Marxism-Leninism and revision

Marxism-Leninism proved itself to be the ideology most suited to prosecuting a successful revolution; that is, actually seizing state power and then using if to effect a fundamental change in the mode of production.

However, each and every one of these ML states succumbed to revisionism and eventually reverted back to Capitalism. So the question must be asked; what is it about MList organisation that seems to breed revision and regression?

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I think mostly it was the fact that they were in competition with the capitalist rest of the world. You might produce in your own country not in accordance to the law of value, but as long as you have to compete with the countries which do, you kinda enslave yourself to it in some indirect way.

Cyber-stalinism. The only antidote to the cybernazi.

Because the technology for state-wide central planning didn't exist until the 1990s. Current computers could solve input-output matrices for millions of products, whilst the USSR in the 60s could barely plan a few critical industries while applying market mechanisms (law of value) for the rest.

Paul Cockshott's Computers and Economic Democracy starts with an outline on why the USSR failed:

pic related

I thought what J. Moufawad-Paul wrote about this in Continuity and Rupture was pretty good. I will pull some quotes from it but I'm posting the entire book as well. Read chapter 3: The General Limits of Marxism-Leninism (page 93).

"So what is Clark claiming if he is not simply dismissing Marxism-Leninism as an erroneous politics and advocating a theoretical reinvention of the wheel? I will simplify the above passage to its most salient points.

1. The working-class caught up in trade unions cannot produce a revolutionary organization by itself because, in this context, it is only capable of producing an economism (“trade-union consciousness”), or a defiant anarchism, but not a mediating party that produces a revolutionary movement with a coherent and revolutionary theory. Here we must recall Althusser’s analysis of the philosophy of Marxism-Leninism where he points out that the working-class, which spends most of its time working, can only conceive of its rebellion according to the ruling ideas of the ruling class.

2. And yet the revolutionary party that approaches the working class tends to be a party composed of pettybourgeois intellectuals who are only capable of having a thorough appreciation of theory and revolution because, unlike the workers they claim to represent, they possess a measure of social privilege: they have the time to be students or academics. Here we must recall that, in What Is To Be Done? Lenin agrees with Kautsky’s claim that the party is initiated by the petty-bourgeoisie.

3. The party began by these intellectuals, since it recognizes the proletariat as being the grave-digger of capitalism, must impart revolutionary theory to the workers so that these workers can also be intellectuals. The workers must rely on these intellectuals in order to comprehend revolutionary theory, to understand a revolution that is supposedly about their own interests.

4. A given worker’s intellectual development is decided by the petty-bourgeois educator; it is these petty-bourgeois intellectuals who have the privilege of judging whether or not the workers are learning properly, just as they have had the privilege to decide what these workers should learn in the first place––indeed, what counts as proletarian ideology. Hence the germ of the contradiction: the pettybourgeois class becomes the authority on proletarian ideology when, according to the very ideology they seek to impart, social being should determine social consciousness––how can someone whose class position is petty-bourgeois ever be fully capable of having a proletarian consciousness and thus understanding proletarian ideology?

5. The petty bourgeoisie remains in charge of the movement, its outlook misconceived as proletarian ideology, the meter of revolutionary theory, and thus petty-bourgeois ideology becomes sublimated in the movement itself. Counter-revolution happens precisely because there is an unquestioned petty-bourgeois basis to Marxist-Leninist revolutionary movements.

Finally, we can simplify all five of these salient points, as well as the passage itself, to this basic statement of contradiction: on the one hand it is impossible for the proletariat to spontaneously develop a revolutionary party with a revolutionary ideology; on the other hand it is impossible for a party that the workers cannot possibly develop, and thus is developed instead by the petty bourgeoisie, to carry a revolution to its completion. In essence: Marxism-Leninism is correct while, at the same time, Marxism-Leninism is incorrect."

JMP believes the solution to this problem is in the Maoist conception of the Mass Line and the cultural revolution (he elaborates on that later in the chapter), but I think the above quote is a pretty guess as to why revisionism happens (or at least one of multiple causes), even if you don't agree with him that MLM is the solution.



Interesting points but I disagree. The social basis of revisionism is found more in the labor aristocracy than the petit-bourgeoisie, which is actually something you implicitly alluded to in point #1.

Those that have the p.rivilege of being in a trade union tend to be labor aristocrats or to form a labor aristocracy over time, especially in developed imperialist nations. Its important to note that the trade unions and trade union workers are important fighters and battalions in the class struggle but also the lowest portions of the proletariat tend to be excluded from them directly. The poorest part of the proletariat tends to work in those segments of the economy where there is no job security and no union representation–even though this doesn't inherently mean they're more exploited as some seem to think.

I think Hoxha's point about the class basis of Soviet revisionism being in a Soviet labor aristocracy that gradually took form is more perceptive. What kind of petit-bourgeoisie was there really in the Soviet Union, especially in the CPUSA? Not the classical kind that owns small businesses with a few employees or is in some measure self-employed. Worker participation in the party increased as time went on and one could even accuse them of "workerism" in thinking that having a proletarian family background necessarily meant someone was more likely to come to the correct conclusions than someone who say came from a petit-bourgeois family background but was a 1st generation proletarian.

Mass line makes the same mistake as trade union consciousness in thinking that something is right because it is popular and comes down to the same problem that you laid in #4 of who is educated, by whom, and what should they learn.

Maoists say we should take whats progressive from the people (e.g. support for high taxes on the rich/unions etc.) while opposing whats wrong or reactionary (say popular opposition to trans bathrooms etc.) but who decides whats incorrect and how? That is a vexed question but while I agree that there were aspects of capitalism that were retained by Soviet socialism in addition to remnants of the exploiter classes and foreign agents/bourgeois that supported revisionism I can't agree with the notion that this is a problem that occurs from outside of the labor movement or a result of a failure to get in touch with the base of the labor movement.

This is the fruit of the right-wing of the labor movement and part of its social base itself. Arguably this is the result of a flaw or misunderstanding in Marxist theory itself. Revisionism reproduces capitalism because certain segments of the working class prefer to retain basic inequalities or to expand them further. Although this was usually done via secretive coup d'etats within Leninist parties and states they usually could find some mass base to support or tolerate these changes. That indicates to me that these changes can come about within a democratic framework; intensified revisionism, indeed followed Mao's attempt to expand democratic practices to Chinese social life.

I likewise find contention with Mao and JMP's wrong-headed idea that socialism failed in the Soviet Union because Stalin didn't trust the peasantry. The petit-bourgeois and pro-capitalist nature of much of the peasantry is well-known and was even acknowledged by Mao himself in his more lucid moments.


Tbqh, the vanguard allows the DotP to go on for far too long. The longer the DotP=the higher the chances of reverting back to capitalism.

Now, the length of the DotP depends primarily on material conditions, so there isn't much we can do

why don't they include them

Read a book m8



They were outmaneuvered, isolated, dismembered, and in some cases crushed by their enemies. World War 3 already happened between capitalism and communism, and the capitalists won. If you can't beat em, join em.

Anything untrue regarding what I said? Prove me wrong then

I don't understand, how can you abolish the DotP if global capitalism still exists?

How the fuck would a prolonged dictatorship of the proletariat result in a higher chance of reverting to capitalism?
Am I a brainlet for not even understanding what the basic premise of your argument is?

That's what I meant with material conditions, they delay the progress of the DotP. However, say China or the USSR during their golden days: how much effort did they put into spreading socialism around the world? And I'm not talking about the Stalin days, but say druing the 60s, 70s. The USSR was much more capable of spreading their ideas worldwide, or at least try to defend small countries attempting socialism, they didn't really do that did they? And let's not even talk about China

Higher chances of revisionism setting in, you know, as leaders come and go, one is bound to fuck it up (ex. Kruschev)


I guess Vietnam and Cuba didn't happen then.

I guess that's technically correct if you don't take measures to safeguard against revisionism setting in. Even still, how does vanguardism prolong the DotP?

Vietnam and Cuba aren't enough. How much did the USSR do to defend Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, etc? China even denied acces to chilean communists to its embassy. What does that say about wanting to spread socialism?

Okay, I'm with the other user, read a fucking book.
Even a quick Google search will do.

Great input mate–Russia_relations–Russia_relationsí_National_Liberation_Front
Even Porkypedia is a start.


So they gave Chile a couple hundred million dollars. Big fucking deal.

Look, smartass, I'm chilean, and the USSR should've done much more to defend Chile and Allende. While the US was staging coups around the world, the USSR should've done everything in it's power to defend socialism. And fucking China was much worse when it came to this.

People talk about "the USSR had to focus on itself when in it was vulnerable and unable of spreading socialism". And I agree. But they did a piss poor job at spreading it when they were capable of it. Same thing with China

If you live by the empowered capitalist state you will die by it. The USSR could not have saved him, nor should they.

What would you have had them do, exactly?

Yeah, I agree that Allende not arming the workers was a massive mistake. But they should've done more to aid the communist guerrillas that formed in Chile during the dictatorship

Send weapons, vehicles, advisors, prevent the situation from being a slaughter to the workers and even the chances by turning the coup into a civil war. If the USSR had helped the chilean proletariat and the constitutional government, they could've had a chance against the military

The key word being trade union–you typically need some kind of skill that can be leveraged in order to bargain effectively with capitalists. Things are much harder for "low skilled" workers because they are considered essentially interchangeable from the capitalist pov–their wages may not rise very much even during boom times because of the wider availability of potential workers.

These workers can organize themselves and fight bravely but the pitfalls are essentially what I outlined earlier they have lower ability to leverage their skills, higher turnover rates, lower levels of education/culture and a lesser capacity to finance their union endeavors. Usually, when these workers fight and win, they either raise the pay-floor across the board (think Fight-for-15) or they succeed in turning their particular low-wage industry into a medium-to-high wage industry. They become quite like the "worker elite" of the established trade unions.

This is why union membership tends to be confined to a "labor aristocracy" or "worker elite" for better or worse who liberals often refer to as """middle class""" workers.

Even so, their pay tends to be far below that of the petit-bourgeoisie, the "upper-middle class" and the haute-bourgeoisie but liberals either consciously or subconsciously believe these workers to be a key social bulwark between themselves and the truly miserable.

This isn't even new. The Chartists, especially their leadership, were relatively typically well-off adult male workers that belonged to that portion of the British working class that could afford to eat meat every day or three times a day.

The problem trade unions run into is this–they are typically organized across an industry or within industries. The IWW tried to bridge this problem by creating a union for all but they did not succeed. Now, you really have got to worker if these massive multi-industry trade unions like the AFL-CIO do not work when it comes to protecting American workers if the "socialism-in-one-factory" schemes dreamt up by people like Richard Wolff have a snowball's chance in hell of succeeding. Trade union consciousness itself is already narrow enough in its mindset that to bank on struggles inside individual workplaces dramatically changing the situation of American labor sounds utopian to me.

Sure, we may need more coordination between construction unions-steelworker- auto unions etc. and retail unions, fast-food unions and so on. But this situation isn't the fault of American labor if the capitalists hadn't made it so difficult to start unions within the workplace then might be less distance between those in them and those outside of them. Imo the way to bridge this gap will have to come from a revolutionary political party of the working class that can carry on political struggles outside of the workplace. It also makes a certain amount of sense too since the capitalists have worked so hard to take politics outside of the workplace then the logical step bar an immediate revolutionary situation is to change the game and terrain. The political struggle outside can be used to help support the labor struggle within the workplace.

I'm open to ideas about these issues though, I certainly don't think I have all the answers.

*got to wonder

Um, no sweetie

The USSR's strategic situation went from bad to worse as the Cold War progressed. The Soviets committed to a "never again" policy of being the victims of a devastating pre-emptive war, and at the time America looked crazy enough to do it. I don't think they were in a position to help.

That might be true, but I'm still dissapointed they could've done more but didn't. I mean, during the Cold War, compare the actions of the US to preserve capitalism and the status quo and then look at the actions of the USSR and China to spread socialism

more like jopth stleoman