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Mainstream, Vol XLVI, No 21

Socialism : The Terminator of Democracy

Wednesday 14 May 2008, by K G Somasekharan Nair


At present a hot discussion on the subject—whether socialism is possible in future—continues after negative observations of Jyoti Basu on the subject recently. Along with a discussion on the possibility of socialism, a study on its acceptability may also be conducted. Because some Indian Communists persist that socialism is possible and acceptable if it is remoulded using the lessons of the Soviet experience. But the fatal reasons that culminated in the dissolution of the Soviet Union lay in the Bolshevik Revolution and the subsequent application of scientific socialism to the whole nation.

Perhaps it may not be very difficult to conduct a socialist revolution and constitute a revolutionary government if half per cent of the total population of a country is organised in an armed revolutionary group induced by socialist theories under a strong leadership. But only by these successful attempts can a socialist form of society be created? According to the basic concepts of scientific socialism there is a transitional period of proletarian dictatorship in the political structure and state capitalism in the economic sector between the commencement of the revolution and the realisation of socialism. However, a study of the Russian Revolution and continuation of the revolution resulted in dissolution of the Soviet Union; the available facts have shown how a beautiful hypothesis was ruined due to confrontation with the hard realities of practice.

As everybody knows, the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was not conducted on the decision of the whole people of Russia or by a majority. It cannot be said to have done by a minority even. But it was a mere sabotage act performed by some adventurers headed by Lenin, being a micro minority in the total Russian population. But it is celebrated by the Communists as the “Great October Revolution”.

As generally understood, the Bolshevik Revolution was not conducted against the Tsar. Because he had been dethroned in the February Revolution of 1917 and Kerensky, the leader of the Menshevik Party, was ruling with the support of Socialist Revolutionaries. The Social Democratic Party of the proletariat, formed earlier in Russia, had split up into the Menshevik and Bolshevik parties. Among which the Menshevik was a liberal democratic party having an open structure without any restriction for membership. But the Bolshevik Party was a cadre based organisation having military training with strict discipline and top-secret instructions. They believed in using force, violence and bloodshed to any extent. They had a mentality of hatred, ill-will and intolerance. Eradication of the bourgeois class and the formation of a working class government was their motto. In the October Revolution of 1917 they subverted the Kerensky Government under the leadership Lenin and formed a revolutionary government headed by him.

The revolutionists annihilated the Tsar, his family and kinsfolk completely even though they were out of power. This event had a history. Alexander Illich, the elder brother of Lenin, was a revolutionist and took part in a criminal conspiracy to assassinate the Tsar. When the conspiracy was proved Alexander was sentenced to death. Here Lenin conducted the revolution and seized power to settle his account of blood feud on the pretext of liberation of the working class. His next atempt was to stick on to power by any means. At the same time sympathisers of the Tsar family, Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, comprising the grand majority of Russians, protested. But he used all brutal means of suppression over the protestors earmarked as class enemies. ‘Lenin, the Great’ ordered his Red Army to shoot the ‘class enemies’ at sight for the ‘continuation of the revolution’. In order to establish state capitalism, the first step to scientific socialism, State Police and Red Army acted jointly to evict farmers from their landholdings and constituted state farms for collective farming. Landowners were forced to work in their own lands without wages or having the right to appropriate any quantum of the produce for their consumption. But all produce had to go to the state pool and distributed through state run agencies in terms of their work. Farmers had to work hard like slaves in collective farms under deplorable conditions for production of the state target. It was not hard work but hard labour they had to do. The same was the case of fully nationalised industrial sector too. Those who refused to work, as directed by the government, were condemned as ‘kulaks’ or ‘anti-labour’ and shot dead. The fate of those who were arrested while absconding from labour was also no less than that. Thus millions of Russians were slaughtered being earmarked as kulaks, reactionaries, class enemies or counter-revolutionists and this process was called ‘continuance of the revolution’. In order to obstruct the fleeing of farmers and factory workers, freedom of movement was restricted, which became a part of the law subsequently. Perhaps Hitler might have been inspired to set up the concentration camps from such Russian farms. ‘From each according to his ability to each according to his work’, the motto of socialism, was interpreted to the effect that those who have no ability to work have no right to get anything. Thus hundred of thousands of old and disabled were starved to death. They had a mavellous Constitution to exhibit, a darker one to implement. So Plekhanov, the godfather of Marxian thought, attributed Leninism as terrorism.

In the commissar system of administration in Russia there was no demarcation between the party machinery and state bureaucracy, an anti-democratic approach. But they also believed in democracy. The difference was that it was not a parliamentary democracy based on adult franchise but centralised democracy restraining the voting right to party members only. The cardinal principle—democratic centralism—is that members should act in subordination to the party and the lower fraction of the party should function in subordination to the higher fraction. Even now in India Communist Parties are strictly following the principle of democratic centralism in their party structure while roaring for democratic decentralisation in state administration to make India a flexible federation.

DIALECTICAL Materialism is the backbone of Marxism which is a total enemy of spiritualism; hence Christianity was banned and all churches in Russia locked up after the revolution. Clergymen were tortured brutally and the Bible was banned. The most precious smuggling item to Russia was the Bible for about 75 years. At the same time Lenin reoriented the Communist Party in Catholic discipline and he himself equated his position to that of the Pope, the unmistakable and unquestionable head till death. This structural formula is copied by all Communist Parties in the world. Anyhow Lenin was very intelligent and a scholar in the political economy of Marx and Engels. So he distorted their theories in accordance with his necessities and pleasure and exported their books in that contaminated form along with his interpretations, as a whole called ‘Marxism-Leninism’.

According to Marxism, socialism cannot exist in one or two countries but can exist only as an international phenomenon and the socialist world is an ideal one without boundaries and checkposts. So Lenin appended the neighbouring countries forcibly under a sham theory of ‘right of nationalities for self-determination’. In remote countries Communist Parties and groups were formed under his political patronage to conduct the revolution and he was ready to provide military support to it whenever and wherever necessary. Such strong was his commitment to Marxist idealism.

Immediately after the death of Lenin in 1924 Joseph Stalin became the General Secretary of the Communist Party; he was a real follower of Lenin. He undertook the challenge for establishing a global Socialist Community resulting in the formation of socialist imperialism in opposition to capitalistic imperialism. The military was multiplied. Arms and ammunitions, including nuclear weapons, were amassed. Huge funds for all those destructive equipments had to be found out by increasing agricultural production and industrial output. State exploitation of farmers and factory workers increased in accordance with the strengthening of state capitalism and socialist imperialism. The ultimate result of all these efforts was economic chaos and famine. ‘Equal distribution of poverty’ was effected in lieu of the theory of ‘equal distribution of property’ in socialism. In the absence of ownership for land or house everybody lived as fugitive in her/his own country in frustration. But all attempts to protest by the depressed were suppressed with brute force and they lived in a terrifying atmosphere suspecting each other with the secret police proving thereby that socialism cannot be maintained without state exploitation and persecutionary measures. Many dissenting Communist leaders, statesmen, economists, military officials and cultural personalities were subjected to political accusation and victimisation with the slogan ‘continue the revolution’. Among them the names of Leon Trotsky, a champion of the Bolshevik Revolution and founder of the Red Army, and Nikolai Bukharin, a major Marxian theorist, are memorable forever. Trotsky was deported to Mexico and shot dead by KGB agents. Bukharin was sent to the gallows on flimsy grounds. Thus the prediction of Swami Vivekananda, a strong supporter of socialism, that there cannot be any genius in a socialist system of society came to be realised.

It may be noted that pre-revolutionary Russia was producing foodgrains enough to feed the whole of middle Europe. They were first in the world in petroleum. The Siberian desert is enriched with coal, valuable minerals and ores. They were self-sufficient in all natural products except rubber. But after running the steamroller of socialism for three- fourths of a century over the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, the General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, had to bow before G-8 nations to get something to provide bread to his men. The responsibility for such a shameful condition of a large nation and endless perils suffered by crores of people in three generations cannot be fixed upon any Soviet ruler as they had put the principles of scientific socialism into practice. Hence it is socialism which alone stands accused. Pressure of the circumstances led to the historical detonation of the proletariat dictatorship in Soviet Union by 1991. ‘Bolshevism’ vanished. ‘Menshevism’ was resurrected. The majority escaped from the rule of the minority. ‘Nationalities’ attached forcibly to Russia to construct the USSR got their freedom. They became their own masters. The people’s of those countries and Russia are deciding their political future now.

As an ideology socialism has originated and developed from boundless fancies and fantasies of human minds desiring to create an ideal world with merits only. If socialism is enforced in a democratic country multiparty politics will perish and a single- party rule of proletariat will come into existence. Parliamentary democracy will be transformed into centralised democracy. General elections and election propaganda will be terminated. Three tiers of state administration, namely, legislative, executive and judiciary, will become different forums of the proletariat party. Newspapers will be edited as state gazettes for publicity of official programmes and the personality cult of leaders. Right to private property will be banned and all means of production nationalised. All these changes are inevitable as the foundation of a socialist society can only be constructed under proletariat dictatorship and state capitalism. Religions will be banned as socialism can be developed only in a materialistic atmosphere. If the theory and experience of socialism is analysed deeply, it can be realised that in a civilised democratic society, characterised by the right to freedom of opinion, organisation, religion and private property, socialism can never be enforced. That is to say, socialism and a classless society are possible only by liquidating democracy. The withering away of the Soviet Union happened ironically on the lines of the Marxist concept of ‘withering away of the state’; this is a warning to all those who think about socialism for tomorrow.

While living at the dawn of the 21st century Jyoti Basu, a political realist, showed integrity to speak of the impossibility of his party and the Front to enforce socialist idealism. In order to state so, a chain of events developed in socialist and bourgeois countries in the second half of the 20th century along with his own failure to move towards socialism as the Chief Minister for 27 years, inspired him. But idealists in his party have always an explanation that if they had got enough majority in Parliament to amend the Constitution, they would have implemented socialism in India. However, they may be advised to think of the destiny of socialism in nations where revolutionists had won complete majorities in Parliament for decades. So it is better to forsake the optimism that the dead horse will wake up and they can ride on it after changing the bridle and shoes.

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