Raya Dunayevskaya 1956
Source: News & Letters, March 30, 1956. This piece appeared without a byline.
Transcribed: by Kevin Michaels.
Since the recent 20th Congress of the Russian Communist Party, the capitalist press and spokesmen of the West have been so busy publicizing what the Russian Communists wanted publicized – the destruction of the so called Stalin myth – that they failed completely to see what is new in the present Russian situation.
The Russian people never believed in the Stalin myth in the first place, or in “the cult of personality,” as the present Russian rulers call it.
The millions in forced labor camps testify to more than mere disbelief in the myth of Stalin “the miracle worker.” These imprisoned millions are proof of the continuous revolt of the Russian people against the tyrant, Stalin, and against his heirs who are now his detractors.
Contrast the big noise in the press, about the Stalin myth, to the matter-of-fact knowledge of the Russian peasant who, when asked by reporters for the name of his collective farm, answered, “Up to now it was called the Stalin Collective.”
To the Russian peasant it matters little whether it was Stalin or is Khrushchev; or whether it is Khrushchev alone or Khrushchev plus dozen other bureaucrats who rule “collectively.” What does matter – and what is new, is that the newest Plan demands nothing less than 100 per cent increase in agricultural productivity per person.
Since the Russian peasant has resisted the rate of output set by all previous plans and intends to continue his resistance to totalitarian planning, this new, impossible demand can have but one meaning: A new move against him that will be more ferocious and more charged with terror than even the forced collectivization of the 1930’s.
In the depth of the internal crisis of Russia, can be seen the reality and non-reality of the “collectivity” of the Russian leaders. Khrushchev, the leader, dares not openly stand forth as such. He tries to cover himself against the wrath of the Russian people, first by attempting to divert their anger to the dead Stalin and then, by surrounding himself with the collective approval of the leadership. He does not, for one moment, fool himself about any approval by the Russian people.
What does give Khrushchev his confidence is the world crisis. The Russian masses know the Communist system for the tyranny it is. So does Eastern Europe that has fallen under its domination. But the gigantic Communist bureaucracy has no vested interests in the countries suffering under British and French imperialism. The Asian and African people have also come to know what is attached to the American dollar. It is this which gives Khrushchev a free hand in demagogy.
He hopes to reap a rich harvest from the hatred of the colonial peoples against British and French imperialist rule to which American dollar-diplomacy and “brink of war” strategy is tied.
By casting away from himself the name of Stalin, Khrushchev hopes to parade under the unsullied banner of liberation of Marxism.
To counter this, the American Government can think of nothing better than a junket for that “brink of war” strategist Dulles, to be followed by that spokesman for “people’s capitalism,” labor bureaucrat Walter Reuther. But Reuther is no match for the Russian appeal for a “popular front for peace” which will travel from Nehru’s India to Western Europe and back again, not excluding America.
The majority of the world’s population lives in the oppressed colonial portion of the earth. The Russian bureaucracy has shown how brave they can be with other people’s lives, as they were with the lives of the Chinese and Koreans during the Korean war.
Khrushchev can now dream of starting the next world war from the East and enjoying the luxury, which America has always enjoyed heretofore, of not having the battlefields in his own country.
At the same time, Russian power has grown mighty enough so that its Defense Minister, Eisenhower’s “old friend” Zhukov, can threaten America with the “mighty guided missiles” he has at his disposal and can hurl at American cities.
Internal Crisis In Russia
If the American capitalists and their State Department have freed Russia’s hand, the Russian working class has not.
1) Out of 12 million industrial workers in Russian enterprises, no fewer than 2.8 million left their jobs in 1954.
2) 1.45 million workers in the building industries simply left the building sites altogether. In an attempt to counteract this movement, Bulganin  proposed to promise building trades workers that ten per cent of all the living space they construct will be for their own use.
The Russian worker cannot strike, but he has managed to resist the labor bureaucracy’s demands for continuous and heightened production by labor turnover and slow-down on the job.
The Russian bureaucrats are now breaking their heads on how to solve the problem of the resistance of labor and the shortage of labor.
Just as, at the end of World War II, the Russian rulers had to grant a general amnesty for all labor offenses, to gain some kind of labor force, now, they hope to gain some more production from labor by promising a shorter working day.
The Russian workers have just been promised a seven-hour day, six-day week. First of all this promise doesn’t give the Russian worker something “new.” He had a seven-hour day before the war which was never restored to him when the war was over. Secondly, the “new” 42-hour week is not promised as of now, but presumably, by 1960 when the newest – the sixth – Five Year Plan ends. For now, all the Russian worker got was a reduction of two hours a week. Instead of 48 hours, they now need work only 46 hours.
The joker is in the decree which announced this “new” reduced work-week without pay cut. The decree also states: “Managers are instructed to see to the carrying out of the decree and are also responsible for the unconditional fulfillment of the set assignments for the volume of production.”
In a word, the Russian workers are required to produce as much in 46 hours as they did in 48 hours.
That is the favorite underhand trick of wage cutting in Russia. They don’t ever announce a wage cut, but they constantly revise the production norms, always upward.
The latest Plan calls for a 50 percent increase in labor productivity.
The bureaucracy hopes to overcome workers resistance by automation. No private property capitalist has ever dreamed more fantastic dreams of push-button factories without workers, than the present dreams of the Russian state capitalists.
Bulganin laid the basis last summer, when he told the plenary session that “some economic managers have lost their feeling for the new...Great harm is caused to technological progress in our country by understanding the achievements of technology abroad...The main thing is not to discover first but to introduce first...Industry must be redesigned to proved proper incentive to technical innovation.”
Some Western writers have been completely confused by the new stress the Russian rulers have put on “decentralizing planning.” Like Ford’s present “decentralization plans,” it is not to give the worker any voice in production – but to give the director, that is the manufacturer, a freer hand and more power over the workers as to hiring and firing and intimidation to extract more production.
The increase in managerial powers is to be backed up by an increase in the percentage of profits that is at the disposal of the factory director. It was between 15 to 45 per cent. It is now to be no less than 50 per cent and as high as 70 per cent.
The totalitarian rulers place no reliance in the Russian working people. “Specialists,” said Premier Bulganin, “are our gold reserves. We are proud of them and we value them.” This privileged intelligentsia – the engineers, technicians and speed-demons, whom they call “innovators” – are to be wooed with even higher wages than they already receive, which is no less than 20 times more than the average worker gets.
The Russian tyranny is the exact opposite, in theory and in practice, of the theory of liberation of Marxism-Leninism. In its gigantic effort to force an identity between the two opposites – Marxism and Russian Communism – it gets its greatest help from the American Administration.
The struggle for the minds of men cannot be won under the banner of “free enterprise.” Empty talk about “American democracy” will not do. The majority of the world’s population is colored and none is as backward as Eisenhower or Stevenson that he does not know the truth of the situation in the South, which shows in concentrated form the situation in the North.
Russia is winning battles without fighting only because it can pretend to march under the banner of Marxism. There is no way to “expose” that except through an appeal to – and the realization of – actual freedom. The only thing that will stay the hand of Russian state capitalism, reaching out for world domination, is the Russian working class in alliance with the working people of the world.
American capitalism hopes to use the American workers’ detestation of Russian Communism, in order to keep them from going to Marxism. Their hope is in vain. Marxism is not in Russia. It is in the daily life of people, the world over, striving to break out of the chaos of capitalism and war to a new society.
The only thing that American capitalism will have achieved by its attempted identification of Marxism with Communism is to identify itself with Communism as the other pole of world capital striving for world power.
1. Nikolay Bulganin (1895-1975) was a high Soviet figure and a close Khrushchev ally until 1957. [Transcriber’s note]