In the eyes of DMSG, Marxist-Leninism is an oxymoron, considering that Marxism was never achieved or even attempted off of paper in the Soviet Union and Lenin’s philosophies did not influence the Soviet Union much at all after Stalin took power. The problem lay in the fact that the Bolsheviks, in purging Russia of the unions that had been set up to vote but had voted for their more moderate socialist rivals, created a dictatorship over the proletariat. The Bolsheviks, who had named themselves “the majority” to create the illusion that they were the party of the people, were almost always a tiny minority group in socialist politics in pre-revolutionary Russia. After the Bolsheviks took power and brought the Soviet Union into being, a country devoid of the Soviets it claimed to represent, the Bolsheviks gradually established a partocracy composed of the bourgeois they sought to eliminate all together. During the early years of the Soviet Union, the Russian nobility and aristocracy often were the most skilled and educated people, so they wound up in decision-making capacities in the Bolshevik party during the period of War Communism. During War Communism, the Bolsheviks and their conscripted-at-gunpoint legions of peasants pillaged and razed large amounts of the country, appropriating resources that they needed with force and razing what might fall into the enemy’s hands with glee. Throughout these years of fighting the White Army and other socialist groups, the Bolsheviks under Lenin began throwing away more and more of their ideals, compromising on values and beliefs so fundamental to their core that it was a wonder there was any coherent party left at all. It may very well have been that by this point, the revolutionaries were less interested in the communist revolution and more interested in their own material interests. As George Orwell put it, “one does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.” After all, only when the Bolsheviks lost the election in the Soviets did they start a revolution.
The truth was that while the Bolsheviks survived intact during the Civil War’s turbulent times, they were no longer the same group as they were in pre-Revolutionary Russia. Already, the Bolshevik leadership had class interests and ideals that conflicted sharply with the proletarians they claimed to represent. Topics like Free Speech and gun rights, which Marx had strongly supported, were stripped away in the Soviet Union for fear of people speaking their minds and doing something about their oppressors. Even more labor-oriented topics, like discussing the income you earned with your coworkers, were made illegal in the Soviet Union, in a country that was supposed to be largely equal in that regard. As the Civil Wars wound down, Lenin could finally rest on his laurels of establishing the first socialist state in history, a place where human rights were practically banned, a place where critical discussion was illegal, and the “immortal science of Marxism-Leninism” could reign supreme. This was not meant to be, however, for the shoddy system that the Bolshevik elites had constructed would gradually be used against them by themselves. Stalin, unlike his peers and comrades in the Bolshevik party, grew up a poor man who had robbed and kidnapped to support the party in its infancy, but was never particularly close to Lenin’s inner circle, despite wanting to be. Stalin, for all intents and purposes, was too proletarian and unsophisticated to make much of an impression on the pretentious Bolshevik intelligentsia, but his usefulness was recognized. When the roles and positions were handed out within the Bolshevik party, Stalin was given the meager position of General Secretary while many of his comrades who had done far less were appointed to be ministers and directors.
The role of General Secretary came with one significant and unanticipated strength, however. With the role of General Secretary, Stalin was able to appoint his political allies to posts within the Bolshevik Party and gradually eroded any fairness left in the Soviet Union’s political process, as he chose and controlled more and more of who voted. Stalin, in addition to this, would pit political opponents against one another, in order to weaken any resistance to the “moderate” alternatives he proposed instead. It’s not that Stalin had played all his cards yet, or had contributed genuinely to the discussion, but was rather manipulating events from the sidelines, only stepping in when he saw an advantage. Stalin flip-flopped constantly on issues throughout this time, capitalizing on the political currents within his party to maximize the growth of his own power. During this time, when the Bolsheviks still had to compete with one another for political power, Stalin was more than happy to stay away from the limelight. Lenin noticed this problem with Stalin in his dying days, and went on to write letters denouncing Stalin, which were then intercepted and read by Stalin to the rest of the Bolsheviks, in order to publicly self-critique himself and prove his loyalty to Lenin. After Lenin’s death, Stalin identified as merely a disciple of Lenin, promoting Lenin as the figurehead of an ideology that had all but evaporated in 1917. In doing this, Stalin was able to avoid criticism of his own policies that he increasingly directly implemented. through the use of his chosen voters. In the coming years, Lenin and Leninism would be reduced to simply a convenient facade.
While Lenin had banned religion, alcohol, and promoted progressive social policies like the legalization of homosexuality and women in the workplace, Stalin reversed these social policies in due time. Homosexuality became known as a bourgeois pathology, women were encouraged to stay home and raise more children, alcohol once again became legal, and religion was finally reintroduced during World War 2 to boost the morale of the soldiers. While the Bolsheviks had always championed progressivism and sexual liberation in their earlier years, by the 1930’s this was replaced by a conservatism that rivaled the social values seen in Nazi Germany and a state-enforced asexuality in all media and environments. Stalin had discovered a concept that DMSG refers to as Aggregate Conservatism, which is the promotion of conservative lifestyles due to the fact that on an aggregate scale, it leads to the most good for society. As it turned out, progressive policies were expensive to justify for the top-down planners of the Soviet Union and as it evolved socially, it evolved economically as well. During Lenin’s time, following the civil wars after 1917 Russia’s economy had been reduced to a tenth of what it formerly had been, Lenin created the New Economic Plan to regenerate the economy. During this period, large components of the economy were still held under government control, such as railroads and manufacturing, while businesses such as coffee shops and resellers were allowed to exist privately. The idea was that lapses in state oversight, which would ordinarily lead to shortages, could be alleviated by small-time capitalists filling in the niches that the state failed to take into consideration. The economy gradually grew back to its former size during these years, and Stalin continued this after Lenin’s death until he had determined that the economy was advanced enough to nationalize everything once more.
Stalin’s system drew intense criticism from Trotsky, who was one of the few Old Bolsheviks left who had survived up to this point. Trotsky correctly argued that, in creating a class of unelected, privileged bureaucrats to run the Soviet Union, Stalin was inevitably setting up the Soviet Union for failure. Trotsky said this was so because as the bureaucrats’ class interests diverged from the proletarians that they held sway over, they’d move to privatize the economy in order to benefit themselves even more. Stalin rejected this, stating that class interests in the Soviet Union had been all but abolished, and over the next two decades, Stalin did manage to reign in a great deal of the corruption that could’ve ensued. Stalin, while he was manipulative and power-hungry, did genuinely believe in socialism and may have felt he had to take matters into his own hands, as his incompetent and bourgeois Bolshevik peers during their time in power had left the country in ruins. No matter what Stalin truly believed, he didn’t believe that class interests would naturally reform in a socialist environment, and regularly entrapped members of the communist party he suspected of being greedy with offers of gratuitous gifts, before expelling them from positions of power. Stalin never realized, in continually expelling the corrupt people he kept encountering rising up to be in his circles, that instilling greed and corruption in people was a byproduct of the Soviet Union’s systems. Stalin identified the weeds and cut them where he could, but never got to the roots of the problem.
By this point in time, after Stalin had ousted Trotsky, turned Lenin into a messianic figure, and supplanted the party’s elite with his own cronies, Blanquism had become an inescapable aspect of the Soviet Union. It’s not that the Bolsheviks weren’t originally Marxist, but rather that they became more and more Blanquist over time as they defaulted on principles that proved politically and economically inconvenient to maintain. Blanquism, being an ideology that believes socialist revolution should be carried out by a small group of organized and secretive conspirators, had taken root in the Soviet Union. With that being noted, Blanquism had certainly taken root by the time Stalin appointed more and more yes-men into decision-making capacities until he had ousted almost all the Old Bolsheviks. There was no longer any question that the men in charge of the Soviet Union weren’t Marxists or Leninists, but rather the question of just how far they were willing to deviate from these ideologies. The transitional state needed to undergo massive change to experience true communism, and in a totalitarian state where the ends justified the means, anything was possible. Stalin, in rooting out the corruption where he saw it and cultivating a leadership composed of spineless yes-men, failed to consider who would fill the power and moral vacuum left by him once he died. Whoever would fill the power vacuum wouldn’t be Marxist, because any individual with those beliefs would immediately identify the contradictions inherit in the Soviet Union, to the point that they’d have trouble rising that high up in a communist party that wasn’t even very socialist. The only individuals left to fill Stalin’s shoes, in a system so corrupt, wouldn’t be of the same moral caliber as Stalin, which wasn’t saying much to begin with. Stalin had failed to consider just who would do the weed-whacking once he had departed, and as we saw in the Soviet Union’s later days, no one did. While Stalin’s successors may have focused less on industrial growth and more on their own creature comforts, with Stalin at the helm the Soviet Union’s focus on industrial growth was monomaniacal.
In keeping with this trend towards ruthlessly improving the country, Stalin implemented an economic system known as the Feldman model, which worked by reinvesting the majority of profits generated by state organizations back into the means of production. The goal in doing this was to rapidly advance the industrial capacity of the Soviet Union, to the point that it could compete with the other world powers. Workers during this time didn’t fare so well, as weekends were abolished and the fruit of their labor was getting eaten by an industrial machine that commanded more and more of their time and energy to maintain. The Soviet Union’s GOSPLAN, an organization which oversaw industrial production and set targets for industries to meet, captained and coordinated the entire economy by this point. Factory managers and other personnel that could not meet the unrealistic production targets set by GOSPLAN’s detached, politically-selected non-workers would fudge and forge their output numbers to save their lives, to the point that as the Soviet Union grew larger and older, it worked increasingly with more and more faulty data. The command economy that relied on millions of data inputs, over the ensuing decades became less and less capable as its planners knew less and less about the real state of the economy. An example of this is that Gorbachev, in the latter days of the Soviet Union, feared a military coup for simply trying to figure out what the Soviet Union’s military budget actually was. Any system that incentivizes lying to save your skin, as a worker that has done nothing wrong, is a bad system. Any system where the state planners fear revolution over trying to discern just how much funds went to certain departments, is a bad system.
The fact that the Soviet economic system led to the state appropriating the means of production, rather than the workers themselves, and relied on a totalitarian political system to brutally keep people in line, shows that it wasn’t Marxist at all. The fact that the Soviet Union became the antithesis of what Leninism supported prior to the 1917 revolution, shows that it wasn’t Leninist. The “immortal science of Marxism-Leninism,” as it was called, proved to be very mortal. In the Soviet Union, this abomination of socialism had its merits and it was partially effective, because the country had largely been politically ready for a socialist transition, wasn’t entirely backwards industrially to start with, and had enough resources that inefficiency wasn’t a problem. In other countries, where the Soviet Union enlisted the help of connected, rich adolescents to kickstart revolutions, this was not the case and the human cost was often a lot higher, the economic growth was far worse, and the political systems that evolved out of Marxism-Leninism there were even more mutated. While Russia had labor unions, an established proletarian class, and a general sense of class consciousness prior to the 1917 revolution, this was not the case in Cuba, China, or Vietnam. The revolutions to come in these countries, using the same broken system that the Soviet Union had championed, would have no input from the workers at all to begin with. These “artificial revolutions,” where the Soviet Union funded extremist groups, promoted people to the status of figureheads in those groups, and gave them as much aid as humanly possible, were literally Blanquist. These “artificial revolutions” relied on small groups of people working covertly to overthrow the government, as Blanquism advocates, and didn’t rely on the working class for more than holding a gun if they wanted to. The failures seen in Blanquism-“Leninism” abroad have been far worse, continue to be far worse, and because many of these regimes survived the transition from state socialism to nepotistic market economies, may be allowed to continue in perpetuity as far worse places to live.
To sum it up, in a transitional, totalitarian state where the ruling class benefits from the transition never ending, the transition will never end. The Soviet Union would never have become truly Marxist, for the same reason that China, Cuba, North Korea, and other Blanquist-“Leninist” states never will. It defies material incentives in these systems and anything that goes against material conditions will be erased or perverted to accommodate those conditions. Today, China openly helps the Philippines in hunting down and killing Blanquist-“Leninist” guerillas there, while imprisoning Blanquist-“Leninists” in China. Blanquist-“Leninist” movements in other countries that attempt to nationalize their country’s native industries, now face the ire of both Western and Chinese imperialists, without the support of any major military powers. The only few countries left that practice Blanquist-“Leninism,” such as North Korea, Eritrea, and Cuba, are some of the worst places to live, have economic conditions bordering on universal destitution and it seems that this ideology is finally dead, in both intent and feasibility in the future. As an ideology that emerged inside entrenched political institutions, Blanquist-“Leninism” could never truly live outside the Soviet Union’s womb. It doesn’t appeal to workers, never has, and never will, and in political landscapes where you can’t bring people under your control at gunpoint, it encounters lots of problems. The fact that Blanquist-“Leninists” accuse other socialists of being revisionary, when their own ideology is a self-cannibalizing mess of revisions made to accommodate the desires of the inner party, is quite ironic. If we can’t take away lessons on class interests still existing in post-property societies from Blanquism-:”Leninism,” then the future forms of socialism to may inevitably be doomed as well to becoming dystopian.
To be a truly good socialist in capitalist country, always evaluate a political and economic system on how nice it’d be to live at the bottom of it, if there is a bottom to begin with, and in the middle of it, rather than how it’d feel at the top. Both capitalists and Blanquist-“Leninists” justify abuses on the working class, because they have no intention of being workers forever and are fine sacrificing the living standards of a class that they don’t want to be a part of. For capitalists, it’s the fact that they’re all future millionaires. For Blanquist-Leninists, it’s the fact that they’re all future dictators. For any socialist worth their salt, the dream should be to remain a proletarian, because that’s ideally the class all of us would wind up in inside a socialist society.