LONG LIVE PROLETARISM!
Who Must Answer?
Where Do the Questions Come From?
In this work many questions will be posed; vastly more than will be answered. The reason for this is not a question of adherence to some literary form, nor is it because of the weakness of our knowledge. These questions arise from our existence, our way of life, our socialist construction. And clearly, they appear as a most important product of our reality since our leadership is willing to discuss anything with us, whatever we like, with the exception of these very questions. In our society they became the mystery of mysteries, important, high state secrets, documents which bear the stamp "Burn Before Reading." These questions have become so secret that no one wants to know them. Moreover, when those officials who are obliged to concern themselves with this type of question, are confronted, even if only with a gentle hint, by such themes, they prefer to spout answers, recommendations, slogan, appeals and desires, provided only that they do not have to break the taboo by saying the cursed question aloud.
The first series of questions. Is the working class satisfied with its situation in the countries of victorious socialism? Are the workers content with the level of satisfaction of their material and cultural needs which they have achieved up to now? What sort of level must this be, and with what must it be compared? May we declare that the workers of our country could live much better than they do at present, or is the level we have achieved the limit of the possibilities of our society? In other words, might we achieve a higher tempo of growth in our material well being with the same expenditure of labour? Might we invest in the business of social development, without personal loss, a larger quantity of labour?
The list of questions in this first series can be greatly extended; it is inexhaustible. But we have already approached the fundamental thing and can state this in the following form. Material values are created by the labour of human beings, so our social property is the result of the activities of our society.
There are two questions linked to this;
To this pair of questions, we will add a third which is closely linked to them. We are separating it because we will refrain from a detailed consideration of it at the moment.
It is only at first glance that these questions appear abstract. In actual fact, they touch on an essential aspect of our real lives.
The principle of socialism is, "From each according to his ability - To each according to his work." So then, our first question is, do we really take from each according to ability? People differ, according to their health, ability and physical endowments; each of them has limitations on their capabilities and their productive labour. But within the framework of these limits, relative to them, can we say that every member of our society is occupied to an equal extent with social production? Is it impossible that, with different work assignments, the general quantity of labour invested in production could be increased, and with it the quantity of material values produced?
Our second question concerns the second part of this slogan. And the point here is not that in our enterprises a throng of dead weights receive their wages for no obvious reason. Neither is it the fact that the very existence of "profitable" and "unprofitable" wage rates shows that one and the same expenditure on labour can cover completely different things. Of course, it is necessary to struggle against such injustices, and this fight goes on even now. But we must especially consider the reasons why this fight produces no real results. And now we must consider the other side of the question, concerning distribution " according to work."
If society as whole produces such and such a quantity of material goods, and if these goods are justly distributed according to work, then for each member of society, the total quantity of goods, of material values produced, acquires a decisive significance.
Since a given value, appearing as the expression of a given quantity of labour, can be made up of differing material values, if, in one year, society produces twice the quantity of products, expressed " in natura," as it did in the preceding year, then each member of society, assuming an equal investment of labour in both years, each would receive twice the concrete material value that they had in the previously. Naturally, the quantity of the social product depends on the technical level of the means of production employed. Now, having presented this explanation, we return to our question concerning the other side of the production process; given the level of development of the means of production actually existing at the given moment, could we produce a larger quantity of material values with the same expenditure of labour?
Our third question thus has a direct connection with the principle cited above. We say, "from each according to his ability." Yet we can offer no measure of these very abilities. On the other hand, we clearly understand that while one and the same person might be capable, today, of carrying out a given quantity of labour, tomorrow it will be a different one, either more or less. Abilities are not something stable; they depend on many factors. Let us say that one person, in critical circumstances, is capable of moving mountains, of doing vastly more work than under normal conditions, it may be that another, on the contrary, would let everything slip through his fingers. In every specific case, our abilities are, if you like, defined by our physical condition and by our spiritual constitution and temperament. But, in the social sense, the capacity for work is determined by a whole system of active stimuli for work, which are advanced by society in the form of material and moral incentives, which appear in society's estimation to arise in course of the fulfillment of the work itself; such as the intelligence and purposefulness of labour and so forth. In general, this question is much subtler than the other two which we advanced earlier.
We will return to these questions. We will merge them into one; "Are the productive forces of our society properly used?"
As is well known, the productive forces include the people occupied in production and the means of production. Such a presentation of the question is important for us since it permits the clarification of a single essential idea; the presence in society of definite productive forces and their participation in the process of production of itself provides no guarantee of the quantity of material values produced, everything depends on how these are organized.
This is what is important. What turns out to be important is the organization of those productive forces which we have at our disposal. What turns out to be important is the intelligent distribution of labour. The rational organization of production is important. And only once we have accomplished all this can we say; " Yes, we have produced as many material goods as we are able and we have received recompense in full for our labour."
In the opposite case, when the distribution of labour is inexpedient, when the production links are confused, when the plans and assignments of the various participants act in contradiction, then distribution "to each according to his labour" can not be realized. This is because, of all those occupied with production, only a fraction produce material values. They share the value created with all society, among all those working. This means that each is rewarded only with that share of labour which constitutes useful productive labour, out of all the labour invested in social production.
And so it proved to be; however hard we tried, whatever effort we put in at our workplaces, what we were paid for it, what we got back from society for our effort depended very little on us. It turned out that the share of our labour, which was returned to us in the form of compensation, depended not upon us but upon the extent to which our economy was rationally organized.
Under capitalism the workers receive a share of the values produced by them. The other portion is appropriated by the capitalists.
How should things stand under socialism? Marx wrote, "Each individual producer receives back from society, after all deductions, exactly as much as he himself put in." (K. Marx, F. Engels, Works, Volume 19, p.18)
This is how things should happen under socialism.
What do we actually have? At the beginning, a part of the aggregate social product, proportional to his labour, is allocated to the producer. But this part is not equal to his labour since the total social product is not the embodiment of all labour invested in social production, because, in its make up, there is no embodiment of such labour as was expended pointlessly, whose results were, for organizational reasons, destroyed. But labour producing no results is rewarded equally with productive labour from the same total social product in whose production it took no part.
Marx pointed out that only after the deductions have been made from the quantity delivered by the producers can the remainder be devoted to the reproduction of the means of production and to the fund for social consumption.
It may be foreseen that the application of higher reasoning calls forth theoretical contradiction. From the theoretical point of view, the aggregate social product always acts as an equivalent of the aggregate labour. And this is indeed the case when the subject of our consideration is the social product taken as a whole. So too if we are concerned with the activities of production branches, enterprises or individual producers, provided we do not consider their activities in detail. For example, suppose that activity of some enterprise consists in three brigades producing a certain product while a fourth destroys two thirds of it, we are fully entitled to consider the remaining third as the final result and comparing it with the entire labour expended by this enterprise. So long as we consider the enterprise as a whole, we cannot think otherwise, we cannot distinguish it from other enterprises where the same quantity of labour is embodied in the same quantity of goods simply as a result of a lower productivity of labour. But if we want to understand why, in this enterprise, the productivity is at that level, then such general indicators can not help us at all. We must then turn to the investigation of labour in each division! And if the labour in each division is paid for (compensated) in correspondence with the results of such labour, then the problem we are discussing did not arise there and must have arisen elsewhere. But to the extent that we compensate labour more or less evenly in all divisions, that we compensate it in no other way than according to the actual creation of value, then, to that extent, the share of labour which creates nothing and is subtracted from this compensation, is missing from it.
Let us digress from theory and return to the sphere of practical activity. A house has been built, the apartments have been plastered, the electricians are called in, they cut through the plaster and install the wiring, the plasterers are called to make good the damage, the plumbers are called in, they cut through the walls and install the piping, the brick layers are called back and they make good the walls, then plasterers are called back to redo the plastering ...
Whether built in this way, or with more forethought, the result of the labour is the same; a finished apartment. Yet the all the labour must be paid for, including the triply redundant labour of the plasterers. But for what value?
New equipment lies in its packing crates for years. And then is chopped up by welders fulfilling the scrap metal plan. Who compensates the labour of the equipment producers?
We build a powerful industrial complex, but, trying to get it done within the prescribed period, details, such as the fire safety systems, are not installed. The installation burns. Now, where is the labour of the producers embodied?
A key assembly grinds to a halt for the lack of a needed part, so the machinists labour the entire shift to produce a component, which, normally, would be mass produced and thus cost only kopeks. It ends up costing roubles!
Here, inevitably, interested parties will pop up to interrupt our discussion. "But what do you want?" they say "According to you they shouldn't make the necessary part? You want them to find a source which produces the part for kopeks? And you want to let the losses from the idle assembly line mount? Moreover, the very search itself requires a greater quantity of labour than producing the part. No, we know what's what. In the course of the concrete economy, such difficulties occur and are overcome!"
Well what is the objection here? Perhaps we can come to agreement, though it may take time. But this means coming to reconsider our positions. So having been through it all once, let us reconsider!
So it turns out that installing the electrical wiring in already plastered walls is wiser and more advantageous than doing it later after the walls had already been painted. So too, connecting the pipes to the toilet bowl before, rather than after, the residents arrived. Far better to put the machine tool into the scrap at the right moment. After a few years it would have rusted through, been scattered in the trash, and not even scrap metal would remain. True, this didn't happen with the industrial complex that burned down. But what of it? No one is safe from fire or the elements. And after all, if the the complex had burned a month later, then another month's work of a collective numbering in the thousands would have been lost.
What extraordinary logic! With such logic, neither can you lose, nor does fire burn; there is only an impenetrable optimism. And if there is a defect in it then it is altogether a minor one. Such logic presupposes that all business begins with bungling, that bungling lies at the very foundation, and that this is actually fortunate since it allow the bungling to be revealed one way or another. Clearly, this logic arises from practice. We are so thoroughly used to it, that we don't even mention it in discussions; which, of itself, implies the bungling.
We expect that the required part will not be in the right place at the right time. We try to make an altogether irrational situation into the best and most rational outcome. We are reconciled to the rational order of work being destroyed by a whole range of causes. We ourselves create the irrational situation the consequences of which cost us dearly...
Us? The whole lot of us? Oh carpenter, driver, foundry worker, metal worker, welder; to what extent does this depend on you? And to what extent do you take responsibility for it? "No, it is not us who are guilty, not us! How could the guy laying the asphalt know that tomorrow his work would be destroyed in order to lay pipe? The welder can't possibly know whether the machine tool he is chopping up is a perfectly good machine or one whose use is strictly forbidden; even dangerous. Why should the rigger be aware that he has not been instructed to install the fire safety gear, even though it is essential equipment?"
Well how did we get here? Why do we conceal with our fine expansive words, those who are actually guilty of the whole muddle?
There exists a particular group, known by the collective designation "Administration," which is entrusted with the coordination of the activities of each member of our society. It answers for everything. To it we must address our demands.
So, what do we want? That each administrator should properly do his job? That he should conserve our labour? That he should not scatter to the four winds the results of our work?
But is this possible? If we were to most assiduously pick through the activities of any given administrator, we would find that all his instructions, and especially the most absurd among them, were dictated to him by circumstances beyond his control.
We possess a mass of organs of state and social control, our newspapers bring to light very varied problems resulting from bad management. And the result?
It's no secret that for the guilty, even "removal from active duty" is more often than not just a transfer to equivalent work. But what does this mean?
In the first place, it means that the guilty are not guilty. At least in the eyes of the higher levels of the administration.
In the second place, it means that guilty are no worse than the other administrators, from whose ranks they clearly arose.
And thirdly, and for us this is the main thing, this bad management is itself recognized as completely justifiable, almost legitimate.
So here we have the wonder of wonders. A thousand crimes are committed. We have the material evidence of the enormous wastage in one way or another of human labour. A mass of people are involved in the investigation of these crimes through the various organs of control...
But the guilty are not guilty. Not guilty, and that's that! There is nobody to judge them. The punishment has not merely a conventional but an openly fictitious character.
Guilty under all circumstances, guilty for all objective reasons. They are the ones we ourselves have created.
There you have it. "Here is the one who has taken us in. We won't hide the plain facts. We present, for your delectation the negligent (or simply unlucky) administrator! What an excellent democracy!
Esteemed comrade workers! You each can;
And while you are busy with this, while you are annoying one administrator or another, someone else will sleep soundly. Because the real cause has never been revealed.
What's the point? In order to understand, we will now consider a little story which we ourselves will make up as we go along.
One man struck another. The offender was brought into court. But the court was meticulous, and paid attention to the details.
It began by interrogating the legs. The legs said;
"Of course, we walked, we always walk - it's our job. But where? To a meeting? To get paid? To a fight? How should we know?"
The torso said;
"Well, there you go. The slightest provocation, and everyone's all over me. Although I am quite large, I have a really minor role. I go where the legs take me. That's it. I don't know nothing."
The head said;
"What do you take me for? The head and that's it? We must start with the basics; there's a bunch of us here; a whole collective; there's the eyes and the ears, plus the mouth. And all of us together, the public, as you might say, are intellectuals. Can the eyes really strike a blow? The forehead - yes, that could happen. But only in the most extreme cases. And definitely on this occasion the forehead took no part. So that..."
The court was a bit stunned, but at soon put a question to the fists;
"Well you must have struck. Or weren't you involved either?"
"Yes, you certainly could say that I didn't strike," answered the fist, "and, in general, I don't like this sort of stuff at all. Perhaps it gives someone satisfaction, but the bones hurt me. But where can I disappear to when the elbow moves me? I'm quite happy to dodge, just as you dodged there, but I am forever connected to this elbow by the joints."
So the court took aim at the elbow. The elbow explained everything;
"The legs walk. And if, for example, they should crush some ants, how can you blame them? The do their stuff, they know nothing of the ants. I can speak for myself and for the whole arm. How many joints does it have altogether? And for what? So that it can move in every direction, that is its task so to speak. If it thought too much it would hardly be able to move anywhere. If you stay at a distance, it will never reach you. But if you get in the way of its movement, it might poke you."
The court considered carefully. And, having considered, decided to punish the victim, so that next time he would not get in the way of the arm.
And this is just how it with us, when we try to find the party guilty of a specific crime, when we take aim at a specific administrator, we almost inevitably arrive at the fact that his actions were dictated by objective causes, instructions, decisions and actions taken by someone else, at another time, and certainly inaccessible to us or the administrator. So when they say to us; "Yes, what's happening is disgraceful, help us to find the specific culprit, just give us the first and last name and we will make an example of him." this is a lie.
And when they offer an explanation based on objective causes, this too is a lie. The laws of nature are objective. But this it not what they are referring to; everyone is obliged to know and study these laws. And there is nothing more subjective than all the nonsense which is born in the bowls of that gigantic organism known as the Administration.
The more diligently they help us to search for the specific culprit of definite and specific crimes, specific measures, specific responsibilities and specific actions, the further they lead us away from establishing the true causes.
They throw sand in our eyes with the details, pointing at the tree so that, god willing, we won't notice the forest. We are given all rights, wherever their application is incapable of changing anything.
The take us for a ride. And very skillfully. But isn't it time to have done with this?
Let us select from the thousands of specifics, from this absolutely hopeless endeavour, something that we can strengthen and correct. Let us determine our orientation.
There is one specific culprit, responsible for the squandering, loss and destruction of thousands upon thousands of years of human labour, which brings the people not even the smallest benefit; that culprit is the Administration as whole.
There is one objective cause; a law of nature, which, in this case, is a social law, which determines the activities of the Administration, and defines our relations to it.
This is complicated. It is much more complicated than finding a specific culprit. But without investigating this we will not be able to take a single step forward and will not be able to pull ourselves out of this quagmire.
The proletariat has one tried and true weapon - Marxism. And we must not be afraid of the fact that many altogether un-Marxist things are frequently hidden with quotations from Marx and Lenin. Marxism was, and remains, the weapon of the proletariat, and it can loyally and truthfully serve only the proletariat. In alien hands it is of no use; look carefully and you will see, there is only a feeble resemblance, a worthless replica.
Who Should we Ask?
Open a contemporary textbook on philosophy. Flick through from the first page to the last. Put it down. Do the same thing with an up to date text on political economy. Nowhere will you come across a single word on the interrelationship between the proletariat and the Administration in socialist society.
Perhaps this is not a philosophical question? Perhaps it lies entirely in the realm of the purely practical? Or perhaps, in your 'state of the entire people' such a question does not even exist? Perhaps in a state of the entire people, the entire people's administrations is simply our own flesh and blood? Perhaps the tasks, aims and interests are unitary, those of the entire people?
Or, possibly, this is one of those cursed questions which lies under a strict taboo?
Let's begin with the basics. We are obliged to begin with the basics because the approach to these question is through an empty desert. Like that around the poisonous upas) tree.
We liquidated the bourgeoisie as a class. We built a state in which the means of production were held as social property.
What are the proletarian interests in this phase? In the first place is broadening range of material goods available to it.
Secondly, there is the deepening of its own culture and the realization of its creative potential.
But how can it achieve this? Clearly the proletariat can't obtain anything more than it can itself create.
The proletariat cannot enrich itself through the appropriation of anyone else's labour, since it creates all material values itself. No wage increase can help, since, in any case, it can obtain only what it has itself created, neither more nor less.
This means that the unique path to the satisfaction of the proletariat's interests lies in the increase of the production of material values; that is to say in the heightening of the effectiveness of production, in the increasing productivity of labour.
It only remains to add; "Comrades, just work conscientiously and diligently, according to the moral code, and heaven will reward your labour."
Beautiful isn't it? Certainly, this appeal has been heard at various times, but its significance is always the same.
Because it is not you who define the productiveness of your labour. It is defined by the general level of development of production, the level of development of the productive forces and production relations.
The productive forces - these are the scientific-technical equipment used in production together with the qualifications of those work with it and their consciousness of their relation to labour.
The productive relations - these arise on the basis of the social ownership of the means of production and in the aggregate of the productive-economic links; the norms and measure, wages and prices, conditions for cooperation of brigades and enterprises, planning and fulfillment. In a word, it is the entire mechanism which organizes production, as consolidated in various legislative acts, instructions and directives, together with their continuous embodiment in the practical relations of people, and above all in the activities of the Administration.
And so we arrive at what is for us the crucial question; what is the Administration required for and where did it come from?
Having seized power and taken the means of production into its own hands, the proletariat was confronted with new difficulties. The bourgeoisie disappeared and the apparatus it had created for the coordination of production crumbled; and it appeared that there was nothing to replace it. The coordination of production demands knowledge and experience but the proletariat did not possess this knowledge. Out of this came the NEP, that temporary, but absolutely essential, concession to capitalism and the struggle to accelerate the preparation of the proletariat's own administrative cadre.
But the proletariat needed a more highly perfected apparatus than the capitalists. Here are the demands which the proletariat had to make of the Administration that it created;
These are the demands that the proletariat must make. But, in order that the Administration can take them up they must also correspond to its own interests.
The administration created by the proletariat took the form of a self-directing social group with its own peculiarities, interests and extremely broad possibilities for influencing our society.
Fundamentally, just as for the proletariat, the social interests of the Administration lie their striving for the satisfaction of their material and cultural demands. There is one common path for the resolution of this problem, that is the utmost heightening of the productivity of labour, but for the administration there is also an alternative.
The Administration itself produces nothing. It receives for its organizational activity a share of those material values which the proletariat produces with its labour. Consequently, the well-being of the Administration increases when its share increases, that is when the share of each administrator taken individually increases.
So which path does the administration chose?
But social laws are just as indisputable as the remaining laws of nature. The proletariat has only one means for compelling the Administration to serve it; that is placing it in such a position that failure to fulfill the demands of the proletariat contradicts the interests of the Administration.
This was how things stood at the beginning. Lenin was at the head, the brains and voice of the proletariat, a genius in expressing their interests. The founding contingent was composed of people who had proved their selfless dedication to the cause of the proletariat in revolutionary battle. The rest were worker's representatives from the shop floor, for whom the shop floor still lay ahead and to which they returned.
An Administration so constituted was in excellent correspondence with the demands of the proletariat, but it was quantitatively insufficient to take upon itself the direction of the entire management of the nation, all the affairs of the country. This demanded the recruitment of additional forces, albeit only slightly prepared for work in the administrative system, from the ranks of the proletariat and intelligentsia. What the administration was forced to gain in size, it lost in quality.
In the final days of Lenin's life the question of the creation of an effective system of management for the proletarian state agitated him above all the rest. In one of his final works, "Better Fewer but Better," published in 1923, Lenin said; "We already spent five years fussing over the improvement of our state apparatus, but it is just this fuss which has proved in the course of these five year our unsuitability, or possibly our uselessness, or even our harmfulness. This fuss which gives us an appearance of activity, at the same time clogs both our institutions and our brains. In the end, this has got to change."
Lenin himself continued to work for the creation of a socialist system of management which had not yet arisen.
They faced the party as a multitude. What demands must be satisfied by the Administration it had created? Had the party found the paths to the creation of an authentic proletarian Administration? Which difficulties had been overcome and which remained? What were the objective social laws governing the formation and development of the Administration? What is the essence of Administration in our times? What social laws was it subject to? How did these form tendencies?
Stalin, who was unconditionally devoted to the ideas of Marxism-Leninism, and who had properly understood and mastered Marxist theory, though he possessed the creative ability to apply theory in practice (to the inventive use of objective law in the resolution of specific problems) to a lesser extent than Lenin, nevertheless undertook an extremely important range of endeavours. These, even if they did not solve the problem of the creation of a proletarian administration, certainly assisted in the accumulation of valuable experience of this question.
But, at the time, the task of creating an Administration completely satisfying the demands of the proletariat was not and could not be the principal task. The party and Stalin directed their efforts at the creation of an efficient apparatus, even though it was only marginally suitable, in order to undertake the management of the NEP, in order to settle accounts with the petty and middle bourgeoisie and to complete the process of the expropriation of the means of production. Dragging out the liquidation of the NEP was categorically impossible; the very existence of the bourgeoisie corrupted and corroded the state apparatus everywhere; wherever they succeeded, a real threat of capitalist restoration was concealed.
The Administration, once created, had to be strengthened and not refashioned. But once it had been strengthened it became very stable and influential, and refashioning or correcting it had already become impossible.
What does this signify? What does it signify for us?
We may represent the path of our Administration in the following sequence;
At the start, in the formative period, the proletariat created for the Administration conditions for the assisting and strengthening it to the utmost and was much less worried about creating conditions for restricting it so as to maintain its subordination to the interests of the proletariat. At a fundamental level, the proletarian consciousness of the Administration was assumed.
Having been created, sufficiently strengthened and stabilized, the Administration obtained the practically unlimited right to influence both its own conditions of existence and those of the proletariat.
The further development of the Administration took place under conditions in which it was able to control variations in its own interests. The Administration completely escaped the control of the proletariat and took measures to ensure its interests and provide them with reliable defences.
So, to what extent did the existing Administration correspond to the demands of the proletariat, and to what extent did it contradict these demands?
First of all, like the proletariat, the Administration appeared as a vehement opponent of capitalism. Though, if the proletariat saw in the bourgeois an enemy, the Administration saw in him the most dangerous competitor, capable, through its business activities, of undermining the very existence of the Administration.
Moreover, the Administration had no reason to oppose the proletariat's striving for the utmost development of production, for this was in its own interests too. However, the Administration didn't have the slightest intention of conducting any serious work on the development of production whenever it could satisfy its own interests along an easier path.
And, in the end, the Administration did not leave the proletariat with the slightest democratic possibility of controlling the activities of the Administration as a unitary whole.
Directing the dissatisfaction of the proletariat at specific administrators and separate organizations, the Administration reliably defended itself as a whole.
We can understand the situation which has developed in our country as follows. We actually did liquidate private and establish social ownership of the means of production. But this was the social ownership of the Administration in which the proletariat took no part. The Administration, acting as the collective proprietor of the entire national economy, appropriated and distributed amongst its members the surplus product created by the proletariat. But in distinction from capitalism, whose cruel competition compels uninterrupted research and development with the aim of raising the productivity of labour, our Administration was never burdened with this worry; it secured itself against this by long ago suppressing and liquidating all possibilities for competition.
As we have already said, the Administration had no reason to oppose the proletariat in its the realization of its striving for heightened productivity of labour. But the effectiveness of contemporary production depends not only on the labour invested by each specific producer, but also on the correct organization of cooperation between organizations and the use of the results of labour in the general process of production. However, this something which, still today, the proletariat cannot accomplish with its own forces. The Administration hinders the proletarian movement as soon as it impedes the creation of organs acting in the proletariat's interests; or to put it bluntly, takes their place.
Perhaps we may hope that the Administration, changing in the course of the historical process may take on qualities corresponding to the interests of the proletariat?
Hope springs eternal.
The development of the Administration depends on the conditions in which it operates. And while the Administration itself controls these conditions, the proletariat can not hope for such a thing.
There is one possibility for the proletariat. That is to remember that it is the hegemonic class of the present historical epoch. And at the level of energetic practical activity can dictate its demands to the Administration.
If the Administration has not altogether lost its links with the proletariat and is in a position to accept its demands, then these must be consolidated in the concrete realization of procedures for the control of the proletariat over the activity of the Administration as a whole.
If the Administration is still not in a position to accept the demands of the proletariat or is unwilling to do so, then the proletariat has no choice other than to change the old obstinate Administration for a competent new one which recognizes the control of the proletariat and which directs its efforts to the achievement of the proletariat's aims.
But perhaps we are being unfair to the Administration we have? Doesn't that objective of the proletariat, about which we have carried out a discussion, the utmost raising of the effectiveness of production, also appear as a principal subject of concern for the present Administration? There are all the decisions and resolutions, speeches and articles, slogans and initiatives; and really, aren't they appealing to us.
Yes, exactly, they are appealing; and yes, precisely, to US.
The very direction of these appeals reflects the actual needs of the country, reflects the aggravation of the contradiction between the potential for the satisfaction of the interests of the proletariat and the practical achievements in the realization of these possibilities.
The very form of these appeals reflects nothing other than the defective style of work of the Administration and its complete incapacity to resolve these contradictions.
The particular social interests of the Administration, in combination with its complicated hierarchical structure, predetermines its altogether distinctive role of creative initiatives in its activities. Such business initiatives take the place of those that might be sources of progress, motors of social development; in the environment of the existing Administration, they have no other aim than as a means of advancement within the service, as weapon in the petty careerist struggle for personal well-being. In this struggle, the suppression and undermining of all initiatives plays no less important a role than their initiation and support. And, since the value of a creative approach to the resolution of the most important tasks is completely perverted by his method of evaluating it, neither can he take account of this at the outset when promoting it. In connection with this, a specific style of work germinates and takes root within the Administration. Correspondingly, this stupid and harmful style results in the thoughtless assignment by any given administrator to his subordinates, who in turn accomplish it by delegation. As a result, many tasks which should be resolved organizationally at some particular level of the administrative structure are shifted in an unresolved form to a lower level, where they simply cannot be resolved and thus become insoluble.
Naturally, unless someone along the way takes responsibility, such delegation will be performed by everyone all the way down to the immediate executor, each, in turn, will recognize the insolubility of the problem and will undertake the fulfillment only of such tasks as lie within his competence or that of his subordinates.
Let us note, perhaps not incidentally, that this insolubility of problems corrupts all the links of the administrative apparatus through which it passes. It also corrupts the producers when they are presented with absurd, impossible, senseless production demands. They are corrupted in the sense that all enthusiasm relating to their work and their consciousness of its rationality, expediency or usefulness in society is destroyed.
Yet such is the style of work of this Administration, and it can not be eradicated, nor can the existing structures be destroyed without putting the Administration into altogether different conditions.
This style, and no other, dictates the conduct of today's "broad" campaign (we are obliged to put this in quotation marks) because, despite all its noisiness, it touches the higher-ups of the Administration least of all, on whose activity, above all, the productivity of labour actually depends, it supports nothing other than the striving of the incompetent Administration to shift its responsibility to the broad layer of the workers.
Perhaps it would be possible to suggest to the Administration that it should change its style of work, but in order that it would take such a thing seriously, it would be necessary to rattle and shake things up before putting them back in place. Because, for the Administration, functioning in the actually existing conditions, no other style of work is possible.
Because the principle task of the proletariat today is the struggle against this administration, the struggle for a really practical control over it, that is the struggle to put the Administration in such a position that it cannot substitute its own petty squabbling for position for service in the interests of the proletariat.
But is it impossible for the proletariat to avoid participation in this struggle? Is it impossible to confine the struggle to for increased individual wages? Or do those who want to work harder betray the interests of the proletariat? No the struggle for higher individual wages does not harm the proletariat. This struggle must be waged, it must be continued and within it we must struggle for mass action in solidarity. But, accordingly, each must give an account of himself in order that individually they will not obtain too much, since a general increase in wages will not change anything for anybody; its all the same since in exchange for the wages we receive we can obtain only that which we have created with our hands and nothing more. This means that the unique real path to raising living standards is the heightening of the productivity of labour, for which we need the Administration whose direct, tightly controlled duty must be work for the improvement of the organization of production.
Where to Look for Answers?
The idea exists that if each, at his place of work, worked conscientiously, then life would change for the better and the productivity of labour would rise together with the level of well-being.
Is this correct?
Yes and no!
This is true only on condition that by conscientiousness we understand activity for the collective good even when such activity is contrary to the individual interest.
In individual cases this is possible. In relations to the masses, it is senseless. For what advantage could there be for the collective if each of its members were acting so as to harm themselves?
Mass actions are determined altogether differently.
In order that each may be of use to the society, a combination of circumstances is required in which each has the possibility of satisfying his personal interests in no other way than by assisting in the satisfaction of social interests. That is, that the activities of each, directed at achievement of personal aims, enhance the well-being of society.
Of course, both the interests of society and personal interests change over time, and they change in a variety of ways. To set conditions which link personal and social interests once and for all is impossible. But a society concerned about its progress must strive for this continuously. It must, as quickly as possible, react to each change in interests with a corresponding change in conditions, a definite restructuring of the productive relations.
And what of the people, The people always work conscientiously. And the meaning of this is quite specific; in the framework of existing conditions, whatever they might be, people conscientiously seek, and always will seek, the paths to the satisfaction of their own interests. How and when the pursuit of petty, current interests, to the detriment of more important but longer term concerns, harms the common good, is a different discussion. But here too, appeals to "conscientiousness" will not help with an elucidation, neither in any real provision for the satisfaction of long term interests, nor in propaganda. Everything we have said applies in equal measure to each worker and to each administrator. And if we say that our Administration works appallingly, then this is not an abstract assessment, but a direct indication of the fact that the result of its standard, completely conscientious, effort is, in conformity with current conditions, activity harmful to the proletariat, which does not provide for the achievement of its aims.
But what does this mean?
It means that the conditions under which the Administration works, and plainly it sets these conditions itself, not only bring the proletariat no benefit but are obviously harmful to it.
The key thing which has still not gripped the proletariat is a careful attitude to its own labour and the products which are its fruits. Workers engaged in useless, senseless work, and those who make a useful thing which is not wanted or will not be used to its full capacity, have just as much reason to be dissatisfied as if they were badly paid. Why? Well because their labour, the product of their activity has been withdrawn from the aggregate product, or if you like, subtracted from the quantity of values, from which they themselves and the proletariat as a whole may be rewarded for their labour, from which they might obtain goods in exchange for their wages.
We have more than enough of this. Sewing clothes and shoes which will never be worn, and producing for them thread, fabric and other materials. Dispatching equipment when there is no application. Publishing books which can then immediately be sent for pulping. Machine tools rusting in the rain. An increasing moral depreciation of our technology; at VAZ and KAMAZ we are obliged to buy from abroad. With a flourish of the pen, instructions, orders and directives send months and years of our labour to the scrap heap.
So why is this? Why is the Administration so ruthless with our labour? Because it is not their labour? No this is not the explanation; we all look after things made by others.
Because all this doesn't belong to them? No, it belongs to them to the same extent as to all the remaining members of society.
Let's paint ourselves a different picture. Imagine a crowd looting a storehouse. They break the windows and force the doors. One uncovers a box and searches inside it for something more valuable. The other grabs at what he did not find even more aggressively. They both tug fiercely at it, unable to share this one thing, even though similar stuff is everywhere. They snatch, claw and grab stuff out from under each others noses, tearing much of it to pieces. But what doesn't seem to have grabbed any of them; smashing, hitting, stomping and punching... There is no economy in the expenditure of labour here at all!
Endless similar cases occurred in the revolutionary period, at the time of the expropriation of the exploiters. This was how it was everywhere that the expropriation proceeded spontaneously, in a unorganized fashion. Goods already belonging to the workers, the labour product of those very same workers, which had been accumulated by the landlords and capitalists, were stolen or destroyed by the workers themselves.
What a strange kinship is revealed. This is what links our contemporary Administration and the unruly crowds of those times; lack of organization and petty-bourgeois spontaneity.
And this, in spite of the fact that our Administration is the most powerful apparatus with solid links, subordination, thorough planning, inventory, accounting, inspections and verifications? Yes.
Organization exists, but it is not directed at the development of production, at the heightening of its effectiveness. Through force of circumstances it has, for the most part, lost its original significance and converted the arena for the division of surplus value into an arena of petty-bourgeois struggle for an individual share of these values, expropriated products produced by the proletariat. And the management of production was converted from the principle, crucial factor for all the systems into an indirect factor which influences the share of the loot in a purely formal way (for the Administration.) This is the source of our lack of success in production.
In order to understand this, let us take a look at capitalism. We ought to be able to look down from the heights of socialism to a capitalism left far behind. But for the moment this is not the case. This thoroughly rotten capitalism still beats us in production effectiveness. So why is this?
Let's get a grip on the organizational principals of capitalist administration. We will consider the situation of a mid-level administrator. He is concerned about the selection of highly capable subordinates. He tries to organize their work to the best of his abilities. He tries to find the best solution within the sphere of his activities. But why? He is ready to fire any careless subordinate since he himself faces the threat of dismissal should any higher level administrator notice his own carelessness. And why does the higher up act in this way? Well because he too finds himself in a similar situation. And the very highest Administrator? He too, in such a case, will be thrown out by the boss, the owner of the firm.
Not one of them can act any differently. Because capitalist corporations exist only while the law of the extraction of maximal profit remains in force. And if one link in the whole enterprise fails, the firm fails, overwhelmed by the competition. Any breach of the law attracts an inevitable penalty.
And with us? What about with us? From the outside it is pretty much the same. There's an administrator, and above him one more, and so on and on right up to the very highest. And above them; the boss, the leader, the working class.
The working class is not afraid of competition. And it has no less interest in maximal effectiveness of production than any of the capitalists, for this is its fundamental interest. Thus there is a very similar chain.
If, for a capitalist, the work has suffered in one area then the administrator responsible for that area will be changed. If the work suffers in a many areas at once, then the owner will dismiss the top level administrator and hire another better one.
And with us. If in some area things go badly, then the administrator can be changed. If there is a collapse in many areas, then the higher level of administration must be changed...
And this is where the proletariat, the boss, the leader hits a dead end. It does have the right to change the Administration, but how can it exercise this right?
The right exists but it is a fiction. Just as many bourgeois rights and freedoms are fictions. Such rights prove to be a sham.
It is a fiction since no one can carry out such a substitution! It is not that there are absolutely no candidates. But in order to find the suitable candidate it would be necessary to hear him out, to investigate and evaluate. So where could he speak out so that each worker, the whole working class, could hear him out.
So then, it turns out that the working class does not have hold of the most important link in our chain.
It does not have hold of the link, and so the high administrator feels no responsibility to the proletariat. There is no time and no point in his thinking about work. He is not afraid of the boss, but is worried about something altogether different; how to avoid one of his subordinates accidentally taking his place. And so the high administrator uses his strengths to guard against this. He demands no work from his subordinates, but only the appearance of work. He demands support instead, he wants a guarantee of his personal security. For him those who don't want his job, who won't meddle in his affairs make the best subordinates. This also serves as the criterion for selection of staff.
For the subordinate the concerns are the same. Of course he too wants the higher-ups to have no cause for dissatisfaction. This means that the appearance of work must be convincing and the behaviour loyal...
This goes for the whole chain, from top to bottom. As for business, nobody cares. Success in production is simply not an aim. It is only one reason for a promotion, for a chance to get hold of a still fattier morsel. And among such reasons it neither unique, nor even the most important. A skillful administrator can screw up production in such a way that someone else takes the fall, while he goes on to promotion.
Such are the conditions under which the fate of our interests is decided.
So then, if we were to formulate the organizational principles of the capitalist administration of production we would have to note the following;
If, in point one, maximum production effectiveness were to be substituted for maximum profit, corresponding to the interests of a different owner of the means of production, the proletariat, then these principals would be suitable for our socialist production, for the construction of a socialist Administration.
But today, these principles, in the form of demands of the Administration, have not been and can not be realized.
First of all, because, as a consequence of the fictitious character of the right of the proletariat to replace the upper levels of the Administration, the proletariat's ownership rights in the means of production have also become fictitious.
Imagine the situation of the owner of a company, who lacked the right to change his administrator. Even if the administrator brazenly earmarked all the profits as his salary! But this is not the only point
An administrator who usurped the right of the owner of the company would become the de facto owner and thus interested in extracting maximum profit and so in the flourishing of production.
We don't have even this.
Appearing in relation to the proletariat as a unitary whole, as a certain type of subject, usurping the proletariat's property, our Administration, in a different, internal context does not appear as a unitary whole. All the Administration's organization serves only to fence it off from the proletariat, but in its internal affairs it is heterogeneous, disorganized and subordinate to the law of petty-bourgeois internecine struggle. This petty-bourgeois nature categorically inhibits the Administration from fusing its interests into a unity. It does not want to unite on a proletarian class basis; it does not want to give up its petty-bourgeois freedoms and privileges. It is also afraid to unite on a capitalist basis for it fears the immediate vengeance of the proletariat. So it has only one possibility; to dance around its petty-bourgeois paradise, pulling the wool over the proletariat's eyes with assurance about their common interests for as long as possible.
So what we have is that our production is directed by a subject without a unitary interest, that is an "administrator" torn by contradictions, for whom there should be a place in the insane asylum.
Our Administration can chatter as much as it likes about the proletarian interest, about the construction of communism, about the effectiveness of production, but it neither wants nor is able to carry out any of it.
Our economy long since found itself at edge of collapse. In order to hold this collapse at bay, the Komsomol Subbotniks, overtime, extension and all the other social obligations became necessary; and even these measures brought no salvation. The Administration consoled itself with the hope that something or other would appear to pull our society out of its profound crisis.
But nothing forcibly changes the Administration, so the crisis continues to deepen. Now one variant for its resolution, the reactionary variant, is the restoration of capitalism, which would throw us back one hundred years, into the darkest past. While everything remains on the present course, it is precisely this danger which is maturing in the petty-bourgeois mist of the Administration, and which becomes ever more realistic.
The situation is intolerable. The danger grows. Yet things are not hopeless.
The proletariat has sufficient force to break up, to change the existing situation, to destroy the corrupting Administration; and as result the conditions in the whole of society. It only needs to get busy, to understand what is required and to do it.
So what is required?
Let's return to Lenin. We will begin with a very well-known quotation from the article "The Great Initiative,"
"In the final analysis, productive labour is the most important, the principle factor for victory in the construction of the new society. Capitalism created a productivity of labour unimaginable under feudalism. Capitalism can and will be finally defeated only if it (socialism) can create a new and much higher productivity of labour." (Collected Works, Vol. 39, p.22)
Today, they do not like to cite the second half of this pronouncement. For it must be one or the other; either Lenin was mistaken or our Administration is not on track. Our socialism, the socialism we have today, has not and will not be able to deliver the promised productivity of labour. Today, with a growth in labour productivity of 3-4% per annum we will not outstrip the capitalists; that is we will not catch up let alone surpass them.
But this means that what we have delivered as our form of socialism is not complete socialism, is still not genuine socialism.
In his speech on the sequence of tasks for Soviet power Lenin said;
"Yes, having overthrown the landlords and the bourgeoisie, we have cleared the land, but we have not yet built the socialist building. For on soil cleared of one generation of bourgeois, historically, a new generation has always appeared; provided that the soil is fertile, it will give rise to as many bourgeois as you could want. And there are those who look at our victory over capitalism as do the petty proprietor's, saying, "They were chopped down. Fine! Now I will profit by it." Clearly each of them is the source of a new generation of bourgeois." (Collected Works, Vol. 36, p.261-262)
Now here is the root of the evil. The petty-bourgeoisie does not allow us to reach the heights of socialism. And it cannot by itself reach the more perfected imperialist capitalism so it is doomed to be dragged along by the tail. In capitalist countries the petty-bourgeoisie survives only while it remains energetic; it is in continual ferment and has to suffer the blows of capital from all sides. Here, however, our petty-bourgeois Administration it is bogged down in its petty squabbles.
We cannot continue to suffer in this way. We need genuine socialism. That which really is the first phase of communism. That which can provide the unlimited development of the productivity of labour.
On the sly, they try to frighten us with the productivity of labour; that it will mean harder work. "Today's record is tomorrow's norm," as they say in the papers.
Is this correct?
Well let's take it point by point;
Now before we write down the fifth point, let's turn our attention to the question of what the fulfillment of the first four points depends upon, and whether it would entail a greater intensity of production from the workers? It turns out that this would require only a different relationship to business, precisely, a change in the style of work of the Administration.
Here we have just enumerated the available reserves for the creation of new socialist productivity of labour. Such labour productivity would not enslave the worker, but would permit the shortening of the working day and provide greater opportunities for the business of cultural development, for the business of unshackling creativity and the conscious possibilities of the workers.
For this we need a different Administration, one capable of resolving those problems which, otherwise, remain unresolved. We need an Administration capable of serving the interests of the proletariat both out of fear and conscience. Perhaps, at the start, more out of fear. Later, clearly, more out of conscience.
What we need in the very first place, is genuine proletarian rule.
But to get there is far from a simple business.
After the October Revolution, the power in our country was unconditionally proletarian. But later? Now? The betrayal took place under our very noses, and we did not notice how. In the Supreme Soviet, five hundred workers sit, and only raise their hands. On command and unanimously.
We have to renew the proletarian power. But this is not enough.
We need to hold on to it. And not just by defending it from its external enemies, this we can certainly do; but retain it in the face of degeneration, of the petty-bourgeois rust which corrodes it from within.
We cannot do without an Administration, but it must be our Administration, subordinate to us and in our service, insured against all bourgeois encrustations.
There can only be one guarantee here; personal responsibility and control, control, control. Control from below, a variety of controls. But the most important is control from above, control according to the actual results of activity. And so that this won't be a fiction, in order that it can actually be realized, the very highest must be under our direct control.
We must feel ourselves to be the bosses, we must be able to renew inadequate links in the administrative chain. But this means that we need not only people capable of leading the Administration today, but other people too, people who will intently analyze the activities of the Administration, and never concealing their errors will subject each step the Administration take to relentless criticism.
And if, occasionally, this criticism should be wide of the mark, we ourselves will be able to investigate what's what. So we must ensure that this criticism will always be broadly available for consideration. It is precisely through the collision of critical perspectives that well grounded assessments can be formed, moreover this will give birth to and shape the positions of those who we will trust to lead the Administration in the future, those who will overcome the accumulated deficiencies and reconstruct the entire system corresponding with task of the time.
What now? A few times a year we are brought the "brilliant" decisions and guiding instructions of the bosses. From time to time they let loose a devastating critique aimed at those who are not yet in power. No change of opinion is unexpected; this is why our collective opinion never really solidifies. There is only the unanimous "We Approve!" handed down from above. Those who do not agree are never heard from.
What must happen? There must be a flow of ideas and solutions so new and advanced that they are hard to understand at first, yet so correct, so Marxist, that we cannot fail to understand them in the end. This must also be reflected in our opinions. Mistakes must be called mistakes. Those whom it is possible to forgive must be forgiven; it is impossible to forward into the unknown without making mistakes. But those who were able, the soonest, to predict, on the basis of a profound and fundamental understanding of Marxism, such mistakes, who, at once, recommended a more correct path; those we must take note of and seek from among them the new leaders, capable of leading us further forward.
Only under such an arrangement, only with such a disposition of forces, can the working class obtain a guarantee of its right to rule and preserve the possibility of correcting and recorrecting the petty bourgeois disorder which arises irrepressibly in the Administration.
And the question here is not simply one of abolishing censorship and permitting critical pronouncements on the our printed pages. No, besides some empty pseudo-critical cursing and the insinuation of bourgeois propaganda, this would produce nothing. Only the complete restructuring of the Administration's structure, only organized proletarian control over the Administration, and criticism directed against it, can provide us with the absolutely essential conditions and results for further movement.
And now we are obliged to pose a new series of questions.
How can we obtain the desired situation? What organizational forms do we need? What document and with which formulations do we need so that we can actually, and not just nominally, be the masters of our country? What must be done so that proletarian control can be practiced in life, rather than remaining a beautiful phrase. How should we act with the current Administration and where can get the Administration of the future?
There are many questions. For now, they remain without answers. Not because these questions are unanswerable or extremely difficult, but because the answer must be specific, like an order. But a specific answer depends on the specific circumstances in which the proletariat is able to return itself to power.
The return to power; here is the principle problem for today. The proletariat is powerful but not organized, and opposing it is a well-organized administration.
It lies before us to begin the struggle. Organizing ourselves in the course of struggle, too, lies ahead. As does organizing to achieve that victory, and to consolidate it in such a way that, in the future, the right of proletariat will not depend on the personal quality of administrators.
From the start of struggle, on to the return to power. This is our immediate stage. And it poses questions to which precise answers must be given without delay.
Who Sets the Questions?
Does the top know about the growing crisis in our society?
Yes, they know. Would they like to avert this crisis? Yes, they would like to. Is the top undertaking anything at all to prevent this outcome which will be disastrous for them?
Yes? Yes and no? The top is quite active and they try to undertake many things. And all for nothing. None of it can bring the development of this critical situation to an end; they can not, in principle, lead such an undertaking. Having escaped from the control of the proletariat, from responsibility to it, they simultaneously escaped from its support. Our bosses long ago lost any links with the working class, they, together with the whole Administration, became cut off from the people, their promotion became an internal affair of the Administration. And having been promoted by the Administration, they were obliged to serve the Administration, whatever catastrophic consequences this might have.
So, perhaps, the Administration as a whole is trying to escape the catastrophe? No, the Administration can not set itself such a goal. Such a goal demands a consolidation and a unity which, on the basis of petty-bourgeois struggle, can never occur. We have already discussed the fact that the Administration acts as a unitary whole only in its opposition to the proletariat.
So if someone at the top were, under these conditions, to conceive the idea of taking some real measures, then such measures could be real only to the extent that they were directed against the Administration, at the suppression of its petty-bourgeois interests on behalf of the proletariat. Thus, if this boss took it into his head to try to lead such measures, the Administration would simply replace him. In the existing conditions, no other outcome is possible, irrespective of any good intentions.
This is why the crisis can be resolved only either by the restoration of capitalism or by the renewal of the proletarian power.
The crisis consists of the fact that our society is sliding down an inclined plane, that's to say, slowly but relentless sliding along the natural path to capitalism, to the blackest reaction. It is certainly no coincidence that capitalists, whom we call socially dangerous criminals, these esteemed people, manifesting their bourgeois inclinations, are popping up like mushrooms after an autumn rain.
Even if western radio stations and our deranged dissidents were not showering praise on capitalism, even if our most impudent and successful administrators were not dreaming of it, capitalism would still hold nothing in store for the workers, other than enslavement and a life of cruel exploitation.
But the renewal of proletarian power in our society cannot come about by itself. For that our efforts are necessary, the efforts of the whole proletariat and the advanced, but restless, intelligentsia which wants to serve the proletariat and not the bourgeoisie.
The Administration lives free and easy. It can peacefully occupy itself with its petty squabbles only because it has been able to stun us with loud phrases about the development of Marxism and the Leninist style of work, drawing our eyes to the red banners with those beautiful slogans.
The Administration will freely steal from us and destroy our labour in the battle for its personal benefit until such time as we notice it, for as long as we allow ourselves to be fooled and look at their criminal extravagance with the naivete of children.
And if individual administrators, or even, perhaps, the majority of administrators (of course, in this connection, it would be a completely unorganized majority) were happy to go along with the proletariat, the Administration as a whole (and here is were it is linked in an iron organization) would, all the same, go over to the other side and continue to steal from and ruin the proletariat.
This is why the Administration fears us. It is ready to offer up for sacrifice anyone, from the little guy, the "hundred rouble" engineer, up to the First Secretary of the CC. Whatever it takes, so long as our anger is deflected, so long as we direct it at specific individuals, and not at the administration as a whole. The Administration fears bankruptcy. It is afraid that if we present a bill for all our losses to them, that they will be unable to settle accounts. This is precisely what we must do!
We must present them the bill.
We must, in the end, understand that we are the boss and see how brazenly they have stolen from us with the aim of controlling us.
Presenting our bill is not easy. The Administration's huge, rotten carcass stands in our way and, for it, any individual protest of ours is no more terrible than a mosquito bite.
The working class is powerful only when it is organized. The Administration is organized against us. We must create a more powerful organization.
This we can do.
We do do it now; though for trifles. Brigades and whole enterprises answer unexpected raising of the norm or lowering of the rate with strikes. Everyone has either participated in such a strike or heard about one.
The walk-out, the strike is our most important weapon. But we have forgotten how to use it. We have only to grab the handle for the Administration to rush in to calm us down with trifles. And we do calm down.
But we are the boss! So why are we so timid? Why do we hold back from taking up this weapon against those who have cut us back to the bone? We are even grateful to these thieves when they return our rags to us so that we can cover our nakedness.
Struggle and organization, this is what we need. To fight and strengthen our unity. They will give us nothing without a struggle, but to the organized Administration we must counter-pose proletarian organization. Struggle without organization is a flea bite. And organization is formed only in the struggle.
Strikes as a result of a lowering of the wage rate are only a small step. They are spontaneous, and from them only the rudiments of organization arise. But these rudiments should be supported, the should be conserved and strengthened. However, the Administration has learned how to avoid such strikes; it lowers the rates piecemeal, for particular products and operations.
Such lowering of the rates must be an occasion for the display of organization at a higher level. Now we express our protest spontaneously; straining to avoid doing "unprofitable work." But the foreman, either with bribes or promises, gets people to do it. Now what if the worker unanimously said, "Hands off the youngsters, pal. Nobody will do this work under those conditions."?
We must strike for every uncalled for change of technology or lowering of the rates, because it is theft.
We must organize the boycott of all "unprofitable" work because this too is theft. Besides which, we must demand back that which has already been taken from us; we must strike wherever, through the bungling of the administration, it falls to us to make good with our labour and our health.
We must demand comfortable rest areas the improvement of working conditions, we must demand load lifting mechanisms and the mechanization of labour wherever this will help. We must demand living quarters and transport to and from work. And we must present our demands with strikes. Whenever the Administration encroaches upon our common interest we must see a cause for a strike.
Here it is important for us to avoid a weakness; we must stop being such nice guys, stop putting ourselves in their position. When we go to ask foreman Valery Constantinovitch, for a bus for the Saturday fishing trip and we hear "Well, where am I going to get a bus from? The factory only has three of them and our brigade got a bus last Saturday. Put yourselves in my position." it is hard not to sympathize. Just as when the director says "We were assigned three apartments altogether and those who got them were living worse than your lathe operator Krestsov."
Don't put yourself in their position! Neither foreman Valerka , nor the director are playing straight with you. They are speculating on your compassion and your understanding of a multi-facetted Administration. Think; who allocated just three buses to your factory instead of thirty-three? Who allocated three instead of three hundred apartments? Who condemned lathe operator Krestsov to more barracks living? For while you pity Valerka, your demands are not reaching the ones who are squandering the goods that you do not receive.
Don't put yourself in their position! For whose business is it to get a bus from the Administration? Whose business is it how much time is needed to install a telephone? Whose business is it how to get meat delivered to the cafeteria? These are the responsibilities of the Administration and until they learn how to fulfill them we won't work. We won't pull this idle Administration's cart out of a hole, with the sweat of our brow, when it gets stuck.
We aren't asking for what does not belong to us, we are demanding what we have ourselves created and built, that which the Administration has squandered, lost and stolen.
And then our Administration will appreciate that the time has come to pay for the free living. Then it will start trying to close the gaps. It will recognize that there is no other way to settle the bill we have presented other than to conserve our value, our labour, in a way which it has never considered to be necessary.
Strikes and stoppages for every specific grievance, this is the first step. We also need to get the exchange of information going, so that we will also be able to get what workers in other factories have already gotten. All of us, in every factory must steer one and the same course.
And further, the second step. Solidarity outside the brigade in support of just demands. Solidarity of various enterprises in questions of regional infrastructure, development of transport, health services and so on. For this, an even more intensive exchange of information is needed in order to properly organize the work.
From the very beginning of the struggle, even as the first leaders are developing, we must turn our most serious attention to trade union work. They are, after all, our trade unions. They are gravely ill (though surely not from doing any work besides distributing holiday passes, and even there they are doing the bidding of the Administration.) We must conquer the unions, we must promote our leaders there; people capable of uncompromising struggle with the Administration, who will not put themselves in the other side's position and who will defend the interests of the workers. And once the unions have again started to work in the Leninist style, they will have once again become schools of communism, just as is still written on every union card. We must promote our leaders into the very highest union bodies, ready to protect them with mass strikes from the vengeance of the Administration, from the repression to which it habitually resorts in order to somehow defend itself. The Administration resorts to repression, falsification and slander; we must not let them hang our Russian Sacco and Vanzetti,.
Further we must remember, that in addition to the struggle for a universal proletarian organization, the task of creating a core, capable of directing our struggle also lies ahead. We need a tight proletarian organization able to coordinate our activities. This must be the cerebral cortex and nervous system of the whole working class. This organization must unite the most advanced forces, able to correctly assess any situation and find the correct direction for the struggle, preparing our forces for the attack. The working class needs its Bolshevik party.
It must be able to exchange important information on the course of the proletarian struggle to all the participants. It needs its press, not controlled by the Administration, its correspondents and couriers.
It must analyze our victories and defeats, our strengths and weaknesses; and make the precise Marxist choices needed to strengthen us on every front of the struggle.
It must define the aims of our struggle at each stage, must put forward new questions, must identify weaknesses in the Administration camp and lead us to the breakthrough. It must link and consolidate our struggle into a unity of thought and action.
It must oppose the bureaucratic "Marxism" of the Administration with its own genuine Marxist analysis of the life of our society. It must unmask the false official theory and return to authentic Marxism, not fearing to call even the vilest phenomena by their precise names.
It must give us lessons in the basics of Marxism and must break us of the bad habit, inculcated in us by the Administration, of separating theory from practice, as if it were idle chatter. (Naturally, this "theory," developed by the Administration, bears no relation to Marxism.) It must tirelessly prove to us that genuine Marxist theory and the practical struggle for worker's interests are inseparable, they always constitute a unitary whole and support one another.
It must lead us to raise ourselves out of the economic struggle to victory in the political struggle, the struggle for the renewal of proletarian power. It must separate the stages of struggle and promote the political aims at each stage.
We must send reports back to it on precisely where the Administration is, above all, concentrating all the power of its repressive apparatus. For the Administration knows as well as we do, that to defeat an opponent, you must strike at the head, strike the central nexus where the nerve ganglia are concentrated.
For that is precisely where we must direct our best people; people armed with advanced Marxist thinking, devoted to the interests of the proletariat, bold and steadfast in battle.
And if the tasks of creating and heightening proletarian organization are accomplished, then victory in the struggle against the Administration will be guaranteed.
Why? What will guarantee the victory?
Victory will be guaranteed by the fact that by taking up the struggle we shall be taking another step toward communism, another step in the direction of the forward movement of history. Fascism collapsed, the regime of "black colonels" in Greece collapsed, so too the Pinochet regime in Chile, because all attempts to hold back the course of history, are doomed to destruction by history itself. The essence of the matter is that our existing Administration is also such an attempt, though at a more advanced and more progressive historical stage. Its collapse depends only on us; whether it happens now or many decades later after the Administration has pulled us back into the past. In either case, the movement forward can't take place without struggle. It's up to us to decide; are we ready to take up the struggle ourselves or do we prefer to make our peace with this continuing theft and abandon the struggle; but then it will become an even tougher fight for sons and grandsons.
Many renounce the struggle because they fear appearing isolated, because they do not believe in the possibility of consolidating the worker's forces, because their spirit is so crushed that in their consciousness all change in society can take place only from above. They do not believe in the power of the working class, in its ability to organize, because they have never seen it.
But clearly, the working class is not weak. No, it is not weak! It has simply been fooled by the outrageous propaganda of the Administration, which presents itself as a defender of the interests of the working class. It lost its bearings because the Administration openly speculated with names and ideas of Marx and Lenin. It cannot find the right direction because the Administration became bogged down in the petty-bourgeois swamp and did everything it could to pull the proletariat in too. The administration bent all its efforts to undermining the proletariat's striving for progress. They assiduously try to persuade us that we are already living free, rich and happy.
It should be clear to any honest Marxist, that the living standards of the advanced, capitalist countries such as Sweden and the U.S.A. are ground zero, the null point, that minimum above which we must build authentic socialism. Yet all this occurs so that the Administration can squander everything that we have built with our own hands in a carefree and disorderly fashion.
Still, the proletariat, though mightily perplexed by the homilies of the Administration, remains the only class with the power to change the future. And its forces, though lulled to sleep by skillful trickery, are really only disoriented, not destroyed. And the consciousness of the proletariat grows even in the dark, in secret, while it finds no outlet for its application.
The revolutionary situation draws nearer, and those who do not see this, who do not believe it, need a reminder of the lessons of history, our own history.
First of all, a long quotation having a direct bearing on our contemporary situation;
"It is not difficult from this short writing on the course of development of the workers movement in the West to draw conclusions for Russia. Here the line of least resistance will never be directed to the side of political activity. Insufferable political oppression prevents many from discussing it, while also concentrating attention on this very question, but nowhere does it prevent practical action. If, in the West, the weak forces of the workers, were, in the future, to be drawn into political activity, they would be strengthened by it and develop; here, for weak forces, it is quite the contrary, they are faced by a wall of political oppression and not only do not have any practical path for struggle, but, consequently, can not develop either, for even a systematic enlivening could not produce the smallest result. If we add to this, that our working class has, in consequence, lost the spirit of organization, which the fighters of the West have plenty of, then the picture becomes depressing and is capable of throwing the most optimistic Marxist into depression and the belief that the superfluous production of pipe, which is already a fact of life, can bring tremendous well-being. The economic struggle is difficult, endlessly difficult, but it is possible, and the masses themselves can conduct it. Trained in this struggle to organize, and continually bumping into the political regime, the Russian workers have created something which, in the end, can be called a workers movement, have created a type of organization which more closely corresponds to the Russian reality. At the present time we can say with confidence, that the Russian workers movement finds itself in an amorphous state, not yet having taken on a particular form. The static moment, existing in all forms of organization, still cannot be called the crystallized form of the Russian movement, and illegal organization, from the purely qualitative point of view, does not merit attention (I am not speaking about its usefulness under present conditions.)" (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 4, p.163)
If we ignore a certain terminological imprecision of the author, we can see how observantly he has characterized the current stagnation in our workers movement. Compare each phrase against our reality; how sharply he has brought out the passivity of our workers and their incapacity for organized activity, and even more for political struggle.
Anyone might be truly proud to have understood our reality quite so profoundly. They could be proud, because the work, from which we have taken this quotation in full, was cited by Lenin in 1899. It was put into writing by Lenin in "On a Protest of the Russian Social-Democrats," and we have taken our quotation from there, protesting, naturally, like all the rest. But if this work were called "Credo" and had been written by Kuskov, (remember Mayakovsky's Madam Kuskov?) then it would manifest its liberal philistinism and complete incapacity to assess the actual political situation.
Do we need to adduce the Leninist refutations, since twice within the space of twenty years history refuted this in the most decisive way; first with the revolution of 1905 and then with the victory of the proletariat in the October Revolution.
Those who today don't want to notice the revolutionary ferment among the masses, who want to sap the spirit with justified criticism and live with liberal hope (today they are called dissidents,) deceive themselves in this same way.
The proletarian forces are maturing. The working class, which at that time, in its ignorance, was capable only of comprehending and supporting the main ideas of the revolution, today can already investigate the construction of a revolutionary society with great subtlety. And the task of each, who looks to the future is to help the working class seize that future in its hands.
For this, in order to promote it, particularly bold people are required. Such people are needed today. The question is not only one of personal courage, although that too is needed, but also of the ability to maintain one's convictions in the face of continuous victimization on the part of the Administration.
The question is one of spiritual boldness, the readiness to through down the gauntlet to a society which does not even want to notice your existence. The question is one of being able to persistently and urgently knock on the walls of a people deaf and mistrustful, inert and uncomprehending. This is what is required so that you can believe in your rightness and ultimate success even when for years your voice evokes no response, so that you will not give up the work under such conditions and will obtain success when correct, Marxist revolutionary relations to reality begin to spread like an avalanche.
Then the Maelstrom of struggle will attract ever more and newer people and their will be no shortage of cadre. But for this, enormous effort is required today.
"The ability to be a revolutionary is more difficult by far, and more valuable by far, when the conditions for direct, open, mass action, for real revolutionary struggle do not yet exist. So too the ability to defend the interests of the revolution (propagandists, agitators, organizers) in non-revolutionary, and very often explicitly reactionary organizations, under non-revolutionary circumstances, among a mass unable to immediately understand the necessity for a revolutionary method of work." (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 41, p.80)
Lenin wrote this in "Left-wing Communism - An Infantile Disorder." It precisely characterizes that phase of struggle which we are entering.
What can give us strength in such a struggle? What gives us confidence that the time for this struggle has come?
The considerations brought out earlier determine the unavoidability of such a battle with the Administration. But what conditions the choice of the present as the moment to begin it?
Three factors permit us to single out the current moment in our social development.
The first factor, which is, in general, not the most important, but is nevertheless decisive for the initiation of the struggle, consists in the fact that history of the existence of our society and our Administration, in detail, already provides sufficient material, not only for a Marxist analysis of the profound causes of the inability of our Administration to provide forward movement, but also for the creation of a positive programme for the reconstruction of society. A part of the evidence for this is this work. The essence is that the proletariat is prepared to enter the struggle ideologically armed.
The second factor consists in the fact that the Administration has lost all ideological influence on society. The Administration can't come up with any new productive ideas, and the old ideas, borrowed by the Administration from the active, revolutionary past, partly, have lost their historical meaning as a result of changes in the conditions of social existence, and partly, have been debased through the speculation of the Administration. The principle determinant of the crisis of ideas is not only the lack of ideas linking the Administration to the mass of workers, but the fact that there are no ideas which link up and solidify the Administration itself.
With the broad development of struggle, the Administration began to crumble and entire links went over to the side of the proletariat because of the elemental pull of its spiritual wealth. Of course, the Administration all the more firmly seized the majority of the formal and traditional links, but at the moment it is ideologically, completely disarmed.
The third factor, and the most important, is the most profound economic crisis which has arrived. This crisis is painstakingly concealed. The administration bends all its efforts to create an appearance of well-being. But appearances are only appearances, and the reality breaks through everywhere. There is the inflation which we experience as rising prices. This lag in the volume of production is most obvious in agricultural products. Here let us note the clumsy attempt to pile on all the supplementary "socialist obligations" to squeeze the last drop from industry in order to conceal the inadequacies. But the fundamental signal that the crisis is entering its final phase, that the Administration can find no way out, is the movement in our indices of labour productivity. It has already been a number of years since the TsSU was forced to regularly set growth in labour productivity at a level of 3-4% per year, that is to say a a level corresponding to a catastrophic slowing down of technical progress. For any Marxist it is clear that this is a direct consequence of an extreme mismatch between the character of the production relations and the productive forces.
Our decomposing Administration is in no position to change anything. A spontaneous resolution of the crisis can only take the petty-bourgeois form of a clearing of space for a large scale development of the bourgeoisie. Our working class is still certainly not ready to prevent this, to determine the development of events with decisive action.
The time available to prepare is barely enough. This is why we must start the work today.
 This Latin phrase is used by Marx to denote
goods taken in kind rather than as values.