Monday, February 1, 2010

The ABCs of Communism

The ABCs of Communism by Nikolai Bukharin and Evgenii Preobrazhensky, 1919. (Redacted.) Key excerpts, edited, updated, and with additional commentary:

The ABCs of Communism should, in our opinion, be an elementary textbook of communist knowledge. Daily experience of propagandists and agitators has convinced us of the urgent need for such a textbook. There is an unceasing influx of new adherents. The dearth of teachers is great, and we have not even a sufficiency of textbooks for such institutions as party schools.[...]

We have determined to fill this gap. We regard our ABC as an elementary course which is to be followed in party schools; but we have also endeavoured to write it in such a manner that it can be used for independent study by every worker or peasant who desires to acquaint himself with the party program. [...]

Every comrade who takes up this book should read it all through, so that he may acquire an idea of the aims and tasks of communism. [...]

Every party must have definite aims, for otherwise it is not a party. [...] [T]hose who realize how they can best defend their own interests, organize themselves into a party. [...]

The Russian revolution of 1917 is being followed by revolutions in the west as well as in the east, by revolutions in which the working class raises its banner on behalf of the overthrow of capitalism. [...]

The primary aim of the working class is the realization of the communist order. This aim is a permanent aim. [...]

Our new (Moscow) program is the first program drawn up by the party of the working class since it attained to power some time ago. It is therefore necessary for our party to turn to account all the experience which the working class has gained in administering and building the new life. This is important, not only for ourselves, not only for the Russian workers and poorer peasants, but also for our foreign comrades. [...]

We have already said that it is wrong to manufacture a program out of our own heads, and that our program should be taken from life. Before the time of Marx, those who represented working-class interests were apt to draw fancy pictures of a future paradise, without troubling to ask themselves whether this paradise could ever be reached, and without seeing the right road for the workers and peasants to follow. [Emphasis added.]

Marx taught us another way. He examined the evil, unjust, barbaric social order which still prevails throughout the world, and studied its structure. Precisely after the manner in which we might study a machine, or, let us say, a clock, did Marx study the structure of capitalist society, in which factory owners and landowners rule, while workers and peasants are oppressed. Let us suppose we have noticed that two of the wheels of our clock are badly fitted, and that at each revolution they interfere more and more with one another's movements. Then we can foresee that the clock will break down and stop. What Marx studied was not a clock, but capitalist society; he examined it thoroughly, examined life under the dominion of capital. As the outcome of his researches, Marx recognized very clearly that capitalism is digging its own grave, that the machine will break down, and that the cause of the break-down will be the inevitable uprising of the workers, who will refashion the whole world to suit themselves. [End of Part A]

Editor's note:

Yet Marx was wrong dozens of times: On his misuse of the Iron Law of Wages, which argues that wages tend towards subsistence; that socialist revolutions will break out spontaneously in the most advanced capitalist nations - instead they were ushered in by putsches, coups, and armed revolutionary conflict in the most economically backward of nations; on his Labor Theory of Value, which he adapted from Ricardo and used for the basis of his Theory of Surplus Value, the key to his entire theory of capitalist exploitation; on dialectical materialism, his primary method of analysis, which literally cannot explain why many in the upper class are socialists and many in the lower class are not. Even such off-hand criticism pretty much demolishes any claim that Marxism is infallible, and the death of capitalism, inevitable.

Fully aware that Marx was wrong, the neomarxists have been trying desperately to salvage Marxism for nearly a century, and as such, their tactics have been thuggish arm-twisting, cultural subversion, infiltration, co-optation, and economic chaos and destruction, rather than rational argumentation and open debate. To draw from Bukharin's analysis here, they have reverted to no more than "drawing fancy pictures" of their imagined utopia, and ushering in the destruction of Western civilization in the hopes that by clearing all institutions and barriers to "freedom," which leftists interpret as absolute democratic spontaneity, paradise will magically appear. The history of democratic anarchy suggests otherwise: Social conflict, massive bloodshed, reaction, oppression, and tyranny awaits if we continue on our present "democratic" trajectory.

Principled opposition is needed to teach the faux-intellectuals on the left that they are destroying this nation for naught. Their pretensions that Marxism is "scientific" is an illusion, a myth, despite the allure of Das Kapital's heady and systematic method. Those dissatisfied with the capitalist system, and more specifically, the American system of government and economics, need to reacquaint themselves with reality instead of entertaining elaborate designs with no basis but in their collective imagination.

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