Having discussed the basic elements of
Marxist theory you maybe thinking that Marx’s utopian society of
Communism is fab but then you may at the same time be reading articles of Communist/Socialist
countries and be thinking that is not what I’ve been taught about
In Modern societies the word
‘communism’ has become distorted from the original ideals set down
in the 1848 “Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx & Fredrich
Engels. It has now become synonymous with countries that have taken that name
especially the Soviet Union (the trendy CCCP
word on your t-shirts), Eastern European and the existing countries in the
table above. These countries were
and are if you read the articles an assortment of dictorships based on
merciless, cold-blooded and centrally bureaucratized economies.
is an extract form the Socialist Party’s website click on the link
below to read more.
Lenin and Trotsky, the leaders of the Russian
Revolution of October 1917, always explained that socialism "requires the joint
efforts of workers in a number of advanced countries," meaning Western
Europe, while Russia was a backward, feudal society. It was not an advanced
capitalist economy, where the processes described in the Manifesto had prepared
the ground for a successful transformation into a socialist society.
In the Preface
to the Russian Edition of the Communist Manifesto, in 1882, Marx and Engels
acknowledged that (at that time) more than half the land of Russia
was "owned in common by the peasants." Was Russia fated to emulate the West
and go through a capitalist development before it could turn to socialism?
only answer to that possible today is this: If the Russian Revolution becomes
the signal for a proletarian revolution in the West, so that both complement
each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the
starting point for a communist development." (1882 Preface to Russian
edition of the Communist Manifesto)
This was in outline the outlook of Lenin and Trotsky. The
Russian Revolution of 1917 inspired revolutions and uprisings throughout
Europe, including in Germany
in 1918, 1919 and 1923. But with poor leadership, they failed to overthrow
capitalism. As explained in "What About
Russia?" the continued isolation of the revolution in the
economically backward territories of the Soviet Union
led to the inevitable overthrow of the genuine socialist ideals of the Russian
revolution. The leaders of the Bolshevik Party, at the time of the
Russian Revolution, all stated that
…without a revolution in the West, Bolshevism will be
liquidated either by internal counterrevolution or by external intervention, or
by a combination of both. Lenin stressed again and again that the
bureaucratisation of the Soviet regime was not a technical or organizational
question, but the potential beginning of the degeneration of the workers'
state. (Trotsky, Stalinism and Bolshevism)
Capitalism and Landlordism was subsequently overthrown in
several other countries throughout the world, such as China and Cuba. But these countries were also
mainly peasant based, and established regimes following the model of the Soviet Union under Stalin. None of the regimes which are
called Communist represent the true aspirations of the Communist Manifesto.
Today the Socialist Party uses the word "socialist"
rather than communist, to avoid any confusion with Stalinist regimes or
In the Preface to
the English edition of the Manifesto of 1888, Engels explains that
when the Manifesto was first published, the word "socialist" meant
"utopians" and "quacks", whereas those workers who wanted "a
total social change," called themselves "Communists".
But by the time Engels wrote the preface to the German edition of 1872, he
could declare that the Manifesto had become an "historical document which
we have no right to alter."
The Manifesto’s "vision of the Global Market was
uncannily prescient," remarks Francis Wheen, in
his biography of Marx. (Karl Marx, published in 1999
by Fourth Estate, London, p122.) Marx and Engels provided socialists
with an understanding of how the processes of global capitalism lead to the
wars, the ruination of nations, and the starvation of millions today. Remarking
on the collapse of the stock markets, the fall of the high-tech sector, and the
spread of recession over the last few years, Larry Elliott commented in The
Marxist interpretation of globalisation may yet be proved right. Its analysis
of the events of the last few years has tended to be more coherent than the Panglossian guff emanating from those who believe that the
world economy has never been in better shape." (2 July 2001.)
Yet the Manifesto was written when
modern capitalism and the working class were in their infancy – in Germany, for
instance, the working class comprised less than 5% of the population. It is
truly remarkable that over 150 years after the Manifesto was published, Marx
was voted "Thinker of the Millennium" by a "clear margin"
in a BBC online poll in October 1999..”
Socialist Party Website