The Latest Deception by Gabriel Miasnikov 1930
Lenin said that in contemporary capitalist society the post office is organized like a State Capitalist monopoly. If all the more important enterprises were to be converted, like the post office, into a State Capitalist monopoly, and were to be managed by officials, directors and managers, if this were to be accomplished, then we would have State Capitalism. The really wealthy bourgeoisie has disappeared. Production is therefore administered by the bureaucracy, which has become the ruling class, rising from a subordinate position in bourgeois society to a position of dominance in this society. This means that State Capitalism is the organization of the bureaucracy as a ruling class, the bureaucracy administering production and the State. The bureaucracy accedes to control over all the means of production and over the State, tasks previously performed by the bourgeoisie. Bourgeois rule is replaced by the rule of the bureaucracy. And just as the bourgeoisie succeeds in controlling the elections in a bourgeois State, the bureaucracy does the same thing in its State. In the bureaucratic State the working class is still the class that is economically and politically reduced to slavery. Only now it is the bureaucracy rather than the bourgeoisie that exploits and uses it.
“A State that would play the role of a private entrepreneur would proceed in exactly the same way as a private capitalist, and might even make a bigger profit. State Capitalism is the worst form of capitalism because it is a concentration of both political and economic power and can oppress and exploit the workers more cruelly and intensely”, declared Wilhelm Liebknecht in his speech at the Erfurt Congress, where the Erfurt Program was approved. For the proletariat to be able to shed these latest parasites, its new exploiters and oppressors, to get rid of the bureaucracy, it must become the ruling class. It must organize as a class in Councils and these Councils must assume responsibility for all the functions exercised by the ruling bureaucratic class: the administration and direction of production and distribution. All the factories, workshops, domestically owned enterprises and foreign corporations, etc., must be directed by an elected organ of the Councils, instead of the directors, managers and their bureaucratic underlings. This would constitute the practical realization of what Lenin foresaw when he spoke of “reduc[ing] the role of state officials to that of simply carrying out our instructions”, paid “the wages of the average workman”. This is our duty as proletarians. And this is the task to which we must devote our efforts after the proletarian revolution, according to Lenin. Only thus can the foundations of the social-bureaucratic system be dismantled, the foundations of bureaucratic tyranny, exploitation and slavery, and of the whole bureaucratic regime. Without this, all the talk about the struggle against bureaucracy is just so many empty words, disseminated in order to further the material and spiritual submission of the proletariat, to deceive the workers and the peasants.
The Stalins, Bukharins & Co. say that the State that they administer is a workers State. They say this to fool the working class, so that the latter does not fight for a real workers State. They are defending their power and bureaucratic rule. But if this State whose production and distribution are run by a bureaucracy is a workers State, what should we call the State in which the proletariat would really be the ruling class, that is, the class that administers production, distribution, and the State, a State in which the Councils administer production and constitute the “foundation of the proletarian State”, in which the cooperatives administer exchange, performing the functions of the current State commercial agencies, of the People’s Commissariat for Commerce, etc., and in which the trade unions have assumed responsibility for the tasks currently performed by the Workers and Peasants Inspectorate? What kind of State is that? Marx, Engels and Lenin called this a workers State. But what do you say, honorable leaders of the bureaucracy, Stalin, Bukharin & Co.? If we ask this question, you are ready to eliminate us with your favorite method: the dungeons of the GPU. But repression will not prevent this question from being asked. The proletariat will ask it and will also answer it, against and in spite of you. And all the honest, brave and lucid people will abandon you and will join the proletariat in its battle for victory.
To annihilate the bureaucracy, it is necessary to:
1. Organize the Councils, give them control over production, as organs of the State, also preserving the Councils of Peasant Delegates and the Urban (Neighborhood) Councils.
2. Transfer all capital, all rights and all duties of the People’s Commissariat for Commerce and of the State trade agencies to the cooperatives, abolishing the former institutions.
3. Transfer to the trade unions the functions of the State’s bureaucratic control apparatus, normally exercised by the Workers and Peasants Inspectorate.
4. Abolish all the Councils of People’s Commissars, which have become carbon copies of the Cabinets of the bourgeois States, and transfer all their powers and duties to the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee, in which the corresponding departments will have to be organized.
5. Establish the Central Executive Committee as a permanent institution rather than as a clique of play acting part time chatterboxes who meet only to ratify with the stroke of a pen whatever the bureaucracy does.
6. Liquidate the institution for the secret repression of the dissident workers, peasants and intellectuals by withdrawing all legal functions from the GPU and offering every worker the rights to defend himself before a court of law and to a public trial.
7. Recognize the right of the workers, peasants and intellectuals to freedom of expression, of assembly, of association, etc., at least to the same degree as prevails in the bourgeois democratic countries: Germany, France, England, United States, etc.
8. Declare an amnesty for all workers, peasants and intellectuals who have been sentenced to prison terms or who have been deported for political reasons by the secret tribunals of the GPU.
Is this the road that has been followed by the Stalins, the Bukharins & Co.? What such a program would mean is nothing less than the death of the bureaucracy and its rule. The bureaucracy will oppose the creation of a workers State with as much determination as the bourgeoisie of any capitalist country. Why would the bourgeoisie want the workers to organize into Councils and transform them into the administrative institutions of their countries? Why would the bureaucracy want the cooperatives to take over commerce and administer foreign and domestic trade?
Why would the bourgeoisie want the trade unions to take charge of the functions that are now performed by government ministers? They would fight against this with tooth and nail, with every means at their disposal!
And how will the bureaucracy defend itself? Can it possibly eliminate every proletarian inclined to engage in peaceful struggle and to try to share his convictions about the workers’ State, and thus act in a much more draconian way than the bourgeoisie of Germany, England, France and the United States?
Or maybe the proletariat enjoys, even if minimally, some formal rights and liberties, the freedom of expression, of the press, of assembly, of association, as in the above mentioned countries?
The bureaucracy claims that the proletariat possesses very few rights and liberties in the capitalist countries, where the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie reigns. True enough! But the bureaucracy concedes exactly the same paltry rights and liberties to the workers, peasants and intellectuals as the bourgeois States! The bourgeoisie grants the proletariat the right to freedom of expression, of the press, of assembly, of association, etc., but since all the means of production, including the presses and the paper factories, buildings, transport and means of communication are in the hands of the bourgeoisie, the proletariat must proceed by scraping together its pennies, from its miserable wage, in order to obtain the means that would allow it to publish the newspapers, magazines and books that it needs, and to rent and operate the buildings for its committees, rallies and so on. In this case, the liberties and the rights of the proletariat are perfectly determined by its economic slavery.
In the State Capitalist countries, all the means of production that previously belonged to the bourgeoisie are now under the control of the bureaucracy. This is the principal difference between State Capitalism and private capitalism. In Russia, the bureaucracy controls all the means of production, just as the bourgeoisie does in the capitalist countries, but in addition to this economic servitude, it also deprives the proletariat of its formal rights and liberties—the freedom of expression, of the press, of assembly, of association—even in the framework of the narrow limits authorized by a bourgeois dictatorship. In this case, although the workers must sweat blood for their miserable wages, they cannot publish any newspapers, magazines or books (of a non-bureaucratic nature), nor can they organize in a party (except in the bureaucratic party) in order to fight to free themselves from the bureaucratic yoke and for a workers State. A workers State, besides the fact that it would guarantee the legal and formal recognition of rights and liberties for all the workers, would also guarantee that it would be materially possible to exercise these rights and these liberties, allowing the working class population access to presses, buildings, transportation and the means of communication which are under the control of the Councils.
It is in the interests of the proletariat as a class that there should be various parties so that the proletarians would thus have the opportunity of choosing from among the diverse programs and political positions of these parties and so that none of them should seize exclusive power and be transformed from a servant of the proletariat, into a master and oppressor, and from a champion of rights and liberties, into a tyrant that abolishes them.
When the bureaucracy loudly proclaims in its appeals to the proletariat of the capitalist countries that it should fight and overthrow the bourgeoisie, then the proletariat of all those countries should ask themselves: Who will the bureaucracy put in charge of production, the proletariat organized into Councils or the bureaucratic enterprise directors, bosses and managers? Who will the bureaucracy put in charge of the State, the production syndicates (the trade unions) or a bureaucracy called the Workers and Peasants Inspectorate? Will the proletariat have at least the same rights and freedom of expression, of the press, of assembly and of association as in the societies of private capitalism under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie?
What is the proletariat fighting for? For State Capitalism, for a bureaucratic State or for a workers’ State?
Before going into battle, the proletariat of all countries must know that it is fighting to liberate itself once and for all from exploitation and slavery.
The old Marxist standard, the Manifesto, which proclaims that the task of the proletarian revolution is “to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy”, is the standard of the proletarian struggle against private capitalism, against the bourgeoisie and against the bureaucracy. The proletarians of all countries will unite and will emerge victorious from this battle.