Marx and Soviet Reality. Daniel Norman (1955)


1. The only reliable transcription, however, is to be found in the first volume of Riazanov’s unfinished edition of Marx and Engels’ complete works, known as the MEGA, from which our translation is made.

2. Lenin, who did not hesitate to speak of ‘State Capitalism’ when describing the Soviet economy and who is often set up in opposition to Stalin, intervened at the Ninth Congress of the Bolshevik Party against ‘collegial’ and in favour of individual management, stating cynically that ‘Soviet socialist democracy is not at all in contradiction with individual management and dictatorship in any way’ (sic): ‘The will of the working classes can perfectly well be exercised through a dictator who can do a great deal alone and who is often indispensible.’

3. Not to speak of the balance between industry and agriculture, the one having reached a level seven times higher than before the Revolution, while the latter is not even at the level of 1913, as shown from Khrushchev’s revelations since Stalin’s death.

4. Mir: a village community in Slav countries; artel: a widespread form of association, the simplest form of free cooperation, such as is to be found for hunting among hunting tribes. The word and content are not of Slavic but of Tartar origin (Engels’ Social Relations in Russia).

5. It is noteworthy that while Stalin allowed the reprinting of The Social Problems in Russia, he forbade that of the 1894 Postscript, in which, at the end of his life, Engels summarised Marx’s and his own opinions on the subject.

6. See Appendix A.

7. ‘Taylorism’: a system of scientific management as applied to labour relations. It was introduced by FW Taylor (died 1915), an American engineer who believed that it was possible to determine scientifically the appropriate wage for a given job and advocated methods of selection designed to eliminate the unsuitable by means of a differential piece rate system.

8. We have quoted this History of Diplomacy so that those who know Russian and those who do not may thus both have the opportunity of verifying this fraud, as a French version of this monument of ‘Soviet historical science’ was published in Paris in 1946 by the Librairie de Medicis.

9. On 14 July 1853 Marx had already written: ‘Russian diplomacy has thus rested on the timidity of Western statesmen, and her diplomatic art has gradually sunk into so complete a mannerism that you may trace the history of the present transactions almost literally in the annals of the past.’

10. See Appendix B.

11. The theoretical fortnightly of the Russian Communist Party, now called Communist.

12. Stalin could not have vetoed the inclusion of Engels’ essay in the Sochinenia, too, for unlike the Revelations on the Diplomatic History of the Eighteenth Century, The Foreign Policy of Russian Tsardom had already appeared in Russian in Plekhanov’s and Vera Zasulich’s review Social Democrat.

13. It was only in 1952 – following a polemic due to Maximilian Rubel’s disclosures on the subject – that the Western Communists discovered and published Stalin’s letter, but of course without reproducing Engels’ text. Indeed, it is too dangerous a text for either the subjects of a despot or his dupes abroad.

14. See Appendix C.

15. Bracke, a nonagenarian, is an eminent Greek scholar, an authority on Marxiana and one of the few surviving friends of Engels – who entrusted him with the translation of his writings into French – and of Marx’s children.

16. The French Marx scholar who, since the end of the war, has published a valuable Anthology – Pages Choisies Pour Une Ethique Socialiste, a series of most interesting studies on Marx and Russia, in La Revue Socialiste, Preuves, etc, and whose Biographic Intellectuelle de Marx is in print.

17. In a letter to Bloss (10 November 1877), Marx wrote: ‘We both [Marx and Engels] don’t care a tuppenny damn for popularity. Here is an example to prove it to you: from dislike of any sort of personal cult I have never encouraged the repeated manoeuvres of toadyism whose object I was in the various countries during the period of the International. I have never responded to these attempts, save now and then with insulting remarks. Our membership of the secret Communist League was on one condition: that everything which could favour the cult of authority be discarded in the statutes.’ It would be difficult to find anything in common between Stalin and his ‘masters’ in this respect. It is revealing that though he did everything to hinder the publication of a complete edition of their writings, he did not spare any effort in his attempts to get hold of Marx’s coffin which he wished to make the centre of a holy shrine in the Red Square mausoleum by the Kremlin. Marx’s corpse would certainly have been of more use to the tyrant than his writings. These attempts failed, and it is to be hoped will never succeed.