TWO SIGNIFICATIVE EXAMPLES
According to what has been reasoned until here, for the Marxist tradition - that we fight with all our strengths and in the measure of our capacity to maintain alive in the movement of the conscious proletariat - from the stand point of an effectively revolutionary policy it is necessary to be sure on two matters:
1) That the national movements of the more advanced capitalist countries of Europe and America accomplished and exhausted their historical assignment between 1789 and 1871 and that
2) the slogans of support to the national liberation of the bourgeoisie lose historical validity in any part where capitalism becomes the dominant form of production of society and the proletariat sufficiently numerous as to fight for its own social self-determination as a class, independently of the political form of the government in force and of the classes or class sector that administer or direct it.
So that there are no doubts in relation to the first question and to delimit precisely what is and what is not Marxism in this order of things, it is timely to mention two historic examples of categorical meaning: the objective conditions in Russia and Germany in 1917 and 1918 respectively. In the first chapter of his "History of the Russian Revolution", Trotsky made a masterful synthesis of the development of capitalism in Russia, a topic that thirty years before had been widely exposed by Lenin to discover the character of the revolution in Russia and, consequently, to give political physiognomy to the Bolshevik party that directed the first triumphant proletarian experience. After taking for granted that in the eve of the Revolution the social work in the countryside was still lying at the same level of development as in the XVII century, Trotsky demonstrates with numbers that this relative lag was combined in that country with the extraordinary dynamism of the more advanced industrial capitalism:
<<Arising late, Russian industry did not repeat the development of the advanced countries, but inserted itself into this development, adapting their latest achievements to its own backwardness. Just as the economic evolution of Russia as a whole skipped over the epoch of craft-guilds and manufacture, so also the separate branches of industry made a series of special leaps over technical productive stages that had been measured in the West by decades. Thanks to this, Russian industry developed at certain periods with extraordinary speed. Between the first revolution and the war, industrial production in Russia approximately doubled. This has seemed to certain Russian historians a sufficient basis for concluding that "we must abandon the legend of backwardness and slow growth.” In reality the possibility of this swift growth was determined by that very backwardness which, alas, continued not only up to the moment of liquidation of the old Russia, but as her legacy up to the present day.
The basic criterion of the economic level of a nation is the productivity of labour, which in its turn depends upon the relative weight of the industries in the general economy of the country. On the eve of the war, when tsarist Russia had attained the highest point of its prosperity, the national income per capita was 8 to 10 times less than in the United States — a fact which is not surprising when you consider that 4/5 of the self-supporting population of Russia was occupied with agriculture, while in the United States, for every one engaged in agriculture, 2˝ were engaged in industry. We must add that for every one hundred square kilometres of land, Russia had, on the eve of the war, 0.4 kilometres of railroads, Germany 11.7, Austria-Hungary 7. Other comparative coefficients are of the same type.
But it is just in the sphere of economy, as we have said, that the law of combined development most forcibly emerges. At the same time that peasant land-cultivation as a whole remained, right up to the revolution, at the level of the seventeenth century, Russian industry in its technique and capitalist structure stood at the level of the advanced countries, and in certain respects even outstripped them. Small enterprises, involving less than 100 workers, employed in the United States, in 1914, 35 per cent of the total of industrial workers, but in Russia 17.8 per cent. The two countries had an approximately identical relative quantity of enterprises involving 100 to 1000 workers. But the giant enterprises, above 1000 workers each, employed in the United States 17.8 per cent of the workers and in Russia 41.4 per cent! For the most important industrial districts the latter percentage is still higher: for the Petrograd district 44.4 per cent, for the Moscow district even 57.3 per cent. We get a like result if we compared Russian with British or German industry. This fact — first established by the author in 1908 — hardly accords with the banal idea of the economic backwardness of Russia. However, it does not disprove this backwardness, but dialectically completes it.
The confluence of industrial with bank capital was also accomplished in Russia with a completeness you might not find in any other country. But the subjection of the industries to the banks meant, for the same reasons, their subjection to the western European money market. Heavy industry (metal, coal, oil) was almost wholly under the control of foreign finance capital, which had created for itself an auxiliary and intermediate system of banks in Russia. Light industry was following the same road. Foreigners owned in general about 40 per cent of all the stock capital of Russia, but in the leading branches of industry that percentage was still higher. We can say without exaggeration that the controlling shares of stock in the Russian banks, plants and factories were to be found abroad, the amount held in England, France and Belgium being almost double that in Germany. ". (L.D. Trotski: op.cit. It between bracket is our)
Concerning the German situation in 1918, until the month of November of that year, the political leadership of that country still remained in hands of the nobility leading an absolute monarchy, such as in the times in which Marx and the League of the communists fought against that despotic form of government. However, just as in Russia, long before that, capitalist’s relations of production had prevailed in that country
In 1914, Germany was in process of becoming the first economic power of the world. The application of techniques to the production process increased productivity of labour above any European country: with equal intensity and qualification, it was needed in Germany a smaller amount of work to manufacture the same product. Constant capital in relation to variable capital was, in Germany, superior to that of other countries. The commercial value of German products was inferior to the average current prices in the world market. As a consequence of this superiority of its relative technological development, the German bourgeoisie extracted and appropriated a good amount of the surplus value produced by the wage earners of other fractions of the functioning world capital. This appropriation of surplus value not produced in Germany, gave capitalism in that country a greater capacity of accumulation, modernization and new increments of productivity above the international average.
This is the reason why more than ten years before 1916, Lenin postulated that the European wage earners, even those of Czarist Russia, could and should stop being simple assistants of the bourgeoisie and work for the task of constituting themselves in dominant class, shifting from contributing to the national self-determination policy of the bourgeoisies in struggle against the feudal remains in their respective countries, to the struggle for its social self-determination as a class. Thus he said in respect to the Russian proletariat in 1905:
<<The outcome of the revolution depends on the role that the working class performs in it: of the fact that it limits itself to be a simple assistant of the bourgeoisie , even if being a powerful assistant for the intensity of its push against the autocracy, but politically impotent, or that it assumes the leader role of the popular revolution>> (V.I. Lenin: "Two tatics of the socialdemocracy" Preface)
And at the end of 1917, in "The proletarian revolution and the renegade Kautsky", Lenin reaffirms himself in the political line that he carried to victory in the Russian October revolution, in the sense that once a certain degree of expansion of the capitalist way of production is reached and the consequent increase in wage earners, to fulfil the task of their social emancipation in countries like Russia and Germany, the proletariat did not even had to wait for the bourgeoisie to complete its revolution and seize the political power of the State from the nobility, warning of the certain defeat that this suicidal waiting would suppose, as it was shown in Germany at the end of the following year :
<<From the point of view of practical
politics the idea that the Soviets are necessary as combat organizations but must
not be transformed into state organizations is infinitely more absurd than from
the point of view of theory. Even in peacetime, when there is no revolutionary
situation, the mass struggle of the workers against the capitalists—for instance,
the mass strike—gives rise to great bitterness on both sides, to fierce passions
in the struggle, the bourgeoisie constantly insisting that they remain and mean
to remain "masters in their own house", etc.
And in time of revolution, when political life reaches boiling point, an organization like the Soviets, which embraces all the workers in all branches of industry, all the soldiers, and all the working and poorest sections of the rural population—such an organization, of its own accord, with the development of the struggle, by the simple "logic" of attack and defence, comes inevitably to pose the question point-blank. The attempt to take up a middle position and to "reconcile" the proletariat with the bourgeoisie is sheer stupidity and doomed to miserable failure. That is what happened in Russia to the preachings of Martov and other Mensheviks, and that will inevitably happen in Germany and other countries if the Soviets succeed in developing on any wide scale, manage to unite and strengthen. To say to the Soviets: fight, but don’t take all state power into your hands, don’t become state organizations—is tantamount to preaching class collaboration and " social peace" between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. It is ridiculous even to think that such a position in the midst of fierce struggle could lead to anything but ignominious failure. >> (V.I. Lenin Op.cit. chap.. IV)
When Lenin says in 1916 that the wars of national liberation of the European bourgeoisies against the feudal reaction are "a distant past" that were exhausted in 1871, he is reinforcing that after the defeat of the Paris Commune that favoured the expansive long wave of world capitalism, neither in the Russia of the Romanov nor in the Germany of the Emperor WilliamII was still the need that the proletariat of those two countries continued being a mere political assistant of the bourgeoisies in those two countries of clear capitalist nature:
<<In England, France, Germany, etc., the "fatherland" is a dead letter, it has played its historical role, i.e., the national movement cannot yield here anything progressive, anything that will elevate new masses to a new economic and political life. History’s next step here is not transition from feudalism or from patriarchal savagery to national progress, to a cultured and politically free fatherland, but transition from a “fatherland” that has out lived its day, that is capitalistically overripe, to socialism..>> (V.I. Lenin: "On the cartoon of the marxism and the...." Point 2)
And to arrive to this conclusion - as he showed in "The development of the capitalism in Russia"- Lenin based himself on the deep knowledge of the laws of the movement of the bourgeoisie society and on data of the economic reality as those which we have just quoted, fully confirming what is said above with respect to the first issue when discerning about the character of the struggle of the proletariat in those concrete situations.
y el resto de nuestros documentos en otros formatos grupo
de propaganda marxista
y el resto de nuestros documentos en otros formatos
de propaganda marxista