George Walford: Back to Russia

In IC26 there appeared a piece entitled “Principle Number One.” It quoted a Party speaker on Russia saying the power of the Russian rulers is politically based and Principle No. 1 as saying modern society is based upon ownership by the capitalistS. The speaker quoted has now sent the following reply:

According to Mr. Walford, if you do not know the name and address (and Telephone Number) of the murderer, the crime has not been committed.

There is nothing unusual or remarkable in political officials running an economic system for their employers, the owners of wealth.

Examples: the Pope, Officers of Co-op Societies; from Nik Machiavelli to Ian McGregor. The Russian bureaucrats run Russian Capitalism for the profit of investors. Russian Government Bonds pay 7%. There is Seven Million Dollars invested in Russian concerns. One prominent American Millionaire with substantial investments in the U.S.S.R. is Mr. A. Hammer.

One might as well claim that the Bank of England or the Stock Exchange are not capitalist institutions because they are run by paid officials.

Mr. Walford overlooks that Principle No. 1 states that “Society,” not just Russia, but WORLD SOCIETY is based on the ownership of the means of living by the Capitalist Class.

Indeed it was the economic pressure of World Capitalism which forced Lenin & Co. to change Course for STATE Capitalism.

Finally, Mr.Walford should read the whole of the Declaration of Principles, including Principle No. 6, which states: “the Working Class must organise consciously AND POLITICALLY for the conquest of the powers of Government” because it is the politicians who operate the system, through the Armed Forces, though they cannot control it.

Harry Young (Speaker on Russia)

That is largely rhetorical, and the writer of it has not read very carefully the article he undertakes to answer; had he done so he would have noticed our explicit acceptance of the Party claim that Russia is not, as they use the word, a socialist state. The part of it that is to the point: at all tells us the Russian rulers are employed by the owners of wealth.

When a statement is made on behalf of this Party one should always ask: “What else do they say?” In this instance the something else comes from the obvious source: their pamphlet entitled “Russia 1917-1967” (Preface dated 1967). This tells us:

In Russia the ownership of the privileged minority is generally not given formal legal backing, but, as in Britain, they maintain their monopoly through control over the machinery of government. They occupy the top posts in the party, government, industry and the armed forces. Their ownership of the means of production is not individual but collective; they own as a class. (p. 28)

The writer of the reply tells us the Russian rulers are employed by the owners of wealth, the Party’s pamphlet tells us they are, as a class, the owners of wealth.

If there is one thing this Party claim to be clear about it is the difference between those who own the wealth and those who are employed by them, but even on this, when the statements made on different occasions are brought together they are found to contradict each-other. The Russian rulers, they tell us, are and are not capitalists. As we have formulated their logic in the article on p. 5, X is and is not nonX.

The reply mentions Principle No. 6. We have, as it happens, lately been paying attention to this; more attention, it seems, thanĀ at least one writer in the Socialist Standard; see “Class War,” below.

from Ideological Commentary 27, May 1987.