Organ of Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North
Volume 1, Issue 3; March 2003 $1.00
L L I A N C E ! ,A
Revolutionary Communist Monthly
Where We Stand: "When
Did the USSR Become a Capitalist State?"
First Chief Architect of Capitalist Restoration - Nikita S. Khruschev
This recurrent question usually receives one of
Either that the state became capitalist at
the death of Stalin in 1953;
at the accession to power of Gorbachov.
Alliance rejects both of these ?answers?,
The first as being mechanical and veering to the
?great man theory? of history;
the second as being naïve ? or opportunistic
- in the extreme.
We will outline our views, in the form of an open reply to a reader
who objected to our formulation as follows:
LETTER TO THE EDITOR (shortened from original).
Continued page twenty
Letter Cmde G to HK: 25th February:
Dear Cmrdes, Re.: Announcement of 'Alliance!'
May I remind you that you promised to answer my queries on what you
wrote in your 'announcement issue', that:
?...honest Marxists-Leninists who irrespective of their prior views
- find themselves in agreement that the minimal statements are true:
(i)That the state of the USSR was on a Marxist-Leninist path, until
approximately 1956, when under the increasing open revisionism of Nikita
Khrushchev it became converted relatively quickly to a capitalist state."
I expressed serious doubts on the truth of this 'analysis'. If this
was true, then the following questions arise:
1. Was the withdrawal of the Kominform resolution on Yugoslavia and
the reconciliation with the Titoites 'Marxist-Leninist'?
2. Were Stalin and Berija really 'liquidated' as Bill Bland claims
in his analysis titled 'The Doctors' Plot and the Death of Stalin' if no
substantial line change followed these events?
So Stalin died a natural death after all and there was no revisionist
3. Why the sudden sea-change in foreign policies in relation to the
US after the coup?
4. Why the new emphasis in economic policies away from supporting heavy
5. Why were exactly after Berija's removal and liquidation the Zaisser/Herrnstadt
group of Marxists-Leninists in East Germany ousted by the Ulbricht revisionists
and why were the Chinese Marxists-Leninists Kao Kang and Jao Shu-chi liquidated
only a little later (1954/55) by the Chinese revisionists and after Khrushchev
& Co. had been in Beijing in '54?
Why did similar events in East European countries follow exactly the
In my letter I hinted that the Maoists look at the events the way you
do it in your announcement that revisionism only prevailed after the XX.
Party Conference of the CPSU. And there is a reason for that: They still
want to cover up the fact that Mao Zedong and Liu Shao-chi had the Marxists-Leninists
liquidated the way the Krushchevites did. ?..
So what I am now asking myself is this:
1. Why do you call things 'true statements? which have long been disproved
2 Why do you call yourself a 'Blandist' if you are or seem to be in
disagreement with at least some vital things Bill supported and which every
'honest Marxist-Leninist' must support because these things are based on
facts and good Marxist-Leninist reasoning? Bill Bland always stressed that
it must be the Marxists-Leninists aim to create an organisation 'free of
revisionism'. However, if you open the door only slightly to let revisionism
- 'left revisionism' in this case - slip in, you will find yourself on
the first stage of a downward spiral. Then similar things could happen
to your fledgling organisation that happened to the MLCP and to so
many other ML-group such as 'KPD/Red Dawn' in our country to quote just
two instances. You made a mistake here and you should try to rectify it.
Cmrdly regards ? G
REPLY OF ALLIANCE
You take issue with our formulation that Alliance tries to organise:
??honest Marxist-Leninists who irrespective of their prior views ?
find themselves in agreement that the minimal statements are true:
(i)That the state of the USSR was on a Marxist-Leninist path, until
approximately 1956, when under the increasing open revisionism of Continued
on page twenty. of Nikita Khrushchev it
became converted relatively quickly to a capitalist state.? Alliance!
Monthly Issue 1, January 2003; cited by E-Mail G to H; 25th February.
Leonid Brezhnev (1906-1982)
(Soviet revisionist Head state 1955-1964)
(Revisionist First Secretary CPSU (1964-1982)
We appreciate frank criticism, and are prepared
to examine it closely ? and prepared to honestly give self-criticism where
we are wrong. However, we cannot agree with your current critique.
PART ONE: WHAT DEFINES A SOCIALIST STATE?
Immediately we may argue that NONE of the items
listed as ?proofs? of your view numbered as1-5 ? ?demand? that the change
of the character of the state from socialist to revisionist-capitalist
? had to have taken place. At this stage ? we will not focus on
this line of rebuttal. We will simply state our view, that all these items
? are political rather than economic ? questions. By and large, as far
as Marxist-Leninists view it, it is economics that dictate the nature of
the society. Thus all your points 1-5 ? have no bearing on the question
of the economic base of the society. Except potentially, for your point
(4), namely: ?Why the new emphasis in economic policies away from supporting
However, we would answer to this point that:
If this is not of itself a defining characteristic marking
socialism - What in that case are the defining characteristics?
In the Marxist-Leninist Classes adopted by the Communist League, The NCMLU
(UK); and Alliance many years ago ? and originally written by Bland - the
following definitions are given:
(i) This is not a single defining characteristic of when a qualitative
societal change from socialism to capitalism or vice versa, occurs.
(ii) Under Brezhnev ? there was a shift to the predominance of heavy
industry ? and yet the society was by then unequivocally capitalist. See:
?WHAT IS SOCIALISM?
The relevant questions to determine the defining characteristics,
then SHOULD become ? ?When did the state of the USSR shift production
away from ?central planning?; And; ?When did private ownership of the means
of production occur??
The social system constructed by the working people, led by the working
class, after their seizure of political power in a socialist revolution.
It is a social system in which the exploitation of man by man has been
abolished and in which production is centrally planned with the aim of
maximising the welfare of the working people. "
"HOW ARE THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION OWNED IN A SOCIALIST SOCIETY?
1) either by the state,
representing the working people as a whole, or;
2) by cooperatives, representing
the working people of particular enterprises.?
Firstly, let us examine the question of not
WHEN revisionism took hold of the reins of power, but,
When it could turn the state socialism into
a state that was unequivocally capitalist.
Bland?s ?Restoration Of Capitalism In the Soviet
Union? (London 1980) (See http://www.oneparty.co.uk/index.html)
In his Introduction, Bland talks of the first
three phases of the attempt to defeat socialism in the USSR. He there
discusses the ?intermediate? period of the Khrushchev regime, that
was needed for the ?preparatory measures? that the ?embryonic capitalists?
had to undertake to initiate the ?economic reforms?.
It is these ?economic reforms?, that formed the actual
restoration of capitalism. Already, in his first detailed analysis
of this period, Bland had pointed out that it was the Lieberman ?economic
reforms? that had subverted the motive forces for production ? into the
Later on, Bland elaborated on the fourth phase
? the intermediate phase ? of the restoration of capital:
?The fourth phase of the political struggle to destroy socialism in
the Soviet Union opened with the death of Stalin in March 1953.
Shortly afterwards Nikita Khrushchev was appointed First Secretary of the
Continued on page twenty-one
Party, and in 1955 also Chairman of the Council of Ministers ("Prime
From one point of view the Khrushchev regime must be seen as an intermediate
between the socialist society which existed in the Soviet Union prior to
this period and the "economic reforms" introduced under the later Brezhnev
regime. Thus it was responsible for a series of preparatory measures which
were politically necessary before these "economic reforms" could be initiated.
1) the denigration of Stalin, which allowed measures to be taken,
in the name of "creative Marxism-Leninism", which were in direct conflict
with Stalin's expressed political positions;
2) the removal from positions of influence -- or, in the case
of Lavrenti Beria, the physical elimination -- of Stalin's remaining
political allies: Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, Lavrenti Beria;
3) the introduction of a degree of liberalism, associated
with the attacks on the "dictatorship of Stalin", permitting Yevsey
Liberman and other economists to organise a campaign for "economic
reforms" which received official endorsement in 1962; and
4) the introduction in 1964 of a pilot scheme for the
experimental" application of the economic reform in limited fields.
That the Khrushchev regime was not merely a preparation for the
Brezhnev regime, however, is demonstrated by the fact that Khrushchev's
successors were compelled to wage a fierce political struggle against him
and his supporters and, when this had been victorious, make him an
This conflict of interest was basically between two groups of embryonic
One group, centred mainly in the Russian Republic and composed mainly
of high managerial personnel involved in heavy industry, was represented
politically by the faction around Brezhnev; the other group, composed mainly
of high managerial personnel involved in light industry, was represented
politically by the faction around Khrushchev.
The policy differences on the degree to which resources
should be directed respectively to the heavy goods industries and the consumer
goods industries, were accompanied by foreign policy differences. The Khrushchev
faction, representing the economically less powerful embryonic capitalists
involved in light industry, felt it necessary for the Soviet Union to follow
a foreign policy which amounted in fact to subservience to the United States,
while the Brezhnev faction stood for an "independent" foreign policy.
In October 1964 the embryonic capitalists involved in heavy industry
in alliance with the military felt their position strong enough to jettison
the internal and foreign policies of the Khrushchev regime, together
with their author.? http://www.oneparty.co.uk/html/book/ussrintro.html
Alexei Kosygin (1904-1980)
Bolshevik close to Stalin
Soviet revisionist Premier - close to Brezhnev
PART TWO: WHAT WAS THE NATURE OF THESE SO-CALLED ?ECONOMIC REFORMS??
Bland writes further on in the same book, that they
were designed to disrupt central planning. Alliance - considers Central
Planning as a constituent part of socialism. Yet the ?economic reforms?
intended to do away with this:
?According to contemporary Soviet propagandists, the aim of the "economic
reform" instituted from 1965 on was to "improve" and "consolidate" -- even
"perfect" -- centralized economic planning:
So the elimination of ?Central Planning? ? a key part
of socialism came long after even 1956!
"A number of measures are envisaged to raise the scientific standards
of state planning of the economy".
(A.N. Kosygin: in M.E. Sharpe (Ed.): Planning, Profit and Incentive
in the USSR, Volume 2; New York;1966; p.15).
"The economic changes signify improvement of national economic planning...
The reform consolidates centralized planning".
(Editorial: "Economic Policy and Work for Communism", in: Pravda (Truth),
January 14th., 1966, in: The Soviet Economic Reform: Main Features and
Aims; Moscow; 1967; p.9).
In fact, ? centralized economic planning, as it had existed under socialism,
has been eliminated from the Soviet economy since the "economic reform".
The first stage in the process leading to its elimination was an intensive
propaganda campaign directed at centralized economic planning,
Continued on page twenty-two.
which was denounced as "obsolete", "restrictive", "bureaucratic", and,
of course, "due to Stalin's distortion of socialism":
"These shortcomings in economic management should be eliminated not
by making planning more complicated, more detailed and more centralised,
but by developing the economic initiative and independence of enterprises
---Enterprises must be given broader initiative; they must not be bound
by petty tutelage and bureaucratic methods of planning from the centre".
(E.G. Liberman: in: M.E. Sharpe (Ed.): op. cit., Volume 1). ? http://www.oneparty.co.uk/html/book/ussrchap1.html
Secondly, what about the profit regulator
as the motive force of production?
Again according to Bland this was far later
than Khrushchev?s accession to power:
?Already, at the 22nd. Congress of the CPSU in 1961, First Secretary
Nikita Khrushchev declared:
Finally, under socialism, and under Stalin ?
the State was the owner of major land, resources and means of production
? or property.
Bland points out in Chapter 6, that this was:
?the position under the socialist system which formerly existed in
the Soviet Union:
However, Bland goes on to point out that under Khrushchev,
and after the economic reforms? ? this no longer applied:
?A commodity is a product which may be sold to any purchaser, and when
its owner sells it he loses ownership of it and the purchaser becomes the
owner of the commodity, which he may resell, pledge or allow to rot. Do
means of production come within this category? They obviously do not. In
the first place, means of production are not ?sold? to any purchaser;..
they are only allocated by the state to its enterprises. In the second
place, when transferring the means of production to any enterprise, the
owner ? the state ? does not at all lose the ownership of them; on the
contrary, it retains it fully. In the third place, directors of enterprises
who receive means of production from the Soviet state, far from becoming
their owners, are deemed to be agents of the state in the utilisation of
the means of production in accordance with the plans established by the
state. It will be seen, then, that under our system means of production
can certainly not be classed in the category of commodities? .
(Bland Chapter 6: Citing J. V. Stalin: Economic Problems of Socialism
in the USSR).
?Since the ?economic reform?, however, means of production in the Soviet
Union are classed as commodities:
Any calm consideration of the economic characteristics
of the state after the death of Stalin ? cannot come to the conclusion
that the restoration of capital took place before1961.
?Under socialism the market is a sphere of planned commodity circulation,
a sphere for the marketing of products ? means of production and consumer
goods manufactured by state and cooperative enterprises?.
(L. Gatovsky: Unity of Plan and Cost Accounting, in M.E. Sharpe
(Ed.): op. Cit., Volume 2).
"Even where an enterprise pays for the use of its production assets
(other than natural resources) by annual sums, it is regarded legally as
the owner of these assets.
The Statute on the Socialist State Production Enterprise, adopted by
the USSR Council of Ministers on October 4th., 1965, gives an enterprise
?rights of possession? over the production assets which it holds:
?The enterprise will exercise the rights of possession.. of the property
under its operational control?.
The acquisition of production assets (other than natural resources) by
an enterprise is therefore described as ?purchase?:
(Statute on the Socialist State Production Enterprise, in: M.E. Sharpe
(Ed.); op. Cit., Volume 2; ; p. 291).
?Credits for the purchase of heavy technological and power equipment
of Soviet manufacture? are issued?.
(S, Ginzburg: New Developments in Construction Financing, in:
Ekomicheskaya gazeta (Economic Gazette), No. 43, 1965, in: M.E.Sharpe (Ed.):
op. Cit., Volume 2; p. 65)."
The transitional period following Stalin?s death was associated with
political events that were designed to pave the way to force through the
continued on page twenty-three
State Economic Planning Council 1936
PART THREE: IS ?ALLIANCE? A CRYPTO-MAOIST ORGANISATION?
You allege that we in ?Alliance? not only ignore ?stubborn facts?
- but have adopted a Maoist perspective, as follows:
?In my letter I hinted that the Maoists look at the events the way
you do it in your announcement that revisionism only prevailed after the
XX. Party Conference of the CPSU. And there is a reason for that: They
still want to cover up the fact that Mao Zedong and Liu Shao-chi had the
Marxists-Leninists liquidated the way the Krushchevites did. Bill Bland
proved all this in 'Class Struggles in China', ch. 6. I sent the analysis
to various Maoists groups and they were all unable to disprove this, because
Bill's findings are based on facts and 'facts are a stubborn thing' (K.Marx).?
In reply, it would appear to us, that the ?stubborn
facts? supports our interpretation. We should say in passing, that the
disagreement between the Maoists and ourselves should not be at issue for
you comrade G. In fact we find it a little sad that you think it is a pertinent
point to make at all. But then, it is right also that none of us can be
In that spirit ? we will try to show you,
that by elevating your points about the political points made in 1-3 &
5 ? you are in fact following an ultra-leftist ? Maoist line. For the Maoist
error in ?socialist? economics, involves the same problem that inadvertently
you are making.
Namely, elevating the political relationships to a precedence over
the economic relationships.
Thus in April 25, 1956, Mao made a major
speech entitled, ?On The Ten Major Relationships? There Mao
clearly states that there were supposed ?economic errors made by Stalin?:
?Particularly worthy of attention is the fact that in the Soviet Union
certain defects and errors that occurred in the course of their building
socialism have lately come to light. Do you want to follow the detours
they have made??
One of the most fundamental errors, according to Mao, was the relationship
between heavy and light industry. Thus here Mao openly agrees with many
bourgeois economists in a critique of Stalin:
?On The Ten Major Relationships?; Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Foreign
Languages Press Peking 1977; Vol. V, pp. 284;
?Therefore, the relationship between heavy industry on the one hand
and light industry and agriculture on the other must be properly handled.
In dealing with this relationship we have not made mistakes of principle.
We have done better than the Soviet Union and a number of East European
countries. The prolonged failure of the Soviet Union to reach the highest
pre-October Revolution level in grain output, the grave problems arising
from the glaring dis-equilibrium between the development of heavy industry
and that of light industry in some East European countries -- such problems
do not exist in our country. Their lop-sided stress on heavy industry to
the neglect of agriculture and light industry results in a shortage of
goods on the market and an unstable currency. We, on the other hand, attach
more importance to agriculture and light industry. We have all along
attended to and developed agriculture and have to a considerable degree
ensured the supply of grain and raw materials necessary for the development
of industry. Our daily necessities are in fairly good supply and our prices
and currency are stable.?
In a series of speeches and talks, Mao critiqued heavily
Stalin?s Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR?, emphasizing that
Stalin ?walked on one leg? by ignoring politics:
Mao ?On The Ten Major Relationships?; Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung,
Foreign Languages Press Peking 1977; Vol. V, pp. 285; http://www.marx2mao.org//Mao/TMR56.html
?On the question of heavy industry, light industry, and agriculture,
the Soviet Union did not lay enough emphasis on the latter two and had
losses as a result. In addition, they did not do a good job of combining
the immediate and the long-term interests of the people. In the main they
walked on one leg. Comparing the planning, which of us after all had the
better adapted "planned proportionate development?" Another point: Stalin
emphasized only technology, technical cadre.
He wanted nothing but technology, nothing but cadre; no politics, no masses.
This too is walking on one leg!?
According to Mao, it is political aspects ? most
prominently ? ?Stalin?s distrust of the peasantry? ? that explain alleged
?failures? of the socialist economy in the USSR:
?Concerning Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR (November 1958)?;
Continued on page twenty-four.
?The Soviet Union has adopted measures which squeeze the peasants very
hard. It takes away too much from the peasants at too low a price through
its system of so-called obligatory sales and other measures. This method
of capital accumulation has seriously dampened the peasants' enthusiasm
for production. You want the hen to lay more eggs and yet you don't feed
it, you want the horse to run fast and yet you don't let it graze. What
kind of logic is that! Our policies towards the peasants differ from those
of the Soviet Union and take into account the interests of both the state
and the peasants. Our agricultural tax has always been relatively low.
In the exchange of industrial and agricultural products we follow a policy
of narrowing the price scissors, a policy of exchanging equal or roughly
equal values.? ?On The Ten Major Relationships?; Selected Works of
Mao Tse-tung, Foreign Languages Press Peking 1977; Vol. V, pp. 208;
Now, we do not intend to offer here, a full critique
of Maoist economics. This is not the time nor the place to do that.
?Stalin's book from first to last says nothing about the superstructure.
It is not concerned with people; it considers things, not people. Does
the kind of supply system for consumer goods help spur economic development
or not? He should have touched on this at the least. Is it better to have
commodity production or is it better not to? Everyone has to study this.
Stalin's point of view in his last letter is almost altogether wrong. The
basic error is mistrust of the peasants.?
Mao, Critique of Stalin's Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR;
What we simply wish to highlight is that it is very
easy to adopt the posture ?J?accuse!? ? without a due consideration of
the full facts, or of the history of the organization and individual. Put
simply ? to drive home the parallels between your view and those of Mao
(?politics first?! ? in deciding the class character of a state) ? would
We know you are not a Maoist. Surely ? you know that
we are not Maoists!?