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Call No. 3&$* *f / ^ ^ ^Accession No. 

This book should be returned on or before the date last marked below. 

By the same author: 


by Samuel H. Beer, Adam B. Ulam, 

Harry H. Eckstein, Herbert J. 

Spiro, and Nicholas Wahl 

Samuel H. Beer and Adam B. Ulam, EDITORS 




An Essay on the Sources 

of Influence of 

Marxism and Communism 


Harvard University 


First Printing 

Copyright, 1960, by Adam B. Ulam. 
All rights reserved under International 
and Pan-American Copyright Conven- 
tions. Published in New York by Ran- 
dom House, Inc., and simultaneously in 
Toronto, Canada, by Random House of 
Canada, Limited. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card 
Number: 60-12136 

Manufactured in the 
United States of America 


This book is not a genealogy of political ideas. My main interest 
has been to find out what makes Marxism alive and relevant in 
certain societies, while elsewhere socialism and communism re- 
main the creeds of insignificant sects or intellectual coteries. 

It would take me much too long to list all the people to whom 
I am indebted in connection with this book. But I should cer- 
tainly mention with gratitude Mr. Charles D. Lieber of Random 
House, Miss Mary Towle, my secretary, and Mr. Gabriel Gras- 
berg, my assistant during one phase of this work. 

It is perhaps appropriate in view of one of the main themes of 
the book, that this study of socialism should have been assisted 
by Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Carnegie, the names being those 
of the foundations which have been very generous. The Russian 
Research Center at Harvard has provided me with leisure not 
usually available to a college teacher. I am grateful to its per- 
sonnel and to my colleagues on its staff and particularly to its 
first director, Mr. Clyde Kluckhohn. 

Eliot House 
Cambridge, April 1960 


Chapter I The Problem 3 
Chapter II The Argument 12 

Materialism 1 2 
Economics 20 
The Class Struggle 32 
Socialism 44 

Chapter III TAe Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 58 

Industrialization 59 
Anti-Industrialism 7 2 
Liberalism 90 
Socialism and Anarchism 107 

Chapter IV TAe Diverging Paths: Democracy and Marxism 133 

The English Exception 137 
The Continental Pattern 150 
A New Marxist Synthesis 
Leninism 168 

Chapter V The Other Side of Marxism 196 

Stalinism 197 

The International Aspect 225 

Chapter VI The Crisis of Marxism 251 

The Party and the State 255 

Russian Nationalism and the 

Nationality Problem of the 

USSR 256 

Industrialized Society and the 

Peasant 258 

Industrialized Society and the 

New Class Mentality 260 

Soviet Domination and the New 

Communist States 262 

The Results of Crisis 264 

Chapter VII The Unfinished Revolution 282 
Index 301 



What Marxism is and is not is a question that has occupied and 
divided scholars and politicians for a long time. The difficulty 
is obvious. Here is a doctrine of enormous intricacy and subtlety 
addressed not to the intellectuals but to the masses ; a philosophy 
of liberation and freedom that in our day has given fruit in two 
of the most despotic and bureaucratized states history has seen. 
The earliest Marxists assumed that their doctrine would triumph 
in fully industrialized and modernized society: by contrast, 
history has shown Marxism victorious and influential mainly in 
societies groping their way toward industrialization and moder- 
nity, and not in the cradle of the doctrine, the industrialized 
West. Such is a small sample of the paradoxes of Marxism, 
which may well convince the average American or Englishman 
that life is difficult enough and sufficiently complicated by the 
visible results of the doctrine Soviet Russia and China and 
their satellites without the additional trouble of comprehending 
the intricate system of thought that is somehow behind it all. 
Furthermore, the doctrine is not only intricate but elusive. The 
mutual relationship of the elements of the triad Marxism- 
socialism-communism is far from simple. An academician may 
look condescendingly at the obtuseness of the people who do 
not understand how Communist Russia can proclaim itself to 
be a socialist state, yet no less an expert on the subject than 

4 The Unfinished Revolution 

Molotov is censured by his Soviet colleagues, allegedly because 
of an incorrect definition of the relationship between the two 
terms. There is a suspicion among both statesmen and academi- 
cians in the West that "serious people," in this case the rulers 
of international Communism, cannot really be motivated by 
theories and analyses devised a century ago by two German 
thinkers. The ideology is relegated to the realm of propaganda; 
or, conversely, some of the leaders of Communism are dubbed 
fanatics, and every step in their policies is related to the blueprint 
of world conquest emerging from Marxism-Leninism. 

The uncertainty about the nature of the challenge is accom- 
panied in Western thought by uncertainty about the nature of 
policies designed to meet it. If the doctrine of Marx and Engels 
implants in its devotees an implacable resolve to destroy the capi- 
talist world, then the premise of the ideological motivation of the 
Soviet system must lead the Western exponents of democracy 
to concentrate on concrete tasks of defense. If, on the other hand, 
the doctrine presents danger mainly from the propagandist point 
of view, isn't the right response to prevent its spread among the 
underprivileged parts of the globe through technical and economic 
assistance? To the newspaper reader, the challenge of Communism 
resolves itself into a blurred composite: a military review in the 
Red Square; a Communist agitator haranguing an Oriental 
crowd ; Russia's laboratories, with their eager masses of engineers 
and mathematicians; and somehow behind it all two bearded 
German thinkers. The whole development of the Western, 
especially Anglo-American, world, during the past century has 
conditioned people's minds to envisage political and economic 
problems as being concrete, easily classifiable, easily "seizable." 
Here we are dealing with a complex of problems that seemingly 
elude our grasp. Both "reasonableness" and "firmness" fail to 
arrest the assertiveness of Soviet policies. Emancipation of the 
colonial peoples and economic help to the underdeveloped areas 
appear incapable in themselves of endowing the new states with 

The Problem 5 

democratic institutions or immunity to Communism. Problems of 
an international society undergoing an economic and ideological 
revolution seem to defy the social scientist's expertise, just as 
they defy the democratic citizen's common-sense analyses and 
the generosity granted its qualifications and errors that has 
characterized the policy of the leading democratic powers of 
the West. 

It is at least instructive to take a closer look at the origins of 
the doctrine, which, whatever else it may be, deals with the 
phenomenon of the economic revolution that has transformed 
the world during the last century and a half. Knowledge of the 
origins and structure of Marxism may not help in the solution 
of an international crisis. But that knowledge is in itself a form 
of action (the notion Marxism inherited from ancient philosophy) 
is perhaps the least debatable Marxist tenet. The origins and 
the structure of the Marxist system explain much about the 
spread of Marxism and its offshoots like Communism, a spread 
that has often taken place in societies and circumstances quite 
different from those that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had 
assumed would welcome their system. If it appears presumptuous 
to add yet another to the long list of interpretations and explana- 
tions of Marxism, then it may be offered as a partial excuse that 
events since World War II have enabled us to see new dimensions 
and facets of the problem. 

Karl Marx wrote in the midst of and about a revolution that 
was changing Western society and affecting all parts of the 
globe with all its destructive effects on the old orders of Europe. 
We who have taken the industrial system for granted and as- 
sumed that we have seen all its political and social effects, we in 
the West, have all but lost the conception of the first spontaneous 
reactions to its arrival: the wonder at the power of technology 
and science, the bewilderment and resentment at the abrupt 
destruction of the old social and political institutions and beliefs, 
and the gropings for a system that would somehow explain it 

6 The Unfinished Revolution 

all and put the whole world together again. We have tended 
to consider reactions to industrialism not found in our own 
society (or at least assumed not to be found there) as expressions 
of primitivism, or of the exoticism of a given society, or of a 
national or economic catastrophe. Even the Bolshevik revolu- 
tion and its consequences have been usually taken (and this 
is only to a degree less true of Western Marxists than of their 
opponents) as something quite exceptional, a freak of history, 
perhaps attributable to the peculiarities of the Russian national 

It is only since World War II that we have realized that we 
are in the midst of a yet unfinished revolution. Its character is 
more complex than commonplace Communist propaganda would 
have it ; and it also defies the usual Western editorializing, which 
always sees in revolutionary stirrings the result of an inadequate 
standard of living, or corruption and oppression by a particular 
government. The conditions underlying the current revolution 
are in many ways similar to those that disturbed and transformed 
Western European society during the first half of the nineteenth 
century. Under different conditions and in a different world 
situation, we see parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America entering 
the initial or intermediate stages of the Industrial Revolution. 
The birth pains of modern industrial society, which Marx often 
mistook for the death throes of capitalism, are being enacted 
before our eyes. We can see more clearly what Marxism was 
about than could the generations for whom it was a movement 
of protest against capitalism, an obsolete economic theory, or 
a philosophical justification for an international Communist con- 
spiracy. Also, in another dimension, within the context of a 
highly industrialized society, both the insights and the limitations 
of Marxism are more clearly perceptible now that a society 
based on Marxist ideology is challenging the greatest nonsocialist 
state for industrial and political supremacy. 

In other words, we can begin to see Marxism not only as a set 

The Problem 7 

of theories and prophecies postulated by its author and his dis- 
ciples, but as something that "exists in nature" as well. We need 
not agree with Marx's own appraisal of his theories : that he was 
discovering the laws of social development. Certainly his doctrine 
has been victorious under conditions quite unforeseen by him, 
and Marxism got hold of societies which the very "laws" of 
Marxism would have precluded from falling under its influence, 
while conditions and societies thought by him most appropriate 
for the realization of socialism have developed in a quite dif- 
ferent direction. But a thinker may be supremely important 
and his thought of world significance not only because he formu- 
lates historical laws, but also because his thought reflects the 
essence of the mood of great historical periods. This has been 
the great significance of Marx. Philosopher, economist, a would-be 
politician and revolutionary, his ideas are still alive and important 
because they are attuned to the two greatest tendencies of the 
industrial age: the worship of science and mechanization and 
limitless faith in their power to transform mankind; and the 
very opposite protest against the soullessness and destructive- 
ness of the machine age. Every society reaching for industrializa- 
tion and modernization has its "Marxist" period, when some of 
the ideas of Marx are relevant to its problems and are reflected 
in everyday sentiments of the masses of people, even though 
the name of Marx and his movement may be unknown to them. 
Hence the attraction for Marxism, and the quasi-Marxist charac- 
ter of social protest in many areas of the world an attraction 
which would still exist, though perhaps in a different form, were 
Marxism not represented by one of the two greatest powers of 
the world. Hence also the stubborn character of the appeal of 
Marxism to the intellectual and scientist as well as the masses in 
a society undergoing industrialization. For Marxism comes to 
them not entirely as a new argument attempting to convince 
with facts and figures, but as something which co-ordinates and 
brings together their own ideas and sentiments. 

8 The Unfinished Revolution 

Marxism, then, is not only the complex of theories bequeathed 
by Marx and Engels and developed, interpreted, and acted out in 
countless ways by countless theorists, parties, and movements. 
To use an analogy from physics : science has learned to produce 
in the laboratory elements found in nature. Imperfect as such 
comparisons must be, Marxism to a remarkable degree reproduces 
the social psychology of the period of transition from a pre- 
industrial to an industrial society. If this is correct, then it 
is not surprising that Marxian socialism found little response 
in late nineteenth-century England and a great deal in Russia at 
the turn of the century. The industrialized United States has 
experienced Marxism in the last generation only as an intellectual 
reaction to the Depression; but large parts of Latin America, 
drawn increasingly into modern economy and its concomitants, 
are experiencing social and political turbulence which, while not 
directed by Marxists and not necessarily inspired by socialism 
or communism, is Marxist in its mood if not in its postulates. 

It is always dangerous as well as ungracious to condescend 
to great men's ideas because the passage of time has inevitably 
shown their incompleteness or partial errors. A college student 
is not a greater physicist than Newton because he knows the 
incompleteness or limitations of Newton's theories. The great 
body of literature that has grown up in the exposition of Marx's 
errors, the incompatibilities of his theories with historical facts, 
and his inconsistencies has served only a little less than the 
incredible intellectual calisthenics of the defenders of the literal 
truth of every single postulate of his canon to obscure the 
main meaning and importance of his doctrine. It is not proposed 
here to minimize the importance of critiques of the Marxist 
system or to consider them merely as emanations of their times. 

But it is possible and sensible to look at Marxism not as an 
infallible canon or as a series of intellectual aberrations, Lenin, 
for all his dogmatism, used to quote fondly Goethe's saying 
about the grayness of the dogma and the greenness of the tree of 

The Problem 9 

life. In this case the grayness of the dogma often conceals the 
passion and movement of life. The surplus-labor theory may be 
"wrong" from the point of view of a non-Marxist economist, 
yet it implies the supreme value of human labor and indi- 
viduality in the midst of societies where the worker views himself 
as an adjunct of the machine. The economic historian may 
patiently prove that under capitalism the fate of the worker 
has not grown worse, but this Marxist "error" still communicates 
to the worker in an industrializing society his loss of the stability 
and security he enjoyed in his previous status of peasant or 

This does not mean Marx was manufacturing social myths 
or dealing in symbolism. Again the context of his times enables 
us to understand how he came to believe with the intensity of 
a religious fanatic in many, to us, bizarre notions, just as the 
context of our own times shows how a simplified version of the 
same ideas can drive people into political action. In many 
respects, Marx culminates rather than transcends the ideas of 
his times and society. His economics are in the final flowering 
of the tradition of classical political economy. His philosophy 
and dialectic, those sources of exasperation to would-be Marxists 
in the pragmatic Anglo-Saxon countries, conclude the main 
Hegelian stream in German philosophy as well as subvert it. 
In Marx, socialism from sporadic sects and movements and 
from philosophers became an international movement and a 
definite body of thought. And even some of the postulates of 
liberalism, his main intellectual target, are, as we shall see, 
enshrined in his philosophy more rigorously and dogmatically 
than in the work of the most typical representatives of liberalism 

Marxism, then, as a system of thought, cannot be understood 
except through an understanding of the intellectual traditions 
that made up nineteenth-century thought. The source of the his- 
torical influence of Marxism can be understood only if we 

10 The Unfinished Revolution 

realize how recurrent the kind of social and intellectual situation 
of Western Europe in Marx's time has been in other parts of the 
world up to our own times. 

It is not proposed here to establish a new form of determinism. 
The existence of Marxist situations in large parts of the world 
does not inevitably portend the victory of Communism there. 
It was a grouping of fortuitous events and forces that enabled 
Marxism to triumph in Russia. But it was not an accident that 
in 1917 Marxism in Lenin's version appealed to large segments 
of Russia's working class and intelligentsia. Similarly today: 
whether the Marxist situations all over the world become Com- 
munist preserves depends mostly on the relative strength and 
policies of the Western and the Soviet camps. But the outcome 
must be affected by the^ naturalness or inappropriateness of the 
setting for Communism in any given society. The study of the 
underdeveloped territories, and the attempt at their economic 
development by Western resources and skills, must take into 
realistic account the fact that at the crucial point of transition 
from a pre-industrial society to a modern, at least partly 
industrialized state, Marxism becomes in a sense the natural 
ideology of that society and the most alluring solution to its 

Another dimension of the contemporary problem of Marxism 
is equally important to practical politics. What of Marxism in 
the Soviet Union? If Marxism's alternative roles are the expres- 
sion of protest against the pains and deprivations of industrializa- 
tion and modernization and, simultaneously, the ideology under 
which this modernization and industrialization are accomplished, 
what are the prospects for Marxism in the largely industrialized 
Soviet state? Is the ideology still important to an analysis of 
the Soviet Union, or has it become a mere fagade behind which 
practical people make practical decisions aimed at the maximiza- 
tion of their own power and that of the totalitarian state over 
which they rule? 

The Problem 1 1 

To sum up: from a variety of vantage points a study of 
Marxism is a study not of disembodied ideas, but of crucial 
social and political ideas ; not only of theories but also of human 
emotions which have shaped and continue to make the modern 



It was over the grave of his friend and associate, in 1883, that 
Friedrich Engels said : 

As Darwin discovered the law of evolution in organic nature, so 
Marx discovered the law of evolution in human history; the simple 
fact, previously hidden under ideological growths, that human beings 
must first of all eat, drink, shelter and clothe themselves, before they 
can turn their attention to politics, science, art and religion. 

Engels was carried away by profound emotion ; elsewhere in his 
address he was to ascribe to Marx important discoveries in 
mathematics. The father of modern socialism, though modesty 
was not a prominent trait of his, would not have claimed the 
discovery of historical materialism. The latter as an explanation 
of human behavior is as old as recorded thinking about society. 
Marx in his youth exposed the more naive versions of materialism, 
culminating in Feuerbach's "Man is what he eats." Admirer of 
Hobbes, student of the Utilitarians, Marx could not have claimed 
to have discovered the general principle of materialism which 
indeed emanated from the intellectual atmosphere of his age. 

If Marxism belongs in the great tradition of materialist 
thought, yet the character of Marx's materialism already displays 
one of those striking inconsistencies and ambiguities that are 
interspersed throughout his whole system. We are the products 

The Argument 13 

of our material environment, in the sense that our ideas, as well 
as our mode of existence, are determined by the type of economy 
within which we live, or more concretely by our status within 
it. Systems of politics, art, religion, etc., are eventually traced 
back to their economic roots. Nothing exists in the mind that 
cannot be traced back to the economic environment. The domi- 
nant mode of production determines the character of society; 
the relationship of an individual or class to the means of pro- 
duction decides his or its social consciousness and mode of 
behavior. Such is the gist of Marx's materialist argument. Who 
would quarrel with Marx if he had said that material factors are 
important if before each "determined" he had inserted "largely" 
or even "mostly"? Marx's rigorous dogmatism has set his critics 
on a gleeful and rather easy hunt for exceptions, qualifications, 
and inconsistencies in each step of his materialist argument. Yet 
the fashion for generalizing in dogmatic terms about man's social 
behavior and history was prevalent in Marx's times. If one accepts 
Marxism as a historical phenomenon and does not seek to accept 
or reject it as gospel, there is no reason to get excited over 
Marx's materialistic dogmatism. It is in the spirit of his era. 

The interesting inconsistency lies elsewhere. The first nai've 
question a student is likely to ask about Marxism points up the 
real problem: If we are determined by our environment, what 
chance is there for conscious human activity to change society? 
The passion of Marx and Engels for social justice and revolu- 
tionary activity, their propaganda and their literary activity 
seem to belie their teaching. Whatever unlovely personal charac- 
teristics one discovers in Marx himself, one cannot avoid the im- 
pression of a Prometheus-like person struggling against the world, 
attempting to expose the injustices and hypocrisies which, ac- 
cording to his theories, are the unavoidable features of contem- 
porary society. 

The above dilemma is that of many a philosopher and scientist 
who attempts to revolutionize or reform his world. And to the 

14 The Unfinished Revolution 

accusation of inconsistency there is the not entirely convincing 
answer that revolutionary activity, like scientific activity, does 
not deny the facts of nature, but seeks their understanding and 
control by men. But the ambiguity in Marx's determinism flows 
from his search for a new type of determinism and a new type of 
materialism. The beginnings of the search are perhaps to be 
found in an occurrence quite common in young intellectuals: 
fascination with somebody else's ideas and, at the same time, de- 
sire to appropriate them by improving upon them, by seizing them 
in a new way. Certainly this intent is visible in Theses on 
Feuerbach, the eleven exceedingly epigrammatic statements jotted 
down by young Marx in 1845. If they were read without bearing 
in mind Marx's future activity, they would be dismissed as inco- 
herent exercises on the theme, "materialism is not enough," and as 
a fatuous attempt to grasp for something else. But in the context 
of Marx's future development they can be seen as not only a 
projection of ambition, or of the exasperation of a young and 
sensitive man with an academic approach to human problems 
and his disgust with both materialism and idealism as then de- 
fined. The theses set before him the problem of the search for 
an understanding of the material world that would contribute 
to and lead toward a liberation of mankind. The development 
of his own theories henceforth bore the imprint of an unresolved 
conflict between, first, submission to the spirit of the age with 
its materialism and search for laws governing social reality in 
economics, and second, a romantic's rebellion not only against 
society but against the current theories of social problems. Ma- 
terialism is not enough. Idealism is irrelevant, and the contem- 
porary theories of socialism are the works of quacks and moralists. 
It is a heartfelt cry that is heard at the end of the theses : "The 
philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; 
the point, however, is to change it" : a direct challenge to Hegelian 
strictures of philosophy coming too late to teach the world what 
it should be. Knowledge as formulation of laws by a dispassionate 

The Argument 15 

observer versus knowledge as a form of action these are two 
clashing concepts before young Marx. 

The search for a new type of materialism can be seen in the 
whole Marxist system. The forces of history work through the 
changing forces of production and the changing civilizations that 
correspond to them. Progress toward freedom is man's continuing 
progress in mastering the forces of nature until full mastery is 
achieved under socialism. Marx's materialism is an intricate 
combination of eighteenth-century mechanistic materialism, com- 
mon-sense liberal materialism, which saw men influenced by their 
"interest," and Hegelian dialectic. In his own mind and to his 
own satisfaction, Marx achieved the creation of a new material- 
ism promised in another thesis on Feuerbach: "The standpoint 
of the new [materialism] is human society or socialized human- 
ity." Thus both a new interpretation of the world and a way of 
changing it are promised by Marxist philosophy. Man is a slave 
of his environment not only in the way he lives but also in his 
ideas, until science enables him to break the shackles of his 
environment and by liberating his labor liberates his personality. 
Materialism is thus not only a sober realistic way of viewing 
human affairs, an antidote to religions, myths, and superstitions 
which have imprisoned the human mind. It is also the equivalent 
of the original sin that, until socialism is reached, keeps man- 
kind imprisoned in the network of selfish economic interests and 
makes Utopian the postulates of freedom, equality, and fraternity. 
It is vain to pray for a change in men's hearts, for we are all 
slaves of economic necessity until . . . 

The scaffolding of Marx's argument discloses Marx the romantic 
revolutionary assailing his contemporary society for its preoccu- 
pation with money; Marx the materialist rejecting moralistic 
and idealistic solutions as fraudulent; and finally Marx the 
Hegelian reconciling the two conflicting principles by a march 
of history that, through an evolution of material forces, brings 
freedom for the first time within the grasp of mankind. It is a 

16 The Unfinished Revolution 

brilliant intellectual exercise, a brilliant synthesis performed by 
a mind chafing under the world's injustices and yet rejecting 
solutions ignoring the reality of human relations. But what can 
be the source of attraction in an argument so tortuous and in- 
volved, with its "negation of negations" and its "alienation"? 

A preliminary answer must acknowledge how universal is the 
inner dialectic of Marx's argument. How often we are struck by 
the conflict between ideals and "things as they are." How en- 
ticing it is to resolve the conflict "realistically" by postulating a 
material progress, whether of individuals or societies, that will 
bring about the desired moral results. Behind its complicated 
structure, Marx's concept of materialism has all the power of a 
commonplace. And much more than that: within the fully de- 
veloped system, Marxist economic determinism (which is the 
form his materialism takes) acts not to weaken but to strengthen 
the moral component of the revolutionary impulse. Superficially, 
no moral blame can, strictly speaking, be attached to the capitalist 
as capitalist: he acts in accordance with economic forces that 
determine his behavior. Yet in a sense his crime is all the greater. 
His function lies athwart the historic forces that ordain society 
to move beyond capitalism into socialism. Economic predetermi- 
nation, like religious predetermination, does not absolve from but 
enhances moral judgment. Whatever a logician may think of the 
various steps in its argument, Marxist economic determinism will 
always retain its human appeal. 

To a society encumbered by class, caste, and bureaucratic dis- 
tinctions, materialism comes as a philosophy of liberation. This 
is difficult for us to realize, living as we do in a materialistic age 
and in a materialistic society. Yet in the middle forties of the 
last century in Germany, materialism burst forth as an iconoclas- 
tic creed, challenging the rationale of dynastic and class distinc- 
tion. In a country attempting to shake off traditionalism and 
enter the modern industrial world, materialism, often announced 
with the naive air of discovery, was the first component of a 

The Argument 17 

rationalistic revolution against the force of obsolete customs 
and distinctions. It "exposed" the immemorial customs, privileges, 
and philosophies of the status quo. That Marxism made its plea 
for social justice under the guise of materialism rather than in 
moral terms has always enhanced its appeal in tradition-bound 
societies. The "discovery" that Marx made has often been the 
first discovery made by a young man in a social system that 
denies him advancement or self-expression. A typical Marxist 
paradox: the most simplified version of Marxist materialism is 
often the most effective incentive to revolutionary idealism. 

Marx's materialism is of course far from being simple. The 
tortuous arguments of economic determinism have led some, 
like Professor Schumpeter, to assert that "Marx's philosophy is 
no more materialistic than is Hegel's." l Yet its first appeal is the 
appeal of the simplicity of materialism: man is made by his 
environment and not by forces over which he has no control. One 
does not often pause to reflect that in taking this first step one 
may be exchanging a religious or psychological determinism for 
an economic one. The first step offers liberation from the irration- 
alities of one's society and culture, and also the challenge to 
remake them. The second step, the postulate of economic de- 
terminism, seemingly negates the first one: human control over 
the social environment is illusory, because it is subject to the 
rigid laws of economic phases. Nothing can soften the oppression 
of the serf under feudalism, or of the worker under capitalism, 
until each system, having fully developed its potentialities, is 
ready to pass on and be replaced by its successor feudalism by 
capitalism and capitalism by socialism. To Marx himself, the 
contradiction was encompassed by revolutionary optimism and 
a historical illusion that the birth pains of capitalism in Western 
Europe were its death throes. A new way of interpreting the 
world was to demonstrate how to change it, not in the distant 

1 Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, New York, 
1950, p. 11. 

18 The Unfinished Revolution 

future but immediately. As his revolutionary optimism waned, 
the simple argument of his youth became an elaborate theoretical 
structure. Perhaps in their own old age Marx and Engels them- 
selves forgot how convincing and how endowed with immediate 
revolutionary potentialities their original and primitive material- 
ism had seemed to two young intellectuals in a Europe under- 
going the most painful phase of economic transition. 

In his general formulation of economic determinism Marx drew 
close to English liberalism and its materialist viewpoint. We shall 
attempt to show later how, in his fascination with and bitter 
critique of the English school of political economy and its ally 
liberalism, Marx managed to import into his creed some of the 
most rigorous and dogmatic characteristics of the liberal economic 
Weltanschauung. Here it is necessary to note certain general 
resemblances and differences between the two brands of ma- 

Like Marxism, early liberalism saw in materialism a doctrine 
of intellectual and political liberation. Rationalism and material- 
ism became practically synonymous to the early liberals. A sober 
realization of the healthy earthiness and selfishness of human 
nature is a prerequisite to the study of society and history and a 
necessary antidote to the obsolete claims of tradition and supra- 
natural religion to dominate human conduct. The world of 
liberalism, the world of a middle-class, intellectually inclined 
Englishman of the nineteenth century who read Hume and 
Bentham, was a world of concrete and tangible objects. This frame 
of mind did not tolerate myths, deities, or abstract principles as 
explanations of human behavior. Bentham ridiculed the Declara- 
tion of the Rights of Man as a rationale for political emancipa- 
tion. Adam Smith looked to enlightened self-interest as the basis 
for prosperous, hence free, society. The institutions of the West 
have grown within the liberal tradition of the last century and 
a half. It is something of a shock, therefore, to realize how 
"Marxist" this tradition was in its original formulation of ma- 

The Argument 19 

terialism. The dispassionate language of the early liberals (in 
comparison with Marx's) and their happy ignorance of Hegelian 
terminology may blind us to the rigid economic determinism which 
their writings exude. Indeed, reading Marx, one sometimes gets 
the impression that he spells out with excessive emphasis what 
the early liberals asserted almost nonchalantly, so great was 
their belief in the obviousness of their conclusions. 

It goes without saying that there are considerable differences 
between the two philosophies. The liberals' materialism is un- 
selfconscious. Unlike Marx's, it is unaccompanied by an inner 
revulsion at the merely materialistic basis of human action and 
hence by a search for a philosophy which through materialism 
will eventually free man from his complete dependence on his 
economic environment. There is no sense of original sin and 
therefore no elaborate theology of how to overcome it. The mood 
of liberalism and of the English political economy is optimistic. 
The reservations of Ricardo and the pessimism of Malthus find 
no general response in a generation impressed by the miraculous 
power of science and the prodigious growth of the productive 
powers of the economy. If individuals are allowed to carry out 
their own lives with a minimum of interference by the state or 
organized religion, if economic forces are permitted to work out 
their benevolent effects, mankind will emerge from its unhappy 
condition. Human progress is visible and concrete, not only as a 
long-run proposition, but as a day-to-day improvement in the 
assertion of human rationality over obsolete institutions and cus- 
toms. One does not need, as one does in Marxism, cataclysmic 
clashes of historical forces to accomplish the liberation of man- 
kind ; this is being accomplished, step by step, by the improve- 
ment of material environment through science and education. 

Such is the general spirit of early liberalism, concealing under 
its broad-minded view of progress a rigid materialist bias. The 
absorption of Marxism into the liberal outlook is accompanied 
by Marxism's dislike of liberal bourgeois society and its rejection 

20 The Unfinished Revolution 

of liberal conclusions. As young Marx, largely under the influence 
of Engels, turned to reading the English political economists and 
historians, his materialism, from being a mere philosophical 
postulate, a counterpoint of Hegel, grew into a vision of science, 
industrial labor, and industrial achievement civilizing and liberat- 
ing men through the conditions of their lives and not through 
moral preachings or abstract ideas. The sense of Marxism is 
materialism not only as a materialist philosophy and as economic 
determinism, but also as admiration for the tangible fruit of 
materialism: the bourgeois industrial civilization. 


The trouble with Marxism lies in its economics. Such at least 
has been the opinion of many would-be Marxists, especially in 
the English-speaking countries. The assertion of the class strug- 
gle and the postulate of socialism are clear and simple challenges 
to capitalism. Why spoil them by dragging in an involved eco- 
nomic argument and making it the crucial part of the equally un- 
necessary Hegelian apparatus of history with its dubious "in- 
evitabilities"? In the view of these critics, Marxism gains from 
its economic theory neither as a system of thought nor as a move- 
ment of social protest. No crowds are likely to be driven to 
storm the bastions of autocracy or capitalism because of Marxist 
economics. The legacy of the economic argument to the suceeding 
generations of Marxist leaders and intellectuals has been mainly 
the diversion of energy from concrete political and revolutionary 
tasks to the defense of a doctrine "so dull and illogical," as Lord 
Keynes phrased it. If Marxism could only have preserved the 
simplicity, immediacy, and revolutionary appeal of the Commu- 
nist Manifesto 1 

Such criticisms are usually grounded in the opinion that Marx's 
economic theories can be divorced from his revolutionary message 
and that the surplus-value theory and what follows is merely an 
intellectual fabrication of one man's mind and not a theoretical 

The Argument 21 

expression of the revolutionary ideas current in Marx's society. 
In fact, the economic argument is, as we shall attempt to demon- 
strate later on, a sophisticated arrangement of commonly held 
notions, both liberal and anti-liberal, characteristic of Marx's 
period. The surplus-value theory may or may not be beyond 
the ken of a follower of Marxism, but the type of thinking about 
the economy that it represents will at times find a ready response 
in the minds of people quite unversed in economic theory. An 
economist in 1900 or 1950 may barely contain himself while 
struggling against the illogicalities of the doctrine, yet his 
predecessor in 1860 or 1850, even though equally anti-Marxist, 
would have had to admit how close Marxian economics were, in 
spirit and structure of argument if not in conclusions, to the then 
dominant school of political economy. 

Marx's economic inquiry is characterized by three assumptions. 
First, that political economy is the science of the distribution of 
wealth in society and of its rationale ; that the aim of economics 
is to find out "who gets what and why," a notion proceeding from 
the Physiocrats through the classical English political economists 
to Marx. Second, that the introduction of machinery, industrializa- 
tion, constitutes the decisive fact of modern economy, around 
which all the forces of the modern economy turn. Industrializa- 
tion is a decisive break with the previous pattern of economic 
development and will lead to an entirely different relation of 
man to material forces. Third, that the economic development of 
England, roughly in the first half of the nineteenth century, is a 
preview of eventual economic development everywhere ; that the 
observable data about the economic behavior of various classes 
there have a fairly universal validity. England in the middle of 
the century is Marx's laboratory for economic analysis and for 
what we would call today the psychology of industrialization. His 
worker is the English worker of the forties and fifties, his capital- 
ist is the contemporary English capitalist. 

In his philosophy Marx always goes back to his German origins. 

22 The Unfinished Revolution 

In politics he is always attentive to French developments. A man 
of universal interests, he comments perceptively on developments 
throughout the whole world. But in economics the contemporary 
(or rather the recently past, by the time the first volume of 
Capital appeared in 1867) English economic scene crowds out 
everything else. When, late in his life, he hesitates and inquires 
whether Russia may not skip the capitalist stage of development, 
he departs from his main economic point and is not a "Marxist." 
Within the three above assumptions, shared by him with the 
leading intellectuals of that very unsociologically minded era, 
Marx's economics fall easily within the dominant tendency of 
the classical political economy (i.e., Ricardian economics), but 
with an anticapitalist bias. He asks, "What is value?" a ques- 
tion to us scholastic in its flavor and unanswerable. But this ques- 
tion was asked and always will be asked in a society in which a 
dramatic transformation of the economy has prompted an inquiry 
into the sources of new wealth and the claims of individuals and 
classes to its apportionment. Marx's answer agrees with Ricardo, 
asserting human labor to be the sole source and the real denomi- 
nator of economic value. One step further and human labor be- 
comes the only commodity which, in process of its use, expends 
more value than it uses up. Thus, not as a figure of speech but 
as a hard fact, human labor becomes the only maker of value, 
the only magic of economic transformation. From labor is ex- 
tracted capital accumulation and the capitalist's profit. Its magic 
propensity gives the capitalist, after he pays the laborers for 
their labor, the natural wages of any commodity, i.e., the cost 
of its production, the surplus labor. The worker may satisfy his 
wants by working, say, four hours, but the capitalist system 
forces him to work longer and to produce surplus value. The 
whole process is one of exploitation, in terms not of human voli- 
tion (i.e., the malevolence of the employer on the one hand, the 
worker's stupidity or weakness on the other), but simply of the 
necessary mechanics of the system. The cupidity of the em- 

The Argument 23 

ployer and the chains of the proletariat are alike ordained by 
the forces of history prescribing the inevitable stages of capitalism, 
and only these forces, once the system is fully developed, will 
decree its collapse. In the meantime there is nothing that charity, 
parliaments, or unions can do to alter the consequences of the 
law of surplus value. 

The howling of critics, the agonized attempts of defenders, and 
the simple exasperation of men of common sense have followed 
the surplus-value theory down to our own day. How can you talk 
about labor or labor power as if it were a concrete substance? 
How about a ditch digger versus a man operating an atom 
smasher ? How about the role of management, the value of inven- 
tors and innovators? How about factors of scarcity, noneco- 
nomic influences, and so on? The answer is that in the context of 
its times and circumstances Marx's surplus-value notion did not 
depart from the best economic thinking. 

More than that. In his admirable rephrasing of Marxist eco- 
nomics, Mr. Paul Sweezy 2 has re-emphasized the importance of 
Marx's attack on what he called "fetishism," a cunning tendency 
of the bourgeois economists to picture the whole economic process 
as consisting of relations between things, as concealing the essen- 
tially human nature of social and economic reality. The surplus- 
value theory was a concrete application of Marx's "new ma- 
terialism" : there are laws of history and economy, but they oper- 
ate through human beings. There are heroes and villains, ex- 
ploiters and exploited, even though they are cast in their roles 
not by their own volition but by historical forces. The mechanistic 
aspect of the "dismal science" of economics is supplanted by live 
actors, and here lies the continuing human appeal of an awkward 

From the perspective of a modern non-Marxist, the surplus- 
value theory is a clear example of an ideology masquerading as 
a scientific theory. It is necessary to meet this objection by repeat- 

9 The Theory of Capitalist Development, New York, 1942. 

24 The Unfinished Revolution 

ing how close the economics of Marx are to the British economic 
thought of the generation preceding their formulation. The 
notion of the capitalist's being the inevitable exploiter because 
of the mechanics of the industrial process is parallel, for instance, 
to Ricardo's picture of the landlord gathering, through no merit 
or labor of his own, the fruits of the growth of population and 
industry. If Marx was intruding an ideology into his system, so 
were the others. If Marx rejected the common-sense version of 
exploitation (i.e., the cheating of the worker by the capitalist) in 
favor of a more subtle one, he did so because he was convinced 
that the economic system is regulated by laws of its own, having 
all the rigor of scientific laws if not so rigorous as those of 
physics then at least those of biology. As a matter of fact, the 
more Marx studied political economy and the structure and argu- 
ment of the contemporary bourgeois society, the more he became 
engrossed in their spirit. The violent diatribes and vituperations 
that intersperse the theoretical sections of Capital give the im- 
pression not only of an indictment of bourgeois society and its 
apologists, but also of an inner irritation at the way the author 
feels himself drawn into the spirit and the way of reasoning of 
his opponents. It is not just the statistics, equations, and theorems 
that replace the simple communist appeal of Marx's youth; it is 
also, perhaps, the realization of how much of the capitalist spirit 
has entered into the edifice of his socialism. 

The moving factor of the capitalist development is industrializa- 
tion. It is difficult, if we follow the main trend of Marx's doctrine, 
to conceive of capitalism apart from industrialization, impossible 
to conceive of the capitalist except through his role in the indus- 
trial process. And to anticipate, socialism without industrialization 
is in Marxist terms simply a contradiction in terms, because it 
follows and is the logical culmination of capitalism. Marx ex- 
pressed the connection unmistakably: 

Except as personified capital, the capitalist has no historical value, 
and no right to that historical existence, which to use an expression 

The Argument 25 

of the witty Lichnowsky "hasn't got no date." And so far only is 
the necessity for his own transitory existence implied in the transitory 
necessity for the capitalist mode of production. But, so far as he is 
personified capital, it is not values in use and the enjoyment of 
them but exchange value and its augmentation, that spur him into 
action. Fanatically bent on making value expand itself, he ruthlessly 
forces the human race to produce for production's sake; he thus 
forces the development of the productive powers of society, and 
creates those material conditions, which alone can form the real 
basis of a higher form of society, a society in which the full and 
free development of every individual forms the ruling principle. 
Only as personified capital is the capitalist respectable. As such he 
shares with the miser the passion for wealth as wealth. But that which 
in the miser is a mere idiosyncracy is, in the capitalist, the effect of 
the social mechanism, of which he is but one of the wheels. More- 
over, the development of capitalist production makes it constantly 
necessary to keep increasing the amount of the capital laid out in a 
given industrial understanding, and competition makes the immanent 
laws of capitalist production to be felt by each individual capitalist, 
as external coercive laws. It compels him to keep constantly extend- 
ing his capital, in order to preserve it, but extend it he cannot, 
except by means of progressive accumulation. 3 

The capitalist is history's agent of accumulation, without which 
industrial development cannot go on. Without this development 
the necessary material basis for socialism will not be achieved. 
We already find here more than a hint of the industrial 
fanaticism and the mania for production that has characterized 
the Communists of our times. But in the context of the economic 
argument, the immediate importance of the statement is that it 
pictures the capitalist as the unconscious agent of industrial 
progress. The logic of industrialization brings about major changes 
in the capitalist system. The capitalist's psychology fits in with 

8 Capital, Volume I [1867], edited by Ernest Untermann after the fourth 
German edition by Friedrich Engels (New York: The Modern Library, 1932), 
pp. 648-649. All subsequent page references to Capital in this book are to the 
Modern Library edition. 

26 The Unfinished Revolution 

the inherent logic of industrial dynamism, although the latter 
will eventually bring about his demise when he is no longer 
necessary. He cannot help but go on accumulating, extracting 
surplus value from the worker, indulging in catastrophic com- 
petition for the market with his fellow capitalist, and thus 
speeding the day of his doom. The capitalists as a class may not 
though isolated individuals may cease their feverish pursuit of 
accumulation and more production; they cannot develop the 
tastes and ethics of other classes and simply let the economy 
stagnate. Thus the picture of the dynamics of the capitalist mode 
of production can be understood in terms of two general assump- 
tions of Marxian economics that we noted in the beginning : that 
the increasing use of machinery is the central and universal char- 
acteristic of the modern economy; and (a much more debatable 
notion) that capitalists everywhere and always will behave the 
way the English capitalists of Marx's time in effect did. 

The drama of capitalism has as its cast of characters the 
worker, the capitalist, and the machine. Economically speaking, 
they have no choice in their actions. The worker has to sell his 
labor for the wages oscillating around what in the given society is 
the level of subsistence. The capitalist has to extract surplus 
value and sink it into expanding the means of production. Finally, 
the machine is both the cause and the nemesis of the capitalist 
economy. Itself nonproductive of value, it increasingly displaces 
human labor and forces the capitalist to reduce his investment in 
value-producing human labor as compared with his investment 
in machines. The organic composition of capital, the proportion 
of constant capital (mainly machinery) to variable capital 
(wages), goes up as capitalism progresses. Thus the mechanics of 
industrialization, of capitalism, must force employers to use less 
and less surplus-value producing labor and more and more ma- 
chines, which do not produce more value than they consume ! 

The triumph that this theory achieves over obvious, palpable 
common sense did not escape even Marx. He granted that his 

The Argument 27 

law contradicted all experience based on observation. Everybody 
knows, he wrote in the first volume of Capital, that a cotton 
manufacturer who uses a lot of machinery in proportion to 
workers does not receive less profit or surplus value than does 
a baker who uses little machinery and a lot of human labor. 
The logic of the wretched law would have all capital go into the 
most primitive forms of production, with the capitalists falling 
all over themselves in destroying machines! Undaunted, Marx 
observed haughtily that : 

For the solution of this apparent contradiction, many intermediate 
terms are as yet wanted, as from the standpoint of elementary alge- 
bra many intermediate terms are wanted to understand that 0/0 may 
represent an actual magnitude, (p. 335) 

He eventually undertook the solution of the dilemma, in the third 
volume, while reproaching the bourgeois economists of the labor- 
value theory (i.e., Ricardo and his school) for simply capitulating 
before this crushing paradox. 

By the time the third volume of Capital appeared in 1894 with 
its "solution" of the dilemma of price versus value, the type of 
economic thinking embodied in the labor theory of value was 
almost incomprehensible to economists. It has become difficult to 
appreciate that Marxist economics were not only a logical con- 
clusion of the tradition of classical economy, but embodied ideas 
about the production and distribution of wealth in which many 
"practical" people quite innocent of economics believed. Not only 
many a worker or radical agitator, but quite a few manufacturers 
in England from about 1820 to 1860 instinctively talked and acted 
as if they were demonstrating the Marxist "laws." By the nineties, 
the economic situation and intellectual atmosphere that had pro- 
duced Ricardian as well as Marxist economics had largely be- 
come things of the past for Western Europe. The imperfections 
of Ricardo's theory, the cul-de-sac to which his theory of value 
led, were treated tolerantly by the then dominant school of 

28 The Unfinished Revolution 

economics. Great men, after the passage of time, have the 
privilege of being proved partly wrong. But Ricardo did not place 
economics as a basis of an elaborate political philosophy, or so it 
seemed, and the full fury of the marginal-utility-theory econo- 
mists fell upon Marx. 

The "solution" that Marx offered to his own riddle provides 
at the same time his exposition of the dynamic development of 
capitalist economy leading to its self-destruction. Although the 
capitalist cannot derive any profit from the machine, he is in- 
creasingly forced to use it, because he is in competition with other 
capitalists and because a technological advantage translated even 
temporarily into a cheapening of the given commodity is to 
him a matter of life and death. A technical innovation, a more 
extensive use of machines, enables him to grab a bigger share of 
the market and to force his more backward competitor from 
the rank of capitalists. Hence, even at the price of reducing the 
proportion of human labor employed and, therefore, at the price 
of reducing his profit, he is drawn toward greater and greater 
mechanization. It is this process of competition, this toll exacted 
by the mechanizing propensity of modern industrial civilization, 
that distributes among the surviving capitalists at a fairly equal 
rate the total sum of surplus value exacted from all the workers. 
Commodities exchange not according to the amount of labor 
embodied in them, but according to that amount as modified by 
the constant competition among the producers. The machine, 
which is the blessing of modern civilization, is at the same time 
the curse of capitalism. It undermines profit; it threatens the 
producer, unless he is constantly in the forefront of mechanical 
progress, with removal from the rank of manufacturers. Since the 
capitalists as an order have to pay an ever-increasing ransom 
to the machine, their profit is bound to decline and their number 
is bound to decrease. Industrial progress is forever devouring its 
children the capitalists. 

It is immaterial, from the point of view of the analysis of Marx- 

The Argument 29 

ism expounded here, to concern ourselves with the extent to which 
Volume III of Capital contradicts Volume I, or with the question 
of whether the organic composition of capital creates the tendency 
for the rate of profit to fall continually. The important thing 
to note is that Marx's exposition reflects a peculiarity of his 
period : human perplexity at the effects of scientific and mechani- 
cal progress. We may sympathize with thinkers of the first half 
of the nineteenth century, for, after having become quite used to 
and blase about mechanization, we have been confronted most 
recently by the implications of automation and atomic energy. 
It is perhaps easier for us than for someone in 1900 to visualize 
resentment at forces of our own making that yet control our 
lives, independently, as it were, of our will. The century and the 
class that prided themselves on shedding the shackles of super- 
stition and custom were confronted with progress itself as 
seemingly defying human volition. In more prosaic terms, the 
English economists and philosophers were confronted with the 
necessity of formulating a theory "laws" for a constantly 
changing situation, the necessity of prescribing a stable and 
unalterable pattern of relations for an economy in a state of 
revolution. The most profound of them, even while sharing in 
the enthusiasm for progress and technology, could not but re- 
flect in their theories the very human if unscientific worry: 
"Where will it all end?" Full accommodation to the Moloch of 
industrialization was beyond their vision, just as it is difficult 
for us to visualize how the world will come to terms with atomic 
energy. Marx shared their fascination and perplexity, but be- 
cause of his premises, his new materialism, he knew how it would 
all end. Advanced industrialism is incompatible with capitalism. 
Mechanization by reducing the share of labor in a finished product 
impinges on profit-capitalism. Yet mechanization is both 
necessary and unavoidable because of competition among the 
capitalists. The final result can only be the replacement of 
capitalism by a system that does not need the profit motive and 

30 The Unfinished Revolution 

hence can live and thrive on technological progress socialism. 

It is with an almost voluptuous delight that Marx sketches 
several aspects of capitalism's race toward self-destruction. Peri- 
odic crises of overproduction destroy the weaker strata of capital- 
ists, but also plunge whole societies in misery. Whether Marx was 
an "underconsumptionist" or not is a question of primary interest 
to the economists. Certainly within the body of his writings there 
are several suggestions about how the pleasing prospect of capital- 
ism's self -strangulation is to become reality. Concentration of 
capital to an absurd degree and on a world scale is one such possi- 
bility. The world reduced to a few capitalists and hordes of 
paupers is a vision sufficient in itself. The most frequent economic 
argument for collapse is more varied. The perpetuation of capital- 
ism under conditions of technological progress means a continuous 
effort by the capitalist to squeeze more surplus value out of his 
diminishing labor force. He will attempt to cut his workers' wages 
closer to the minimum subsistence level or to prolong their hours 
of work or to work them more intensely or God knows what else. 
The worker has no option but to take work on the capitalist's 
terms, because the mechanics of industrialization, progressively 
decimating the number of business firms, increase the number of 
unemployed, the "reserve industrial army of the proletariat." 
Periodic crises of increasing severity shake up the capitalist 
economy until the final one spells its destruction. Capitalism is 
doomed because it cannot accommodate technological progress to 
the profit motive. It is doomed because it creates socialism in the 
sense of concentrating the means of production in huge units, thus 
making the notion of private property an absurdity as well as 
a fetter on the productive system. It is finally doomed because in 
its fight for survival it has to bring increasing misery, exploita- 
tion, and unemployment to the mass of the population. 

Such is the culmination of Marxist economics, the elaboration 
of which took the great revolutionary a major part of his life. 
Economists have written voluminously about its obvious weak 

The Argument 31 

points: the inconsistencies concerning the relationship of value 
and price and the belief that industrialism under capitalism is 
bound to make the working class more and more miserable. The 
latter point, Marx's "immiseration" theory as Schumpeter called 
it, is a tenet of Marxism most decisively refuted by history. No- 
body would claim that the worker in England or France today is 
worse off than was his grandfather a hundred years ago. One 
may attempt, as the neo-Marxians have done, to plead that Marx 
meant a "relative" as opposed to absolute worsening of the stand- 
ard of life. Such an interpretation is not borne out by a study of 
all that Marx had to say on the subject, and its content has not 
come true anyway. By contrast, Marx has been praised even by 
his adversaries for predicting the trend toward the centralization 
of industry and, eventually, monopolies. 

Both the defenders and opponents of Marxism have thus dis- 
tributed pluses and minuses to various points of its economic 
analyses. To the defenders of the over-all system as a correct 
analysis of and prediction about capitalism and its development 
everywhere was left the unenviable task of stretching every 
conceivable line of argument : Marx was interested in discovering 
the "laws of motion" of capitalist society rather than in describ- 
ing its operations precisely ; Marxist laws still describe correctly 
the natural tendency of capitalism, although at times this tend- 
ency is held in check by countertendencies ; the downfall of 
capitalism is postponed by such extraneous factors as the im- 
perialism of the great industrial countries. It was claimed that 
the Great Depression of the 1930's was a vindication of Marx's 
analysis comparable to the vindication of a doctor who pre- 
dicted that his patient would die of cancer within one year, only 
to have the man die twenty years later of a heart attack! The 
devotion of the believers, and the attacks or condescension of 
the opponents as well, overlook, ironically enough, the clear moral 
of Marxism itself: the rather commonplace idea that no social 
doctrine or system of economics can transcend its historical and 

32 The Unfinished Revolution 

social circumstances. The main point about Marxist economics 
is not the correctness or error of this or that item of his analysis, 
even though such a question in itself is of great intellectual 
interest. More important to the historian as well as the student of 
contemporary society is to ascertain the social and intellectual 
forces that gave rise to the Marxist structure, and to see where 
in the modern world the same or similar forces endow Marxist 
economics with relevance and persuasiveness. 


The eternal battle array of history always ranges the oppressor 
against the oppressed, most commonly the owner of the means of 
production against the man who works with them. Only in the 
very beginning of human society was there no class struggle, just 
as there will be none" in its culmination. Between the most 
primitive tribal community and the socialist-communist era, "the 
history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class 
struggles," 4 Capitalism witnesses this struggle in the most simpli- 
fied form: the proletariat against the capitalists. The victory of 
the proletariat will bring with it the abolition of the class struggle. 
The discovery of private property disrupted the social innocence 
of mankind. The full utilization of mankind's productive powers 
under socialism will restore it. With the disappearance of private 
property and of the class struggle, most of the social evils will 
disappear and with them the rationale for oppressive institutions, 
including the state. 

This is the most clear-cut and internally consistent of all 
Marxist arguments. From its ringing formulation in the Com- 
munist Manifesto to the end of their lives, Marx and Engels never 
doubted that they had found the operating pattern of history, that 
the reality of social and political life is expressed, not in the 

4 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels "Manifesto of the Communist Party," 
in Capital and Other Writings by Karl Marx, tr. by Samuel Moore, ed. by 
Max Eastman (New York: The Modern Library, 1936) p. 321. Page numbers 
given in all subsequent quotations from the Manifesto refer to this edition. 

The Argument 33 

struggle of ideas, dynasties, or nations, but in the class struggle 
grounded in economic motivation. To their followers, the princi- 
ple was a satisfactory explanation and a reliable guide to action, 
with none of the puzzling qualities of Marxist economics or over- 
all philosophy. Class struggle became, in effect, the major portion 
of the revolutionary appeal of Marxism. Workers do not strike or 
storm the barricades in order to abolish surplus value. They 
strike and revolt against oppressive conditions, against the capi- 
talists. From the point of view of political action, the slogan of 
class struggle is the simplest guide. It is also the simplest, most 
convincing revolutionary explanation of politics and history. 

A deceptive simplicity ! It has misled both the critics and the 
followers of Marxism. It has led Marxist movements too often to 
identify Marxist politics with a simple posture of opposition to 
the exploiting classes. The dominant faction of the German Social 
Democrats before World War I defined their Marxism as hostility 
to the imperial institutions and middle-class parties of their coun- 
try. It led the Bolsheviks, in the first flush of their victory in 
1917, to believe that by destroying the capitalists they were de- 
stroying capitalism. It has led people versed in Marxism to 
express surprise that many secondary features of capitalism "sud- 
denly" made their appearance in Soviet Russia in the 1930's. 
Marxism became identified with insurrectionary action or with 
hostility, open and uncompromising, to capitalism and to every- 
thing and everyone connected with it. 

It is necessary to repeat (as it will be again) what is perhaps 
the most pregnant sentence in Marx's view of social revolution, 
describing the role of the capitalist : "He thus forces the develop- 
ment of the productive powers of society, and creates those ma- 
terial conditions, which alone can form the real basis of a higher 
form of society, a society in which the full and free development 
of every individual forms the ruling principle." 5 Nothing in the 
main body of Marx and Engels' writing suggests that any po- 

5 Capital, p. 649. (Italics mine) 

34 The Unfinished Revolution 

litical development, even a seizure of power by the proletariat, 
can abrogate the laws governing the material development of 
mankind. From the earliest days of their association, the days 
filled with the most immediate revolutionary hope, Marx and 
Engels believed in the primacy of material factors over politi- 
cal action. It is always possible to find an incident or a statement 
by one or the' other that would range them in the camp of believers 
in revolution pure and simple and hang the stage of economic 
development. (Thus the brief "Blanquist" period of Marx's early 
revolutionary activity, and, late in his life, his opinion that Russia 
might skip the full capitalist phase and pass into socialism from 
pre-capitalism.) But it is impossible to claim that such incidents 
or utterances represent the main tendency of Marxism or, as 
M. Rubel claims in his excellent biography, that Marx ultimately 
abandoned economic determinism in favor of unconditional faith 
in the ideal of human liberation. 6 

What bridges the gap between economic determinism on the 
one hand and class struggle and the call to the proletariat to 
seize power on the other is Marx's revolutionary optimism-. In 
the 1840's and early '50's, he believed that capitalism was on its 
last legs, that the economic as well as the political conditions for 
its downfall were at hand. It is true, as M. Rubel reminds us, 
that Marx was a socialist long before he discovered his economic 
system. It is true that the fascination of political economy en- 
grossed and captured him, pushing his thought in directions he 
had perhaps not envisaged as a young man. But his socialism 
and his "discovery" of the class struggle did not precede his dis- 
taste for the existing moralistic brands of socialism and the 
determination to place his socialism on a firm, materialistic, 
scientific basis. 

Again, what is difficult for us to understand from the perspective 
of a hundred years becomes easier if we immerse ourselves in 
the feeling of the period. How could a man believe both that 

6 Maximilien Rubel, Karl Marx: Essai de biographic intellectuelle, Paris, 1957. 

The Argument 35 

capitalism was a necessary phase of the development of man- 
kind and that Western European capitalism circa 1850 had played 
its role and was ready to leave the stage? The simple answer is 
that Marx and Engels shared not only the expectations of many 
radicals and socialists of the day, but also the apprehensions of 
many capitalists and liberal economists. Social and economic 
unrest had risen in ascending proportion from the introduction 
of what are to us the rudimentary institutions of capitalism to the 
middle of the nineteenth century. Was it entirely unreasonable 
to expect a fairly early economic collapse as well as a political 
revolution? Or to see a democratic revolution as a far-reaching 
step toward socialism? Many revolutionaries live expecting their 
revolution to take place any day. In Marx the faith of a revolu- 
tionary was complemented by the analysis of a social scientist. 
It is easy for us to say that Marx was wrong: capitalism did not 
collapse in Europe in 1850 or in 1860. But he was also right, 
though on wrong premises : what he assumed were relatively late 
stages of capitalism in France and England were in effect the 
early stages of industrialization and modernization in those 
countries, and in those stages capitalism is most vulnerable to 
class struggle. 

Without revolutionary optimism, the doctrine of the class 
struggle, when joined with economic determinism, is a somber and 
tragic lesson. Except at the turning points in history, there is 
nothing the oppressed can do against the oppressor. The slave can- 
not prevail against his master, the serf against the landowner; 
and one type of oppression disappears only to be reborn in a 
different form of exploitation of man by man. Class struggle is 
compounded in the character of law and civilization imposed by 
each dominant class. Systems of religion and ethics serve to 
reinforce and to conceal at the same time the interest of the 
dominant class. Ever since he had seen, as a young man, the 
diet of his province discuss draconic laws against the removal of 
timber from state and private forests by the poor, all of Marx's 

36 The Unfinished Revolution 

instincts rebelled at the myth of the impartial state, impartial 
law. The system of private property under capitalism embodies 
best the double deception by which each exploiting class masks 
its exploiting role. It protects the capitalist against any tampering 
with his property, and it seeks to create the illusion of equality 
and impartiality for all. The plea for democratic franchise that 
the bourgeoisie makes is likewise a weapon of its class struggle. It 
seeks to strip the landlords of the remnants of their power and 
to delude the proletariat into believing that the essential issues 
are political in nature. The principle of class struggle illuminates 
world history by stripping it of its theatrical aspects of national 
struggles or contests about principles, and by demonstrating its 
material nature. Marx's is the "inside story" of world history, 
with economic interest its moving principle. 

The "exposure" of history and politics was not unique to 
Marx. The dominant role of "interest" in politics and recent 
history was a cardinal tenet of the liberalism of his time. The 
sense of politics consisted in the struggle of classes seeking the 
advancement of their material interests. Thus the political strug- 
gle in the England of the thirties and forties between the Whigs 
and the Tories was interpreted as centering around the contest 
between the agricultural and the manufacturing interests. Liberal 
economists saw in their doctrine a guide to public policies that 
would secure a "harmony of interests," but they were far from 
assuming that the correctness of their theories would of itself se- 
cure their adoption, or that a collusion of vested interests could 
not as well as ignorance hamper public welfare. The liberal 
version was already a "suspicious" theory of history, with the 
material interests of classes lurking behind the struggle for politics 
and principles. 

Marx elevates this suspicion into certainty. Thus, for example, 
the Glorious Revolution of 1688 is not primarily a victory of 
parliamentarianism over royal despotism, but a harbinger of 
bourgeois domination, with the Stock Exchange and other rudi- 

The Argument 37 

mentary institutions of capitalism soon to be established. In a 
sense, the Marxist class-struggle interpretation of history is 
more "historical" than the liberal one. In the liberal outlook, 
history had been a period of darkness and superstition until 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and only then had scien- 
tific principle begun to assert itself in thinking about human 
affairs. To Marx, on the other hand, the class struggle provided 
the rationale of social systems and philosophies from earliest 
times; the pattern of history is always meaningful if we follow 
the class-struggle principle and its economic underpinning. The 
Middle Ages are thus not merely a period of darkness and ob- 
scurantism: their social and religious ideas are perfectly under- 
standable in terms of the then dominant mode of production and 
system of property. Marxist historical analysis and methods of 
investigation have had an influence on many historians, some of 
whom would repudiate indignantly the charge of having any- 
thing to do with Marxism. 

The class struggle under capitalism ranges the proprietors of 
the means of production against the proletariat. To a man like 
Marx with an acute sense of contemporary social reality, it was 
obvious that the picture was much more complicated than that. 
The class struggles in France, Germany, and England in the 
forties and fifties demonstrated the presence of other classes, as 
well as the differentiation of the two principal ones. The aristoc- 
racy, a remnant of the feudal age, was still fighting a retreating 
battle. The peasants had some characteristics of a separate class ; 
from another point of view, they constituted a part of the petty 
bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie itself had elements of the financial 
class as well as of the industrial one. 

Marx cannot be reproached with having overlooked the dif- 
ferentiation and proliferation of social classes in his society. 
Indeed, ostensible political activity consists in various classes 
and subclasses playing for, or being played for, power in the 
state. But the essence of the class struggle and its eventual deter- 

38 The Unfinished Revolution 

mination is much simpler. Only two classes really count the 
capitalists and the proletariat. Other classes and subclasses play 
increasingly minor roles in the drama of capitalism. Sooner or 
later they retire into the wings, leaving the stage to the two great 
antagonists. Insofar as it is the logic of history, i.e., the develop- 
ment of productive forces, and not the temporary whims or 
affiliations of groups of population that ordain social stratifica- 
tions, only two classes will remain, and they are "really" the 
only classes in the true sense of the word. Capitalism is already 
destroying the landowning nobility, and it will destroy the 

Marx's conclusions about the class struggle, its character, and 
its participants make sense only if one keeps in mind his eco- 
nomic presuppositions. Like many philosophers of history of his 
period, he worked on the assumption that history operated neatly 
and always solved the problems it had posed. It did not occur to 
him that an advanced capitalism might still shelter a peasant 
problem or that a concentrated system of retailing might not 
completely replace the local grocer. Indeed, what "spoils" his 
analysis of society and his remarkable social acumen, so much 
more penetrating than that of his contemporary liberals, is 
precisely his analytical gift, his conviction that the observable 
tendencies in his society must work themselves out fully ! History 
likes to chastise those who presume to understand it fully a 
remark Marx would have classified as sheer obscurantism ! 

The two classes that are to square off in the last phase of the 
class struggle are quite dissimilar in many characteristics. The 
capitalist class is forever growing smaller in numbers; the pro- 
letariat, the exploited, ever larger. The rationale of the capital- 
ist process, while it makes the capitalists aware of certain inter- 
ests they have in common, still obliges them to engage in 
suicidal competition. The capitalist-industrial process makes the 
workers more and more unified in the realization of their com- 
mon interest and in their class solidarity. The peasants, for in- 

The Argument 39 

stance, because of their dispersion, because of the peculiarity of 
their way of living, can never achieve real solidarity and a real 
community of interest and feeling; and thus, apart from their 
marginal economic significance, they can never constitute a true 
class. The workers, on the contrary, are disciplined by the cir- 
cumstances of their work, brought together in great aggregations 
where they can feel the community of their privations and realize 
the logic of capitalism as leading to socialism. The spontaneous 
growth of class consciousness accompanies the growth of the 
capitalist-industrial system. 

We shall see later how this concept of the spontaneous growth 
of class feelings and of its character was rooted in the experience 
of the early days of industrialization, and what trouble it brought 
to those followers of Marx who had to expound it under condi- 
tions of mature capitalism. Here we may observe certain interest- 
ing connotations of the concept. It is rationalistic in the extreme. 
The working class will not be distracted from the obligation and 
the realization of the inevitability of the class struggle by national- 
istic or religious slogans and considerations/ Only a degenerate, 
rootless portion of it, the Lumpenproletariat, may capitulate to 
the schemes of reactionaries and adventurers. The vast majority 
of the workers will understand their historical position and histori- 
cal mission. The vision of the working class is Hegelian in its 
underpinnings. The proletariat is the universal class, carrying 
in its future the destiny of mankind, thus parallel in its function 
to Rousseau's General Will and Hegel's State. The loss of indi- 
viduality caused and made inevitable by factory labor, the work- 
er's alienation, carries in it the seeds of the fullest assertion of 
individuality under socialism, which comes as a Hegelian "nega- 
tion of a negation." In more prosaic terms, the factory system is 
inevitably oppressive and inevitably felt by the worker as such. 
This oppression inherent in the system produces the class feeling. 
Capitalism = factory system = class consciousness is the line of 
argument, and a closer examination of each term of the triad 

40 The Unfinished Revolution 

will illuminate the nature and conditions of the appeal of 

The doctrines of the classes and the class struggle have, within 
the context of the Marxist system, some further rather unex- 
pected connotations. Take the class struggle between the bour- 
geoisie and the proletariat. The latter, through strikes and politi- 
cal action, resists the inevitable tendency of the capitalists to 
increase the exploitation of the workers. Yet nothing is clearer 
according to the logic of the doctrine than that the class struggle 
cannot paralyze capitalism until the system is fully developed and 
ready to pass on, or until the proletariat is fully capable of 
wresting power from the bourgeoisie. What might be called guer- 
rilla class warfare, endemic industrial strife, which would paralyze 
the system, is clearly against the logic of Marxist thought, even 
if paradoxically within its spirit: the worker has to get used 
to the hated factory system, has to undergo exploitation, before 
the material conditions of the society will allow the transition 
to socialism. From^the perspective of a hundred years, we may 
appreciate how the Russian and Chinese Communists have taken 
to heart the logic of the last proposition. 

There is no mystique of the working class in early Marxism, 
no extolling of humble material circumstances as being con- 
ducive to virtue. Workers are not asserted or called upon to be 
heroic. They are asserted and called upon to be rational, to 
develop class consciousness. To Marx, nothing would have been 
more distasteful than the emotional undertones of later syndical- 
ism. The ideal (in Weber's sense of the term) Marxist worker is 
a curiously unemotional creature. He has no country, no real 
family life ; and his main objective in life is not an amelioration of 
his condition, but the overthrow of the whole capitalist system. 
His sense of suffering injustice, of being exploited, does not de- 
ceive him into immediate action against the immediate agents of 
oppression the factory and the employer but into a planned 
struggle against capitalism and the capitalist state. In his political 

The Argument 41 

writings and speeches, Marx makes eloquent and emotion-tinged 
appeals, but the fact is that the main tenet of his theory about the 
worker and the class struggle is coldly rational in its logic. Hu- 
man passion and generosity cannot in the last analysis prevail 
against the facts of history. The drama of the class struggle and 
the heroic exploits of the working-class revolutionaries are sec- 
ondary to the working out of material forces. One cannot divorce 
economic evolution from the human drama that underlies it, 
but one must not ignore the laws of economics in revolutionary 
action. It is only a superficial reader of Marxism who would read 
into it the assumption that the proletariat may by political or 
insurrectionary action void the laws of history and avoid, say, 
by seizing power before capitalism is fully established, the hard- 
ships and privation of the factory system. 

The idea of the class struggle serves to disprove the facile 
optimism of the liberals for whom, in all the clashes of interests, 
an "invisible hand" assured in a rationally organized society the 
harmony of individual and class self-interest with the general 
welfare. Marx's "invisible hand" is the very visible forces of 
production, which by their evolution confront each succeeding 
civilization with a different type of class warfare until, finally 
developed, they bring about classless society. 

The centering of the social problem around the individual is, 
according to Marx, another pious hypocrisy of liberalism. Indi- 
vidual liberty and due process of law are, within a capitalist 
society, simply contradictions in terms. They are at most scraps of 
concessions thrown by the bourgeois state to deceive the prole- 
tariat, and in the circumstances of the workers' life under capital- 
ism, they are of no value to them. This contemptuous attitude 
toward civil liberties, of such great historical significance to 
Marxism, is attuned to the circumstances of the worst period of 
the Industrial Revolution: with the proletarian working twelve 
and fourteen hours a day, and his wife and underage children 
also in unregulated industrial labor, the Bill of Rights did not, 

42 The Unfinished Revolution 

in fact, appear of overwhelming importance to the working class. 
The class struggle becomes the doctrine of total distrust of the 
capitalist state, with its laws, bureaucracy, and ideology. The 
violence of this distrust and opposition, the difficulty Marx and 
Engels experienced in acknowledging even the slightest social- 
welfare aspect of the bourgeois state, have often led to the 
optical illusion that Marxism was opposed to the state as such. 
It has enabled the revolutionary Marxists to denounce the state, 
with all the accents and conviction of anarchists, forgetting, for 
the moment, that the centralized state, like the capitalism of 
which it is a necessary ingredient, is an inevitable part of the 
historical process. 

An alteration in the character of the capitalist state such as 
the development of the workers' class consciousness into some- 
thing other than the class struggle is a possibility early Marxism 
cannot admit. "The civilization and justice of bourgeois order 
comes out in its lurid light whenever the slaves and drudges of 
that order rise against their masters. Then this civilization and 
justice stand forth as undisguised savagery and lawless re- 
venge," 7 wrote Marx about the supression of the Paris Commune. 
The lures of legalism, of parliamentarianism, of social reform by 
the state are illusions and deceptions. When Marx or Engels ad- 
mit the possibility of a peaceful transition to socialism under 
exceptional conditions, they do so grudgingly. Theirs is a theory 
grounded in the period when self-confident factory masters con- 
fronted the helpless workers, and the state backed up the masters 
with its police powers and philosophy of self-reliance. Like 
Marxist economics, the Marxist postulate of the class struggle 
ill fits the reality of full-grown capitalism the reality of strong 
trade unions, social welfare legislation, and parliamentary social- 

Here, then, is a theory attuned even more closely than other 
parts of Marxism to the facts and feelings of an early period 

7 "The Civil War in France," Capital and Other Writings, op. cit., p. 421. 

The Argument 43 

of industrialization. The class struggle is the salt of Marxism, 
its most operative revolutionary part. As a historical and psycho- 
logical concept, it expresses a gross oversimplification, but it is 
the oversimplification of a genius. The formula of the class 
struggle seizes the essence of the mood of a great historical mo- 
ment a revolution in basic economy and generalizes it into a 
historical law. It extracts the grievances of groups of politically 
conscious workers in Western Europe, then a very small part of 
the whole proletariat, and sees in it the portent and meaning of 
the awakening of the whole working class everywhere. The first 
reaction of the worker to industrialization, his feelings of griev- 
ance and impotence before the machine, his employer, and the 
state which stands behind the employer, are assumed by Marx 
to be typical of the general reactions of the worker to industrializa- 
tion. What does change in the process of the development of 
industry is that the worker's feeling of impotence gives way to 
class consciousness, which in turn leads him to class struggle and 
socialism. Marx's worker is the historical worker, but he is the 
historical worker of a specific period of industrial and political 

Even in interpreting the psychology of the worker of the transi- 
tional period, Marx exhibited a rationalistic bias. The worker's 
opposition to the capitalist order is a total opposition to its laws, 
its factories, and its government. But this revolutionary con- 
sciousness of the worker is to take him next to Marxist socialism, 
where he will accept the factory system and the state, the only 
difference being the abolition of capitalism. Why shouldn't the 
revolutionary protest of the worker flow into other channels : into 
rejection of industrialism as well as capitalism, into rejection of 
the socialist as well as the capitalist state? It is here that Marx is 
most definitely the child of his age, the child of rationalistic opti- 
mism: the workers will undoubtedly translate their anarchistic 
protests and grievances into a sophisticated philosophy of history. 
They will undoubtedly realize that the forces of industrialism and 

44 The Unfinished Revolution 

modern life, which strip them of property, status, and economic 
security, are in themselves benevolent in their ultimate effects 
and that it is only capitalism and the capitalists which make 
them into instruments of oppression. The chains felt by the 
proletariat are the chains of the industrial system. The chains 
Marx urges them to throw off are those of capitalism. Will the 
workers understand the difference? And if they do, will they 
still feel that in destroying capitalism they have a "world to 


How different will the better world of socialism be from the old 
one of capitalism ? Marx and Engels have notoriously little to say 
about the wonderful new world their criticism and theories im- 
ply. The wealth of observations and historical data illustrating 
the nature of capitalism is paralleled by a skimpiness of refer- 
ence concerning socialism : a few epigrammatic statements about 
the general nature of socialist society, a few items of the political 
program for the socialist parties, incidental references to the 
contemporary socialist movements and such revolutions as the 
Paris Commune, and that is all. The task of expounding the 
Marxist canon in the very un-Marxist world of Western Europe of 
the 1880's fell mainly to Engels. He wrote chattily and attrac- 
tively, a fact that makes him, rather than his great companion, 
the favorite of the popularizers of Marxism. His thought on the 
main issues had, of course, for a long time merged with that of 
Marx. There is in Engels, at the same time, a certain dilettantism 
and a tendency to write around rather than to address himself 
directly to the most important theoretical issues. At his death in 
1895, the canon of Marxism was frozen, and the vital questions 
of the socialist role in parliamentarianism, of the nature of tran- 
sition from capitalism, and of socialism itself, remained to be 
fought over by the Revisionists and the orthodox Marxists. The 
fight, although accompanied by continuous invocation of the 

The Argument 45 

scriptures, points up the really enigmatic and ambiguous nature 
of the Marxist argument as it touches the actual problem of 

The apparent enigma disappears if one refuses to be distracted 
by the revolutionary phraseology of Marxism into believing that 
from the economic point of view the stage of socialism represents 
a drastic break with capitalism. Quite the contrary: socialism, 
once it assumes power, has as its mission the fullest development 
of the productive resources of society. Though private owner- 
ship of the means of production and the profit motive are abol- 
ished, the state takes on the mission, formerly performed by 
individual capitalists, of creating "those material conditions 
which alone can form the real basis of a higher form of society." 
The logic of the doctrine implies that in so doing the state will 
in no wise proceed differently from the capitalist: i.e., it will 
take the worker's surplus labor in the form of surplus value and 
will sink it in further investment. From the earliest, most revolu- 
tionary writings of Marx and Engels until the very end of their 
activity, there is no indication that society, until full material 
abundance is achieved (whatever that may be), can dispense 
with the organization of labor and production typical of capital- 
ism. What, then, is socialism? It is simply capitalism without 
the capitalists. There is no need for elaborate descriptions of 
socialism. Except for the abolition of private property in the 
means of production (its rationalization), socialism continues 
and intensifies all the main characteristics of capitalism. The 
Bolsheviks and especially Stalin have been accused of perverting 
Marxism into state capitalism. Yet we need not burden Marx 
and Engels with the responsibility for Stalinism to perceive that 
the notion of socialism as state capitalism is found in the 
canon of Marxism under all the revolutionary and anarchistic 

When they wrote the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels 
were very young men. They could not deny themselves a certain 

46 The Unfinished Revolution 

youthful bravado ("Communism is already acknowledged by all 
European powers to be itself a power." (p. 320) a ridiculous 
statement in the Europe of 1848) and a most literal attempt to 
Ipater les bourgeois ("The Communists have no need to introduce 
community of women; it has existed almost from time im- 
memorial." p. 340). Yet even in the midst of all this pathos, so 
typical of revolutionary manifestoes mushrooming all over Europe 
in 1848, there is a chilling reminder: 

The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, 
all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of pro- 
duction in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organized 
as a ruling class; and to increase the total of productive forces as 
rapidly as possible, (p. 342) 

Even at the most revolutionary moment in their career, Marx 
and Engels do not envisage the worker getting away from the 
treadmill of the factory system, do not allow the industrial sys- 
tem other functions than the ceaseless race for more and more 
production, more and more accumulation. Nothing in the logic 
of Marxism should enable the worker to expect his standard of 
life to rise immediately following the revolution. Nothing in the 
doctrine extends to the worker the prospect of greater control 
over conditions of his work once socialism is established. The 
state runs the factories; and the socialist state, as much if not 
more than the capitalist, is interested in increasing production 
and productivity. The devices of workers' control, industrial 
democracy, and profit sharing by the workers receive in Marxism 
all the sympathy they would receive from an early nineteenth- 
century capitalist. To be sure, the worker will have the pleasure 
of seeing "the expropriators expropriated," and crises and unem- 
ployment will disappear once the profit motive is eliminated. Yet 
the worker remains subject to factory discipline. Socialism de- 
mands that everybody work, but it repudiates the idea that 
everybody should be paid equally. The emphasis on technology 

The Argument 47 

and productivity promises, as a matter of fact, that there will 
be a very considerable inequality in wages and salaries under 
Marxist socialism. How many proletarians would be likely to stir 
into revolutionary action if the logic of Marxism were thus ex- 
pounded to them? 

If there is a clear line leading from the logic of Marxism to 
certain central features of the development of the Soviet Union, 
we must still be on our guard against the gross and unhistorical 
tendency of reading into original Marxism a blueprint for Stalin- 
ism. Just as Marx's economic determinism and revolutionary 
activity are bridged by his revolutionary optimism, which makes 
him see both the economic forces and political action of the pro- 
letariat leading simultaneously to a revolution in the near future 
so his rationalistic and democratic faith enable him to envisage 
a workers' state that continues some of the principal features of 
capitalism. The workers under capitalism hate the factory sys- 
tem with its discipline and monotony. Somehow, once the capital- 
ists are gone, they will understand and approve the necessity of 
the very same system under socialism. They hate the centralized 
bourgeois state with its bureaucracy and police, yet under social- 
ism they will accept and increase the powers of the state. Marx, 
in effect, promulgates an "abstinence" theory of the worker's 
socialism: once in power the workers are willing to forego the 
immediate fruits of their victory in order to build the material 
base for the next step, communism. 

It was inherent in Marx's rationalist faith, a product of the 
century, to believe that the centralized state of socialism would 
somehow be drastically different from the bourgeois state just 
by virtue of being a workers' state. In commenting upon the Paris 
Commune of 1871, both Marx and Engels approved its democratic 
character, its "smashing" of the bureaucracy and the police, its 
making all offices, including the judicial ones, elective and re- 
vocable. The Civil War in France seemingly gives the lie to the 
accusation that Marxism under socialism means state capitalism 

48 The Unfinished Revolution 

and the old capitalist state. It praises the egalitarian character 
of the Commune's short-lived institutions and democratic in- 
stincts. Yet what is essentially a political pamphlet addressed to 
the political needs of the hour does not change the clear logic 
of the Marxist system. Marx approved the spontaneous democ- 
racy of the Paris workers after its suppression by the French 
government. Yet, had it survived, this democracy would have 
been expected to centralize the industrial system, to abandon 
its anarchistic undertones, and to recreate a society devoted 
to production. Marx could afford to be both a democrat and a 
Marxist because of his untested belief that the workers, having 
seized power under democratic and anarchist slogans, would 
willingly accept the Marxist, i.e., centralized, state and the indus- 
trial system and discipline of capitalism. 

What would Marx have said of the Commune had it continued 
and expanded in power, but under the leadership and in the ide- 
ology of the Proudhonists and Blanquists who had led it in its 
failure? He was happy in his conviction that the absolute 
priority of building the economic prerequisites of the new order 
would be as evident to the workers once socialism won as it 
was to him now. He did not face the possibility that the worker 
who won power under anarchistic slogans might require an 
elaborate bureaucracy, secret police, and suppression of real 
democracy in brief, totalitarianism to make him submit to 
measures necessary for the creation of "those material conditions 
which alone can form the real basis of a higher form of society/' 

To approximate Marx's vision of the socialist state and 
socialist society, let us use a tangible example. Let us take the 
official theory and the constitution of the USSR, forgetting for 
the moment the reality of the political picture there. We see 
universal democracy, public officials freely elected and subject to 
recall. We see national self-determination and the fullest regional 
autonomy. Yet through the free working agreement of all parties 
concerned, Soviet Russia has a highly centralized planned 

The Argument 49 

economy. The citizens of their own free will, unanimously, for- 
sake immediate improvements in their standard of living to 
build at a rapid rate the productive powers of the economy. 
This society has no desire for morbid introspection or highly 
personalized subjects in the arts and literature. There is no need, 
except in marginal cases, for the police or for oppression. Crime, 
when found, is a distant reflection of the pre-socialist past. The 
sense of creative partnership in socialist labor pervades every- 
one, and no one feels the presence of undue privilege or of a 
barrier to the full development of one's personality. This fairy- 
land of Soviet propaganda probably comes close to what Marx 
imagined would be the reality of socialist life. He would not have 
approved some elements of even the official picture. No egalitarian, 
still he would almost certainly have been shocked at the extent 
and scope of the officially and cheerfully acknowledged disparities 
in pay and ranks, at the uniforms and official pomp. No model 
of intellectual tolerance, he was still a man of the nineteenth 
century for whom an officially approved theory did not put an 
end to a scientific discussion. But in general we shall not err by 
taking the romanticized self-portrait painted over the reality 
of Soviet life as coming close to the vision of Marxism. The 
logic of the doctrine found its fulfillment in Soviet Russia, but 
the accompanying dream of a democratic and humanitarian 
society found its place as window dressing. 

That this should have happened is a peculiar irony of history. 
Marxism boasts of being scientific socialism, and the assertion 
is made with all the implications of being hardboiled, realistic, 
and done with all the moralistic nonsense that pervades other 
brands of socialism. Marx's revolution against the contemporary 
school of socialism is in fact more fundamental than his revolu- 
tion against capitalism. Capitalism is a definite part of the 
historical process. Important elements of capitalism entered the 
blood stream of Marxism. The leading contemporary schools 
of socialism those of Fourier, Proudhon, and Saint-Simon 

50 The Unfinished Revolution 

are, on the contrary, but secondary symptoms of the disturbance 
and misery produced by capitalism and of no major historical 
significance or revolutionary value in themselves. There is a 
very human reflection of ideological rivalry in this appraisal of 
Marx's. The story of his personal relations with other socialist 
leaders is a partly humorous and partly pathetic tale of ex- 
acerbated vanity, charges of plagiarism, and the confrontation 
of the rigid and sensitive German academician with the easy- 
going Gallic nature of a Proudhon or the Slavic disorderliness 
of a Bakunin. These stories and the related one of Marx's anti- 
Semitic vulgarity about Lassalle have provided excellent material 
for those writers who feel Marx's chief failing to be his own and 
his theory's lack of humor and other redeeming, if not dialectical, 
human characteristics. 

The major reasons for Marx's criticisms of other socialist 
sects and their apostles are, however, more fundamental. In 
the first place, there is the obvious criticism of the "Utopian" 
and other socialists for their belief that an amelioration of the 
condition of the working class can come by good will, or by 
propaganda, and without the realization by the proletariat that 
only the full development of the productive forces of society as 
well as the class struggle can bring about real socialism. For 
instance, in his Critique of the Got ha Program (1875), Marx 
assailed the newly born German Social Democratic Party for 
the Lassallean phraseology of its program. Much of the criticism 
is petty, a testimony to Marx's vindictiveness toward his colorful 
contemporary. But there is also a sincere effort to teach the 
German socialists that socialism is not merely vague talk about 
equality and vague promises of social reforms, and that the 
Socialist Party should teach its own followers a definite economic 
and political creed grounded in the laws of historical development. 
Even in a political program, one should not try to delude the 
workers into believing that under socialism the total social 
product will be distributed among them, with no deductions for 

The Argument 51 

the communal needs, administration, and further investments. 
Nor should one equate socialism with complete equality. The 
first stages of socialist society will require considerable inequality, 
teaches Marx. "Right can never be higher than the economic 
structure of society and the cultural development thereby 
determined." 8 Even equality of pay according to the individuals' 
needs (an ambiguous formula) is left for that rather distant, 
"higher" stage of socialism communism, in which the full 
abundance of material goods and the full development of the 
individual will permit the disappearance of the state and divisions 
of labor and allow the establishment of the principle, "From 
each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." 9 
Only the remotest reach of the historical process is given over to 
the anarchistic dream of equality and no state. 

What loose reading of Marxist politics would lead one to 
believe is that the immediate objectives of socialism are its 
distant by-products, according to the Critique. It is no wonder 
that the pamphlet, despite its brevity and compactness, has never 
been favored reading for the purpose of Communist agitation. 

The other reason for Marx's revulsion against other brands 
of socialism is actually a variant of the preceding one: the 
revolutionary appeal of Marxism, despite its quite different logic, 
is essentially the same, addressed to the same instincts, as that 
of many contemporary socialist and anarchist movements. If 
"Property is theft" is the most effective Marxist appeal, it was 
also a slogan thrown by Proudhon; but in reality, of course, 
the Marxist theory teaches that property is something else. Had 
Marx been more cynical he might have urged his followers not 
to be carried away by their own propaganda. As it is, the 
revolutionary fervor of a Marxist is quite likely to carry him 
into anarchism, just as his sober realization of the material 
prerequisites of socialism may induce him to be patient with 

Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program, New York, 1938, p. 10. 
p. 10. 

52 The Unfinished Revolution 

capitalism. The secret of the proper blending of the two elements 
was something that the master tried to infuse in his followers. 
Thus, to apply the frightful semantics of the Communists, Marx- 
ism as a child revealed its parentage by being susceptible both 
to "right" and "left" deviationism. To Marx, the greatest 
danger came from the possibility of confusing Marxism with 
mere revolutionary socialism, with simple opposition to capital- 
ism, and with the desire only for the destruction of the old 
order. Hence his intense irritation with his closest ideological 

The vocabulary describing socialism and communism is as 
vague as it is rapturous. Following the destruction or collapse 
of capitalism, we are to get "the revolutionary dictatorship of 
the proletariat." The meaning of this celebrated phrase is quite 
obscure. Is it to be like the Paris Commune? Not likely, because, 
despite Marx's eulogy over the grave of the Commune, it had 
been dominated by the essentially anarchistic followers of 
Proudhon and Blanqui. We have said that Marx probably had 
in mind something on the order of what the Soviets pretend they 
have in fact. But the formula is certainly vague enough to 
accommodate a multitude of interpretations. All that Marx in- 
sists upon is that the essential features of the industrial system 
be preserved under socialism. Granted that it is difficult to see 
how "the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat" which 
is helpfully defined as in fact being a democracy, because, 
unlike bourgeois democracy, it represents the domination of a 
vast majority over a small minority of ex-capitalists could be 
very democratic. Would the dictatorship of the proletariat look 
kindly upon the formation of political parties demanding im- 
mediate equality of wages, workers' control of the individual 
industrial enterprises, or the abolition of factory discipline? 

The next and final stage of historical development, communism, 
was painted by Marx and Engels in terms so nebulous as to 
suggest their relative lack of interest. We are told that com- 

The Argument 53 

munism will come after the productive powers of the society 
have been developed to their fullest and after human personality, 
freed of the fetters of capitalism, has reached its highest growth. 
Instead of the detailed constitutions of heaven offered by Owen, 
Fourier, and Saint-Simon, the Marxists have to be content 
with epigrammatic phrases about the passage from the realm of 
necessity to freedom and about the fullest development of 
everything. The practical sense in Marx scorned the easy task 
of building Utopias. The important thing is to get rid of capital- 
ism without disturbing its industrial machine. The distant 
phase of communism is simply everything that capitalism is 
not, a consolation, perhaps, for the fact that socialism will have 
to be so much like capitalism. It is a concession, an empty one, 
to the anarchist in every revolutionary: the wondrous future 
where there is no state and no division of labor. 

Engels, in the famous passage in Anti-Duhring, was eager to 
fill in some details. The abundance of goods under socialism 
brings with it progressive attenuations of the repressive and 
planning functions of the society. Labor becomes lighter and 
less regulated, and various functions of the state superfluous. 
Finally the state withers away. Human nature has been basically 
transformed. It is only in this anarchistic and individualistic 
paradise, which to a skeptic does not seem to afford much scope 
for human activity, that Marx and Engels meet with Proudhon, 
Bakunin, and Fourier and the subject of their quarrels, the 
state, is finally laid aside. 

Volumes have been devoted to the questions of whether social- 
ism abolishes classes or class antagonism, what degree of material 
influence must precede the passage from socialism to communism, 
etc. Such disquisitions might best be left to the Communist 
leaders and their philosophical attendants, who indulge in them 
in the line of duty and as a relaxation from more practical 
matters. In Marx's theory, the importance of communism, in 
the technical sense of the term, is negligible. On the other hand, 

54 The Unfinished Revolution 

in the Marxist movement, the propaganda value of the fact that 
communism is often mistakenly read into the Marxist definition 
of socialism has been enormous. 

The relationship of revolution i.e., seizure of power by the 
socialists to the stage of economic development of the given 
society has justly been considered the most perplexing problem 
of practical, as well as theoretical, Marxism. To young Marx, the 
problem was relatively simple : capitalism in the most advanced 
capitalist countries (particularly England) was drawing to the 
end of its course; thus, there was no contradiction between the 
political and the economic aspects of the problem. A democratic, 
i.e., Chartist, revolution in England would soon be followed by 
a socialist one : witness the strong socialist undertones of Chart- 
ism. This fantastic optical illusion, product of Marx's revolu- 
tionary optimism, that Western European capitalism circa 1850 
had nearly reached its full economic as well as political develop- 
ment, could not withstand the experience of the three remaining 
decades of his life. What Marx subsequently meant on the subject 
but never quite brought himself to say was that a socialist revolu- 
tion (i.e., the seizure of power by revolutionary socialists) and 
the end of capitalism as an economic system need not coincide. 
The socialists may should seize power if an opportunity war- 
rants, even if capitalism has not reached its full development. 
This is indeed clearly forecast in his Address to the Communist 
League in 1850, which the Bolsheviks rightly considered almost 
a blueprint for their tactics in 1917 in Russia. 

According to the Address, a democratic revolution in Germany 
is to be turned by the Communists to their own use and made 
the starting point of a socialist one. Germany, no matter what 
her stage of economic development, is to be seized by the socialists. 
If capitalism has not fully completed its preparatory task for 
socialism, then the socialist state should, first, finish the work 
of capitalism. Thus, if small peasant holdings have not been 

The Argument 55 

.converted into huge capitalist estates, then it will have to be 
socialism rather than capitalism that delivers the coup de grace 
to the independent peasant. If full state centralization has not 
been achieved, the socialists will have to press for it or accom- 
plish it, and "they need not be misled by democratic platitudes 
about freedom of the communes, self-determination, etc." 10 Marx 
does not say, and the omission is understandable in a political 
address, that there are other tasks which socialism, in a country 
unripe for socialism, might have to perform in lieu of capitalism 
breaking in the worker to factory discipline, discouraging the 
notions of the workers' control of industry, etc. Though the 
Address is principally tactical advice to the "workers" about 
what they should do after having overthrown, in alliance with 
the bourgeois democrats, the old regime, it is also a prescription 
for the socialists' measures after the death of "unripe capitalism." 
The revolutionary in Marx cannot quite wait for capitalism to 
die of old age, but the economic determinist in him knows that 
the necessary historical tasks of capitalism must be performed 
even under socialism. 

The dazzling profusion of terms capitalism, socialism, com- 
munism each having a political as well as an economic meaning, 
and one shading into the other, may well induce the exasperation 
of the follower or critic. A witty British critic suggested that 
the title of a future book on the subject might well be What Marx 
Really Meant, Actually. The confusion is reduced if we remem- 
ber that there are two consistent lines in Marx : one, of a revolu- 
tionary always against the status quo, feudal, capitalist, or what- 
ever ; the other, of a believer in the immutable laws of material 
development, which no political revolutionary could affect. At 
first, in Western Europe of the 1840's, it was easy to be both; 
later on it became increasingly difficult. It fell to his successors 

30 Karl Marx, "Address to the Communist League," in A Handbook of 
Marxism, edited by Emile Burns, New York, 1935, p. 70. 

56 The Unfinished Revolution 

to try to reconcile the logic of the theory with its revolutionary, 
emotion, in a world quite different from the one in which Marx 
and Engels had spent their formative years. 

The circumstances of the times also dictated some secondary 
characteristics of the theory of revolution and socialism. To 
an age that was beginning to witness the stirring of subject 
nationalities, nationalism still appeared a passing phenomenon. 
The small politically minded element among the English, French, 
and German workers was internationally oriented, as were the 
middle-class democrats of these countries. If the fight against 
autocratic oppression by the Poles or Hungarians was felt by the 
enlightened men in the West to be a part of their own struggle, 
was the future fight against capitalism to be confined within 
narrow national bounds? And the national question was just 
a reflection of the economic and political oppression. With this 
oppression gone, nationalism itself was to find its fulfillment in 
internationalism, dictated by the ever-spreading network of 
industrialization. The logic of industrialization, which makes 
the workers into socialists, forbids them to become chauvinists. 
Hence the tasks and the natural inclinations of the proletariat 
are international in their character, and the bonds of the common 
chains infinitely stronger than the accidental ones of nationality 
or religion. This optimism, though it too did not remain un- 
scathed by the developments after 1870 following the Franco- 
Prussian War, is never repudiated. And, sadly distorted as it 
has become in the main Marxist movement, it remains in Marx- 
ism an attractive reminder of the rationalist faith of the era 
when enlightened men believed that the conquest of the forces 
of nature would automatically banish injustice and intolerance. 

An account of the original Marxist argument must close with 
a repetition of its major intellectual premise: history works out 
tidily, creating no problems it cannot solve. The observable 
economic forces of Marx's times must work themselves out 
fully to their logical conclusion, leaving no nooks and crannies 

The Argument 57 

of the social system where anachronistic economic phenomena 
lurk. Likewise, in individual consciousness no reflexes or in- 
stincts characteristic of pre-industrial society will be allowed 
to remain. Such is the Marxist world, into which generations of 
Marxists have had to fit their contemporary reality. 


If it seems illogical to follow a discussion of theory by detailing 
its sources, one must plead special justification in the case of 
Marxism. To see the main sources of Marxism is to explain its 
appeal. If the Marxist system as a whole strikes us as some- 
thing too vast, overpowering, and complicated to exercise an 
immediate attraction on the minds and emotions of men, then 
the answer must be found in the character of some of its com- 
ponents. From Pareto to Schumpeter, unfriendly critics have 
sought the explanation of the appeal of a doctrine "so illogical 
and so dull" by consigning it to the realm of religion. An in- 
volved theology to amuse the intellectual and an appeal to the 
most primitive emotions to stir up the masses such is the 
essence of Marxism under the veneer of its philosophical and 
economic system. If this were so, we would still be begging the 
question. Why Marxism rather than some competing religious 
system, also masquerading as ideology? To ascribe the cause 
of major historical events to human irrationality and the pro- 
pensity to be duped does not explain anything except the 
underlying premises of the authors of such an explanation. 

The source of the abiding influence of Marxism must be 
ascribed to the lasting character of human reactions to social 
change. These reactions may be rational or irrational, depending 
on one's definition of the term. But under certain conditions 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 59 

and at certain times, they will always characterize the human 
response to industrialization. The childhood and even the prenatal 
conditions of Marxism explain its fortunes as a mature doctrine 
and a fully grown political movement. The history of its sources 
is an explanation of its appeal. 


In the midst of revolutionary fulminations and economic 
theories, one postulate of Marx's may strike the reader with 
its unexpectedness: "Combination of agriculture with manu- 
facturing industries ; gradual abolition of the distinction between 
town and country by a more equable distribution of the popula- 
tion over the country." l This is a postulate of socialism, and 
the year is 1848. The modern reader will be puzzled. This is 
not the apprehension of an atomic war, or the answer to the 
spectacle of huge urban conglomerations creating insufferable 
traffic and supply problems. Even the "most advanced countries," 
to which the plan was addressed, presented in 1848, from our 
point of view, a picture of bucolic simplicity: overwhelmingly 
rural Germany, prevailingly rural France, and even England, 
where industrialization had not as yet destroyed the largely 
agricultural character of the economy. Why should a socialist 
basing his revolutionary expectations on the urban proletariat 
have reservations about the growth of the cities? And the 
apprehensions about urban civilization are balanced by a frank 
dislike of the countryside, of what Marx in the Manifesto en- 
gagingly calls "the idiocy of rural life." The misery and degrada- 
tions of the cities and the primitiveness and lethargic condition 
of the country are constant themes of Marx and Engels. Social- 
ism cannot be fully established nor communism begin to grow 
until the distinction between the city and the countryside is 
obliterated. Why? 
The answer will go a long way to explain the assembly of 

1 Manifesto, p. 343. 

60 The Unfinished Revolution 

interests and emotions that are the sources and the moving forces 
of the Marxist appeal. Marxism is about industrialism. It is not 
about equality. Even the anticapitalist argument is secondary 
to the concentration on the phenomenon of industrialization, 
with its destructiveness and its promises. The city is the symbol 
and the reality of modern industrial civilization. It concen- 
trates people joined by nothing other than the accidents of 
employment and the necessity of earning a livelihood in in- 
dustry or service. It is a visible demonstration of the soullessness 
and alienation of the machine age. Yet it is necessary, for without 
it there is no progress in industry, no progress in culture. Its 
crowded conditions, the friendless intimacy into which it forces 
the proletariat, the contrasts, visible to hundreds of thousands, 
between wealth and poverty, between crime and the protection 
afforded by authority to the rich and privileged, are in them- 
selves lessons in the class struggle. 

The countryside, on the other hand, presents the illusion of 
orderliness and social placidity. To the city proletarian, who 
has not yet lost his roots in the country, it is the place where 
he had status and stable livelihood, where the system of authority, 
being traditional, appeared less oppressive. Even the economic 
and political forces that destroyed the quiet of the village and 
made him come to Manchester or Lyons were somehow of city 
making, divorced from the natural mechanism of agrarian ex- 
istence. For the actuality of agrarian pre-industrial existence, 
Marxism has nothing but contempt. Villages in the industrial 
age are locations of social torpor and superstition; and the 
peasant, unless stirred up by unusual exactions or distress, is 
a patient beast of burden, a potential tool in the hands of 
reaction. But for the ideal of human existence as embodied in the 
proletarian's dream of a "natural," stable, and egalitarian agrarian 
community, Marxism has the highest respect. That ideal, accord- 
ing to Marxism, embodies not only a temporary grievance and 
consequently an overidealized version of the immediate past, 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 61 

but a constant element of the proletarian's psychology. It is 
not merely a reflection of a period of adjustment and economic 
distress, of sentiments that will pass or change once the economic 
situation improves and a new set of values takes hold. The long- 
ing for the simple community and the nonindustrial life is a 
constant source of revolutionary feeling and of the worker's unal- 
terable opposition to the agent of the change, the capitalist. 
Socialism, then, must mean extracting from the proletarian's 
dream its justifiable human aspiration to a more dignified, 
leisurely, and stable existence than that provided by the city 
the modern industry. But it must also mean the rejection of the 
reactionary, Utopian part of the dream, the idealization of the 
coarse and unenlightened past of the peasant and the artisan, 
and the illusion that that past may be recreated by rejecting the 
machine civilization and its consequences, the city and the 
state. Only the highest development of modern industrial forces 
can bring about the ideal of human dignity and equality inherent 
in the dream of the small agrarian community free from the 
tension of modern industrial life. 

The city and the countryside: two ways of life clashing 
neither of them in itself complete and adequate to the require- 
ments of modern life both of them having to undergo changes 
and amalgamation before socialism can be established. Such is 
the message of Marxism. Unlike some of his contemporaries, 
Marx is not given to rhapsodies over the picture of model fac- 
tories amidst green fields or to dreams of erecting little self-suf- 
ficient communities free from the taint of industrialism. Behind 
the Hegelian phraseology of two opposites merging in a syn- 
thesis, there is evoked an acute intuition of the incompatibility 
of two ways of thinking, two ways of life put in sharp contrast 
by the rise of industry : first, the older agrarian order, based on 
ancient traditions, providing if not material progress then a 
modicum of economic and social security; second, the new 
industrial order, whose only constant characteristic is change, 

62 The Unfinished Revolution 

continual revolution in the productive forces, and consequent 
instability of employment and economic insecurity for the mass 
of the population. One appears "natural," sanctioned by long 
usage and habituation ; the other "unnatural/ 5 bewildering in the 
variety of new habits, concepts, and skills it requires and con- 
stantly changes. This is the clash that makes Marxism and fills 
its formulas with life. The uprooted peasants and craftsmen 
recruited into the proletariat seek a personalization of the forces 
of change and disturbance. Marxism intuitively, though not 
without help, hits on a formula that explains and apportions 
blame for the destruction of a world which, as it recedes into 
the past, looks all the more and unrealistically stable and 
uncomplicated. Hence the proposal to combine the stability and 
simplicity of the past with unavoidable technological improve- 
ment. Hence the real meaning of "combination of agriculture 
with manufacturing industries" and "gradual abolition of dis- 
tinction between town and country," which Marxism inscribes 
on its banners. 

Across a century, a noted practitioner of Marxism restated 
the problem in more concrete if oversimplified terms. Wrote 

The problem of eliminating the antithesis between town and 
country, between industry and agriculture, is a familiar problem 
which Marx and Engels posed a long time ago. The economic basis 
of this opposition is the exploitation of the countryside by the city, 
the expropriation of the peasantry and the ruin of the bulk of the 
rural population by the entire process of development of industry, 
trade and the credit system, under capitalism. Therefore, the opposi- 
tion between city and country under capitalism must be regarded 
as an opposition of interests. On this foundation a hostile attitude 
arose on the part of the countryside toward the city and "city folk" 
generally. 2 

* Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.SS.R., quoted in Current Digest 
of the Soviet Press: Current Soviet Policies, ed. Leo Gruliow, New York, 1953, 
I, 4-5. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 63 

We may amend the statement in some respects to get at the 
meaning of the conflict. The ruin of the countryside by the 
development "of industry, trade and the credit system" in 
short, by industrialism is the basis of the resentment, whether 
the development is done by capitalism or by any other system, 
as Stalin, of all people, had occasion to observe. Then the 
"hostile attitude toward the city and 'city folk'" is not a 
peculiarity of the peasants under industrialization; it is felt 
even more acutely by the mass of the "city folk," the proletariat. 
It is the basic, the instinctive form of Marxism among the dis- 
possessed peasants, craftsmen, and unemployed workers who 
constitute the first waves of the industrial army. 

Anti-industrial feeling is the basis of Marxist emotion, just 
as its opposite, worship of science and technology and faith in 
their limitless possibilities, is the basis of Marxist logic. With- 
out the first, Marxism would not be a revolutionary movement, 
always relevant when industrialization hits a hitherto mainly 
agrarian and traditionalist society. Without the second, it would, 
like many of its contemporaries among socialist movements, 
spend its energies battling the unavoidable forces of modern life, 
unable to construct a working social system, even if it were to 
succeed as a revolution. 

The anti-industrial feeling on which the Marxist movement 
subsists is not infrequently also the breeding ground of its 
elaborate theories. Human grievances do not indefinitely persist 
in abstract expression, as resentment against impersonal "forces." 
The anguish of industrialization finds a more advanced complaint 
in the proletarian's exaltation of the role of labor and in his 
hostility toward the visible agent and beneficiary of the economic 
revolution, the capitalist. 

This was the plain sound, raw material of average working class 
opinion or instinct out of which, with the tools of Ricardian eco- 
nomics and the measuring rod of Patric Calquhoun's estimate that 
the wage earners received a bare quarter of the national income, 

64 The Unfinished Revolution 

scattered thinkers of that generation had constructed those theories 
of value, doctrines of the right to the whole produce of labour, which 
Karl Marx was subsequently to put into crabbed dialectical shape. 3 

The relationship is not that simple, and the genius of Marx con- 
sisted not only in distilling out of the proletarians' grievances 
their unconscious theoretical substratum, but in bending it into 
a system thaf harnessed the social protest to a philosophy and 
objective quite opposite to the worker's immediate aims. But 
anti-industrialism does find its practical meaning in anti-capital- 
ism. In an industrializing society the appeal of Marxism rests 
on the fact that its intermediate aim, the overthrow of capitalism, 
coincides with the proletariat's instinctive reaction against 

Anti-industrialism and the most absolute faith in industrializa- 
tion are the two interwoven themes of Marxism. They are so 
closely knit together that it is difficult to discern either in its 
full complexity or intensity. The anti-industrialism of the doc- 
trine matches or surpasses in intensity the most violent anarchist 
sentiments. Its underlying faith in progress through science 
and industry sometimes leaves behind as pale and unsubstantial 
the most uninhibited liberal optimism about the benevolent 
effects of industry and free market. 

It is necessary to explain more fully the phenomenon around 
which the two most actively operative parts of Marxism turn 
industrialization. The setting is the first half of the nineteenth 
century in Western Europe. In our thinking about the phenome- 
non of industrialization, we visualize factories, railways, canals, 
etc. Or we think in more abstract terms about capital accumula- 
tion and the rate of growth. It is difficult for us for we live 
in a highly industrialized society with more than a century of 
habits and techniques appropriate to it behind us to realize 
the full complexity and meaning of the process. This is so even 

8 J. H. Clapham, An Economic History of Modern Britain, Cambridge, 
England, 1926, II, 477. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 65 

though in some of the most civilized societies there are still 
regions and groups, as in parts of the South, for whom the 
process is still going on. It is most difficult to understand 
the problem of human adjustment to the economic change, the 
revolution in values and habits that must precede and accompany 
the full functioning of the new society. 

In Western Europe of that time, the process, although pre- 
pared for by the Enlightenment and by long commercial develop- 
ment, still manifested some elements of the shock that primitive 
societies, the "underdeveloped countries" of today's jargon, 
undergo when submitted to "Westernization." "Detribalization" 
may be too strong a term to apply to the situation of an English 
or Irish peasant whom combined economic and legal forces 
eject from his holding and force into a cotton factory, but it may 
not be too inappropriate a description of his situation and of his 
reactions to it. The bewilderment at the change, the confusion 
about its economic and political causes, and the shattering 
impact upon previously held beliefs are present in both cases. 
In the twentieth century, industrialization comes seemingly 
prepared by planning and buttressed by various devices (like 
social security) to ward off its most immediate anarchic and 
disruptive effects. But in the first half of the nineteenth century, 
Western Europe was at a disadvantage. Nobody, least of all the 
bulk of the industrial workers, was quite sure what was happening 
to the economy. Voices were heard quite late in the period 
questioning the veracity of official statistics that the population 
of England was growing under the Industrial Revolution, and 
maintaining that in fact the population was declining this at 
the period of its greatest increase in history! A more serious 
debate divided those who saw further industrialization and de- 
preciation of the agricultural interest as the surest road to 
economic ruin from others who urged manufacturing and trade 
as the only roads to salvation. The curious propensity of philoso- 
phers for seeing premonitions of disaster in the growth of 

66 The Unfinished Revolution 

material wealth was not escaped even by some of the most 
ardent advocates of the new age. The fear of mechanization as 
leading to widespread unemployment and the exhaustion of 
natural resources already exerted its gloomy fascination on some 
of the acutest minds of the era. How then could the common 
uneducated worker see the unmistakable proofs of progress in 
what was happening around him and to him? 

Industrialization in the most immediate sense means an ad- 
justment to the machine. This adjustment takes the form of 
the factory system, which in addition to the specific skills it 
requires of the workers, even at its most primitive, has the 
basic requirements of division of labor and industrial discipline. 
We need go no further to find the social basis and sentiment 
of Marx's "alienation of labor." Whether the worker feels that 
he produces the whole value or not, he will always feel oppressed 
by the discipline and monotony of factory labor. If the condition- 
ing in industrialism, the immeasurably better terms of labor, 
and the immeasurably higher standards of living have not en- 
tirely erased these feelings among the workers in the most 
advanced industrial countries, how do the conditions of factory 
life strike those who are unused to it and who have to experience 
it under the most primitive and degrading conditions? Marx 
drew upon the reports of the Factory Inspectors to picture some 
of the worst cases of the worker's misery in the beginning 
phases of industrial capitalism. But any discussion of the ex- 
cesses dulls the perception of the general shock that the shift 
to industrial life produces even without unreasonably hard 

About labor migration and its connection with industrialism, 
a British historian wrote : 

It is hard for one born in a mature industrial region, inhabited by 
a race of patient and disciplined factory workers, to realize the 
difficulties involved in the deliberate formation of a factory com- 
munity, even where industrial habits and traditions are already well 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 67 

established among the local population. In the course of a generation 
or two it becomes quite "natural" for people to work together by 
hundreds in hot, humid, barrack-like buildings for a fixed number 
of hours each day, regulating their exertions constantly by the move- 
ments of tremendously powerful machinery. After a great war, or 
any other prolonged dislocation of industry, there may be some 
temporary restlessness among the "hands/ 7 but the routine soon 
reestablishes itself as part of the ordinary discipline of life. 4 

Before the race of patient and disciplined workers is created, it 
is not unlikely that these people experience their own version 
of what Marx tried to express by "alienation" ; and it may take 
more than one or two generations before general anti-industrial 
feeling ceases to provide fertile soil for revolutionary protest. 

The adjustment to the machine not only means the habituation 
of the worker to the factory existence. It means learning and 
accepting a whole network of ideas and customs. A commonplace 
feature of attempts at Westernization of backward areas has 
been the opposition often encountered among the population to 
the most ordinary and beneficial scientific or public health 
measures if they somehow clash with local customs and beliefs. 
The difficulties attendant upon the acceptance of science and 
rational criteria are compounded in the replacement of men 
by machines : this causes additional confusion and bewilderment, 
and, ultimately, in an agrarian society urged into industrialism, 
often results in revolutionary protest. Here again the recent 
experience of the more primitive communities in the process of 
seizure by modernization is helpful. Revolutionary movements 
are not infrequent when ancient superstitions, nascent national- 
ism, and distorted echoes of Western political ideas blend into 
a hopeless revolt against the new. 

It is a far cry from an African territory of today, or the 
China of the Taiping rebellion, to even the most primitive area 

4 Arthur Redford, Labour Migration in England 1800-1850, Manchester, 
1926, p. 18. (Italics mine) 

68 The Unfinished Revolution 

of England or France at the beginning of the nineteenth century. 
But some of the elements of protest are similar. The Luddite 
movement, when, to the accompaniment of fantastic rumors, 
the displaced workers destroyed machines ; similar developments 
of the first two decades of the century in France and elsewhere ; 
the opposition to smallpox vaccination these are but the most 
primitive symptoms of the incipient revolt of the simple people 
against the mysteriously changing circumstances of their lives. 
Progress and education may ride roughshod over uncivilized 
protests, but the shock of industrialization, instead of disappear- 
ing, will become greater even though the reaction to it becomes 
more indirect and subtle. 

Beyond the machine and its consequences, the most important, 
though subtle, element of transition from pre-industrial to in- 
dustrial mode of existence hinges on the notion of property. 
An agrarian society is built around the concept of property. 
Land is property, however much the concept may be attenuated 
by tenantship, serfdom, or membership in a commune. *So is 
the artisan's shop and his tools of trade. The status that a 
peasant or craftsman acquires from the mode and quantity of 
his property is much more important than any other aspect of 
his social personality. What happens to the connection of status 
and personality under the industrial process is dramatically if 
exaggeratedly described by Marx in the Manifesto : 

Hard won, self -acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the 
property of the petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of 
property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to 
abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent 
already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily. ... In your 
existing society, private property is already done away with for 
nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due 
to its non-existence in the hands of those nine- tenths, (p. 335-337) 

The process has not been that drastic or automatic, as Marxism 
has to its sorrow discovered. But the fact remains that one of 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 69 

the basic features of industrialization, transmuted into one of 
the most potent spurs to revolutionary feeling, is exactly the 
loss of "property" hence, status which the peasant or small 
craftsman experiences in becoming a proletarian. His previous 
existence or that of his father may have been, probably was, 
economically marginal, and his fresh status may mean a material 
advance. But as likely as not he will feel degraded, he will have 
the illusion of being impoverished, by the loss of his property. 
In a mature industrial society, where a man's status is measured 
mainly by the quantity of goods and services he commands, by 
his income, the social grievance caused by the exchange of a 
petty property inadequate to eke out a livelihood for the more 
varied and materially satisfying life will appear incomprehensible. 
But it will take more than one or two generations for the workers 
to lose the feeling of having been declassed just by the fact 
of being workers and of being cut off from their previous mode 
of existence and status. 

The problem of the small producer, most commonly the 
peasant, so brusquely disposed of in the Manifesto, so readily 
assumed by Marxism to be solved by the very dynamics of 
industrialization and capitalism, has been both the crux of and 
the main impediment to the revolutionary appeal of socialism. 
Here it is sufficient to observe how varied are the revolutionary 
ramifications of the pressure exercised by the "city" upon the 
"countryside" during the initial, intense period of industrializa- 
tion. Economic forces that make small-scale agriculture and 
crafts unfeasible or less and less profitable are at the same time 
the instruments for creating the labor force for the factories, 
the preconditions for science and sanitation, which lead, at first, 
to a prodigious growth of population. Economic crises and revo- 
lutionary stirrings reach not only the proletarian, but also the 
peasant or craftsman who is fighting, with the odds against him, 
against becoming a proletarian. Such is the initial impact of 
intense industrialization, and it is against this background that 

70 The Unfinished Revolution 

Marxism drew its conclusions about capitalism and the class 

Politically, industrialization means acceptance of the state. 
That the centralized and strong state is a necessary feature 
of industrialization may seem a paradox in view of the fact that 
the industrialization of Western Europe was carried through 
under the auspices of liberalism, which proclaimed as its 
political philosophy governmental noninterference with business 
and the fullest autonomy of the individual. Here the insight of 
Marxism shows more than historical appearances. A moment's 
reflection will show how much the laissez-faire state had to 
legislate in order to establish laissez faire; how the mass of 
regional peculiarities, of paternalistic laws, of pre-industrial 
customs had to be legislated away before the establishment of 
the legal and political prerequisites for the industrial order. 
When Rousseau wrote about the General Will and Hegel about 
the State's being the march of God in history, they were, in 
a way, giving expression to the longing for an authority strong 
enough to establish mores and an outlook for the whole society, 
something the most autocratic ^-industrial state could not do. 
There was no need for an English liberal to be lyrical or to 
engage in high-flown oratory about the state. The liberal state 
was legislating, almost unconsciously, a social and economic 
revolution, engaging, especially in the England of the thirties 
and forties, in what we would call today social engineering. The 
liberal ethos was finding its legislative expression, as in the 
New Poor Law of 1834. Not only the exclusive privileges of the 
land-owning aristocracy, but the whole network of legal and 
customary impediments to the business civilization, were being 
swept away by the action of the state. Politics was obediently 
doing the bidding of economic forces, of the ascending economic 

Even in the most mechanical sense of the term, industrializa- 

Sources and Dynamics oj Marxism 71 

tion means the age of regulation and a tendency to uniformity. 
Authority in a pre-industrial age may appear oppressive at the 
same time that it appears a part of the natural order of things. 
Ideally it does not interfere with the personal world of the lower 
orders : religion, family, "property," and daily life. Since nothing 
remains ideal there are moments of stress and rebellion, occa- 
sioned by unduly harsh exactions on the part of the authority, 
economic distress, or national and religious grievances. But in 
general a pre-industrial society will give a deceptive picture 
of placidity and harmony, for the natural radicalism of its 
typical member the peasant the product of his economic and 
legal helplessness, is held in check by his natural conservatism, 
by his attachment to and the belief in the permanence of his 
way of life. Once the "idiocy of rural life" gives way to the 
hustle and exactions of industrial existence, political authority 
appears in a different light. It is the state that somehow stands 
behind the forces disrupting the previous routine of life. It is the 
state that stands behind the factory owner and overseer. It is 
the rulers of the state who can decide whether food will be dear 
or cheap, who could, if they would, mitigate poverty and unem- 
ployment. To the disfranchised proletarian, there are no laws 
of economics superior to human volition ; and if political authority 
has sanctioned the disruption of economic life, then it has the 
clear obligation to set it right, and its refusal to do so can mean 
only its unwillingness. 

In the context of natural radicalism bred in the workers by 
the circumstances of industrialization, it is almost superfluous 
for Marx to teach the proletariat that the bourgeois state is the 
executive committee of the exploiting class. The state, in both 
its activity and its inactivity, as the policeman and the legislator, 
appears as the enemy. Perhaps the diagnosis is extended further. 
Authority of any kind, religious or political, is essentially a 
screen for economic oppression. Instinctive anarchism of the 

72 The Unfinished Revolution 

large part of the proletariat is the legacy of the pre-industrial 
age to the period of industrialization, of the "countryside" to 
the "city." 


"I have great pleasure in conversing with the lower part of 
mankind, whof have very curious ideas," wrote James Boswell. 5 
Boswell's pleasure might have been lessened had he foreseen 
how within two generations the curious ideas of the lower orders 
would come to affect the destiny of the more elegant part of 
society. No sociological surveys enable us to ascertain exactly the 
ideas of the French and English proletariat during the period of 
the great economic transformation. The wealth of memoirs, 
political reports, and even rudimentary economic surveys helps, 
but the picture of the impact of industrialism is still like that 
of the proverbial iceberg : a small part of it visible in the form 
of theories, statistics, and political and social movements; the 
greater part of it, the feelings and thoughts of the people affected 
by industrialization, is submerged. We are forced to speculate 
about the latter from an analysis of the former. But such deduc- 
tions must be made with the caution that our asumptions about 
the feelings of the proletariat are based on the opinions of a 
small but very active minority. The historical and economic 
literature of industrialization in the West supplements the raw 
emotions of the political tracts. 

To the affluent contemporary reader, the social historian pictures 
the unspeakable horrors of the era which employed children as 
mine workers and chimney sweeps. The economic historian adds 
his reservations: for all the wealth of the data illustrating the 
horrors, we must not conclude that the standard of living, say 
in England between 1820 and 1850, was lower than before, that 
the most intense period of industrialization was, as the agitator 
and Karl Marx proclaimed, a period of unremitting suffering 

5 Bosweirs London Journal, ed. Frederick Pottle, New York, 1956, p. 106. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 73 

for the worker. 6 Both the economic and the social historian 
may be right, each from his own point of view. Real wages 
may be on the increase and yet the confusing newness and lack 
of security of industrial life may create the illusion of a lowered 
standard of living and give the worker the feeling that the 
industrial process leads to his increasing misery. 

The content of the "curious ideas" of the lower orders in the 
face of industrialization does not come readily out of the 
statistics or the contemporary parliamentary debates. It does 
not come with full freshness and directness from the plans 
of the reformers and system makers. The latter may infuse too 
much theory and logic into what is initially a spontaneous and 
bewildered reaction to a new world. It is best to approach the 
character of innate radicalism of the working masses by looking 
at earlier movements that embodied some of the angry bewilder- 
ment and opposition to industrialism. Their appeal to the masses 
may have been ephemeral because they have no well-thought- 
out reforms or even Utopias to offer, or because what they 
demanded was clearly ruled out of order by the political and 
economic forces of the moment. But the very incoherence and 
temporary popularity of the protest help explain the abiding 
appeal of the more "artificially" constructed theories of reform 
and revolution. 

A tangible example is the career of William Cobbett. Tory, 

e "Again, the legend that everything was getting worse for the working 
man, down to some unspecified date between the drafting of the People's 
Charter and the Great Exhibition, dies hard. The fact that, after the price 
fall of 1820-21, the purchasing power of wages in general not, of course, 
of everyone's wages was definitely greater than it had been just before the 
revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, fits so ill with the tradition that it is very 
seldom mentioned, the work of statisticians on wages and prices being 
constantly ignored by social historians. It is symbolic of the divorce of much 
social and economic history from figures that, in a recent inquiry into the 
fortunes of one group of trades, the tradition of decline appears in the text, 
some corrective wage figures in an appendix and the correlation nowhere." 
J. H. Clapham, An Economic History of Modern Britain, Cambridge, England, 
1930, 1, vii. 

74 The Unfinished Revolution 

then Radical, pamphleteer, and propagandist, he remains in 
history mainly as a colorful figure of English politics in the 
first third of the nineteenth century rather than as a major 
reformer or thinker. No primary, practical reform can be as- 
sociated with Cobbett's name, as it can with Francis Place's. 
No specific socialist philosophy was developed by him, as it was 
by Robert Owen. And among those who struggled against and 
tempered the worst effects of the Industrial Revolution, he cannot 
be ranged at the side of Lord Ashley or John Fielden. Yet on 
the contemporary scene Cobbett was a man of considerable 
influence and of great appeal to the lower classes. His Political 
Register at times reached a circulation of sixty thousand 
enormous, by the period's standards. The reasons for Cobbett's 
popularity must be sought, with all due allowance for his genius 
as propagandist and libeler, in his faithful portrayal of the com- 
mon man's prejudices and grievances. No aspect of anti-industrial 
radicalism fails to appear in Cobbett's writings, which are a vast 
compilation of the emotions and prejudices on which radicalism, 
both left and right, feeds. 

Cobbett's writings, from the beginning, when he was a Tory, 
to the end, when as a Radical he espoused the principle of uni- 
versal suffrage, have the character of a criminal inquest on 
the subject, "Who is destroying the old England?" More specifi- 
cally, what is destroying the most useful social class, the small 
farmers, "a set of men industrious and careful by habit; cool 
thoughtful and sensitive from the instructions of nature"? 7 
At the foundation of the Political Register in 1802, the criminals 
were identified as domestic and foreign enemies of the Tory 
establishment: the political reformers and Napoleon. But the 
list soon lengthened to include the Tories, the system of govern- 
ment with its sinecures and corruption, and the royal family 
itself. Behind the outward agents of the change, Cobbett soon 
perceived the world of finance and industry which was taking 
7 The Autobiography of William Cobbett, London, 1948, p. 179. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxisw 75 

over early nineteenth-century England: bankers, stock jobbers, 
rich Jews, and manufacturers. The oscillation from extreme 
conservatism and chauvinism, to radicalism is quite typical of 
the unreflecting radicalism aroused by the destruction of the 
allegedly simple, virtuous, and prosperous agrarian society. This 
radicalism was probably the secret of Cobbett's popularity 
among his countrymen. So was the idealization of the old: the 
love for the countryside, the harmonious life of the small cultiva- 
tor, the virtues of family life on the land ; and the defense of the 
traditional sports of bull baiting and fisticuffs. Farming, garden- 
ing, and animal husbandry receive from Cobbett almost as much 
attention as do the opprobrious inroads of the new civilization 
relentlessly defacing and destroying rural England. 

At the later and more advanced stage of his activity, the 
simple picture of the clash of the two worlds was elaborated into 
an indictment of industrialism and of its social and political 
appurtenances. The enemy is now the machine, challenging the 
natural order of the world, which demands that "nine-tenths of 
the people should be employed on, and in the affairs of the 
land." 8 For the machine, as for such corresponding phenomena 
of modernity as smallpox vaccination, Cobbett had no use. The 
encroachments of science provoke a defiant reassertion of a 
number of popular superstitions (for example, horse hairs may 
occasionally turn into living things!). 

In the same spirit, Cobbett, now a Radical, opposed any 
schemes for a national system of education. In brief, his radical- 
ism became basically a passionate thrashing around in an anti- 
industrial fury. Compassion for the poor and exploited, and 
hatred of the exploiters and the privileged are not absent from 
his writings, but the driving force is uncomprehending hostility 
toward the new order. 

The radical stage of Cobbett's activity coincided with the 
enhanced pace of industrialization and the intensification of 

lbid., p. 2 18. 

76 The Unfinished Revolution 

social problems that followed the end of the Napoleonic wars. 
How simple radicalism and nostalgia for the idealized past may 
shade into political radicalism and a sort of home-made theory 
of class struggle becomes readily visible : "The march of circum- 
stances is precisely what it was in France, just previous to the 
French Revolution. . . . The middle class are fast sinking down 
to the state of the lower class. A community of feeling between 
these classes ... is what the aristocracy has to dread." 9 The 
formerly idealized landowner has now become an oppressor, only 
a shade better than the manufacturer or the banker, and the 
chauvinism of the earlier days gives way to the perception that 
the French wars were begun by the English ruling class to 
prevent reforms at home. Along with many other Radicals, 
Cobbett, who once objected to the King's dropping the "King 
of France" from his titles, now considered the victory at Waterloo 
as a sad defeat for the liberties of England. 

Social indignation often turns into a generalized suspicion 
of the motives of the rulers, then into mistrust of the whole 
social and political system, and finally into the certainty that 
the system exists merely as a cloak over exploitation and 
oppression. It became necessary for Cobbett to illustrate how 
the last three centuries of English history had been, in effect, 
the history of the class struggle, how the Reformation had pre- 
destined the birth of the Stock Exchange and of the Bank of 
England, and how the Glorious Revolution had accelerated the 
race toward industrial towns and hypocritical political economists. 
The latter, headed by Malthus and Ricardo, were in Cobbett's 
view but the lackeys of the plutocracy, as were the greater part 
of the Liberal reformers headed by "Jerry Bentham, an egotist 
and coxcomb." 

The indiscriminate attack upon men and institutions had one 
unifying theme hostility toward anything and anybody con- 

9 Rural Rides, ed. G. D. H. and Margaret Cole, London, 1930, II, 665. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 77 

nected with turning England into an industrial society. A 
Protestant, Cobbett was driven into a eulogy of the Catholic 
Church, because that church was identified with the allegedly 
happy agrarian past and with the nonindustrial virtues of charity 
and toleration toward the poor. The full virulence of an extremely 
virulent pen is turned against those ethnic and religious groups 
that seem to thrive on industrialization and commercialism and 
that embody the virtues demanded by the new order of society. 
It is embarrassing for those who would claim Cobbett for a 
progenitor of English socialism to face his inflammatory 
language about the Jews and the Quakers. A relatively inild 
sample is his observation about the two groups: 

Till excises and loan mongering began, these vermin were never heard 
of in England. They seem to have been hatched by that fraudulent 
system, as maggots are bred by putrid meat, or as the flounders 
come to live in the livers of rotten sheep. The base vermin do not 
pretend to work; all they talk about is dealing, and the government, 
in place of making laws that would put them in the stocks, or cause 
them to be whipped at the cart's tail, really seem anxious to encourage 
them and to increase their number. 10 

And the Methodist ministers are hardly better; they preach to 
the poor to be content with their miserable lot. 

Writing at a much later date, Alfred Marshall employed the 
language of early liberalism in discussing the mental traits 
required of the pioneer capitalist entrepreneur. He had to have 
the ability to concentrate on the practical, an openness and alert- 
ness to new ideas, and a sense of proportion. Concludes Marshall, 
and the sentiment he expresses was a favorite motif of the 
great economist as it had been of the early liberals : "These are 
faculties which have been conspicuous in the Jewish race longer 
than in any other: but they were also such as could be, and 

IQ Ibid., II, 512. 

78 The Unfinished Revolution 

were, quickly and strongly developed in that sturdy English 
character, of which the foundation had been laid by the sea 
rovers." n 

Industrialism and anti-industrialism are at opposite poles on 
the subject of the groups that seem to embody values destructive 
of the older order. In On the Jewish Question, young Marx gave 
proof of his affinity to anti-industrialism. The Jew expresses 
the essence of the bourgeois society; he is the carrier of the 
capitalist values. It is too much to read into Marx, or to explain 
his theories, by a species of masochistic anti-Semitism. The 
original, undifferentiated, anti-industrial radicalism is prone to 
anti-Semitism, for the the same reason that the liberal and busi- 
ness circles of early nineteenth-century England and France were 
filo-Semitic and pioneered in the social and political emancipa- 
tion of the Jews. Over and above abstract principles and religious 
considerations, the dividing line was the acceptance or rejection 
of the civilization and its values, which the Jew (and, in England, 
some of the dissenting communities) appeared to symbolize. 
Cobbett's is the inflammatory language of anti-industrial radical- 
ism. The element of ethnic hostility in it may become subdued 
or muted if that radicalism is assimilated into socialism. Or it 
may become expanded if the radicalism is absorbed into a 
revolutionary movement with nationalistic or fascist charac- 

The stubborn refusal to recognize the facts of social and 
economic improvement is frequently a common characteristic of 
the conservative and the radical. The Marxist diagnosis of 
capitalism as leading to the worsening of the workers' standard 
of living is matched and surpassed by Cobbett's triumph over 
the facts in his assertion that population under industrialism tends 
to decrease. England's population during the Middle Ages must 
have exceeded her population of the 1820's. 

n Industry and Trade, London, 1920, p. 48. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 79 

Populousness is a thing not to be proved by positive facts, because 
there are not records of the people in former times; and because those 
which we have in our days are notoriously false, if they be not, the 
English nation has added a third to its population during the last 
twenty years. In short, our modern records I have over and over 
again proved false. . . , 12 

The demographic revelations of Cobbett find a parallel in his 
historical discoveries. James II was a conscientious and freedom- 
loving king, his opponents scoundrels. History and economics of 
the past are frankly seen through the prism of the author's 
acknowledged biases. The rough and ready philosophy of history 
pictures it as a continuous story of trickery and exploitation of 
the ruled, engendered by the ascendancy of the materialist ten- 
dency ever since the Reformation. There is no well-conceived 
scheme of reform. The only solution is a return to the solid 
virtues of the past, the restoration of the yeomen class as the 
backbone of the nation, and a halt to industrialization and 
urbanization. Political reform, i.e., universal manhood suffrage 
and annual parliaments, is advocated by Cobbett in a spirit of 
pique at the upper and middle classes, rather than in a democratic 
spirit, of which he had very little. 

The great agitator remains amidst the gallery of English 
politicians and reformers of his day as a uniquely naughty and 
biased, but thereby human, figure. His terrible prejudices are 
somewhat softened by a sense of humor, which made him ask 
of himself, in the midst of spouting historical nonsense, "Is this 
what you call writing a history?" The fact that he has appealed 
to people as diverse in their political philosophies as G. K. 
Chesterton and G. D. H. Cole shows the enigmatic character of 
the instincts and emotions of which he has been a spokesman. 
More than anybody else of the period, Cobbett with his likes 

19 William Cobbett, A History of the Reformation in England and Ireland, 
Philadelphia, 1843, p. 26. 

80 The Unfinished Revolution 

and dislikes demonstrates the content of the "curious ideas" of 
the common man. "Cobbett and the people felt alike; that was 
the secret of his ascendancy." 13 

The stock of prejudices and superstitions and the blind oppo- 
sition to the forces of modern life that Cobbett represents are 
merely the breeding ground of indiscriminate radicialism. There 
is not enough of systematic theory in his fulminations to classify 
Cobbett as anything but an anti-industrialist, but we shall not 
be far wrong if we borrow a term for the kind of response that 
Cobbett, the common man of the 1820's, evidenced toward in- 
dustrialism and call it basically anarchist. Unyielding conser- 
vatism in the face of economic change, rejection of the most basic 
means of accommodation to the organizational and scientific 
requirements of modern life, what else is the basis of anarchist 
sentiment? This sentiment often masquerades under pretended 
reverence for the older and now impractical forms of authority and 
social organization, but it does not offer solutions for fitting the 
older values into the changed social and economic structure. 
Where can universal suffrage lead without a system of universal 
education? How can a class of prosperous small farmers be 
preserved, if there is to be no paper money, no centralized bank- 
ing system, but on the contrary a positive discouragement of 
industry and technology? Insofar as it expresses anything, Cob- 
bett's philosophy is simply the anarchistic radicalism of the 
displaced countryman, with its inconsistent but very human mix- 
ture of individualism and authoritarianism, of xenophobic na- 
tionalism and humanitarianism, a radicalism that can flow into 
a more practical political movement of the left or the right, but 
of itself can accomplish nothing because it negates the simple 
facts of life, because it is an emotion and not an ideology. 

The idea of the "good old times" is in fact the springboard of 
as much revolutionary as reactionary feeling. Young Engels 
could write of the disappearing craftsman-peasant, whom he and 

18 G. D. H. Cole, The Life of William Cobbett, London, 1947, p. 269. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 81 

Marx were soon to classify as part of the passing "idiocy of 
rural life," in the following terms: 

True, he was a bad farmer and managed his land inefficiently, 
often obtaining but poor crops; nevertheless, he was no proletarian; 
he had a stake in the country, he was permanently settled and stood 
one step higher in society than the English workman of today. . . . 
They did not need to overwork. . . . They were, for the most part 
strong, well-built people. . . , 14 

The recovery of the lost virtues of the past through the most 
intense development of the new such is the scheme of Marxism. 
And it is in the rejection and condemnation of the present that 
it strikes a sympathetic chord in the proletarian. In this sense, it 
is superfluous to seek elaborate proofs of the paternity of this or 
that theory of Marxism in Cobbett, the Chartists, or the con- 
temporary French socialists. Marxism simply breathes the same 
air of half -nostalgic and half -revolutionary rejection of the 
bourgeois world and incorporates it in its revolutionary appeal. 

By the time the Manifesto was published, the "Marxist" period 
of English politics was, in fact, drawing to its end. Cobbett had 
been its precursor, and Chartism its political expression. If Cob- 
bett is sheer, unorganized, anti-industrial sentiment appealing to 
instincts only one step more advanced than those expressed in 
Luddite riots and smashing of factory equipment, then Chartism 
means a further advance: the grappling for political power. The 
Chartist movement was not, despite Marx's dictum, a working- 
class party. It was a movement, mass action, groping to become 
a party. Its antecedents were not unconnected with the feelings 
that gave rise to the kind of historical nonsense Cobbett propa- 
gated : a Chartist like Doubleday could say that universal suffrage 
had been the custom of the country until Henry VI, and since 
then the common people had been despoiled by the aristocracy and 
the middle class. The movement could still find its "practical" 

14 "The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844," in Karl Marx 
and Frederick Engels on Britain, Moscow, 1953, p. 52. 

82 The Unfinished Revolution 

proposals in schemes like Feargus O'Connor's proposed mass 
resettlement of the proletariat on land. But its unhistoricity and 
nostalgia are secondary to the two great prerequisites of the 
Marxist feeling : the identification of anti-industrialism with capi- 
talism, and the idea that only political action by the proletariat 
can secure its economic emancipation. 

Neither of these premises of Chartism is unblurred or true of 
the whole movement. Real Marxism obviously required a Marx, 
whom the Chartists did not have, while they did count a number 
of middle-class reformers and moderates in their ranks. But 
Disraeli expresses the opinion of a large part of the movement 
when he makes the worker in his Sybil say: 

The Capitalist has found a slave that has supplanted the labor and 
ingenuity of man. Once he ^was an artisan; at best he now only 
watches machines; and even that occupation slips from his grasp to 
the woman and child. The capitalist flourishes, he amasses im- 
mense wealth; we sink lower and lower. . . . And yet they tell us 
that the interests of Capital and Labor are identical. . . , 15 

We are closer to the formula with which Marxism transmutes 
anti-industrialism into anticapitalism. In the speeches and writ- 
ings of the radical Chartists, we repeatedly get the claim for the 
worker of the "whole product'' of labor. The primitive statement 
of the labor theory of value (and the obvious deduction from it) 
had been something of a commonplace among radical pamphle- 
teers and socialists before Chartism, but in the latter it became 
elevated into a political principle and a part of political propa- 
ganda rather than of theoretical disquisitions. 

From the point of view of political action, abortive concepts 
of insurrections and general strikes, Chartism also impresses us 
as a harbinger of Marxism. Radical revolutionary movements up 
to that time were either conspiracies or demonstrations which, 
often to the surprise of the participants, turned out to be revolu- 

16 Sybil, or the Two Nations, London, 1927, p. 134. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 83 

tions. The latter had been the traditional pattern of French politics 
since the Revolution. In Chartism we get for the first time at- 
tempts at this "controlled spontaneity/' which later on became 
so characteristic of the Marxist movement attempts at the syn- 
chronization of revolutionary activity and awaiting the appro- 
priate moment to bring out the "masses." The proponents of 
physical force in the movement (like James Bronterre O'Brien, 
who argued that usurping governments never abdicate of their 
own free will but only because of force or fear) had their counter- 
part in the advocates of "moral force," remote ancestors of the 
revisionists and gradualists of the Marxian movement. 

The official platform of Chartism was, of course, the People's 
Charter, published in 1838 with its Six Points demanding uni- 
versal manhood suffrage, equal representation, annual parliaments, 
no property qualifications for Members of Parliament, ballot, 
and payment of the Members of Parliament. The ostensible pro- 
gram was political and constitutional : a demand by the working 
class, or its politically conscious segment, for the extension to 
them of political power, which the middle class had secured in 
the Reform Act of 1832. As such, the movement was viewed 
sympathetically by some Tories, out of spite, no doubt, at the 
middle class, and even by some democrats within the business 
community. Essentially, Chartism soon took on the undertones 
of social radicalism and became a reflection of the workingmen's 
grievances at the new order established by the partial victory of 
liberalism in 1832. Chartism's high points of agitation 1839, 
1842, and the final spurt of 1848 coincided with periods of eco- 
nomic distress for the working class and amounted to a near- 
revolutionary situation which certainly alarmed the possessing 

The triumph of liberal ideology and of the business interests, 
which in the mid-forties set England on the road to free trade, 
separated Chartism from many of its middle-class supporters. 
About the same time, the beginnings of protective legislation on 

84 The Unfinished Revolution 

labor put rudimentary curbs on the greatest abuses of laissez faire 
and thus set the stamp on the character of liberal society in 
England during the next fifty years. It was to be a society 
dominated by commercial and industrial values, buttressed by 
the liberal ideology. The gradual extension of the democratic 
principle to politics, and the very gradual and primitive adoption 
of rudiments of 'social legislation and recognition of unionism, 
were to temper the radical protest. And the development of 
industry and the rise in the general standard of living stripped 
this protest of its mainly anti-industrial character. The forces 
of social and economic development were going to thwart de- 
cisively the challenge to industrialism and liberalism that Chart- 
ism had represented at its most intense. They were to make sure 
that when socialism as a political force again came to England 
it was to come under different auspices and in a different spirit 
from that of anti-industrialism. "The Marxist situation" was 
gone forever from the English scene after 1850. With it went the 
possibility of developing a political movement of the Marxist 
type, toward which some Chartists like Harney and Ernest 
Jones had groped before 1850, but which when enunciated after 
that date was simply to be an eccentric political cult bypassed 
by the main social and intellectual currents. 

The wrath of the working class as embodied in Chartism ap- 
peared to Engels in 1845 certain to "break out into a revolution 
in comparison with which the French Revolution and the year 
1 794 will prove to have been a child's play." 16 This wrath spilled 
over from behind the political petitions for the Six Points of re- 
form into what appears in retrospect to have been the last desper- 
ate stand against industrialism and the modern state. The Poor 
Law Amendment Act of 1834 embodied the central points of the 
new liberal philosophy, with its mixture of philosophical radical- 
ism of the Benthamite school, belief in the benevolence of free 
market and the virtues of self-reliance, and echoes of Malthus. 

lfl Engels, The Condition of the Working Class, op. cit., p. 52. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 85 

The Act abolished the old Poor Law, one of the remnants of the 
patriarchal notions of society dating from Elizabethan and pre- 
ceding times, and substituted a "scientific" and "modern" princi- 
ple of relief. Outdoor relief was, in effect, eliminated, and public 
support was to be extended only to those undoubtedly indigent, 
under conditions as strict as life in the poorhouses was to be 
unpleasant. The administration of the new law was centralized 
and nationalized. The premise seemed to be that unemployment 
and poverty were a sin if not a crime, and the liberal state took 
as its motto what was to become an echo of fundamentalist liberal- 
ism in Marxism: "Those who do not work, neither shall they 

For Cobbett, just before his death, the new law was the dis- 
solution of the unwritten social compact by which the possessing 
classes held their wealth on the condition of help extended to 
the poor. For the radical Chartists, it was a device by which 
freshly triumphant capitalism was to create an industrial reserve 
army to do its bidding. "Yes, my friends, the New Poor Law is 
the last blood-stained prop by which the money monster hopes 
to sustain the tottering fabric of his cannibal system of that 
merciless system, which first makes you poor in the midst of 
wealth of your own producing, and would then bastile and starve 
you for the fruits of its own barbarity," cried Chartist James 
O'Brien. 17 From the liberal point of view the law abolished an 
inefficient and antiquated system, promoted mobility of work- 
men and removed inducements to their idleness and reliance on 
public charity. This point of view was incomprehensible to the 
Tory anti-industrialists and proponents of the protection of the 
workingman, like the famous Richard Oastler, who openly incited 
to violence and defiance of the law. To the class-conscious Chartist 
leaders like O'Brien, the intent was all too clear, and only com- 
plete political democracy, whether arrived at peacefully or not, 

17 i 

1 Quoted in The Chartist Movement in Its Social and Economic Aspects, 
by F. F. Rosenblatt, Columbia University Studies in History, Economics, and 
Public Law, New York, 1916, LXXIII, 51. 

86 The Unfinished Revolution 

could prevent the fastening of the relentless yoke of capitalism 
on the British worker. 

The richness and multi-varied character of radicalism as ex- 
hibited in Chartism still requires systematic treatment. What is 
important here, in this brief notice of its importance for Marxism, 
is exactly its partly contrived and partly spontaneous character. 
It is no longer merely a nostalgic look at the unreal past, nor 
is it yet an organized political movement with a theology and 
schemes of its own. Some Chartists persisted in die-hard opposi- 
tion to the symptoms of the new paper money and the factory 
others want a managed currency and a central banking system 
to spur industrial production. There was the voice of the worker, 
too, still confused by what was happening around him but now 
asking questions. Thus, when the London Workingman's Associ- 
ation, led by the pioneer Chartist William Lovett, drafted an 
address to the American workers in the late 1830's, it con- 
gratulated them on having what the British did not, namely, a 
republic and virtual universal suffrage. But then it proceeded to 

Why have lawyers a prepondering influence in your country? 
men whose interests lie in your corruptions and dissensions, and 
in making intricate the plainest questions affecting your welfare. 
Why has so much of your fertile country been parcelled out between 
swindling bankers and grinding capitalists. . . . Why have so 
many of your cities, towns, railroads, canals and manufacturies 
become the monopolized property of those who toil not, neither do 
they spin! . . . 18 

Why indeed? The stage is all set for Dr. Karl Marx to enter 
and provide the English workers with a precise answer why 
suffrage in itself is unavailing and what can be done about it. 
When in effect he does enter on the British scene with his an- 
swers, the London workers will no longer be terribly interested. 

18 William Lovett, Life and Struggles of William Lovett in His Pursuit of 
Bread, Knowledge and Freedom, London, 1820, I, 134. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 87 

It is too much to proclaim Marxism a child of Chartism. But it is 
not too much to affirm Marxism as being shaped by the impres- 
sion of English politics and economics of the 1840's. In the course 
of a generation, the English working class appears to have pro- 
gressed from uncomprehending protests against industrialism, 
through premature efforts at unionization, to the point of revolu- 
tionary action, to the point at which it asked questions about 
the relationship of politics and economics. It was not too much 
to expect that the next step must be a fuller understanding both 
of industrialism and of the necessity for socialism, and then a 
spontaneous revolutionary movement of the whole class. It is also 
not too much to read into the picture the universal and unavoid- 
able characteristics of modern capitalism and of the effect it 
produces on the working class. Crude formulations of what 
later on become Marxist dogmas are commonplace in the mouth 
of the Chartist leaders : history as a panorama of the class strug- 
gle, progressive impoverishment of the worker under capitalism, 
the labor theory of value and its moral, the industrial reserve 
army of the unemployed and the monopolistic tendency of capital- 
ism they all find repeated expression, not as something the 
speaker announces as a discovery, but as something he assumes 
the workers know from their own experience. It is hardly im- 
portant to trace these ideas to the French Revolution, to Ricardo 
or Robert Owen; the fact is that they appear to comprise what 
Marx was to call the class consciousness of the advanced worker 
of the Chartist period. 

In observing the English scene in the forties and even the 
fifties, it was a pardonable illusion for the author of the 
Manifesto to believe that the industrial process under capitalism 
enables the worker, with barely any help from an agitator or 
economist, to approach his own Weltanschauung and to reach the 
Marxist conclusion. From this point of view, the English develop- 
ment between 1830 and 1850 was much more Marxist than the 
French one. In France during this period, one can observe a 

88 The Unfinished Revolution 

variety of revolutionary movements and stirrings, often of work- 
ing-class origin, and a variety of socialist schemes and Utopias 
propagated by individuals and sects. But there is little connec- 
tion yet between the two, little evidence that the industrial process 
in itself educates the worker about capitalism in the way Marx 
and Engels ^believed it did in England. The revolt of the Lyons 
workers in 1831 was a reflection of misery pure and simple, and 
its only motto was "Work or death." Even the uprising of the 
Paris proletariat in June 1848 was caused mainly by indignation 
over the fact that the Second Republic had not ameliorated the 
worker's misery. In France, contrived socialist ideas floated on 
the surface of the revolutionary wave stirred by the misery and 
dislocation of industrialism and the general instability of the 
state. In England, socialism appeared to be generated by the 
revolutionary wave itself, but this wave beat impotently against 
the strength of the liberal establishment. 

Marx and Engels did not become convinced of the strength of 
the latter until long after the demise of Chartism. For them the 
next step was to be a clearly socialist, clearly Marxist phase of 
the English revolutionary movement. The best commentary on 
such hopes is provided by the story of the individual Chartist 
leaders after 1848. Many of them who had fancied themselves 
before as the Marats and Robespierres of the coming English 
revolution spent their last days in pathetic Victorian middle-class 
respectability. Their revolutionary and reforming drive was 
channeled into petty and socially approved paths of reform, 
temperance, "elevating" the working class through education, 
and so on. The most typical worker among them, William 
Lovett, sought unsuccessfully to become a small businessman and 
toward the end of his life looked with horror upon socialism. He 
retained his belief that the British Museum should be open on 
Sunday, so that the workers could go there and "their vicious 
habits would yield to more rational pursuits." 19 The upper-class 

I, 59. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 89 

recruit to Chartism, Ernest Jones, whom Marx considered after 
1848 as the most likely leader of the English Marxist movement 
and who was the most dashing and revolutionary of the left 
Chartists, ended as a candidate for a liberal nomination for 
Parliament. Jones, who for years after 1848 preached near-Marxist 
socialism and theorized about the monopolistic tendency for self- 
destruction of capitalism, finished his life almost as a Gladstonian 
liberal. Another left Chartist, George Julian Harney, lived as 
an inconsequential radical long enough to have his eightieth 
birthday fund subscribed to by, among others, the embodiment 
of big business and radicalism turned to imperialism, Mr. Joseph 

The stories are symptomatic not so much of men naturally 
abandoning the radicalism of their youth, as of the triumphant 
ascendance of the Victorian social and political spirit, which 
made the earlier radicalism simply unthinkable for later genera- 
tions. Biographers of the Chartist leaders are often moved to 
ascribe to the movement the historical merit of initiating the 
democratic reform which eventually swept England and of 
setting up the foundations for the rebirth of English socialism 
in the eighties and nineties. This homage to men who, whatever 
they were "responding" to, were often courageous fighters against 
injustice confuses the nature of two socialisms. Modern English 
socialism, the product of Fabianism and the trade unions, is the 
result of mature industrialism, with few if any ties to the anti- 
industrial, anti-state feeling so important in Chartism. Of the 
older type, traces can certainly be found in the socialism of 
William Morris, in the early Independent Labor Party, and in 
the guild tradition. But the main current, as we shall see, is 
quite different. 

As to democratic reform, it is interesting to speculate what 
would have happened had the Chartists' Six Points been in fact 
adopted, instead of the gradual approach to universal suffrage, 
achieved in practice in the middle eighties. One thing is fairly 

90 The Unfinished Revolution 

certain: the dynamic of England's industrialization and the 
formation of the "cake of custom" appropriate to it would have 
certainly been disrupted had a Chartist Parliament been installed. 
One can imagine reforms on the order of the National Workshops 
of France of 1848 being tried alongside state-supported schemes 
of land settlement. If acceptance of industrialization, in the 
social sense of the term, is a prerequisite to stable democratic 
institutions, then the victory of Chartism might not have bene- 
fited the long-term prospects of democracy and might have made 
the English development similar to that of France, or led to a 
situation in which Karl Marx's hopes would not have been 
entirely disappointed. 


The term liberalism has faded to the extent that everybody in 
the West who is not a self-declared fascist lays claim to being 
a liberal of sorts and programs ranging from extreme conservatism 
to communism are advocated in the name of "liberalism." Some- 
thing of the original flavor of English liberalism comes out in 
Francis Place's prophecy about the socialists in the Chartist 
movement : 

As the best men in the working class proceed in their attainment of 
knowledge, they will cease to enforce their mistaken notions, and 
this will be called abandoning their caste by those who remain un- 
enlightened; and these men, and such other men as have power over 
multitudes of other men, and have sinister objects to accomplish, 
will misinterpret to the many the actions and opinions of those who 
have become more enlightened. ... In the meantime many of the 
incorrigible leaders and large numbers of their followers who are 
unteachable will be wearied out with continued and rapidly recurring 
disappointments, will draw off to be replaced by better men; and 
notwithstanding the times of inactivity and despair which will oc- 
casionally occur, the progress of actual improvement in right thinking 
will go on with increased velocity.- 

20 Quoted in Graham Wallas, The Life of Francis Place, New York, 1919, 
pp. 383-384. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 91 

Thus Francis Place, not a middle-class manufacturer or economist, 
but a radical political reformer sprung from the proletariat. What 
is "right thinking" is determined by the principles of Utilitarian- 
ism and of political economy. The "mistaken notions" are those of 
socialism, or of the power of the trade unions to affect the workers' 
wages in defiance of economic "laws." 

The quotation is typical of the deterministic rigidity of the 
liberalism that ruled the intellectual climate of England from 
the 1820's until the end of the century, its greatest and most 
extensive reign over morals, legislation, and the economy occupy- 
ing the first forty years of the period. The power and self-assur- 
ance of English liberalism dwarfed movements and opinions 
opposing it. Though there were no public-opinion polls at the 
time, it is not unreasonable to assume that the conglomeration of 
opinions and movements known as Chartism enjoyed at times 
in the forties some measure of sympathy from the majority of 
the nation. Yet the waves of Chartism beat ineffectually against 
the rising liberal establishment. The ideology or parts of it made 
the round of the world. At home all the animadversions of the 
Carlyles, Ruskins, and Newmans could not keep it from becoming 
the ascendant intellectual doctrine, any more than the Cobbetts, 
the Tories, and the Chartists could keep it from becoming the 
basis of English laws and institutions for nearly a century. 

The content of early liberalism is not easy to decipher. We 
do not begin to describe it by seeing it, as did Mr. Laski, mainly 
as the philosophy of business civilization or as a cloak thrown 
over vested interests. Nor is it sufficient to center it around the 
belief in the self-regulating market, the belief which, according to 
Karl Polanyi, was the major historical error of liberalism and 
the source of all our troubles since. 21 We gain little in compre- 
hension by reading our contemporary ideas and alternatives into 
the past. Complete determinism and its relative in historiography 
"What happened had to happen the way it did" are no worse 

21 Karl Polanyi, Origins of Our Times : The Great Transformation, London, 

92 The Unfinished Revolution 

than their opposites, which, for instance, would tax Cobden and 
Gladstone with not anticipating the ideas of Keynes and 
Beveridge. There is no denying that liberalism became, par 
excellence, the philosophy of the bourgeoisie and a rationale of 
the laissez-faire system, and that the connection influenced the 
philosophy itself. But it was not invented for this purpose, nor 
was it merely a reflection of business interests. 

In dealing with liberalism, it is again wise to recognize the 
distinction between the great body of theories and philosophies 
that comprise its basis and what might be called the liberal out- 
look characteristic of a class and a generation. The philosophers 
from Adam Smith to John Stuart Mill largely shape this outlook 
and express some of its most salient characteristics. But liberalism 
as a whole is not simply the sum of its parts. The liberal spirit is 
at once broader and perhaps less sophisticated than the theory 
or theories of liberalism. The distinction, though it may seem 
fanciful, is always an important one to bear in mind in the case 
of a social or political philosophy that is not only a body of 
theories but also the basis of a popular movement. In the theo- 
reticians of liberalism we find not infrequently a note of pessimism 
about material progress, questioning of whether the ever-expand- 
ing productive capacity of society may not be arrested sometime 
or whether it indeed leads to human happiness. The father of 
liberal economics, David Ricardo, expresses this (heretical from 
the liberal point of view) doubt: 

Happiness is the object to be desired, and we cannot be quite sure 
that, provided he is equally well fed, a man may not be happier in 
the enjoyment of the luxury of idleness than in the enjoyment of 
the luxuries of a neat cottage and good clothes. And after all we do 
not know if these would fall to his share. His labour might only 
increase the enjoyment of his employer. 22 

This line of pessimism runs through Malthus to the man who 
expresses the transition from earlier to latter-day liberalism, 

22 Letters of David Ricardo to Thomas Robert Malthus, ed. James Bonaro, 
Oxford, 1887, p. 138. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 93 

John Stuart Mill. Yet how unrepresentative this is of the general 
spirit of liberalism and of what the followers of Ricardo and Mill 
took to be the main tendency of their teachers. Their tendency 
was one of triumphant materialism, of continued and indefinite 
improvement of mankind through material progress. This un- 
sophisticated confidence, which permeated the middle class and 
spread to the rest of the nation in a manner unmatched in any 
other European country, was necessary to beat down and then 
practically extinguish the almost equally massive surge of anti- 
industrialism, as exhibited in Chartism. The workman William 
Lovett, coming to abhor the anti-industrial socialism of his 
youth, is matched by the Tory statesman writing, "If you had 
to constitute new societies, you might on moral grounds prefer 
corn fields to cotton factories ; an agricultural to a manufacturing 
population. But our lot is cast, we cannot change it and we cannot 
recede." 23 The nostalgic retreat of other viewpoints, the helpless 
acquiescence of other classes, would not have been possible with- 
out the solid and unbroken confidence of middle-class liberalism. 
Liberal materialism, then, came to be identical with belief in 
industrialism. To the middle-class reader who cared but little 
about the constitutional schemes and devices of Jeremy Bentham, 
the practicality and iconoclasm of Utilitarianism became a social 
gospel. Distrust of sentimentality on social questions, of too ab- 
stract principles in politics, the questioning of every institution 
by the standard of usefulness these were the basic instincts of 
practical men, who now found a philosophy telling them what 
they felt. Materialism, which to young Marx meant emancipation 
from the miasma of Hegelianism and endless philosophical dis- 
cussions, and a road to finding out how people, classes, and na- 
tions really behaved, was to the middle-class liberal the con- 
crete reality of his social and professional life. Progress in science 
and technology was an unqualified good, and the task of society 
was to sweep away all impediments to it. 

23 Sir Robert Peel to William Croker, quoted in Croker Papers, London, 
1887, II, 383. 

94 The Unfinished Revolution 

It is no wonder that this massive self-confidence in industrialism 
was to lead to England's industrial supremacy in the world, just 
as it was to lead to the squalor and ugliness of the English indus- 
trial cities. The liberal spirit considered mechanical works and 
other trophies of industrialism more aesthetically pleasing than 
castles and green fields. The humanitarian objection was swept 
aside as unreal. Place no impediments on material progress and 
other social goods will eventually be added: education and a 
higher standard of living for all Tamper with industry in the 
name of the most elevated idea and everything will be jeopardized. 
Had he felt the need to justify his function, the liberal business- 
man would have subscribed to one part of Marx's portrait of the 
capitalist: "... he thus forces the development of the productive 
forces of society, and creates those material conditions, which 
alone can form the real basis of a higher form of society, a 
society in which the full development of every individual forms 
the ruling principle." 24 Compared with this function, what is 
that of a carping critic or a social reformer? How ridiculous it 
is to glorify the pre-industrial past with its long history of 
barbarity, superstition, and wars, or agrarian existence with its 
"idiocy of rural life"! And how mischievous it is to propose to 
turn political power to the as yet uninstructed masses, who would 
use it to destroy the only means of bringing them out of their 
present misery and ignorance, industrialization! 

The liberal spirit made the same selective use of the economic 
theories of Smith and Ricardo as it did of the politics and social 
psychology of Bentham. From the latter it took its utilitarianism 
and iconoclasm and largely ignored its extreme democratic con- 
clusions and bureaucratic hints. The economics of Smith and 
Ricardo were not unqualified endorsements of free trade and 
industrialism. They were born in the still prevailingly agrarian 
country, where manufacturing was of the small-unit variety and 
the most fundamental economic questions turned around fiscal 

24 Capital, p. 649. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 95 

and trade policy. The liberal spirit lost many of its earlier eco- 
nomic inhibitions in the worship of industrialization pure and 
simple. Here again, Marx is a reliable guide as to liberalism's 
appraisal of the task it was performing : 

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the 
instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, 
and with them the whole relations of society. . . . The bourgeoisie 
has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan 
character to production and consumption in every country. To the 
great chagrin of reactionaries, it has drawn from under the feet of 
industry the national ground on which it stood. ... It has created 
enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as 
compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part 
of the population from the idiocy of rural life. . . . Independent, 
or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, 
governments and systems of taxation, became lumped together into 
one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national 
class interest, one frontier, and one customs tariff, (p. 324-326) 

And the famous tribute : 

The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has 
created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have 
all preceding generations together. Subjection of nature's forces to 
man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, 
steam navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole 
continents for cultivation, canalization of rivers, whole populations 
conjured out of the ground what earlier century had even a presenti- 
ment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labor? 
(p. 326) 

The sober businessman could not have approached the lyricism 
of Marx in the Manifesto, but would have granted that the 
passionate German did justice to the historical task of liberalism. 
The meaning of Marx's words becomes more clear cut if for the 
"bourgeoisie" we substitute "industrialism." The belief in the all- 
encompassing, benevolent powers of industrialization is the central 

96 The Unfinished Revolution 

point of the liberal spirit, the belief which in its most fanatical and 
unconditional form is the legacy of liberalism to Marxian so- 

The industrial orientation of liberalism combines with its class- 
interest component in the plea for state noninterference. In the 
fathers of liberal economics, there was never a clear-cut argu- 
ment for absolute laissez faire. Bentham's political philosophy 
bears a bureaucratic tinge. Voices for factory legislation in the 
1840's were raised not infrequently by liberal manufacturers, 
though more typical was the liberal member of the Commons 
who argued that his profit was made in the last two hours of his 
workmen's labor and that to cut off those hours would make him 
bankrupt and his men unemployed. Class selfishness, in other 
words, though prevalent, was not as strong as the industrial 
mania. The two coalesced easily in the belief that social reform 
and economic regulation were the devices by which the aristocracy 
was fighting a retreating action and would thwart the benefits 
of industrialization and free trade. The typical liberal, as in 
Morley's portrait of Bright, 

. . . was carried along by vehement political anger and deeper than 
that, there glowed a wrath as stern as that of an ancient prophet. 
To cling to a mischievous error seemed to him to savour of moral 
depravity and corruption of heart. What he saw was the selfishness 
of the aristocracy and the landlords and he was too deeply moved 
by the hatred of this, to care to deal very patiently with the bad 
reasoning which their own self-interest inclined his adversaries to 
mistake for good. His invective was not the expression of mere irrita- 
tion, but a profound and menacing passion. 25 

If we supplant, as the object of hatred, the aristocracy by the 
bourgeoisie, the description could be Marx's. 

Moral anger aroused at the irrational privilege, at the fostering 
of what it considered economic superstitions, made the liberal 

25 John Morley, The Life of Richard Cobden, London, 1918, I, 209. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 97 

spirit suspicious of state action. Yet it is not entirely inconceiv- 
able to imagine, in different historical circumstances, the same 
men working to build industrial society, with the same passions 
and uncompromising vigor, as state-installed managers and 
bureaucrats, rather than individual entrepreneurs. But not in a 
society in which the British "are a servile aristocracy-loving, 
lord ridden people, who regard the land with as much reverence 
as we still do the peerage and baronetage." 26 Social antagonism 
can be a powerful spur in economic activity. The liberal indus- 
trialist, in his furious activity, was not without the grim com- 
fort that his exertions were showing up the social uselessness and 
parasitism of the aristocracy. A century later, the same masochis- 
tic self-sacrifice on the altar of industrialization was to be urged 
upon the Soviet worker and manager. 

If Marxism inherited much of the industrial mania of the 
early liberal spirit, then this spirit itself was not without a 
certain one-sidedness and intolerance for different standards of 
value. The source of this intolerance, again a paradox and an 
analogy to Communism, was not so much class selfishness but 
precisely the sense of social mission, of performing the necessary 
and inevitable task of industrialization and modernization, of 
rescuing England and then the whole world from superstition and 
backwardness. One cannot blame a contemporary observer like 
Marx for incorporating in his theory the conviction that indus- 
trial fanaticism and self-righteousness were indelible traits of the 
capitalist. That the capitalist would grow more humane, that 
he would slacken in his ceaseless pursuit of accumulation and 
expansion, were not impressions readily warranted by the English 
social scene of the 1840's and '50's. It appeared then equally un- 
likely that the capitalist would modify his values or submit with- 
out the use of force to the full panoply of the welfare state: 
state regulation, unionism, and high taxes. The continuously and 
increasingly dissatisfied worker facing the inflexible capitalist 

26 Ibid., II, 20. 

98 The Unfinished Revolution 

this fairly realistic picture of early industrialization is taken by 
Marx to express the eternal law of capitalism. 

Sources of the ethos of industrialism have been sought in re- 
ligion, more specifically in the Puritan tradition and Calvinism. 
Theories of this kind, whether presented with the scholarship 
of Max Weber or with the vulgar exaggeration of Cobbett, are 
elusive of proof. It is equally difficult to establish related notions 
of religious influence: for example, the often stated assertion 
that Methodism had a quieting effect on the revolutionary turbu- 
lence of the masses. Industrialization and unbridled laissez faire 
were both attacked and defended from the religious point of view. 
There is no question that the spirit of liberalism was a secularizing 
one, temperamentally antipathetic to excessively doctrinal and 
ritualistic creeds; and yet no strict lines of religious divergence 
can be established paralleling the defenders and attackers of the 
new order. 

What is more important here is attention to what might be 
called the general assimilationist bent of liberalism and its 
premises. It would not have occurred to the average liberal to 
demand conformity, strongly addicted as the movement was 
to individual freedom. Yet rationalism and industrial and po- 
litical progress were equated in his mind. The spread of indus- 
trialization undermines the irrational institutions of the past, 
in themselves reflections of obsolete economic forms. Industriali- 
zation and education will eventually impose the same rationalistic, 
materialistic, middle-class stamp on men everywhere. The average 
liberal would have thought it inconceivable that a fully indus- 
trialized and rational society would shelter such phenomena as 
Catholicism, nonobjective art, Christian Science, militarism, and 
socialism. Tolerance, which is justly associated with the liberal 
spirit, was initially due to its invincible conviction that it was the 
"wave of the future." 

We might digress here and anticipate the discussion of Soviet 
society. The startingly Victorian code of morals (if we omit the 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 99 

religious element) and arts that the Stalinist period fastened 
on Soviet society flows rather logically from this fundamentalist 
liberalism ensconced in Marxism. What the liberals and Marx 
assumed would result automatically from the development of 
economic forces and the adjustment of social values to them was 
in the Soviet Union created by decree. Both early liberalism and 
Marxism carry in them the premise of conformity, even if this 
premise is coupled with the promise of the fullest flowering of 
individualism once the social environment (largely through this 
conformity) provides the appropriate material basis. 

The passion for freedom in liberalism is not unconnected with 
this rather oversimplified from our point of view estimate of 
human nature. No doubt about man being formed by his environ- 
ment, no doubt about material progress beneficently transforming 
human nature. The outook of Dr. Marx stares at us from many of 
the preconceptions of liberalism, but it is in vain that one looks 
for Dr. Freud. It is difficult to find a society so self-congratulatory 
for its virtues, for dissipating the darkness of the past, and for 
discovering the true principles of moral and social improvement, 
as English liberalism of the mid-nineteenth century. 

. . . give me a sober Englishman possessing the truthfulness com- 
mon to his country, and the energy so peculiarly his own, and I will 
match him for being capable of equalling any other man in the 
everyday struggles of life. He has a self depending and self govern- 
ing instinct which carries him triumphantly through all difficulties 
and dangers. . . . 

writes Cobden. 27 The drunkenness of the lower classes and the 
perversity of the upper ones were blemishes that the progress 
of education and of democracy would remove, thus eventually 
uniting the whole nation in the industrious and sober virtues 
appropriate to modern civilization. The note of nationalism was 
seldom chauvinistic. Industry and commerce would inculcate 

w /Wrf.,II,26. 

'00 The Unfinished Revolution 

in other nations the virtues suitable to self-government and indi- 
vidual freedom. If liberalism did not aspire to build internationals, 
it was for the same reason that it disdained to legislate con- 
formity. The forces of history would chase away militarism and 
despotism. Noninterference abroad was the concomitant of 
individualism at home. Revolutions abroad, if directed against 
the type of forces that had opposed the Reform Act of 1832, were 
justified. With a great deal of reason, liberalism considered itself 
a revolutionary force on a world scale; and, had it known the 
frightful semantics of the twentieth century, it would have 
classified upstart socialism as "counterrevolutionary." 

The preceding statement is of necessity an oversimplification. 
Just as social historians have in this century poked holes in 
"capitalist realism/' with its picture of steady material and na- 
tional improvement, so novelists and biographers have penetrated 
behind the fagade of monotonous virtue and optimism of liberal 
society. Contemporary critiques, both conservative and pre- 
Marxian socialist, take as their point of departure a simple dislike 
of the new order. More recent criticisms illustrate the inner 
doubts, psychic suffering, and pessimism behind the Victorian 
fagade of self-assurance. But the oversimplified view brings us 
perhaps closer to the viewpoint of a revolutionary like Marx, 
to whom liberal society did not even pay the compliment of po- 
litical persecution, and who spent the greater part of his life in 
England, unnoticed and ignored. In his absorption with drawing 
up a list of indictments against liberal society, Marx was carried 
a long way toward acceptance of its values and ethos. 

The main accusation against liberalism is not the unreality of 
its values industrialization, rationalism, and individualism but 
the hypocrisy inherent in their being combined with the bourgeois 
system of property. The unreal Marxist worker does not reject 
the gospel of hard industrial labor, the aim of comfortable exist- 
ence, the plea for democracy and education. His quarrel with 
bourgeois society is that through its institution of property it 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 101 

denies to him the realization of his essentially bourgeois and 
liberal values. Marx's technological and scientific enthusiasm and 
his acceptance of industrialism have often been compared or 
traced to Saint-Simon. The great French philosopher had a 
mania for science and technology and some interesting ideas as 
to how the world might be arranged to further their develop- 
ment. But the technological obsession of liberalism was expressed 
not in extravagant theories but in the actual development and 
transformation of French and especially British societies. Just as 
Marx's conclusions about the revolutionary propensity of the 
proletariat are affected more by the reality of contemporary 
movements like Chartism than by revolutionary socialist theories, 
so the technological and industrial component of his socialism 
owes more to the absorption in and the reaction to the reality of 
industrial life under liberalism than to any theoretical cult of 

The reluctance of Marx to draw up any detailed socialist 
Utopias may be another reflection of the air of practicality that 
characterized political life of the prototype of industrialism, 
England. Chartism, for all its land schemes, concentrated on 
the struggle for political rights. English liberalism progressed 
from the day of Bentham, with his constitutional models ready 
down to the last detail, to practical matters of political and 
economic reform. This air of practicality, of ready and immediate 
application of broader principles to political action, which was 
to give Marxism its unsurpassed advantage in competition with 
other socialist movements, is a direct inheritance of a society 
and a period which, whether in reform or revolution, was given 
less to brooding about right, wrong, and the ideal than to action. 
The great moral of contemporary liberalism is that an ideology 
which cannot be translated into political action is pointless. 
Revolutionary movements in Europe of that day often had one 
strategy, coup d'itat, and one aim, the realization of a particu- 
lar political or social Utopia. By observing English liberalism 

102 The Unfinished Revolution 

between 1830 and 1850, we can draw closer to the conception of 
the political party inherent in later Marxism : a political move- 
ment in being, having its ultimate aim (even a Utopia) but going 
after its objectives step by step, if need be forming temporary 
alliances, compromising, but never abandoning its objectives. 
What in contemporary British society was the result of fortuitous 
circumstances becomes, in mature Marxism, elaborated into a 
conscious system: a political party with a rigid program and 
ideology, but capable of basing its political tactics on an analysis 
of shifting social and economic forces in the given country. 

The earliest political Marxism of the Manifesto still has the 
revolutionary impatience and immediacy of the Utopian socialists. 
Later Marxism, although Marx and Engels never lose their revo- 
lutionary optimism, is mellowed into conceding the possibility 
of gradualism. One may at least conjecture that this fact, which 
gives Marxian socialism staying power not possessed by its rival 
revolutionary doctrines, penetrates the doctrine from an im- 
pression of the triumphant ascent of English liberalism. 

"... and notwithstanding the times of inactivity and despair 
which will occasionally occur, the progress of actual improve- 
ment in right thinking will go on with increased velocity." 28 
This is a sentiment that Marxism, in effect, enrolls among its 
own. Place's condescension toward those who do not see the 
world the way he does is repeated by Marx's, even though the 
latter expresses it with greater violence and bitterness. The "other 
side" of Marxism is in effect a kind of integral liberalism of the 
early variety, liberalism unmellowed by absorption in democratic 
politics and untempered by conversion to social legislation. The 
intellectual atmosphere of Marxism has that excessive rational- 
ism, historical iconoclasm, and defiant refusal to go below the 
material surface to probe human motives which have often made 
early liberalism unmarketable to the masses while endearing it 
to the scientist, engineer, and social planner, all struggling 

28 Place, quoted in Wallas, op. tit., p. 384. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 103 

against inherited irrationalities of every social system and all 
seeing in science and technology the only roads to human 
emancipation. Marx and Engels, by setting their industrial and 
scientific creed within the frame of a revolutionary movement, 
shifted the emphasis of the early liberals. To the latter, democracy 
and individualism were the end products of free development of 
social and economic forces. Even a reasonable degree of economic 
equality was not beyond the ken of the earlier liberals, but they 
envisaged this development as the end result of a free growth 
of capitalism. "Time is a great equalizer/' Bentham said, while 
rejecting progressive taxation as a logical corollary of his "felicific 
calculus/' The liberal's realm of freedom was, like Marx's, to 
follow the realm of capitalism, but there was no intervening 
period of socialism. Furthermore, liberalism soon underwent 
"secularization," i.e., adjustment to actual politics: political and 
social reforms soon became tangible measures of freedom and 
ends in themselves, and these ends had a suspicious correspond- 
ence to the aims of the middle classes. Just as the revolutionary 
side of Marxism is couched in the violent and bitter language 
of contemporary, essentially anarchist, socialism, its "positive" 
side is couched in the liberal idiom of the century, and its better 
world to come is described in the humanitarian, cosmopolitan, 
and democratic terms of the liberal paradise. 

To repeat, unlike the conservative or anarchist critics of 
bourgeois civilization, Marx and Engels are not really shocked 
by the appearance of bourgeois industrialism, by its money grub- 
bing, or by its bad taste. Bourgeois civilization is bad because 
its values can be realized only by a small minority of the popu- 
lation and because it is predicated upon the growing misery of 
the masses. Once the revolution is effected, the logic of Marxism 
parts company with such aesthetic protests against capitalism 
as those voiced by Ruskin, Herzen, or William Morris and finds 
a more congenial association in the values and the spirit of the 
early liberal entrepreneur. 

104 The Unfinished Revolution 

Liberalism as an enthusiastic response to industrialization and 
modernization and then as a rationale of their most intense de- 
velopment is a direct ancestor of Marxism. We shall not be sur- 
prised to see Marxist revolutions, carried out under anarchist, 
anti-industrial slogans, turn around after victory and sacrifice 
on the altar of industrialization and its logical corollary, the 
centralized state, the slogans that brought them to power. Sup- 
pose we make the absurd assumption that the real objective of 
Marx and Engels was to wean the masses of the freshly created 
proletariat from their unconstructive anti-industrial feelings and 
to convert them to the necessity of an industrialized society and 
a strong state. What better ideology could have been devised than 
one that asserted the inevitability of thorough industrialization 
and centralization and that placed the blame for the miseries of 
the transition, not on industrialism as such, but on the anachronis- 
tic and hence vicious role of the capitalist and "his" state. This 
legend is helpful in making us realize how much of raw liberalism 
there is in the Marxist system, and how the industrial mania of 
his Communist followers was not unanticipated by the father of 
the movement. 

Apart from inculcating on Marxism the industrial mania, 
English liberalism was instrumental in the formulation of other 
related points of the dogma. Economic determinism, although 
it had been proclaimed before by Marx and was implicit in 
contemporary socialist and liberal thinkers, could take on flesh 
and bones from the observation of English society and the 
ascendance and character of its liberalism. From a historical 
perspective, we can now say that Britain was not the norm, 
but one of the rare examples of a society where, for a time, 
economic forces, the prevailing social ideology, and political power 
supplemented each other and made possible a feat of economic 
transformation which in its completeness and relative speed was 
approached in the twentieth century only by a totalitarian state 
employing totalitarian means. The naive complacency of a 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 105 

Francis Place over the dying out of the anti-industrial spirit 
and its "wrong" ideas was not disturbed by the reflection that this 
was due not only to the inevitable assimilation of the liberal 
values by the nation, but also to England's advantage of being 
first in the industrial race, dominating international trade and 
finance, and not having, after 1815, major wars. The permanent 
ascendance of liberal values based on their healthy materialism 
and their eventual spread to all parts of the world were taken 
for granted by the early liberals. As young Marx, in this respect 
a faithful interpreter of the liberal spirit, asserted in the Mani- 
festo, the growth of industry and rationalism everywhere would 
do away with wars, despotisms, and protection. At home the 
full flowering of industrialism would put an end alike to the 
pretensions of the aristocracy and to the illusions of the pro- 
letariat about trade unions. The road to domestic as well as 
international Utopia lay through the forces of production, which 
(again Marx) "alone can form the real basis of a higher form of 
society, a society in which the full development of every indi- 
vidual forms the ruling principle." 29 The universal enthrone- 
ment of individualism, enlightened democracy, and perhaps a 
world order were to liberalism the inevitable result of economic 
forces, just as to Marx the same forces were creating universal 
socialism. No national differences, no social or economic lags, 
could, in the long run, interfere with this process. 

How close to our own feelings this aspect of early liberalism is ; 
how evident it is, for example, in the whole program and plan for 
economic assistance to underdeveloped nations ; and yet how un- 
real to us is the easy optimism that underlies it. Today a variant 
of this materialistic utopianism is found only in the official 
speeches of Communist leaders. But even they, in fact, are no 
more confident that material forces, unaided, can bring victory 
to their side than is a Western statesman when he declares that 
an improvement in the standard of living will bring democracy 

28 Capital, p. 649. 

106 The Unfinished Revolution 

in Africa or Asia. Contemporary expressions of both liberal and 
revolutionary optimism sound hollow when compared with their 
original prototypes. We know now that no other society in the 
nineteenth century became so thoroughly industrialized, in fact 
as well as in spirit, as England. Furthermore, even a considerable 
degree of industrialization has not brought to many other societies 
the benefit of stable democracy. Rigid determinism of the Francis 
Place type showed itself to be an illusion based on the observation 
of one society during one period of its development, just as the 
related Marxist determinism misinterpreted even more funda- 
mentally the social meaning of England's industrialization. 

Professor Dicey traced to about 1870 the decline of the original 
individualistic liberalism and the shift to its collectivistic stage 
in England. The shift in the intellectual atmosphere is best 
epitomized by J. S. Mill's words in his Autobiography when he 
forsakes his earlier belief in the automatism of economic forces 
and qualifies his democratic belief by the need for state action 
to provide the framework for meaningful citizenship. There is 
a straight line from his avowal to Fabian socialism. With this 
later liberalism, so prone to turn into welfare-state socialism, 
Marxism has nothing in common. Neither its social analysis nor 
the chosen path of reform, through the democratic process, is 
understandable in Marxist terms. Nor did Marx and Engels fore- 
see that at the close of the nineteenth century working-class 
socialism in England would arise from satiation with industrial 
values rather than as a reaction to industrialism and liberalism 
as had been true of earlier working-class radicalism. The indus- 
trial mania of earlier liberalism was mellowed and qualified by 
the achievement of industrialization and the subsequent realiza- 
tion that in itself industrialization did not provide all the an- 
swers to the social problems of mankind. The dogmatism and 
spiritual aridity of the earlier liberal spirit gave way to a 
variety of, actually, more tolerant, if also less self-assured and 
certain, liberal opinions. But Marxism persisted in seeing in the 

Sources and Dynamics oj Marxism 107 

capitalist of 1900 his ancestor of 1850; in the democratic state 
the limited-suffrage institution dominated by the bourgeoisie; 
and in the social welfare philosophies the rationale of the class 
interest of the exploiters. With its anachronistic picture (insofar 
as the West was concerned) of its old enemy liberal society 
Marxism also preserved unimpaired its original characteristics 
uncomplicated materialism, belief in economic "laws/' and passion 
for industrialization. 


In considering the relationship of Marx to earlier and con- 
temporaneous socialist thinkers and movements, it is well to keep 
several points in mind. Marx was a great synthesizer and a voraci- 
ous assimilator of ideas and social facts. At the same time, his 
receptivity to new ideas and movements definitely slackened 
after about 18 SO, when the main outlines of his system were laid 
and he entered on the task of elaboration. Thus his thought, 
it is hardly worth repeating, bears the imprint of many minds 
and many movements. But beyond identifying the great intel- 
lectual traditions in which Marx and Engels were nurtured 
Hegelianism, English political economy, and socialism it is 
difficult as well as almost superfluous to trace this or that idea 
of his to this or that socialist thinker. Many of his most startling 
concepts to us were virtual commonplaces of the English and 
Continental radicalism and socialism of his formative years. Were 
the radical implications of the labor theory of value taken by 
Marx from John Francis Bray, William Thompson, or John 
Gray? It is fairly unimportant to decide, for not only they but 
a host of others, economists, agitators, and politicians, voiced 
rough arid ready versions of the same theory. Modern economists, 
while assailing Marx's economics, praise him for foreseeing at 
that early date the future tendency of capitalism toward economic 
concentration and monopolies. To be sure, the classical economists 
of the period thought in terms of perfect competition and lived 

108 The Unfinished Revolution 

in the era of a multitude of small producing units. But predictions 
of the future bigness and concentration of business were not 
unique among the radical reformers and socialists. That most 
impractical of men, Charles Fourier, feared the coming of the 
era of "industrial feudalism." So did Sismondi, Blanc, and a host 
of others. The old academic game of "tracing the influence" of 
this or that thinker or theory does not go far enough in explain- 
ing the sources of Marxism or of its influence. To ascertain the 
doctrine's affinities to and differences from other socialisms, we 
must look at the principle of selection that Marx employed in 
taking and rejecting items from the common fund of contem- 
porary radicalism. 

It is also worth keeping in mind that Marxism is interested in 
"ideas in action," ideas that are not only the product of an 
individual's mind, but that are, or appear to be, postulates or 
practical demands of a class. Hence it has been asserted here that 
Marx was more influenced, both consciously and unconsciously, 
by Chartism on one hand and liberalism on the other than by all 
the productions of the plethora of individual socialists. The 
splendidly arrogant words of the Manifesto claim for Marxism 
this double advantage of being a part of actual life of the 
thought and feeling of the working class and of transcending 
that thought and feeling by understanding history and, hence, 
the future: 

The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand practically the 
most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of 
every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on 
the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of 
the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of 
march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the 
proletarian movement, (p. 334) 

Other socialist theories, according to Marx, fall to the ground 
on either of these two counts: they are unthinking reflections 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 109 

of the immediate feelings of the proletariat and pay no atten- 
tion to the historical causes of the given situation; or they are 
intellectual creations divorced from the life and aspirations of 
the worker. This self-proclaimed function of Marxist socialism as 
the vanguard of the working class has, of course, been established 
as the organizational principle of the Communist Party of the 
Soviet Union. It enabled Marx to view other socialist thinkers 
either as stragglers wandering off the road of the historical march 
of the working class, or as persons in the ranks, their view 
obstructed by the multitude around them, and thus unable to 
see clearly what the head of the column, i.e., Dr. Karl Marx and 
Friedrich Engels, saw. This vision persisted through the days 
when, inexplicably, the masses became separated from the van- 
guard, and the latter, instead of leading a victorious march, 
found itself doing scholarly work in the British Museum. History 
seemed to have punished Marx for the presumption of his youth ; 
and when he was on his deathbed in 1883, his theory must have 
appeared to many just as "Utopian" as those he and Engels had 

From a longer perspective it must be admitted that Marxism's 
self-appraisal and judgment on the competing socialist cults con- 
tain a great deal of truth. No other brand of socialism was so 
insistently a blend of actual workingmen's grievances and accept- 
ance of the logic of the system that had led to those grievances. 
Many of the contemporary socialists say, in effect : "Give me but 
a chance to put into effect my own scheme, and human grievances 
and dissatisfactions will disappear." Others are just as ready 
to lead a revolution without inquiring where it will eventually 
lead them. Fourier on one hand and Blanqui on the other, stand 
as examples respectively of the fanciful deviser of Utopias and 
the unreflecting exponent of revolutionary action. Petitioning the 
great of this world to put their fancies into effect or storming 
the barricades, are the recipes of these early socialists for realizing 
their ideas. 

110 The Unfinished Revolution 

A modern socialist may well conclude that Marx was right in 
his slighting condescension toward his rivals. Yet a more balanced 
judgment must acknowledge the tremendous importance of the 
early socialist thinkers. A closer look at them will explain not 
only certain points of original Marxism, but even more clearly 
the factors that influenced the acceptance or rejection of Marx- 
ism by sections of society in various countries. 

To return to the simile : the claim to be both a part and the 
vanguard of the working class illustrates not only the strength 
but also a certain weakness of Marxism. One cannot have one's 
cake and eat it too, even if one specifies that the two actions 
are to be separate parts of the historical process. Marxism has 
to sacrifice a certain part of its sensitivity and appeal to the 
working-class grievances when it accepts the logic of industrializa- 
tion, just as this acceptance has to be modified toward revolu- 
tionary appeal. To that extent, Marxism is a much less faithful 
reproduction of the actual worker's revolutionary feelings than 
that found in some Chartists (for the British worker) or in 
Blanqui or Proudhon (for the French). The absoluteness of the 
belief in the environment's shaping of man comes out more 
strongly in Robert Owen and the technocratic cult appears more 
forcefully in Saint-Simon than even in Marx. A brief considera- 
tion of some of the early socialists may bring out which elements 
in Marxism will appeal to which social force or intellectual tra- 
dition in a given country. 

The dates of some of the great precursors of socialism give a 
clue to the characters of their doctrines: Saint-Simon, 1760-1825 
Robert Owen, 1771-1859 Fourier, 1772-1837. Their roots are 
very definitely in the spirit of the Enlightenment. Theirs is the 
temperament of the reforming philosophe, with his neat schemes 
and model settlements, and the unthinkability of achieving re- 
form aims through popular or political action. It is the English- 
man Owen who comes closest to the notion of political action 
among the working class and political agitation. But even Owen 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 111 

was ready to memorialize William IV, the monarchs of Europe, 
and Metternich on behalf of his scheme, and to preach con- 
version to his ideas through the example of model communities. 

And then there are the stories about Saint-Simon writing to 
Napoleon and Fourier pathetically awaiting a rich philanthropist 
to finance his phalansteries. Alas, our heroes lived before the age 
of the Carnegie, Ford, and other American foundations! But 
their delusions about the eventual appearance of an "angel" who 
would finance the one certain way to salvation are not just 
tragicomic incidents of their biographies. Nothing is more alien 
to their spirit than the Marxist dictum that the emancipation of 
the working class can be only achieved by the working class 
itself. Their mechanistic approach to the social problem and their 
expectation of patronage in the construction of a new political and 
social system separate them from the spirit of modern politics. 

Equally outdated in terms of nineteenth- and twentieth-century 
politics, though in a different way, is the type of socialism repre- 
sented by Auguste Blanqui (1805-1881). This is insurrectionism 
pure and simple, with but little thought of devising elaborate 
schemes for the day after the revolution. Blanqui's socialism lives 
entirely in the conspiratorial world. It is akin to the conspiratorial 
groups of revolutionaries, whether quasi-socialist or nationalist 
in character, that flourished on the Continent between 1815 and 
1848 and constituted the backwash of the revolutionary and na- 
tionalist excitement stirred up by the French Revolution and 
the Napoleonic wars. The dazzling possibilities of a coup d'etat 
on behalf of an oppressed class or nationality stirred up men's 
minds from Paris to St. Petersburg. The immature revolutionism 
that would persuade a group of students, young officers, or radi- 
cal workers that political power in the modern state could be 
seized and consolidated by a demonstration or conspiracy is 
another, if more advanced, variant of the model-community- 
building mania of the earlier socialists. In neither case is there 
any idea of converting a large part of the nation to one's revolu- 

112 The Unfinished Revolution 

tionary program or of fitting the program in with the postulates 
and interests of a class. The realities of politics, especially of 
Continental politics, make Utopian expectations of conversion by 
the example of a model community or romantic revolutionism 
the only ways for those who would change the world. We are still 
in the days of mass illiteracy, of no or limited suffrage and 
parliamentary institutions. By the same token, the Leviathan, 
the modern state, is still in the process of growing. It appears 
not unthinkable that the course of a society may be changed 
by the actions of an enlightened autocrat, the good will of the 
great, or a determined action by a relative handful of men. 

In the Communist Manifesto and in the activities of the 
Communist League, we find numerous traces of romantic insur- 
rectionism; in another decade after 1848 it is almost gone from 
the European scene, aiid the last traces, barring distant echoes in 
Russia, will be found in the Paris Commune. In pouring abuse 
and ridicule on most of the contemporary socialists, Marx and 
Engels were blind to the element of utopianism and insurrection- 
ism in their own manifesto. The specter that haunted the 
Guizots and the Metternichs of the day was not one of the little 
group headed by Marx and Engels but of the general revolutionary 
excitement unleashed by the forces of modern life upon the old 
or slowly changing order : nationalism, schemes of social reform, 
and democratic and liberal stirrings. The heritage of earlier 
Utopia-building, sheer revolutionary excitability, and conspiracy 
thus becomes a part of early Marxism, but already because of the 
British example it is subordinated to the study of the organic 
growth of society and of its "laws." Thus in the edifice of Marx- 
ism, in addition to its exposition of the logic of industrialism 
and its summation of anti-industrial grievances, are present un- 
reflecting revolutionary enthusiasm and utopianism. 

What lies behind them is the vivid recollection of the French 
Revolution and the Napoleonic period. Continental socialism in 
its beginnings was not a response to the social question. The 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 113 

poverty of the most numerous class and the attempt to alleviate 
its lot were almost an afterthought, even with Saint-Simon. 
Socialism, even before it became harnessed to the task of revolu- 
tion or reform or concentrated around the phenomenon of modern 
industry and the modern state, was born out of one central 
intellectual current and one great historical experience. The in- 
tellectual current was the scientific curiosity of the Enlighten- 
ment, which made men think of applying social engineering to 
society. Yet it would not have occurred to Rousseau, Mably, or 
Condorcet, any more than it would have to Sir Thomas More, 
to found a movement to push toward the realization of their ideas. 
The French Revolution and Napoleon provided the examples 
both of popular passion stirred up on behalf of political ideas 
and of attempts at social engineering on a vast scale, and a 
tangible refutation of the conservative thesis that social change 
is the work of generations and cannot be accomplished by a 
man or a movement. Socialism, which had always existed as an 
intellectual or religious fad or literary exercise, thus emerged 
in the form of schools of thought after the great historical ex- 
perience. It was another and even more pervasive experience 
industrialization that turned socialism from Utopian projects 
and schemes of coup d'etat into political movements. 

The France of Marx's youth and mature age provides the 
classical example of the evolution of socialism from intellectual 
fancies into a political movement. In England, the tempo of 
industrial advance catapulted the quasi-socialism of the Chartists 
into the political spotlight, only to grind it equally quickly 
under its wheels. In Germany, the national problem subordinated 
the social one. It was in France that socialism preserved longest 
its "academic" character: an individual's search for a solution 
to the puzzle of a changing world and the first attempts to 
anchor this solution to the feelings and interests of the people. 

This really primitive phase of socialism has some interesting 
characteristics, which appear in unequal proportions in its lead- 

114 The Unfinished Revolution 

ing exponents. One is the obsession with the religious problem. 
The religious mania, in the form either of defiant atheism or 
attack on religion as identified with and comprising the estab- 
lished order, is no more pronounced than the religious or quasi- 
religious character given by the critics to their own systems. 
With the liberals or with Marx, the whole matter of religion is 
definitely pushed to the secondary plane. For them religious 
values either fit the values of the rising industrial society or they 
are an anachronism, in the process of being removed by material 
progress and education. The preoccupation with the religious 
problem of a socialist or a radical thinker is an indication in 
itself that a basic prerequisite of industrialization, a certain 
secularization of thought and life, has not been achieved, and 
that the problem of reform or revolution in itself appears as a 
religious one. That a religious dogma might dominate a society 
practicing his system would be as inconceivable to Robert Owen 
as to Saint-Simon, Fourier, or Proudhon, for their systems are 
essentially religious cults. 

This characteristic intolerance was partly inherited by Marxism 
but with much less intensity, for Marx also partook of the 
liberal assumption that the problem would solve itself, and, this 
being the case, why attack the obsolete remnants of a dying 
order while a more potent enemy was at hand? Thoroughgoing 
materialism in a materialistically minded society cannot be 
intensely violent or intolerant on the religious issue. The passion 
and energy expounded by some early socialists in their love-hatred 
complex about Christianity were devoted by Marx to the assault 
upon capitalism, and by a liberal to a concrete political, economic, 
or religious reform. But enough of the older socialist tradition 
rubbed off on Marxism so that, in some future "underdeveloped" 
society, Marxism will appeal to a young intellectual as a liberating 
religious cult. Actually, the main interest of the doctrine lies 

The preoccupations of the fathers of socialism tell us a great 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 115 

deal about their underlying premises. Politics was still viewed 
from the religious standpoint; the way of putting their theories 
into life, apart from the immediate instrument of a benevolent 
patron, lay essentially in indoctrination in the given cult. The 
mantle of a prophet was needed, for it covered the authoritarian 
conviction that the masses would never achieve or learn any- 
thing through the actual circumstances of their lives, but would 
have to be taught like children through example, authority, and 
indoctrination. The essential goodness of man and his perfect 
malleability by the environment were the common sentiments 
in the profuse socialist literature. But what could be done to 
lift from the masses the dead weight of superstition and tradition- 
alism, abetted and exploited by kings, aristocrats, and priests? 
Only the moral passion of a new religion or doctrine could 
accomplish the task, not ballots or the forces of production. 

It might seem that this irrationalist view of human nature 
and the consequent authoritarian premise would be absent in 
Saint-Simon. Admirer of science and technology, praiser of 
British parliamentary institutions who wanted a parliamentary 
confederation of Europe, lover of liberty, Saint-Simon seemingly 
stands as an exception to what has been said here about pre- 
Marxian socialism. Yet, what this apparent rationalist recom- 
mends in the end, is a religion of science and social welfare 
and the word religion is employed not as a figure of speech but 
in the literal sense. "Princes, listen to the voice and God, who 
speaks through my mouth . . ." proclaims the author of New 
Christianity. In his new Christian society, the preachers will 
"make their audience tremble by painting the horrible situation 
which is the fate in this life of a man who has incurred public 
disesteem; [they] will even show the arm of God raised against 
a man, all of whose feelings are not dominated by those of philan- 
thropy." 30 The poets will be required to help the "preachers" 
by writing their poetry in what might be called "new Christian 

80 Nouveau Chris tianisme, Paris, 1832, p. 68. 

116 The Unfinished Revolution 

realism," and so will the musicians with their music. The 
Catholics and the Protestants are heretics for reasons that are 
spelled out by Saint-Simon with more eloquence than coherence. 
How rationalist and scientific is the spirit of this cult of rational- 
ism and science? 

The same question might be addressed to Robert Owen, with 
his inflexible conviction that "each individual is so organized 
that he must believe according to the strongest conviction that 
is made upon his mind ; which conviction cannot be given to him 
by his will, nor be withheld by him." Hence the positive evil of 
all religions. 

It is necessary, therefore, that all doubt respecting the fact stated in 
this law of our nature should be forever removed from the human 
mind and until this shall be effectually done, it will be impracticable 
to train man to become rational in their thoughts, feelings, and 
actions, and equally impossible to form arrangements to train them 
to become intelligent, sincere and permanently happy. 31 

The same note appears in Fourier and others and culminates 
in Proudhon's interminable tirades about religion and his own 
exposition of the essence of Christianity. Though none of the 
great precursors of socialism advocated the use of force which 
appears in nineteenth-century anarchism a la Blanqui their 
authoritarianism is unmistakable. Mankind will see the light 
and somehow extinguish the old superstitions and adopt the right 
principles of behavior. Yet, their disciples will ask, what if the 
superstitions cannot be removed simply by demonstrating their 
error because they are abetted by powerful vested interests? 
Isn't the moral fervor of early socialism eventually bound to flow 
into these socialist movements, which take a less optimistic but 
a more activist view about the propagation of their doctrine? 

The reverse side of the religious obsession of the early socialists 

31 Robert Owen, The Book of the New Moral World, London, 1842, p. 39. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 117 

is their scientific mania. Here again, the actual meaning of their 
use of the term science, like that of "religion," has to be carefully 
considered. When we spoke before of the cult or religion of 
science and technology inherent in early liberalism and taken 
over from it by Marxism, we used a figure of speech describing the 
intensity of the feeling and wonder about the freshly demon- 
strated powers of science and industry. But the wonder at all 
those things (which today we can appreciate only by recalling 
our reaction to the harnessing of nuclear power) in liberalism 
or even Marxism never takes the form of an actual religion, with 
the appurtenances of worship, saints like Newton and Descartes, 
or confusion of one's own dogma with the law of gravitation 
in brief, the form of obscurantism. A doctrine that worships 
science against the background of industrial development is 
unlikely to get unhinged and enthusiastically incoherent on the 
subject, just as a materialistic doctrine does not get violent 
on the subject of religion if it is posed against the background 
of a materialistic society. Industrialization makes a society 
absorb its original wonder at science. If it proceeds rapidly, 
science becomes an accepted and unsensational part of daily life. 
The anti-industrial obscurantism of a Cobbett is no more charac- 
teristic of the period of transition than the scientific obscurantism 
of the early socialists and their attempt to base their theories, 
whether pro- or anti-industrial, on "science." The pitiful complaint 
of Fourier expresses this spirit: 

Philosophy maintains that God has not made the code for our 
industrial and social relations, that his providence has not provided 
for them; but he made this code for creations infinitely greater and 
smaller than we are; the stars and the insects. Is it not possible that 
the Revelator of these laws of attraction should be destined to fulfill 
this role for mankind? Opinion of the world extols Newton who 
began the calculus of attraction and has luminously treated the 
material world: would it not be advisable to accord a test to the 

118 The Unfinished Revolution 

continuator of Newton, the man who has explored other branches of 
attraction and whose theory follows on all points that of New- 
ton ...? 32 

that is, to Fourier himself! Science is something wonderful 
and magical. It is not integrated with any specific economic 
or social force. In the name of science, Saint-Simon demands 
centralization and economic planning; and in the same name, 
Fourier and Robert Owen demand small autonomous communities 
of essentially agrarian character. This reception of science is 
really quite "unscientific"; and the strange ideological con- 
coctions which in a backward society are often the products 
of the impact of a technologically more advanced civilization, 
the mixtures of scientific, traditionalist, and religious ideas, are 
somewhat of the same order. 

It may be that this view of the use of science in earlier 
socialism does injustice to Saint-Simon. In his sensitivity to 
scientific progress, his plea for government by a scientific and 
managerial elite and for international organization, some have 
found a remarkable preview of the main tendencies of modern 
life. His appreciation of the development of history has been 
favorably compared with that of Marx. Engels' laudatory com- 
ment in Anti-Diihring sets Saint-Simon alongside Hegel as a 
great thinker. It is impossible at the same time to dissociate 
Saint-Simon from the general characteristics of which we spoke 
before. On many counts he shows a remarkable intuition and 
insight ; but the total effect is a bewildering profusion of schemes, 
plans, and associations, most of them bearing but little relation- 
ship to the actual or the possible. If he is a pioneer and prophet 
of modern industrialism or of modern science, then he is so 
only in the sense that one could consider Jules Verne the pioneer 
of the idea of space travel, or H. G. Wells of the use of atomic 
energy. The story of his followers, the Saint-Simonians, is in- 
structive in this respect: after participating in a sect which in 

82 Charles Fourier, La Fausse Industrie, Paris, 1836, p. 17. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 119 

religious eccentricity and obscurantism far surpassed their mas- 
ter's ideas, many of them turned to amazingly successful careers 
in finance, business, and engineering. The original dogma could 
attract men of the speculative and enterprising spirit and could 
intensify as well as channel those abilities. But it was entirely 
incapable of creating a movement that would affect in the 
slightest the destiny of a modern society. The parallel to, as 
well as the difference from, Marxism is striking. 

What is the general significance of the precursors of socialism, 
and what is their importance in explaining the future course of 
the development and appeal of socialist movements? The nexus 
religion-science demonstrates amply the fertile soil provided 
socialist theories by a society in the process of modernization, 
in which the traditionalist religious ideas are being upset and 
science and scientific thinking have not yet been integrated into 
modern life. We are still one step away from the full impact 
of modernization and industrialization, but their prerequisites, 
science and secularism, already create confusion and the con- 
sequent attempts at a synthesis explanation of the old and 
new, some of them being socialist in character. 

If we feel too condescending toward the fantasies of the early 
socialists, if we feel like scoffing at Robert Owen's theories be- 
cause of his spiritualism, or at Fourier's because of his undoubted 
madness, it is well to keep in mind the variety of similar phenom- 
ena that have quite recently accompanied or ushered in the 
nationalist movements of the formerly colonial nations. Or it is 
unnecessary to go that far: one can think of the profusion of 
new religious cults in America in the nineteenth century, many 
of them bearing the imprint of the same reaction to the be- 
wildering onrush of modernity: the cult of withdrawal into 
small communities separated from the whirlpool of industrial 
life, a combination of science and religion, evangelism, or com- 
munal living as a protective device against the too rapidly 
changing, too oppressive forces of modern civilization. There is 

120 The Unfinished Revolution 

no thought here of attributing all these to one main cause or of 
studying why in this country religious or quasi-religious activity 
has often been the response to industrialism. But it is well to 
keep them in mind as a corrective to the idea that the usual 
response to the onrush of industrialism consists in the reading 
of John Stuart Mill, or, at the present time, in the study of 
plans of economic development. 

Why should socialism, and eventually Marxist socialism, be 
the main legatee of the strivings for reform produced by the chaos 
of the intellectual and industrial revolutions? The answer can 
be suggested by a look at some of the proposals of the precursors. 
Owen and Fourier are essentially advocates of cooperation, 
Science, they assume, has enabled mankind to live comfortably 
and, by their lights, virtuously, without the misery and oppres- 
sion of the former ages. Societies should and will be transformed 
into vast networks of self-sustaining communities, living according 
to the right principles, tolerating no exploitation or superstition. 
It is unimportant, from our point of view, to go into details, 
to consider how egalitarian or authoritarian those societies are 
to be, or who is to direct them. The important thing is to note 
how, despite all the worship of science and industry, despite 
even an exaggerated view (for the first quarter of the nineteenth 
century) of their potentialities, the basic appeal is to the anti- 
industrial and pro-agrarian instincts. Owen's actual cooperative 
colonies and Fourier's projected phalansteries are to be islands 
of harmony and natural life, away from the turbulence of com- 
mercialism and competition. Their members achieve status and 
functions as partners in an organic community, not as single 
individuals tossed to and fro by the mechanism of the market, 
requirements of the industry, or command of the state. Despite his 
madness, Fourier expresses, for instance, the very basic and 
universal objection to industrialism : the abhorrence of division of 
labor. His fantastic community will fit jobs according to each 
man's aptitude and tastes. Furthermore, no man or woman will be 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 121 

tied down to one job any more than to one spouse : there will be 
pleasing alternation and variety in both respects. 

In the name of science and industry, Fourier and Owen dispense 
with those central or accompanying factors of industrialization: 
the centralized state, the market mechanism, and "bourgeois" 
morality. The strictly regulated "freedom" of a small community 
liberates man from the nauseating influences of society at large. 
It gives him the full life denied by the hurried pace of modern 
economy. It frees him from the shackles of church and state and 
restores him to the vocation of human being. Let it be added 
that, as behooves a Frenchman, Fourier is much more explicit 
on the sensual joys of communal living. The man who made the 
undeniable discovery that the "English influence," i.e., indus- 
trialization, was injuring the French cuisine devoted an inordinate 
part of his writings to the gastronomical question. Who, living 
in the day of business lunches and ready processed food, can 
deny Fourier the credit of foreseeing and denouncing one of the 
most devastating effects of industrialization? 

That the visions of Owen and Fourier attracted devotees and 
even practitioners not only in the countries of their origin but 
in places as far away as America and Russia, and that, for 
all their impracticality and often absurdity, many practical men 
throughout the nineteenth century were drawn to these doctrines, 
is proof of the strength of their underlying appeal, of the vision 
of a world freed from competitive individualism, commercialism, 
and political compulsion. Yet in time Owen's and Fourier's ideas 
lost their meaning as a practical protest against the organization 
of the modern world. What movement and what party was to 
embody the same elements of protest while linking them to a 
more realistic appraisal of social and economic forces and a 
concrete program of action? 

And a somewhat similar process affected the propagation of 
the ideas of Saint-Simon. The mere cult of technology did not 
change the social reality. Passion for science, the conviction that 

122 The Unfinished Revolution 

through technology one can solve the problems of poverty and 
backwardness were united with the desire to accomplish actual 
improvement in the life "of the most numerous and poorest 
class." But the road of petitioning of princes and bankers ap- 
pears ridiculous and unavailing against the reality of nineteenth- 
century Europe. The Saint-Simonians in France, after disband- 
ing their cult, entered upon individual careers of active tech- 
nological and industrial endeavor, but in another society less 
industrially developed, less subject to the liberal spirit, the 
doctrine appeals not as a plea for a scientific and managerial elite 
but as a rationale for political and social revolution. Even if 
the early socialist ideas are propagated in the spirit of non- 
violence, even if those socialists admit the most scrupulous regard 
for private property, their effect in the turbulent Europe of 1830- 
1850 is most often revolutionary. Their critique of the existing 
society and their common reverence for labor make them the 
basis of the actual socialism of the radical movements. 

The net effect of the socialist theories of Owen and Fourier, 
and to a much lesser extent those of Saint-Simon, is to appeal 
to the inherent anarchism of popular response to industrializa- 
tion. Taken out of the context of model communities, the feeling 
underlying the cooperative idea is one of protest and revolution. 
Even the implication of the technological cult of Saint-Simon is 
twisted in this direction. Science, he said, has now enabled 
mankind to put into practice the only true principle of Chris- 
tianity: "love each other as brothers," Why don't governments 
and princes put into effect schemes of social betterment? Why 
do industry and the state ruin or displace the peasant, crush the 
craftsman, rather than enable him to lead a freer, more dignified 
and stable existence than that of the proletarian? The practical 
significance of the early socialist ideas lies not in the experi- 
ments attempting more or less literal application of the original 
models New Harmony, Brook Farm, or the Saint-Simonian 
church but first in their symptomatic importance as some 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 123 

individuals' response to the social malaise of the transition, and 
then in their reception in wider circles as surrogates of a revolu- 
tionary response to the actual political and economic environ- 
ment. People grasp at fantasies because they do not quite 
understand, but they do dislike, what is happening. The moorings 
of the old system, with its agrarian economy and its traditional 
Christian belief, were slipping, and the new industrial and 
secular psychology was far from having penetrated the mass of 
people, who refused to accept it on the word of a middle-class 
economist or capitalist. 

The next step in socialist thought is focused, not in the schemes 
of philosophers and inventors, not in isolated cults and discussion 
groups of intellectuals, but in the more immediate sentiments of 
certain segments of the laboring classes. As observed before, the 
connection between socialist theories or feelings and the actual 
sentiments of the working class is never as straightforward in 
France as it is in England during the period under discussion. 
In England between 1830 and 1850, the advanced section of the 
workers reached almost the level of the Marxist revolutionary 
analysis of capitalism, and Chartism behaved almost like a 
Marxist movement. In France during the parallel period, which 
lasted until the Commune of 1871, the revolutionary protest re- 
mained at the lower form of socialism (from the viewpoint of the 
Marxist measuring scale). The protest against industrialization, 
unlike that of Chartism, did not begin to be transmuted into a 
straightforward revolution against capitalism. French socialism 
fought not only the capitalists but even more the Industrial 
Revolution, and it never quite stopped refighting some old battles 
of the Revolution of 1789. Because French capitalism was weaker, 
because the industrial ethos of liberalism never acquired the 
absoluteness of domination that it acquired over English society, 
socialism in France was, from the Marxist perspective, less 
socialist and more primitive that the socialism that seemed 
on the point of emergence from Chartism. 

124 The Unfinished Revolution 

By the same token, French socialism, whether it is the unre- 
flective philosophy of the coup d'etat of Blanqui or the free- 
ranging, universal social critique of Proudhon, is a "purer" 
form of socialism. It represents a more instinctive form of the 
reaction of the radical part of the working class to industrializa- 
tion. It i? less affected by the arguments borrowed from the 
armory of its enemy, liberalism, and its proponents are less 
likely to end up in submission to the spirit of liberalism. 

The main tendency of French socialism is perhaps best found 
in Proudhon (1809-1865). He is a generation or two removed 
from the Utopia builders, in some respects a continuer of their 
thought, but, in accordance with the new age, not so much an 
individual philosopher in search of patrons and disciples as a 
spokesman for popular radicalism. It will not be unfair to 
Proudhon to assert that the most striking impression produced 
by his writings is one of incoherence. This is produced not by 
the derangement of the author, for in contrast to Fourier or even 
Saint-Simon, Proudhon was eminently sane, nor by the inevitable 
inconsistencies of a writer who deals with everything under the 
sun. Proudhon's inconsistencies were produced exactly by a sense 
of reality and practicality and intelligence, combined with a 
vivid dislike of whatever was practical in terms of nineteenth- 
century politics and economics. (This, to digress, has not been 
atypical of French politics down to our own day.) The man 
who is best known for his (perhaps borrowed) aphorism, "Prop- 
erty is theft," was a great believer in private property. A pro- 
ponent of equality and democracy, he adjudged the people a 
quiet beast interested only in eating, sleeping, and love-making. 
What could a sober liberal or Marxist socialist do with the social 
reformer and moralist who at one point dismissed all "long-run" 
theories and wrote, "On the contrary, profound moralists have 
held that life consists exactly in those brief moments when the 
soul and senses are engrossed in desire and voluptuousness, and 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 125 

he who has known this intoxication with life for a single moment, 
has lived ! " 83 

Born a peasant, becoming a craftsman and a self-taught philoso- 
pher whom Marx never forgave for the presumption of claiming to 
understand Hegel, Proudhon stands as the personification of the 
attachment to peasant values which are under the impact of 
industrialism being transformed into socialism. The family and 
small property are the anchors of human existence. But some- 
thing has happened to property in the modern world. It now 
appears as an antisocial force. On the family, Proudhon has, as 
an Anglo-Saxon writer would put it, very Continental views. The 
father of anarchism has the peasant's ideal of a harmonious 
household ruled by the father. Proudhon's opinions on women, 
which scandalized many of his foreign admirers, were very 
definite. Woman's place is either in the kitchen or on the streets. 
The housewife and the prostitute are the two vocations granted 
to women by nature. To demonstrate woman's inherent inferiority, 
Proudhon goes into some very weird mathematical exercises. 
The same petit-bourgeois spirit pervades his views of morality. 
The main source of his abhorrence of the Fourierists and Saint- 
Simonians, one feels, is their views about the equality of women 
and their dissolution of the family. The man who believed that 
woman is inferior to man in proportion 28 to 7 and that the 
institution of marriage is the model of justice could yet hold love 
to be an unnecessary element in marriage and extol the father's 
absolute authority over children. Enemy of authority of all kinds, 
Proudhon shows a similar inconsistency in opposing the softening 
of laws against sexual deviants and the legalization of divorce. 
In brief, one feels that Proudhon does not need a phalanstery 
or any other model of ideal community. His Utopia is the small 
household with its plot of ground, and his enemy everything 

83 Proudhon, Systeme des Contradictions fLconomiques, ou Philosophic de la 
misire, Paris, 1850, II, 146. 

126 The Unfinished Revolution 

that intrudes upon this idyllic unit : the state, industrial economy, 
the religious power of the Church, and the socialist who would 
centralize and dissolve the family. 

The religion-science obsession of the earlier socialists is still 
at its full strength in Proudhon. In addition to the family and 
land, religion is the third natural element of the order from which 
he arose. But Christianity has become perverted from its original 
ethical precepts and the Church has become an ally of the vested 
interests. The language of a secularist alternates with that of 
a passionate atheist, the Hegelian phrasing of the religious 
problem with the almost pagan accusations against God for 
leaving man in uncertainty and enduring human misery and 
suffering. Nothing can be done in France except through religion, 
he says in one place > only to return to his leitmotiv elsewhere: 
"And I say that the first duty of an intelligent and free man is 
to chase unceasingly the idea of God from his mind and con- 
science." 34 This is something that Proudhon, no more than 
many another revolutionary of his type, never completely 
succeeded in doing. God appears almost as the unjust father 
of mankind, the prototype of all tyrannical authority. The 
Church is the originator of one of the main evils of civilization: 
centralization. It has no place for science, for democracy, for 
the true feeling of brotherhood. The catalogue of reproaches links 
Proudhon's feelings to the religious obsession of early socialists. 
But there is a marked difference in tone. To Saint-Simon or 
even Owen, religion was an ethical problem, and the aberration 
of churches denoted the betrayal of their social mission toward 
the masses. The intensely religious feeling which underlies 
Proudhon's atheism has in addition something else : the primitive 
man's intimate personal dialogue with God. Education and radical- 
ism may transmute that feeling into atheism never into secu- 
larism or liberalism. 
Hence the other divinity of the early socialists science 

"Ibid., 1,382. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 127 

never appears with the same intensity as the religious problem. 
Yet it is "science" that the workers need more than democracy ; 
and, somewhat in the manner of Saint-Simon, a palace of in- 
dustry, a permanent exposition is to regulate economic life. 
What this "science" is, in what sense economics is science, is 
never, needless to say, systematically explained by Proudhon. 
He dabbles happily in Hegelianism and its phraseology, but the 
total sum of his philosophy of history and nature comes to the 
already met postulate that "science" now enables men to live 
freely, without the superstitions and economic misery of the 
past. That science and technology go hand in hand is not readily 
admitted by the proponent of the thesis that mankind has reached 
the age of science. The machine and the division of labor are the 
permanent sources of misery. The establishment of railway 
lines in France is the beginning of economic perturbations and 
the cause of the ruin of the agricultural workers. 35 

"Though very much a friend of order, I am in the full meaning 
of the word, an anarchist," wrote Proudhon. 36 And the avowal 
helps us to understand what anarchism is, for the two parts of 
the statement are really complementary. The "order" is the 
stability of beliefs and of economy of a pre-industrial household. 
If the anarchist dislikes compulsion and authority of any kind, 
ranging from the old types to the ones created by industrializa- 
tion the authority of the centralized state, of factory discipline 
then by the same token he is quite ready to erupt into violence 
against destroyers of this "order." The most pacific of men, who 
reproved Marx for his dogmatism and lust for bloody revolution, 
Proudhon was drawn at times to programs of violent uprisings, 
to plans for arrest of the "reactionaries," forcible dissolution 
of convents and monasteries, and expropriation of bankers and 
industrialists. Democracy and government by the majority held 

85 P. J. Proudhon, De La Justice, Dans la Revolution et Dans L'figlise, Paris, 
1858, III, 542. 
M Edouard Dolleans, Proudhon, Paris, 1948, p. 218. 

128 The Unfinished Revolution 

little appeal for the anarchist convinced by the plebiscites of 
Napoleon III that the majority of people were idiots and universal 
suffrage a delusion. 

It is customary to ask what a given thinker or school "stood 
for." In the case of anarchism, the question is extremely difficult 
to answer. r Anarchism has excellent critical sense : the logical 
corollaries and weaknesses of competing creeds, especially social- 
istic, are pointed out with great perception. The inherent 
authoritarianism of the Marxist doctrine was seen by Proudhon 
with the acumen displayed later by Bakunin in characterizing 
Marxism as, essentially, state capitalism. The authoritarian im- 
plications of Etienne Cabet's communism, Saint-Simon's elitism, 
and the hollowness of democratic slogans amid an ignorant and 
destitute population were all lucidly exposed by Proudhon. Proud 
of being French, he was at the same time an inveterate enemy 
of militant nationalism and an advocate of disarmament. Yet 
what is his response, his plan for the solution of the social prob- 
lem? Here anarchism falters, for it is much more a feeling, a 
sentiment of protest rather than an ideology. Proudhon's mutual- 
ism envisages a network of productive associations of producers. 
The political state withers away while the autonomous associa- 
tions happily trade with each other. But mutualism is as hazy 
in its administrative detail as it is paradoxical on its economic 
side. The enemy of savings banks and insurance, believer in 
"demonetization" of money, Proudhon calls upon, horrible to 
say, a centralized institution, a national bank to provide cheap 
and then free credit for his associations. Land is to be excluded 
from mutualism, because the private property of the peasant is 
to be guaranteed and passes by inheritance. The problem of 
politics and administration in the mutualist society? No such 
problem will exist, since public and private conscience, formed 
by the "science of right/' will suffice to maintain order and 
guarantee liberties. This is the constant answer of anarchism 
to such impolite questions. 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 129 

The anarchist sentiment, which underlay much of Chartism, 
never crystallized into a definite philosophy. Proudhon epitomizes 
the step forward from the mass of anti-industrial and anti-state 
prejudices, the inheritance of the peasant and craftsman psy- 
chology into a distinguishable, if hazily detailed, philosophy. 
From his socialist predecessors Proudhon is distinguished by his 
belief in revolution. The echoes of the older tradition, the search 
for a patron, Rousseau's "legislator" to put the new system into 
effect at one blow, are not entirely missing: at times Proudhon 
is not above putting his hopes in Louis Napoleon, or even Louis 
Philippe. But the main stress is on emancipation by the enlighten- 
ment and if need be by a revolution on the part of the proletariat. 
The anarchism of Proudhon becomes perhaps the most influential 
branch of socialism among the French workers. The incomplete 
victory of industrial values, when coupled with political insta- 
bility, did not let the anarchist sentiment die out among the 
French proletariat, and the progress of industrialization repro- 
duced this feeling under the new form of syndicalism. 

One explanation for the victory of the industrial spirit in 
England and the persistence of anti-industrialism in other 
societies is suggested unwittingly by a man not credited with 
great theoretical insight: 

. . . not only at the end of the last century but even today no 
other country attained the degree of development of capitalism and 
concentration of production in agriculture that we observe in 
Britain. Despite the development of capitalism in the countryside, 
other countries still have a quite numerous class of small and medium 
property owning producers in the countryside whose future would 
have to be decided in the event that the proletariat takes power. 37 

It is the existence of the peasant in society, the unerased peasant 
background of the proletarian, that makes him susceptible to 

87 J. V. Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.SS.R., in Current 
Digest of the Soviet Press: Current Soviet Policies, ed. Leo Gruliow, New 
York, 1953, I, 3. 

130 The Unfinished Revolution 

anarchism, which in its modern form is the revolt against indus- 
trialized life and its corollaries, the state and urbanization. In 
England, through several circumstances, the peasant was prac- 
tically eliminated ; elsewhere the peasant problem often remained 
as the breeding ground for the appeal of anarchist and syndicalist 

And of Marxism. For while the theory of Proudhon, of Blanqui, 
or of Bakunin is as antithetical to Marxism as it is to liberalism, 
the anti-industrial anarchistic sentiment that underlies their 
doctrines can often find its effective expression in revolutionary 
Marxism. The latter as protest has almost everything that ex- 
plicit anarchism can offer : it attacks the state and the possessing 
classes and reaffirms the dignity and the sole value-producing 
capacity of human lajDor. But Marxism has something else that 
is missing in anarchism. Anarchist feeling is too formless, too 
much divorced from the dynamic of economic development, to 
create objective conditions and organization capable of absorbing 
the economic facts of life. The anti-authority premises of anar- 
chism hardly allow it to form an efficient political movement to 
compete for power. 

The anti-industrial tradition in which French socialism not only 
had grown (as had all other socialisms) but also persisted thus 
enabled Marxism to play the leading revolutionary role in 
French politics, albeit Marxism in France appeared at times 
closer to syndicalism than to the doctrine of Karl Marx. By the 
same token, the persistence of the anti-industrial ethos has been 
in France, and in other countries under similar circumstances, 
a fertile soil for the revolutionary movements of the right. The 
persistence of this psychology in society is thus both the cause 
and the effect of radical and antidemocratic forces of both the 
left and right. 

Marxism is the type of socialism that believes in industrializa- 
tion, but can live as a revolutionary movement of importance 
only in symbiosis with a widespread anti-industrial feeling. As 

Sources and Dynamics of Marxism 131 

such it is unique among socialist systems of the nineteenth 
century. We might exhibit a case that is almost an exception to 
demonstrate the point. Among the leading socialist thinkers in 
France at the time, Louis Blanc provides a striking example of 
modernity. In reading his Organisation du Travail, first pub- 
lished in 1839, one receives the impression of a style, argument, 
and method more characteristic of an English Fabian or a 
German revisionist socialist of the end of the century than of any 
of the socialist effusions of the time in France, England, or else- 
where. There is no opposition to the state, very few of the tire- 
some tirades about religion and science. Believer in large-scale 
industry and probably the first exponent of the collectivization 
of land not to provide escape from industrialization in the form 
of little, self-sufficient colonies, but precisely to apply the full 
advantages of large-scale planning and technology to agriculture 
Louis Blanc strikes one as being quite modern in his preoc- 
cupations. But if Blanc writes in the spirit of what later became 
known as "democratic socialism," his analysis of the future of 
capitalism does not transcend contemporary radical opinion. 
The theory of "immiseration" is stated as clearly as in Marx. 
"But who would be blind enough not to see that under the regime 
of unlimited competition [concurrence illimit6e], continuous 
fall of wages is a necessarily general fact, and not an exception." 38 
That big capitalists will eventually devour smaller ones is as 
certain to Blanc as it is to Marx. 

But even Blanc, who in some ways anticipates Marx and in 
other ways the revisionists of Marxism, suffers in return from 
the early socialists' illusion that a mechanical contrivance, a 
model institution, can in itself effect a political and economic 
revolution. His National Workshops, run by the state, are to 
demonstrate the superiority of socialism over capitalism. In a 
very Fabian way, he writes: "... the state step by step will 
become master of industry, in place of monopoly we will have 

88 Louis Blanc, Organisation du Travail, Paris, 1850, p. 27. 

132 The Unfinished Revolution 

as the result of [our] success the defeat of [capitalist] com- 
petition, association." 39 But the state that is to plan the economy 
is not the kind of state that later in the twentieth century 
could perform planning and social welfare. The worker who is 
to be secured employment has but little liking for division of 
labor and iiyiustrial discipline, to which he is now assumed to 
submit out of a sense of social obligation rather than because 
of want or fear of unemployment. In the context of a society 
in which industrial values have not been assimilated, Blanc's 
socialism is almost as Utopian as Fourier's. 

The great synthesis performed by Marx, a synthesis based 
not only on theories and movements, but also on intuitive ap- 
praisal of social and political psychology of various classes, has 
given his doctrine an unusual power of survival and influence. 
After 1850 there will be many societies and countries where 
similar economic and political conditions will bring forth ideas 
and sentiments similar to those found in Chartism or in Saint- 
Simon or Proudhon. But the would-be innovators and revolu- 
tionaries will be presented with a doctrine and movement that 
already expresses some of their aspirations and revolt. Complete 
opposition to industrialization or its opposite, complete accept- 
ance of industry and the state, will almost always confine the 
influence of Marxism to that of a small sect, while other types 
of socialism attract the majority of the working class. But in 
societies where anarchism has ceased to be a practical response 
and trade unionism of the English type has not yet been firmly 
established, Marxism will in fact become the vanguard of 


Let us return to one Utopia produced by the onset of the In- 
dustrial Revolution that has in a large measure been realized: 
the liberal Utopia. It is the dream of society where men are 
imbued with virtues appropriate to industrialism, where they 
do not long for status, brotherhood, or the intimacy of a small 
community or organization, but where they set their sights in 
terms of income (i.e., the quantity of goods and services they 
can command), and where they will move from one end of the 
country to the other, from one profession to another, if they 
can materially gain thereby. It is a society where men are too 
busy cultivating their materialistic garden to get profoundly 
excited over doctrinal differences, be they in politics or religion. 
Science is equally and unexcitedly accepted as part of daily life. 
No beating of the head against the wall of facts of industrial 
life: division of labor and the factory system are equally ac- 
cepted, and a rising standard of life makes them less and less 
of a nuisance. The citizen accepts the state, not because of Hegel, 
but merely by paying taxes and accepting its regulations. Where 
is democracy in this scheme? It is simply a by-product of the 
acceptance of industrialism, education, and a high standard of 
living, of the withering away of superstitions, and of the irra- 
tional longing for the "status" and "property" of the disappearing 

134 The Unfinished Revolution 

agrarian society. Again, it is not the General Will or any 
metaphysical business that inclines, say, 45 percent of the people 
to submit to being ruled for a time by persons elected by 55 per- 
cent; it is the realization of the essential sameness of political 
values pervading the whole society. A man is entitled to vote not 
because of any moral or Christian equality but because an ad- 
vanced material and educational level makes the majority of 
people qualified to exercise intelligent citizenship. 

In the first half of the nineteenth century, this dream would 
have appeared to the conservative and radical alike a nightmare, 
a contemporary version of Orwell's 1984. To young Marx, it 
would have appeared inconceivable under capitalism. Yet when 
the co-founder of Marxism was on his deathbed in 1895, the 
liberal Utopia seemed close to realization. Historical hindsight 
shows 1895 exhibiting some other portents too, but to a social 
observer in the year when Engels died and Vladimir Ilich Lenin 
joined what was to become the Bolshevik Party, liberalism, 
granted all its imperfections and limitations, appeared on the 
road to a triumphant fulfillment in the West and eventual spread 
elsewhere in the world. 

The economic and social atmosphere in Western Europe has 
made irrelevant both the earlier types of capitalism and anti- 
capitalism. Industrialization brought a higher standard of living. 
The state had begun to concede to the worker the right to 
organize and to press for his economic postulates, just as the 
ballot had given him the power to press his political aims. The 
capitalist found himself being curtailed by the state with its 
rudimentary social legislation, with its beginnings of progressive 
income and inheritance taxation. Again, the situation in the 
1890's, which looks so old-fashioned and capitalistic from our 
vantage point, would have struck an observer looking back to 
fifty years before as incomprehensibly collectivistic. What radical 
in 1850 would have believed that the capitalists would submit 
without a death struggle to the progressive income or inheritance 

Democracy and Marxism 135 

tax, social insurance, curtailment of political power through 
universal suffrage, or extension of the state's economic activity? 
Yet the seeds of all these measures or their beginnings are plainly 
visible in the 1890's. By the same token, what conservative would 
have believed in 1850 that a democratic electorate would tolerate 
vast inequalities of inherited wealth and income, or indeed the 
perpetuation of the industrial system? Both liberalism and the 
worker have changed. One has shown itself not exclusively based 
on extreme individualism and the inflexible belief in economic 
"laws"; and the other's psychology has been shown to be not 
exclusively grounded on anti-industrialism. The corrosive in- 
fluence of economic improvement softened the doctrinal rigidity 
of the two opponents. The apparent triumph of liberalism, even 
if that liberalism had changed and softened, called for a new 
synthesis. The old battleground between capitalism and socialism, 
the battleground of industrialization, seemingly disappeared 

In dealing with Marxism during the period, we no longer 
deal with the thought of two men or with small groups of de- 
votees. Marxism is now an international movement, the major 
inheritor of all the strains of socialism that were previously 
discussed. The doctrine has hardened into a dogma. The small 
groups of sympathizers and correspondents have developed into 
parties, some with mass followings. In the international socialist 
movement, Marxism is clearly the dominant tendency. The 
heavily intellectual doctrine becomes the official expression of the 
aspirations of workers throughout the world. The catholicity of 
the doctrine has surpassed even Marx's expectations. In it the 
German worker will express not only his economic grievance 
but a political protest against militarism and the Junkers, the 
Polish worker his protest against national oppression, and the 
Russian against absolutism and the lack of rudimentary political 
rights. To the intellectuals and large segments of the middle 
class, Marxism provides a "scientific" theory of society, a way 

136 The Unfinished Revolution 

out of social inequities through a rational organization of com- 
munity, a much more practical expression of the instinct that 
led people to follow Saint-Simon, Fourier, or Owen. 

Was the spread of socialism and especially Marxism a demon- 
stration that the triumph of liberalism and the stability of 
capitalism were an illusion, or was it in fact an indication that 
socialism is the logical culmination and fulfillment of the other 
two? This is the question that dominates theoretical Marxism 
in the nineties. In the original canon there are arguments for 
both answers. But Marxism is now an international movement 
and a dogma buttressed by vast literature, theoretical journals, 
and the like. Whatever interpretation is given, its exponent will 
be reluctant to admit that the answer must be a relativistic one, 
that, taking the original premises of Marxism, it has completely 
different meanings in England and in Russia, that the logic 
of the argument would lead to revolutionary action in one case, 
to constitutional and democratic means in another, and to the 
abandonment of socialism in still another. Conflicting views of 
Marxism become engrossed in the exegesis of the scriptures. 
The doctrine becomes encrusted with heavy layers of historical, 
economic, and other commentaries to the point where its original 
outlines become almost unrecognizable. 

We are here interested in one aspect of the problem : the uses 
of Marxism. To what groups, interests, and sentiments in the 
given society does the conglomeration of theories known as 
Marxism appeal, and why? And the obverse of the question: 
What instincts and interests does Marxism instill in those who 
consider themselves Marxists? How does Marxism "make a 
difference' 5 between an average worker and the worker who con- 
siders himself a Marxist ? To men who find themselves in absolute 
control of a society and who think of themselves as Marxian 
socialists? To a secular analyst, it is not necessary to connect 
answers to these questions with what "Marx really meant." The 
conglomeration of theories, facts, and predictions that is Marxism 

Democracy and Marxism 137 

has a life of its own, and some of its uses and effects were as 
unanticipated by its authors as was the kind of world in which 
it was to score triumphs and suffer defeats. 


Like the failure of the hound of the Baskervilles to bark, the 
failure of Marxism to take root in England provides a key to 
the mystery. The country which alone of European societies 
reached an absolute preponderance of industry over agriculture 
by the end of the nineteenth century, which pioneered in the 
development of modern industry and of social and political 
institutions appropriate to it, should have been, by a literal 
application of the Marxist analysis, the first place to have a 
Marxist revolutionary movement and a socialist revolution. Yet 
actually the Marxist situation in England had passed before 
Marxism was formulated. Neither the theory nor the practice of 
Marxism found many adherents in the country in which Marx 
and Engels were residents. The Social Democratic Federation, 
founded in the 1880's, and the activities of a handful of English 
Marxists, like H. M. Hyndman, toward the end of the century, 
provide the very small exception that proves the rule. 

The luxuriant growth of Marxist movements everywhere in 
the 1890's and the first decade of the twentieth century is not 
paralleled by anything in England. Of all the many strains and 
theories that went into the building of English socialism, the 
influence of Marxism was the slightest. We do not get in England 
even the phenomenon observable in similarly industrialized 
countries (for example, the Low Countries and Scandinavia), 
i.e., a socialist movement that is officially Marxist in name and 
paraphernalia, but non-Marxist in behavior. In the revival of 
socialism in England among the generation, roughly speaking, 
before World War I, all kinds of socialist theories and movements 
are propagated. The weakening of England's economic position 
in the world, her loss of economic dynamism, bring forth socialist 

138 The Unfinished Revolution 

recipes ranging from the evolutionary socialism of the Fabians 
to the faint echoes of anarchism and syndicalism represented by 
Guild Socialism. But interest in Marxism, whether by the 
intellectual or the worker, is practically nil. The ability of 
Marxism to assimilate and give political expression to various 
strains of socialist thought and movement is conspicuously absent 
in Great Britain. 

What produced the modern socialist movement in Britain? 
The same thing that led to sizable socialist movements else- 
where: the worker's search for a party and movement that 
would represent his interests and give a theoretical formulation 
to his aspirations and grievances. The success of industrialism in 
allaying the first anarchic response of the worker, the work of 
education and democratic institutions in allaying his sense of 
"alienation" do not permanently remove the opportunities for 
socialism. A mature industrial society will be faced with social- 
ism in two distinct, though often merging, forms. One will be 
in the inevitable tendency of the modern industrial state to grow 
more complex and more collectivistic, assuming, because of the 
factors of sheer size and technology, a greater and greater role 
in the field of economy and social relations. This is socialism 
inherent in the very process of industrialization and democratiza- 
tion beyond a certain stage. In that sense, but not in the way he 
meant, Marx's prediction of socialism's emergence from capitalism 
is correct. 

But this is socialism only in a limited sense of the word. It is 
socialism from the perspective of nineteenth-century economic 
individualism, the kind meant by a liberal chancellor of the 
exchequer when he said in the 1890's: "We are all socialists now." 
It is conceivable to have all kinds of collectivism and bureaucratic 
planning of economic life without the slightest advance toward 
social and economic egalitarianism. And the other kind of social- 
ism is produced exactly by a certain egalitarianism fostered by 
industrialism and democracy. The rise in the standard of living 

Democracy and Marxism 139 

kills off the earlier, anti-industrial type of socialism, with its 
anarchistic undertones. But the slackening of economic dynamism 
of an industrialized society, or a prolonged economic crisis, bring 
forth the kind of socialism that, in much purer form than other 
socialisms, is anticapitalist. Anticapitalism is no longer an ex- 
pression of hostility to the whole complex of industrial and politi- 
cal institutions ; it is a specific protest against large conglomera- 
tions of economic power and wealth in a society which no longer 
believes in unlimited opportunities for success and economic ad- 
vancement for everybody. The proletarian of earlier socialism is 
the trade unionist of the later phase. The perspective of over- 
throwing the "system" and reverting to some real or imaginary 
pre-industrial situation no longer has any appeal for him. But 
the presence of class barriers, the lack or the slow pace of eco- 
nomic improvement puts him in the state of mind receptive to 
the kind of theory that presents socialism as merely a step for- 
ward from democracy, the reduction of existing inequalities, and 
the subjugation of economic to political power, which is already 
mainly democratic. 

It is easy to see how badly Marxism fits the bill. The revolu- 
tionary appeal of Marxism rests on the worker's sense of griev- 
ance and alienation from society as a whole, the kind of griev- 
ance that had little relevance in England even of the 1890's. To 
assert that the electorate is being hoodwinked by the capitalists 
in power is not the same as to assert that the state is the executive 
committee of the exploiting class. The class-war appeal loses its 
emotional tone if you have to argue that because of the demo- 
cratic franchise the class enemy is at your mercy. And under those 
conditions, the other side of Marxism, its technological enthu- 
siasm, its indoctrination in the necessity of the industrial system, 
has likewise very little meaning. The industrial worker has 
reached the position where he is neither uncomprehending nor 
exultant over the facts of technology. Trade-union activity and 
political action are viewed by him as the means of both translat- 

140 The Unfinished Revolution 

ing the technological progress into a higher standard of living and 
avoiding or tempering unemployment. 

English socialism was thus likely to flow into other forms. It 
is misleading to view the problem of Marxism versus English 
socialism in terms of the dichotomy, revolutionary versus evolu- 
tionary socialism. The picture of the years before World War I 
is filled with major strikes, and with socialist theories which were 
quite revolutionary in their implications and at times sounded like 
echoes of the earlier anti-industrial opposition. The tenor of 
English politics of the period the possibility of civil war in 
Ireland, the constitutional crises, and the social and fiscal legisla- 
tion of the liberal administration of 1906 to 1914 created a 
situation which to contemporaries was fraught with revolutionary 
possibilities. But the response of the English working class was 
the creation of a labor movement and party, which, though led 
by socialists, did not commit itself to socialism until 1918. And 
even then this socialism was to be amalgam of egalitarianism 
and social welfare, with the nationalization of the major means 
of production as one of its main practical postulates. English 
socialism arose when the society was indeed far from a liberal 
Utopia. But the saturation with industrial values was already 
sufficient to make both parts of the Marxist synthesis irrelevant 
to the British worker. 

It is instructive to see both the essence and the extent of this 
adjustment. The oldest element is the fact of political democrati- 
zation, the right of the worker to vote, the distracting practical 
effect of political activity upon the revolutionary Utopias and 
dreams of reconstructing pre-industrial society. The revolutionary 
spirit, the blend of romantic protest and social utopianism, does 
not easily survive involvement in the prosaic business of actual 
politics. The spread of parliamentarism, the extension of suffrage, 
had been viewed by Marx and Engels with what was almost 
a nostalgia for the bad old days of their youth, when the state 
was definitely "they" the upper and middle classes and the 

Democracy and Marxism 141 

worker had no right to suspect that perhaps he was also a wielder 
of political power. Marx's comments on the Gotha Program of 
the German Social Democratic Party of 1875 reveal a conflict 
of attitudes : one, a tone of pride at socialism becoming embodied 
in a real mass party ; the other, a tone of irritation at the almost 
inevitable prospect of the watering down of the revolutionary 
spirit by the trappings of legalism and "constructive" social 
legislation. Equally threatening, though more distant, was the 
likelihood of the seduction of socialist leaders by ministerial 
posts and of the workers' "acceptance" of the state. Though the 
German Social Democratic Party "purified" its program of the 
Lassallean elements in 1891, the logic of legal political activity 
was in fact to justify some of Marx's apprehensions. 

In the case of British socialism, the absorption in actual politics 
was, of course, a much more potent antidote to doctrinalism and 
revolutionary romanticism. Even Chartism had already found 
its outward focus in political demands. The much more demo- 
cratic situation toward the end of the century imperiled even 
more the revolutionary protest of socialism. The road to revolu- 
tion became a series of elections and legislative enactments. The 
final aim of socialism could not be awaited with the impatience 
that is the springboard of revolutionary action if indeed its 
postulates were being accomplished step by step. Democracy, an 
adjustment to industrialization, emasculated socialism of its revo- 
lutionary enthusiasm. 

The other element of adjustment is inherent in the growth of 
English trade unionism. The union in its genesis is a product of 
anti-industrialism. To the early liberal and Marxist alike, it is 
the outcome of the "illusion" of the worker that through a con- 
spiracy he can mitigate the effect of economic laws, raise his 
wages, improve his conditions of living in defiance of the market. 
To the historian of trade unionism the early unions represent 
something else: a desperate, often illegal attempt by the pro- 
letarian to regain status through association, to reproduce, often 

142 The Unfinished Revolution 

through odd ceremonies and vocabulary, the feeling of "be- 
longing," to restore the previous peasant and craftsman existence 
a defense against not only economic but also social individual- 
ism imposed by industrialization. To the liberal, unionism, once 
legalized, would wither away with the worker's realization that 
it was impotent to change his bargaining position. To Marx, 
unionism, as tried by some Chartists, would also lose its early 
illusions and become the weapon of the worker in class warfare. 
Yet unionism grew, after initial setbacks and persecutions, but 
in a way which confounded both early hopes and fears. Like the 
cooperative movement, trade unionism, originally the product 
of the impetus to erect an artificial barrier or preserve against 
industrialism, did become in time an integral part of the 
more mature industrial system, an agency through which the 
worker arrived at his compromise with the system, and, up to a 
point, a school of industrial and democratic values. 

The growth and character of English unionism in the 1860's 
and 70's alarmed and disgusted Marx and Engels. To them it 
seemed to foster the petty bourgeois character of the more prosper- 
ous segments of the working class and to transmute the class 
struggle against capitalism into minor skirmishes for higher pay 
and shorter working hours. 

The conservative type of unionism, uniting essentially the 
aristocracy of the working class, was considerably changed by 
the rise of "new unionism" and the organizations of unskilled 
workers in the 1880's. But the result was still far from the 
Marxian vision of spontaneous organizations of the working class, 
exuding class warfare and basically and impatiently opposed to 
the bourgeois state. Trade unionism as it looked to Lenin in 
1902 was in fact the spontaneous form of organization of the 
worker, but the trade-union mentality was the negation of the 
Marxian revolutionary pattern. 

The atmosphere of unionism is in fact representative of the 
mentality of the worker. But in its English version this class 

Democracy and Marxism 143 

mentality settles at a point equidistant between what Marx and 
the liberals had predicted. It is neither a revolutionary reaction 
against the alienation and poverty inherent in the industrial 
system nor the loss of the feeling of class separateness and indi- 
vidualistic economic endeavor. The class mentality is that of 
the acceptance of separateness, but not of alienation; of the 
acceptance of the industrial system, but not of capitalism; of 
individualism, but not of economic insecurity postulated in the 
earliest laissez faire. The complexity of the worker's adjustment 
parallels that of the English capitalist, who is no longer the cease- 
less entrepreneur and revolutionizer of economic life, self-right- 
eous and unyielding in his prerogatives and ideology. The more 
involved economic reality traps and minimizes the sources of 
the revolutionary confrontation of the worker and the bourgeois 
state. The revolutionary optimism that Marxism exuded earlier, 
when the acute antagonism between capitalism and the working 
class had seemed to augur similar developments everywhere, 
gave way in the 1890's to a parallel apprehension: what if a simi- 
lar rise in the standard of living and progress in representative 
institutions were to bring to the workers in other European coun- 
tries, despite their present penchant toward Marxism, a similar 
trade-union mentality ? 

The defense of Marxian orthodoxy, of the essential correctness 
of the visibly disproved tenet of the continuous impoverishment 
of the working class under capitalism, became for the Continental 
socialists something of a psychological necessity in view of the 
English experience. The contrast between Marx's formulation of 
the misery of the workers under capitalism and the defense of this 
thesis by his disciples half a century later is quite striking. 
Marx expressed in an overly theoretical form what most of the 
contemporary radicals and advanced workers around the middle 
of the century firmly believed ; but the German and other Marxists 
faced the exactly opposite task of telling the working class that 
what their senses told them was an illusion or a temporary freak. 

144 The Unfinished Revolution 

The German worker's genuine dissatisfaction with his country's 
political system and with capitalism as a form of organization of 
economic life had to be supplemented by the unreal feeling that 
somehow his economic situation was getting worse. Indoctrination 
was called upon to help class consciousness. The self-imposed task 
of orthodox Marxists on the Continent became, one feels, not so 
much struggling against capitalism and authoritarianism as guard- 
ing the worker against falling for the "illusion" of economic 
progress and peaceful democratization. The threat posed to 
Marxist orthodoxy by historical facts was dismissed by Engels, 
shortly before his death, in an ingenious prognosis: despite all 
the growth of the socialist parties and democratization of political 
life, Marx's revolutionary prediction still holds true; it is now 
the capitalists who will Strike first to prevent a peaceful transition 
to socialism. Yet how much sophistry and real apprehension of 
the extinction of the revolutionary impulse is in this view as 
contrasted with the primitive but self-assured and elemental ap- 
peal of the Communist Manifesto. 

English socialism, by contrast, was never faced with a similar 
task of fitting reality into the uncomfortable confines of a theory. 
It never attempted to decide the correct pattern of the unfolding 
of history or the correct interpretation of the views of two deceased 
thinkers by vote of party congress. Socialism in England is fed by 
theories, some revolutionary, others evolutionary ; some moralistic 
and religious in their anticapitalism, others pragmatic and utili- 
tarian in their tone. But when the sum of influences jells into a 
movement and a parliamentary party, it reflects the acceptance 
of liberal society and the tendency to "stretch it" into socialism, 
the reflection not so much of any theory or group of theories but 
of the instinct of the British working class. 

The attenuation of anti-industrialism as the basis for socialism 
and hence the irrelevance of Marxism under English conditions 
is best studied by observing the content and influence of two 
schools of socialist thought of the generation before 1917: Fa- 

Democracy and Marxism 145 

bianism and Guild Socialism. Fabianism is a socialist descendant 
of Utilitarianism, the acceptance of liberalism with a collectivistic 
proviso. Guild Socialism is the last cry and formulation of anti- 
industrialism, the rejection of the state, an attempted escape from 
the fact of centralized economic and political life into vague 
schemes of workers' control and of guilds. Fabianism, for all its 
intellectual origins and attitudes, became the dominant tendency 
in English socialism. From it runs a fairly straight line to the 
Beveridge Report, the welfare state, and the philosophy of the 
Labour Party of today. Guild Socialism, for a period before and 
immediately after World War I, found some echoes in the sections 
of organized labor, but it vanished as a major influence and 
plays no part in contemporary English socialism. It failed to turn 
trade unionism in the syndicalist direction, and it left a much 
greater imprint on literary and intellectual life than on the ideas 
of the "lower part of mankind," which, whether in a democratic 
or nondemocratic society, ultimately decide the future of politi- 
cal movements. 

Fabianism flows from the Fabian Essays, published in 1889 by 
a remarkable group of writers and reformers engaged in socialist 
propaganda. There is no echo in them of the theories of Karl 
Marx or of the presence in English society at the moment of 
Friedrich Engels. There is a small deposit, but very small, of 
what might be called the aesthetic protest against capitalism and 
industrialism, which will loom much more importantly in Guild 
Socialism. The early Fabians included Bernard Shaw and H. G. 
Wells, and there is something of Fourier in Shaw and an element 
of Saint-Simon's scientific utopianism in Wells. More generally, 
there is in the Fabian Essays a common-sense objection to the 
cultural and spiritual aridity of late Victorian life and an exasper- 
ation with conventionality and conformity and with the drab 
reality of the dominant lower-middle-class standards. This protest 
can be found vividly in H. G. Wells' novels of lower-middle-class 
life, with their revolt against the all-encompassing materialism 

146 The Unfinished Revolution 

and "propriety" of middle-class civilization and its choking effect 
upon human individuality. Unlike the earlier aesthetic critiques 
of industrialization and bourgeois values by Carlyle and Ruskin 
and the later ones by Chesterton and Belloc, this element of 
protest in the Essays is not a basic rejection of the new scale 
of standards by thinkers standing apart from politics and simply 
grumbling about materialism. Rather, the protest denotes a 
genuine disappointment at the unfulfilled promise of the new 
civilization; it is a critical re-examination of industrial civiliza- 
tion, symptomatic of the slackening of material progress, rather 
than of a fundamental hostility to the civilization. 

The main theme of the Essays and indeed of Fabianism as it 
grew up was that its brand of socialism was simply the logical 
continuation and fulfillment of industrialism plus democracy. 
It is not an attempt to epater les bourgeois, but to convince 
them as well as the working class. The vision of industrial evolu- 
tion is in the spirit of unemotional Marxism. The growing concen- 
tration of industry and business, and the depersonalization of the 
ownership of the means of production, makes their assumption 
by the state the next logical step. But despite some hints to the 
contrary, the take-over from the capitalists is generally assumed 
to come through "honest purchase" rather than expropriation. 
The expanding sphere of collectivistic action by the state as well 
as by the municipalities is quoted as a proof that the tendency 
is already evident and inevitable. 

The approach to the realization of socialism assumes the reality 
of the democratic process. In fact, the Fabians were to use propa- 
ganda and education rather than any attempt at "mass action." 
The road, according to Sidney Webb, must be (1) democratic, i.e., 
"acceptable to a majority of people and prepared for in the 
minds of all"; (2) gradual, causing no dislocation; (3) not re- 
garded as immoral by the mass of the people, and thus not 
subjectively demoralizing to them; and (4) "In this country at 

Democracy and Marxism 147 

any rate constitutional and peaceful." 1 This is socialism that 
has accepted the premises of liberalism but no longer believes in 
the readability of the liberal Utopia. There is no wide-eyed 
enthusiasm over the powers of science and technology, no great 
concern with religion or the aristocracy. Fabianism is an un- 
enthusiastic, matter-of-fact acceptance of industrialism and a 
plea, but again with very little emotionalism in it, for socialism. 
Nothing illustrates the frustration of anti-industrial type of 
socialism in England better than the fate of Guild Socialism. In 
the years preceding World War I, Guild Socialism forged to the 
fore of socialist thought. In perspective, the period before the 
war represents a striking but short-lived rebirth of socialism 
grounded in the anachronistic protest against the overwhelming 
elements of political and economic reality : the state and central- 
ized industry. It is no accident that the same period witnessed 
the questioning of the intellectual and political basis of liberal- 
ism. The rationalist tradition encountered a critique at the 
hands of Bergson, William James, and Freud. The reality of 
representative democracy was scathingly analyzed by Ostrogorski, 
Michels, and Pareto. The variety of criticisms of the foundations 
of liberalism was at once a proof that the intellectual under- 
pinnings of liberal civilization in the West had passed their heyday 
and a tribute to the extent of achievement of the liberal Utopia. 
A critic in the spirit of Hegel would see the varied movements of 
the generation before 1914 as a proof that the liberal synthesis had 
been established and that an inevitable challenge was forthcoming. 
A Marxist would observe the slackening tempo of economic ex- 
pansion and the end of the revolutionary role of capitalism and 
would note the appearance of movements and theories questioning 
the basic premises of capitalism as the result of these changes. 
A secular explanation sees liberalism running "out of steam," un- 
able to impose the pattern of industrialization and modernization, 

1 Fabian Essays in Socialism, London, 1931, pp. 31-32. 

148 The Unfinished Revolution 

which had seemed to have come of itself in the West, on the 
world at large and on international relations. 

In the English context, Guild Socialism is a rather distant echo 
of the general perturbation. The very name chosen by the move- 
ment indicates that what was implict in the original anti-industrial 
socialism is mfade explicit in this socialism as it fights a retreating 
action against the state and "wagery" : a certain medievalism of 
outlook, the hankering after a society where everybody has his 
"place." From its beginnings, it was a hopeless political venture. 
The vision of the state transformed into a conglomeration of 
guilds, unions of workers, and professions, each running its own 
affairs, joined by something "non state," whether called the Com- 
mune or the Industrial Guilds Congress, has only to be put into 
words to show its utter unpracticality. The very need that Guild 
Socialists like S. G. Hobson and G. D. H. Cole felt to formulate 
their political schemes in detail shows the enervating influence of 
the British conditions upon anarchism and syndicalism. In France, 
Italy, and Spain, syndicalism of the period was widespread, but 
its exponents did not usually feel called upon to spell out what 
they would put in the place of the hateful realities of the state and 
capitalism. It is a sad day for syndicalists and anarchists when 
they feel compelled to produce positive proposals and organization 
charts ! 

The protest underlying Guild Socialism again links it to the 
critique of capitalism from the conservative viewpoint. The social 
passion of Guild Socialism pits it against the inequalities and 
competition of capitalist society. It harbors aesthetic grief over 
society's loss of organic unity and over the disappearance of the 
instinct for workmanship in pre-indus trial crafts. These have 
been the traditional materials with which Christian socialism has 
been constructed. In Guild Socialism there is an additional echo 
of the revolutionary excitement of Continental syndicalism, of 
the worker now enmeshed in modern industry but still antagonistic 
to industrialism as such. We are reminded once more how anti- 

Democracy and Marxism 149 

industrialism, if widespread in society, is the breeding ground 
of indiscriminate radicalism, how the former syndicalists often 
found their way into postwar communism, but also how a residue 
of syndicalist ideas found a place in National Socialism and Fas- 
cism. The struggle against concreteness, the urge, in one's irrita- 
tion with the facts of the industrialized state and the "apathy" 
of the working class, to plunge into Lrrationalism, are not entirely 
absent in Guild Socialism. There is even a furtive approach to 
mystical nationalism. The state makes a reappearance, in S. G. 
Hobson, to express the spirit of the community and "the abiding 
truths" of the national interest as against selfish interests of 
particular segments of the community. 2 G. D. H. Cole, in one 
of his earlier books, toyed with the Rousseauistic conception of 
the state and with that "elusive but fundamental reality which 
he [Rousseau] named the General Will." 3 

But how awkward and unconvincing does the phraseology of 
"higher" interests and of the "real" state sound against the 
pattern of prosaic economic pursuits and aspirations of the actual 
industrial worker. The points of real appeal in Guild Socialism 
its protest against the class system ; its plea for more power for 
the unions and for social and economic democracy flow more 
naturally into other socialist movements. Barring an economic 
or political catastrophe which disrupts the habits of a century 
of industrialism, the worker's response to the slackening of eco- 
nomic dynamism of liberal society takes the form of laborism. 
World War I, with its shattering impact on the domestic and 
especially what there was of the international liberal order still 
does not constitute that catastrophe. The British labor movement 
becomes more consciously socialistic, but it finds its socialism in 
the Fabian version rather than in other forms. What there is of 
communism in interwar England comes mostly, insofar as the 
workers are concerned, as a reflection of the much oversimplified 

a National Guilds and the State, New York, 1920, p. 143. 
8 The World of Labour, London, 1920, p. 28. 

150 The Unfinished Revolution 

notion of Soviet Russia as a "workers 7 state." In retrospect, the 
weakness of Marxism in England had been ordained by the 
same forces and habits that made for the insignificance of anar- 
chism and syndicalism in the working-class movement and for the 
acceptance of liberal collectivism by society as a whole. 


The epoch-making intellectual achievement of the English technolo- 
gists and their like, who prepared the Industrial Revolution and 
have afterward worked out its consequences in technology and the 
material sciences, is not so much that they gained a new manner of 
insight into the nature and working of material things, as that they 
were, by force of circumstances, enabled to forget much of what 
was known before their time; by atrophy of the habitual bent for 
imputing anthropomorphic qualities and characters to the things 
they saw, they were enabled to interpret these things in terms of 
matter of fact. 4 

Veblen's characteristically involved statement contains its own 
insight about the mechanics of adjustment to industrialization. 
The ability to forget is important not only, as Veblen thought, 
in reference to the habit "of construing material phenomena in 
occult, magical, quasi-personal, spiritual phenomena." It is also 
the ability to forget the previous artisan and peasant existence. 
In England, the working class was already demonstrating this 
ability at the end of the nineteenth century. On the Continent, 
the tremendous development of industrialism, in the strict sense 
of the word, was not accompanied at an equal pace by the institu- 
tional and social appurtenances of the process. 

But the ability to forget has yet another dimension. In a study 
of Marxism, it is easy to fall into the temptation to believe that 
the reality of politics is expressed exclusively in terms of "eco- 

4 Thorstein Veblen, Imperial Germany and the Industrial Revolution [1915], 
New York, 1957, p. 190. 

Democracy and Marxism 151 

nomic forces" and indices of industrial production. One may 
neglect the emotional factor in the adjustment of the worker to 
the political system. In England, the labor movement has always 
had some difficulty finding an appropriate group of martyrs to 
symbolize its opposition to the bourgeois order. The "Tolpuddle 
martyrs" the group of laborers who in the 1830's were sentenced 
to transportation for illegal union activity figure rather faintly 
compared with the hundreds of executions that followed the 
suppression of the Paris Commune of 1871. The long delays 
and legal obstacles that preceded full recognition of the role and 
functions of English trade unionism are again not of the same 
order as, say, the suppression of the German Socialist Party under 

The facts of economic improvement or deterioration are but 
part of the story of the adjustment to "industrialization." The 
early irritants of loss of status and factory discipline may become 
dulled with the passage of time and the rise in the standard of 
living. The workers will not be able to forget their earlier 
grievances and express their present ones, if the state stands as 
the symbol of authority, apart and against them, if, for all the 
right to vote, there is an unbridgeable gap between them and the 
machinery of the bourgeois state. In England, the self-professed 
task of the Socialist Fabian society was, first, propagandizing 
not so much the working class as the middle class about the 
necessity of socialism and, second, infiltrating the civil service 
with collectivistic ideas. This, under Continental conditions at 
the beginning of the twentieth century, would have been the height 
of naivete. The French worker viewed his patron and the German 
worker the imperial civil servant as class enemies. Though 
England in 1900 was less advanced in social legislation than 
Germany, though France was a republic, the two continental cen- 
ters of socialism had elements in their political and social systems 
that gave more than superficial reality to the concept of the class 

152 The Unfinished Revolution 

war, and to the persistence within the working class of hostility 
toward the state and the ruling class on a scale unmatched in the 
country that originated the industrial system. 

What Veblen wrote in 1915, trying to explain the dangerous 
character of German nationalism by the lag of social develop- 
ment in comparison with industry and technology, may be used 
(and not only in regard to Germany) to explain the acceptance of 
Marxist rather than laboristic socialism by a community with a 
high technical culture : 

As a cultural community the Fatherland is at present in an 
eminently unstable transitional phase. Its population is in the 
singularly untoward position untoward, that is, in the present 
immediate bearing that they have come out of an obsolescent 
cultural situation so recently as in effect not to have forgotten what 
is necessary to forget, at the same time they have not been in con- 
tact with the things of the modern world long enough or intimately 
enough to have fully assimilated the characteristically modern ele- 
ments of the Western civilization. 5 

The "obsolescent cultural situation" has already been defined 
many times in our earlier pages as simply the lack of adjustment 
to industrialization in some important political or social respect. 
It hardly needs to be added that, taking England as a model of 
such adjustment, large areas of Europe in 1900, or in 1915, were 
in an "obsolescent cultural situation," and that the survival of 
anti-industrial and antistate attitudes against the background of 
the centralized state and rapidly industrializing economy was 
creating favorable conditions for the flowering of Marxism. It 
is tempting to play with categories and types. At one extreme is 
a society industrialized in spirit as well as in fact (England), 
where socialism, when it appears, assumes the character of labor- 
ism. Further down is a country (Germany) where socialism is 
cast in the official Marxist mold, but where the rapid pace of 
industrial advance makes the mentality of the workers, if not 

* Ibid., p. 236. 

Democracy and Marxism 153 

the phraseology of their leaders, less and less responsive to the 
slogan of the class war. France before 1914 can be used as a 
model of a country where the anti-industrial protest is still so 
strong that even the official Marxist ideology of the socialist 
movement serves as a veneer over the essentially anarchist and 
syndicalist mentality of the radical element of the working class. 
At the other extreme is, say, Spain, where the low level of in- 
dustrialization makes the worker express his radicalism in 
anarchism and syndicalism pure and simple rather than in their 
subdued version of revolutionary Marxism. 

If this pattern is examined, and if all the qualifications are al- 
lowed for, with an eye to the "catching on" of Marxism as a move- 
ment rather than as a theory, two things will be apparent : first, 
the tremendous ability of Marxism to fuse into itself, and to 
become the organizational expression of, other forms of socialism, 
mainly anarchism and syndicalism; and, second, the unstable 
character of the Marxist appeal to the working class. It is most 
effective at a specific period of the given society's development. 
But no sooner does Marxism replace anarchism and syndicalism 
as the official ideology than the same forces that had made the 
worker abandon the mere spirit of opposition to the state and 
industry, the mere principle of the workers' association as a 
substitute for any more comprehensive philosophy of politics and 
society, make him chafe under doctrinaire Marxism and push 
him toward a more pragmatic and evolutionary type of socialism. 
The ideal society for revolutionary Marxism is the one that is 
"arrested" in its response to industrialization; where large-scale 
industry and urbanization make simple anarchism obsolete 
and syndicalism unavailing from the point of view of the radical 
worker; where the relative newness of industrialization has not 
entirely killed off the peasant mentality ; where a large part of the 
population consists of peasants tilling their small holdings; and 
where the political process and class divisions, whatever the 
official form of the state, do indeed give the worker the impression 

154 The Unfinished Revolution 

of the state as the "executive committee of the exploiting class." 
We may observe the "in-between" character of Marxism by 
focusing for a moment on two writers of the period who at- 
tempted to rephrase socialism in terms of what they conceived to 
be the logic of social development and the character of class con- 
sciousness' of the worker. At first glance, no two writers seem so 
many worlds apart as Eduard Bernstein and Georges Sorel. The 
German, a graduate of orthodox Marxism, a man who then at- 
tempted to modify Marxism to fit in with the genuine democratic 
creed, is the epitome of liberal values and the humanitarian ap- 
proach to politics. The Frenchman, a proponent of irrationalism, 
without solid moorings in any political movement, later on an 
admirer of Lenin, a man whose writings found discordant echoes 
in syndicalism, Fascism, and Nazism, epitomizes the breakdown 
of the liberal values, the hankering after myths and violence 
politics, in brief, as a form of excitement. The titles of their 
books, Evolutionary Socialism and Reflections on Violence, em- 
phasize the contrast. 

And yet how both of them turn to Marxism and invoke its 
thought in support of their quite contrasting conclusions ! Neither 
is a "complete" Marxist, but each grasps one element of Marxian 
synthesis and disparages the other. To Sorel, Marx is the anar- 
chist, the ancestor of syndicalism and the spontaneous revolution- 
ary movement of the workers. To Bernstein, Marx is primarily the 
social democrat and humanitarian. If one discounts the revolu- 
tionary phraseology of Marx's younger days, obsolete under the 
conditions of socialism in twentieth-century Europe, one finds, 
holds Bernstein, the real Marx, real scientific socialism. If one 
discounts the deposit of the earlier socialist theories and Utopias, 
retorts Sorel, one finds the real Marx : the revolutionary, the pro- 
ponent of the violent take-over by the workers. Both the demo- 
crat and the believer in violence find in Marxism what they are 
seeking. Both the acceptance of industrialism and the democratic 

Democracy and Marxism 155 

state and the rejection of industrialism and contempt for democ- 
racy which is syndicalism invoke Marx. 

Bernstein and Sorel testify to how much the Marxist synthesis 
was made possible by the mid-nineteenth-century conditions under 
which it was generated, and how the breakdown of this synthesis 
fifty years later compels the Marxists to seize one or the other 
side of Marxism, for industrialism and anarchism can no longer 
be combined. Either, like Bernstein, you accept the logic of the 
doctrine as leading toward an industrialized state and democracy, 
or you seize the spirit of revolution and forget about the "stages 
of material development." Sorel portrayed with almost comic 
nostalgia the breakdown of the original Marxist analysis and 
the seductive power of industrialism and democracy: 

In a society so enfevered by the passion for the success which can 
be obtained in competition, all the actors walk straight before them 
like veritable automata without taking any notice of the great ideas 
of the sociologists: they are subject to very simple forces, and not 
one of them dreams of escaping from the circumstances of his 
condition. Then only is the development of capitalism carried on 
with that inevitableness which struck Marx so much, and which 
seemed to him comparable to that of a natural law. If on the con- 
trary, the middle class, led astray by the chatter of the preachers 
of ethics and sociology, return to an ideal of conservative mediocrity, 
seek to correct the abuses of economics, and wish to break with the 
barbarism of their predecessors, then one part of the forces which 
were to further the development of capitalism is employed in hinder- 
ing it, an arbitrary and irrational element is introduced and the 
world becomes completely indeterminate. This indetermination grows 
still greater if the proletariat are converted to the ideas of social 
peace at the same time as their masters, or even if they simply con- 
sider everything from the corporative point of view; while Socialism 
gives to every economic contest a general and revolutionary colour. 
Conservatives are not deceived when they see in the compromises 
which lead to collective contracts, and in the bargaining between 

156 The Unfinished Revolution 

employers and labour the means of avoiding the Marxian revolution; 
but they escape one danger only to fall into another, and they run 
the risk of being devoured by Parliamentary Socialism. 6 

And SorePs source of apprehension bad old capitalism is 
gone and with it may go the real revolutionary spirit of the work- 
ers is Bernstein's source of hope : "The movement means every- 
thing for me" and what is usually called the final aim of social- 
ism "is nothing." The "movement" for Bernstein is the move- 
ment toward democracy; for Sorel, toward revolution. The Ger- 
man wants to extirpate in the workers the last of revolutionary 
intoxication, imbue them with the feeling that they will get every- 
thing they want by swimming with the tide of industrialism and 
democracy: "The conquest of political power by the working 
classes, the expropriation of capitalists, are no ends in them- 
selves but only means for the accomplishment of certain aims and 
endeavors." 7 The Frenchman wants to preserve the struggle 
against the state as such, against the capitalist as the instrument 
of the worker's enslavement and alienation: "Syndicalists do 
not propose to reform the State . . . they want to destroy it, 
because they wish to realize this idea of Marx's that the Socialist 
revolution ought not to culminate in the replacement of one 
governing minority by another minority." 8 

Bernstein's Evolutionary Socialism (1899) and Sorel's Reflec- 
tions (1906) are works by intellectuals, shaped, no doubt, by 
their personal predilections and idiosyncrasies. But they reflect 
much more than that, as witnessed by the great eclat that greeted 
them at publication. 

Bernstein's Marx is the Marx of the German worker who has 
forgotten his anarchistic antecedents. His increasing well-being, 
the social legislation and protection by the state, the power of 

'G. Sorel, Reflections on Violence [1908], New York, 1941, p. 87. I have 
substituted "bargaining between employers and labour" for the translator's 
"corporative particularism" as the former is obviously SorePs meaning. 

7 Eduard Bernstein, Evolutionary Socialism, London, 1909, p. xv. 

8 Sorel, op.cit.,p. 123. 

Democracy and Marxism 157 

the unions all these change the character of class antagonism 
on which German Marxism at first had grown. But the ideology 
remains in name, for it is the focal point of the still vivid anti- 
capitalism and the resentment of the arrogance of the ruling class 
and essentially nondemocratic government. But why a violent 
revolution if successive elections to the Reichstag bring a greater 
and greater socialist vote and open up the prospect of a peaceful 
victory of Marxism ? What Bernstein wrote must have been felt 
by many : "As soon as a nation has attained a position where the 
rights of the propertied minority have ceased to be a serious 
obstacle to social progress, where the negative tasks of political 
action are less pressing than the positive, then the appeal to a 
revolution by force becomes a meaningless phrase.' 79 If the 
German worker had not "forgotten" as much as his English 
counterpart, then, Bernstein believed, he soon would. And be- 
cause in one sense he was still a good Marxist, he believed that 
he was describing the universal tendency of the working move- 
ment in the civilized world. 

Sorel, never formally a Marxist, writes and speaks for syndical- 
ism. The latter in its French version can be translated simply by 
"workers for themselves." The state, what is to be done the day 
after the revolution, how industries are to be run by the workers 
these are problems on which syndicalism does not spend much 
time. Its French version reflects the specific French political and 
social conditions and the "memories" of the French working 
class. The roots of syndicalism lie in Proudhon and Blanqui. Its 
appeal to the camaraderie of the proletarian spirit and its pro- 
test against the embourgeoisement of the worker that is implicit 
in the more prosaic versions of socialism reflect the spirit of 
estrangement from the whole complex of the middle-class state. 
There is in Sorel a yet more extreme note the rejection of the 
whole rationalistic and democratic tradition which Bernstein tries 
to read into Marxism. It is no longer a question of finding a refuge 

9 Bernstein, op. cit., p. 218. 

158 The Unfinished Revolution 

from the all-devouring state and industry: it is a masochistic de- 
light at the forthcoming collapse of the whole mass of false values, 
the worship of action, admiration for all kinds of irrationalist 
theories showing up the "professors" and socialist bureaucrats. 
It is like much of early socialist thought, the instinctive reaction 
of the petty bourgeois striking up heroic poses in the face of the 
material forces that threaten his status and dwarf his self-esteem ; 
but this instinct is now harnessed not to the scientifico-religious 
Utopias of the pioneering socialists, but to the potentialities of 
the mass movements of the workers. 

Sorel and Bernstein stand at the point of highest interdepend- 
ence between socialist theory (and especially Marxism) and the 
Continental working-class movements. There is nothing yet of 
the ambiguity of the postwar situation, when one branch of the 
socialist movement will become an extension of the Soviet state 
and "its" ideology the result of decrees laid down in Moscow. 
The period before the war is one of genuine internationalism in 
the Marxist movement. The Second International, founded in 
1889, is dominated by the Marxist parties; Marxism is acknowl- 
edged, in one way or another, to be the chief socialist tradition. 
Bernstein's revisionism, directed primarily to the awkward ortho- 
doxy of the German Social Democratic Party, is also directed to 
the international socialist movement. Thus, its implications would 
read into international socialism the same meaning that Bern- 
stein would read into the domestic form: it is the true heir, 
under twentieth-century conditions, of the cosmopolitan, democra- 
tic, and humanitarian tradition of nineteenth-century liberalism. 

The pathetic strivings of the Second International to lay a 
basis for a world-wide pacifist movement to curb the rising tide 
of nationalism and militarism, to block the approaching war, are 
well known. Sorel's book provides a somber commentary on this 
count. Its exaltation of violence and irrationalism, its constant 
use of military figures of speech, augur the movements that will 
combine the socialistic appeal with racial and nationalist argu- 

Democracy and Marxism 159 

merits. It is the sum total of Western bourgeois civilization which 
is to him odious : not only its state, its materialism, its industry, 
but its international order and rationalism. 

The fears of Bernstein and the hopes of Sorel are alike sympto- 
matic of the breakdown of the original Marxist synthesis social- 
ism coming in obedience to economic laws and fulfilling all the 
promises of rationalism ; an international order and humanitarian- 
ism. This rationalistic optimism is missing in both writers. To 
Sorel, socialism will come only as the result of the abandonment 
of rationalism and a resolute stand against material progress: 
"... use must be made of a body of images which, by intuition 
alone, and before any considered analyses are made, is capable 
of evoking as an undivided whole the mass of sentiments which 
corresponds to the different manifestations of the war undertaken 
by Socialism against modern society." 10 Bernstein's abandon- 
ment of Marx's automatism of economic laws is equally pro- 
nounced, though it leads him to quite different conclusions: "So- 
cial conditions have not developed to such an acute opposition of 
things and classes as is depicted in the Manifesto" n Socialism, 
then, does not have to come in the way that Marx imagined it 
would. It can come only through democracy: "democracy is a 
condition of socialism to a much greater degree than is usually 
assumed, i.e., it is not only the means but also the substance." 12 

An irrational myth on one side "the whole of Socialism in 
the drama of the general strike" a refinement of democracy and 
liberalism, on the other: such are the paths recommended for 
a reinterpretation of Marxism. 

And yet, if the original synthesis of Karl Marx had broken 
down in the face of the facts of the world of 1900, he might well 
have reproached his interpreters with failing to provide a new 
and more realistic road to socialism, with being as much under 

10 Sorel, op. cit., p. 130. 

11 Bernstein, op. cit., p. x. 

id., p. 166. 

160 The Unfinished Revolution 

the spell of the "inevitable" patterns of development within their 
own societies as he had been under the spell of the conditions of 
Western capitalism in the 1840's and '50's. It was naive, he would 
have rejoined to Sorel, to ignore the logic of development of ma- 
terial forces, to imagine that socialism can come as an act of will, 
and to believe" that the peculiarities of French and Italian capital- 
ism, and hence of the working movement in these countries, repre- 
sent a universal pattern. It was equally naive of Bernstein to 
discard Marxist determinism while implying the acceptance of 
liberal determinism, to think of an uninterrupted growth of ma- 
terial well-being and democracy as leading rather easily to social- 
ism, to believe the English pattern to be, essentially, the universal 

It is easy to see, in historical perspective, how the contrasting 
interpretations of socialism were grounded, as the original had 
been, on the confusion of a particular socio-economic situation 
with a universal pattern and how they tried to preserve as uni- 
versally valid an ideology which has drawing power under particu- 
lar circumstances at particular times. Bernstein and Sorel re- 
jected literal Marxism in favor of one part of the doctrine because 
one said, in effect, "Where are your terrible economic crises and 
the worsening lot of the worker?" and the other, "Where is your 
socialism after more than fifty years of capitalism?" But the 
success or failure of Marxism does not depend on its passing the 
test of historical prediction; it depends on the existence of con- 
ditions in which the questions and answers that Marx give appear 
both important and convincing to the working class. 

This was not the case in Germany, or even in France. As men- 
tioned before, the Marxist doctrine was like an ill-fitting suit of 
clothing worn over the actual working movement in both coun- 
tries ; if German socialism had outgrown it and was chafing under 
it, the French one had never quite fit into it. When Bernstein 
came out with his revisionist bombshell, he was gently reproved, 
so the legend has it, by an "orthodox" colleague, who said that, 

Democracy and Marxism 161 

although they all felt the way he did, it was highly indecent to 
question the orthodoxy in public ! In France the official Marxist 
tenor of the socialist party, created out of previous groupings in 
1905, had to contend with syndicalism of the working movement. 
The C.G.T. (Confederation G6n6rale du Travail) the French 
trade-union congress in its official declaration at Amiens (1906) 
spelled out its syndicalism in definitely non-Marxist terms : 

But this task [of immediate practical protection of the worker] 
is but one side of the work of syndicalism: it prepares complete 
emancipation [V emancipation integrate} which can be realized only 
by an expropriation of capitalism, it recognizes the general strike 
as a means of action and it considers that the union, today an 
organization of resistance, will be in the future the unit of produc- 
tion and distribution, the base of social distribution. 13 

It is natural that the trade-union movement should be more 
pragmatic, more related to the worker's nonphilosophical in- 
terests, and usually less radical than the corresponding socialist 
movement. It is thus all the more interesting that the French 
unions found themselves, by and large, on the left of the political 
movement and the German ones on the right. 

The problem must be posed, though it cannot be discussed at 
length here, of the relationship of Marxism to the development 
of trade unionism. One pattern has been observed in Great 
Britain, where a party and a philosophy of socialism emerge from 
the structure of unionism, which represents the more active part 
of the working class, if it is not synonymous with it. In France, 
the much less numerous union movement (in proportion to the 
total industrial force), as represented by its major organization, 
the C.G.T., officially eschewed Marxism and professed syndical- 
ism; and yet, because of practical exigencies, namely, the im- 
possibility of expressing syndicalism in organizational political 
terms, it tolerated what might be called a liaison between the 
politically conscious worker and Marxism. In Germany, the 

13 Paul Louis, Histoire du Socialisme en France, Paris, 1950, p. 287. 

162 The Unfinished Revolution 

relationship was more that of an uneasy marriage between the 
worker's party and his professional organizations. The relatively 
sudden and rapid onset of industrialization in Germany deter- 
mined a correspondingly sudden and rapid growth of unionism 
and of political socialism. From their very beginning, the unions 
grew under the auspices of socialist theory, first that of Lassalle 
and then that of Karl Marx. While much is made of the differ- 
ences between the two thinkers and of Marx's antipathy toward 
his colorful contemporary, the fact remains that Lassalle's social- 
ism was essentially Marxist, even if it went further in explicit 
recognition of the role of the state and pragmatic use of unionism. 
German unionism was thus at an early stage divorced from its 
anarchistic roots. The socialist ideology grounded in Hegelianism 
and the large-scale character of German capitalism combined 
to uproot the remnants of anarchist feelings and to account for 
the weakness of syndicalist impulses in German trade unionism. 

Was German capitalism helped in its rapid growth because 
the German worker, after industrialism hit Germany, never ex- 
perienced a prolonged phase of "pure" anarchism and syndical- 
ism, but found himself under a doctrine that, perversely acknowl- 
edged (and still does) the state and the benefits of industrialism? 
Or, on the contrary, was the character of German socialism de- 
termined by the rapid growth of German industrialism, by the 
visible benefits of the state and large-scale industry? There is, 
one feels, a great deal of logic to both hypotheses. Intense syndi- 
calism is both a cause and an effect of a rather unenterprising 
small-scale capitalist development. A comment on French union- 
ism may illustrate this rather involved point : 

Only in France, Italy and Spain were there strong syndicalist move- 
ments, and only in France was it the prevailing doctrine of an 
important trade union movement. . . . The slow rate of economic 
development, the continued prevalence of small workshops, the lack 
of entrepreneurial daring gave French workers the feeling that they 
had little to expect from gradual processes. Such were their employ- 

Democracy and Marxism 163 

ers and such workers' expectations from the state of the economy, 
that revolutionary change was easier for many to envisage than 
day by day gains in their conditions of life and work. A revolutionary 
solution held greater attractions and risked less than in countries 
where capitalism was more dynamic. Even as they expressed their 
alarm over the spread of the Taylor system and the speed-up in 
France, C.G.T. leaders wished they could exchange their own 
unenterprising anti-union employers for no less anti-union but more 
enterprising employers of the United States. With such employers, 
they thought, French Unionism would itself take on greater force. 14 

We end up with a truly paradoxical picture : a vigorous growth 
of capitalism helps the growth of Marxist socialism among the 
workers ; but, also, a speedy extinction by Marxism of syndicalist 
and anarchistic feelings among the workers can be a contributing 
factor to the flourishing development of capitalism! The lesson 
of Marxism has been absorbed by the worker: he works more 
efficiently since he accepts the inevitability of industrial labor 
and its appurtenances ; his class hostility does not find expression 
in sabotage of the industrial and political system that he expects 
to inherit. The prospect of an eventual revolution removes the 
need for the strike, except as a struggle to win concrete pro- 
fessional benefits. One paradox leads to another : if capitalism is 
set within democratic or even semidemocratic conditions, the 
Marxist socialist movement will grow because of its undoubted 
organizational superiority over competing socialist movements. 
And under conditions of universal suffrage it may eventually 
come to power. But will this victory of the Marxist movement 
be the victory of Marxism, as Marx postulated ? If the state has 
been conquered constitutionally, where are the state and the 
ruling class to be smashed? If, in the very process of gaining 
power, the working class, because of the lesson of Marxism and 
the rising standard of living, has learned to accept the industrial 

u Val R. Lorwin, The French Labor Movement, Cambridge, Mass., 1954, 
pp. 36-37. 

164 The Unfinished Revolution 

system, labor discipline, and centralization of economic life, 
where, in fact, is the revolutionary impulse? What remains, in 
effect, to revolt against? The contradictory parts of original 
Marxism are held together by one thing : the conviction that the 
growth of capitalism, of the industrial system, leads to the 
worsening of the worker's position. If that tenet is disproved, 
economically ' as well as politically, the very growth of the 
Marxist movement will lead to the worker's acquiring what Lenin 
called trade-union mentality; to his socialism being (for all the 
doctrinal references to the class war and revolution) essentially 
evolutionary and laboristic. 

Revolution killed off by the growth of the Marxist movement, 
Marxism becoming the school of the middle-class values for the 
worker these were the terrible possibilities faced by the leaders 
of the German Social Democracy. Ever since the party at its 
Erfurt congress in 1891 had purified its official doctrine of the 
Lassallean accretions, it had been considered the Marxist party 
in Europe, the official representative of the legacy of Marx and 
Engels. It was to the German socialists that the budding Marxist 
movements in Eastern Europe looked for leadership and guidance. 
It was the almost uninterrupted growth in union and party 
membership, in election votes cast for the socialists, that war- 
ranted optimism that Marxist socialism was the wave of the 
future. German socialism, like the rest of German society, patted 
itself on the back for its "theoretical" quality, as contrasted with 
the vulgar pragmatic of British socialism and the irrational 
adventurism of the French movement. For all the theoretical 
acumen displayed in the plethora of well-footnoted books and 
articles, for all the verbal fireworks with which the German 
socialists protested their contempt for bourgeois values and im- 
perial institutions, the social democratic Karl Marx began to look 
suspiciously like Sidney Webb. 

Bernstein's argument would have accepted and approved the 
similarity. German socialism, according to him, would have reaped 

Democracy and Marxism 165 

the dividends of doctrinal flexibility and realism by attracting 
greater middle-class support in its struggle against the imperial 
government; it would have benefited from a more realistic and 
politically attractive policy on the peasant problem; and it 
would have had a greater possibility, even before a full electoral 
victory, of affecting German politics. The formal history of re- 
visionism is well known : the party condemned Bernstein's thesis, 
reproved him, and clung to orthodoxy. The whole issue led the 
theoretical discussion farther and farther toward stretching the 
economic facts on the Procrustean bed of the original doctrine. 
Karl Kautsky's attempts to show that although the theory of 
"immiseration" may be literally incorrect, it is true in a relative 
sense, and that although the natural tendency of capitalism is 
toward the worsening of the worker's lot, a countertendency keeps 
it temporarily in check, are fine examples of the ideological 
calisthenics with which the leaders of the party attempted to keep 
the revolutionary spirit alive, if at a low intensity. The ingenious 
attempt of the left wing, represented by Rosa Luxemburg, to 
maintain Marx's theory of the catastrophic breakdown of capital- 
ism by attributing the survival of capitalism to the exploitation 
of the noncapitalist segments of world economy, e.g., through 
imperialism, also falls in the same category. 

It is customary to view the whole struggle within the German 
Social Democracy in terms of personalities : mild and democratic 
Bernstein, professorially unrealistic Kautsky, and revolutionary- 
minded Rosa Luxemburg, all struggling for ideological dominance 
in the spirit of German theoretical pedantry. An alternative is 
to refer the whole issue to the conservative habit of the party 
bureaucracy, which forced them to hang onto the doctrine with 
which they had grown up and with which they felt comfortable. 
But what underlies the conflict, the desperate refusal of the 
center and left wing of the party to acknowledge the facts, is an 
instinctive feeling that orthodoxy, with its absurd "immiseration" 
theory, is the last barrier preventing the worker's accommodation 

166 The Unfinished Revolution 

to the system and his embourgeoisement. And, under German con- 
ditions, if you give up revolution, do you guarantee that you will 
obtain democracy and representative government? We are dis- 
cussing the period of irrationalist theories and movements, the 
period of the growing strength of nationalism, with its attendant 
phenomena of militarism and imperialism. It is ironic that the 
main Marxist party and movement, by its insistence upon an 
outworn theory, by saying in effect "credo qnia absurdnm" 
ranges the Marxist tradition in the irrationalist camp and pre- 
pares the ground for its role as a theology in the Soviet system. 
Orthodoxy versus revisionism in Marxism has its immediate 
meaning in the concrete tactics and problems of the German 
Social Democratic Party. A historian has outlined the theory 
under which the doctrine and reality reached a stalemate in the 
official posture of the German Marxists between 1900 and 1917: 

In terms of the divergent groups composing Social Democracy, 
Kautsky's theory may be viewed as a proposal for a truce under 
which the trade unionists and revisionists would give up their attack 
on revolutionary theory and their effort to come to terms with the 
ruling class, while the ultra radicals would cease their drive for a 
revolutionary tactic. The theoretical concept with which the truce 
was to be sealed was that of the passive revolution. Under it Social 
Democracy would move neither toward further acceptance of the 
existing order, nor toward action to hasten its collapse. It would 
organize and agitate, and maintain its moral integrity while waiting 
for the ruling class to destroy itself. Thus the effort to reconcile 
antagonistic political and intellectual tendencies led Kautsky not so 
much to a synthesis as to a stalemate. 15 

It is easy, with our historical hindsight, to project from this 
tragicomic predicament of the German Marxists their inability 
to see things as they are because Marx had said they should 
be otherwise a sequence of events from the German Socialists' 

15 Carl E. Schorske, German Social Democracy, 1905-17: The Development 
of the Great Schism, Cambridge, Mass., 1955, p. 115. 

Democracy and Marxism 167 

acceptance of the war, through their growing impotence in the 
Weimar Republic, to their all too easy destruction by Hitler. 
It is also easy to urge, depending on one's point of view, that 
either of two extremes, Bernstein's liberalism or Rosa Luxem- 
burg's revolutionism, would have brought better results than the 
"muddle of the middle" in which the party stuck. But theoretical 
formulas are not magic incantations capable of changing political 

Industrialization in Imperial Germany had gone far enough to 
strip the actual socialism of the working man of its revolutionary 
component, but not far enough, on its political and social side, 
to make this socialism mostly pragmatic, democratically and 
liberally minded. A society in which feudal concepts were still 
rampant, in which a large part of the population remained in 
peasant status, and which was not a democracy, did not offer 
a completely plausible setting for Fabian socialism. "The 'social 
problem' that was so puzzling to our fathers, how to organize a 
capitalist-socialist society, is in reality solved at the end of the 
nineteenth century. It means that its principles are laid down. 
Their execution will constitute the difficult task of the technique 
of statesmanship," wrote a representative of "academic social- 
ism." 16 This was an illusion. But so was Rosa Luxemburg's ex- 
pectation that the collapse of the liberal and capitalist order 
would of necessity result in a revolution both democratic and 
socialist. History was to show that Marxism could come to 
power not as the heir of democracy or as the receiver of bank- 
rupt liberalism, but only under the same conditions that had made 
it the ideology of the working class, as the heir of anarchism. 

Had the international order not broken down with World War I 
and the international implications of early liberalism been shown 
illusory, the story might well have been different. The cardinal 
point of liberal internationalism was well stated in the Communist 

"Werner Sombart, Die Deutsche Volkwirtshaft im Neunzehnten und im 
Anfang des 20 Jahrhunderts, Berlin, 1921, p. 455. 

168 The Unfinished Revolution 

Manifesto: "National differences and antagonisms between 
peoples are daily more and more vanishing, owing to the develop- 
ment of the bourgeoisie, to freedom of commerce, to the world 
market, to uniformity in the mode of production and in the 
conditions of life corresponding thereto." 17 Had Marx and the 
liberals been rjght, then the spread of Marxism might well have 
followed Bernstein's prescription and Kautsky's expectations: 
socialism as the logical successor and culmination of liberal de- 
mocracy. But the destruction of liberal internationalism, the 
fatuity of the rationalistic dogma of the liberal Utopia exposed by 
the holocaust of the war, again made Marx the revolutionary and 
anarchist a more convincing prophet than Marx the liberal and 
democrat. A new synthesis of Marxism at the time of its 
formulation, the creed of a small body of fanatics issuing from a 
backward and despotic society was to become the dominant 
strain of revolutionary socialism. When in 1918, at Lenin's 
prompting, the Bolsheviks decided to change their official title 
from Social Democrats to Communists, they were, like Marx and 
Engels in 1847, eschewing the nonrevolutionary and parliamentary 
connotation of the term "socialist." But there was a more pro- 
found, though at the time not entirely perceived, element of 
continuity with the original thought of Marx and Engels. That 
thought had been revolutionary ; it had combined wonder at the 
material forces transforming men's life with protest against the 
destructive effects of industrialization. The same combination re- 
appears in Communism and explains the sources and main loca- 
tions of its appeal. 


The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively 
by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, 
i.e., it may itself realize the necessity for combining in unions, to 

17 P. 340. 

Democracy and Marxism 169 

fight against the employers and to strive to compel the government 
to pass necessary labour legislation, etc. 18 

Lenin, when he wrote these words, set the basis for the Bolshe- 
vik party and for the movement which within fifteen years of 
the writing of What Is to Be Done was to seize the Russian Em- 
pire and inaugurate a new phase in the development of Marxism. 
In retrospect, it is truly amazing that a turgidly written pamphlet 
concerning an obscure conflict between two minute groups of 
Russian Marxists came to be the foundation of an ideology and 
a movement that was to conquer Russia and become a leading 
force of the century. It is as if an article written in 1944 con- 
cerning a dispute between two branches of the American Trotsky- 
ites were the foundation of the political movement in power in the 
United States in 1960, and thirty years later the basis of the 
ideology officially enthroned over one third of the population 
of the world. 

What Is to Be Done is the basis of Bolshevism. It is the argu- 
ment of Bolshevism, the formulation of the concept of the party, 
so essential to Communism. It is the style of Bolshevism the 
tedious, repetitious, pedantic argument that makes the original 
works of Marx and Engels shine like great literature in compari- 
son. One is drawn to wonder how the Russian revolutionary move- 
ment, initially so romantic, nurtured on so much literary inspira- 
tion, came to be expressed in a document having all the external 
romance and excitement of a doctoral dissertation ! And the prob- 
lem is more fundamental : how a movement capable of inspiring 
people to both heroism and cruelty, to tremendous feats of con- 
struction, and to an appalling subservience, can have as its set 
of scriptures a dismal collection of undigestible scholasticism. 
Why of all branches of literary Marxism was the Russian one 
destined to be the dullest, seemingly most drained of the feelings 
and emotions that excite people to revolutionary action; and 

M V. I. Lenin, What Is to Be Done [1902], New York, 1929, p. 32. 

170 The Unfinished Revolution 

why of all Marxist movements was the Russian one to emerge 
as the heir of the most elemental and violent of revolutions ? Why 
has the same movement been the beneficiary of assorted revolu- 
tionary strivings all over the globe, of economic grievances of the 
worker, of the peasant's desire for more land, of national and 
anticolonial aspirations, of the intellectual's search for order and 
creed ? 

Those are the questions that can be addressed to the version of 
Marxism known as "Leninism," which in its simplest formula- 
tion is found in What Is to Be Done. The work is ostensibly a 
variation on one main theme : Marxian class consciousness, politi- 
cal class consciousness, socialist consciousness, call it what you 
will, can come to the workers only from the outside. As spelled 
out in the opening statement, by themselves the workers can 
reach only trade-union consciousness, the desire to improve their 
economic status and to obtain better working conditions, etc. 
Although the argument is directed at German revisionism and its 
alleged Russian followers, there is this basic agreement between 
Lenin and Eduard Bernstein : the forces of history are not making 
of the workers a revolutionary class ; the spontaneous organization 
of the workers leads them not to revolution but to the struggle for 
economic and professional improvement. Why, then, is Bernstein 
a "revisionist" and Lenin an "orthodox" Marxist? Because Bern- 
stein believes in the workers' party following the inclinations of 
the workers and bowing to the inherent laborism of the indus- 
trialized worker, whereas Lenin believes in forcible conversion 
of the worker to revolutionary Marxism. Wrote Lenin in 1902 : 
". . . subservience to the spontaneity of the labour movement, 
the belittling of the role of the 'conscious element' of the role 
of Social-Democracy, means, whether one likes it or not, growth 
of influence of bourgeois ideology among the workers." 19 

Let us observe, in passing, how fixedly, for the moment, the 
eyes of this Russian revolutionary are on the West, on England 

10 /few/., p. 39. 

Democracy and Marxism 171 

and Germany. The Russian worker in 1902 is far away indeed 
from the status and feelings of the English or German trade 
unionist. But looking ahead to further industrialization of Russia, 
Lenin has no doubt that the great danger to the revolutionary 
elan, to revolutionary Marxism, is the slow but continuous and 
inevitable ebbing of the revolutionary impulse of the worker, 
his acquisition of trade-union mentality, of a savings account, 
of the feeling of amelioration of his status, which makes the 
desperate revolutionary reaction at first less urgent and finally 
unrealistic and unnecessary. "Hence, our task, the task of Social 
Democracy, is to combat spontaneity, to divert the labour move- 
ment, with its spontaneous trade-unionist striving, from under 
the wing of the bourgeoisie and to bring it back under the wing 
of revolutionary Social Democracy." 20 

"To combat spontaneity . . ." The literal statement sounds 
almost ridiculous, doubly so in the circumstances of its first 
formulation. Who is to divert the growing working movement in 
Russia from its natural course? A handful of revolutionaries 
some of them in Tsarist jails operating through a newspaper 
published abroad. But the statement contains the essence of 
Leninism, the perception that the natural development of material 
forces and the natural response of people to them will, in time, 
lead far away from Marx's expectations about the effects of 
industrialization on the worker. You do not jettison Marxism 
because it failed to predict the psychology of the worker in an 
advanced industrialized country, says Lenin. You "improve" and 
advance this psychology in the revolutionary direction by means 
of a party. A remarkably illogical performance. You reject the 
major premise of your ideology, yet you claim strict orthodoxy. 
Your argument is rationalistic and materialistic, and yet you 
set out, almost in Sorel-like fashion, to propagate the myth of 
revolution, the necessity of which, you have just asserted, the 
workers will feel less and less! 

lbid., p. 41. 

172 The Unfinished Revolution 

The aproach in What Is to Be Done reveals a very significant 
factor in the reception of Marxism in Russia. To Lenin and his 
contemporaries Marxism means revolution. Marxism as a re- 
action against the factory system, as a philosophy of materialism 
and economic determinism these are secondary considerations 
both to Lenin,, and to his opponents. It is in the meaning of 
Marxism as a specific road to political revolution that they are 
chiefly interested. To the Russian intellectual, the philosophy of 
Karl Marx came not as an aesthetic protest against the industrial 
revolution, not even as a sudden vision of a better and more 
just society ; it came primarily as the culmination of a century's 
search for a concrete and convincing philosophy and strategy 
of revolution. It is striking that missing from Lenin's pamphlet 
is a discussion of the issue that divided the Western Marxists 
at the time and that really lies at the bottom of the problem of 
spontaneity versus revolutionary consciousness: Is or is not the 
worker's standard of living worsening under capitalism? Both 
Lenin and his opponents are really interested in the "secondary" 
reflection of the problem : What kind of activity will enable the 
workers to carry off a revolution ? The whole theoretical discussion 
of "immiseration," which fills up the life of the Western Social 
Democrats, is almost entirely missing in the Russian debate. 
Bernstein, Kautsky, Rosa Luxemburg, and Bebel quarrel about 
the historical trends, Lenin and his opponents about tactics. 

And this explains how Lenin in 1902 can consider himself a 
materialist and yet reject spontaneity; how he can plead for 
a conspiratorial, centrally controlled revolutionary party, and yet 
feel that he is a democrat. For the conditions of Russia of 1902 
make the revolutionary interpretation of Marxism as convincing, 
for all the logical paradoxes of the doctrine, as it had been in 
Western Europe of 1848. Industry is growing by leaps and 
bounds in the Russian Empire, but the necessary political com- 
ponent of industrialization is lacking even more than it had 
been in France or England of 1848. The contrast is stressed 

Democracy and Marxism 173 

again and again by Lenin : "The Western-European Social Demo- 
crats find their work in this field facilitated by the calling of 
public meetings, to which all are free to go, and by the parlia- 
ment in which they speak to the representatives of all classes. 
We have neither a parliament, nor the freedom to call meet- 
ing. . . ." 21 If the normal rudiments of parliamentary institu- 
tions are missing, if political activity is banned, then also missing 
is the vital element of the confrontation of the Marxist dogma 
with political and social reality which makes a Western socialist 
at least visualize the problem, and which by its absence enables 
the Russian Marxist to swallow the doctrine as a whole and to 
ponder only its tactical implications. 

In a sense the Russian intellectual of Lenin's time lived in a 
jail. A comfortable jail if he did not choose to revolt, but a jail 
nevertheless, which separated him from the normal activity of his 
Western counterpart. Reality the reality of an advancing indus- 
trial society, of vigorous artistic and scientific activity, encom- 
passed in a political system which was by definition and in fact 
an autocracy was in itself so fantastic that the paradoxes and 
incongruities of a revolutionary theory did not have the jarring 
impact they had in the West, but paled into insignificance against 
the urgency of revolution. For a century now the Russian intel- 
lectuals had sought a theory that would both explain and remove 
the humiliating political backwardness and impotence of their 
society: a revolutionary analysis, and a prescription of action. 
To the small groups that had been assembling illegally, Fourier, 
Saint-Simon, and Proudhon all provided material for analysis 
and revolutionary theories, but little for an effective political 
movement. Scientific and social theories, often politically neutral 
when enunciated in the West, were under Russian conditions 
transmuted into philosophies of revolution. Marxism, when it 
appears on the Russian scene in the 1880's, appears as a philoso- 
phy of total liberation: it is science, philosophy, and a general 

21 /&*</., p. 79. 

174 The Unfinished Revolution 

guide of action. It inherits much of the impulse that drove people 
into Saint-Simonian and Fourier is t cults. It inherits much of 
the original political excitement that, after the liberation of 
the serfs in the 1860's, drove many politically conscious Russians 
into the ranks of the Populist movement. 

The synthetic function of Marxism in gathering into itself 
various revolutionary and intellectual movements and impulses 
is nowhere as well documented as in Russia at the beginning of 
this century. To a socialist, as to a revolutionary disappointed 
in the fruitless terrorism of the "People's Will" of the 1870's and 
'80's, Marxism comes as a superior, systematic, and scientific 
revolutionary creed and method. The other non-Marxist or even 
nonpolitical sources of modernism, which in the West tempered 
the appeal of the doctrine, were in Russia almost nonexistent. 
Political liberalism prior to 1905 was prosecuted as vigorously 
as Marxism, or even more so, because the Tsarist regime feared 
esoteric intellectual doctrine less than the claims of "respectable 
people" for constitutional rights on one hand, and the terroristic 
activity of the heirs of the People's Will on the other. It was thus 
the autocracy that was the real barrier to the spontaneity of 
modern social development, which has in the West encroached 
upon the Marxist appeal. It is, then, no paradox but a fact 
amply explained by the circumstances of the formulation of 
Leninism at the beginning of this century that Russian Marxism 
can proclaim itself democratic and yet demand an elitist party 
of revolutionaries run in a dictatorial manner; that it is ma- 
terialistic and rationalistic but wants to impose its ideology upon 
the workers. Again, as in the case of early Marxism, the combina- 
tion of incompatibles into a single doctrine can be understood 
only in terms of specific circumstances of a specific society that 
make the paradox not only possible but convincing. 

The struggle against the development of "trade-union con- 
sciousness" among the workers was but one aspect of Lenin's 
struggle against "spontaneity." Three years before his famous 

Democracy and Marxism 175 

pamphlet, he had completed The Development of Capitalism in 
Russia. In his concluding remarks, he observes that the develop- 
ment of capitalism in Russia has been slow and adds astutely: 
"And it cannot be but slow, because no other capitalist country 
has preserved to such an extent institutions of the old, incongru- 
ous with capitalism, hampering its development, infinitely worsen- 
ing the conditions of the producers who 'suffer both from capital- 
ism and from the insufficient development of capitalism. 7 " -- And 
he criticizes the Narodniks, the Russian Populists, for not under- 
standing the development of industrialism and capitalism, for 
moralizing instead of applying Marxist criteria to the problems 
of politics and economics. 

Secondary as the economic side of Marxism was to Lenin 
at the time, it was already important enough to make him 
reject the populistic side of the Russian revolutionary movement. 
There is very little in Lenin of the strain that saw revolutionary 
hope in Russia's happy preservation from the evils of full-fledged 
Western capitalism. The strain that held the hope of socialism 
in the mir (the Russian peasant commune), which in an obscur- 
antist fashion derided the West for its "materialism," finds 
in him but little echo, though Marx in his old age had, rather 
surprisingly, discoursed on this theme. The revolutionary move- 
ment, Lenin holds, must acknowledge in a hard-boiled fashion 
that capitalism is finally coming to Russia, that though it operates 
there under conditions different from those in the West, it is 
both illusory and harmful to imagine that Russia can "skip" the 
stage of capitalism. 

More basically, Communism as fashioned by Lenin reflected, 
in addition to the revolutionary impulse, his and his contem- 
poraries' impatience with the torpor and backwardness of Russian 
society and their feeling of the need and inevitability of moderni- 
zation. The elements of difference and local charm that strike the 
Western reader in the Russian novel of the nineteenth century 

22 V. I. Lenin, Sochinenya, Moscow, 1946, III, 527. 

176 The Unfinished Revolution 

were anathema to Lenin and, by and large, became so to his 
movement. In Marxism he found the ideal of technology and 
science regulating society. His admiration of things German 
was not confined to the German Socialist Party before 1914, 
but included "German" efficiency, science, and talent for organi- 
zation. In that sense, Germany represented to Lenin what Stalin 
later meant when he pleaded for a combination of Communism 
with the "American method": rejection of the whole complex of 
introspection about Russia's backwardness, rejection of inter- 
mittent self-contempt and glorification of Russia's "difference" 
from Western Europe, of the Russian soul, etc. It is in the same 
vein that the Bolshevik leaders of today condemn Pasternak's 
Doctor Zhivago, not only because it is apolitical and not written 
with "socialist realism," but also, they feel, because its tone and 
concerns are out of keeping with modernized and industrialized 
Russia forty years after the Revolution. Lenin's impatient 
Westernism, his longing for an emancipation from the intermin- 
able philosophical discourse and for doing things, is fully dis- 
cernible before the Revolution of 1917, and illuminates in what 
sense Marxism "made a difference" in this revolution. 

It follows that the struggle against the danger of trade 
unionism is to him no more important than the struggle against 
another type of spontaneity. Almost contemporary with the 
organization of the Social Democratic Party of 1898 was the 
birth of another revolutionary organization, the Socialist Revo- 
lutionaries. The latter, in effect, though not without an infusion 
of Marxism in their ideas, picked up the tradition of the People's 
Will, of revolutionary socialism looking to the small peasant 
rather than to the worker as the base for a future democratic 
society. The essential anarchism of the Social Revolutionaries and 
the practice of terrorism by its left wing represented to Lenin 
a danger as great as the reformism of the "Economists" (the 
would-be Russian followers of Bernstein) and the alleged prox- 
imity of the Mensheviks to the middle-class spirit. The Socialist 

Democracy and Marxism 177 

Revolutionaries represented par excellence the reaction against 
industrialization that we have already encountered. The official 
democratic and socialist terminology of the movement ill con- 
cealed the essential anarchistic, anti-industrial reaction of the 
peasant both against the economic process that was disrupting 
the traditional economy of the countryside and against the 
political and class system that denied him more land. The 
Socialist Revolutionaries were, like all Russian parties and 
movements, led and staffed by intellectuals. But their ideology 
and political behavior up to the point when, after the revolution 
of 1917, having clearly become the leading party in terms of 
popular support, they were first split and then eliminated by 
the Bolsheviks, show clearly all the characteristics of anarchist, 
anti-industrially originated movements : organizational instability, 
inability to integrate the facts of the modern state and economics 
into ideology, and susceptibility to the extremes of nationalism 
on the one hand and anarchistic terrorism on the other. A 
recent study of the party shows well the instability of both its 
program and organization and its consequent defeat after the 
theft of its revolutionary appeal by the Bolsheviks. 23 In an 
industrializing society, with rapid growth of industry projected 
against the still overwhelmingly peasant character of the country 
and its backward political system, it fell eventually to the 
Socialist Revolutionaries to prepare the necessary anarchist and 
revolutionary background on which Marxism could achieve 

The other aspect of the struggle against spontaneity was, 
then, Lenin's struggle against the uncurbed and undisciplined 
revolutionary impulse itself. Individual acts of terrorism, to a 
Marxist, are not only personal indulgence in heroics, which 
cannot affect the forces of history, but under the Russian con- 
ditions they resulted, as Lenin was sensible enough to see, in the 
alienation of large segments of public opinion rather than in 

28 Oliver Radkey, The Agrarian Foes of Bolshevism, New York, 1958. 

178 The Unfinished Revolution 

coercion of the government into concessions. To base your revolu- 
tionary activity merely on the peasant's aspirations and again 
the Marxist instinct of centralization and technological progress 
supplements the revolutionary's impulse was to base it upon 
an essentially disorganized and vacillating element, susceptible 
both to the most primitive anarchism and to the most reactionary 
appeals of nationalism and religion. 

It is a magnificent analysis of the deficiencies of various kinds 
of spontaneity that emerges from Lenin's heavy prose. The 
workers, if left to themselves, will eventually develop trade-union 
consciousness and will neglect the revolution for higher wages 
and better working conditions. The middle class will stop their 
revolution when they have constitutional rights, i.e., when they 
can play at parliaments and parties and preserve their property. 
The peasants ? God only knows what the limits are to their aspira- 
tions ! They will want to confiscate the lands of the gentry, but 
preserve their inefficient cultivation by the individual household 
and communes. They will press for all sorts of decentralization 
of political authority, thus making impossible any socialist 
economy, but will respond to the appeals of Russian chauvinism 
(or of other nationalisms in the non-Russian areas of the 
Empire) or religion. The conclusion should have been that there 
was no social basis in pre-1914 Russia for a socialist revolution. 

It is here that the instincts bred into Lenin by immersion 
in Marxism prevent him from reaching the logical conclusion and 
enable him to come out, really unconsciously, with a fantastic 
solution. If all the widespread revolutionary pressures within 
the population still do not add up to socialism, why not create 
a party that, for all its allegiance to literal Marxism, will be 
able to appeal and capitalize on the disparate revolutionary 
aspirations of various classes? A party that at different times 
and with varying intensity will still be able to associate itself 
with the claims for better working conditions for the workers, 
with the basic demands for democracy and a constitution, with 

Democracy and Marxism 179 

the peasant's hunger for more land, and with an oppressed 
minority's desire for autonomy or independence; a party not 
limited and confined to these aspirations but using and pushing 
them as the means of achieving socialism? In What Is to Be 
Done, this idea is still only sketched and somewhat incoherently 
presented: "To bring political knowledge to the workers the 
Social Democrats must go among all classes of the population, 
must despatch units of their army in all directions" and again, 
"We must go among all classes of the people as theoreticians, 
as propagandists, as agitators, and as organizers, 77 24 

But the organizational pattern is already clearly implied: 
to be that flexible and yet ideologically monolithic the party has 
to be elitist and centrally directed. It has to be a party of activists 
and not of mere sympathizers. The quarrel over a phrase that 
split the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks in 1903 expressed not 
the ridiculous pedantry of contentious dogmatists but the issue 
of an inherently elitist and dictatorial concept of the party as 
the assimilator and guide of revolutionary impulses versus the 
party as their mere reflection. The Mensheviks, in their way as 
doctrinaire Marxists as Lenin, balked at the former. 

It is always tempting to see a great historical figure as a 
genius developing the victorious formula for revolutions and 
wars in a flash of intuition. Actually, the concept of the party 
was only sketched by Lenin in 1902-1903. Its full formulation 
came through long years of theorizing and activity, not without 
hesitations and retreats, which led to November 1917. And the 
concept itself owes as much to the political acumen of Lenin 7 s 
mind as it does to its narrowness, to his conviction that Marxism 
must mean revolution above everything else and that only 
Marxism can be the guide to revolution. A lesser but more 
sensitive man would have seen the paradoxes inherent in the 
Leninist solution. The party thus devised proved to be a work- 
able concept under conditions of political suppression, but could 

84 Op. cit., pp. 76, 79. 

180 The Unfinished Revolution 

hardly have survived had the Revolution of 1905 been followed 
by a really constitutional and free political life in Russia. The 
Bolsheviks proved to have the ideal organization and the ideal 
ideology to capitalize on the political and economic anarchy into 
which Russia was plunged after March 1917. Had the war and 
defeats not come, or had they come after another decade of 
vigorous industrialization, expansion of parliamentary customs, 
and the growth of the rural middle class, again it is most likely 
that the Bolsheviks would now figure in history as an insignificant 
fanatical wing of the Russian socialist movement. 

The "ifs" and "buts" can be multiplied. What is important in 
this study is to observe the relationship of Marxism to Lenin's 
concepts. Lenin instinctively groped for the uses of Marxism 
under Russian conditions and found in it the road to revolution. 
There is enough democracy in Marxism to have enabled a 
Russian revolutionary to associate himself with the need for 
freedom felt by all Russian society before 1914. There is enough 
of the raw appeal of anti-industrialism and anarchism in Marxism 
to have enabled the Bolsheviks in 1917 to respond, and not in- 
sincerely, to the peasant's aspirations and to seize the leadership 
of the urban proletariat. What under normal "spontaneous" 
conditions of economic and political development would have 
been the fatal shortcoming of the doctrine proved under the 
anarchic conditions of 1917 to be the key to victory. 

Lenin groped for the kind of party that Marx defined in the 
Manifesto : 

The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the 
most advanced and resolute section of the working class parties of 
every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the 
other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the 
proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of 
march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the pro- 
letarian movement, (p. 334) 

Democracy and Marxism 181 

Under democratic or even quasi-democratic conditions the workers 
will feel that they themselves have the "advantage of clearly 
understanding the line of march" and that they do not need the 
kind of party that tells them what they "really" want as distin- 
guished from their immediate and trivial demands. The Leninist 
party is, then, practicable under conditions peculiar to any society 
in transition, where the class interest of the workers, in fact, 
the industrialized working class itself, has not hardened into 
a definite mold, and where the process of industrialization and 
modernization has all the confusing and bewildering effects that 
it had in the West when Marx wrote the Manifesto. The Leninist 
party becomes not only the repository of dialectical wisdom; it 
becomes the dialectic itself. It is the party that decides whether 
the "objective factors" make the given society ripe for the 
bourgeois or socialist revolution, whether capitalism has reached 
its full potentialities or not, whether the given country, having 
passed the stage of socialism, has entered the communist stage. 
It is the party that "decides" that the workers want to join the 
broad democratic front (though the mass of the workers may 
be happily unaware of the existence of the problem, not to 
mention the desire) or whether, contrariwise, they want to strike 
on their own against the bourgeois parties. The concept, to 
those who have witnessed the behavior of the Communist parties 
in the West, is quite fantastic. It is as if one were to get rid 
of the unpleasant and unforeseen variations in the weather by 
vesting the power to decide whether it rains or snows in a com- 
mittee allegedly endowed with the essence of wisdom about 

The full implications of the pattern became obvious only after 
the Bolshevik's seizure of power and their attempted imposition 
on the socialist movement in the West and elsewhere of the 
formula that had procured them victory. But the framework 
is set in What Is to Be Done. The pamphlet marked an as yet 

182 The Unfinished Revolution 

overly intellectual statement of Leninism. The use of ideology 
as a technique of acquisition of power became clearer to Lenin 
as successive developments in Russia proceeded to offer both 
opportunities for and setbacks to revolutionary socialism. Thus 
the Revolution of 1905 provided a demonstration of the vitality 
of two issues that became incorporated into the victorious formula 
of 1917: the Soviets and the peasant question. The revolution, in 
fact, demonstrated the indifference of life to stilted formulas: 
it was not a "bourgeois-democratic" revolution, nor was it a 
socialist one. It was a tremor of revolutionary excitement, which 
seized the Empire: peasant outbreaks, revolts of the sailors, 
and nationalist outbreaks in the non-Russian parts took place 
alongside and uncoordinated with the workers' revolutionary 
activity in the major industrial centers. For the first time, the 
raw materials of the effective revolutionary appeal were vividly 
demonstrated: the national aspirations of the non-Russians, the 
worker's propensity to form committees of action-Soviets as the 
means of struggle, and the master cause of all unrest, of all 
anarchism seeping into Russian society the peasant's inco- 
herent but steady protest against the social and political order, 
and his demand for more land immediately. Less than two 
generations after his emancipation, the peasant began to respond 
with political protest against the half -oppressed, half -emancipated 
status in which the measure had left him, against his exposure 
to, but not assimilation by, industrialization. 

To Karl Marx, the peasant problem was, of course, one with 
which socialism would not have to deal at all. With his eye on 
the British economy of his time he assumed that capitalism 
would obligingly solve this problem as it would solve the problem 
of the artisan: by elimination. Large landed estates, run scien- 
tifically in accordance with advanced industrial techniques, 
would fall into the lap of socialism as easily as the great 
industrial and banking combines. The peasant, that curious 
figure defying class classification, radical and reactionary at 

Democracy and Marxism 183 

once, attached to his property, enemy of the state and science, 
would not, in any appreciable quantity, be around by the time 
the expropriators are expropriated. Already the German Social 
Democracy had discovered that the German peasant, unlike his 
English brother, not only refused to die out but viewed with 
considerable distaste any socialist proposals to turn him into 
an agricultural worker. 

By 1906 in Russia, it was fairly clear that the overwhelming 
mass of Russian peasants would never opt, either by election 
or revolution, for a program that would envisage their elimina- 
tion as individual householders and cultivators, and that for 
all the alleged communistic propensities of the peasant and his 
traditional attachment to the mir, his radicalism included anti- 
property feelings on the subject of landlords, church, and state 
estates, but stopped short of the logical application of the same 
principle to his own holding. To the Marxist, the preservation 
of the peasant's small holdings or of their collective version in 
the mir was almost inconceivable. The small peasant bars the 
road to industrialization. The mir, in which some superficial 
Western observers professed to see a preview of the Soviet 
collective farm, was, of course, nothing of the sort. It was an 
obsolete form of communal organization of the peasantry in the 
Great Russian part of the empire, kept by the Tsarist govern- 
ment after the Emancipation for the purpose of preserving control 
over the peasant. To liberals and Marxists alike, the worship 
of the mir by the Slavophiles and the Populists was obscurantist 
nonsense. The mir was economically inefficient, inhibited better 
methods of cultivation as well as initiative and social mobility 
of the peasants. In retrospect, its belated retention helped to 
preserve in the peasant this peculiar combination of conservatism 
and radicalism, which under economic or political stress breaks 
out in anarchism. 

It would take us too far to go into all the involved discussions 
of the peasant question that occupied Lenin and his Bolsheviks, 

184 The Unfinished Revolution 

the Mensheviks, and the Socialist Revolutionaries up to the 
Revolution of 1917. In April 1917, involved formulas and Marxist 
scruples all disappeared in the flash of intuition that Marxism 
indeed can come to power on the wave of anarchism ; the painful 
formulas were superseded by Lenin's slogan: "Land to the 

But as early as 1906 Lenin had been groping his way toward 
a formula with a concrete revolutionary appeal to the peasant. 
The Bolshevik program was explicit on the confiscation of all 
church-owned landlords 7 and state lands, on giving the peasant 
the right to dispose freely of his plot. In a much more subdued 
tone, almost in small print, it was stated that after the democratic 
revolution the socialist party should strive to replace private 
property in land by national ownership. 25 Literal Marxism on 
the land question was unavailing in view of the Socialist Revolu- 
tionaries' and other Populists' hold on the peasant. Thus Lenin 
in practice appropriated the Socialist Revolutionary program on 
the peasant question, while he retained, for what seemed the 
distant future, the Marxist aim of socialization of the land. 

How the ideas of What Is to Be Done cease after 190S to be 
bookish concepts and become endowed with life is equally 
demonstrated in Lenin's attitude toward Soviets. The intellectual 
enemy of spontaneity could not at first take kindly to the spec- 
tacle of ad hoc committees of the workers thrown up by a 
revolutionary situation or a general strike, committees subject 
to no common ideology, occupied exclusively with the conduct 
of the struggle at hand, and uniting people of the most diverse 
political opinions, This practical application of syndicalism, 
for that was what the Soviets in 1905 and initially in 1917 were, 
must have appeared to Lenin as being quite far from the idea 
of disciplined revolutionary action by the workers in obedience 
to the call of the socialist party. To digress, it is impossible to 

*The Fourth (Unity) Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' 
Party in 1906 (in Russian), Moscow, 1934, p. 501. 

Democracy and Marxism 185 

overestimate how much Lenin revered the German Social Demo- 
crats and dreamed of the Russian Marxists' coming to resemble 
in organization and power their German brothers. This worship, 
which collapsed when the German Socialists meekly acquiesced 
in the Kaiser's war, kept Lenin, before 1914, from the complete 
and conscious repudiation of parliamentarism that was implicit 
in his theories and activity as early as 1902-1903. Yet the ex- 
perience of 1905 demonstrated the revolutionary viability of 
the Soviets. It must have become obvious that revolutionary 
socialism under Russian conditions could operate more success- 
fully through the fluid structure of the Soviets, whose very 
looseness and improvisation favored the kind of disciplined 
party which the Bolsheviks were, or were to become, than through 
formal, regularly elected parliamentary bodies, where under the 
most favorable conditions the Bolsheviks would be in a minority. 
The full realization of the role of the Soviets again belongs to 
1917. Lenin's slogan "All power to the Soviets" becomes one of 
the key factors in enhancing the Bolsheviks' popularity and 
influence. In a volatile, unstable organization, which a soviet 
of workers or soldiers represents, the decisiveness and unity of 
the Bolsheviks, their lack of scruples in following the political 
mood of the moment give them an enormous advantage even 
over other revolutionary parties. 

What is the sum of the effects of the Revolution of 190S on 
Lenin? It is not unfair to characterize it as the growing realiza- 
tion, though he does not admit it to himself or to others, that 
a revolutionary situation in Russia would not follow any neat 
socialist preconceptions, but would be, in essence, an anarchist 
revolution. For the Marxist party to succeed, political authority 
would have to collapse; the instruments of coercion (i.e., the 
army) would have to become demoralized; the mass of the 
peasantry would press for their immediate interests ; and political 
power would become parceled out among a variety of local 
organs the Soviets. The elaborate agrarian programs and parlia- 

186 The Unfinished Revolution 

mentary schemes would be of no avail. What would count would 
be the sensitivity and responsiveness to the variety of revolu- 
tionary impulses stirring up the society. The task of the socialist 
party, in Lenin's view after 1905, becomes not so much to "combat 
spontaneity/' but to manage revolutionary spontaneity without 
becoming subservient to it. 

Again, the realization is neither full nor decisive until 1914. 
The pattern of literal Marxism industrialization, the bourgeois 
democratic revolution, and only then the socialist revolution 
is persuasive enough to make Lenin reject Trotsky's thesis 
that in Russia the historical process might be telescoped and that 
a socialist revolution might follow the bourgeois one immediately, 
rather than after an interval. Until the war and the collapse 
of the liberal international order and, in his eyes, the abdication 
of the Western socialists, Lenin cannot embrace the thesis of 
"permanent revolution," and the fact that he does not do so 
is a tribute to his realism. The Revolution of 1905 was followed 
by two major reforms, which, if they had had time to work out 
for more than a few years, would have made the permanent 
revolution of 1917 most unlikely. 

The constitutionalism introduced after 1905 was of the lamest 
sort ; and the parliament, the Duma, was very far from being a 
true legislative and representative body. Yet the rudiments of 
parliamentary procedure and civil rights existed, and they began 
tempering the revolutionary protest and channeling it into con- 
crete political demands. More important, Prime Minister Stolypin 
instituted agrarian reforms, which looked forward to the break-up 
of the mir and to allowing the capitalist process to take its 
course in the countryside. Like his predecessor Witte, Stolypin 
believed in bureaucratically inspired industrialization as being 
the only solution of Russia's predicament. The break-up of the 
commune and a vast program of peasant resettlement would 
enable "nature," i.e., capitalism, to take care of the peasant-land 
problem. Eventually a class of individual, prosperous peasants 

Democracy and Marxism 187 

would replace the inefficient, discontent-breeding communes and 
would become the rural middle class. The financial burdens on 
the peasantry, dating from the Emancipation, were lifted, and 
incentive was given to the peasants to become "separators" to 
take their land out of the communes. The scheme, in the few 
years it enjoyed, proved to be a success. 

It is unlikely that the sum total of the reforms and the social 
engineering by the Tsarist bureaucrats would have undercut 
social discontent or the appeal of socialism. But the reforms 
were providing this institutional and social framework for 
industrialization, which, as we have seen, channels the revolu- 
tionary protest into reformism and strips the socialism of the 
worker and peasant of its anarchistic and hence revolutionary 
character. The Marxist in Lenin had to greet these developments 
with an ambivalent feeling: from one point of view they were 
according to the script. Capitalism in Russian society was be- 
coming stronger, less hampered by the pre-capitalist remnants. 
Yet by the same token the prospects for revolutionary socialism 
were becoming less hopeful. Trotsky's permanent-revolution 
theory frankly implied that the socialist revolution would emerge 
from backward rather than advanced capitalism. But Lenin was 
never ready to depart from even the letter of Marxism unless 
there were concrete revolutionary dividends to be gathered up. 
The acceptance of the practice of permanent revolution was thus 
postponed until there was in fact permanent revolution in Russia. 

One is struck again by the fact that a certain narrowness of 
mind perhaps one might call it the lack of speculative imagina- 
tion was a contributing factor in Lenin's greatness. Before 
1914, he could believe that he was a good social-democrat, with 
equal emphasis on both sides of the hyphen. In 1917, he became, 
for all purposes, an exponent of anarchism. All this time, his 
belief in the canon of Marxism remained undisturbed. This 
quality, which becomes inherent in Communism, cannot be 
traced exclusively to personal characteristics. It is the product 

188 The Unfinished Revolution 

of thorough immersion in Marxism under conditions of society 
where the logic and the conclusions of the doctrine are not 
shown to be mutually contradictory. In 1917, without the slightest 
hesitation or introspection, Lenin was to grasp that although the 
letter of Marxism includes democracy and ordains socialism to 
proceed from advanced capitalism, the spirit of revolutionary 
Marxism is the exploitation of the anarchism inherent in back- 

The breakdown of the international liberal order illustrated 
by World War I was the signal that the synthesis of democracy 
and Marxism implied in the position of the German Social 
Democracy especially in that of Karl Kautsky, who had been 
to Lenin before 1914 a theoretical guide and exemplar almost 
on the order of Marx and Engels had equally broken down. 
In his most unoriginal Work, Imperialism, written in exile in 
Switzerland in 1915, Lenin "demonstrated" the necessary ten- 
dency of capitalism, in its later stages, toward monopoly and 
then imperialism. While the argument of the book is borrowed 
from J. A. Hobson's book of the same title, and the Marxist 
interpretation from Hilferding and Rosa Luxemburg, the book 
in conjunction with the war arrives at the most catastrophic and 
hence, for a Marxist, optimistic view of the evolution of capital- 
ism. The prosperity of capitalism, its ability to raise the worker's 
standard of living in the West, its democratic features all these 
apparent refutations of Marx are but temporary delays of the 
inevitable doom, purchased by the ruthless exploitation of colonial 
and backward areas. The postponement of Marx's prognosis is 
but temporary, for imperialism is bound to end up in vast 
conflicts among the imperialists: "From all that we have said 
about the economic essence of Imperialism it follows that it 
should be characterized as transitory, or to be more exact, dying 
capitalism." 26 

The apparent contradiction of Marx by the facts is thus 

28 V. I. Lenin, Imperialism, Detroit, 1924, p. 128. 

Democracy and Marxism 189 

explained away. There is no reason to soften the revolutionary 
rigor of Marxism by reading into it democratic and parliamentary 
postulates. The war is the dying pangs of capitalism. In their 
struggle for investment markets, the capitalists have to arm 
the proletariat. The expropriation of the expropriators will now 
become an international phenomenon, with the war-weary workers 
turning their arms against their capitalist masters, transforming 
the imperialist war into civil wars for socialism. The war enables 
Lenin to dispel the last doubts about the incompatibility of 
Marxism with an outright revolutionary position. The under- 
current of doubt, the perhaps subconscious questioning of the 
prophecies of the master can now be laid aside. Marxism means 
revolution. Those Western socialists who participate in the war 
activities of their states or who prattle about pacifism are 
traitors and opportunists. 

It is impossible to explain the concentration, decisiveness, 
and drive of Lenin and the Bolsheviks in 1917 except by the 
enthusiasm of believers whose doubts about their canon had 
collapsed and who saw in their faith an infallible guide to success. 
In a few days after his arrival in Russia in April 1917, Lenin 
was able to dissipate the last social democratic notions of his 
colleagues and to undercut any attempt at a reunion with the 
Mensheviks. Though the Bolsheviks had existed as a separate 
party since 1912, no one had previously excluded the aim of a 
reunion of all the Russian Marxists. But soon after his arrival 
Lenin wanted the party's name to be changed to "Communist," 
so as to consecrate the break with the past tradition of doubts, 
democratic scruples, and reinterpretations. He was to get his 
way only after the November Revolution, though by that time 
the whole democratic tradition had already been rejected in fact. 

The revolution which in March 1917 overthrew the Tsar and 
vested power in the provisional government is classified in 
Marxist semantics as a "bourgeois democratic revolution." In 
reality, it very soon became much more than that. The whole 

190 The Unfinished Revolution 

structure of authority, the rudimentary and growing social and 
political institutions of industrialization, were swept away. The 
veneer of authority vested in the provisional government con- 
cealed the essential state of anarchy, political as well as social. 
As Sir John Maynard wrote: "In explanation of what happened 
in rural Russia, let me again emphasize the virtual disappearance 
outside of the Mir and the Canton Committee of all authority. 
Tolstoy had counselled his countrymen that each should say: 
'For me there is no state/ They had taken his advice and the 
State had vanished into air." 27 The Soviets in the cities and 
soon among the armed units even at the front shared in this 
anarchic process. In brief, Russia found itself in a state of 
anarchy with just a shell of parliamentary and modern political 
institutions imperfectly concealing the chaos. The political party 
closest to anarchism, the Socialist Revolutionaries, became the 
most popular movement in the country. Even after the November 
coup of the Bolsheviks in the election to the ill-fated Constituent 
Assembly of January 1918, the Socialist Revolutionaries demon- 
strated that their combination of anarchism and agrarian social- 
ism commanded the sympathy of the majority of the electorate. 
But anarchism, while it is the mood of revolution, cannot become 
the organizational principle of it. The Socialist Revolutionaries, 
with their interminable dissensions, with opinions among the 
leaders ranging from constitutionalism and the desire to continue 
the unpopular war to direct revolutionary action and defeatism, 
demonstrated the historical incapacity of anarchism to provide 
viable political and economic formulas. 

The slogans All power to the Soviets 1 Land to the peasants ! 
End to the war! thrown by Lenin on his return revealed his 
identification of revolutionary Marxism with anarchism. The 
party built upon the denial of spontaneity and upon the principle 
of centralization and military discipline was in the best position 
to use the spontaneous revolutionary impulse of the people 

27 Russia in Flux, New York, 1948, p. 182. 

Democracy and Marxism 191 

without itself being carried by it. Until the end of the Civil War, 
the Bolsheviks not only used anarchist slogans and practices; 
they became in all respects, save the internal organization of 
their party, anarchists. It was by deepening the anarchist charac- 
ter of the revolution, by sabotaging any attempt to erect a 
temporary shelter for constitutionalism, that the Bolsheviks 
sought power. The Mensheviks, or most of them, clung to the 
literal interpretation of Marxism, to the impossibility of erecting 
socialism in Russia without first going through the democratic 
phase. No Marxist inhibitions held Lenin back from advocating 
the complete smashing of the state by parceling out power to the 
Soviets; from assuring the Bolsheviks the support or at least 
the benevolent neutrality of the peasants by inciting them to 
seize the landlords' estates and force the "separators" back into 
the mir ; and from encouraging the dismemberment of the empire 
by a radical advocacy of national self-determination and of 
defeatism in the face of the German advance. It is customary 
to attribute all these moves to political acumen rather than to 
ideology. But the latter provided a wonderful reassurance to the 
Bolsheviks that in sponsoring anarchism they were in fact pro- 
moting socialism. Unbelieving apostles, it has been said, are 
usually unconvincing. Because of Marxism, Lenin's party could 
and with conviction did become, in revolution, anarchists, just 
as with revolution and Civil War barely completed they could 
turn around and begin to stamp out the anarchy, begin to build 
modern history's most centralized and absolute state. 

An observer as sympathetic to revolutionary Marxism as Rosa 
Luxemburg could not, in her comments on the Bolshevik revolu- 
tion, restrain her misgivings about its anarchist character. The 
Bolsheviks, she observed, in their desire to propitiate the peasant, 
officially nationalized land, but in fact let the peasants seize and 
cultivate land in small units. More fundamentally, Lenin erred 
in instituting revolutionary terror, which denied democracy and 
the freedom of activity even to other socialist and revolutionary 

192 The Unfinished Revolution 

parties. But her criticisms failed to perceive that revolutionary 
Marxism has to be essentially anarchist in character. It has no 
chance unless the structure of authority and the habits proper 
to organized industrial society break down, and it forsakes its 
opportunity if it sticks to the democratic and centralistic parts 
of the Marxian canon. 

The immersion of the Bolsheviks in anarchism is best demon- 
strated by Lenin's State and Revolution, written on the eve of 
the Bolsheviks' coup. For all the self-conscious denials that his 
theory of the state is anarcho-syndicalist rather than Marxist, 
Lenin propagates the views for which Communists in 1921 and 
1922 were, at his command, to be read out of the party, the views 
which in 1921 were to inspire Kronstadt sailors to rise against 
a Bolshevik regime already on the road to centralization and 
bureaucracy. The state is to be smashed away, the bureaucracy 
and professional civil servants abolished; egalitarianism is to 
rule supreme all this, not in the distant stage of communism, 
but at once under the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

All officials, without exception, elected and subject to recall at 
any time, their salaries reduced to "workingmen's wages" these 
simple and "self evident" democratic measures, which completely 
uniting the interests of the workers and the majority of the peasants, 
at the same time serve as a bridge leading from capitalism to 
socialism. 28 

And what, if not anarchism, is this statement: 

With such economic prerequisites it is perfectly possible immedi- 
ately, within twenty-four hours after the overthrow of the capitalists 
and bureaucrats, to replace them, in the control of production and 
distribution in the business of control of labour and products, by 
the armed workers, by the whole people in arms. . . . All citizens 
become employees and workers of one national state "syndicate." 

28 V. I. Lenin, The State and Revolution [1917] New York, 1932, p. 38. 

Democracy and Marxism 193 

All that is required is that they should work equally, should regularly 
do their share of work, and should receive equal pay. 29 

These words of August 1917 should be read in conjunction with 
the plea for a centralized (i.e., hierarchical) party of professional 
revolutionaries in What Is to Be Done. They should be read in 
conjunction with what Lenin had to say immediately after the 
revolution when he confessed unabashedly that it was impossible 
to replace the capitalists and bureaucrats in "twenty-four hours." 
Every factory, he was to say in 1919, every industry, represents 
the concentrated experience of capitalism which we do not have. 
He was not as yet to say, as Stalin was to explain eleven or 
twelve years later, that socialism had to acquire the experience 
and, incidentally, the methods of capitalism. But Lenin was 
ready to sneer at those who accused the Bolsheviks of incon- 
sistency or hypocrisy, now that the Communists' anarchism and 
belief in the people were visibly cooling off: "As if one could 
undertake a major revolution, knowing in advance how to con- 
clude it! As if this knowledge could be drawn from books!" 30 
And he went on to talk about the need for military and civilian 

Here, then, is Leninism. Is it an ideology? Or is it a political 
temperament and an eclectic technique enabling one to respond 
to power situations, at one point to be a social democrat, at 
another an anarchist, at another a bureaucratic enforcer of state 
power and capitalism? The sum of theoretical innovations by 
Lenin is meager ; his views on Marxism are usually applications 
to Russian conditions of some German Social Democrat's inter- 
pretations. Yet it is Lenin's use of Marxism that stamps him 
as a new and, in a way, original synthesizer of the original 
doctrine and the Russian revolutionary conditions. In 1917, 


80 The Protocols of the Eighth Congress of the Russian Communist Party in 
1919 (in Russian), Moscow, 1933, p. 21. 

194 The Unfinished Revolution 

Lenin was capable of grasping the revolutionary sense of Marx- 
ism, its portrayal of the peasant's and the proletarian's psy- 
chology of opposition to the state and the forces of modernism, 
and applying it to the problem of seizing power. 

His socialist opponents, who saw Marxism only as a series of 
political prescriptions based on economic stages of development, 
were inhibited from seeing that a Marxist revolution was possible 
in Russia precisely because capitalism had not fully developed 
in the country, precisely because Russia was not ready for 
socialism. The same instinct after the Revolution and even during 
the latter stages of the Civil War caused Lenin to begin to discard 
the anarchism and egalitarianism needed for popular support 
during the struggle for power. Whence came the realization that 
real national self-determination, real regional autonomy, and 
really independent trade unions were against the grain of Com- 
munism ? It is easy to equate them with unideological attachment 
to power and the very human unwillingness of rulers to weaken 
their authority. But the almost immediate, sharp reversal of 
party policy would have been impossible without the psycho- 
logical mechanism instilled by Marxism in its devotees, which 
makes them prone to anarchism in the time of revolution, to 
centralism and inegalitarianism after power has been won. It 
was Lenin's achievement to construct a party that could best 
instill in its members the separateness of the two parts of the 
task: one, the conquest of power; the other, the use of power. 
This lack of susceptibility of the Communist party to democracy, 
to the desires of the people whom it represented, to their own 
slogans, was not only freely acknowledged but boasted of by 
the Bolshevik leaders. Said Zinoviev, then the spokesman for 
Lenin, at the Eighth Congress : 

The whole basis of our disputes with the so-called "economists," 
the Mensheviks . . . was based on [their] confusion of two con- 
cepts, the party and the class. Those people did not understand that 
the party is different from the class and the class from the party; 

Democracy and Marxism 195 

that the party should be the leading part of the class, that it sets 
aims which the working class does not understand completely today 
but will understand tomorrow. 31 

It would have been impossible to make this avowal of what in 
common-sense language is simply duplicity without the strong 
sanction of and unbounded belief in the ideology. Otherwise 
Zinoviev's statement, which in various versions has been the 
leitmotif of the Communist leaders from 1902 up to our own 
day, would have been a species of self-destructive cynicism 
verging on the most extreme naivete. 

Thus on the morrow of the Revolution "the aim which the 
working class does not understand today" is the exact opposite 
of the aims it understood and supported in the Revolution: the 
building of the strong authoritarian state ; industrialization, which 
will require methods more severe than those employed by early 
capitalism ; and the consequent erection of a totalitarian structure. 
The totalitarianism inherent in building an industrialized society 
under Marxist auspices was brought on by the very success of 
the revolutionary slogans. Not only the workers but many of 
the Party members were carried away by the slogans they had 
been proclaiming. It took Lenin's party some time to realize 
that Marxism in power is the exact opposite of Marxism in 
revolution and that the first task of the victorious Communist 
party is the extirpation of revolutionary democracy and anarchism 
in its own ranks. 

31 Ibid., p. 292. 


With the Bolshevik Revolution and the almost miraculous 
survival by the Communist regime of the attacks by diverse 
domestic and foreign forces, a new era was opened in the history 
of the Marxist movement. Prior to November 1917, Marxism had 
always been in opposition or in revolution; now a party pro- 
claiming itself to be an orthodox Marxist movement achieved 
power in a great country. Enough has already been said about 
this feat's being achieved under conditions quite contrary to 
Marx's expectations and in the spirit that we have classified as 
anarchist rather than Marxist, if by Marxism is meant a 
scrupulous adherence to the main strictures of Marx and Engels. 
But once the Civil War and the danger of the immediate over- 
throw of their regime was over, the Bolsheviks were faced with 
an unprecedented task. Even the external characteristics of this 
task were back-breaking: the economy thoroughly ruined, the 
promising industrial development prior to 1917 almost totally 
undone, the ruling party a garrison amidst a hostile or indif- 
ferent population, the idea and the reality of the modern state 
barely visible against the canvas of universal lawlessness and 
disorganization. And the fundamental issue: How to build 
socialism? Where to begin and with what? The idea of a uni- 
versal socialist revolution in the wake of the Russian one, of the 

The Other Side oj Marxism 197 

help extended to the young socialist state by its more advanced 
partners was shown by 1921 to have been a mirage. To the 
Communists fell the historical task of showing what the other 
side of Marxism was, demonstrating socialism in action, proving 
that Marxism could not only carry off a revolution but rule and 
develop a society. 


To "practical people" in 1921, socialism was a vague concept 
associated with street fighting, strikes, and fantastic theories. 
Communism in its Russian version was identified with a group 
of wild revolutionaries, whose very appearance and behavior 
marked their separation from the main stream of European 
culture and development. Anarchism, atheism, terror, and de- 
struction of private property these were the things for which 
the Bolsheviks were known. Could those people organize the 
state, collect taxes, fit their country with a modern economy 
and civil service? Where was a guide to enable them to set and 
develop the intricate mechanism of the modern state and econ- 
omy? Even sympathetic observers who applauded the revolu- 
tionary romanticism of the movement, its aura of struggle, of 
bold innovations, even of terror, felt pity at its predicament: 
how would these revolutionary heroes become prosaic legislators, 
tax gatherers, and managers? How would they stay in power, 
not to mention the lifting up of their barbarous society to 
socialism ? 

A revolutionary optimist in the West would have predicated 
success upon one thing: the Revolution, having freed the people 
from the shackles of capitalism and the remnants of feudalism, 
would have created a new and unprecedented grass-roots democ- 
racy and popular participation among the people of Russia, and 
almost with no direction or compulsion the whole nation would 
bend its energies to the task of creating a better life. A more 
moderate supporter of the new Soviet state would "realistically" 

198 The Unfinished Revolution 

expect the regime to cool off in its revolutionary fervor and, after 
an interval, to rule in the usual way, in the immemorial fashion 
of revolutionary groups who, having seized power under the 
banner of a Utopian creed, after due time revert to the "usual" 
ways of politics and economics. The beginnings of the New 
Economic Policy, inaugurated by Lenin in 1921, were greeted 
by the "realists" as proof of their wisdom: the regime was settling 
down, forsaking the extremes of Marxism, and allowing a 
modicum of private property and initiative. The political aspect 
of the regime? Here historical experts knowingly discoursed on 
the eternal forces of Russian history : the people's susceptibility 
to despotism, their instinct for "collectivity," which made them 
endure the despotism of the Bolsheviks as cheerfully as they 
had that of Peter the Great. (The comparisons with Ivan the 
Terrible became more fashionable with the period of Stalin's 

What the realists, the revolutionary sympathizers, the historical 
experts, and those who saw in the Bolsheviks simply the embodi- 
ment of Antichrist all agreed upon was that the thing least 
important about the Bolshevik state was its alleged connection 
with the obscure and impractical theories of Karl Marx. Yet, 
paradoxically, it is Marxism and its importance in the develop- 
ment of the Soviet Union which makes the preceding judgments 
superficial. Had the foreign observers taken the trouble to study 
the ideology and the extent to which both the leaders and the 
rank and file of the Bolsheviks were grounded in it, they would 
have realized the cohesive function of the doctrine, the extent 
to which it held the party together, and the degree to which 
it determined the character of postrevolutionary Leninism as 
well as the main traits of what we call Stalinism. It is difficult 
for us in the West to admit and understand how real, live human 
beings can be affected in their behavior, in their concept of self- 
interest and duties, by something somebody scribbled a century 
before; and it is most difficult to conceive of people in power, 

The Other Side of Marxism 199 

with a multitude of choices, being directed by the imperatives 
of an ideology. This is the basic reason why so many have seen 
the development and policies of the Soviet Union as an enigma 
inexplicable by anything in historical experience. It is this prag- 
matic bias, in reality, the unreflecting acceptance of our own 
ideological premises as having universal validity, that must be 
overcome to assess the development of Communism. 

The theory of and habituation to Marxism were all that the 
Bolsheviks had in the way of economic and state-building ex- 
perience. To the most unfriendly observer, the magnitude of 
the task, and the administrative and economic skill displayed 
by the Bolsheviks in restoring their country's economy and in 
laying the administrative foundations for the prodigious trans- 
formation of the whole society that took place under Stalin are 
extremely impressive. The Bolsheviks were imbued with ad- 
ministrative and economic instincts without which the later 
transformation of Russian society would have been inconceivable. 
One is drawn to think of another group of fanatics who, faced 
with concrete material tasks, displayed engineering and mana- 
gerial abilities unsuspected in their original obscurantist creed: 
the Saint-Simonians. It is as if the selective function of Marxism 
had been to draw into the Leninist party the people who, under 
the cover of their revolutionary doctrinarism, possessed in the 
highest degree the managerial and administrative instincts re- 
quired to erect the modern industrial state. Projecting into the 
Stalinist period the picture of the Communist, one sees him in 
Marx's words: 

Fanatically bent on making value expand itself, he ruthlessly 
forces the human race to produce for production's sake; he thus 
forces the development of the productive forces of society, and 
creates those material conditions, which alone can form the real 
basis of a higher form of society, a society in which the full and 
free development of every individual forms the ruling principle. 1 

1 Capital, p. 649. 

200 The Unfinished Revolution 

Is this Marx's description of the socialist? No, this description 
and how well it will fit the self -proclaimed task of the Com- 
munist party under Stalin is of the capitalist. 

Before the Communists could turn to the task, which can un- 
abashedly be characterized as the construction of Marxist capital- 
ism, they had to dispose of revolutionary Marxism. One may 
think of Marxism as a "two-stage" ideology. The revolutionary 
stage drops off after the revolution. The democratic undertones 
of Marxism are disposed of, revolutionary anarchism is extirpated, 
and the task of construction in spirit and by means antithetical 
to the revolutionary stage is begun. The process is neither smooth 
nor automatic. It comes in a series of realizations, first by Lenin, 
then by Stalin, that a faithful application of the principles under 
which the party had been carried to power would, in the post- 
revolutionary era, hamper and make impossible the construction 
of socialism. It comes almost as the process of natural selection : 
those Bolshevik leaders who had become most imbued with 
the democratic and anarchist slogans of the revolution, those who 
temperamentally were most averse to the negation of the revolu- 
tion that now must take place, get broken and then eliminated. 
The process becomes associated with the struggle for power, 
where the fighters and orators who made the revolution possible 
have to yield to the administrators. 

And the political transformation has its social and artistic 
accompaniment. The revolution and the postrevolutionary era 
extending until the late 192 O's is characterized by the outburst 
of social and artistic exuberance that always follows in the wake 
of a great historical transformation. Unrestrained individualism 
and nonconformity in personal and artistic behavior, unconven- 
tionality and inventiveness in the arts follow November 1917. 
As the new order crystallizes and the main task of society be- 
comes to industrialize, the shackles of conformity, orderliness, and 
socialist respectability are imposed upon the arts and social 
mores. It is as if all the varied forces which had assured that 

The Other Side of Marxism 201 

the bourgeois culture and mores of the nineteenth century became 
subjugated to the task of industrialization nonconformist moral 
precepts, intellectual and artistic fashions of Victorianism, the 
overwhelming materialism of society now became concentrated 
in the interpretation of Marxism that the party was imposing 
upon Russian society. 

In retrospect, then, this is the picture of the interpretation of 
Marxism imposed upon Russian society by Communism. While 
it is possible to attribute the terror, violence, and pathological 
aspects of the process to the tyrannical personality of one man, 
or a group of men, it is impossible to deny that the essential 
authoritarianism of the process is implied in the logic of Marxism 
and in the concept of the party which boasts that it "sets the 
aims which the working class in their totality does not under- 
stand today but will understand tomorrow." 

On the morrow of the revolution, the masses to use this 
unlovely expression of the Communist vocabulary want social- 
ism. But they do not "understand" that socialism can come only 
to an industrialized society. They "understand" even less that 
industrialization means a strong centralized authority, the strong 
state. Who does not understand, said Stalin in 1930, when he 
could afford to be frank, that it is one of the creative paradoxes 
of Marxism that, although we Communists are for an eventual 
demise of the state, we are for the present for the dictatorship 
of the proletariat, "which is the strongest and the most powerful 
form of government of all that have existed?" 2 

Had the masses understood that, the Bolshevik revolution 
would in all likelihood not have taken place. The state was to 
be smashed, popular initiative and participation were to take the 
place of the professional civil service, the necessary economic 
and political coordination was to be the result of free and spon- 
taneous coordination of autonomous, democratically elected 

* The Sixteenth Congress of the All Union Communist Party, 1930, in Russian, 
Moscow, 1930, p. 56. 

202 The Unfinished Revolution 

regional authorities. This promise of revolutionary Bolshevism, 
one of the main points of its popular appeal in an anarchically 
minded society, was solemnly embodied in the first Soviet con- 
stitutional documents. The letter of the law followed closely the 
modified anarchism of Lenin's State and Revolution; the un- 
wieldy constitutional structure seemed to offer the widest scope 
to local autonomy; during the very first years of the Soviet 
regime, no formal links connected the Soviet republics of Russia, 
Ukraine, and Byelorussia. Individual workers' unions and the 
unions as a whole arrogated to themselves considerable powers 
over the industries. Short of the temporary requirements of the 
united effort against counterrevolutionary forces, the constitu- 
tional structure promised to offer the widest scope for local and 
professional autonomy. With the rather considerable exception 
of members of the former exploiting classes, democratic rights 
were guaranteed to everybody, again with temporary limitations 
for the period of the Civil War. If we add the peasants' ap- 
propriation of the landlords' and the state's estates and the 
egalitarian mood and practices of society, we get an official struc- 
ture just this side of anarchism. 

Yet from the very beginning this picture has been a mirage. 
The real state in Soviet Russia the agency not only for political 
and economic coordination and legislation but also for the vast 
schemes of social engineering and of coercion of society has 
always existed in the Communist party. The "bourgeois demo- 
cratic" state has, in effect, been smashed; but, in ironic fulfill- 
ment of Karl Marx's dictum of the state's being the executive 
committee of the exploiting class, the executive organs of the 
Communist party became the state. The decentralization, national 
and regional autonomy, and autonomy of various social classes 
were and have been the fagade behind which the real political 
process in Soviet Russia has been taking place within the Com- 
munist party. If the party was to be monolithic and united, then 
all the constitutional autonomies and separations of power were 

The Other Side of Marxism 203 

not to matter one iota. If the party was to be run dictatorially, 
as turned out to be the case, then all the guarantees and inviola- 
bilities were not worth the paper on which they were inscribed. 
The party became the state. 

The struggle for the centralized state was bound to take place 
within the party. The story has often been told of the attrition 
and then elimination of the last, lingering democratic instincts 
within the Bolshevik party. A few weeks after the November 
1917 coup, a few Bolshevik leaders could still resign from Lenin's 
cabinet in protest against his concept and practice of one-party 
government. Yet these doubts soon disappeared, and the party 
unanimously supported the suppression of all parties, even of 
other revolutionary and socialist parties, and the curtailment of 
freedom of the press and of political life in general. The remnants 
of any democratic feeling in what used to be the Social Democratic 
Workers' Party of Russia evaporated with such rapidity that, in 
1926 at the Fifteenth Party Conference, Zinoviev, fighting against 
Stalin for his political life, could yet describe as an "unheard-of 
libel" the accusation that he and the rest of the anti-Stalin 
opposition wanted to transform one-party rule into a "demo- 
cratic republic." Lenin's party was not likely, in any case, to 
attract as members, people with overly democratic instincts. 

Other groups and parties could be eliminated, but the ruling 
party itself remained, for a time, as the arena of contending 
principles. The party was and on this all its members agreed 
the vanguard of the working class. But in which direction should 
the vanguard move ? The acceptance of an ideology as the ruling, 
if not the only, guide of action is always a dangerous inhibition 
to the freedom of a political organism. Personal conflicts, differ- 
ing temperaments, must be expressed in the ideological jargon. 
It is difficult for the contestants to admit that there can be 
several alternative courses of action. There must be only one 
"correct" line, and the proponents of other views must be in 
error or, worse, in sin, or, to express it in the Communist parlance, 

204 The Unfinished Revolution 

subject to other class interests, viewing problems from the non- 
Marxist standpoint. What, then, inhibited from the very begin- 
ning any democratic life within the party (and it should be 
remembered that when Lenin formulated his concept of the party 
in 1902 and 1903 he explained its undemocratic features as im- 
posed by the then impossibility of free political life in Imperial 
Russia) was' the concept that the Bolsheviks were not a mere 
party: they were the carrier of the true ideology and the correct 
interpretation of history. It is as if the fathers of the American 
Constitution had not been guided in their deliberations by the 
problem of devising the most practical and workable constitu- 
tional arrangement, but had operated from the assumption that 
on every issue even the most minute there was only one cor- 
rect solution, which must be found in and justified by recourse 
to the writings of, say, John Locke. 

Whatever the personalities involved, the inherent ideological 
assumption of the Communist party made it of necessity a 
totalitarian party. What is referred to as the period of party 
democracy, until 1925-1926 when Stalin emerged as the un- 
doubted dictator, is really the period of groping for the organiza- 
tional expression of the totalitarian formula; and it is unlikely 
that the result would have been less totalitarian, even if the 
application might have been more humane or less efficient, had 
Lenin lived on or had Zinoviev or Trotsky emerged in ascend- 

It was this inner logic of the development of the party that 
made it not only the instrument of the centralized authority of 
all kinds something which is implied in Marxism but also an 
instrument of totalitarianism, i.e., of suppression, and of liquida- 
tion of any freedom of discussion, any free development at all 
something for which not Marx but Lenin's concept of the party 
and its application by Stalin must be blamed. It was, then, al- 
most inevitable that Marxism, which, whatever one may say 
about it, is a rationalist and intellectual technique, would be 

The Other Side of Marxism 205 

elevated into a mystique and ritual and that disagreements or 
varying interpretations would become translated into the prob- 
lems of orthodoxy and heresy. The product of nineteenth-century 
liberalism, the technique for modernization and industrialization, 
became the means of ritualistic incantations accompanying purges 
and brainwashing. 

It is this aspect of Marxism in the Soviet Union, the horrible 
terminology of "left" and "right" "deviations," the paranoiac 
expansion of the study of class and personal motivations (if 
Zinoviev and Kamenev were against Stalin, it "really" meant that 
they had been against Lenin and that they were "really" ready 
to sell the Soviet state to the Western imperialists), that makes 
the importance of ideology in the Soviet context so difficult for 
a Western observer to discern. We long for a direct rather than 
a circuitous and ritualistic statement of the relationship of the 
aims and means. Why could not Lenin after the revolution simply 
say: "The revolution is over; the logic of the situation, which is 
also the logic of Marxism, means that we cannot have socialism 
without industrialization. We cannot have industrialization with- 
out a strong centralized authority, without experts, wide dispari- 
ties of pay, and so on. Hence, we must forget all the nonsense 
propagated by us during the revolution about smashing the 
state, equality of pay, status, and so forth. Let us get on with 
the job." But before this degree of rationality and ideological 
introspection could be almost achieved by the party (and when 
it is completely achieved Marxism will cease to play any role 
in the Soviet Union) Communism had to go through debates, 
splits, purges, and terror. 

The most immediate difficulty was that the party itself was 
thoroughly imbued with democratic and semianarchist ideology. 
Any drastic attempt to apply the logic of Marxism in defiance of 
its revolutionary spirit would have met, in the Communist party 
of 1919 or 1920, with repudiation by a vast majority of its mem- 
bers. It is instructive to study one aspect of the problem centering 

206 The Unfinished Revolution 

about the so-called Workers' Opposition. This group, as early as 
1919, attacked the tendency to build the state bureaucracy, to 
employ bourgeois specialists, in brief, the whole attempt to create 
the machinery of state under Soviet power. The Workers' Oppo- 
sition and the Democratic Centralists, another group akin in 
spirit, discerned as early as 1919 and 1920 (the period which from 
the present perspective or even that of thirty years ago, appears 
as one of drastic economic egalitarianism in society and of rela- 
tive democratic procedures in the party) the growth of the oligar- 
chical principle in Communism and the related phenomena of 
official favoritism and bureaucratic mentality. This, to repeat, 
took place in the USSR of 1920, which, from today's per- 
spective, looks like an anarchist paradise. Yet a considerable 
body of Communists was already chafing under inegalitarian 
conditions and dictatorial and bureaucratic methods in the party 
and the state ! 

What did the Workers' Opposition want? Their whole com- 
plaint is not so much a definite policy as a reflection of a malaise 
the feeling in wide circles of the workers that something is 
wrong with the revolution, that the reality of Communist life 
is not in accordance with Communist promises. The specific pro- 
posals advanced by the opposition within the party look, in 
effect, toward syndicalism. It is difficult otherwise to interpret 
the leader of this opposition, Mme. Kollontay, as she phrases 
the demands : 

To form a body from the workers-producers themselves for 
administering the people's economy. ... All appointments to the 
administrative economic positions shall be made with the consent 
of the union. All candidates nominated by the union are non- 
removable. All officials appointed by the union are responsible to 
and may be recalled by it. 3 

8 Alexandra Kollontay, The Workers' Opposition in Russia, Chicago, 1921, 
p. 33. The Russian text was unavailable to me. The English translation is 
unauthorized and obviously inexact. 

The Other Side of Marxism 207 

The practical effect would be the vesting of the control of the 
economy more properly speaking, of government in the hands 
of the workers' unions rather than the party. Mme. Kollontay, 
daughter of a Tsarist general, did not hesitate to recommend 
that the Communist party should become even more proletarian 
and that all the nonworking elements who joined the party 
since the November Revolution should be expelled. 

Appointments by the leaders must be done away with, and re- 
placed by the elective principle all along the party line ... all 
the cardinal questions of party activity and Soviet policy are to be 
submitted to the consideration of the rank and file and only after 
that are to be supervised by the leaders. 4 

It is even possible to feel some sympathy with Lenin, head 
of a devastated and disorganized country, confronted with this 
millennial demand to introduce immediately a syndicalist Utopia, 
until we remember that Mme. Kollontay's demands are but 
more detailed elaborations of what Lenin had said in State 
and Revolution. The Workers' Opposition argued from the 
premise of the Communist and proletarian dictatorship, with 
little thought of the rights of the nonproletarian majority of the 
people. 5 But the fulfillment of its postulates could only have 
meant the breakdown of the incipient structure of the Soviet 

Not connected with the Workers' Opposition but another evi- 
dence of the anarchist mood and condition of the country was 
the uprising at the great naval base of Kronstadt. In 1917 the 
Bolsheviks had no stronger supporters than the sailors of the 
Baltic Fleet. Then, in 1921, the very same element rose against 
them. The sailors claimed freedom of activity for all the left 
socialist and Anarchist parties, full freedom for the peasants to 
do as they liked with their land, abolition of the special position 

4 Ibid., p. 40. 

5 Leonard Schapiro, The Origin of the Communist Autocracy, Cambridge, 
Mass., 19SS, p. 294. 

208 The Unfinished Revolution 

of the Bolshevik party, and equal food rations for all. 6 Both 
within and without the party, the Bolsheviks were confronted by 
the danger that the same tide of anarchism that had carried them 
to power would now engulf them. 

Two things became obvious within the context of the Russian 
situation between 1920 and 1922. The Marxist instinct of the 
Communist elite and their self-interest in preserving power went 
hand in hand in keeping Lenin and his group from giving in 
to the democratic and or syndicalist demands. At the same time, 
a complete about-face from the slogans of November 1917, frank- 
ness about the goals and methods of the Communist state (such 
as was to be exhibited by Stalin in the 1930 7 s) not only would 
have been psychologically impossible but would have shocked the 
majority of their own- followers to the extent that the leaders 
could not have kept power. It took all Lenin's prestige, as well 
as considerable chicanery, to defeat the Workers' Opposition at 
the party congresses. The Kronstadt uprising had to be drowned 
in blood. 

What would have been the effect had Lenin said, in 1921, 
as Stalin was to say in 1930, that egalitarianisrn in wages was 
a petty bourgeois superstition and had nothing to do with 
Marxism and that the unions should not get in the way of indus- 
trial management ? The man who approached this bluntness about 
the meaning of Marxism in postrevolutionary Russia was Lev 
Trotsky. It was he who employed "specialists" in the army and 
industry and talked with frankness about the economy's re- 
quiring complete subordination of the unions to the party. But 
this very bluntness and forthrightness, Trotsky's ability to see 
the sense of Marxism in every concrete situation, was probably 
the cause of his future weakness among the rank and file of 
the party and among its leaders, of the attribution to Trotsky 
of the dictatorial designs that Stalin was soon to carry out so 
successfully. The practical meaning of Marxism under the condi- 

a /Md.,p.301. 

The Other Side of Marxism 209 

tions of Russia of 1921 the building of the strong centralized 
state, the use of essentially capitalist methods and incentives to 
restore and then to industrialize the economy of the country 
could not have been bluntly acknowledged or formulated, in the 
face of the anarchist and democratic sentiments intensified by 
revolutionary Marxism. An outright about-face would have led 
to other Kronstadts and would have magnified beyond control 
the turbulence of inner-party struggle. 

It is ideological self-deception rather than conscious hypocrisy 
that led Communist autocracy to change thus into outright 
totalitarianism and made Leninism shade into Stalinism. Neither 
Lenin nor his associates could acknowledge to themselves that 
Marxism, Communism, now must mean something other than 
what it meant during the Revolution. The old terms have to be 
preserved. Those who propagate the Bolshevik slogans of the 
past "must" be shown to be "really" counterrevolutionaries. The 
socialists of other varieties, exponents of popular discontent, 
must be demonstrated to be foreign agents, agents of the landlords, 
and Tsarist generals. "Objective historical reality" teaches the 
party that a Menshevik pleading for democratic rights is a coun- 
terrevolutionary and a worker demanding the fulfillment of the 
Bolshevik promises of 1917, an agent of the White Guards. The 
same element of part self-deception, part political acumen keeps 
Lenin from formulating clearly the issues separating him from 
the opposition in the party. The workers' unions are not yet 
fully subjugated, as Trotsky had desired, but are proclaimed, in 
a soothing formula, to be schools of communism for the workers. 
At the same time the administration of the party is turned over 
to those who appear most capable of subduing its unruly and 
syndicalist wings and of turning it into a monolithic organization. 
The New Economic Policy of tolerance toward the remaining 
elements of capitalism and of relief for the peasant is proclaimed 
as a measure to restore the economy rather than a drastic de- 
parture from the promises of the revolution. 

210 The Unfinished Revolution 

Inherent in all these measures, or in the way they were pre- 
sented, was the attrition of the sense of political reality, an 
attrition characteristic of true totalitarianism. Lenin's party 
recognized that "the masses" might not share its aims or approve 
its policies of the moment, but it hoped it would win their sup- 
port in the future. Stalin's party assumed and required immediate 
support of the dictator's policies. Lenin admitted that the masses 
might be swayed by petty bourgeois prejudices, and the workers 
by their "trade-union consciousness." These stilted formulas still 
contained an approach to real life that Stalinism was to reject, 
its simple assumption being that whatever the dictator had 
ordained was desired by the people. 

The full flowering of Stalinism in Soviet society had to await 
the forging of the party into a monolithic organ of totalitarianism. 
This process occupied some years after 1922, when Stalin was 
installed as Secretary-General. Details about the elimination of 
Trotsky, then of Stalin's original partners, Kamenev and Zinoviev, 
then of his later allies, Bukharin and others, do not belong in 
this study. It is important, however, to draw attention to one 
aspect of Stalin's rise to power that is not often given its due. 
It is easy to read the whole story in the Secretary-General's talent 
for intrigue and in his administrative maneuvers. But the initial 
stages of Stalin's ascendance cannot be divorced from the popular- 
ity of the program and ideological tendency he represented, and 
from the persuasiveness of his position. With the anarchist stir- 
rings suppressed and the country recovering economically under 
the NEP, the Communist party was increasingly being infiltrated 
and officered, especially at the lower levels, by young and rather 
unsophisticated people who joined it after the Revolution. Such 
people were different in their habits and thinking from the older 
type of revolutionary worker. To them, the nascent bureaucracy, 
socialism-Marxism, meant a series of concrete jobs to be done 
rather than ideological wrangling. Stalin of 1924 and 1925 stood 
as the symbol of Communist "normalcy" and common sense, as 

The Other Side of Marxism 211 

the advocate of the restoration of the economy and administra- 
tion, rather than of foolhardy social policies and dogmatism. 
Moderate policies toward the peasant, cautious industrialization, 
the maintenance of the international revolutionary appeal of 
Communism, but with the eschewing of dangerous foreign ad- 
ventures for the young and feeble Soviet state these were the 
points of Stalin's "platform." In contrast, his opponents in the 
crucial years were maneuvered into a position where they could 
be presented as wild-eyed fanatics : Trotsky as allegedly desiring 
to postpone the building of socialism in Russia until after Com- 
munist revolutions in more advanced countries; Zinoviev and 
Kamenev as allegedly desiring to oppress and coerce the peasants. 
It becomes understandable how the Secretary-General and his 
group could command an overwhelming majority at the Four- 
teenth Tarty Congress in 1925 and the Fifteenth Party Con- 
ference in 1926, the last occasions on which anything resembling 
free political discussion took place within the Communist party. 
The focus of political power in the Soviet Union was already 
the Secretariat of the Communist party, which, from its insignifi- 
cant administrative beginnings in 1919, was to grow under 
Stalin into the policy-formulating organ for the party, the state, 
and society, with its departments and divisions paralleling and 
supervising the major branches of party and state activity. The 
real state in Russia was thus no longer even the party as a whole 
but just its administrative machine. It was no longer only the 
constitutional organs of the state that atrophied in real import- 
ance. In the evolution of Stalinism, the same fate awaited party 
congresses, conferences, even the Central Committee. The "wither- 
ing away" of all the democratic and anarchistic appurtenances of 
the revolution was thus a mere matter of a few years. The en- 
thronement of the administrative organs of the party and Stalin's 
personal dictatorship are an ironic commentary on Lenin's 
promise of the Communist state where the people will rule them- 
selves and where ''accounting and control ... are the chief 

212 The Unfinished Revolution 

things necessary for the organizing and correct functioning of 
the first phase of Communist society." 7 With the state, the organ 
of social coercion, reborn in its most intense form in the Soviet 
Union, the next phase of Marxism the development of "those 
material conditions which alone can form the real basis of a 
higher form of society" can now take place. In State and Revolu- 
tion, Lenin credited to Bernstein and other "philistines" the view 
that centralism means "something from above, to be imposed 
and maintained solely by means of bureaucracy and militarism." 8 
This is not a bad characterization of Stalin's centralism and its 
superbureaucratic character. 

The problem that confronted Stalin and his advisers in 1927- 
1928, with the country's economy recovered to, roughly, the 
prewar level, with the state and party firmly in their hands, was 
the classical problem of Marxism : the transition to socialism and 
the method of industrialization under Russian conditions. Shortly 
before his death Stalin summarized the problem confronted by 
Marxism in Russia: 

. . . What should the proletariat and its party do in a country 
including our country where conditions favor seizure of power 
by the proletariat and the overthrow of capitalism . . . but where 
agriculture, despite the growth of capitalism, still remains so scat- 
tered among numerous small and medium owner producers, that 
there appears no possibility of raising the question of expropriating 
these producers? 9 

And the alternatives which confronted him in 1927, though with 
his typical obfuscation he speaks as if the problem had been 
confronted and solved by Lenin in 1917, are also sketched: 

The answer is not, of course, provided by the opinion of some 
pseudo-Marxists who say that in such circumstances seizure of 

7 V. I. Lenin, State and Revolution [1917], New York, 1932, p. 83. 

J. V. Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., in Current 
Digest of the Soviet Press: Current Soviet Policies, ed. Leo Gruliow, New 
York, 19S3, 1, 3. 

The Other Side of Marxism 213 

power should be rejected. They propose to wait until capitalism 
has contrived to ruin the millions of small and medium producers, 
turning them into farm laborers, and has concentrated the agri- 
cultural means of production. . . . Likewise unacceptable is the 
view of other pseudo-Marxists who would, if you please, seize 
power and set about expropriating the small and middle producers 
in the countryside and socializing the means of production. Marxists 
cannot agree to take this senseless and criminal course. . . . 9 

The whole passage is typical of Stalin's rewriting of actual 
history. The implication is that the whole problem was solved 
by Lenin's formula of voluntary collectivization and that this 
solution was, after 1928, put into effect by his faithful pupil 
Stalin. The fact is, of course, that the actual policy adopted by 
Stalin after 1928-1929 was that of the "pseudo-Marxists" who 
"set about expropriating the small and middle producers in the 
countryside." Collectivization was not voluntary ; it was a euphe- 
mism for the subjection of the peasant to the most stringent con- 
trol, and as such it was resisted by the mass of the peasantry 
and accomplished under conditions of extreme violence, necessary 
to break down passive and active resistance of "small" as well 
as "middle" peasants. 

The peasant collectivization illustrates the meaning of Marx- 
ism under Russian conditions. The decisions to collectivize and 
the parallel course of rapid industrialization initiated after the 
Fifteenth Congress of the Communist Party in 1927 denote the 
second and decisive phase of applying Marxism structures to 
Russia. Marxism-Communism became equated with rapid and 
drastic industrialization. At its altar were sacrificed all the 
previous revolutionary, anarchistic, and democratic elements of 
the doctrine and practice of Communism. For a generation the 
imperative to produce, to expand the industry, to make Russia 
into a modern industrial state not only takes precedence over 
any other objective, but subordinates and absorbs everything 

214 The Unfinished Revolution 

else in society. The power motivation of the rulers and the urge 
to industrialize become practically identical. 

The actual decision may be related to several practical necessi- 
ties and features of the Soviet regime around 1927 and 1928. 
It reflects the fact that the NEP had restored the Russian econ- 
omy to the point at which further economic expansion required 
thorough industrialization. It was not unconnected with the 
difficulty of obtaining grain from the peasants, pampered, from 
the Communist point of view, during the NEP. It was a reflection 
of the international situation: an industrially backward Russia 
would be at the mercy of the capitalist aggressors. It can be 
seen as the natural consequence of the dynamics of totalitarian- 
ism: the dictator and his group have consolidated their grip on 
the party and the country. Now comes the moment to build up 
their power externally. 

All the preceding considerations, taken separately or together, 
do not begin to explain the drastic and violent character of the 
process. In view of the weak position of agriculture and the lack 
of capital, the decision to industrialize rapidly and to telescope 
into ten years what, in the West, took generations represented 
a vast gamble, which a regime thinking solely in power considera- 
tions and about clinging to its dictatorial position might have 
hesitated to undertake. When in 1929 Stalin decided that the 
planned tempo of collectivization was too slow and that the 
major part of the task must be accomplished before 1933, he was 
entering upon the most hazardous period of his rule. Famines, 
deportation of hundreds of thousands of peasants, lowering of 
the already pitifully low (from the Western point of view) 
standard of living all those measures and effects strained the 
coercive powers of the regime to the utmost, and confronted not 
only the dictator but the Communist state with mortal danger. 
Years later, Stalin confessed to Churchill that even the most 
depressing moments of the Russo-German war did not approach 
in devastation or in danger to the country the years of the first 

The Other Side of Marxism 215 

Five- Year Plan and the crucial period of collectivization. Power 
considerations are insufficient to explain why the regime at the 
height of its strength should plunge into a vast socio-economic 
reform, the character of which, as well as the methods by which 
it was executed, would bring the regime to the brink of disaster. 
Ideological as well as power considerations, or more properly 
power considerations seen through an ideological prism provide 
the explanation. 

To Marxism, industrialization means not only the creation of 
heavy industries and their appurtenances economic independ- 
ence and military security it means the creation of a new 
national psychology. Just as the liberal in the nineteenth century 
had believed that industrialization would create an enlightened 
population fit for democracy and impervious to the irrational 
and emotional appeal of class hatred or religious and national 
fanaticism, so the Communist leader wanted the assimilationist 
potential of industrialization to create the new Soviet man 
materialistic and pragmatic in his psychology, automatically re- 
sponsive to the command and propaganda of his party. The 
elimination of the individual peasant household was not only 
a function of the desire to make agricultural methods more 
efficient through large-scale cultivation and thus to release 
millions of peasants for work in the new factories. The millions 
of peasant households, each tilling its small plot, were not only 
a bar to rapid industrialization, but the breeder of anti-industrial, 
hence anti-socialist, attitudes. The peasant, with his psychology 
of the small property owner and ingrained traits of conservatism 
and radicalism, had to be transformed into the agricultural 
worker, as materialistically and pragmatically minded as his 
industrial counterpart. Old Russia, with its backwardness, mysti- 
cism, torpor, and inherent anarchy, emanating not from any 
"Russian soul" but from the anachronism of peasant society, 
would be replaced by a modern, scientifically and materialistically 
minded state and society. 

216 The Unfinished Revolution 

Here, then, is the sense of Marxism in Russia, the meaning 
of what has been called the third Russian Revolution of 1928- 
1933. The Marxist state, through compulsion and planning, was 
striving to achieve what an unplanned and undirected conglomera- 
tion of social and economic forces had achieved in the England 
of the first half of the nineteenth century. The ideology of 
Marxism , r was revealed as being much more self-consciously the 
technique of industrialization and science, than its ancestor 
liberalism had been. Both had to ride roughshod over the sensi- 
tivities and feelings of the bulk of the population, which was 
forced into occupations and ways of life strange to it. The edicts 
of the dictator replaced, as the mechanism of change, the al- 
legedly impersonal forces of the market and acts of parliament. 
This time, it was not the casual indoctrination of the middle class 
with industrial values but the forced imposition of these values 
upon the whole society in the name of socialism that provided 
the dynamics of the process. It is as if in some perverse fashion 
Karl Marx's oversimplified description of the state as the executive 
committee of the exploiting class, designed to give political and 
social sanction to the extraction of surplus value from the 
worker, has finally found its mark in the Communist state. But 
there is nothing perverse in this relationship : it is the meaning of 
industrial fanaticism that Marxism had inherited from early 
liberalism, which, now that the revolutionary and anarchist 
ballast of the doctrine had dropped off, was displayed in its full 

The nexus ideology-power is best demonstrated in the attempted 
solution of the peasant problem. During the NEP, Stalin was 
displayed as, and gathered political credit for being, an advocate 
of moderate measures toward the peasant. In 1924 and 192 5, 
the party under his leadership had granted the peasants the 
right to lease land and hire labor strange doings, his opponents 
observed, for the regime committed to the ending of "exploitation 
of man by man." He was in those days an apparent follower of 

The Other Side of Marxism 217 

Bukharin, whose alleged injunction to the peasants to "get rich" 
was later quoted as evidence of a disgusting right-wing deviation. 
From the Marxist viewpoint, Bukharin's policies were far indeed 
from being a crime. Industrialization, then socialism, can come, 
Marx teaches, only after agriculture, like industry, has become 
concentrated in large units. Why should the Communist state not 
imitate, within limits, Stolypin's formula? Why not let nature 
take its course? The more enterprising, more capitalistically 
minded peasants, the kulaks, would absorb more and more land. 
Their less enterprising brothers would be forced off the land and 
supply the industrial proletariat. The average unit in agriculture 
would become larger and more efficient, industrial labor would 
be forthcoming, and the future socialization of land would deal 
with a relatively small class and not with millions of individual 
households. But this course, acceptable from the viewpoint of 
academic Marxism, cannot be accepted by a Marxist party that 
wants to industrialize in a hurry and does not want to lose any 
part of its power in the process. As any class gains in economic 
well-being and becomes more materialistically minded, it comes 
to desire more than just economic rights. The prospect of the 
growth of the rural middle class had always filled the Bolsheviks 
with alarm. As Lenin said: "Small scale production gives birth 
to capitalism and the bourgeoisie, daily, hourly, with elemental 
force and in vast proportions." 10 In 1927 and 1928 the peasants 
were reluctant to sell grain to the state. Since they were not 
getting enough money for it, they preferred to consume it or 
to feed it to their animals. To let "nature to take its course" in 
the countryside meant structuring prices and producing enough 
consumers' goods for the peasants. If you appease the peasant 
economically today, won't he demand political rights tomorrow? 
Hence the adoption, as we have seen, of what Stalin was later 
on to characterize piously as a "senseless and criminal course" 

10 Quoted in Merle Fainsod, How Russia is Ruled, Cambridge, Mass., 1953, 
p. 443. 

218 The Unfinished Revolution 

driving the peasant by compulsion into the collective and state 
farm. The slogan of extermination of the kulaks as a class was 
a hypocritical cover-up for the coercion of all the peasants ; the 
party fell with a fury upon the countryside, upon the vast social 
element that had baffled Marxism for generations, had stood as 
the massive barrier to the industrialization of society, as the 
embodiment of what Marx so pungently described as "the idiocy 
of rural liffe." The immediate objectives of collectivization re- 
lease of millions for industrial work, and the government's con- 
trol over agricultural production were attained, though at a 
terrible human cost. But a solution to the peasant problem in 
complete accordance with the desires of the regime eluded the 
despot and is still on the agenda of his successors. 

The definition of the struggle repeated by Stalin during the 
first years of industrialization was one taken from Lenin : "Who 
will get whom." In Stalin's phrasing, it not only became the 
formulation of the Communist demonology the forces of light 
(the Communist) fighting against all the real and imaginary ene- 
mies of Soviet power and industrialization (foreign capitalists, 
kulaks, saboteurs, all of them somehow connected, their malevo- 
lent and "wrecking" activity explaining the suffering and tem- 
porary reverses of the great industrialization). It also became the 
slogan of the historical task of Marxism in Russia, of socialism 
fighting against the immemorial forces of lethargy, popular 
apathy, and superstition to create a scientifically and industrially 
minded modern society. The aim was often obscured by the 
means employed : terror, propagation of the myth of wreckers and 
saboteurs, portrayal of the peasant clinging to his miserable plot 
as the class enemy. A strange way to achieve modernism and 
progress, and one that has caused believers in the "continuity" 
of Russian history to draw parallels with Ivan the Terrible, 
with his "Oprichnina," and with Peter the Great's brutal efforts 
to Westernize his country. But while it is shallow to forget, 
slight, or excuse by the magnitude of the task that aspect of 

The Other Side of Marxism 219 

Stalinism, it is equally unhistorical to ignore the other side of 
the coin : the realization of Marxian strictures about industrialism. 
Here again a complete and drastic break had to be made with 
the egalitarian and anarchist part of Russian Marxism. In the 
twenties, Stalin courted popularity as the exponent of pragmatic, 
living socialism as against the stilted exegeses of his opponents. 
Were Engels alive today, said Stalin at the Fifteenth Conference 
of the party, he would undoubtedly say: "May the devil take 
the old formulas; long live the victorious revolution in the 
U.S.S.R." n With all power in his hand, no such frivolous approach 
toward the ideology was tolerated. At the Seventeenth Party 
Congress in 1934 Stalin "explained" that Marxism is an enemy 
of the equalization of wages, that the latter has nothing to do 
with socialism but is in fact a petty bourgeois superstitution ! 
In the frank adoption of vast inequality of wages and salaries, 
in the adoption of capitalist incentives to production, there is not 
even a trace of the embarrassment with which Lenin was explain- 
ing the slight departures from equality in 1921 and 1922. Stalin 
said : "And so our task is to put an end to the instability of labor 
power, to abolish equalitarianism, to organize wages properly 
and to improve the living condition of the workers." 12 In the 
same speech in 1931, Stalin called for full authority of the indus- 
trial managers in the factory and for no union interference with 
management. In 1923, the then Commissar of Trade, Leonid 
Krassin, had called for similar attitudes toward industrial man- 
agement. Krassin, an engineer by profession, was ridiculed and 
attacked as an "inclinator" toward capitalism and was soon 
removed from his position. Now Stalin proclaimed unblushingly 
the necessity of the most stringent capitalist methods of organiza- 
tion of industry. The trade unions by 1930 had been subordinated 
to the party to an extent surpassing Trotsky's most drastic ideas 

**The Fifteenth Conference of the All Union Communist Party (in Russian), 
Moscow, 1927, p. 721. 

12 J. V. Stalin, Leninism, New York, 1933, II, 431. 

220 The Unfinished Revolution 

in 1921. And the subjugation of the worker to industrialism was 
demonstrated not only by the abandonment of egalitarian pre- 
tenses and of the worker's right to interfere with management, 
but by an industrial code meting out punishments undreamed of 
under the most extreme laissez-faire capitalism for absence from 
work, repeated lateness, or unauthorized abandonment of one's 
employment. Strikes become unthinkable, and wages are fixed 
by fiat from the planners. 

It is easy to lose sight of the human elements of the transition. 
Forced industrialization meant heavy investments in the means 
of industrial production. These investments could be financed 
only by lowering the already low standard of living and by push- 
ing into insignificance the production of consumer goods. The 
general lowering of living standards, the widespread famine in 
the Ukraine in 1930, and the general dislocation of the countryside 
throw into insignificance the turbulent effects of the unplanned 
industrialization of the West early in the nineteenth century. 
It is inconceivable that any regime, even one endowed with 
absolute power, would have survived this accumulation of human 
misery without some element of popular support. All accounts 
of the period stress the enthusiastic response of the Communists, 
especially the younger strata of the party, to the task of indus- 
trialization. The explanation of this response cannot be found 
only in "propaganda" or in young people's susceptibility to 
indoctrination. The enthusiasm of an elite group, amidst the 
sea of human misery that surrounded it in the crucial years 
from 1929 to 1933, can be explained only by the essential agree- 
ment between the ideology in which they had been bred and 
the industrial fanaticism which they were now exhibiting. The 
worship of the machine, lyricism over production figures, which 
later on became artificial and officially propagated myths of 
"socialist realism," are for the early 1930's a not inaccurate 
representation of the mentality of the Communist activist, who 
well might have felt that he was creating "those material condi- 

The Other Side of Marxism 221 

tions, which alone can form the real basis of a higher form of 
society, a society in which the full and free development of 
every individual forms the ruling principle." And like an early 
capitalist entrepreneur defending the employment of children in 
factories, a Communist official forcing peasants into a collective 
could feel that he was an agent of progress and an executor of 
benevolent laws of historical development. 

In step with the introduction of capitalist incentives in eco- 
nomic life and the harnessing of the whole society to the task of 
industrialization, the regime felt constrained to enforce social 
and artistic mores consonant with the change. The revolution, 
like all revolutions, brought a breakdown in social conventions. 
The ideology then sanctioned the rejection of bourgeois "philistin- 
ism" in the spheres of family life and sexual relations. Essentially, 
Marxism has never condoned libertinism or bohemian attitudes 
toward morals. But legal restraints were always associated with 
the hypocritical standards of bourgeois society; and in the 
twenties divorce was made easy to obtain, abortion was legalized, 
and the whole sphere of personal relations and behavior was 
considerably freed from law-enforced conformity. The change 
is very pronounced in the decade of Great Industrialization. 
Abortion for other than health reasons is declared illegal. Divorce 
is discouraged by the courts and expensive to obtain. The penal 
code invokes heavy penalties for homosexual acts. The sanctity 
of the family tie is invoked both in official pronouncements and 
in Soviet literature. The Communist party has always required of 
its members dedication of their personal lives to the cause and 
a consequent high standard of personal behavior. But now the 
whole sphere of social behavior of every citizen is officially pre- 
scribed to be in accordance with the most conventional, most 
bourgeois pattern. Bourgeois respectability becomes the expected 
pattern of socialist behavior. 

As in the case of morals, the arts, literature, and even science 
become increasingly subjected to the authority of the party. The 

222 The Unfinished Revolution 

depiction of the unusual or the morbid, stress on individual 
problems unconnected with the building of socialism, is in 
effect prohibited. It is not even convention, as in the case of 
Victorian England, but the state with its police powers that 
enforces the desirable pattern on arts and literature and com- 
mands the proper approach to science. "Socialist realism" de- 
picts the Soviet man striving victoriously against nature and the 
class enemy for the attainment of collectivization and industriali- 
zation, in the process, submitting his personal interests and 
feelings to those of society and the party. 

The Bolshevik revolution meant, and proclaimed, the rejec- 
tion of Russia's past. Her history was sketched by the Marxist 
historians as a long story of obscurantism, oppression of the people 
by successive governments, a story only illuminated from time 
to time by "progressive" figures and movements. In this respect 
also, the thirties mark a sharp turn. The inculcation of Russian 
nationalism, both as a unifying political force and as an added 
incentive to the prodigious national endeavor, prohibits the presen- 
tation of the past as a story of unmitigated darkness. Russia's 
past is officially rehabilitated, and an excessively Marxist reading 
of the motives of such figures as Peter the Great and Ivan the 
Terrible is prohibited. In Russian nationalism the regime now 
sees one of its strongest supports. Political centralization is en- 
hanced by the imposition of national domination, as Soviet 
chauvinism is by Russian. 

The sum of the changes that can be found in the most diverse 
and minute aspects of society makes the USSR of the 1930's 
a thoroughly totalitarian and xenophobic society. It is, seem- 
ingly, worlds apart from what is meant by "Western" culture 
and from the traditional atmosphere of Marxism, which, though 
authoritarian in its conception, breathes some of the rationalistic 
and cosmopolitan spirit of liberalism. And yet the effect of the 
great changes is to inculcate in a large part of society the good 
bourgeois values of the nineteenth-century West : the importance 

The Other Side of Marxism 223 

of hard work, of saving, of measuring one's station in life by 
one's income and the quantity of material goods, etc. The alleged 
aim is socialism, and while one may become rich in the Soviet 
Union, one may not own a bank or a factory. But the end and 
the total effect of the reforms, made in the name of socialism and 
by means of compulsion that have no parallel in modern history, 
is to instill the attitudes and aspirations of a middle-class society. 
Even the external characteristics of the plutocratic West are re- 
vived : old titles in the army, decorations and uniforms even for 
civil servants. The constitution of 1936, adopted to celebrate the 
completion of the socialist phase of the development of Soviet 
society, gives the USSR a paper constitution which in its parlia- 
mentary structure and political terminology is an unabashed copy 
of the Western documents of the same type and abandons the 
populistic phraseology of the earlier Soviet constitutions. 

The meaning of Stalinism is the triumph of the logic of Marx- 
ism over its revolutionary spirit: the creation of a powerful 
state and an industrial and scientifically minded society. Missing 
from the picture entirely is what Karl Marx imagined would be 
the result of that development: democracy. Marxism in Russia 
has shown its aptitude first as a technique of revolution, then 
as a technique of industrialization and modernization. It has not 
brought socialism or democracy, in the sense in which a nine- 
teenth-century socialist defined these terms. It falls to another 
chapter to analyze the predicament of Stalin's last years and 
that of his successors: the dilemma of preserving totalitarian 
methods in a society that this very totalitarianism has made 
modern and materialistically minded to the point at which it 
chafes under the shackles of the police state and a now unreal 

Historical "forces" and "developments" cannot obviate the 
fact that Stalinism has also meant terror, purges, and infinite 
abasement, on a national scale, of human personality. It is 
possible to view various types of relationships between this trio : 

224 The Unfinished Revolution 

Marxism, totalitarianism, industrialization. An apologist for 
Stalin as well as a detractor of Marxism will see a clear and 
logical connection between Marxism and totalitarianism. If the 
former ordains industrialization, then a whole nation has to be 
coerced into new ways. "It is too bad/' says the apologist, "but 
see how much has been achieved." And to the detractor, Marxism, 
by its inhuman insistence on historical laws, and Communism, 
by its presuming to tell people what is good for them, already 
premise terror, purge trials, and confessions in brief, Stalinism. 
Then there are a handful of non-Communist Marxist idealists for 
whom the tie-up is unnatural: Russia could have been trans- 
formed without totalitarianism: it is the essentially un-Marxist 
character of Stalinism, not Marxism, that explains Soviet totali- 

The truth, as usual, is more complicated than any of these 
simple views would have it. It was sound historical instinct, but 
bad history, when Khrushchev in his "secret" speech in 1956 
tried to divide Stalin into two persons : a faithful pupil of Lenin 
and a great socialist statesman in his earlier years (until 1934), 
and an increasingly paranoiac tyrant after that. It was sound 
historical instinct because Communism, in its conception, in- 
volves social compulsion that Khrushchev does not want to dis- 
claim, the kind of compulsion that led, in 1929 and 1930 and 
afterward, to the death or expulsion of hundreds of thousands, 
if not millions, of peasants. It was also sound to realize that 
the terror of 1934, the decimation of the party, the filling of the 
labor camps with millions of prisoners, and the weird rituals 
of the purges were in no sense connected or justified by Marxian 
social engineering (as pro-Communist apologists had claimed 
before 1956), but represented the then unrestrained sadism of 
the dictator and the Byzantine atmosphere of his entourage and 
secret police. By 1934, the great breakthrough had been accom- 
plished, the opposition in the party had been cowed, and no 

The Other Side of Marxism 225 

real or imaginary plots justified the blood bath into which the 
whole society was plunged. 

But the analysis falls short of the truth insofar as it ignores 
the fact that the methods adopted after 1934 were inherent in 
the Bolshevik policies dating back to the earliest postrevolution- 
ary period. One can grant that the task before Russian Marxism 
could not have been accomplished according to the precepts of 
Western constitutionalism or democracy. Of the alternative meth- 
ods available for political consolidation and economic reconstruc- 
tion, the policy chosen at every step was one that would vest 
the most additional power in the dictator and his entourage. It 
was not so much the attrition of the democratic instincts (of 
which they never had had an abundance) that led the Bolshevik 
party to the full excesses of Stalinism and the "cult of person- 
ality." It was, in addition to the much more fundamental attrition 
of the humanitarian instinct, the urge to present every decision, 
even the most unpopular, as coming from the "masses." The 
Communist party or, in actuality, the dictator and the small 
group around him acted as a kind of prompter on the historical 
stage, "reminding" the masses how they should act. Thus the 
campaign for collectivization was accompanied in the official 
language by the "sharpening of the class struggle in the country- 
side," i.e., by party-sponsored violence of the poorer peasants 
against the kulaks. The very pretense of democracy by the essen- 
tially undemocratic system was thus the major reason for the 
manipulation and exploitation of popular prejudices, passions, 
and fears, which made the Soviet state even more totalitarian 
than warranted by the premises of Communism in Russia. 


The idea of creating a new international Marxist organization 
to replace the Second International had been with Lenin since 
1914. In 1919 this idea received organizational expression, and the 

226 The Unfinished Revolution 

Third International, the Comintern, was created. The Second 
International had been a loose conglomeration of socialist and 
labor parties, not all of them of Marxist or revolutionary char- 
acter. Thus, the British Labour Party was a member, and the 
Russian Socialist Revolutionaries were for a time represented, 
as were the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. The Comintern, on 
the contrary, was to be a highly centralized, definitely Marxist, 
and revolutionary body. The participating parties from the be- 
ginning had to pledge conformity with Leninism insofar as their 
ideology and organizational pattern were concerned. The Second 
Congress of the Comintern, in 1920, laid down twenty-one qualify- 
ing conditions for membership, which included the need of 
"democratic centralism," i.e., the organizational structure evolved 
by the Bolsheviks, of a clandestine organization to be set up even 
where a Communist party was legally permitted, and of periodic 
purges to rid the parties of "opportunists" and "reformists." 
Formation of the Comintern marked the repudiation on an inter- 
national scale of the social democratic tradition that the Bolshe- 
viks had definitely repudiated internally by 1917. 

The result was the general split of the international labor and 
socialist movement. The Second International, recreated after 
the war, continued the older tradition; and European socialism, 
as distinguished from Communism, became more and more 
pragmatic, more responsive to the circumstances of each given 
country's political and economic conditions than to the injunc- 
tions of Marxism. By contrast, the socialism of the Communist 
International was to become more responsive to the dictates of 
the policy of the only existing Communist state. It was inevitable 
in the nature of things that the Soviet Communist leaders would, 
from the beginning, play a dominant role in the Third Interna- 
tional. It was almost equally inevitable (anything else would have 
taken an inhuman degree of self-restraint in the Russians) that, 
for all the assumed equality of all member parties of the Third 
International, the Soviet party would exercise dictatorial direc- 

The Other Side of Marxism 227 

tion and that in due time the international Communist move- 
ment would be used as an instrument of Soviet policy. The his- 
tory of the Comintern reflects the shifts in the internal politics 
of the Soviet Union, with the splits, purges, and other internal 
developments of the Communist party therein. What is of primary 
interest to us is how the Soviet Communists assessed the role 
and possibilities of Communism on the international scale and 
how their policies illuminate the nature and opportunities of 
Marxism in the interwar world. 

World War I had marked the definite death of the liberal 
Utopia. The demise of the earlier type of liberalism was nowhere 
else more evident at the end of the war than in its international 
premises. To the man who was to formulate the economics of new 
liberalism, the collapse of the older type was obvious and vivid 
on the morrow of the Western powers' victory : 

What an extraordinary episode in the economic progress of man, 
that age which came to an end in August, 1914! The greater part of 
the population, it is true, worked hard and lived at a low standard 
of comfort, yet were to all appearances reasonably contented with 
this lot. But escape was possible, for any man of capacity or 
character at all exceeding the average, into the middle and upper 
classes, for whom life offered, at a low cost and with the least 
trouble, conveniences, comforts and amenities beyond the compass 
of the richest and most powerful monarchs of other ages. 13 

And the most characteristic aspect of the liberal ethos before 
1914 is evoked by Keynes: 

But, most important of all, he regarded this state of affairs as 
normal, certain, and permanent, except in the direction of further 
improvement, and any deviation from it as aberrant and scandalous. 
The projects and policies of militarism and imperialism, of social 
and cultural rivalries, of monopolies, restrictions, and exclusion, 
which were to play the serpent to this paradise, were little more 

18 John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, New 
York, 1920, pp. 11-12. 

228 The Unfinished Revolution 

than the amusements of his daily newspaper and appeared to 
exercise almost no influence at all on the ordinary course of social 
and economic life, the internationalization of which was nearly 
complete in practice. 

The economic side of the old system is recalled by Keynes in 
terms suggesting mid-nineteenth-century "fundamentalist" liber- 
alism : 


Europe was so organized socially and economically as to secure the 
maximum accumulation of capital. . . . Herein lay, in fact, the 
main justification of the Capitalist System. If the rich had spent 
their new wealth on their own enjoyments, the world would long 
ago have found such a regime intolerable. But like bees they saved 
and accumulated, not less to the advantage of the whole com- 
munity because they themselves held narrower ends in prospect. . . . 
Thus, this remarkable system depended for its growth on a double 
bluff or deception. On the one hand the labouring classes accepted 
from ignorance or powerlessness, or were compelled, persuaded or 
cajoled by custom, convention, authority, and the well established 
order of Society into accepting, a situation in which they could 
call their own very little of the cake that they and Nature and the 
capitalists were cooperating to produce. And on the other hand the 
capitalist classes were allowed to call the best part of the cake 
theirs and were theoretically free to consume it, on the tacit under- 
lying condition that they consumed very little of it in practice. 
The duty of "saving" became nine-tenths of virtue and the growth 
of the cake the object of true religion. 14 

How close to the early capitalist, or to Marx's view of the 
function of capitalism, is this picture. Like all evocations of the 
allegedly golden past, Keynes' description is perhaps too one- 
sided and overlooks the fact that the change was not simply 
the result of one dramatic event, the war, but also the product 
of forces and tendencies already visible and growing prior to 
1914, But this lyricism over the past, the conviction that old- 

14 Ibid., p. 20. 

The Other Side of Marxism 229 

fashioned capitalism was gone forever, was typical of the im- 
mediate postwar psychology ; and the conviction was not limited 
to the revolutionaries. To a stout believer in the virtues of the 
old system, which Keynes was in 1919, the future was foreboding 
and revolutionary : "The bluff is discovered ; the laboring classes 
may be no longer willing to forego so largely, and the capitalist 
classes, no longer confident of the future, may seek to enjoy more 
fully their liberties of consumption so long as they last and thus 
precipitate the hour of their confiscation." ir> And when we read 
this we are reminded, and the reader will forgive the insufferable 
repetition of this point, how much of Marxian apprehension 
there was underneath the liberal's economic optimism, and how 
much of the liberal's obsession with production and capital forma- 
tion there is in Marxism. 

The general feeling of the collapse of the old order and of the 
imminence of world revolution was most acute among the 
Bolsheviks following their own victory. In the beginning there 
was no idea of a possible conflict of interests between the Soviet 
state and foreign Communist or revolutionary movements. The 
very first instinct of the Bolsheviks tells them that their own 
revolution cannot survive short of revolutions and seizures of 
power in the more advanced states. To the radical socialists in 
the West, in the wake of World War I, the intricacies of 
Bolshevism are unknown and unimportant: Soviet Russia is 
a "workers' state." In 1918-1919, even some trade-union leaders 
in Great Britain and socialists in France and Germany, later on 
very unrevolutionary indeed, talk about forming their own 
Soviets. All Europe between 1918 and 1920 appears to the 
majority of Bolshevik leaders as Russia did between March and 
November 1917: the dissolution of the old order releases the 
revolutionary potential of society. Germany is several times on 
the brink of a Communist take-over. Soviet regimes spring up 
in Bavaria and Hungary. Never again was the idea of Com- 

15 Ibid., p. 22. 

230 The Unfinished Revolution 

munism to have so much popular appeal and revolutionary po- 
tentiality in Europe as in the very infancy of the then devastated 
and almost impotent Soviet state. And then the revolutionary 
wave passes and Western capitalism becomes stabilized. 

The coexistence with capitalism, which history has imposed 
upon the Communists and which they have had to accept as at 
least temporary reality, created certain problems for both do- 
mestic and international Communism. These problems are not 
of the kind usually conceived of in the West as the dilemma of 
Communism. The usual phrasing erects a neat antithesis, as in 
the question: "Are the Soviet leaders sincere in talking about 
a world revolution and the triumph of Communism, or do they 
cynically exploit foreign Communists for the sake of the power 
of the Soviet Union and with no scruples about what happens in 
the process to the foreign Communists and the revolution?" 
As usual when we ask this question, we demand and expect in 
other people a degree of introspection into their motives and 
a logical clarity about them of which we concede ourselves to be 
quite incapable in our own actions. It is simple common sense to 
assume that from the very beginning the Soviet leaders had 
thought, and quite "sincerely," that what was good for the 
Soviet Union was good for world Communism. By natural 
selection, the foreign Communist parties eventually came to be 
led by people who also (though the psychological mechanism here 
is more complicated) became convinced, and "sincerely," of the 
truth of the same proposition. Doubts and conflicts, in the latter 
case, were bound to occur on a large scale only when some Com- 
munist parties achieved power in their own countries. The prob- 
lem is not the world revolution versus the selfish state interest, 
or Communist idealism versus power cynicism. A more sophisti- 
cated and useful way of attacking the problem is to study the 
changing appraisal of foreign revolutionary possibilities by the 
Soviet leaders. 

The earliest and most millennial period of expectations was, as 

The Other Side of Marxism 231 

pointed out, closely connected with the very weakness, vulnera- 
bility, and isolation of the Soviet state. It is psychologically quite 
understandable how to the average Communist, in the period of 
famines and the Civil War in Russia, a Communist uprising in 
Hamburg or Budapest seemed as urgently important as what 
was happening in his own country. A few years later a good 
Communist still might think of himself as being equally solicitous 
about the welfare of foreign Communists, but there was now a 
concrete and promising job of socialist construction at hand 
in Russia, and somehow the foreign Communists loomed less 

This inevitable "pragmatization" of life paralleled certain 
domestic developments: in 1920, amidst appalling devastation 
and backwardness, the party could be terribly agitated by the 
question whether it was or was not according to the canon for 
a commissar to be paid more than a skilled worker. A few years 
later, whether one was for or against Stalin, for or against 
collectivization, no heat could be generated over the old problem, 
which now seemed simply irrelevant. Within a few years after 
the revolution, the earlier emotionalism over world revolution 
or any particular foreign revolution became unthinkable. It was 
characteristic of the political acumen of Stalin that he capitalized 
on this very natural evolution of feeling and, professing scrupu- 
lous regard for the international aims of Communism, suited his 
policies to the prevailing mood. 

It was typical of the reaction of the opposition to Stalin in the 
early twenties, the reaction of a drowning man grasping at what 
is at hand, that they tried to make a point of the alleged sacrifice 
of world Communism by the leadership of the party. Some of 
them were asinine enough to complain to the Executive Com- 
mittee of the Comintern about the behavior of their leaders. 
It is almost incredible that a man with Trotsky's intelligence, 
the earliest advocate among the Bolsheviks of rapid industrializa- 
tion and modernization of Russia, could let himself be maneu- 

232 The Unfinished Revolution 

vered into appearing as the enemy of "socialism in one country." 
In 1926 Stalin could ask what Trotsky's alternative was; he was 
able to upbraid Trotsky as an adventurer whose policies would 
plunge the unindustrialized Soviet state into a war with all 
Europe. 16 Trotsky's retort that one could build socialism in one 
country but could not finish building it while capitalism survived 
elsewhere would have been, at one time, regarded as a fine 
example of Marxist sophistication and subtlety. But to the as- 
sembled party and state bureaucrats, it was now just double talk. 
The inevitable, complete subordination of the world Com- 
munist movement, like the crystallization of personal dictator- 
ship in Russia, was a matter of several stages. The initial divisions 
and wrangling among the Soviet leaders found their echoes 
abroad. Thus Trotsky's disgrace had considerable repercussions : 
to foreign Communists his name approached that of Lenin's in 
glamor; more cosmopolitan in his outlook than his opponents, 
his disgrace was followed by the defection of the most individual- 
istic among the foreign Communists. On a smaller scale, the 
same thing was to happen in the wake of the descents of Zino- 
viev and Bukharin, the successive leaders of the Comintern. 
By 1930, the Stalinist pattern was firmly impressed, as it was 
in Russia, on the most foreign Communist parties, their leaders 
for the most part were miniature Stalins: rough-hewn party 
bureaucrats with little of the intellectual Iclat and individualism 
of the generation of Trotsky, Radek, and Bukharin. The parties 
became "bolshevized," as the official phrase went in the 1920's, 
i.e., not only did they become obedient to Moscow but they 
became small copies, ideologically and structurally, of the Com- 
munist party of the USSR. Like Pavlovian dogs, they are now 
not only obedient but conditioned to obedience: a bell would be 
rung in Moscow and soon an identical response would be coming 

u The Fifteenth Conference of the All Union Communist Party, 1926, in 
Russian, Moscow, 1927, p. 456. 

The Other Side of Marxism 233 

from Humanit6 in Paris, Die Rote Fahne in Berlin, and the Daily 
Worker in London and New York. 

The development in Russia was, in a sense, a natural if per- 
verse product of the Russian conditions of Marxism. To impose 
the same pattern, the same mentality, upon the Bulgarian or 
British Communist as upon the Soviet one was, by definition, 
to impose a considerable artificiality upon foreign Communist 
movements, to isolate them from the main trends of their 
national life, to the point where even the revolutionary aspira- 
tions of their societies could not accommodate themselves freely 
in bodies that to all purposes appeared as agencies of the Soviet 
government rather than native expressions of revolutionary 
Marxism. The foreign Communist lived in a world much more 
artificial and ideologically crippling than even his Soviet brother 
did. In the case of a foreign and especially a Western Communist, 
the denial of spontaneity, on which Leninism was originally 
based, was carried to the extent of the suppression of one's 
political and social instinct, to an unnatural alienation from one's 
society. The natural impulses of Marxism the sense of social 
injustice, materialist iconoclasm, and revolutionary impatience 
had themselves to be restrained and doled out in accordance 
with orders from Moscow. The violent verbal behavior of West- 
ern Communism and its almost voluptuous self-abasement be- 
fore the Soviet Union and Stalin are the reverse psychological 
effects of the constricted political lives that Western Communists 
had to lead. It is equally remarkable how at the times when they 
were allowed to act "naturally/' to exhibit, within limits, "spon- 
taneity" (as during the period of the Popular Front or during 
the Second World War and the Resistance), the sense of release 
made of the automatons and repeaters of stilted formulas brave 
revolutionary leaders and resourceful politicians, capable of 
seizing a popular following and strategic social and political 
positions. But the leash on which international Communism was 

234 The Unfinished Revolution 

held during the interwar period usually gave it but little op- 
portunity to exploit the chances for revolutionary Marxism in 
any Western country. 

The basic trouble lay in the heavy-handed application to very 
different societies of the same formula that had provided the 
victory of Communism in Russia. Lenin's party was assumed 
to be the microcosm of revolutionary forces in society, its lead- 
ers, because of their Marxist sophistication, always one step 
ahead of the actual revolutionary movement in their society. 
Marxism and "objective facts" teach that the peasants are likely 
to become stirred up ; lo and behold, the party forges ahead in 
proclaiming and exploiting the peasants' grievances. In power, 
the Bolsheviks served themselves with the same formula. The 
Soviet leaders assumed the role of prompters in the historical 
drama unfolding to a script by Karl Marx. 

But what gave the spectacle an appearance of reality in the 
Soviet Union was lacking in the world at large; namely, the 
prompter also being the producer and having complete control 
over the actors. A Soviet textbook that blithely proclaims that 
the class struggle became sharper in the countryside in 1929 
and 1930 expresses partial truth: the kulaks were being perse- 
cuted and expropriated. Never mind the fact that the "peasant 
masses" fell upon the kulaks because they were being egged on 
and coerced by the party and the police, and not because of 
their heightened class consciousness. In Western Europe in the 
late twenties, the Communist parties had been told to intensify 
their revolutionary propaganda and attacks on the "socialist 
traitors." The "objective facts" and Marxism told the Soviet 
masters of the Comintern that the "masses" in Germany and 
elsewhere should become convinced of the bankruptcy of the 
system and turn to Communism as a result of the Great De- 
pression. But the play did not adhere to the script. The German 
"masses," for instance, turned to fascism. The script was patched 
up: National Socialism was to be a brief interlude, not to be 

The Other Side of Marxism 235 

seriously resisted, for it was the last stage of bankrupt capitalism, 
to be followed by a spontaneous turn to Communism. But even 
the revised script failed to be acted out. 

The question remains why, even in the West, in the face of 
the inherent awkwardness of the Communist formula and the 
inhuman subordination of the Communist parties to a foreign 
country, Communism still made considerable inroads in the 
interwar period; and why, after the war, during which the 
antithesis between Communism and patriotism had disappeared 
with the attack on the Soviet Union by the Germans, it be- 
came, for a while, the most popular movement in Italy and 

It is best to confine our brief analysis to the interwar era, 
because the USSR was then not yet a super power. Still, the 
success of Western Communism during the period, with all the 
handicaps it labored under and the legal persecutions it was 
often subjected to, was not inconsiderable. In England, although 
the Communist party judged itself in luck to secure a seat or 
two in Parliament, it exerted a disproportionate influence in 
some of the unions. The French and German Communist parties 
commanded a considerable following among the working class. 
In Italy, under Mussolini, Communism gathered dividends from 
its talent for illegal organization. Indeed, small but well-organized 
Communist parties existed in all European countries. Even the 
slaughter of foreign Communists in Russia during the 1930's 
and the terrible spectacle of the purges did not seriously disrupt 
the organizational continuity or the blind allegiance of foreign 
Communist parties to "the Fatherland of socialism." 

The answer must be sought in a whole complex of causes. 
Here we might pause on one that relates the historical role of 
Marxism to the qualified success of Communism in Western 
Europe. The breakdown of liberalism as the ascendant philoso- 
phy of the Western world led to the disruption or arrest of the 
process that in all its economic, social, and political effects we 

236 The Unfinished Revolution 

have called industrialization. Keynes's vivid words demonstrate 
the shock the system received from World War I. Though the 
economy of Europe appears stabilized, and largely by the old 
methods, by the 1920's the psychological appurtenances of the 
old order are decisively disrupted. Nothing will again instill or 
restore the belief that the liberal order of things political democ- 
racy and capitalism is the inevitable product of social evolu- 
tion. Nothing will restore the illusion of the beneficent laws of 
the economy working out their designs with the least inter- 
ference by governments. The whole network of political rational- 
ism, always fragile and artificial, has been shaken. 

We see in Western Europe in the postwar period, developments 
reminiscent of the turbulent period of industrialization in the 
1830's and '40's, the era which, by the seeming logic of its develop- 
ments, gave Karl Marx the illusion of the prompt and inevitable 
breakdown of capitalism and the revolutionary arousal of the 
proletariat. The onset of the Great Depression of 1929 seems the 
very fulfillment of all that Karl Marx had prophesied, the veri- 
table Gotterddmmerung of capitalism and liberalism, no longer to 
be delayed or avoided by the now exposed panacea of parliamen- 
tarism and other political illusions. The breakdown of the habits 
imposed by the long period of domination of liberal ideology was 
thus followed by the breakdown of the liberal economic mecha- 
nism. First the international economic system, before World War 
I already strained by the development of economic nationalisms, 
and then the whole intricate economic machinery of the major 
capitalist powers broke down in a way that apparently con- 
formed to the blueprint laid down by Karl Marx. All the remedies 
developed during more than three generations of the flourishing 
of Western capitalism were tried and found wanting. 

What is it that Marx wrote in 1848? 

Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary 
barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devasta- 
tion, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry 

The Other Side of Marxism 237 

and commerce seem to be destroyed. And why? Because there is 
too much civilization, too much means of subsistence, too much indus- 
try, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of 
society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of 
bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too power- 
ful for these conditions by which they are fettered, and as soon 
as they overcome these fetters they bring disorder into the whole 
of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. 17 

In the 1930's, for the first time, Marx's prophecies appeared 
to be justified. The higher the extent of industrialization of 
the given country and the more complex and advanced its 
capitalist structure, the deeper appeared the character of the 
economic crisis, the more profound the shock to the established 
mores of the older liberal creed. 

It is not surprising, therefore, that the party that proclaimed 
itself the inheritor of revolutionary Marxism should have been 
in a position to capitalize on the developments consequent upon 
the great crisis. In retrospect, even the Great Depression does 
not vindicate Marx the prophet. The Depression was the break- 
down of the social psychology as well as the mechanics of the 
older type of liberalism. The revolutionary situation created over 
much of Europe had, as we observed, many elements in common 
with the very revolution that brought liberalism into ascendance 
and capitalism as the ruling economic system. But, as we also 
saw, the popular radicalism generated by the Industrial Revolu- 
tion was by no means of the prevailingly socialist variety. We 
noted in England from 1820 to 1850 the presence of movements 
and strains of thought of the proto-fascist as well as the proto- 
Marxist variety. The optimistic assumption of Marxism the 
breakdown of capitalism leads to a socialist revolution which 
was inherited by Communism, paradoxically proved to be in 
itself a remnant of nineteenth-century liberal optimism. 

Now in the century of mass communication media, mass 

17 Manifesto, p. 327. 

238 The Unfinished Revolution 

political movements, the anarchist feelings contained but not 
erased for generations by the discipline of industrialization and 
the ethos of liberalism erupted under the spur of depression, 
but by no means exclusively in the direction of socialism or 
Communism. The breakdown of middle-class values, the hos- 
tility toward banks and industry, the feeling of unreality about 
a constitutipnal and democratic system in a time of profound 
economic crisis, all these quasi-anarchist feelings can flow into 
revolutionary fascism as well as into revolutionary socialism. 
National Socialism, for all of its links with big business, which 
foolishly saw in it a defense against "radicalism" and its identi- 
fication with extreme nationalism, actually had its roots in anti- 
industrial and anti-state feelings. The philosophy of "blood 
and soil/' the obscurantist worship of race and of the peasant 
as its ideal representative, the echoes of syndicalism, virulent 
anti-Semitism the Jew again, as to many radicals of the In- 
dustrial Revolution, the embodiment of materialist and "rootless 
cosmopolitan" viewpoints this whole irrationalist complex of 
its popular appeal springs up from the undoing of the large 
part of the institutional and psychological appurtenances of 
industrialization. The same in a lesser degree can be said of 
Italian fascism. The social focus of earlier radicalism, including 
socialism during the Industrial Revolution, i.e., the lower-middle 
class threatened by the new economic forces, is now recreated 
in the spheres most susceptible to the appeal of fascist radicalism : 
the same strata, now including parts of the working class and the 
peasants, whom the depression has ejected from the seeming 
security and status by which a century of material progress 
had stilled their inherent anti-industrialism. Thus even the 
most catastrophic event in the history of Western capitalism 
justifies only Marx the sociologist of revolution, not Marx the 
prophet of socialism as the receiver of bankrupt capitalism and 
The fact that the decline and then the catastrophe of the old 

The Other Side of Marxism 239 

economic order did not give the Communists in Europe a more 
substantial success can be attributed, in the main, to two 
reasons. The first is the type of direction provided by Moscow. 
To capitalize on diverse sources of revolutionary feeling in 
diverse societies would have required of the local Communists 
the kind of sensitivity to local conditions and feelings that 
would have precluded in the first place their blind dependence 
on Moscow. The British Communists would have had to be, 
and convincingly, attuned to the now firm traditions of political 
democracy in England, the French Party genuinely responsive 
to the syndicalist and anarchist trends in the French revolutionary 
makeup, the Germans mindful of both German nationalism and 
the German working-class feeling of solidarity. But the logic 
of spontaneous response to the revolutionary possibilities in their 
societies, the logic that is ordained by revolutionary Marxism, 
would have made the foreign Communists unable to obey almost 
instinctively what the comrades in Moscow saw as the urgent 
tasks of the given Communist party. 

Even when the Soviet masters of the Comintern appraised 
correctly (especially when it coincided with the interests of 
the Soviet state) the most promising line of activity and propa- 
ganda of the given Communist party, the consequent behavior 
of the German, French, or Spanish Communists was usually 
too artificial, too transparently managed, to enable them to 
swim with the tide of revolutionary spontaneity in the way 
that the Russian Communists had done so successfully in 1917. 
Putting aside all moral considerations, such as the suppression 
of the instinctive feeling of national pride and the psychologically 
and intellectually crippling mechanism by which people have to 
rationalize the transmuting of their humanitarian and revolu- 
tionary motives into the service of a despotic foreign state, the 
dilemma of European Communism was and is (though as we 
shall see a major change was attempted after Stalin's death) a 
paralyzing one. To illustrate this dilemma: how far would the 

240 The Unfinished Revolution 

Bolsheviks have got in 1917 if, instead of responding readily 
to the rapidly shifting revolutionary moods, they had had to 
check their policies with a foreign center of Communism, if 
some organization or dictator sitting, say, in Vienna had to decide 
whether the slogan "All power to the Soviets" was a "correct" 
or "incorrect" one, and if they had to arbitrate between Lenin 
and Zinoviev about whether to undertake the November uprising? 
The predicament of the European Communists was often a 
tragicomic one: a new policy would be sanctioned of, let us 
say, wooing the nationalist element in Germany. The greater 
the enthusiasm and devotion with which the given leaders 
pursued this aim, the greater the danger of their inability to 
shift at the next change of the party line, and their consequent 
purge. In fact, instead of the management of revolutionary 
spontaneity, the premises and operations of the Comintern, often 
led, insofar as European Communism was concerned, to the 
drying up of its spontaneous revolutionary response. 

The other reason for the failure of Communism is perhaps 
more basic. As much as the Great Depression reopened the social 
wounds inflicted by the Industrial Revolution, it was unable to 
create in the most thoroughly industrialized societies of the 
West a "Marxian situation." The discipline of industrialism, 
the habits of democratic politics remained too strong in Great 
Britain, the Low Countries, and Scandinavia to allow a social 
dissolution reminiscent of Russia of 1905 and 1917, or Germany 
in the early 1930's. The ultimate defeat of early liberalism 
was followed there not by a reversal to an earlier, basically 
anti-industrial type of radicalism but by the development of 
a new type of liberalism, state- and welfare-oriented, perhaps 
sliding easily into what has been called laborism, but worlds 
apart from revolutionary Marxism. The development of Key- 
nesian economics provided a new economic "science" to bolster 
the instinctive turn toward the state and the democratically 
dictated tendency toward economic equality. Communism in 

The Other Side of Marxism 241 

the most thoroughly industrialized societies of the West (and 
again, "industrialized 7 ' referring not only to the existence of an 
industrial economy but also to the existence of appropriate 
social mores and institutions) had no function to perform and 
no overwhelming appeal to exploit. 

It is interesting to digress on some exceptions to the rule. 
Admittedly in the thirties and during and immediately after 
World War II, Communism had its pockets of influence and 
attraction in Great Britain and the United States. The nature 
of this appeal was related more the distinction is difficult but 
important to the real or imaginary accomplishments of the 
Soviet Union than to the relevance of revolutionary Marxism 
in the given society. The French or German worker "fell" for 
Communism largely because its exposition of revolutionary 
Marxism appealed to some of his basic instincts and needs. The 
British worker was more likely to opt for Communism because 
of the mistaken notion that the Soviet Union was a "workers' 
state" founded upon social and economic equality. The attraction 
of a Western intellectual was more often than not grounded on 
distaste for the "bourgeois philistinism" which surrounded him 
and the vision of a socialist society where how fantastic in 
view of what was going on in Russia in the 1930's bold experi- 
mentation and nonconformity were encouraged. There was more 
substance in the views of those who, struck by the collapse of 
the premises of liberal economy and the resultant economic 
chaos, looked enviously at the planning and the scientific and 
technological development of Soviet Russia. But despite some 
views to the contrary, frustrated bohemianism and dissatisfied 
intellectuals do not add up to the foundation of a revolutionary 

At the other side of the scale from the failure of Communism 
in the West lies its very considerable success in the colonial and 
semicolonial areas. The extent of this success became apparent 
only after World War II, with Communism engulfing large parts 

242 The Unfinished Revolution 

of Asia and becoming a powerful contender for many other 
underdeveloped countries. But the seeds of this success, then 
undoubtedly enhanced by the tremendous emergent power of 
the USSR, lie in the policies and principles adopted in the inter- 
war period. As in other areas, the successes or failures of Com- 
munism reflect the peculiar circumstances of each country and 
each Communist party. But there are also basic differences 
between the appeal of revolutionary Marxism in the West and 
in Asia. And here there is no doubt that Marxism has provided 
a master revolutionary formula for the underdeveloped areas and 
that Communism had applied this formula, as it did not apply 
Marxism in Europe, with instinctive skill. 

Proof of this lies not only in the Communist postwar con- 
quests which resulted more from concrete Soviet help than from 
any inner "necessity." A more objective proof is the general 
use of Marxist categories, even in their vulgarized Communist 
form, by many typical, even anti-Communist, intellectuals from 
the colonial and semicolonial areas. It is found in the general 
revolutionary volatility of political movements in Asia and their 
affinity with Communism. There is something natural, and it 
would be foolish to disregard it, in the appeal of Marxism as 
a system of thought for an Asian revolutionary; there is some- 
thing natural in the technique of the Marxist party for the 
political movements of the underdeveloped countries. In both 
cases, the Marxist phase may never coincide with the Com- 
munist one, or it may eventually be left behind, but it is almost 
inevitable. Marxism in such a society promises, even before 
the first modern factory is built, the road to modernization, the 
technique of emancipation from traditionalism, a rationaliza- 
tion of the disturbing forces of modern life as well as a protest 
against them. 

The recognition that an economically backward country offers 
a more fruitful field for revolution than does an industrialized 
one is implicit in Lenin's interpretation of Marxism. This "dis- 

The Other Side of Marxism 243 

covery" of Lenin was anticipated in Marx's writings on Ireland, 
India, China, etc. While held back by his own theory from 
postulating socialist revolutions in these countries, Marx had 
the essential insight that societies in the process of transition 
have a considerable revolutionary potential and that the effect 
of colonial rule is in many ways equivalent to the beginning 
phases of industrialization. Although primarily preoccupied with 
the industrialized West, Marx had seen, long before Lenin's 
Imperialism, that colonial areas were the vulnerable areas of 
the capitalist world and that the road to socialism in Asia, just 
as in the oppressed European countries (Poland, Ireland) led 
through national revolution. From these rather marginal ele- 
ments of Marx's revolutionary sociology, the Comintern, as 
early as a few years after the Bolshevik revolution, forged its 
scheme of Communist expansion in Asia. Two factors explain 
this strategy: the prospects of revolution in the West vanished 
for the time being, but at the same time it became clear that 
World War I had destroyed most of the appeal of liberalism as 
a proselytizing creed of modernization and that in Asia, at least, 
Marxism could in a fair way become its successor. 

In conditions of underdevelopment and foreign domination, 
the inherent paradox of Marxism the cult of modernization 
and technology, and the exploitation of the unsettling effects of 
industrialization does not provide an obstacle to the spread 
of the doctrine. It is the foreign rulers who in the popular mind 
become associated with all the evils of the transformation: the 
destruction of old customs and ways of life, the ruin of the 
handicrafts, and agrarian poverty. Even the most primitive 
rudiments of industrialization, i.e., a slight improvement in 
sanitary and medical conditions, bring with them pressures of 
population upon land that, under conditions of primitive econ- 
omy, create insufferable conditions of rural overcrowding, inef- 
ficient cultivation, and all the consequent economic evils. The 
leitmotif of nationalist propaganda against imperialism almost 

244 The Unfinished Revolution 

always has this twofold refrain which fits in with Marxism: 
like the capitalist in the nineteenth century, the colonial power 
is blamed for the economically destructive effects of the 
modernization at the same time that it is accused of keeping the 
colonial territories in backwardness and of denying them the 
benefits of modernity. The counterpoint of Marxism has, under 
Asiatic or, African conditions, a natural affinity with nationalism. 
The keynote of Marxian propaganda can be presented with 
double effectiveness, because the "exploiter" is, or certainly 
was in the interwar period, a foreigner or a Westernized 
entrepreneur or landlord. 

Into this naturally Marxist situation the Comintern injected 
the most effective revolutionary policy: the muting of other 
elements of Marxism, or their de-emphasis, in favor of revolu- 
tionary policy based on the encouragement of nationalism. The 
nationality policy inside the Soviet Union during the first 
decade after the revolution gave this policy a high degree of 
external plausibility. The opening of educational opportunities 
on a wide scale to the non-Russian elements of the population, 
the encouragement of cultural autonomy within the Soviet Union, 
the nationally heterogeneous composition of the Bolshevik leader- 
ship, all these developments obscured the already existing link 
between Soviet imperialism and international Communism. The 
incongruity between the revolutionary aspirations in the given 
society and the dictatorial sway over the given Communist party 
by Moscow, which was so jarring in the case of European Com- 
munism, did not exist on the same scale in Asia. Rather than 
fighting against the nationalism in the given party, the Soviet 
leaders more often than not had to restrain the Marxist funda- 
mentalism of their Asiatic followers and try to teach them to 
appear as good nationalists. Radek said to the Chinese Com- 
munists in 1922: 

You must understand, comrades, that neither the question of 
socialism nor of the Soviet republic are now the order of the day 

The Other Side of Marxism 245 

. . . the immediate task is: 1) to organize the young working 
class, 2) to regulate its relations with the revolutionary bourgeois 
elements in order to organize the struggle against the European 
and Asiatic imperialism. 18 

An oppressed nationalism easily becomes an ally of revolu- 
tionary Marxism. In Asia, foreign domination or foreign economic 
exploitation created revolutionary possibilities and situations 
analogous in many ways to the conditions in Europe in the 
nineteenth century that gave rise to Marxism. The national 
revolution in Asia, after World War I and up to our own day, 
has taken the place of and often been synonymous with the 
Industrial Revolution. But the symbiotic relationship between 
Communism and nationalism was bound to be of a different 
order than the same relationship between Marxism and anar- 
chism. In exploiting the latter, Marxism gave a revolutionary 
organization and theory to varied and largely formless forces 
of social protest. In their selfish collaboration with colonial and 
semicolonial nationalisms, the local Communist parties have 
allied themselves with and attempted to exploit specific parties 
or movements, each with its own organization and ideology. 

After an interval, the nationalist movement, especially if it 
had a social basis in the middle class, would often perceive the 
incompatibility of its aims with those of Communism and would 
refuse to serve as an interlude in the unfolding of the Marxist 
scheme of history staged by Moscow. The local Communist 
parties found themselves partners of movements which, instead 
of being eventually absorbed or destroyed by the Communists 
in the manner of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries in the 
Russian Revolution, aspired to and were often capable of turn- 
ing the tables on the Communists. Militant nationalism some- 
times appeared capable of superseding the Marxist formula, of 
exploiting the traditionalist reaction and social disturbances 

38 Quoted in Benjamin Schwartz, Chinese Communism and the Rise of Mao, 
Cambridge, Mass., 1951, p. 37. 

246 The Unfinished Revolution 

due to modernization, and, contrariwise, of satisfying the crav- 
ing for modernization and the breaking down of old customs 
and traditions. 

The limitations of any overly deterministic pattern of linking 
the social development with prospects for Marxism are well 
illustrated by Japan. Here is a classical case, in many ways 
parallel td prerevolutionary Russia, of a rapid industrialization 
taking place in a society still pre-industrial in its social structure, 
with the land-peasant problem persisting in all its acuteness. 
Yet, for all the existence of strong Marxist movements, the 
economic tensions of the transition found their release not in 
a socialist revolution but in militant nationalism, which utilized 
the traditional symbols for economic and imperial expansion. 

Elsewhere in Asia, between the two world wars, Communism 
appears to have unwittingly helped precipitate nationalist revolu- 
tions without eventually turning them to its own uses. The 
picture in China after the Communist-Kuomintang break and 
in the countries where national consolidations and modernization 
took place under nationalist and dictatorial auspices (as in 
Turkey, Persia, and, in a way, India) would have led to the 
conclusion that for all its greater sophistication in Asia, Com- 
munism failed there in its expansion as badly as it did in 
Europe. Just as the literal reading of Marxism mature capital- 
ism leads to a socialist revolution proved false, so the socio- 
logical insight contained in the Communist exploitation of 
backwardness proved almost equally futile. One might have 
supplemented Lenin's dictum by saying that if in an indus- 
trialized society the spontaneous development of the workers 
leads them to acquire trade-union rather than revolutionary 
consciousness, so in an "underdeveloped" country the social 
development will lead the elite, perhaps after a Marxist phase, 
into nationalism rather than Communism. 

This view had a degree of plausibility, but it should not be 
carried to the point at which we make every specific political 

The Other Side of Marxism 247 

situation the outcome of personalities involved, military and 
diplomatic factors, and plain accident. The interwar period was 
used for this analysis of international Communism because 
Soviet Russia was as yet not capable of installing Communism 
in a given country by sheer might, whatever the "underlying 
social forces" and "the stage of economic development.' 7 But 
even a superficial comparison of the role of revolutionary Marx- 
ism in the most industrialized segment of the world with its 
role in societies in the process of transition points out dif- 
ferences that cannot be completely explained by personalities, 
by the efficiency or inefficiency of the given police system, or 
even by the correct or incorrect "line" imposed by the Comintern. 

Industrialization, if supplemented by appropriate political and 
social development, instills a network of habits and institutions 
that make the appeal of Communism, even under optimum con- 
ditions, as during the Great Depression, limited and temporary 
insofar as the mass of the industrial workers and society as a 
whole are concerned. In a country beginning the process of 
modernization, or at a point where modern industry coexists 
with peasant or colonial problems, the necessary barrier of 
industrial and middle-class habits and values has not been 
erected to replace the traditional ones and ward off the revolu- 
tionary forces engendered by the process of new economics and 
new ideas moving in. In underdeveloped societies, Marxism as 
the promise of rapid industrialization and escape from humiliating 
backwardness, as the beneficiary of the tensions and tribulations 
of modernity, is always a strong contender for power, even 
though the actual Communist party may be small or unin- 

The Russian Communists have tried with varying success 
to apply the formulas learned in their history to promote revolu- 
tion abroad, first, as protection for their own vulnerable state, 
and then for imperialist reasons. In their domestic evolution, 
"life" has taught them that the practical meaning of Marxism 

248 The Unfinished Revolution 

in power is state capitalism and the instilling of essentially 
bourgeois values in the whole nation. To foreign Communists, 
they expound revolutionary Marxism not as an inflexible set 
of ideas but as tactics for exploitation of whatever there is in 
the way of revolutionary, anti-industrial potential in the given 
society. In societies where the lesson is relevant, the Communists 
are spared the ideological scruples and contentions of pre-1914 
Marxism. In the quarrels and purges of international Commu- 
nism, the motivating factor is no longer a disagreement on prin- 
ciples or about "what Marx really meant." The seemingly 
ideological arguments are but the invocation of scriptural 
authority for the disgrace of this or that leader and his group 
because of the failure of their "line" or their loss of favor in 
Moscow. If the average person feels the sanctions of religion 
more strongly after a moral transgression has involved him 
in misfortune, so a Communist feels that he has sinned against 
Marxism only if his anarchist or nationalist "act" has led his 
party to a defeat. The old ideological dilemmas and scriptural 
subtleties of the Plekhanovs, Trotskys, and Martovs, seeking 
the one right and legitimate formula for Marxism in Russia 
before 1917, are replaced by the recognition of the variety of 
the means to revolution. 

Thus the man who was to be the most successful of Soviet 
Communism's pupils was at pains to point out that Marxism 
should freely use and associate itself with peasant anarchism, 
but it should not become lost in anarchism, which is but a stage 
in its revolutionary tactics. Speaking in 1927 about the peasant 
riots in Hunan, Mao Tse-tung must have had in mind the Lenin 
of 1921 confronting the anarchist slogans of the Lenin of 1917. 
In a didactic fashion, Mao asked: "Are we to get in front of 
them and lead them, or criticize them behind their backs, or 
fight them from the opposite camp?" And he continued: 

An agrarian revolution is a revolution by the peasantry to over- 
throw the power of the feudal landlord class. If the peasants do 

The Other Side of Marxism 249 

not apply great force, the power of the landlords consolidated over 
thousands of years can never be uprooted. There must be a revolu- 
tionary tidal wave in the countryside in order to mobilize tens of 
thousands of peasants and weld them into this great force. The 
excesses described above result from the tremendous revolutionary 
enthusiasm of the peasants. In the second revolutionary stage of 
the peasant movement, such acts are very necessary. In this second 
stage, an absolute peasant power must be established, no criticism 
of the Peasant Associations should be allowed; the gentry's power 
must be totally liquidated, the gentry knocked down, even trodden 
upon. 19 

What Lenin had stumbled upon as the proper revolutionary 
tactics for Marxism, i.e., the exploitation of peasant anarchism, 
was for Mao already only a "stage," and in 1927 one could see 
that if Chinese Communism should come to power it would not 
take as long as it took the Bolsheviks to liquidate the anarchists 
and to move to further "stages." The history of Asiatic and 
especially Chinese Communism is long and involved and cannot 
be considered here. But even this one quotation shows that if 
Chinese Communism is "different," as sometimes believed in 
the West, it is different in having learned well the uses of Marx- 
ism as demonstrated by the history of the Communist party of 
the USSR, and in attempting to go consciously and rapidly 
through the phases that the Russian Communists traversed 
painfully and by improvisation. 

The story of international Communism is varied and complex. 
An attempted generalization will always evoke a protesting 
echo about exceptions and qualifications. No single strain can 
be found : it is an automatic result neither of social and economic 
forces nor of a conspiratorial design laid down in Moscow. 
But the story confirms the impression of extraordinary vitality 
of two elements of Marxism: its sensitivity to the revolutionary 

19 A Documentary History of Chinese Communism, cit. Conrad Brandt, 
Benjamin Schwartz, and John K. Fairbank, Cambridge, Mass., 1952, pp. 80, 82. 

250 The Unfinished Revolution 

stirrings of a society where the traditional culture and traditional 
economy have broken down and have not yet been replaced by 
firm new structures ; and its ability to inspire political fanaticism 
in the service of industrialization. The achievement of the 
Communists and it is not of primary importance whether in 
so doing they have been faithful to Marxism as a whole has 
been to harness both elements to their struggle for world 


At the Eighteenth Congress of the Communist party of the 
USSR in 1939, Andrei Zhdanov told a story which, despite its 
inherent humor, could not have appeared very funny to his 
listeners. At the height of the purges in the 1930's, some resource- 
ful Communists in a certain locality provided themselves with 
medical certificates, each certifying that because of the poor 
state of his health Comrade X could not conceivably become 
a "tool of the class enemy." Stalin's then right-hand man used 
the story to illustrate the excesses to which the Great Purge 
known later on as "Yezhovshchina" from the name of its main 
figure, liquidated in his turn had been carried. The "genius- 
like" leader of socialism was himself drawn to admit that errors 
had been made. This was the last Congress of the party held 
for thirteen years (its statutes then called for one at least every 
three years). Terror never again reached the heights of the 
1934-1939 period, but from what we know from the scant revela- 
tions after Stalin's death, the Communist party as a deliberative, 
policy-forming organization, even though in a totalitarian setting, 
practically ceased to exist. Only one meeting of the Central 
Committee is reported to have taken place between 1945 and 
1952. Even the Politburo met irregularly. The government of 
Russia lapsed into the hands of the despot and whoever happened 
to be his favorite of the moment. Day-to-day functioning of the 

252 The Unfinished Revolution 

machinery became the preserve of the party and state bureauc- 
racy. In the expectation of the aged tyrant's demise, his closest 
collaborators were attempting to carve out strategic preserves 
within this bureaucracy. The secret police apparently became 
a state within a state. The burden of fear imposed upon the 
average citizen in those years was as great, if not so often 
punctuated by widespread violence, as during the Great Purge. 
His isolation from the outside world became more extreme than 
ever. The life and death struggle of the war was succeeded not 
by any relaxation, any reward to the people, but by new re- 
pression and the straining not only to rebuild the economy, but 
to "catch up and overcome" the West in technological develop- 
ment. This is one side of the picture. 

The other side is better known : the USSR passing the examina- 
tion as a great military and industrial superpower in World 
War II; Russia rebuilding her industry at a tremendous pace 
after the war and forging to the very front rank in technology 
and science; Communism acquiring satellite states in Eastern 
Europe; the party contending for power in France and Italy; 
and the great victory of Chinese Communism, which makes 
Communist power in Asia no longer a threat but an overwhelming 
reality, the favored contender for ascendancy in the whole 
continent. Over large areas of the world, the combination of 
Soviet power and the attraction of revolutionary Marxism made 
it more than possible that the modernization and industrializa- 
tion of the underdeveloped countries would take place under the 
auspices of Communism, and this, in the circumstance, would 
redound to the increased power of the Soviet Union and to the 
further weakening of the democratic powers and the ideologies 
they represent. 

The two sides of the picture taken together do not add up 
to the usual Sunday-school view of politics. Terror and deception 
rewarded by the erection of a powerful industrial state; lack 
of democracy and the most basic freedoms leading not to the 

The Crisis of Marxism 253 

overturning of the tyranny but to the consolidation of the 
Soviet Leviathan and to its world-wide influence such must 
be the gloomy conclusions of anyone who would believe that 
the democratic virtues of the West should bring tangible rewards 
instead of the attrition of the political and ideological influence 
of the democratic powers. 

However, if we try conscientiously to separate the facts from 
our desires and preconceptions, the picture is far more complex. 
After Stalin's death the official communique of the Soviet regime 
spoke of the steps taken to prevent "disorder and panic." The 
despot's death was followed by a series of steps relaxing some 
of the most oppressive features of totalitarianism in the USSR. 
In other words, the recipe for tyranny was not perfect. Only 
the masochistic imagination of a writer could conjure up a 
perfect totalitarian system, a 1984, in which propaganda and 
oppression erode the last traces of human individuality and 
economic and social pressures disappear before an omnipotent 
state. The general principles of social and political development 
do not lose their validity even under the most oppressive totali- 
tarian system. They do not operate as "laws," automatically 
enforcing the commonplaces of the simplified democratic cate- 
chism, but neither can they be eliminated by the most stringent 
police and propaganda apparatus. 

It is not presumptuous nor is it wishful thinking to characterize 
the developments in the Soviet Union since 1945 as being pro- 
foundly affected by the crisis of the ideological basis of the 
state and society. This crisis certainly does not mean an "over- 
throw" of the regime, certainly not a "democritization" of 
Soviet life in our meaning of the word. It means, in the first 
instance, that the ideology Marxism which has served the 
regime and its logic, which went with the logic of the develop- 
ment of the Soviet state, have increasingly, since the end of the 
war, become less relevant to the problems of the state and society. 
Less obscurely, both in the Revolution and during the indus- 

254 The Unfinished Revolution 

trialization, Communism, for all of its departures from literal 
Marxism, could generate enthusiasm and popular support, be- 
cause what it was doing was the dictate of one part of the 
Marxist doctrine and could evoke the almost religious enthusiasm 
of its devotees. Even at the height of the purges, an average 
Communist could find a rationalization for his submission in 
the idea that for all its aberrations, the regime, through indus- 
trialization, was laying down the road to the promised land of 

With Russia essentially industrialized, the sense of the his- 
torical mission of Communism in the USSR becomes less and 
less clear. Where is Marxism to lead the USSR next? To the 
"withering away" of the state, to perfect equality? With large 
parts of the population having imbibed the ethos of industrialism, 
having become middle-class in their values and views, these 
slogans now sound unreal and distant. The dynamics of the 
industrial development itself, Marxism or no Marxism, can 
now assure the further growth of the economy. If the ideological 
element becomes less important and relevant, what is to take 
its place as the necessary rationale of the totalitarian system? 
For a time the very fact of relaxation of the most oppressive 
features of the regime, and the growth of material well-being 
will assure acquiescence, or even enthusiastic popular support. 
But to people with Marxist historical sophistication, the leaders 
of the Soviet Union, the very achievement of a higher standard 
of living by the people brings with it further economic and, 
eventually, political aspirations. The Soviet leaders may genu- 
inely believe in their oft-repeated slogan that "in our century 
all the roads lead to socialism." But where does socialism as 
it presently exists in the Soviet Union lead? 

The outlines of the crisis became legible during the last years 
of Stalin's rule. The crisis and the attempted remedies for it 
were undoubtedly connected though the details we do not know 
with the personal struggles in Stalin's entourage, with the 

The Crisis of Marxism 255 

purges that actually took place in the Soviet high command 
and with the preparation, in process when the despot died, for 
another greater purge, perhaps to rival the "Yezhovshchina." 
As to the personal intrigues and counterintrigues, we know little. 
It is risky in discussing Soviet politics (more so than any other) 
to assume that the relationship between political issues and 
personalities is a straightforward one, or that we can identify 
leader X with a "right wing" or Y with a "left wing" policy 
because of a speech, an accusation, or even a confession. As we 
saw during the much better documented period of the twenties, 
the maneuverings of totalitarian politics would trap people in 
ideological postures, which the winning group, having denounced 
them as the height of heresy, would then itself adopt. Hence the 
needed caution in analyzing, e.g., the conflict between Malenkov 
and Khrushchev as between the policy of more consumers 7 goods 
versus the stress on heavy industry. What are the major dilemmas 
that have confronted the regime since the period before Stalin's 
death? We might borrow a term from the Marxist vocabulary 
and talk about the inherent contradictions in the Soviet system 
as they have appeared to Stalin and his successors. 

The Party and the State 

Toward the end of his life, Stalin must have realized that the 
imposition of totalitarian controls on the party had reached 
dimensions threatening the very totalitarian system itself. The 
party grew in membership during the war, and the losses of the 
purge had more than been made up. The almost complete attrition 
of the older generation of Bolsheviks, through natural and 
unnatural death and the forced labor camps, led to a new 
character of the party. Membership became a reward, a mark 
of success in Soviet society. It became a body composed of 
managers, officers, "leading" workers, collective farm officials, 
and intellectuals, with little of the proletarian character that 
had dominated it until the early thirties. The deliberative bodies 

256 The Unfinished Revolution 

of the party, its congresses, conferences, even the Central Com- 
mittee, had atrophied. In a bureaucratically run body of this 
kind, the ideology must of necessity become something of a 
"Sunday" thing, an external veneer for people engrossed in 
their careers and material pursuits. 

The danger- inherent in this situation, if not immediate, still 
loomed very great. If the party loses its esprit de corps and its 
sense of mission, will not the average party member think of 
himself more and more in professional rather than party terms 
the army officer more of his community of interests with the 
army circles; the state bureaucrat of the viewpoint of the 
officialdom; and the trade-union leader in terms of the union 
postulates rather than in relation to the all-transcending feel- 
ing of membership in the party of Lenin and Stalin? If so, what 
would prevent at some future crisis, say, the dictator's death, 
a clash between leaders, each representing a professional or 
bureaucratic interest, and the eventual emergence of the army 
or the secret police as the dominant power, with the party 
ruling in name but slated for impotence? This problem might 
have been in Stalin's mind when he asked the question: 

The point is that we, as the leading core, are joined each year by 
thousands of new, young cadres fired with the desire to help us, eager 
to prove themselves, but lacking an adequate Marxist education, 
uninformed of many truths well known to us, and thus obliged to 
wander in the dark. . . . What is to be done with these comrades? 
How are they to be brought up in the spirit of Marxism-Leninism? x 

Russian Nationalism and the Nationality Problem of the USSR 

World War II was won not under the banner of Marxism- 
Leninism, but mostly on the impulse of Russian nationalism. 
In one of his rare outbursts of sentimentality, Stalin, at the 

X J. V. Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., in Current 
Digest of the Soviet Press: Current Soviet Policies, ed. Leo Gruliow, New 
York, 1953, 1, 2. 

The Crisis of Marxism 257 

Victory Banquet in the Kremlin, thanked the Great Russian 
people for the support rendered to the regime, which he modestly 
admitted, another phenomenon rare in the dictator, had made 
mistakes! Notwithstanding the dictator's being Georgian, Rus- 
sian chauvinism was officially sponsored and propagated after 
the war. Anything smacking of a suspicious idealization of a non- 
Russian nationality's independent past or existence, whether 
an ardent ode by a Ukrainian poet, a historian's denunciation 
of Tsarist imperialism in central Asia, or an excessive glorifica- 
tion of a nineteenth-century Caucasian fighter against the Russian 
conquest, became condemned. "Cosmopolitanism" how ironic 
for a regime tracing its descent from Karl Marx and Friedrich 
Engels became a transgression next to treason. Anti-Semitism, 
often an undertone in earlier Soviet politics, as when Stalin had 
been fighting Trotsky and Zinoviev, now reached the status of 
an almost official policy. The Jews, once so frequently in higher 
party and state positions in the Soviet Union, were now, with 
the exception of a privileged handful, removed, and some of 
them were slated for a worse fate. 

It is impossible to determine what motivated the extent of 
the officially sponsored xenophobia. Russification and Russian 
nationalism had been the order of the day since the 1930's, but 
never until the postwar period was the policy so explicit and, 
as in the case of anti-semitism, so openly designed to arouse 
popular passions. "Rootless cosmopolitanism" was denounced as 
violently as any suggestion that even before the Revolution the 
Russians were not in the forefront of civilization, inventors and 
initiators of scientific and technological achievements universally 
acknowledged as having been done elsewhere first. There are 
two possible, not mutually exclusive, explanations. Russian 
chauvinism was a belated reaction to the revealed wartime 
hostility to the Soviet regime and separatism, especially in the 
Ukraine and among the national groups in the approaches to 
the Caucasus, which had become obvious even in the face of 

258 The Unfinished Revolution 

the brutality and political stupidity of the German occupying 

More essential is the recognition that the postwar period 
demanded tremendous economic sacrifices in view of the govern- 
ment's determination not only to rebuild but to enhance the 
tempo of the industrial expansion. That, and the impression of 
another standard of living gathered by millions of Soviet soldiers 
even in the ruined countries of Eastern Europe and in Germany, 
required the counteracting effect of widespread propaganda. In 
an atmosphere reminiscent of the officially sponsored hysteria 
about the activities of the "wreckers," "saboteurs/' and the 
agents of foreign imperialism of the first Five- Year Plan, the 
new industrial effort and sacrifices were given the emotional 
spur of Russian chauvinism and of the search for the agents 
of "international Zionism" and imperialism. 

The inherent contradiction and danger of this policy lay in 
the dimensions of the nationality problem of the USSR. The 
early policies following the Revolution raised the specter of 
this Frankenstein monster, because the Soviets then were 
genuinely trying to promote non-Russian national cultures. 
Those policies and industrialization have created and developed 
the Ukrainian, Uzbek, Tartar, and other intelligentsias, whom 
now even the most repressive policies could not turn into 
Russians. Open anti-Semitism represented such a very funda- 
mental repudiation of the basic postulates of socialism that its 
uncontrolled spread in itself would have eventually hurt what 
remained of the morale of the Communist party. 

Industrialized Society and the Peasant 

More than twenty years of collectivized farming has not sufficed 
to turn peasant into worker, with the same mentality and re- 
sponses as the city worker. The resistance of the peasant masses 
had not arrested collectivization but had forced the government 

The Crisis of Marxism 259 

to change its character. Less reliance than had been expected 
could be placed on the state farm, the sovkhoz, which was 
ideologically the ideal form of rural economy, because in the 
sovkhoz the peasant becomes simply the agrarian worker. The 
structure of the kolkhoz itself had to be modified, with its 
prevailing form, the artel, representing a concession to the 
peasant's instinct for property in land by allowing him to keep 
for his own use a small garden plot, fowl, perhaps a cow. Thus 
the element of private property was not completely eliminated. 
By 1936, more than 90 percent of arable land was in collective 
and state farms. The collective farm was not regulated and run 
by its own members, but was subject to the most centralized 
direction. Peasants worked in teams and brigades, the manager 
of the kolkhoz usually being appointed from outside the peasant 
community. The remuneration was according to one's job and 
performance. In addition to the strict direction of the collective 
farm, the added element of control was provided by the state- 
owned machine tractor stations, each supervising the plans and 
performances of several kolkhozes. 

For all the great success in imposing collectivization, its final 
shape as it crystallized by the late thirties was never considered 
by the Soviet leadership as being the final answer to the problem. 
For one, the "idiocy of rural life" lingered on in the private 
plot, which drew the peasant away from collective work and 
psychologically constituted the link with the mentality of the 
small producer and the spur to the resentment of the whole 
collective system. For another, the prodigious growth of Soviet 
industry was never paralleled by anything close to a corres- 
ponding growth of agricultural production. For all its mechaniza- 
tion, Soviet agricultural output by the 1950's was approaching 
or barely surpassing the precollectivization figures, while in- 
dustrial production showed manifold growth. Here then was 
the major socio-economic problem of the Soviet society: the 
peasant had not been allowed to turn into a farmer, all the 

260 The Unfinished Revolution 

compulsion and violence had not quite transformed him into 
a worker. 

The regime pursued a zigzag course on the peasant problem. 
At times a squeeze would be put on the private plot, its size 
severely delimited, its products more heavily taxed. At other 
times a greater latitude would be shown: the peasant's income 
less heavily taxed, the structure of the collective farm relaxed 
in the direction of giving its members more latitude. The late 
forties witnessed a crisis. Contradictory policies were enunciated 
and then tried, reflecting the uncertainty about the needed 
remedies for the twin problem of increasing agricultural output 
and integrating the peasant into (socialist) capitalist society. 
In 1949 Andrei Andreyev, chairman of the Collective Farm 
Committee, came out^ publicly for the loosening of the kolkhoz 
structure in a direction that might transform it into a genuine 
cooperative farm instead of its being merely another term for 
a government-run grain factory. But Andreyev was publicly 
denounced, and the opposite policy was adopted. Several collective 
farms would be combined into one large kolkhoz; the peasants, 
working in brigades, sometimes miles away from their home- 
stead, would find it impossible to devote much time to their 
individual plots. Nikita Khrushchev, in 1950, formulated an even 
more drastic proposal. He advocated agrogorods, or agro-cities, 
where the collectives would be combined into still larger units 
in which peasants would live in apartment houses and be 
transported to cultivate the outlying fields, The garden plot 
would presumably disappear ; the peasant would be assimilated, 
in his habits and psychology, to the city dweller. But the plan 
proved impractical, and in turn Khrushchev's proposal was 

Industrialized Society and the New Class Mentality 

The economic transformation was accompanied and enhanced by 

The Crisis of Marxism 261 

a social one. The inculcation of the mores and habits proper to 
an industrialized society, the creation of way of thought and 
action characteristic of the middle class, ceased in the 1940's 
to be a revolution and became a fact. A society in which wide 
disparities of income and status were no longer merely tolerated 
but encouraged and accepted as a matter of fact, where prole- 
tarian romanticism gave way to the Communist version of the 
Horatio Alger stories a poor working or peasant boy becomes, 
through hard work, an engineer, factory manager, or doctor, 
and then a deputy to the Supreme Soviet and winner of the 
order of Lenin such a society needed very little by way of 
additional lessons in bourgeois values or "proofs" that egalitarian- 
ism is a petty bourgeois prejudice and has nothing to do with 
Marxism. It is a commonplace that material progress and values 
bring with them political aspirations. The concept of democracy 
or of the rule of laws was almost unimaginable to the average 
Russian after thirty years of Communist dictatorship. But the 
much more modest desires for a modicum of legality and of 
personal security, for the enjoyment of life and some minimal 
contact with the outside world were the logical consequences 
of the industrial and social development. Terror, compulsion, 
labor passports, the settling of artistic and scientific disputes 
by Party decree, could have had some, even if perverse, logic 
during the period of the most intense industrialization and 
during the war; but the same logic was lacking, even to the 
most indoctrinated Communist, in the continuation of the same 
unabated severity into the more advanced industrial period. 
A totalitarian system, operating in a society in which organized 
political opposition was not only impractical but unimaginable, 
did not confront an immediate danger. But the continued appli- 
cation of extravagant and obsolete aspects of totalitarianism 
threatened to undermine the morale, and in the long run the 
economic and scientific efficiency, of society. 

262 The Unfinished Revolution 

Soviet Domination and the New Communist States 

Soviet victories, geography, and the deplorable policies of the 
Western powers combined to give Eastern Europe to the USSR. 
In addition to its European satellites, each of them weak actually 
and potentially when compared with the USSR, a tangled course 
of events brought China into the "camp of socialism." The 
problem of Moscow's dealing with Communist parties in power 
was soon shown to be essentially different from the usual pattern 
of Moscow's domination of foreign Communists, in which com- 
plete obedience was expected and usually received. Too much 
water had flowed under the bridge since the first days of the 
Third International to expect, in the 1940's, Stalin and his 
group, accustomed to unabashed despotism, to exercise diplomacy 
and tact when dealing with the men who a few years before 
had been their obedient agents, or to show understanding of 
the national susceptibilities and economic peculiarities of the 
countries that had fallen under their sway. Without going into 
the wider aspects of the Soviet position in Eastern Europe, it 
is important to look at the problem of the relationship of the 
Communist party of the USSR to those in the satellites and in 

The Comintern had been dissolved in 1943 to reassure the 
Western allies. The gesture was quite meaningless: the foreign 
Communists' habit of obedience and the Soviet ability to com- 
mand them were so well ingrained that a formal organization 
meant merely a waste of scarce housing space in Moscow. The 
Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, whether they came 
mainly or partly with the support of the Soviet bayonets, were 
led by people who, though some of them had been in Soviet 
jails or camps, were neither in a position nor in a mood to offer 
the slightest resistance to the Kremlin and were only too glad 
to avail themselves of the help, advice, and command of the 
Russians. But in the nature of things, granting the premises of 

The Crisis of Marxism 263 

both sides, an eventual conflict was inevitable. Communism is 
power- and industry-oriented. A former humble servant of the 
Comintern, when in power, would soon plot fantastic plans of 
rapid industrialization and expansion, sometimes territorial, of 
his country's power. Soviet economic exploitation, the denial of 
even internal authority to the local leaders, was bound to jar. 
Thus men who before had been more fanatical Communists 
and even more fervent worshipers of Stalin than their Russian 
comrades tended to fall into "nationalism." The brutality and 
heavy-handed ness of Stalin's policy, seemingly oblivious to the 
possibility that the slightest whim of the Soviets might be 
defied by a Communist, thus brought to rebellion its initially 
and still potentially most faithful group of foreign supporters, 
the Yugoslav Communists. With Tito's defection in 1948, purges 
and social and economic policies originated directly from Moscow, 
or from its new international extension, the Cominform, de- 
scended upon the satellites. 

The satellite policies were from the perspective of the 1950's 
as obsolescently brutal and, ultimately, dangerous to the dicta- 
torship as some of the internal policies. A more perspicacious 
policy would certainly have brought better results. The dispro- 
portion in power between the European satellites and the USSR, 
the fact that their Communist leaders had nowhere else to look 
for support against the West or their own peoples, would have 
undoubtedly secured their general following of the Russian 
wishes, provided they had been given some leeway and oppor- 
tunity to dictate themselves the tempo of economic and social 
transformation of their countries. 2 But Stalinism by 1948 meant 
a boundless belief in the power of coercion. The idea of nego- 
tiating with or appeasing the satellite Communists would have 
been unthinkable to the tyrant. 

a lt has to be remembered, however, that some of them, the Yugoslav 
Communists, for instance, were at first more drastic in their social policies than 
the Russians would have had them and adopted a completely unrealistic plan of 
industrialization and collectivization. 

264 The Unfinished Revolution 

The danger was obvious: Soviet Communism survived its 
most dangerous moments by invoking Russian patriotism. The 
support of nationalism could not very well be invoked to main- 
tain Communism in the satellites. The overwhelming power of 
the USSR could and did, with one exception, prevent the defec- 
tion of the satellites and dispose of the unreliable or potentially 
unreliable satellite leaders. But the satellites could become 
liabilities instead of assets to Soviet imperialism: their economy 
damaged by Soviet exactions and inappropriate policies, their 
Communist parties demoralized and terrorized, they would 
present an additional danger in case of an emergency, instead 
of being reliable allies. The general tenor of Soviet policies 
toward Tito was having a discouraging effect, especially on pro- 
Soviet radical movements in Asia. And in the long run, the policy 
of complete control of subversion of internal Communist leader- 
ship by Moscow would almost inevitably lead to a vaster case of 
Titoism in China, where, in the eventuality of clash, even the 
qualified success of Stalinist methods (as in Poland or Bulgaria) 
was unimaginable. 


Party and state, nationalism, industrialization, the peasant, 
and the new class mentality, other Communist states these 
are only some of the factors that contributed to the crucial 
dilemmas of the Soviet state and party on the eve of Stalin's 
death. To the more perspicacious in the dictator's entourage 
they must have suggested that the logic of Marxism and the 
logic of Stalinism had begun to diverge to the point at which 
the totalitarian system itself, and, incidentally, their own jobs, 
if not lives, would be endangered by the continuation of the 
obsolescently severe methods. And more than once the danger 
of a new world war (as after the Korean conflict) must have 
appeared real, with the Soviet Union still behind in the develop- 

The Crisis of Marxism 265 

ment of atomic weapons and Chinese Communism far from 
having consolidated its hold upon the vast country. 

The aging despot could not, understandably, conceive of a 
basic conflict between the extreme of totalitarianism associated 
with his name and the interests of the country and the party and 
of Marxism. If earlier, the greatest crisis of the Soviet state 
in 1929-1933 had been overcome by industrialization plus a vast 
scheme of compulsion, the same twofold technique could be 
applied now. Extravagant and grandiose plans for technological 
transformation, as well as plots of still vaster purges, occupied 
Stalin toward the end of his life. The Economic Problems of 
Socialism in the U.S.S.R., published in his last year, is a largely 
incoherent restatement of Marxism as the despot understood it, 
with the reiteration of the technological mania: "What would 
happen if not individual groups of workers, but the majority of 
workers were to raise their cultural and technical standards to 
the level of the technical and engineering personnel? Our in- 
dustry would be raised to the heights unattainable by the in- 
dustry of other countries." 3 

Along with this and the more concrete plans for canals, re- 
forestation belts, and industrial expansion, Stalin evidently 
contemplated a new purge a pardonable self-indulgence in an 
old man having few pleasures left in life that was to begin 
with some of his closest collaborators. The Nineteenth Congress 
of the party, in 1952 (the first in thirteen years), laid the frame- 
work for the changes in leadership. The new Politburo of twenty- 
five members included a group of newcomers who were presumably 
to be given training on the job for the day when Beria, Molotov, 
Khrushchev, and others would be gathered to their reward. The 
"Affair of the Jewish Doctors," a group of eminent medical men, 
some of them on the staff of the Kremlin, "unmasked" as having, 
at the orders of foreign imperialists, caused or plotted to cause 

8 Current Soviet Policies, I, 7. 

266 The Unfinished Revolution 

the death of some notables, was in the best traditions of 1936 
and 1937. 

The twin recipe a vast purge and a vast industrial and social 
advance were to be the answer to the mounting problems of 
the dictatorship. In the international field, no major change of 
policy was cpntemplated, no relaxation of the stringent policies 
toward the satellites. The dictator's persistence in operating in 
the old, by now hardly relevant, categories is visible in his ap- 
praisal of the international situation. The eventual conflict be- 
tween the "imperialist" powers remained for him a cardinal 
tenet in 1952, as it had been for Lenin thirty years before. World 
War II had shown that "... the capitalist countries struggle 
for markets and the desire to crush competitors turned out in 
actuality to be stronger than the contradictions between the 
camp of capitalism and the camp of socialism," and the lesson 
is "that the inevitability of wars among the capitalist countries 
remains." 4 

The actual direction of Soviet policies, had Stalin lived on, is 
of necessity uncertain as is the question whether the old methods 
would have sufficed to deal with new problems. As it was, his 
death in March 1953 interrupted the attempted purge and 
changed the direction of the reforms which had been forecast 
in the Economic Problems. 

The dictator's successors inherited the problems bequeathed 
by both the successes and the failures of his policies. None of 
them has inherited the full prestige and power of the deceased. 
It is natural that, in any discussion of the struggle for power that 
has gone on since Stalin's death, the Western reader's attention 
is riveted on personalities and the "Kreminologists" expertise 
directed at the discerning of the plots and counterplots. But 
the stuff of politics does not consist solely of the intriguing 
coups and dramatic intervention by the "secret police," the 
"army," or the "party apparatus." The actuality of Soviet 

The Crisis of Marxism 267 

politics is reduced not entirely, as strict materialist determinists 
would have us believe, but to a considerable degree to social 
and economic forces which the various contestants try to utilize 
in their struggle for power. The problems have remained; what 
has changed has been the approach toward them, and the regime's 
ability to resolve some of them merely by compulsion. 

In pre-1953 days, the dictator's word immediately became the 
official policy. Such a policy might not succeed. Say the dictator 
ordered the abolition of the collective-farm markets, where the 
peasants could dispose of part of the surplus of the collectives 
rather than turn it all over to the state (this was forecast in 
The Economic Problems). Such a policy might not (and probably 
would not) increase the output of agriculture. But there would 
not be any trouble or delay at the decision-making stage, despite 
the manifest unfeasibility of the proposal. And the failure of 
the policy would not shake the dictator's position in the slightest. 
The successors could not impose policies simply because of whim, 
and the failure of a policy associated with leader Z might prove 
fatal to his position, the quarreling satraps being on the look- 
out for each other's vulnerable spots. 

It seems clear that the successors realized the need for popu- 
larity, if not in the nation at large, than among the now enlarged 
group of party and state officials with political influence. The 
rhythm of Soviet politics since Stalin's death has consisted of 
competing leaders' attempts to gain credit for liberalizing policies 
while trying to saddle their opponents with the reputation of 
being die-hard defenders of the old and bad order. Stalin was 
hardly in his grave when this "political campaign" for succession 
began. Each of the contenders tried to secure strategic positions 
in the party, state, or police apparatus. At the same time, he 
attempted to associate himself in the popular mind with the 
repudiation of some particularly obnoxious policy of the old 
regime. The game was exhilarating if dangerous. If leader X 
became known as an advocate of a more lenient policy toward 

268 The Unfinished Revolution 

the peasants, this policy would gain him popularity with the 
party officials for whom life would be made easier as a con- 
sequence of those policies and who would thus tend to support 
X in the now resuscitated Central Committee. If, however, X 
showed himself too clearly as being too enterprising in the search 
for popularity and corresponding administrative intrigues, he 
would unite against himself other leaders dreading another 

The latter was the fate of Beria. His fellow Georgian's death 
had probably saved him from an unpleasant fate, and he regained 
the leadership of the mainfold agencies of state security. Along 
with installing "his" men in crucial positions, the head of the 
police soon identified himself with the policy of "socialist 
legality" (i.e., a repudiation of terror) and with a nonchauvinist 
nationality policy, an obvious bid for the support by the non- 
Great-Russian elements of the party and state hierarchy. His 
liquidation at the hands of the other oligarchs was swift and 
dramatic, a tribute no doubt to the effectiveness of the appeal 
of his "platform." The fall of l\alenkov in 1955 was undoubtedly 
connected with his too insistent self-identification with the policy 
of more consumers' goods, i.e., better life for the Soviet citizen. 
Soviet politics still takes place in an atmosphere of personal 
intrigue, deception, and violence. But in playing their political 
game the leaders must take a much greater account of social 
aspirations and premises than at the time when one man stood 
so far above everything and everybody. 

The insistent nature of the problems confronting Marxism in 
Russia is evident in the policies pursued by the current leader- 
ship headed by Khrushchev. Under every heading, the policies 
have in some way responded to popular aspirations, but they 
have stopped at the point where further concessions would injure 
the essential totalitarianism of the system. Much effort has gone 
into the revival of the party. Two party congresses have met 
within the last four years. The deliberative organs, the Central 

The Crisis of Marxism 269 

Committee and the Politburo, meet frequently; and the former, 
because of the new focus of party politics, has regained some 
of its original importance. The regime has tried to pour new 
vigor and esprit de corps into the party. Excessive Russian 
chauvinism has been eschewed; and, in an almost demon- 
strative fashion, the leadership of the local party bodies in most 
non-Russian areas has been vested in the natives. In many ways, 
the regime has appealed to the amour propre of the non-Russian 
nationalities. An Uzbek sits in the Politburo; among its alter- 
nate members are heads of the Communist parties of Georgia, 
Ukraine, Latvia, and Byelorussia. The Ukrainians the most 
numerous non-Russian nation have had particular attention 
paid to them, attention ranging from a large number of Ukrain- 
ians in the highest party, state, and army posts (the fact, 
perhaps, also connected with Khrushchev's long-time association 
with the Ukraine) to the not very important but demonstrative 
turning over of the Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR. The domina- 
tion by the Russian element is clear, but the excesses of Russian 
chauvinism, as well as demonstrative anti-Semitism, have been 

A general policy of raising the standard of living and greater 
attention to the production and quality of consumer goods, while 
not negating the still asserted priority of the development of 
heavy industry, has softened the edge of the immediate economic 
grievances. The regime has talked about, and taken some steps 
toward, shortening the hours of work and increasing pensions 
and old-age benefits. Radical transformations in agriculture have 
been eschewed. The Soviets hope for the solution of the greatest 
socio-economic problem of Communism by raising the standard 
of living, giving more consumer goods to the peasant as well 
as by opening up vast new areas for cultivation. 

The extent of repression of the individual and the fantastic 
and senseless controls over every sphere of social and cultural 
activity under Stalin have given the new leadership a wide scope 

270 The Unfinished Revolution 

for "liberalism" without damaging in the slightest the essence 
of the police state. Secret administrative trials by a collegium 
of the MVD (the political police) have been abolished, the 
forced-labor camps largely disbanded. Labor passports, a rem- 
nant of the most draconic period of the industrialization, have 
disappeared. The extent of intellectual freedom, the possibility 
of contact with foreigners and with the external world in general, 
while modest in Russia today even in comparison with an average 
authoritarian state, appears as the extreme of freedom by the 
standard of Stalin's last years. 

The balance of the reforms, while impressive by that standard, 
can hardly be summarized as being even the first faltering step 
toward the rule of law, not to mention democracy or liberalism 
terms that anybody writing about the Soviet Union for the 
next generation or so would be wise to avoid. They add up to 
the conviction of the leaders that they can afford and must 
practice "sane" totalitarianism as distinguished from the morbid 
one of Stalin's era ; they reflect not only a response to the social 
pressures but also a sense of confidence that the new Soviet state 
is strong enough to withstand a citizen's conversation with a 
foreigner or the news about the number of automobiles in the 
United States. 

Are we then justified in talking about a crisis of Marxism in 
the USSR, when what we see is a common-sense attempt to 
abolish the now needless severity? The process has not been 
without interruptions and regressions, whenever it was deemed 
that effects had gone too far. Beria and his accomplices and 
there must have been others were certainly not tried in accord- 
ance with "socialist legality." After the initial "thaw," the 
intellectuals have been reminded, not too gently, of the boundaries 
they must not overstep. The zigzag course of repression-relaxa- 
tion was, after all, an "invention" of Stalin himself. After the 
great suffering of the initial industrialization and collectivization 
drive, the great man had said what Khrushchev and his group 

The Crisis of Marxism 271 

have tried to suggest by their behavior : "Life has become better, 
Comrades, life has become gayer." And then began the Great 
Purge! Where today is the "collective leadership" so piously 
asserted in 1955 and 1956? 

The reason that we must not see in the current developments 
in Russia just another temporary device of totalitarianism is 
demonstrated by a fragment of Suslov's speech at the Twentieth 
Party Congress in 1956. While talking about the ideological 
education of party members, Suslov, long in charge of the 
agitation and propaganda division of the party, quoted ap- 
provingly a complaint by a rank-and-file member: 

I have been in a Party history study circle for 13 years. For the 
thirteenth time our propagandists are explaining the Bund to us. 
Have we nothing more important to do than to criticize the Bund? 
We are interested in the affairs of our M.T.S. (Machine tractor 
station), of our district, of our province. We want to live in the 
present and the future, but our propagandists have got so bogged 
down in Narodnik and Bundist affairs that they cannot get beyond 
them. 5 

"We want to live in the present and the future. . . ." Had 
the party boss pondered the full meaning of those words, he 
might not have quoted them so approvingly. It is not only the 
heroic period of the party's history that now holds little meaning 
to its members, but the whole ideology, the meaning of socialism 
itself, as compared with everyday concrete problems of life. Up 
to a point this ideological secularization of the party membership 
is a factor of stability of the Soviet system and a source of 
comfort to the regime. Abstract questions of democracy, equality, 
or "real" socialism do not excite the average party member, 
interested mainly in his career and the amenities of everyday 
life, grateful, no doubt, to the new leaders for enabling him 
to breathe more freely and to live better than he did a few 

., II, 79. 

272 The Unfinished Revolution 

years ago. But a complete ideological secularization, the relaxa- 
tion of Marxism-Leninism to the level at which the average 
citizen of the industrialized West keeps his religion, is some- 
thing that the regime dreads and a totalitarian system can ill 
afford. The separation of ideology from the problems of everyday 
life, or ideological agnosticism, must mean, after a while, one 
thing : the individual, even if he is externally a good Communist 
and thinks of himself as such, will find the expression of his 
interests and social aspirations through the medium of his 
trade union, his level of officialdom, or his economic class rather 
than through his party. We encounter our old friend and the 
intermittent enemy of Communism: "spontaneity." Spontaneous 
social development, granted the present level of Soviet society, 
leads to growing absorption in prosaic, material things and to 
the attrition of that passionate enthusiasm by which the ideology 
of a totalitarian party buttresses the totalitarian system. 

It thus becomes clearer why the regime has tried so desperately 
to revive the elan of the party, to infuse Communism with mean- 
ing and further historical tasks. It becomes clear why the present 
leadership has decided upon a step fraught for them with con- 
siderable danger baring the worst abuses and excesses of the 
Stalinist era and giving the party a comprehensive view of some 
of the horrors perpetuated by Stalin and in his name. A more 
cautious policy would have followed the pattern of the first 
two years after Stalin's death: an implied rather than an out- 
right criticism of the late dictator and his methods. In delivering 
his detailed attack upon the despot, at the closed session of the 
Twentieth Party Congress, Khrushchev must have been aware 
of the inference his hearers would make: the denouncers had 
been Stalin's closest subordinates, Khrushchev himself the ex- 
ecutor of Stalin's policies in the Ukraine during the Great Purge. 
But the psychological risk involved must have been deemed less 
significant than the potential advantage: it would be demon- 
strated to millions of party members that Communism is a living 

The Crisis of Marxism 273 

and vigorous creed, that transgressions and terror flow not from 
the ideology but from its perversion by individuals, and that, 
instead of demanding self-abasement and bureaucratic routine, 
Marxism and Leninism have creative and regenerating powers. 
And so the moral: "... to return to and actually practice in all 
our ideological work the very important Marxist-Leninist theses 
about the people as the maker of history and the creator of all 
mankind's material and spiritual benefits, about the decisive role 
of the Marxist party in the revolutionary struggle to change 
society, about the victory of Communism." 6 

The listing of the tyrant's misdeeds, the admission of the 
blood bath into which he plunged the party and the country, 
was done with a certain cleverness which underlines its purpose. 
Stalin the dictator, the architect of great industrialization and 
the ruthless executor of collectivization, has remained on the 
pedestal. It is the morbidly suspicious tyrant after 1934, who 
needlessly sent people to their death or jail and who persecuted 
his closest collaborators, who was denounced. The same principle 
and moral are employed in distinguishing among Stalin's victims. 
It was "correct" to impose the policy of industrialization and 
to destroy politically its opponents 

. . . because the political line of both the Trotskyite-Zinovievite bloc 
and of the Bukarinites led actually toward the restoration of 
capitalism and capitulation to the world bourgeoisie. Let us con- 
sider for a moment what would have happened if in 1928-1929 
the political line of right deviation had prevailed among us, or 
orientation toward "cotton-dress industrialization," or toward the 
kulak, etc. We would not now have a powerful industry, we would 
not have the collective farms. . . J 

But it was "incorrect" to initiate terror "when socialism in our 
country had been fundamentally established" and especially 
"incorrect" to kill off people just because of actual or alleged 

e From Khrushchev's speech, Current Soviet Policies, II, 188. (Italics mine) 
II, 173. 

274 The Unfinished Revolution 

disagreement with the tyrant. Social repression and even terror 
in the service of a great Marxist aim, like industrialization, says 
Khrushchev, is all right; whimsical terrorism unhealthy. What 
other regime could have produced the phenomenon of the dictator 
confessing that his predecessor had been a murderer, the speaker 
his obedient tool, and using the occasion for the ideological 
edification of his hearers? 

The effort to revivify the ideology and the party has proved 
to be a qualified success. But the essential premise of Khrush- 
chev's speech exhibits this basic naivete: the eternal tendency 
of the Communist leaders to have their cake and eat it; to 
have all the advantages of spontaneous support and ideological 
enthusiasm of the party, at the same time that the main features 
of totalitarianism remain unimpaired. The ghost of Stalin, even 
the post-1934 Stalin, has proved too strong to be laid aside. 
And the reason is that the Communist party cannot quite be 
the ideologically charged and vital organization it had been 
during the Revolution and during the crucial stages of industriali- 
zation. Thus, terror as a potential weapon of totalitarianism 
can never be laid aside, and, at periods, as in Khrushchev's 
disposal of the Malenkov-Molotov group in 1957, its threat, at 
least, has to be invoked. It is a pleasant dream in which the 
Communist leaders indulge: a democratic totalitarianism where 
the free activity of the people moves them in the direction desired 
by the dictatorship, where not only power but popularity are 
the rewards of the dictatorship's magnanimous resolve to use 
terror and illegality only when it is necessary. But their own 
historical sophistication, the product of Marxism, must tell them 
that politics is more complex. 

Hence the attempt to breathe life into the old formulas. At 
the Twenty-first Party Congress, Khrushchev discoursed about 
the perennial problem: the passage from socialism to com- 
munism. But the vision of a society of perfect equality, of the 
absence of coercion, of the withering away of the state, is quite 

The Crisis of Marxism 275 

meaningless to the average party member, not to mention the 
average citizen. The illusion has to be maintained that, by being 
a Communist, a worker, engineer, or scientist will work better 
and with a "difference." 

To illustrate both the predicament of Marxism in Russia 
and the necessary qualification of any hasty optimism about the 
demise of Soviet totalitarianism because of its disappearing 
ideological raison d'etre, it is well to keep in mind Marx's story 
about capitalism. At one time, the story goes, capitalism was 
a truly revolutionary creed, able to inspire its exponents with 
the fanaticism and energy capable of destroying the older and 
obsolete economic system. But then it was capitalism's fate to 
become reactionary, a "fetter" on the forces of production. But 
the capitalists refused to recognize their social and economic 
obsolescence and attempted to continue the system through 
their command of the instrument of coercion the state. The 
story is much more appropriate when applied to the role of 
Communism and its ideology in Russia. Communism had a 
revolutionary meaning and function both in the Revolution and 
in the period of industrialization and collectivization. The 
ideology, or its different parts, could then go hand in hand 
with the rationale of the Communist dictatorship and totali- 

But where can Marxism lead the Soviet Union now? Toward 
democracy? Does anyone seriously believe that the Communist 
party is desirous or capable of instituting even the rudimentary 
elements of the rule of law or of the democratic process? To 
"Communism"? Will this industrialized society move toward 
the equality of incomes and status away from which it has been 
moving practically from the first days after the Revolution? 
Toward the "withering away of the state"? One must not joke! 

It is tempting in prognosticating the future evolution of the 
Soviet system to discern hopeful signs in the undoubted erosion 
of the ideology and the undoubted secularization of Soviet life. 

276 The Unfinished Revolution 

A latter-day Marxist view sees the Soviet system orienting itself 
toward the yet distant but discernible goal of Marxism 
democracy : 

. . . within the Communist Party there already exist various poten- 
tial trendy which will become actual and will crystallize in the 
processes of inner party discussion. Diverse shades of international- 
ism and nationalism will come to life. Divergent attitudes toward 
the peasantry will be expressed. Conflicting views will arise about 
the tempo of further industrialization, consumer interests. . . . 
Once the ruling party begins to discuss its affairs it cannot monopolize 
freedom of discussion for long. 8 

A somewhat less deterministic view would link the quieting 
down of Soviet expansion to the failure of the ideological 
prophecy of the collapse of capitalism: "For no mystical Mes- 
sianic movement and particularly not that of the Kremlin, can 
face frustration indefinitely without eventually adjusting itself 
in one way or another to the logic of the state of affairs. " 

How easily all of us become historical determinists, believers 
in "inevitabilities," if by doing so we can assuage our fears and 
prognosticate developments confirming our wishes! But it is 
quite possible that the inherent contradictions of Soviet Com- 
munism may not lead to the erosion of Soviet totalitarianism, 
any more than the inherent contradictions of capitalism, which 
Marx saw so clearly in 1850 and 1860, did not lead to the trans- 
formation of old-fashioned capitalism for another fifty or sixty 
years. And political power, to which Marx attributed the ability 
of the capitalists to hang on beyond the clear signs of obsoles- 
cence, was not nearly so much concentrated in the hands of the 
nineteenth-century middle class, nor exercised so ruthlessly and 
skillfully, as it is by this executive committee of the exploiters 

8 Isaac Deutscher, Russia: What Next? New York, 1953, p. 228. 

9 George Kennan, "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," reprinted in American 
Diplomacy 1900-1950, Chicago, 1951, p. 124. 

The Crisis of Marxism 277 

Soviet totalitarianism. All that a historical study can achieve is 
to point out the areas of tension and the probability of crises 
in a system that has outlived its main historical mission. It dare 
not predict their outcomes. We have pointed out, in discussing 
the original Marxist argument, the fallacy of its major intellectual 
premise: history must work itself out tidily, creating no prob- 
lems it cannot solve; no nooks and crannies in the historical 
scene can for long shelter an anachronism or the illogicality 
of an accident. The illogicality of Soviet totalitarianism, of 
Marxist ideology in a society that has no further need or use for 
it, may yet for a long time be with us. 

In looking for areas where an ideological advance would bolster 
the totalitarian system, the Soviet leaders can find very little at 
home in the way of possible directions. The peasant problem 
remains, it is true, one great, unfinished subject on the agenda 
of Marxism in Russia. But the regime has evidently decided 
that, instead of major political pressures designed to transform 
the peasant into the worker, a fuller integration of the peasant 
masses into the mores of industrialism and a better economic 
performance from agriculture can be expected by raising the 
standard of living in the countryside and by giving the collective 
farms more autonomy in managing their affairs. The regime 
has not hesitated to initiate the program of selling the machine 
tractor stations, traditionally the main lever of economic and 
political centralized control over the peasants, to the collectives. 
In 1952, Stalin, considering proposals for exactly this step, char- 
acterized it as an inadmissible retreat from the socialist direction : 

What would be the result . . . ? How could one justify this 
exceptional position of the collective farms, by what considerations 
of progress or advance? Could one say that such a situation would 
be conducive to raising collective farm property to the level of 
public property, that it would speed the transition of our society 
from socialism to Communism? Would it not be more accurate 
to say that such a situation could only further separate collective 

278 The Unfinished Revolution 

farm ownership from public ownership and lead us not closer to 
Communism but on the contrary further from it. 10 

It remains to be seen whether the basic peasant problem, the in- 
born hostility to the collective system, can be completely as- 
suaged by economic remedies and more freedom of initiative. 
But the practical scope of socialist reforms in agriculture, for 
the time being, remains small. The main source for ideological 
enthusiasm (one recalls the synthetically produced ideological 
fervor with which the party in 1955 and 1956 recruited city Com- 
munists for the development of the "virgin lands" in Kazakhstan 
and Siberia) must be sought elsewhere. 

And here there is one logical direction. Capitalism, the Com- 
munists have held, has been postponing its doom through im- 
perialism. Foreign expansion, both of the Soviet Union and of 
Communist ideas, remains one major source of "proving" Marx- 
ism on the home front. Marxism-Leninism and, one must be fair 
even if the present Soviet leaders are ungrateful, Stalinism, with 
their technological orientations have brought the Soviet Union to 
the position of pioneering the exploration of outer space. But a 
proud Soviet citizen may begin to suspect that further technologi- 
cal achievements are not dependent upon continued reading of 
Capital or What Is to Be Done, much as the regime is trying to 
establish a connection. On the other hand, the growth of Com- 
munism over large parts of the world, the appeal of the doctrine 
to the nations in Asia, Africa, and soon, perhaps, Latin America 
are tangible "proofs" of the ideology, sources of inspiration for 
the party members, and, incidentally, justifications, or so it 
appears, of the policies and methods of the leaders of Soviet 
totalitarianism. The international aspect of Communism, its 
continued expansion, thus becomes a crucial point in the preser- 
vation of the ideological motivation of the Russian Communists. 

Unabashed Stalinism in relation to foreign Communists was 

" J. V. Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the UJSSJt., in Current 
Soviet Policies, 1, 19. 

The Crisis of Marxism 279 

found as awkward and obsolescent as the Stalinist methods in 
domestic politics. The embroilment with Tito had to be liqui- 
dated, the terroristic methods undermining the morale of the 
Communist parties in the satellites ended, and the permissibility 
of "several roads to socialism," rather than one decided upon 
in Moscow, had to be proclaimed to obviate future conflicts, 
unavoidable with China, for example, if the old formula had 
been adhered to. With their instinctive propensity for eating 
their cake and having it, too, the Soviet leaders expected solid 
dividends for their enlightenment and liberalism. Their control 
over the satellites would remain almost as great as before, but 
instead of terrorized and dispirited satellite parties, they would 
now have willing partners and subordinates. The Chinese Com- 
munists would fit more easily into the new pattern. The dis- 
turbing effects, especially in Asia, of the Tito affair would be 
dispersed with the return of Yugoslavia to the camp of socialism. 
Communism, in the world at large as in the USSR, would show 
its regenerative powers and stand, unencumbered by the ballast 
of Stalinism, as the road to national liberation and emancipation. 
In 1955 the Soviet leaders traced their steps to Belgrade (the 
home of "American agents carrying out espionage and sabotage 
assignments from their American 'chiefs' against the U.S.S.R. 
and the people's democracies," as Tito and his group had been 
characterized at the Nineteenth Party Congress, in language 
rather restrained for those days) and asked that bygones be 
bygones. Even earlier, the satellite parties had been told to 
restrain their local Stalins, liquidate the more obnoxious security 
chiefs, and rehabilitate the good Communists erroneously shot 
during the bad old days. Who could accuse the post-Stalin leaders 
of lack of resolution or of false embarrassment about past 

The new policy probably arrived at not without serious dissen- 
sions at the Kremlin, about the tempo if not the character of 
measures, represented, like the denigration of Stalin at home, 

280 The Unfinished Revolution 

a calculated risk. But insofar as the satellites were concerned, 
it contained one gross psychological error. The satellites had not 
been through forty years of totalitarianism. Nationalism there, 
instead of being the natural ally of the regime and in contrast 
to the USSR, was the natural enemy of Communism. By recog- 
nizing its "errors," Communism in Russia gained, at least 
temporarily, in strength and vitality. But with the extreme of 
terror 'discouraged in the satellites, there was little left to 
preserve their Communist regimes against the long-suppressed 
wrath of their peoples. With Tito appeased, a premium was being 
put on a nationalist stance by local Communist leaders. Even 
some of the most "Stalinist" leaders, as in Poland, switched to 
a frantic nationalist posture, justly afraid that they would be 
offered as sacrificial goats in the explanation and expiation of 
past mistakes. And Tito wanted Yugoslavia not only to be 
treated as an independent Communist state, but to be actually 
independent. Thus October 1956 in Poland, with Gomulka carried 
to power in the face of Soviet threats. Thus Hungary, with 
national Communism spilling into a national revolution against 
Communism. Thus the story of Russo-Yugoslav relations like 
an unhappy marriage of quarrels, denunciations, reconciliations, 
and cajoleries, but always of essential incompatibility. In foreign 
Communism, as in domestic, the ghost of Stalin refuses to dis- 

It would be fatuous to describe the satellite policy as a com- 
plete failure. Its near catastrophe in the fall of 19S6 undoubtedly 
shook, for a time, the position of the leading group in the 
Kremlin. The social and intellectual side effects of the liberaliza- 
tion of satellite Communism, which spilled over the borders of 
the USSR, had some unsettling results in Russia. But a balance 
between the old and new policies toward the satellites was 
established in 1957-1958, just as a similar synthesis was being 
established within the Soviet Union. In both cases, recourse to 
pure Stalinism is almost unthinkable. But outright compulsion 

The Crisis of Marxism 281 

and terror are always there to supplement, if needed, the flexible 
tactics of partial concession to popular aspirations, economic im- 
provement, and attempted ideological revival. 

The appeals and the state of Marxism in the areas not con- 
trolled by the Soviet bayonets, the relevance of Communist 
China's effort to skip the historical stages of industrialization 
even faster then had the Soviet Union, are described in the 
final chapter. Here we have dealt with some internal and external 
aspects of the crisis of Marxism in the USSR. It is obvious 
that this crisis does not translate itself into an immediate weak- 
ness of the USSR, or an immediate danger to Soviet totali- 
tarianism. Yet it is this crisis that is largely responsible for the 
improvisations, the rapid shifts and reversals, in the domestic 
and foreign policies of the Soviet rulers. Somehow the ideology 
has to be shown to be important, dynamic, and capable of ex- 
pansion and conquest. If it is not shown to be so, then even the 
most rapid growth in the material welfare of the citizens of the 
USSR will not enhance, but most likely will decrease, the 
ideological appeal of Communism, with which is bound up the 
preservation of the leading role of the party and of totalitarian- 
ism itself. It is this restlessness in the search for a justification 
of the ideology, a rationale for continued totalitarianism, which 
opens up incalculable dangers for world peace. Being intelligent 
men, desirous of learning about the outside world, genuinely 
interested in improving the lot of their people, the Soviet leaders 
cannot desire a world conflict. But at the same time, they are 
driven by an ideological compulsion much more complex than 
the now obsolete dream of world revolution, to adventurous and 
aggressive foreign policies. 


The citizen of the United States lives in an apparently pragmatic 
and "unideological" environment. If he views his society at all, 
he probably sees there no irreconcilable conflicts, no "inherent 
contradictions," only concrete problems always susceptible to 
concrete solutions. Economic ills will respond to material prog- 
ress, which is taken for granted; political and administrative 
shortcomings can always be remedied by legislation and adminis- 
trative measures; even the major social problems, such as the 
racial one, will be solved by education, wise legislation, and 
time. There are no ineluctable laws of history standing in the 
way of common-sense solutions which will eventually be ac- 
cepted by a majority of reasonable men. Conflicts of political 
viewpoints can be reduced to different views on specific policies 
or, at most, to clashing interests, but certainly not to any histori- 
cal or economic "forces" or "laws," standing over and above 
human volition. Why cannot the rest of the world be the same? 
National egocentrism likewise pervades the attitude toward 
Communism. Where does Communism lead in relation to world 
peace? The sources, component parts, and dogmatic vagaries of 
the doctrine all pale into insignificance when compared with 
certain questions: Is or is not Communism bound to lead to 
another world conflict? Is this ideology, which has already con- 

The Unfinished Revolution 283 

quered one third of mankind, likely to continue its triumphant 
march ? 

Answers to the first question vary according to one's estimate 
of what constitutes the most important operative element of 
Communism. Is it belief in force? John Foster Dulles phrased one 
representative approach to the problem when, stressing the 
peaceful nature of the democratic creed, he wrote : "Unhappily it 
is otherwise with the creed of Communism, or at least that 
variety of Communism which is espoused by the Soviet Com- 
munist party." 1 Marx, Lenin, and Stalin have all taught the 
use of force and violence, and Mr. Dulles sees the relationship 
between ideology and action as a fairly direct one, for he con- 
cludes : "These teachings of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin have never 
been disavowed by the Soviet Communist Party of which Mr. 
Khrushchev is now the First Secretary. . . . Therefore, I believe 
that it is necessary that at least that part of the Soviet Com- 
munist creed should be abandoned." * 

At the other extreme is the view that the Communists' ideology 
should encourage rather than depress us about the prospects for 
world peace : 

They will, while they retain their present philosophy, understand 
neither our society nor their own. . . . We cannot rely on their 
good will, but we can, if we act wisely, rely on their patience. 
Their false philosophy teaches them that time is their ally; and 
the more they can be persuaded to let time pass quietly the better 
for us and for them. Let us at least thank God that Hitler is dead 
and that the dictators we have to deal with are sane. 2 

Both attitudes, it is not unfair to say, suggest a degree of 
incredulity that other people can be so different from us, or 
that the difference can be ascribed to something separate from 
ill will or stubborn ignorance. If the Communists would only 

*In a letter to The New Statesman and Nation, London, February 8, 1958. 
*John Plamenatz, German Marxism and Russian Communism, London, 
1954, pp. 350-351. 

284 The Unfinished Revolution 

learn that it is wrong to use violence, says Mr. Dulles. If they 
could only see how wrong it is to expect the collapse of our 
system or to accuse it of inhuman iniquities, echoes the other 
view. The problem, unfortunately, is more complex; and it is 
impossible, before seeing its full complexity, to realize the 
predicament of the Western democracies in the face of the 
Communist threat. 

We have asserted here that Marxism is primarily based on 
two things. One is the insight into the psychology of large masses 
of the population in a society that undergoes the process of 
transition from a traditional, pre-industrial phase to industrializa- 
tion. Without having read a word of Marx or Lenin, an illiterate 
peasant who is being squeezed economically or forced to give up 
his land and work in a factory experiences almost instinctively 
the feelings that Marxism formulates in a theoretical language: 
a sense of alienation springing from his loss of property and 
status, and an antagonism toward the people and authority 
personifying the mysterious forces that have made his previous 
social existence impossible or increasingly hazardous economically 
and that have destroyed the whole basis of his beliefs and values 
without giving him anything in return. To such people, Com- 
munism may come not as an esoteric intellectual creed, but as 
a systematic expression of their own feelings and reactions, 
something which again makes sense out of an apparently sense- 
less world. What to us, in a society which has left that stage 
of development long, long ago, looks like an unreasonably com- 
plicated and unduly violent doctrine, one almost impossible to 
believe in except through propaganda or under coercion, appears 
to a reflecting Asian or African as a sensible and natural descrip- 
tion of the world and history. Our own ideology, the product of 
a long industrial development and a consequent democratic 
habituation appears to them, in contrast, as something infinitely 
more complicated and unnatural. 

The Unfinished Revolution 285 

But Marxism is more than just a convincing demonology of 
the forces of the modern world; it gives more, in addition to 
being a systematic rationalization of instinctive anarchism of a 
society torn from its traditional moorings. The evils of moderniza- 
tion are conveniently ascribed to a class and a system of authority 
called capitalism. But the promise of full emancipation from the 
evils of the present and the promise of harmony and welfare far 
beyond the dreams of a pre-industrial past are also provided. 
The ideology embodies a passion for material improvement and 
fanaticism in the service of industrialization. Just as it exploits 
the nostalgia for a past ruined forever by the capitalists, it ap- 
peals to the impatience for the future, which cannot be appeased 
by democratic and liberal phraseology, by the cautions and 
procedures natural in a society that has achieved industrializa- 
tion, but empty-sounding in one in a hurry to find the key to 
a better future industry and technology. 

For international politics, the first practical consequence of 
this view of Marxism to recognize it frankly is that it is the 
natural ideology of underdeveloped societies in today's world 
and that, in contrast to it, liberalism as practiced and preached 
in the West can appeal to a much narrower range of interests and 
sentiments and is at a disadvantage in competition. But this 
recognition, hurtful as it is to our amour propre, should give 
rise not to pessimism but to a more realistic appreciation of 
the policies and techniques needed to obviate the danger that 
the natural appeal of Marxism will be translated into Com- 
munist domination of the new states. Communism in our time 
has boasted of its ability to skip stages of historical develop- 
ment and rapidly propel a country barely emergent from a pre- 
industrial stage, toward an advanced modern society. It is this 
capacity which must be learned by Western liberalism in its 
dealings with the "underdeveloped" areas, the capacity to help 
them move through the "Marxist stage" of their development 

286 The Unfinished Revolution 

before the shackles of Communist totalitarianism are fastened 
on them the shackles that will not drop off of themselves once 
this stage is left behind. 

Paradoxically, therefore, one aspect of the struggle between 
Communism and liberalism consists not in a competition of ideas, 
the "struggle for men's minds" as it is often grandiloquently 
called; it is rather a struggle of techniques of development, of 
social and economic statesmanship on a world scale. It is, from 
the Western point of view, the struggle to bring the new coun- 
tries to the social and economic level and pace of development 
at which democratic ideas and aspirations can begin to be 
meaningful concepts in their people's minds as well as consti- 
tutional formulas and declarations. From this point of view, it 
is of secondary importance for an eventful achievement of the 
rudiments of real democracy whether freedom of the press is 
or is not observed in Ghana, whether Nasser sulks at the United 
States or not, or even whether Indian public opinion is indignant 
about Tibet. A more important harbinger of the future is the 
pace of economic development and social adjustment to indus- 

The problem is not simply "economic help" or what would 
be hopeless bringing, within a foreseeable time, the backward 
areas of the world to the present material level of the West. 
We have seen how, after the middle of the nineteenth century, 
in an English society economically "underdeveloped" (from 
today's perspective), the full strength of the radicalism born out 
of the transformation began to die out, and English socialism, 
when it was finally reborn, arrived with a mentality and a lan- 
guage quite different from the Marxist doctrine of class war and 

It is not fantastic to draw potential lessons for societies with 
entirely different political and cultural pasts. As a matter of fact, 
our quite common puzzlement about why countries at all levels 
of social and economic development cannot enjoy the rule of law 

The Unfinished Revolution 287 

and democracy is often, and paradoxically, accompanied by 
an unstated premise that these blessings, by the nature of things, 
are reserved to a charmed circle of Western states. The failure 
of Marxism in England was occasioned not only by factors 
specific to English political culture, but also and mainly by the 
rise in the standard of living of the working classes and the 
economic dynamisms that inoculated English society with the 
values of industrialism, which in turn made possible and impera- 
tive the growth of democracy. Social protest from an anti- 
industrial, anti-state form of anarchism, susceptible of being 
utilized by radicalism of either the left or the right, turned into 
the more constructive form of the working-class struggle for 
political rights and a greater share of the benefits of industrial- 
ism. Institutions of self-defense or attempted escape from the 
industrial state, like the cooperatives and trade unions, grew 
into schools of industrialism and democracy. The English exam- 
ple suggests that to overcome the Marxist phase of the effects of 
industrialization, economic dynamism must be supplemented by 
proper institutional appurtenances. Trade unionism rather than 
universal suffrage, an efficient civil service rather than elaborate 
constitutional guarantees are the most likely assurances that 
democratic habits will grow along with economic development. 
In other words, social as well as economic planning must 
flow from a realistic recognition that, in large areas of the 
world, Communism has proselytizing powers superior to liberal- 
ism. Western diplomacy has for a long time persisted in the 
belief (reasonable in the classical day of European diplomacy 
but a dangerous illusion in a revolutionary world) that there 
is a special magic and effectiveness in formal treaties and engage- 
ments. The same excessive concern over the externals of politics 
has characterized our attitude toward the paraphernalia of con- 
stitutionalism and parliamentarism in the countries going through 
the birth pains of the modern economic system. Perhaps we 
should become Marxists to the point at which we recognize that 

288 The Unfinished Revolution 

there is more than mumbo jumbo in the hackneyed phrase 
about "the underlying social and economic forces." If our policies 
will recognize this, we shall be making the first step in denying 
to Communism a monopoly of the formulas of rapid moderniza- 
tion and industrialization. 

The second consequence of a realistic recognition of what 
Marxism means is to see more sharply the relationship between 
the dynafnics of Soviet society and the prospects of world peace. 
Marxism, we have postulated, has concluded its main work in 
Russia. From now on, its further aims and formulas are likely 
to appear increasingly artificial to the majority of Soviet citizens 
and even to party members. It remains as the official rationale 
of the totalitarian regime, and, as such, it will continue to be 
used in official incantations and declamations. But its two points 
of historical significance the ability to catalyze human energies 
for revolution and for industrialization are no longer relevant 
under Russian conditions. 

But Soviet Russia is not only under a Marxist ideology; it 
is also under a totalitarian system. We all remember a classical 
case of ideological disillusionment: an eight-year-old girl who 
inquired of a newspaperman whether there was really a Santa 
Glaus and received an answer which, though eloquent and mov- 
ing, would hardly have been convincing. It would not do for a 
Russian citizen to inquire of Nikita Khrushchev whether there 
really was socialism rather than state capitalism in the Soviet 
Union, and whether his society was in effect moving toward 
the state of affairs where "from everybody according to his 
ability, to everybody according to his needs" will be an accurate 
description of reality. The common habits of industrialism and 
materialism may prompt a Soviet citizen to think and behave the 
way a man of the corresponding social and economic status does, 
say, in the United States, but Soviet totalitarianism will not 
let him do so. It is a reassuring picture of the future of Soviet 
society that some Western commentators have tried to suggest: 

The Unfinished Revolution 289 

the Marxist ideology teaches the Soviets to be patient, and at 
the same time this ideology and its militant aims with it is 
eroding as it confronts the reality of world affairs. Much as we 
wish such an outcome, the view is even more wishfully and 
perversely deterministic than was the corresponding Communist 
belief in the imminent collapse of capitalism in the West. 3 

It is indeed possible, if not probable, that the erosion of 
ideology under the impact of industrialization may lead Soviet 
totalitarianism to a more aggressive foreign behavior than 
would otherwise be the case. There is no better method for 
ideology to preserve its internal function of solidifying and 
justifying popular support of the regime than by demonstrating 
Communism capable of success and expansion abroad. No previ- 
ous leadership, again except for the immediate postrevolutionary 
days, has spoken so often and so insistently about the coming 
expansion of Communism, about moving from the stage of 
socialism to that of Communism, as has that of Khrushchev. 
As for outright aggressive policies, it is again within the last few 
years, the era of generally relaxed relations with the West, that 
the Soviet Communists and their Chinese allies have practiced 
"brinkmanship," a near-precipitation of a war crisis, as, for 
example, over the islands off the China coast or over Berlin. 
There is not the slightest evidence of a desire to precipitate an 
actual world conflict; the Marxist leaders, with their ingrained 
appreciation of technology, are too well aware of the abysmal 
potentialities of a nuclear war. There is every evidence of a 
continuing pattern of forcing the Western powers into retreats, 
demonstrating to the world and to their own people their ability 
to frustrate "imperialist designs." 

The increased awareness of the Soviet leaders about the tie-up 

8 Observe this difference: even at the height of the Communist millennial 
expectations after the Bolshevik Revolution, the hopes for Communist revolu- 
tion in the West were never accompanied by an assumption that the Soviets 
should not practice militant policies, or that their strategy should be one of 

290 The Unfinished Revolution 

of world politics with the internal situation is also vividly 
demonstrated by some secondary characteristics. The leaders 
now travel widely inside and outside the "camp of socialism." 
That they do so reflects not only a natural tendency to see the 
world, curtailed of necessity when they were merely the most 
privileged inmates of Stalin's prison, but also a realization that 
foreign policy is now intimately connected with the problem of 
the preservation of Marxism and totalitarianism in the Soviet 
Union. .When, some time ago, the announcement of the belated 
execution of the leaders of the Hungarian uprising stirred up 
demonstrations against the Soviet embassies in the West, "popu- 
lar demonstrations" were ordered unprecedented in recent So- 
viet history against the Western legations in Moscow. This was 
a forcible propaganda lesson for the Soviet people of the rela- 
tionship between their dignity and the interests of world Com- 

Most studies of Soviet foreign policy ask or imply this ques- 
tion : What can the West do about it ? And it is unavoidable that 
in the process of answering we should often distort the problem 
according to our hopes or fears. It would be foolish to try to 
find a deterministic pattern. We live in a world where a dictator's 
miscalculation, a sudden sharp conflict, or simply an accident 
may provoke a nuclear war, the result of which is unimaginable, 
the "underlying forces" and the "decisive trends" be what they 
may. But what the hypothesis sketched here implies is that no 
simple mechanistic interpretation of Soviet foreign policy (such 
as seeing in it a systematic execution of a detailed plan of world 
conquest or "the Russians always respect force") will do. The 
Russian leaders act under an ideological compulsion, which, while 
they shrink from an all-out war, will not allow them to leave the 
world in peace and let the social forces at home encroach upon 
their totalitarianism. It is infantile to ask whether the leaders 
themselves are ideologically motivated or whether they believe 
that the world will eventually be inherited by the Marxist doc- 

The Unfinished Revolution 291 

trine. There is no reason not to assume that, say, in Khrushchev's 
mind, the interests of Marxism, of the Soviet Union, and of his 
own power do not blend into a harmonious whole. 

The Western powers enjoyed for a few years after the World 
War a thing unprecedented in recent history : a complete monop- 
oly of the absolute weapon. It may be something to regret, in 
retrospect, that the thorough industrialization of American so- 
ciety, the natural and laudable tendency of a democratic society 
to return to its materialistic cares and problems at the end of 
an emergency, made impossible an interest in or an assertion of 
a nationalism that would have barred Soviet expansion. The 
question is not, needless to say, of the use or even the threat of 
use of nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union. But their pos- 
session could have made feasible a resourceful and resolute 
policy, which would have barred Eastern Europe to outright 
Soviet imperialism and might have made it possible for the 
modernization and industrialization of China to take place under 
other than Communist auspices. Would Soviet totalitarianism, 
then faced, as we now know, with a major ideological crisis and 
the backbreaking job of restoring and pushing Soviet economy, 
have been able to remain unaffected by being cut off from terri- 
torial and ideological expansion ? As it was, the Western powers 
practiced "containment" when "liberation" was a possibility; 
then, for a short time, "liberation" was proclaimed the official 
slogan when "containment" was the only practical policy. The 
successive incantations of "massive retaliation" and "limited 
nuclear war," like Wellington's troops in the story of his reaction 
to them at first sight, may not have frightened our opponents 
but they have certainly terrified people on our side. 

The idea that there is one magic formula, which if found would 
solve the problem of our relations with the Soviet Union and 
Communism, is the most common cause of confusion in our 
thinking about foreign relations. The average person, when dis- 
cussing his neighbor, displays a considerable dialectical sophisti- 

292 The Unfinished Revolution 

cation, an insight into the interplay of human psychology, 
ideology, and the economic factor. Why, then, in dealing with 
a group of men or with a foreign society should we assume that 
the explanation of their behavior is so much simpler and can 
be accounted for in a sentence? Thus, the Communist leaders 
are either "power-oriented" or "they want peace because they 
want to develop their countries." A consequence of an over- 
simplified and static analysis in a complex and dynamic world 
is the lack of flexibility and the repetitious anachronisms of suc- 
cessive formulas for foreign policies. The same penchant for 
externals that made so many Americans and Englishmen be- 
lieve during World War II that Russia was moving toward 
democracy now makes them deny the reality of any change in 
Soviet society. The same intellectual indolence that assumed that 
the Soviet Union, because of her diplomatic engagements, would 
not communize Eastern Europe now accounts for the erection 
of, say, the problem of independence for Algeria or diplomatic 
recognition of Communist China into a moral dilemma rather 
than one of concrete political and social consequences. 

One must repeat that the internal necessities of the Soviet 
regime dictate to it at the present a twofold direction of foreign 
policy. One is a common-sense desire to avoid a major war ; the 
other, an assertive policy designed to illustrate the viability and 
missionary significance of Communism. The Western response 
must establish unambiguously in the Soviet leaders' mind (and 
it is here that the significance of long and apparently fruitless 
East-West negotiations becomes clear) the area where an aggres- 
sive Soviet policy does involve the danger they want to avoid. 
In other areas, the democracies' counteracting policies must 
rely not only on mechanistic devices of treaties and alliances, 
but also on social and economic measures that weaken the appeal 
of Marxism to underdeveloped societies and make it less likely 
for this appeal to become translated into Communist domina- 

The Unfinished Revolution 293 

The reaction of ideological systems to their internal difficulties 
is, in a way, as trite as that of individuals. A degree of internal 
trouble often impairs outside expansiveness and aggression, while 
a major and sharp crisis will often lead to an irrational and 
violent hostility to the outside world. There is little doubt that 
an outright threat to the basis of Soviet totalitarianism could make 
it engage in aggressive policies with catastrophic implications. 
A real threat of national separatism within the Soviet Union 
would be viewed by the leaders as a matter of life and death. 
We have seen, on the contrary, that the weakening of the extent 
of Soviet control over other Communist states, while obviously 
disliked by the Soviets and in one case followed by armed inter- 
vention, may be acquiesced in by the Russians. Of all the external 
factors which, short of war, are likely to affect the nature of both 
Marxism and totalitarianism in the Soviet Union, the predominant 
one is the future development of other Communist states. 

What are the prospects for the satellites? We have seen the 
reasons that had made the Russians, after Stalin's death, try to 
adopt more enlightened methods of control and the grief to 
which those policies almost brought them in Hungary and Poland 
in the fall of 1956. It is symptomatic that the Soviet leaders' for- 
eign miscalculations evidently had internal repercussions within 
the USSR. Khrushchev's position was threatened in the winter 
and spring of 1957. (His plan of economic decentralization and 
reform, announced in the spring, may have been one means of 
recouping his position within the Central Committee in the 
expectation of a showdown, which came in July.) It is not that his 
opponents, Malenkov, Molotov, and the others, were necessarily 
for "Stalinist" methods; they simply attempted to capitalize on 
the leader's failure. The intellectual thaw in Poland, which had 
assumed flood proportions after October 1956, also had some 
unsettling effects on the Soviet intelligentsia and students. 

A new, uneasy balance in Soviet policies toward the satellites 
was established by 1958: neither old Stalinism, with its unreason- 

294 The Unfinished Revolution 

able terror, nor the nai've optimism of 1955-1956 that a consider- 
able leeway for the satellites would automatically produce love 
of the Soviet Union and of Communism. No vilification of the 
Yugoslav Communists, but also no more hearty receptions in 
the camp of socialism for Tito, irretrievably and almost despite 
himself the carrier of the germ of "Titoism" and of "revisionism." 
A reasonable amount of Soviet control, a perpetual quarantine 
for Tito, but also a continued attempt at forging unifying links 
through common ideological and economic interests. 

The whole episode should be most instructive to the Western 
policymakers; its continued development, of great significance 
to Soviet foreign policies and internal developments. For there 
is almost no doubt that Soviet hopes as to the future of the 
satellites are bound to be disappointed. There may be no further 
revolts; in Eastern Europe, the last illusions of Western help 
collapsed in the wake of the Hungarian experience. The tempo 
of the imposition of the Soviet pattern may be enhanced, as, 
e.g., forced collectivization, it already has been. But the results 
industrialized modern societies in Poland or Bulgaria are even 
less likely to conform to the Communist dream and Soviet ex- 
pectations than society in Russia. From slaves, they are not 
likely to evolve into grateful junior partners ; more probably, they 
will be troublesome dependents, ungrateful, demanding, always 
in the need of being watched. The example of their greater flexi- 
bility, their wider range of intellectual and professional free- 
doms, may have a demoralizing effect, from the totalitarian point 
of view, on the younger Soviet generations. In the Soviet Union, 
the contradictions between an industrialized modern society and 
totalitarianism are largely encompassed by Russian nationalism. 
But nationalism in the satellites is unlikely to help Soviet domina- 
tion or to make them assets to Soviet totalitarianism. And it may 
be that it will eventually dawn on the Russians that a Communist 
regime in a foreign country does not reinforce the logic of 

The Unfinished Revolution 295 

Marxism or of totalitarianism in Russia and that any imperialism 
eventually brings its Algerias and Cypruses. 

Communist China is in a different category. Following their 
break with Stalin, the Yugoslav Communists developed a wonder- 
fully wishful theory according to which Communism in any 
large country is bound, sooner rather than later, to clash with 
Soviet domination. From the anti-Soviet point of view, it is a 
matter of regret, the theory held, that Communism has not 
seized France or Italy, but in China the clash with Soviet im- 
perialism was forthcoming. Democracies have no monopoly on 
wishful thinking in foreign affairs! The ten years since the 
prognosis was enunciated have not provided any real substance to 
the Yugoslav and Western hopes. Even for Stalin, the Chinese 
problem was of a kind different from that of Soviet relations 
with the Communists in Poland or Bulgaria. His successors found 
themselves constrained to give up the last of the Soviet preserves 
in Manchuria. The Soviets have put the best face on their eco- 
nomic and technical help to the Chinese, and they profess 
ideological rejoicing at the spectacle of the 600-million-headed 
colossus being modernized and industrialized. They cannot afford 
to do otherwise. 

The Chinese experiment represents the extreme in the equa- 
tion : Communism = rapid industrialization. If the Bolsheviks 
decided to compress the decades of the Western economic de- 
velopment into ten or fifteen years, then the Chinese have evi- 
dently determined, in their infinitely more backward country, 
to compress the Soviet pattern of industrialization into a few 
years. Only two years separated the stage of distribution of land 
to the peasants and forcible collectivization. No NEP intervened 
before a higher form of collectivization, the communes, were 
being imposed on a vast majority of the Chinese peasants 
something the Soviet Communists have not yet attempted on 
a large scale. From the revolutionary stage, likewise, the Chinese 

296 The Unfinished Revolution 

jumped immediately into Stalinism, with all its features of com- 
pulsion and centralization, something that it took their teachers 
a decade to accomplish. 

An outright conflict between the two great Communist powers 
would be a drastic refutation of their common ideology, some- 
thing neither of them will face short of dire necessity. "Before 
us lies the extremely hard task of transforming the backward 
agrarian China into a leading industrial country and our experi- 
ence is insufficient. . . . We have to learn from the leading Soviet 
Union/' 4 said Mao, probably in all sincerity. That two expanding 
totalitarian systems, one of them led by people who profess their 
ideology with all the fanaticism of neophytes, can avoid clashes 
and quarrels is unlikely. It becomes clearer why the Soviets try 
to strengthen the meaning and the unifying function of ideology. 
It is not improbable that the Korean adventure was aimed not 
at the conquest of 'insignificant territory, but rather at forcing 
the United States out of east Asia. Between Communist China 
and a Communist Japan, the Soviet Union could have played 
longer and more decisively the role of dominant arbiter. But, 
for the time being, whatever the internal quarrels, whatever the 
steps that the more experienced Soviet leaders have to take to 
appease the hunger of the Chinese for technical and economic 
help and probably to restrain them from aggressive policies, the 
two sides clearly have too much to gain and almost everything to 
lose from a public and irreconcilable conflict. 

This sketch of the dilemmas of "coexistence" among Commu- 
nist states suggests forcibly the probable decisive character of 
their relations in the future of militant Communism and even 
in the internal development of Soviet totalitarianism. Nothing 
would be more injurious to the attempt to revive ideology in the 
Soviet Union, and hence the continued rationale of totalitarian- 
ism, than a convincing demonstration of the inability of Commu- 

4 Materials of the VIII Att-China Congress of the Communist Party of China, 
September 15-27, 1956 (in Russian), Moscow, 1956, p. 5. 

The Unfinished Revolution 297 

nism to provide a lasting link between states, short of domination 
by one of them. Communism may catalyze the people's energies 
for revolution, it may provide a short cut to industrialization 
and modernity, but it has not been able to provide the kind of 
society for which the revolution was fought or the sufferings of 
industrialization endured. The last illusion that provides the 
material for ideological enthusiasm in a society where other 
points of Marxism have lost their relevance is the claim of the 
ideology to provide the only basis for a peaceful world order. 
Many characterizations of the capitalist world by Marx and 
Lenin have come to be, and as we have seen not without reason, 
pathetically apt descriptions of Communist reality. And so we 
should not be surprised to see the development of "inherent con- 
tradictions" in the Communist camp, and we should not rule out 
the possibility of clashing imperialisms being the destiny and the 
"highest stage" not of "capitalism" but of Communist totalitarian- 

The preceding pages offer a general background for the policies 
of the Communist world. They offer, by the same token, some 
perspective on the policies of the Western countries. Over and 
above the cliches of "firmness and patience" and the talk of 
treaties and weapons which pass for the essence of realism in 
foreign relations, the most exacting and realistic task is the 
study of the revolution in which we have lived and will continue 
to live, the revolution which in certain of its phases and manifes- 
tations creates opportunities for our opponents, in others, for us. 
This study will not provide infallible, long-lasting formulas which 
inevitably guarantee success or preserve peace, but it will give 
a more meaningful setting for concrete political decisions. If we 
believe, for instance, that the forces of industrialism within the 
Communist bloc must eventually impinge on totalitarianism and 
Soviet domination, we will not refrain from giving economic help 
to a satellite country merely because its leaders speak unkindly 
about us or feel constrained to spout Communist platitudes. If 

298 The Unfinished Revolution 

concrete benefits rather than paper guarantees can be shown 
as likely to result from a different Chinese policy by the United 
States, then the fact that mainland China is Communist would 
not necessarily bar that policy. 

Our discussion of ideologies and their manifestations in poli- 
tics has been throughout in terms of the main doctrine discussed, 
i.e., in terms of materialism centering on one major phenomenon : 
industrialization. It might be objected that such a discussion is 
narrow and constraining, that the ideas of freedom, democracy, 
religious ideals have their validity and appeal to men regardless 
of the "stages of development," regardless of whether the given 
society is agrarian, in the process of transition, or industrialized. 
It seems to negate the whole sense of the development of Western 
civilization to qualify the attractiveness of freedom and democ- 
racy by whether men have or have not acquired the habit of 
saving, paying taxes, and working in factories and offices between 
nine and five. 

It is not proposed here to quarrel with the validity of such 
ideas. But the commonplace must be reiterated: specific eco- 
nomic and social conditions are required for democratic ideals to 
become operative in the form of democratic institutions. In every 
generation, an increase in the productive forces and the engross- 
ment of a society in materialistic pursuits has brought with 
it dire predictions of the consequent destruction of spiritual and 
aesthetic values and warnings of national catastrophe. It was the 
historical discovery of early liberalism that conscious material- 
ism, not as a philosophical creed but as a way of life, is not 
only an innocent but a necessary prerequisite for a political 
realization of those spiritual and humanitarian instincts that 
have been with mankind since civilization began. Marxism 
inherited the most rigid expression of early liberal materialism, 
but supplanted it with a Hegelian methodology that weakened 
the earlier bias toward individualism and, paradoxically, with 
an anarchist protest against materialism and industrialism. 

The Unfinished Revolution 299 

Hence Marxism has been able to appeal to both the grievances 
and the aspirations of a society in the process of transition, 
whereas liberalism appeals to the society that has forgotten both 
nostalgia for the past and excessively Utopian visions of the 
industrial future. 

Among all the truisms that attempt to put into a formula the 
nature of the competition between the United States and the 
USSR, the one that comes closest to the mark sees it as a 
race between the social and economic dynamisms of the two 
societies. The continued emphasis on production and technology 
although once again considered inelegant and unenlightened- 
may enable the West to help other societies pass through the 
dangerous period of transition without succumbing to Com- 
munism. And the competition may continue to have beneficent 
effects on internal institutions in the democratic states. Is the 
continuing industrialization of the United States and the in- 
creasing saturation of all parts of the country with the inelegant 
values of materialism and industrialism entirely unconnected 
with the fact that civil rights for minorities are now growing into 
more than constitutional formulas? On the other hand, it is not 
impossible that the Soviet Union, in its professed attempt to 
"catch up with and overcome" the West in material culture, will 
discover that in the process it has left Marxism behind. 


Address to the Communist 

League (Marx), 54-55 
Alienation, worker's, 39, 66, 67, 

Anarchism, 51, 71, 122, 125, 127- 

132, 138, 148, 153, 155, 167, 

178, 183, 192, 197, 202, 208, 


Andreyev, Andrei, 260 
Anti-Diihring, (Engels), 53, 118 
Anti-industrialism, 63-64, 72-90, 


Anti-Semitism, 78, 257 
Ashley, Lord, 74 
Atheism, 126, 197 
Atomic energy, 29 
Authority, 71 
Automation, 29 

Bakunin, Mikhail, 128, 130 
Bebel, Heinrich, 172 
Belloc, Hilaire, 146 
Bentham, Jeremy, 18, 76, 93, 94, 

96, 103 
Bergson, Henri, 147 

Beria, Lavrenti, 265, 268 
Bernstein, Eduard, 154-160, 164- 

168, 170, 172, 176, 212 
Beveridge, Sir William Henry, 


Bill of Rights, 41 
Bismark, Otto von, 151 
Blanc, Louis, 108, 131-132 
Blanqui, Louis Auguste, 52, 109, 

110,111, 116,124,130, 157 
Bolshevism, 169, 202 
Boswell, James, 72 
Bray, John Francis, 107 
Bukharin, Nikolai I., 210, 217, 

Bureaucracy, 42, 47, 48 

Cabet, Etienne, 128 
Calquhoun, Patric, 63 
Calvinism, 98 
Capital (Marx), 22, 24, 25 fn., 

27, 29, 32 fn., 33 fn., 94 fn., 

105 fn., 199 fn. 
Capitalism, 16, 17, 23, 24-31, 33, 

35, 37, 70 


challenges to, 20 

class struggle and, 32, 35, 37- 


private property under, 36 
self-destruction of, 30 
Carlyle, Thomas, 146 
Catholic Church, 77 
Chamberlain, Joseph, 89 
Chartism, 54, 81-93, 101, 108, 

123, 129, 132, 141, 142 
Chesterton, G. K., 79, 146 
Christianity, 114, 115, 116, 122, 


Churchill, Winston S., 214 
Civil liberties, 41 
Clapham, J. H., 64 fn., 73 fn. 
Class struggle, 20, 32-44, 70, 76 
Cobbett, William, 73-81, 85, 98 
Cobden, Richard, 92, 99 
Coexistence, 230 
Cole, G. D. H., 76 fn., 79, 80 fn., 

148, 149 

Cole, Margaret, 76 fn. 
Collectivization, 258-260 
Cominform, 263 
Comintern, 226-227, 232, 239, 

244, 262 

Communism, 47, 51, 52-53, 59, 
108,168,169, 175,180,187, 
197-281, 295-296 

challenge of, 4 

international, 225-250 
Communist Manifesto, 20, 32, 45, 

59, 68, 69, 81, 87, 95, 102, 

105, 108, 112, 144, 159, 164- 

165, 180, 181, 237 fn. 
Competition, 26, 28, 29, 107 


Condorcet, Marquis de, 113 
Critique of the Gotha Program 
(Marx), 50-51 

Declaration of the Rights of 

Man, 18 

Democracy, 48, 84, 99, 103, 105- 
106, 127, 133, 141, 159 

industrial, 46 

Western exponents of, 4-5 
Democratic Centralists, 206 
Descartes, Rene, 117 
Detribalization, 65 
Deutscher, Isaac, 276 fn. 
Development of Capitalism in 

Russia (Lenin), 175 
Dicey, Albert V., 106 
Disarmament, 128 
Disraeli, Benjamin, 82 
Doctor Zhivago ( Pasternak ) , 


Doubleday, Thomas, 81 
Due process of law, 41 
Dulles, John Foster, 283, 284 

Economic determinism, 16, 17, 

18, 19, 20, 34, 35, 47, 104, 


Economic development, 21, 34 
Economic Problems of Socialism 

in the U.S.S.R. (Stalin), 265, 

266, 267 

aim of, 21 

Marxist, 20-32 
Education, 19, 68, 75, 80, 94, 98, 


99, 114, 126, 133, 134, 138, 

Engels, Friedrich, 12, 44, S3 

Ethics, 35 

Evolutionary Socialism (Bern- 
stein), 154, 156 

Exploitation, 22-24, 35, 36 

Fabian Essays, 145-146 
Fabianism, 89, 145-147 
Factory system, 46, 47, 66, 133, 


Fascism, 149, 154 
Fetishism, 23 
Feudalism, 17 

Feuerbach, Ludwig, 12, 14, 15 
Fielden, John, 74 
Fourier, Charles, 49, 53, 108, 

109, 111, 114, 116-122, 124, 

132, 136, 145, 173 
Freedom, 15 
French Revolution, 76, 87, 112, 

Freud, Sigmund, 147 

Gladstone, William E., 92 
Glorious Revolution, 36, 76 
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 


Gomulka, Wladyslaw, 280 
Gray, John, 107 
Guild Socialism, 145, 147-149 

Happiness, 92 

Harney, George Julian, 84, 89 
Hegel, Georg W. F., 17, 19, 39, 
70, 118, 133 


Hegelianism, 107, 127, 162 
Herzen, Alexander, 103 
Hilferding, Rudolf, 188 
Hitler, Adolph, 167 
Hobbes, Thomas, 12 
Hobson, J. A., 188 
Hobson, S. G., 148, 149 
Hume, David, 18 
Hyndman, H. M., 137 

Idealism, 14 

Immiseration theory, 31, 131, 

165, 172 

Imperialism, 31, 166, 167, 278 
Imperialism (Lenin), 188 
Industrial Revolution, 6, 41, 65, 

74, 123, 133, 150, 238 
Industrialization, 7, 10, 21, 24- 
26, 29, 30, 31, 35, 43, 56, 
59-72, 94, 95, 97, 98, 104, 
150, 151, 201, 215-220, 247 
anti-, 63-64, 72-90, 130 
Internationalism, 158, 167-168 

James, William, 147 

James II (King of England, 

1685-88), 79 
Jews, 77-78 
Jones, Ernest, 84, 89 

Kamenev, Leo, 205, 210, 211 
Kautsky, Karl, 165, 166, 168, 

172, 188 

Kennan, George, 276 fn. 
Keynes, Lord, 20, 92, 227-229, 




Khrushchev, Nikita, 224, 255, 
260, 265, 268-269, 272-274, 

Kollontay, Alexandra, 206-207 

Krassin, Leonid, 219 

Kronstadt uprising, 207, 208 

Labor', 22, 23 

alienation of, 39, 66, 67, 138 

division of, 66, 120, 132, 133 

migration of, 66-67 

surplus, 22 

Laissez jaire, 70, 96, 98 
Laski, Harold, 91 
Lassalle, Ferdinand, 162 
Lenin, V. I., 18,-134, 168-195, 

198, 200, 203-213, 217-219, 

225, 249 

Leninism, 168-195, 198 
Liberalism, 9, 18-20, 36, 41, 77, 

84, 90-107, 108, 124, 134-135, 


Liberty, individual, 41 
Lichnowsky, Karl Max, 25 
Locke, John, 204 
Lorwin, Val R., 163 fn. 
Lovett, William, 86, 88, 93 
Luddite movement, 68 
Luxemburg, Rosa, 165, 172, 188, 


Mably, Gabriel Bonnet de, 113 
Malenkov, Georgi, 255, 268 
Malthus, Thomas, 19, 76, 84, 92 
Mao Tse-tung, 248, 249 

Marshall, Alfred, 77 

abiding influence of, 58 

argument for, 12-57 

as a system of thought, 9 

attraction of, 7, 10, 40, 58-59, 
136, 139, 153, 180 

class struggle and, 32-44 

contemporary problem of, 3-11 

crisis of, 251-281 

economic theory of, 20-32 

failure of, in England, 137-150 

Lenin's version, 10 

materialism and, 12-20 

paradoxes of, 3, 12, 17 

sources of, 58-132 

spread of, 5 

uses of, 136, 180, 193 
Materialism, 12-20, 93, 107, 114, 
159, 172 

appeal of, 17 

liberal, 18-20, 93 

Marxist, 12-20 
Maynard, Sir John, 190 
Mechanization, 7, 28, 29, 66 
Mensheviks, 176, 179, 184, 191, 


Methodism, 98 
Metternich, Prince, 111 
Middle Ages, 37 
Mill, John Stuart, 92, 93, 106, 


Michels, Robert, 147 
Molotov, Vyacheslav M., 4, 265 
Monopolies, 31, 107 
More, Sir Thomas, 113 
Morley, John, 96 fn. 

Index 305 

Morris, William, 89, 103 Plamenatz, John, 283 fn. 

Mutualism, 128 Polanyi, Karl, 91 

Political economy, 21, 22, 24, 34, 
Napoleon Bonaparte, 111, 113 107 

Napoleon III, 128 Political Register (Cobbett), 74 

Nationalism, 56, 67, 80, 99, 128, Price versus value, dilemma of, 
149,152,158,166,177,178, 27 

244-245 Profit motive, 29, 30, 45, 46 

Russian, 222, 256-258 Profit sharing, 46 

Nazism, 154 Propaganda, 4, 6, 13, 49, 54 

Negation of a negation, 39 Property, 51, 71 
New Economic Policy, 198, 209, concept of, 68-69 

210, 214, 216 private, 32, 36, 45, 124 

Newton, Sir Isaac, 117 Proudhon, Pierre, 49, 51, 52, 110, 

114, 116, 124-130, 132, 157, 
Oastler, Richard, 85 173 

O'Brien, James Bronterre, 83, 85 

O'Connor, Feargus, 82 Quakers, 77 
On the Jewish Question (Marx), 

78 Radek, Karl, 232, 244 

Organisation du Travail (Blanc), Radicalism, 71, 74-80, 86, 106, 

131 107, 108, 124, 126 

Original sin, 15, 19 Rationalism, 18, 105, 116, 159 

Ostrogorski, Moisei Y., 147 Redford, Arthur, 67 fn. 

Owen, Robert, 53, 74, 87, 110, Reflections on Violence (Sorel), 

114, 116, 118-122, 126, 136 154, 156 

Religion, 18, 19, 35, 58, 71, 98, 

Pareto, Vilfredo, 58, 147 114-116, 119-120, 126, 178 

Paris Commune, 44, 47-48, 52, Revisionists, 44 

112, 123, 151 Revolutionary activity, 13, 14, 
Parliamentarianism, 44 33-35, 46, 47, 54, 67-68, 172 

Pasternak, Boris, 176 Ricardo, David, 19, 22, 24, 27- 

Peel, Sir Robert, 93 fn. 28, 76, 87, 92, 93, 94 

People's Charter, 83 Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 39, 70, 

Physiocrats, 21 113, 149 

Place, Francis, 90-91, 102, 105, Rubel, M.,34 

106 Ruskin, John, 103, 146 



Saint-Simon, Claude, 49, 53, 101, 

110, 111, 113, 114, 115-116, 

118, 121-122, 124, 126, 127, 

128, 132, 136, 145, 173 
Satellite countries, 262-264, 280, 


Schorske, Carl E., 166 fn. 
Schumpeter, Joseph A., 17, 31, 

Science, 7, 8, 15, 19, 20, 63, 67, 

75,93, 101, 115-119, 120-122, 

126-127, 133, 216, 
Second International, 225-226 
Shaw, Bernard, 145 
Sismondi, Jean, 108 
Smith, Adam, 18, 92, 94 
Social Democracy, 171, 172-173 
Social justice, 13, 17 
Socialism, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 
20, 24, 25, 30, 34, 42, 44-57, 
59, 106, 107-132, 159-160, 
197, 201 

appeal of, 69 

denned, 45 

English, 137-150 

Guild, 145, 147-149 

Marxist, 43, 44-57 
Socialist Revolutionaries, 176- 

177, 184 

Sorel, Georges, 154-160 
Stalin, Joseph, 45, 62, 129 fn., 

176, 197-225, 231, 255-256, 

264-267, 274 

Stalinism, 45, 47, 197-225 
State and Revolution (Lenin), 

192, 202, 207, 212 
Stock Exchange, 36, 76 

Stolypin, Peter A., 217 

Strikes, 40, 197 

Suffrage, universal, 74, 79, 80, 

81, 83, 86, 89, 128, 135 
Surplus-labor theory, 9, 22 
Surplus-value theory, 20-23, 26, 

28, 30, 33 
Sweezy, Paul, 23 
Sybil (Disraeli), 82 
Syndicalism, 40, 138, 148-149, 

153, 154, 157, 161 

Technical assistance, 4 
Technology, 28, 29, 30, 63, 93, 
101, 115,117, 121-122 

socialism and, 46-47 
Theses on Feuerbach (Marx), 14 
Thompson, William, 107 
Tito, 263, 279, 280, 294 
Tolpuddle martyrs, 151 
Tolstoy, Leo, 190 
Tories, 36, 74, 83 
Totalitarianism, 48, 204, 209, 

210, 224, 276-277 
Trade unionism, see Unionism 
Traditionalism, 16, 18 
Trotsky, Leon, 186, 187, 204, 

208, 210, 211, 219, 231-232, 


Unemployment, 30, 46, 66, 140 
Unionism, 84, 132, 139, 141-143, 

161-162, 168-169 
Utilitarians, 12, 91, 93, 94 

Value, 22 

surplus, 22-23, 26, 28, 30, 33 

Veblen, Thorstein, ISO, 152 


distribution of, 27 

production of, 27 
Webb, Sidney, 146, 164 
Weber, Max, 40, 98 
Wells, H. G., 145 
Weltanschauung, 18, 87 
Westernization of backward 

areas, 65-67 
What Is to Be Done (Lenin), 

Index 307 

169, 170, 172, 179, 181, 184, 

Whigs, 36 

William IV (King of Great Bri- 
tain and Ireland, 1830-37), 

Workers' Opposition, 206-208 

Zhdanov, Andrei, 251 

Zinoviev, Grigori E., 194-195, 

203, 204, 205, 210, 211, 232, 



ADAM B. ULAM received his B.A. from Brown University and 
his Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he is now a full pro- 
fessor of government. He is also a member of the Executive Com- 
mittee of the Russian Research Center and Chairman of the 
Center's Russian Regional Program. 

He spent the academic year 1953-54 at the Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology as a research associate of the Center for 
International Studies. In 1956-57 he was granted both a Rocke- 
feller Fellowship in Political Science and a Guggenheim Fellow- 

A co-editor of Patterns oj Government, Dr. Ulam also authored 
Part V of that book, on "The Russian Political System." Earlier, 
he published two other books, on the Philosophical Foundations 
oj English Socialism and on Titoism and the Cominjorm. In 
addition, he has collaborated on other books and has contributed 
numerous articles to professional journals.