From: New York City, USA:
I read with great interest the article on ‘Che Guevara and the Political Economy of Socialism’ in the April 2005 issue of Revolutionary Democracy. Guevara’s views on political economy and his positive views on Stalin’s economic theories are certainly little known to Marxist-Leninists internationally, at least in large part due to their suppression by the revisionists. I hope this article will help increase our understanding on this question.
However, this letter is mainly concerned with what is clearly a secondary point in that article, and that is the relationship between socialist consciousness and economic development. On page 127, it states: ‘Economic development under socialism and the development of consciousness and socialist culture – two phenomena which go hand in hand. Generalisation on the basis of the history of the Soviet Union indicates that consciousness and socialist culture require a material basis, without which further economic development and further development of consciousness’ (text is missing here, but presumably words such as ‘are impossible’ are clearly indicated). There is no doubt that economic development and socialist consciousness go hand in hand, and that socialist consciousness and culture require a material basis. There is no doubt that, if revisionism is in power, if the means of production, particularly in the state sector, are treated as commodities, and if the law of value plays the role of regulator in the development of production, then a struggle which is limited to the ideological front will not be able to prevent the return to capitalism.
However, the development of revisionism, not only in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe but in China, as well as the restoration of open capitalist relations in the former socialist countries, would indicate that an emphasis must be placed on ensuring that, at the same time as the material basis is being built, socialist consciousness is maintained. It is necessary that the working class as a whole, and in particular the communist party, particularly its middle and upper levels, remain on a socialist course. If this fails to happen, economic development along a socialist path will be undermined and reversed.
In my view, this was one of the main purposes of the party purges, particularly in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. (I mean here the periodic re-registration of the ranks of the party, with criticism of members from above and below, not the better-known treason trials of leading elements who were directly collaborating with the class enemy at home and abroad.) This was an attempt, often at best only partially successful (as J. Arch Getty in his Origins of the Great Purges and other objective historians describe), to shake up the opportunist elements in leadership positions who were more interested in holding on to a bureaucratic post than in the socialist development of the country.
Lenin correctly pointed out (and Stalin showed in practice), in opposition to the revisionists of the Second International (and their like-minded Trotskyites later on) who claimed that it was impossible to build socialism in a backward country like Russia, that it was certainly possible for the proletariat to seize power there, and then to build up the material base for socialism. He pointed out that in such countries, which are backward economically, it would be relatively easy to take power – the hard part would be to maintain it. The means to fight to maintain this power still need to be developed.
The other half of Lenin’s quote above, that in the developed capitalist countries it will be much harder to seize power, but easier to maintain it, is also true (certainly the first part has been proven). The same phenomenon, imperialism, which leads to the super-exploitation of the proletariat and peoples in the oppressed countries and their rape and pillage by the capitalist monopolies, also leads to the development of a labour aristocracy, and particularly a trade union bureaucracy, that forms a layer weighing down on the backs of the working class in the imperialist countries themselves. In the last few years the working class in these countries, even in the U.S., is beginning to stir again in opposition to the increasing attacks on the standard of living, social services and democratic rights. But it is not likely that the working class in these countries will show the leading way to socialism.
I hope that this short letter will provoke further discussion on the important question of the role of socialist consciousness in maintaining working class power, in the pages of Revolutionary Democracy and elsewhere.
Recently, while going through some material on my desk I came across your letter of November 10, 2004, regarding the issue you were planning in order to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Revolutionary Democracy. We had intended to write a message for that occasion, and through an oversight neglected to do so.
If it is not too late, we should like to mention that we are keen and regular readers of the magazine. What we find most valuable is the rare documentary material, much of it translated for the first time. There is a range of other articles, too, all of a serious nature. Over the course of time the editors have attracted contributors from varied backgrounds, and a serious and discerning readership. We wish the journal many more years of success.
With fraternal greetings, and apologies for the belatedness of this reply,
Rajani Xerxes Desai,
For Research Unit for Political Economy.
Dear Comrade Vijay Singh
I have been remiss in my duty to send you greetings on the 10th anniversary of the publication of Revolutionary Democracy. There are several reasons for it not least of which is my own health. I had to have major surgery in January and it took me a long while to recover. I have been doing some work but only the very minimum. In the circumstances I hope you will forgive this delay. Although I am too late for this message to be published in your magazine, I am sending it all the same as a token of our appreciation of its contents over the last 10 years.
On behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) as well as on behalf of the editorial board of Lalkar, I send you revolutionary greetings on the 10th anniversary of Revolutionary Democracy. We have found this magazine to be of great value, for its contents and trenchant style. It brings to the reading public the archival material not easily available elsewhere and fearlessly tackles controversial issues. In particular, its defence of the socialist achievements of the Soviet Union under the leadership of J V Stalin is greatly to be commended, particularly in times of colossal renegacy, which characterises so much of the working class movement especially in the centres of imperialism. For us the defence of J V Stalin has been the hallmark of the defence of socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. In this task we had the comfort of having Revolutionary Democracy walking hand in hand with us.
In addition, Revolutionary Democracy brings analysis of the political and social movements on the Indian subcontinent and thus keeps us connected to the developments there.
The support given by Revolutionary Democracy to proletarian revolutionary and national liberation movements, past and present, all over the world, marks it out as a worthy anti-imperialist organ.
Last but not least, the cultural content of Revolutionary Democracy is always inspiring.
I close this message by wishing the magazine well, and may it go from strength to strength.
With revolutionary greetings,
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