed to excel in a few selected fields (space travel, tanks, AK-47 rifles, etc.)

The AK47 was a rip off of the German StG 44; the space programme was provided by captured Nazi rocket plans and scientists and even the industrial knowhow and technology to build modern tanks was provided to the Soviets by the Germans over two decades

Starting in the late 1920s, Germany helped Soviet industry begin to modernize, and to assist in the establishment of tank production facilities at the Leningrad Bolshevik Factory and the Kharkov Locomotive Factory.

Later, under the Nazi the auspices of the German-Soviet Commercial Agreement the Soviet Union also received oil and electric equipment, locomotives, turbines, generators, diesel engines, ships, machine tools and samples of the latest German artillery, tanks, explosives, chemical-warfare equipment and other items.

The T-34 did very well in the harsh Russian boggy and frozen terrain - but it was no real match for later German tanks.

Renegade Eye said...

Ross: I started watching the Eisenstein movie. The copy on online, was a good print.

A democratically decentralized planned economy, with the technologies presently available in the most advanced countries of the world, would outstrip the wildest fantasies of capitalist production. And not only would the unemployment problem be solved, but emancipation from labor in the traditional sense would also be in store. The goal of the working-class must be a classless society, and thus they must aim at their own self-abolition as a class. Freedom from want, freedom from disease, freedom from hunger or toil -- these must be the ultimate goals of society. And as utopian as it sounds, even immortality must be the benchmark.

Immortality is not dialectical. If you don't die, there can be no births.

Sonia: I'm glad you left comment. This post was put up purposely to attract you.

Ted Grant's article is total gibberish: "Despite the terrible blow to agriculture by Stalin's forced collectivisation in the early 1930s, from which agriculture never fully recovered, progress was made, allowing Russia to feed her population adequately."

Not gibberish. What is hard for you to grasp, is dialectical thought. You expect him to say everything that happened in the Soviet Union was good, or everything bad. It was contradictory.

I think Grant relied on Soviet statistics (which were total fiction) and paints a completely incoherent picture of Soviet achievements. The truth is that while the Soviet Union managed to excel in a few selected fields (space travel, tanks, AK-47 rifles, etc.), it was done at the expense of most economic fields (especially agriculture and light industry).

When Ted Grant was alive, he had stacks of Wall Street Journals in his apartment. He loved capitalist magazines as The Economist.

Sentinel: All countries take from each other. It doesn't impress me in the least, if every advance in the Soviet Union came only from Russian equipment and ideas. It failed from being too insular (socialism in one country).

This post isn't for the purpose of saying everything was great in the Soviet Union. It became a world power in three generations.

The damage done to the Russian economy by going capitalist, was worse than both world wars.

I have an old post, about new documents, saying Thatcher privately was for not breaking down the Berlin Wall. Stalin didn't want Germany divided. I think I have old posts about that.

Farmer: Like I told Ross, if there is no death, there is no birth. Immortality belongs to church.

The Sentinel said...

Renegade Eye:

'Superpower' was just a phrase with no real meaning to it.

Quantify, if you will.

The whole might of this so-called 'superpower' came to naught when a bunch of primitive farmers defeated their best efforts at subjugation over a decade, just as another so-called 'superpower' had been similarly defeated by primitive farmers despite their best efforts the decade before.

But the phrase 'superpower' did enormously benefit arms manufacturers , intelligence agencies and governments wanting to do away with civil liberties in the name of 'national security.'

All this aside, given that the USSR had hundreds of millions of people that it couldn't care less about in any way at all, tortured and murdered at will for any dissent (even imaginary) and forced to work for a pittance whilst spending whatever it wanted on the military and any other areas it saw fit without any need to answer to anyone whatsoever - is it any surprise they became an international menace?


Ross Wolfe:

Really? No comments?