Movement for the Reorganisation of the CP of Greece 1918-1955

Reactionary anti-communist bourgeois theories that conceal the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union (1953-1990)

The violent overthrow of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat by the traitorous clique of Khrushchev-Brezhnev- Mikoyan-Suslov, etc. in 1953, after the death- murder of Joseph Stalin (on 5th March 1953), ushered in a completely new period in the history of the Soviet Union: the period of the reactionary process of destruction of socialism-communism and the progressive restoration of capitalism completed in the mid-60s – when the most comprehensive capitalist economic reform was implemented (Plenum in September 1965) – with the complete elimination of socialism in that country.

In the period after 1953, when the economic reforms of a capitalist character were gradually introduced in the still socialist economy of the Soviet Union under the direct guidance of Khrushchev-Brezhnev bourgeois social-democratic CPSU, two reactionary anticommunist bourgeois theories were developed on an international scale that attempted to disguise this regressive process, i.e. the gradual but, in due course, complete all-round restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union, proposed by the traditional bourgeois anticommunist defenders of capitalism-imperialism. The theory of “convergence” of the two opposite economic-social systems in general, and more particularly those seen during the historical period after 1953, claiming, in other words, that the “socialism” of the Soviet Union and the capitalism of the western countries were mutually approaching each other. The second theory was put forward by the anti-communist Khrushchev-Brezhnev revisionist social democrats representing the new bourgeoisie of the Soviet Union (originally under development and subsequently a fully shaped bourgeoisie): the theory of the so-called “developed socialism”.

Both of these theories concealed for decades the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union because they presented the objective social-economic reality in the Soviet Union and other revisionist countries at that time (1953-1990), primarily in the field of state power and ideology as “socialism” (!), showing the reactionary bourgeois-fascist power (prohibition of the works of Stalin, etc.) of the Khrushchev-Brezhnev-Gorbachev period of 1953-1990 as the “power of the working class”(!) and claiming that the dominant ideology was “Marxism-Leninism”, although it had already been replaced by Khrushchevite revisionism (a variant of bourgeois ideology) and a number of other traditional bourgeois trends, including the ultra-reactionary philosophy of Nietzsche, German Romanticism, etc. In the field of economics, they presented some “changes” in the Soviet economy as an indication that the two allegedly “different” economic-social systems are coming close to one another. From these views flows directly and explicitly the regressive process of the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union, a phenomenon that was discovered and denounced from the outset only by the revolutionary Marxists who analyzed it, not completely, but at least in its basic aspects.(1)

Moreover, the theory of “convergence” put forward by western bourgeois reaction, which had supporters even in the revisionist countries of the restored capitalism, as admitted by the revisionist theorists,(2) and the theory of “developed socialism” put forward by the Khrushchevites, were both anti-communist reactionary bourgeois theories because, during the period of their dominance (1955-1990), they were directed against the communist perspective of the proletariat and obscured the communist prospect, presenting the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union as the “communism” of the future, but at the same time they were in total opposition to the objective historical progress of society towards social- ism-communism.

For decades both of these reactionary, anticommunist theories dominated the ideological “pseudo”-conflicts and controversies in the ranks of imperialism, between the Western capitalist camp led by U.S imperialism and the Eastern camp of restored capitalism during the Khrushchev-Brezhnev-Gorbachev period led by the capitalist-imperialist Soviet Union (1953-1990). Having disoriented the international workers' and communist movement for many decades under the appearance – on both sides – of a conflict between “capitalism and socialism”, these theories were buried under the ruins of the collapse of the revisionist capitalist camp and the final dissolution of the Soviet Union.(3)

The class character and content of these two theories is based on the defence of capitalism: for the theory of “convergence” it was the traditional capitalism of the Western countries, while for the theory of “developed socialism” it was the restored capitalism of the Soviet Union and the other revisionist countries.

A. The reactionary anti-communist bourgeois theory of “convergence” of capitalism and socialism

Since the mid-1950s, among the bourgeois defenders of capitalism there emerged various views suggesting a “new phase”, a “new stage”, in the development of society. These views subsequently gave rise to the theories of the so-called “industrial society”, or the theory of the “convergence” of the two economic- social systems (capitalism and socialism). Initially, the main representatives of these theories were Raymond Aron (French), Jan Tinbergen (Dutch) and later John Kenneth Galbraith (U.S.) with his work: “The New industrial State” (Boston 1967), etc.

“Convergence” means to succumb to capitalism and imperialism
and to enter into conflicts about spheres of influence.

First, let us note that the term “convergence”, in addition to being deceptive, has been transferred from the natural sciences (geometry, biology, medicine, etc.) to the field of social sciences to describe a kind of “synthesis” between capitalism and socialism and a supposedly “inevitable process of amalgamation of the two economic-social systems in general”. Yet, we should note that the theory of “convergence” is not identical with the theory of the “industrial society”, whose central position is also the denial of the deterministic replacement of capitalism by socialism-com- munism, but it results from it.

Raymond Aron formally expressed these views in his work: “The Development of Industrial Society and its Social Stratification” (1957), although it followed his earlier book “L'Opium des intellectuels” (“The Opium of The Intellectuals”) (Paris 1955), in which he stated that: “In the West, the controversy between capitalism and socialism loses its actual intensity” and his Sorbonne lectures (1955-1956), later included in his work: “Dix-huit lecons sur la societe industrielle” (“Eighteen Lectures on Industrial Society”) (Paris 1962), in which he attempted for the first time to formulate the key features of the “industrial society” and to present “socialism” and “capitalism” “as two versions of the same kind of industrial society... the Soviet and capitalist societies are only two species of the same genus, or two versions of the same social type, namely, the progressive industrial society” (Greek 1972: pp. 46-47), emphasizing, at the same time, the main purpose of this “theoretical” bourgeois anti-communist reactionary approach i.e. “to avoid advantageously the opposition of socialism and capitalism”(!)

Among the most important representatives of the theory of “convergence” in the economic and sociological field are Jan Tinbergen (economist), Pitirin A. Sorokin (Russian-born U.S. sociologist) and Walter Buckingham (U.S. economist).

Since most, if not all, of subsequent versions of the theory of “convergence” have incorporated the anti-scientific views of the famous anti-communist work of Walt Whitman Rostow: “The Stages of Economic Growth – A Non-Communist Manifesto” (1960, German 1961), we need to make a very brief reference to it. Rostow was an ultra-reactionary adviser of the most aggressive militaristic circles of U.S. imperialism during the period of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, (within a very short time, his book was translated into 17 languages, and Rostow himself was hailed as the theoretical “saviour” of capitalism).

Rostow’s infamous “five stages of development” (= “traditional society”, “preconditions for take-off”, “take-off”, “drive to maturity”, and “high mass consumption) – that were distinguished from one another according to the different level of development of production and consumption (!), represent a pseudo-scientific construction, because firstly, they have nothing whatsoever to do with the actual historical evolution of society, and secondly, because this completely arbitrary construction has completely omitted the “productive forces and productive relations” and the dialectical relationship between them, the “property relations” and the corresponding “class relations”, class interests, class conflicts, etc., that would allow a scientific approach to the historical progress of society as successive economic-social formations. Of course, the term “class struggle” is also not mentioned, because, as is known, it is the driving force of historical development and all revolutionary changes in society.

The omission of all these does not mean at all that Rostow makes no attempt to provide a scientific form to his pseudo-scientific construction by creating the misleading impression that he supposedly “accepts” the Marxist concept of “productive forces”. However, the theory of the “five stages” is based “only” on technique and it is thus in contrast with Marx who notes regarding this question: “Social relations are closely bound up with productive forces. In acquiring new productive forces men change their mode of production; and in changing their mode of production, in changing the way of earning their living, they change all their social relations. The hand-mill gives you a society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist  The production relations of every society form a whole” (Marx: The Poverty of Philosophy, Chapter 2).

In the description of the last “stage”, i.e. the “era of mass consumption”, the main purpose of production under capitalism is completely transformed into its opposite: instead of a system of production for profit (especially for maximum profit), capitalism is presented as system of production for consumption, i.e. for the alleged “satisfaction” of the needs of “all” classes in bourgeois society. The maximization of profits is not related of course to the “nature”, to the “substance” of a nonexistent, abstract “man,” not even to the “psychology” of the bourgeoisie as a social class in general (anti-Marxist approaches) but it is connected, instead, to the objective economic laws underlying capitalism, in particular the Law of Surplus Value and the law of capitalist accumulation.

In this essay-manifesto, Rostow calls Marx “a 19th century romantic” (p. 186). When he “evaluates” the contribution of Marx, he argues that supposedly “nothing really important in Marx can be found after the year 1848” (p. 187), while he characterizes “communism” as “a disease of transition “ (p. 193). In this formulation, we see, in embryonic form, Ros- tow’s first attempt to “biologise” social life, socio-economic-political phenomena and the social sciences, promoted later in his work: “Politics and the Stages of Growth”, Cambridge 1971, p. 410). In this book, a failed effort is made to revive certain old views on “biologisation” of social life, in other words Rostow searches for a “biological science of politics”, he promotes a “fusion” of “political science with psychiatry,” and he proclaims that “political science may be, at best, only a variant of biological science and art.”

Besides his subjective-idealist approach, Rostow's “scientific” value is such that he achieves the impossible: he includes in the concept of “traditional society” three modes of production: the primitive communism, slavery and feudalism, while the other two, “capitalism” and “socialism-communism”, are presented as variations of a “single industrial society”. These are completely unfounded and unsubstantiated claims on a theoretical level. Worse still: they have no connection whatsoever with the actual historical development of society.

Nevertheless, Rostow’s book, bearing the characteristic subtitle “A Non-Communist Manifesto”, has been widely used by international bourgeois-imperialist reaction to invalidate Marxism – it was showcased as a “counterweight” to the “Communist Manifesto” – and more specifically to the Marxist theory of the development of social-economic formations. Even Rostow himself does not deny this fact when he writes that that the “stages” theory is “an alternative account to the Marxian theory of modern history” (p. 16), a view presented in the last chapter (p. 174-198). Needless to note that, despite bourgeois reaction’s boasting that Rostow’s theory succeeds in “refuting” revolutionary Marxism, this extremely naive and unreasonably ambitious endeavour is a grand fiasco and expresses the profound crisis of bourgeois “thought” in that historical period.

One of the earliest representatives of the theory of “convergence”, the U.S. economist Walter Buckingham, “Theoretical Economic System” (New York 1958), argues that the capitalist system has radically changed, that the “non-capitalist systems are still present”, and that in the future a “single economic system” will emerge through the mutual convergence of capitalism and socialism. In relation to the ongoing capitalist economic reforms in the Soviet Union, there was an article from the Executive-Director of the U.S. Congress’s “Joint Economic Committee” Dr. Grover W. Ensley. In 1957 – after coming back from Moscow where he met Soviet economists – with the distinctive title “The revolution In Economic Thought of the Soviet Union” in which, among other things, he wrote that, according to Soviet economists, productivity growth will be achieved through the “Profit motive” (in: “Nation's Business” 1/1957).

Pitirim A. Sorokin developed his views on the US-Soviet convergence in the sociological and cultural sector in his article “Soziologische und kulturelle Annaeherung zwischen den Verinigten Staaten und der Sowjetunion” (Sociological and Cultural Approach between the United States and the Soviet Union) (Zeitschrift fuer Politik (Journal for Politics) 4/1960, p. 341).

Jan Tinbergen wrote his famous article in 1960 entitled: “Do Communist and Free Economies Show a Converging Pattern” (in: Soviet Studies, Vol. 12, Oxford 1960/61, p. 333), where he put forward the view that both systems “change”, that “there are certain trends of convergent development”, and that “these changes involve, in certain respects, a convergent development”, “changes” that lead to a desired “optimal, mixed economic system”. In 1959 he had already published his work entitled: “The Theory of the Optimum Regime” (in Jan Tinbergen: Selected Papers, Amsterdam 1959) in which his thoughts about a “perfect economic status” were developed for the first time. This was also argued in other articles later, including:: “Die Rolle der Planung-stechniken bei einer Annaeherung der Struk- turen in Ost und West” (“The Role of Planning Technique in the Approach of the Structures in East and West”), 1966, etc. Taking into account all the capitalist economic reforms implemented in the Soviet Union, Tibergen says in this article: “Since the objectives of social and economic policy of the West and the East – in my opinion – come ever closer to each other, and among many structures only one is excellent, the two structures will gradually fuse into this optimum. This kind of convergence will be achieved through a better knowledge of the social forces and the application of planning techniques respectively”. A year later, he wrote: “the systems of West and East are dynamic: they are undergoing constant changes ... generally these changes are converging, thus the differences between the two systems are reducing” (Jan Tinbergen: “Roads to the Ideal Socio-Economic System” in: The Oriental Economist, February 1967, p. 94).

The reactionary anti-communist theory of “convergence” presents three basic claims: a) a general claim according to which the two social-economic systems, “capitalism” and “socialism-communism” will “converge” in the future to form an alleged “unified” industrial system, b) one specific claim according to which Soviet Union’s “socialism” in the 1950’s and 1960’s borrows certain “elements” from capitalism (“profit”, “interest”, “capitalist price of production” etc) while the capitalism of the western countries borrows from “socialism” “elements” such as “planning” leading to the convergence of the two systems towards each other that will result in the formation of a “joint” “capitalist-socialist” system (!) c) a second specific claim according to which this “unified” economic system will constitute the future “ideal economic formation” (!).

A few short but essential comments that rebut the totally unfounded and unscientific claim of the reactionary bourgeois theory of “convergence” from the viewpoint of revolutionary Marxism, i.e. Leninism-Stalinism.

1. The theory of “convergence” is based on a subjective-idealist approach to the study of social-economic formations and on various unscientific views of vulgar bourgeois political economy that lost its scientific character a long time ago: i.e. “Thenceforth, the class struggle, practically as well as theoretically, took on more and more outspoken and threatening forms. It sounded the knell of scientific bourgeois economy. It was thenceforth no longer a question, whether this theorem or that was true, but whether it was useful to capital or harmful, expedient or inexpedient, politically dangerous or not. In place of disinterested inquirers, there were hired prize fighters; in place of genuine scientific research, the bad conscience and the evil intent of apologetic... It is a declaration of bankruptcy by bourgeois economy” (Marx). And elsewhere: “vulgar bourgeois economy becomes more and more openly apologetic... Its last form is the professorial form_ Such essays appear only when the course of political economy as a science has reached an end, representing at the same time the grave of this science” (Marx).

This scientific evaluation from Marx allowed Rudolf Hilferding, when he was still a Marxist in the beginning of the 20th century, to conclude his very important polemical article «Boehm-Bawerks Marx-Kritik» “(Boehm- Bawerk’s Criticism of Marx”) (Marx-Studien (Marx Studies), Vienna 1904) with the famous sentence: “the last word of the bourgeois political economy is its self-annulment”: «diese oekonomische Theorie bedeutet die Leugnung der Oekonomie; das letzte Wort, das die buerg- erliche Nationaloekonomie dem wis- senschaftlichen Sozialismus antwortet, ist die Selbstaufhebung der Nationaloekonomie».

2. The general claim about the “convergence” of the two social-economic systems, “capitalism” and “socialism-communism”, was a completely unfounded and arbitrary one – it can never be proved – because they are diametrically opposite systems. Each one has its own fundamental attributes in all sectors (economic, political and ideological) and develops according to its own objective laws both conforming to the inevitable general historical course of the replacement of capitalism by classless communist society by means of a violent proletarian revolution. Moreover the assertion made by this reactionary theory regarding the “convergence” of the two diametrically opposite systems has also been refuted by the objective historical fact of the simultaneous presence of capitalism and socialism (the first stage of communism), during the existence of the latter for more than 35 years in the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin without being any sort of “convergence” between the two social-economic formations.

3. The first specific claim about the “convergence” between the “socialism” of the Soviet Union and the other eastern countries, during the Khrushchev-Brezhnev-Gorbachev period, with the capitalism of the western countries towards a “joint” unified system which would combine the positive features of “socialism” and “capitalism” was from the very beginning completely unfounded, because what happened in reality was not the “exchange” of elements between one system and the other but, on the contrary, something totally different. And this was the restoration of capitalism, as confirmed by the subsequent historical course of the Soviet Union, with the introduction of capitalist features (“profit”, “interest”, “capitalist price of production”) in the socialist economy of the Soviet Union by means of the capitalist economic reforms that were implemented – after the death-murder of Stalin and the triumph of Khrushchev’s revisionist counter-revolution – under the direct guidance of the bourgeois CPSU. The goal of these reforms was the elimination of socialism in the sphere of economy and the gradual restoration of capitalism that was completed in the middle 1960’s with the more comprehensive capitalist reforms approved by the Central Committee Plenum of the CPSU in September of 1965. At the political level, the Proletarian Dictatorship had already been overthrown while at the ideological level, the bourgeois counter-revolutionary ideology of Khrushchevism was dominant. It was this restored capitalism that collapsed at the end of the 1980’s, bringing about the complete and final dissolution of the imperialist Soviet Union (1990-1991).

4. In addition, the second specific claim made by the “convergence” theory about the formation of a “unified system” which would evolve to an “excellent economic system” was not only unfounded and unproved but it was consciously misleading, because what happened was NOT the mutual approach between the economies of the capitalist countries and those of the revisionist countries to form a supposed “unified”, let alone “optimal”, economic system but, on the contrary, the inevitable regression of the Soviet Union to the capitalist exploitative system after the overthrow of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in 1953.

5. Because the reactionary and anti-communist “convergence” theory misleadingly regarded the restored capitalism of the Soviet Union of the Khrushchev-Brezhnev- Gorbachev period as “socialism”, it discredited the socialism-communism built in that country during the period of Lenin-Stalin – according to the Marxist conception of communism. Socialism-communism was thus presented as a system, which, allegedly not being able to work on its own basis and with its own economic laws, was compelled to “borrow” capitalist elements (“profit”, “interest”, “capitalist price of production”). In other words, it was presented as an allegedly “failed” and “bankrupt” economic system in an attempt to “prove” the nonexistent superiority of capitalism over socialism-communism.

6. By presenting the Soviet Union’s regression to capitalism as “socialism”, the “convergence” theory deliberately confused the communist viewpoint of the proletariat for many decades. Instead of communism, the proletariat was made to envision the exact opposite: the reactionary process of capitalist restoration that was going on in the Soviet Union during that period (1953-1990).

7. The “convergence” theory denied the inevitable replacement of capitalism by social- ism-communism and the laws underlying this change by attacking the Marxist theory of social development seen as a necessary succession of social-economic formations.

8. The “convergence” theory rejected the character of the 20th century as the historical era of transition from capitalism to socialism- communism. Instead, it adopted the unfounded claim that the 20th century was the era of the “unified industrial society” and of the alleged “capitalism-socialism fusion”. Both had absolutely nothing to do with the reality of that historical period, because the only thing that happened then – that was confirmed historically – was the return of the Soviet Union to capitalism.
Finally, by supporting the view that the two diametrically opposed social-economic systems were “approaching each other” and converged towards an “optimal economic system”, the “convergence” theory denied the irreconcilable contradiction between capitalism and socialism-communism and attempted without success to corroborate this arbitrary claim, also made by the theory of the “unified industrial society”, as formulated by one of its chief representatives, Raymond Aron, namely: to get around in advance the socialism-capitalism contradiction.

In closing, it is necessary to point out that the aim of this very short and incomplete article was not to shed light on all, or even most, sides of the reactionary, anti-communist “convergence” theory but to show what is relevant to our main discussion, i.e. the concealment of the regressive process of capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union and the other eastern countries.

To be continued


1) The initial scientific prediction and the later evaluation made by the revolutionary Marxists, i.e. Leninists-Stalinists regarding the return of the Soviet Union to capitalism from the time when the Dictatorship of the Proletariat was overthrown, after the death-murder of Stalin, was confirmed by: a) the complete restoration of capitalism in the middle of the 1960’s, and b) the subsequent overall historical course of the Soviet Union until its total collapse at the end of the 1980’s and the final breakup of the Soviet Union (1990-1991).

2) Such as, for example, the Soviet L. Leontiev, (Moscow, 1972) who mentions: “an unprecedented exaltation of the convergence theory”, the East German H. Meissner (Berlin-GDR, 1969): “It is not surprising that these views (he means concepts of the theory of “convergence”) were endorsed by some socialist theorists whose Marxist foundation was not so stable ...”, the Czechoslovak J. Filipec in: Freyer/Bossle/Filipec (Mainz 1966) and another Soviet, Lew Alter, who admits that the theory of “convergence” is based on new phenomena (“Pr. d. Fr. u. d. S.”, 9/1968).

3) The true historical course of the Soviet Union during the period 1953-1990 did not confirm either of the two bourgeois anti-communist theories, i.e. the theories of “convergence” or that of “developed socialism” but, on the contrary, it refuted both. Not only the claim that “socialism” was built in the Soviet Union during the Khrushchev-Brezhnev-Gorbachev period (1953-1990) but also the other claim that the Soviet economy was “approaching” the economy of the Western capitalist countries, both converging in an “optimal economic system”, collapsed simultaneously “overnight” with the fall and the final dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1990-1991, precisely because neither of the two claims was realized. As mentioned before, what really happen was the return of the Soviet Union to capitalism, as predicted by the revolutionary communists, although incompletely and along general lines, right from the beginning (since the mid-1950’s).

However, despite the complete refutation of these two reactionary anti-communist theories, the discussion about the causes that brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union – especially the discussion about the character of the reforms after 1953, without which it is obviously impossible to determine the nature of the Soviet economy of that period – has not only a historical interest but it is entirely timely and of great importance for the correct orientation of the workers’ and communist movement, i.e. for its socialist-communist prospect, because it is directly related to the Marxist (or anti-Marxist) conception of socialism.

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